It is unimaginable to think that five friends could come together and ultimately dominate multi-million dollar wrestling corporations. ‘The Kliq’, did just that. These five men controlled the wrestling industry with backstabbing and politicking like no others have ever witnessed.
The Kliq manipulated their way into the top positions of the biggest wrestling companies of the 90’s, WCW and WWE. Backstage lobbying was a skill every member used to their advantage. When together these men ruled by power in numbers, and when separated they protected themselves by staying in top positions in their companies. In the WWE, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were either the champions or contending to become champions. Furthermore, over in the WCW Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would be protected by negotiating their way into fully guaranteed contracts, with Nash also receiving creative control. In addition, The Kliq were also the wave makers for two of the most controversial stables in wrestling history: The New World Order and D-Generation X. Forming these stables in their respective companies added supremacy over other talents in the industry. These two stables dominated the industry during a prosperous era in wrestling.
However, because of all the control The Kliq garnered, they developed many enemies backstage. From upper executives to lower level talents, a trail of irritated individuals were left from The Kliq’s rise to the top. This might have been the hottest time in wrestling, but for several others in the industry it was considered one of the darkest periods. Here are 15 things the WWE doesn’t want you to know about The Kliq.
15.The Kliq’s Dominance Made Talent Leave
It has been well documented that The Kliq was not liked by many superstars in the locker-room. There was animosity growing between the group and the rest of the talent. Several wrestlers felt uncomfortable that Michaels and “his gang” were constantly in Vince McMahon’s ear. There have even been instances of talents walking out of the company; one scandalous example is Shane Douglas. Douglas came from ECW to WWE red hot and had the potential to have a very solid career with the WWE. Douglas and Michaels did not get along very well and had a falling out. Shawn was supposed to drop the Intercontinental Championship to Douglas, but at the time it was known Shawn did not want to do the job and put over Douglas. Shawn would drop the title, however, not in a match, he forfeited the title after getting attacked by a group of US Marines. Douglas was awarded the title, but he would then immediately defend and drop the title consequently to another member of The Kliq, Razor Ramon. Douglas, infuriated with the decision, left the company and returned to ECW. This was only the beginning.
14. Heavy Drug Users
In addition to controlling the wrestling business, The Kliq were quite the party animals outside of the ring, and a few of the members were known to dabble heavily in drugs and alcohol. Michaels, Hall and Waltman, all had their problems with substance abuse. In a documentary for ESPN’s E:60, Hall gave an in-depth look at how drugs were a significant part of their lives. Hall explains a time where he and Michaels were deeply induced by drugs. Hall asked Michaels if he was still breathing, and Michaels replied with “yeah”, then Hall proceeded to ask Michaels if he wanted “another hit”. The explanation of the incident is very chilling to hear and demonstrates how drugs were a profound part of The Kliq’s lifestyle.
13. Truth Behind The Hand Gesture
The famous gesture was a staple used by the nWo, however it was first used by the members of The Kliq. The nWo using this gesture during their run in WCW signifies the strong bond between all the members of The Kliq, and in a subtle way it was an acknowledgment between the members, who were split during the Monday Night Wars. Although, very few people know how the gesture came about; it was X-Pac who conveyed the gesture into the group. After Waltman once saw a few people signaling each other with the gesture, he learned it was the “Turkish wolf”. This gesture was often used by those involved with the Turkish mafia. Waltman was intrigued by the gesture and started doing it with the other members of The Kliq, which lead it to become their signature gesture.
12. Guaranteed Contracts
It must have been a hard decision to leave their best friends behind when Hall and Nash left to go to the WCW. The decision became a little easier with the promise of a hefty contract, but what finally persuaded the two to jump ship was the fully guaranteed contracts. This was a first in the wrestling industry, and sparked a chain reaction of other wrestlers leaving the WWE for greener pastures with World Championship Wrestling. The guaranteed contracts were a key element in the destruction of the WCW, as Hall and Nash started a trend that would kill the WCW.
