Welcome back to the Phat Daily Column. Today, I'm not going to write about wrestling, for I don't really feel like doing so. This terrorist attack has shot down my mood to write about anything current, which I hope is understandable. Instead, I'm just going whip out one of the favorite PDCs, among readers, in a "Best of Tito" column, I suppose.
Before I began writing yesterday, I only saw the Pentagon and the Trade Towers on fire. I thought it was from a bomb or whatnot. The Compaq from Hell is angled to where you can't see the television, so after I was done with the PDC, which was hard to write based on what I initially saw, I was just shocked to see the Trade Towers going down and the footage of commercial airplanes flying into those towers. It was just sickening.
For those who were asking, I do not live in Pittsburgh, PA or anywhere in Pennsylvania for that matter. I just travel up there, every once in a while, to see relatives or to catch the Pirates, Penguins, or the Steelers play, along with wrestling events now. I live on the Eastern border of Ohio, and according to my local news report, I'm about 140 miles away from the airplane crash in Pennsylvania that was hijacked and headed towards either Camp David or Washington, DC. Thanks for your concern.
On to the PDC.
Welcome to the Saturday edition of the Phat Daily Column, as we'll make a Quantum Leap through the wrestling past during some crucial time. Today's topic will be about the WWF "Clique", which was a big thing in the WWF during the mid 90s, and it still carries some weight today. Off to the Time Machine my friends..... on to the PDC!
Before we discuss history, let's define what the Clique is. As the legend goes, it's the name that coined(by Wade Keller I believe) for the influencial group of wrestlers in the WWF at the time. Those influencial wrestlers, meaning they had lots of locker room power during the mid 1990s, were Shawn Michaels, Diesel(Kevin Nash), and Razor Ramon(Scott Hall), with 1-2-3 Kid(Sean Waltman, Syxx, X-Pac), Triple H, and Aldo Montoya(now Justin Credible) as "close friends" of the super 3 of Michaels, Razor, and Diesel.
As the story goes, Shawn Michaels was said to becoming a locker room headache for the WWF during his early singles career. Some say he had attitude problems, while those in favor of Michaels would proclaim that nobody could meet his wrestling ability. But the fact is that many wrestlers and lots of executives weren't too happy with Michaels during his early Intercontinental runs in the singles division.
In WCW, two midcarders and underutilized guys, Diamond Studd(Scott Hall) and Vinnie Vegas/Oz(Kevin Nash) were being badly misused by the stupid WCW bookers in the early 90s. Many insiders at the time just couldn't wait for Vince McMahon and the WWF to "sink their teeth" into these possible superstars. Studd and Oz/Vegas became pretty close friends in WCW, which should really be noted as the first link in creating the "clique".
However, WCW didn't recognize talent back in the day, so they let the Diamond Studd go, and Vince ever-so-quickly picked this guy up, and made him Razor Ramon. Vinnie Vegas kinda got the odd push that the Diamond Studd was getting, being the thug to DDP, while Razor was climbing the ladder. Since WCW didn't recognize talent yet again with Vinnie Vegas, they let him go to the WWF. Razor Ramon was said to help the WWF in getting Kevin Nash from WCW waivers.
So what shall the WWF do with Kevin Nash you ask? Well, to make Shawn Michaels look stronger, and to SLOWLY help Nash get better in the ring, it was decided to make Kevin Nash into Diesel, a tough looking bodyguard for HBK. Now HBK was beginning to look much better as a heel champ, since he had a rough looking bodyguard. Working together, Shawn Michaels and Diesel started to become close friends. Since Nash was already good friends with Hall/Razor from WCW days, Razor of course, became friends with Shawn Michaels too. It was said that the 3 became inseparable, and somewhat ignored everyone else.
Shawn was your Intercontinental champion in late 1993, BUT he began to have a few contractual disputes with the WWF. The dispute made HBK miss a television taping, so it was then decided to STRIP Shawn Michaels of the title, and put it on the line at that very taping. Who won it? As history shows, Razor Ramon's star power was rising to new heights, as that's something that WCW failed to capitalize on. After a few months of disputes, the WWF and Shawn Michaels came to terms on a deal, which would mess with people's heads later...more on that in a moment!
