Part 2: Interview with Florida Supercon guest and WWE legend Kevin Nash

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

Florida Supercon is July 3-6 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The event will be attended by upwards of 40,000 fans and features more than 250 comic book, film, television, cosplay, entertainment, and anime guests along with pro wrestling stars Jerry The King Lawler, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Shane Hurricane Helms, Scott Steiner, and Kevin Nash.

Sporting WWE Hall of Fame type credentials, Nash enjoyed tremendous success as Diesel in WWF and Outsider Kevin Nash of the nWo in WCW.

Before becoming a big-time pro wrestler, the 6-foot-11 Nash had aspirations of playing big-time pro basketball.

Nash starred in hoops at Aquinas High School in the Detroit suburb Southgate. Detroit is the motor city and the area working class.

“I grew up on the south side of Detroit, and when I was in high school, you got your high school degree,” he said. “You took your vocational courses, too, because we had a huge vocational wing in our school. We had an auto shop, a welding shop, an electrician shop, a wood shop, a plastic shop, mechanical drawing, electronics. We had a printing shop, and we printed the school newspaper and did outside work. All of us took those different courses, because in the town I lived, we had the Chrysler engine plant, the Mazda flat rock plant, the Ford stamping plant. We had Monsanto, McLouth Steel, Great Lakes Steel.

“When you got out of high school, somebody in your family had connections with one of those plants, and you got a job there, starting at 12 to 15 dollars an hour. You did your 25, 30 years at the plant. You got a little house. You drove a pick-up. Your wife drove a Beater, and you played softball, and that’s kind of what you did,” he chuckled.

“It did not appeal to me.”

Nash wanted something else, and basketball gave him another option. He was so good that plenty NCAA Division I colleges came calling, even at an early age.

“When I was a sophomore [unheard of at the time], I got a letter from Pepperdine, offering me a scholarship,” Nash said. “Then, I went to a basketball camp, and the coach from Wisconsin watched me play. The next thing you know I got letters from 12-14 colleges. My junior year started, and everybody from UCLA to Indiana to North Carolina. Then I got chosen one of the Top 100 [nationally] going into my senior year. I’m from the south side of Detroit, and I knew I was going to go somewhere to play [college] ball.

“Once I started getting those letters all I did was play ball, because that was going to be my out,” he said. “I didn’t want to play football and get hurt or do anything else. I just wanted to play basketball.

Nash opted for the University of Tennessee.

After spending three seasons with the Volunteers (1977-80) including an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance, Nash traveled overseas, making money by competing professionally. It may not be as lucrative as an NBA contract, but you can earn a good living playing in Europe. His career ended in 1981 in Germany when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

“My knee was bad,” he said. “I didn’t have my vertical anymore. I guess I just disintegrated my knee. That was the start of it. It took three operations just to get me to walk. I had eight knee operations before I got into pro wrestling. So I was beat up when I got in.”

Growing up, Nash played baseball, football, did the high jump, ran cross-country, but mostly, he played basketball.

“I grew up in Detroit,” he said. “So all my youth was a pair of Chuck Taylors on asphalt.”

Butterfly Effect

Nash believes in the ‘butterfly effect.’ A small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. Basically, you change one thing in your life, who knows what else it changes. If something changed in his life, like he did not have to quit playing basketball after getting injured in Germany, there may not have been a Diesel or nWo.

“I don’t make one move...Maybe my son is not born. Maybe I don’t end up living on the beach [in Florida], living in the perfect place where I never want to move from,” he said. “There’s so many things that go into it. I made the decisions. I don’t make hasty decisions. I’m a pretty deep thinker. Everything that I’ve done in my career I’ve put thought to.

“In retrospect, now I’m 54...I’ll be 55 on July 9...It’s a situation where would I have made some of those same decisions if I had the wisdom I picked up the last 15 years? Probably not. But I didn’t have that wisdom then, so the decisions I made, I stand by. There’s no looking back. I’m still functioning. I still get to the gym everyday. I still have a good quality of life.”

That good quality of life has its moments.

“My wife, my son and I went on a European vacation,” he said. “Three or four days walking around London. Three or four days walking around Paris. Three or four days walking around Munich. My knees were so swollen. My ankle has been operated on. It’s got a plate, screws in it. My body just couldn’t take walking eight to 10 miles a day. What are you gonna do? Now that you’ve got the time and you’ve got the funds to see the world with your family, you don’t have a body that can participate in anything. Finally, I just had to tap out. I said, ‘I’m going to that little garden over there to sit down in the shade. I’m done.’ They came back and got me 2 1/2 hours later, and I was sitting down. I got a chance to see all those places before, so I was a good tour guide, but I was just physically uncapable of putting that much mileage on my knees.”

