Kevin Nash Says The Fingerpoke of Doom Didn't Change Wrestling
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 01.05.2013
Plus Mick Foley remembers his title win on the same night...
- WWE.com has an interview with Mick Foley and Kevin Nash talking about January 4th, 1999 which is the night that Foley won the WWF title and WCW ran the "Fingerpoke of Doom" angle. Check out the highlights:
Foley on what the night means to him: "In retrospect, if people say it's the night that changed wrestling, I'll believe it. I'm happy to take that credit, but certainly think it was a night that changed people's perception about me within the wrestling industry...When the taping results came out, and there was the instantaneous switching of hundreds of thousands of TV sets, I think I went from being a highly recognized role player to a leading man in WWE. I still sometimes wonder if I wasn't just a very good role player, but at least for a period of time, the results begged to differ."
Nash on the significance of the night: "That was the night that changed wrestling? Oh, I disagree...The year that [Mike] Tyson showed up for WrestleMania [XIV] in '98 changed wrestling. Who thinks Jan. 4, '99, changed wrestling? A lot of [know-it-all fans]? It was already back and forth at that point with who won Mondays, so how did that change anything?"
Nash on the idea that momentum shifted to WWE "in a spiritual sense" at that point: "I don't believe in it. There's nothing spiritual about it. When Tyson came to WrestleMania, Vince knew that everybody was going to be watching that WrestleMania. They put a movie-trailer-quality piece before every match that caught everybody up to date if you hadn't been watching the show every week. It got a great buyrate. When I watched that WrestleMania, I said, "We're dead in the water." That's what changed wrestling...You're not talking to some [know-it-all]. You're talking to somebody that was in the process, in the middle of it. We could never out-produce Vince. Our production was never anywhere near Vince's production. And then Vince went edgier than we were, and all of a sudden standards and practices started pulling the cord back on us. Raw became the hip show and we became the un-hip show."
On the signficance of the Fingerpooke of Doom: "The "Fingerpoke of Doom" was nothing. The "Fingerpoke of Doom" was just trying to realign The nWo to face off with Goldberg and Goldberg ended up getting injured. I love how the story of my life is how I beat Goldberg to turn around and take the "Fingerpoke of Doom" a week later. Boy, that did me a lot of good. When you look at how people perceive the whole thing, it's ridiculous...The number one problem people have with the "Fingerpoke of Doom" is it "got" everybody. And nobody likes to be "got." So, of course, [know-it-alls] are going to hate it the most because they never called it. They didn't see anything coming."
On whether the fingerpoke was a reaction to hearing that Foley was winning the title: "Oh, we didn't care what WWE was doing. We were more worried about when Sable would come out, because those quarter-hour ratings of Raw would go through the roof. It was planned for about two or three weeks. It got to the point where people were disenchanted because Goldberg was undefeated. When we went to WWE's territory in Salisbury, Md., people were chanting "Goldberg sucks." They started pumping in the "Goldberg" chants and it became a situation where they were trying to fabricate a situation that had been organic."
Foley on whether the WWE locker room was aware of what WCW was doing each Monday night: "Oh sure, yeah. I wasn't aware about what had happened on Nitro that night until I saw it play out on Jan. 4. I think too much of the credit goes to me individually when a lot of the credit should go to WCW for putting on a really bad show that night. The arresting of Goldberg I thought was terrible. And for a long time, I thought WCW had the hot hand in the wrestling war. I would watch their show and go, "Wow, they've just got that edge that we don't seem to have." But by the time the ratings tide turned in our favor, I believe we had the better show for well more than a year. I'm not picking on Nitro, because they had some great shows, but that particular night stood out to me for being particularly bad."
Foley on why that night was particularly bad: "I always say there's no steadfast formula for getting a show right. There are some nights when Raw seems to go better than others. The show hooks people and the action is compelling. There are other nights that doesn't seem to go so well. For example, the dramatic return of Santa Claus was one of my all-time favorite Raws, and it seemed to be a night where everything was just right for that particular show. But I think this was a combination of WCW getting everything wrong on the wrong night and WWE getting everything right on the right night."
Nash on whether he would go back and do a match against Hogan or Goldberg instead of the fingerpoke: "It wouldn't have mattered. Goldberg still would've put his hand through the limo window [and been injured] in a couple of months, so what's the difference? A bunch of [know-it-all fans] wouldn't be as mad?...They already knew they wanted to watch Mick win the title over me wrestling Goldberg or Hulk. That was a decision that was already made."
Foley on why his title win still resonated with fans despite being spoiler on Nitro: "I think until that moment there was maybe not so much a definite standard to what a champion should look like, but a definite standard to what a champion should not look like. And yet, I had built up an incredible amount of goodwill and credibility with the WWE Universe. People had watched me work my way up from the Clarksburg Armory to Madison Square Garden. I believe people were ready to accept it. And ready to believe in it...It hurt at the time. When I heard it, it hurt. But no doubt about it, it turned out to be the best thing that could've possibly happened to me."
Foley on the next time he saw Eric Bischoff after that night: "I actually saw him on an airplane only three weeks later. I was coming back from the Royal Rumble in January 1999 and he was traveling somewhere else. I think we just exchanged formalities. Any bitterness I had about it was kind of erased when the ratings came out. I actually waited until the ratings came out until I called Tony Schiavone and I just left a purposely very forlorn message saying, "Listen, it's Mick Foley. I heard what you said. I honestly don't know why you guys would do that to somebody who worked so hard for so long for your company. And in truth, it probably just hurt your ratings. But anyway, I just thought I'd say hello"...Tony ended up calling me back and my wife answered the phone. She came to me and said, "It's Tony Schiavone and he sounds really sad." I knew as soon as he made that comment on air that it was probably put in his ear by Bischoff. Tony and I had a nice little conversation, but honestly I'm not bitter toward the players of that evening, because it all combined to make for the best possible scenario."
Foley on whether Bischoff ever apologized: "He never apologized on a personal level, but he said he wouldn't do it again if it was his decision. He did what he thought he had to do for his company. I think there should be exceptions. I think they should have factored in how hard I worked for those guys. I think the sarcastic "Wow, that'll put a lot of butts in the seats" was really the one that hurt. It was like dismissing my entire career as a joke. And it turned out the joke was on them."
Nash on his overall impressions of that night: "It's like a situation where you call a play in football and it doesn't work out. In retrospect you wouldn't want to run that play, but you don't get that chance. Live TV is live TV. You don't get a replay. You don't get any of those in life."
Nash on why WCW folded: "When the dot-com bubble burst, we weren't owned by Time Warner. We were owned by AOL. What do you think happened when the stock went from like $70 to $17? So was the closing of WCW from the "Fingerpoke of Doom"? You have to realize, you can't live in a wrestling bubble. They didn't just sell WCW. They sold the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Hawks, the Atlanta Thrashers, the building that they played in. They sold any tangible asset they had because they were going under. WCW being shut down was just set up to fail and to look like it never made a dime."