KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
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As anybody who goes to the WWE’s biggest show of the year knows, WrestleMania Weekend provides many amazing events. One of the events I was looking most forward to was the Kliq Reunion at Wrestlecon with Shawn Michaels, Sean Waltman, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash. It was hyped as an event where the Kliq would share some of their wild stories and go off the record. But let me go on record with my in-person review of this special reunion.
•Rich Twilling, a former ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer, was with me in attendance. Both of us were huge fans of Michaels and Hall so we were interested in hearing them “shoot.” There were about 200 people in the crowd, many of whom just paid big money to get personalized photos with the entire Kliq. The show started with an amazing video package of HBK set to the tune of “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve. If you did not know any better, you would think the show would be all about Shawn. We concluded that this would be an incredible entrance song for someone with a slow deliberate pace like Randy Orton.
We were surprised to see that Maria Menounos was the special guest host of the event. She took the stage with the four Kliq members. She is a huge wrestling fan so it was cool to see her appearance, but we quickly realized that she would not be much more than a pretty face because Michaels was running the show. He served as the de facto host of the festivities and was obviously the one in control, likely because the show was his idea.
One of the first topics covered was the famous beat down of Michaels outside the nightclub in Syracuse. Waltman and Davey Boy Smith were with him at the time. Sean took the blame for the incident. They were all in the car drunk and drugged up and some military guys slammed on the window and challenged them, and Waltman took them up on the challenge. Michaels got beaten to a pulp and ended up in the hospital. HBK claims to not remember the incident other than waking up in an emergency room. This would be a common theme of the night as Michaels consistently claimed that his memory was very hazy of those times. Whether that is selective memory or not, we will never know
For the first 15 minutes of the show, people in the crowd had their cameras up to record. Hall and Waltman started discussing all of the drugs they did back in the day. Suddenly HBK got up and spoke to one of the producers. After that, the producer came in front of the audience and told them that no video recording would be allowed. Obviously, Michaels did not want any potential bad publicity from controversial stories. He always was quick to point out it was a different time in his life, one he was likely ashamed of. The others remembered the good times more fondly.
They talked about one time where they were all doped up on painkillers and entered a small-town bar before having to escape the police. The cops followed them to their hotel room and they acted as if they were there the whole time. They said that this type of behavior obviously would not fly anymore because of social media and camera phones.
Hall, characteristically, spoke the least, but every time he did the crowd was on the edge of their seats. When he brought up drugs, he said that that drugs work and they are “a lot of fun,” but the key is moderation and knowing when to quit. Nash smirked and said, “I don’t have an addictive personality.” Hall also made a point to mention that he was lucky to be there. He said he truly appreciated all of the fans who were in attendance, which was a classy gesture. I also loved that Waltman made a point to say he truly loves himself now which made us feel he had conquered his demons.
Menounos did very little to control the panel, and I think it would have benefited to have someone like Jim Ross or Mean Gene to help navigate the conversation. It went from one random drug and party story to another, but many of us would have liked to hear more about their in-ring careers. They did talk about wrestlers unions and that it would be nearly impossible to get “the boys” to agree on anything so it was very unlikely. They said that within the Kliq they effectively created their own union to protect themselves. Maria responded, “That’s why you are the N.W.O,” which made no sense.
The four went on to say that when the group went their separate ways, it was more about divide and conquer, and they remained friends even in separate companies. Nash talked about how cool it would have been if WCW opened the doors when DX went to Nitro. He said they likely would have hugged their friends and it would have been amazing television.
One of my favorite parts was when they opened the discussion up to Q&A and a fan asked which current wrestler they would like to fight. Waltman mentioned Shinsuke Nakamura. Braun Strowman came up as a potential opponent because he is a solid monster. When the question reached HBK, the crowd started chanting A.J. Styles, and he agreed that it would be a great match but was dismissive about making a return.
An audience member asked if they knew at the time they were changing the business, and they responded that they did not really think about it as it was happening. They said they were four guys that lived and breathed wrestling so their passion is what created their power. Hall and Nash talked about how it was important to see wrestling as a business, and they were very focused on getting as much money as possible, even if it meant some manipulation.
Michaels took the opposite route saying that he never really read contracts and did not think as much about the money. He was all about the in-ring performance. The others quipped that “it worked out pretty well” for him. Shawn said that he always gets offers to come back, but he is not interested, and he is very picky about the right story. The rest of the Kliq obviously had reverence for Michaels, and they all agreed that he was the best in-ring performer they had ever seen.
We loved the genuine friendship that was on display as the camaraderie between them has not diminished with age. They all acknowledged how important the others were for the success of their careers. Michaels was the obvious leader, and the others believed that he was the one that brought the Kliq together. Waltman said that his career was made the day he beat Razor Ramon. Nash said that the whole bodyguard angle with Michaels was not just an angle for television. He really felt protective of him and looked at him like a brother. He said he wish he was there for him that night in Syracuse.
Triple H was not discussed much, but it was pointed out the irony that the anti-establishment had become the establishment and that they literally married into the future of the business. They did all laugh that when Hunter first started hanging out with them, he was anointed the driver because he did not drink or do drugs.
The Curtain Call in Madison Square Garden was also discussed, and it seemed as if they felt a sense of relief because the business was heading in a more reality-based direction.
When they were asked about their most memorable match, they mentioned some obsolete tag match. We were all disappointed because we wanted to hear each member talk about their favorite encounter.
Overall, the tone of the festivities was one of fun and friendship. It was about a group of friends who have stuck together for decades and are aware of how they literally changed the wrestling industry. Being a big fan of DX and the NWO, it was fascinating to see how these core members revolutionized the business at a crucial juncture and took it to new heights.
It was an unforgettable evening at Wrestlecon, and all of us in attendance felt lucky to be there. I highly recommend any long-time wrestling fan that is interested in hearing the stories you do not see on television to attend these types of panels. For one night, we all felt like we were part of the Kliq.
CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: WRESTLEMANIA DIARY: Jim Ross and Friends with Bruce Prichard, Jim Cornette and Mick Foley
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