“I just went up to a wedding in Minnesota and just the travel -- two hours in a car, four hours in a plane. The lodge we were staying at, when we got there after all that travel, I felt like somebody beat me with an aluminum baseball bat. In the plane, the seats are right against my knees. I can’t move. I’m sitting there at a 90-degree angle, jammed in my seat. It’s miserable...Oh well.”

Pro Wrestling Is Not Tiddlywinks

“Mick Foley was probably one of the biggest abusers of not taking care of his body,” Nash said. “Raising the bar, falling 50 feet through tables and doing all these things, but when you’re 35-years-old, your body has some resiliency to it. When you get to be 45, 50, it takes you two hours to get out of bed. We call it the bump card. Your body only has so many bumps in it.

“I was never a high-flier. I was 340 pounds. I was falling seven feet. You knock me off my feet. I’m seven feet tall. That’s my drop, seven feet with 340 pounds of weight going down. That’s equivalent of getting rear ended at 30 miles an hour in a car. You do that 12 times a night, 300 days a year, 10 years in a row. [Recently] I got up. Gees, it took me an hour to get out of bed. Just to pick your head up off the pillow, it’s miserable. It’s a slow process to get moving everyday.”

Nash watches WWE when he can.

“I was traveling so I didn’t get a chance to see [WWE] Money in the Bank, but I was reading the feed on Twitter,” he said. “Guys getting busted open. Guys doing crazy things. You read some of the comments about it saying fearless,’ and that’s all great, and that’s part of what makes WWE what it is...You have guys go out there and give their bodies and give their souls for the good of the company and for the fanbase...

“Rey Mysterio was a high-flier all those years, and I think now he’s two or three knee surgeries behind me. I think he’s had about nine knee surgeries. He’s a guy about half my size, and we’re sitting at WrestleMania [30] talking, and when we both get up, it’s like two 70-year-old women getting up. His style was incredible, but at the same time he’s paid dearly for it.”

DDP Yoga

“I’ve read testimonials from people, and he’s done some really good things with them,” Nash said. “There’s a lot of people losing 30 to 40 pounds in 13 to 15 weeks, and that’s not water weight. His isn’t ballistic, where those Insanity and other things are very ballistic workouts. So if you do have an injury, you can’t do the Insanity workout or any of those things because you can’t sit there and jump up, do one-arm push-ups. You can’t do that stuff if your shoulder is all torn up.

“The next time I get a chance to see [Diamond] Dallas [Page], he’s gonna tailor some things specifically for me. The only thing I’m starting to lose range of motion is in my shoulders because of my rotator cuffs. One of them has been repaired, and the other one is just shredded.”

Being The Bigger Man

Nash said: “Here’s a 6-foot-10, 7-foot guy. You’re the giant, and you look at ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and ‘David and Goliath,’ and the giant has always been the heel. So it’s real easy not to like the big guy. I never take that personal.

“It’s entertainment. When you’re on top, you’re always going to be a focal point. It’s all very opinionated, and it’s also polarizing to a lot of people.”

The Kliq

“I know that I’ve got five friends in the business, and we’re close,” Nash said. “We’ve kept in contact from 1993 to today, and that’s the nicest thing to me. I’ve got true friends out of this. Me and Steve Austin traveled extensively when I was in my first run in [WWF] in the early 1990s -- 1990 to 93 -- and we talk once a week. I’ve got friends. That’s all that matters to me.”

Florida Supercon Continues

Florida Supercon is a fan friendly experience, growing so much that organizers moved it from the Miami Airport Convention Center to the Miami Beach Convention Center, which has its own rich history hosting Championship Wrestling from Florida shows.

At Florida Supercon, there will be more than 700 events, including celebrity Q&As, industry panels, writing workshops, video game tournaments, cosplay contests, cosplay photo shoots, Florida Super Championship Wrestling and more.

Florida Super Championship Wresting is a unique concept where wrestlers become anime, comic book and video game superheroes and villains.

Nash is a Captain America fan.

Complete information on guests and hundreds of events occurring throughout Florida Supercon weekend can be found at:

www.floridasupercon.com

Remaining convention hours are: Saturday, July 5: 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Sunday, July 6: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Tickets are $30 at the door. The Miami Beach Convention Center is at 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach, 33139.

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