WINSLOW, MAINE – The line of fans at the Sukee Ice Arena extended out the door to meet Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman. Far removed from headlining shows at Madison Square Garden, the trio—known as “The Wolfpac”—returned the favor by treating their fans with the same type of reverence. Hall joked and chatted with fans, while Nash and Waltman continually went deep into conversation with men, women and children who have, in some cases, spent the past 20 years watching these superstars perform in the ring.
“You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends,” said Hall. “The schedule is pretty brutal now, but back in our era, it was nonstop. It was 300 shows a year, so you would bond with the guys you’d be in the ring with, the ones you’d travel and eat meals with. It almost becomes closer than your family. There were times when I spent more actual skin-on-skin contact with Kevin, with Pac [Waltman], and Shawn Michaels than I actually did with my wife, which is probably why I’m divorced.”
Outside of the ring, these men are strikingly similar to the fans who admire them. In Waltman’s case, he is dealing with the anguish of losing a loved one.
“My grandfather is in hospice,” said a heavy-hearted Waltman. “I didn’t have a father, but he’s been my father and he is dying right now. But I had to get on a flight and get here and do these shows. That’s the kind of s--- that we’re used to. We’re used to the fact that the show has to go on.”
The fan's eye would have never known Waltman was hurting. He spent extra time with each person, signing multiple items and engaging in lengthy conversation. His affection was genuine, as he knows first-hand the significance of taking care of those who are good to you.
"When I’m on my ass and at my very bottom,” said Waltman, “these are the guys who are there for me.”
The Wolfpac may no longer appear on television every Monday night, but their bond is tighter than ever.
“These guys are my brothers,” said Nash. “When you take the five guys who are considered ‘The Kliq’ [Nash, Hall, Waltman, Michaels, and Paul “Triple H” Levesque], it’s the three of us who have spent the most time together. I always know what’s going on in their life. It’s never more than a month that we sit down somewhere and catch up. In this business, that’s almost unheard of.”
In their first interview since WrestleMania XXXI, the Wolfpac came out swinging. The three did not mince words about critics of the NWO, the Hall of Fame, Sting’s in-ring debut against Triple H, and Nash even dropped a bombshell about the Undertaker.
Rumors have been rampant that Shawn Michaels was close to signing with WCW, but there is little behind the report. A major name did nearly jump ship, as Nash revealed he was part of the team that was inches away from prying the Undertaker loose from Vince McMahon.
“We had ‘Taker close,” said Nash, referencing when the Undertaker was a free agent in 2000 and was unhappy with the direction of his character. “All of a sudden he wasn’t the Deadman. He became the American Badass for a reason. That Deadman wasn’t going to f---in’ come to WCW. He would have been the biker character and gone by Mark Calaway.
“All along, I was trying to get guys money, I was trying to get guys paid. And what happened was Vince started giving huge guarantees to the Shawns and Undertakers and those guys and said, ‘I can’t lose my core guys.’”
The NWO is now widely applauded for its impact in the ring and behind the curtain, but the trio of Hall, Nash and Hogan was once heavily criticized for holding back young talent. Chris Jericho is on record stating they were “three of the biggest contributors to the demise of WCW.”
“Jericho’s just a whining puss,” said Hall. “If you have any talent, you can’t be held back and you can’t be held down. Jericho just whines and whines. He’s gone on to be tremendously successful, and he’s still got a hard on for us. I don’t get it, but nobody makes headlines for saying, ‘Those guys are great guys. You talk about what d---s we are, and then some guy sits down and interviews you.”
Waltman also worked with Jericho in both WCW and WWE.
“Jericho realized, once he got to WWE, ‘Holy s---, I don’t know what the f--- I’m doing here,’” said Waltman. “That’s why Vince made him come to me and run his matches by me, even he was working with Boss Man or something. You think you know, until you finally know.”
In regards to the Hall of Fame, Nash reportedly infuriated WWE CEO Vince McMahon with his speech.