11. Nash Took Over WCW Internally
In an unprecedented move, Kevin Nash would receive creative control and booking responsibilities for the WCW. Becoming the booker gave Nash power over the rest of his co-workers. Going mad with power, Nash kept himself and his friends in the spotlight while continuing to bury future talent. A key moment in Nash’s disastrous run as a booker was the infamous “finger poke of doom”. After defeating Goldberg for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and breaking his illustrious streak of 173-0, at Starrcade, Nash would come up with an angle that is considered a crucial moment in the switch of power for the WWE in the Monday Night Wars. In the main event on the following night on Nitro, Nash would lose to Hulk Hogan in seconds by a finger poke. This incident profoundly angered fans and the backlash from it was one WCW would never recover from. This event lands largely on Nash’s shoulders, as he had overwhelming power in the company.
10. Triple H The Designated Driver
Most members of The Kliq loved the party lifestyle, except for one member and that was “The Game” Triple H. Members of The Kliq were known to abuse alcohol and drugs, therefore Hunter took it upon himself to become the designated driver, as he was one to never indulge in those activities. It was stated, while the rest of the group were downing booze, Hunter would be in the kitchen eating a sandwich; this was a common occurrence at parties The Kliq were attending. Triple H said in his book that drugs and alcohol were never his vices, he did, however, state that women were. So while the rest of The Kliq were getting tipsy in one room, Hunter would be eating a sandwich and smooth talking the ladies in another one.
9. Who Came Up With The Name?
While most superstars were uneasy about the close association of certain members, it wasn’t until superstars started referring to the faction as “The Kliq” that gave them notoriety within the locker-room. It was first believed that the name was coined by Lex Luger, due to how close the friends were backstage. Although, it was later revealed that Davey Boy Smith created the famous name; refereeing to how often they talk, he said the five of them kept “clicking”. Who knew that the friendship of these five men would grow into something resembling a real life faction.
8. The Kliq Controlled Wrestling
At one point in time, the faction had control of the wrestling industry. In the WWE, Michaels and Hunter had Vince’s ear and both were top stars in the company. Meanwhile, over in WCW, Hall and Nash were running things by staying in the limelight, and this was due to Nash negotiating creative control in his contract. Working for rival corporations didn’t stop this faction’s rise of power. Their promotions may have been adversaries for TV airtime, but the bond between The Kliq was still very strong. The Kliq manipulated their way to the top during the hottest time in wrestling. They placed themselves in a safe position for whichever company folded, as they knew there was a job waiting for them on the other side. The control these wrestlers had in their companies is unparalleled to any others in wrestling history.
7. Darkest Time in Wrestling
With the rest of the locker-room feeling alienated because of The Kliq, many wrestlers have stated it was the darkest time in wrestling. Backstage, The Kliq abused their power; they toyed with people’s emotions and livelihood. With The Kliq by Vince’s side it was easy for them to manipulate the boss in doing what they wanted, from either burying a superstar or getting a talent fired. Former WWE wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow gave insight to how corrupt wrestling was while The Kliq were in power; Bigelow said, “To them it became a joke because they had control, so it was like, ‘Okay, let’s f*** with this guy now…okay, well we got him out, now let’s go to this guy and let’s ruin his life and get HIM fired. Okay – now let’s go to this guy”. Bigelow continued by saying his time in the WWE was a terrible place to work and several superstars were hurt because of the influence of The Kliq.
6. X-Pac Fired Because of Nash and Hall
With influence on backstage politics run by Hall and Nash in the WCW, several top officials felt threatened. No official felt more threatened than the president of WCW at that time, Eric Bischoff. To send a message aimed for Hall and Nash, Bischoff fired Pac by federal express while he was home recuperating from an injury. Immediately after this news broke, Triple H contacted his good friend to return to the WWE. Days after his firing from the WCW, Pac would debut on Raw. On Raw, Waltman would cut a segment saying if it wasn’t for the guaranteed contracts Hall and Nash had, they would have abandoned the WCW and returned back to the WWE.