Shawn came back, but claimed that he was still the Intercontinental champ, since Razor DID NOT beat him! So this set up the HISTORY setting moment between Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 10 in 1994, with the famous ladder match. This sort of hushed a bunch of WWF critics, and sort of cemented a spot for Shawn Michaels for years to come. This also helped to give him confidence of Vince McMahon, which would eventually make the Clique strong and powerful in locker room politics.
But the Clique could have been broken up here though. Many felt that because Shawn Michaels lost the ladder match. Since he had problems over his contract, many felt that he'd jump to WCW after Wrestlemania 10. However, he stuck around, probably since his good friends Hall and Nash told him about the horror stories of that dump back then. His contract has apparently allowed him to take more time off, which was one of the "disputes", so Shawn Micheals remained within the WWF, doing those wonderful "Heartbreak Hotel" or whatever segments.
However, thanks to Wrestlemania 10, the WWF was VERY high on Nash, Hall, and Shawn Michaels for being the "future" of the WWF. With that confidence, the Clique started to get some "pull" in the locker room. They began to get very cocky as a group, and stars like Bret Hart was getting annoyed by some of their antics.
But they were only 3 guys...so what could they do? What if more people would join? Well, good old 1-2-3 Kid joined the WWF, after being a great independent sensation as the Lightning Kid, who I actually liked back in the day of Global Wrestling. He was a jobber for a while, until the WWF decided to give him a fluke win over Razor Ramon. So after their long program, Razor and the 1-2-3 Kid became good friends, and of course, the 1-2-3 Kid became close friends with Diesel, and Shawn Micheals.
Gee, didn't you just notice how these 4 guys were getting in good programs? Then, their egos hit. They began to somewhat slack against other competitors, but when the WWF booked them against each other, you were seeing some excellent action. That angered a whole lot of wrestlers in the back, and helped the WWF locker room morale drop, which in my opinion, helped to eventually make WWF the #2 federation, which I discussed 2 weeks ago.
So to late 1994 we go, and we get the very unfortunate decision to make Diesel the World Champion, and crapping on Bret Hart's hard fought opponent of Bob Backlund. If you remember, Backlund and Bret Hart had an awesome feud, which the crowd was all over and behind, but the Clique's influence helped give Vince the confidence to have Diesel destroy Backlund, and thus the Clique really had power. Gee, what was the Wrestlemania 11 match in 1995? Oh, I know, it was Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel!!!
It should be noted here that the WWF picked up Triple H from WCW, and that the WWF also gave us Aldo Montoya. Both of those guys became fast friends with the Clique, although considered to be very low midcarders at the time. These guys WERE NOT helped for being buddies with the Clique, as Aldo proved to be worthless(he still is today..hehe), and Triple H was actually impressing WWF officials with his charisma and in ring ability, without the Clique's hand in his fate. But Triple H would get the screws later thanks to a Clique incident in 1996...
So around mid 1995, or possibly after that, we had the wonderful Dean Douglas gimmick to enjoy! The gimmick wasn't the only thing screwing Shane Douglas, as the Clique got him royally! Shawn Michaels would turn face, and win the Intercontinental title. If you remember, Shawn Michaels handed over his Intercontinental title, which he got away with thanks to his influence, and so Douglas got the title without HBK laying down. However, it got worse. That wonderful Clique influence made Douglas immediately drop the IC strap to Razor Ramon, just about 20 minutes after Douglas was "handed" the title. That led to Shane really getting on the WWF, sticking up for himself, and when Shane Douglas asked the WWF for his release, they gladly did it. Why? Because Douglas wouldn't take their garbage, so they favored the Clique, and just let him go.
They really started to get to Bret Hart though, as the WWF just couldn't deny giving him the World Title against Diesel in late 1995. Vince finally realized what a failure Diesel was as World Champ, a year later, and gave the title to Bret Hart. Guess who was lined up to be the NEXT world champion? You guessed it, the showstopper...the main event, the Icon, Shawn Michaels! Now in all fairness, HBK is one of the best performers ever! I'll claim that he is worthy of the title, but the bonehead move to have Diesel as the champ was just ignorant! Especially as a face champion!