“I walked in the back after the speech and Vince hugged me,” said Nash. “I didn’t feel any heat. The only thing I said during my speech was that, for three years, I was guaranteed $1,500. But what does that do? That tells a guy from NXT that’s b----ing about a $35,000 contract that, hey, Kevin Nash got $1,500 when he broke in.
“When you go up and do your Hall of Fame speech, you’re still in character. They still want that little bit of edge. I could have spoken about how great the Wellness Program is and how many people that I know have received incredible substance abuse care. I could have discussed how many guys have not cleared their physical and found out they had blockages in their hearts, and WWE kept it all quiet. There’s a lot of guys sitting in the locker room that aren’t on TV who have a concussion and they don’t put them out in the ring. WWE is a first-class organization and they take really good care of their people.”
Nash also addressed the rumors that he refused to enter the HOF under the Diesel gimmick.
“I’ve read on the internet where people said I wouldn’t go in as Diesel because I wanted to use Kevin Nash for self-promotion,” he said. “But if I went in as Diesel, shouldn’t Glenn Jacobs have come up there and spoke with me? They did it to Scott last year [as Razor Ramon]. Scott’s the only guy to go into the Hall of Fame where somebody else played his character besides him.”
Before his role as Kane, Jacobs played the “fake” Diesel while Rick Bognar played Razor Ramon. The gimmicks were a disaster, and the men who originally played the characters – Hall and Nash – were off to WCW.
“Initially Eric Bischoff had talked about bringing us in together, but my contract ended about eight days before Kevin’s,” said Hall. “Then I was contacted by him and he said, ‘You’re free, aren’t you?’ So I started immediately. It broke our debuts down into segments. Looking back, it’s easy to glamorize how great we were, but we didn’t know it would be so huge.”
Even before “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the New World Order was the originator in making it cool to be bad.
“People always asked us, ‘Are you the good guy or the bad guy?’” said Hall. “I never really sweated that. We were ultra-villains as NWO, but NWO had the widest selling shirt at that time. It all depended on how popular the opponent was. Whether they cheer or whether they boo really doesn’t bother me, as long as they’re paying attention.”
Nash believed he and Hall would be extremely popular in WCW, but never envisioned becoming one of the hottest acts ever in the history of the profession.
“We were the first guys in wrestling to recognize the anti-hero was becoming the hero,” said Nash. “Vince always wanted to push the guy waving the flag, but we were at a state in America where the guy lighting the flag on fire was the hero.”
The addition of Hulk Hogan added a crucial element to the NWO. Though some circles argue that Hogan needed the NWO far more than Hall and Nash needed Hogan, Nash explained that the Hogan factor was necessary.
“What we brought Hulk was the street-cred coolness, but Hulk brought us that iconic name,” said Nash. “And we were the two Lucifers who turned the golden boy bad. We got a degree of heat just from the fact we turned the ‘say your prayers and eat your vitamins’ guy into a heel.”
None of the men were surprised Sting dropped his match with Triple H at WrestleMania XXXI.
“There wasn’t a star from WCW that didn’t lose when he came into WWE,” said Nash. “I mean, Christian destroyed Golberg in a cage match with a chair. That is one of the things that’s always been done. If Sting thought otherwise, he was wrong. The fact is it was a WCW-WWE moment and, once again, WWE prevailed.”
“And let’s be honest,” added Waltman. “Sting was still very well-protected in that match. He got hit with everything, and I mean both kitchen sinks before he got beat. Nobody knew what he could do, even Sting didn’t know what he was going to bring to the table.”
Showing off his trademark sense of humor, Nash quipped, “The one thing Sting wasn’t going to bring to the table was a spray tan.”
Some fans have argued the NWO run-in to protect Sting lacked logic, while others have insisted that Waltman should have changed sides – from the NWO to DX – during the match to turn the tide, just as he did when he left WCW and returned to WWE in 1998.
“I wasn’t going to turn mid-match,” said Waltman. “People thought it would be cool because I was in both groups, but honestly, that would be really self-serving. It wasn’t about me. It’s WrestleMania. I was just happy to be out there and part of the moment.”
Nash explained how the sides were chosen.
Seventeen years have passed since the Wolfpac headlined WCW’s Slamboree pay per view in May 1997. The trio lost in Ric Flair’s hometown of Charlotte to Flair, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and former NFL linebacker Kevin Greene.
“That pay per view was a real distinction between working for the WWE and working for WCW,” said Hall. “We all got beat. When the Wolfpac loses, you beat us all. We’re all lying there, and they shoot the wide shot and don’t ever show any of us down. They just show the guys on top. The people in the audience enjoyed the message we were sending, but the millions watching at home really didn’t grasp it. It was just one more reason to think, ‘Wow, WCW sucks.’”
In the months following Slamboree, Hogan and Bischoff battled Hall and Nash in a power struggle. A major salvo was fired when Bischoff terminated Waltman.
“I was notified that I was fired by FedEx,” said Waltman. “That story is one hundred percent true.”
In a move that forever changed the war between WWE and WCW, Waltman was let go after he suffered an injury in the ring.
“The thing that really changed everything was when Sean left,” said Nash. “When he left, he took so much athleticism from the NWO.”
The backstory is Waltman broke his neck filling in for a match for Hall.
“I’d twisted my knee,” said Hall. “So he’s wrestling Lex Luger in a match in Mankato, Minn. And Lex gave him a goofy bump – and I’m not blaming Lex, he’s a great guy and stuff happens – and Kid breaks his neck. Bischoff and Hogan were mad at me and Kev. They can’t touch us, so they fire our buddy.”
Hall was under contract and could not quit, so he displayed his loyalty to Waltman in a different fashion.
“I quit volunteering ideas,” said Hall. “I felt like, ‘Wow, you’re going to fire my friend?’ So when they’d come in and ask me to do an interview, I’d ask them, ‘What do you want me to say?’ They’d tell me I could say whatever I wanted, but I’d say no, ‘What do you want me to say? I just provide wrestling talent.’”
Nash then added the caveat to that agreement.
“It was in the contract that they owned anything we came up with creatively,” said Nash.
Hall couldn’t resist interrupting, robotically stating, “Too sweet for life.”
“Anything we came up with, they owned,” continued Nash. “So, if you’re going to own it, why don’t you go ahead and manufacture it?”
Nash stated guaranteed contracts are his biggest contribution to the business, and also explained that the Montreal Screwjob with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels would have never occurred had he still been employed by the WWE.
“That would have been a situation where we would have sat Bret down and said, ‘Dude, you’ve got to drop this,’” said Nash. “We’d have said you’re leaving and this is how you do business.”
Waltman, however, has a different opinion.
“It’s just the conspiracy theorist in me, but getting screwed over and leaving a martyr wasn’t a bad way for Bret to leave,” said Waltman. “I’ve actually talked to Bret about that, and he said he believed it was going to go down the way it was planned. But I would have smelled a rat a mile away. As soon as they said, ‘We’re going to put you in your own finish, I’d have said, ‘Yea, right.’”
Nash could not resist needling McMahon.
“I’ve obviously never seen Vince sell anything in my life, including the federal government climbing up his a--, yet on video he’s selling a punch from Bret,” said Nash. “I think Dick Cheney booked the whole thing.”
Waltman freely admitted that their fame provided some unique perks.
“I indulged quite frequently in the ladies,” Waltman said. “We didn’t call them ‘Kliq girls,’ because we didn’t mess with the groupies. We went out and turned women into groupies.”
Nash also touched on the group’s legacy.
“The coolest part of doing a signing is when a four-year-old kid throws up that Kliq sign,” said Nash. “It just transcends. It continues. I feel like this is the equivalent of the Rolling Stones’ tongue. It’s iconic, it’s passed down. And that connects back to when we got separated, and half the Kliq was running one company and half was running the other. We were always true to each other. Paul knows right now that he can call anyone of us and we’re there on the next plane if he needs us. That’s just the way things are.
"We made a pact that the five of us were going to watch each other’s back and we would never get separated,” said Nash. “But to do that is a completely different thing. And we’ve done it.”
GALLERY: SI'S BEST PHOTOS FROM WRESTLEMANIA 31