Bret Hart was the least thrilled about this decision, since the Clique was getting all of the pull backstage. However, dollar signs got to 2 members of the Clique, and soon another one followed! WCW was throwing money around, and Nash decided to become financially secure for the rest of his life. Scott Hall's drug problem was getting out of hand, and his little stunts like shitting on a plate and then giving it to Sunny on a plane was turning the WWF off. So he too negotiated with WCW for LOTS of money. By the way, why the hell did WCW not look at this guy's past? Oh wait, he's a WWF star. But I'll be nice since Hall helped revolutionize WCW at its time.
So of course, Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart in the Ironman Match at Wrestlemania 12, which almost drove Bret Hart out of the federation. However, we must discuss a MAJOR Clique event that created LOTS of changes for the WWF...
The famous "Curtain Call". Now I'm sure you've heard Triple H mention this during his rise to the top as a heel, but you didn't get what it meant? Maybe you saw DX laughing at footage of the famous "Curtain Call". Ok, here we go... In the final houseshow at Madison Square Garden for Hall and Nash before they'd make history in WCW, some problems came up for the WWF. Since the WWF booked the Clique against each other, they did it again tonight. We had Triple H vs. Razor Ramon, and we also had Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels in the main event.
Now I'm not sure who won the Triple H vs. Razor match, but I'd assume Triple H won, but that's not the important match. Diesel and HBK fought their match, and after HBK won it, Razor Ramon and Triple H came down to the ring. Were they down there to jump the wrestlers? Oh no!!! These real life buddies came gave a huge salute to the whole crowd, hugging and embracing each other, instead of following the storylines.
You see, we aren't in the "sports entertainment" era folks, and doing anything like this was just an embarassment to the WWF's way of running the company. They went against the set storylines or booking and revealed something very real. So who could the WWF punish? Hall and Nash? Hell no, because they were on their way to WCW. Shawn Michaels? No way! He's your top guy now, especially when Bret Hart is on hiatus. So it only left one person to punish....
Let it be known that before this "Curtain Call", Triple H was supposed to win King of the Ring 1996, and he was supposed to be a lengthy Intercontinental Champ, and then being pushed as a strong heel main eventer! But nooooo.... this incident need some punishment, so Triple H was the only one to nail for it. So, Triple H was jobbed HARD after this incident, losing such matches as the first round Intercontinental title tournament match to Sid, which he should have won to become champ. Instead, Marc Mero won that IC title, and when Hunter's punishment was over, he won that belt. However, a lot of damage had been done....
It should be noted that Triple H's depushing and not being able to win the 1996 King of the Ring paved the way for history to eventually be made. With Triple H not winning the King of the Ring, the WWF turned to Stone Cold Steve Austin, and on that very night, he became reality with his famous Austin 3:16 speech after winning it. Can you just imagine what would happen if Stone Cold didn't win that King of the Ring? I'm thinking it's by chance that it happened, and that the stars lined up correctly during this time... Who knows? It's very shocking to think about.
Anyway, we now go to the 1-2-3 Kid..... This man became very injury prone after a while, and he too had a substance problem, as rumored. Now I remember reading in a magazine that 1-2-3 Kid was let go due to the fact that he didn't want to attend rehab for substance abuse. Now I don't know if this is actually true, since the Kid was getting concussions by the month too. Whatever the case may be, the WWF let him go because they felt, like Razor, that Kid wasn't worth their time anymore. Plus, it's said that Mr. Sean Waltman can show a bad attitude backstage, which was also reported during his WCW run. So Waltman was let go by the WWF, and Eric Bischoff signed him as a "good will" to Hall and Nash. Waltman went by the name Syxx, and Hall, Nash, and Syxx were inseparable in WCW as part of the NWO.
So going into fast foward a bit, since most of the "main" Clique stuff was just discussed, you'll know that Shawn's WWF influence caused him to avoid ever jobbing to Bret Hart, since he "faked" a knee injury to get away from losing to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13. Also during late 1996 and for the first half of 1997, Shawn Michaels and Triple H were BEGGING the WWF to put them together. Well, Shawn was a babyface, remember, and Triple H was still an evil, snobbish heel....so the WWF kept avoiding it. However, Undertaker was your World Champion now, and times where a-changing on having a HUGE babyface as your top man. Sooo...they gave Shawn Michaels an attitude, and he eventually turned heel! Then, the WWF finally caved in, and let Triple H and Shawn Michaels work together, thus forming DX. It should be noted that this is really a mini-Clique, since these guys had LOTS of pull in what they did.
Same with the NWO Wolfpac...except when it came to Hogan, who ruled the WCW universe at the time! Hall, Nash, and Syxx angered many wrestlers in WCW's back, especially in the tag division! Like, for example, the Nasty Boys. Scott Hall gave one of them a cheapshot during a match, so the Nastys fired right back at the Outsiders, thus refusing to cooperate during a match. Thanks to this ignorance, the Nasty Boys were immediately dropped from the roster. Power from this trio-Clique was showing... However, Syxx's attitude wasn't appreciated with just about the entire WCW roster, and Bischoff NEVER liked the man, so he was immediately depushed. Why do you think he ended his great Cruiserweight reign to Chris Jericho??? Syxx would later hurt his neck, but we'll get to that after the famous "Montreal Incident".
Now this matter is ALWAYS controversial, but we'll get to the "Clique Influence" part of it first. Some suggest that Shawn Michaels did indeed know that Vince McMahon would screw over Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1997. Now, I'm NOT saying he did, but if he did, it's another example of how HBK getting his way, since he's rumored to not want to job to Hart. My theory is if Shawn had a problem with the screwing, then why did he accept the World Title? Just think about it!
DX, or I'll call it the mini-Clique was HUGE for the WWF. This Survivor Series controversy did nothing but fuel their fire, and they became larger than life in the WWF. They would then mix with the hottest star in the market, Steve Austin for a great feud. Shawn Michaels, unfortunately, hurt his back before Wrestlemania 14, as we don't know where Shawn would be if he was healthy there. I'm thinking a promise rematch for Austin, with many wars to come, and with HBK's continuing influence in the WWF. But nooo, he was hurt, and unable to perform ever again!
In WCW, the Wolfpac was just dealt a heavy blow: WCW FIRED Syxx!! Why? WCW has that damn 90 Day inactive clause in ALL of their contracts(except for Hogan's), and they exercised it since Bischoff wasn't a big fan of Syxx anyway. So with an injury he had while wrestling for WCW, he was fired for it! Also, he only had a few months before his return... as seen after he returned to the WWF. According to PWtorch.com, this angered Kevin Nash to the point where he wanted out of WCW. My theory is that this was the first instance that Kevin Nash would no longer care for what happened in WCW, as his effort, if there was any to begin with, just went away. Also, it made Scott Hall unhappy too, and when he's depressed, he finds something to hide it, thus the chain of events helped him to no longer care for WCW either. BUT, Hall and Nash were major influential wrestlers...and their bad attitudes helped to destroy the WCW product, along with other stupid factors. That Clique is so powerful, isn't it?
So as it turns out, WWF took back Sean Waltman, and made him X-Pac. X-Pac would deliver, in my opinion, the best "shoot" interview ever on the RAW after Wrestlemania 14. He just KILLED Bischoff, basically exposing what a fool he was. "Put that in your pipe and smoke it" was one of the lines, and another was "if Kevin Nash and Scott Hall could get out of their deals and come here, they would in a heartbeat!" Again, the Clique is all over it!
Triple H's character began to rise, and eventually get to where it's at today. X-Pac....well, he's just X-Pac, so we'll leave it at that. Triple H, though, would be a major player backstage, and he still remains that today...in a good way though.
However, in WCW land, it took a turn for the worse with former Clique members. Kevin Nash became booker in late 1998, and just FLUSHED WCW down the toilet, pushing his little buddies, and just not giving a fuck at all. His continued influence, in my opinion, helped to put WCW in it's fragile state today. Of course, WCW was already crumbling, but it could have been saved in 1999. While I'm on the topic of Nash, it should be known that one of the guys who got majorly screwed by his booking was Chris Jericho. Nash knew this guy was hot, but he could make him look bad as well. So Nash helped to bury Jericho in WCW, and eventually let his contract run out. Also, Nash helped to bury Bret Hart too in WCW, allowing the Clique to screw the Hitman again.
So Jericho becomes an instant sensation within the WWF, and what happens? The legend of the Clique hit again! Rumor has it that Kevin Nash was telling Triple H to be tough with Chris Jericho, since Jericho would make Nash look bad if he became a HUGE WWF star, since Nash didn't care for him. So as rumor has it, Triple H caught McMahon's ear and told him to make it tough for Jericho at first. That could be why Jericho was sort of depushed already in the WWF, just weeks after he made the BEST ENTRANCE IN THE HISTORY OF WRESTLING!
Now, whether that is true or not, I don't know. As you'll know that maybe it wore off Triple H, since the Game let Jericho fight him for a while. HOWEVER, rumors are going around that the deal with Jericho fighting Triple H was to immediately feud with X-Pac. Could that be a Clique influence??? I'd be hard pressed to not think something was up there. Many rumors are circulating that Shawn Michaels is only asked a few times a year to show up since the WWF doesn't want him in the locker room. Is it true? Well, HBK is hot on the mic, so why wouldn't the WWF use him more? Very interesting possibilities here.
OH WAIT!!! How could I forget Aldo Montoya, the Portuguese Man of War? Well, to tell you the truth, he was just really a flunky of the group. Unlike 1-2-3 Kid, he didn't get a rub from the Clique. Sure, he was thrown into the Jerry Lawler and Jake Roberts feud, but that was weak. The WWF then sent him to the USWA I believe, to find a character, and then he joined ECW as, you guessed it, Justin Credible. He would later become a FULL TIME ECW star, instead of jumping back to the WWF. No Clique influence here, although many never imagined he'd be a World Champ in ECW....
Funny story here with Justin Creidible and his former Clique buddy, Scott Hall. While on one of his many rehab time offs, Scott Hall tried to "visit" Justin Credible at an ECW event. However, a man he helped to screw over didn't allow that! Good old Shane Douglas didn't allow Scott Hall to be in ECW's locker room to see his little buddy, in what was reported to be a heated confrontation. But in all fairness, Justin Credible is now where he is today from the Clique. He could say that he's his own man, earning whatever he earns.
A big question is will there ever be a Clique reunion?? Well, it's highly unlikely that Scott Hall would ever be wanted anywhere now, thanks to his own ignorance. Kevin Nash really wants to return to the WWF, and that could really fuel the reunion if Vince McMahon wants Big Lazy in his fed again. Triple H and X-Pac are well tied in with the WWF, so a Clique reunion could only happen in the WWF for them. Shawn Michaels's contract ends sometime next year, and I wonder what he'll do after that? I bet he'll resign some kind of deal with the WWF though, especially since Nash is probably telling him what a joke WCW currently is to him. Unless ECW folds, Justin Credible will remain with ECW for a while, since he inked a nice long term deal there. Of course, he's just a little buddy of the Clique, and not a Fab 5 member like the picture shown above. (Update: HBK did resign a deal, but he's been shelved for his actions at a recent Smackdown. Justin Credible is in the WWF right now. Nash and Hall are both awaiting the time when Nash's Time Warner/AOL contract ends, which is January 1st, 2002. Rumor has it that Vince McMahon wouldn't mind taking Nash back, so Hall would probably follow.)
This group is one of the most talked about subjects for longtime wrestling fans, especially since effects of it still remain today. Who knows? Maybe it will rise again, or maybe just duos or trios of this group will control each federation, like it sort of has been. Only time will tell.
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@That's all for today. Keep your thoughts and prayers with those who suffered because of this terrorist attack, and the same goes for families who may have lost someone.
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Take Care, and Thanks for Reading.