5. HBK Story
Michaels continued to struggle with substance abuse after his second retirement. His post wrestling life was shadowed with pills and depression. It wasn’t until a profound moment would occur in his life that he decided to change his ways. Michaels spent most of his time wasting away on the couch, as he did not have the will to do anything. He then overheard his son asking his mother “why is daddy always lying down?”. These words deeply impacted Michaels. From there, Michaels started getting clean and decided to find God and become a Born Again Christian. Michaels has said if it weren’t for his son’s words he might have not survived that dark point in his life.
4. Kevin Nash Saved X-Pac’s Life
Sean Waltman’s life had spun out of control and if it wasn’t for his good friend Kevin Nash, he most likely would not be alive today. Pac was a heavy user of crystal meth. His addiction was so out of control that he injected meth in the bathroom minutes before his high profile X-Division Championship match against AJ Styles, in 2002. Waltman was so incoherent that he forgot the finish to the match, and TNA fired him shortly after the incident. From there, his drug addiction would continue and he would develop an alcohol problem as well. The lowest point in Waltman’s life happened when he woke up in a hospital bed after taking 40 Valium pills with a bottle of rum, wrote a suicide note and hanged himself with a hose before blacking out. Kevin Nash would come to the aid of his friend and pay for a high end psychiatric rehabilitation facility. The WWE would also aid in the finances to help X-Pac.
Waltman was successfully rehabilitated and got clean. Watching him with The Kliq at last year’s WrestleMania is an indication on how he has considerably changed his life.
3. Bret Was Originally Asked To Be Part Of The Kliq
The animosity between bitter rivals Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart was like no other in professional wrestling history. These two men detested each other while they were both the top two stars in the WWE at that time. Although, their strained relationship didn’t start out that way. At one point in time in their careers, Michaels and Hart had mutual respect for one another. They weren’t the best of friends but were close enough that Michaels asked Hart to be part of the group. Hart stated in his book: “The thing I remember most about that tour was Shawn, Razor, and Nash talking to me in Hamburg about the idea of forming a clique of top guys who strictly took care of their own”. Hart declined the offer, which some believe started the conflict between the two advisories.
2. MSG Incident Changed Landscape Of Wrestling
During the mid-90s the WWE cared about protecting kayfabe situations, while making fans believe the legitimacy of superstars who were faces and heels. The superstars were expected to always be in character when in front of fans. However, this wrestling ideology would be forever changed during an incident at Madison Square Garden, in 1996.
Hall and Nash were headed to the WCW, this night being their final event for the WWE. Hall took on Triple H earlier in the show, and the main event of the night saw Michaels and Nash inside a steel cage. At the end of the show, Hall and Hunter ran to the ring and all four members embraced each other. This would go down in history as the “curtain call”.
While some fans knew Hall and Nash were headed to WCW, no one expected them to break character. It was the first time in wrestling history that something like this happened, and as you could expect, many backstage were enraged. Initially, Vince McMahon had no problem with the incident, though his feeling changed because of the veterans and old school wrestlers in his ear. The only member of the group to get heat for the incident was Triple H (he was in line for a push to win the King of the Ring that year but the spot was given instead to Stone Cold). Wrestling would never be the same following this incident, kayfabe was often broken and Austin would become a mega star and lead the WWE into The Attitude Era.
1. Burying Wrestlers
It has been widely speculated that The Kliq often buried wrestlers beneath them they did not agree with. One major incident occurred during a live event. Carl Ouellet was booked to beat then WWE Champion Diesel (Kevin Nash), in a house show in Montreal, his hometown. However, shortly before the match, the ending was change by Michaels to have Ouellet lose to Nash. An argument broke out between Ouellet and Michaels backstage which led to the two having to be separated by other wrestlers. The match didn’t go as planned and ended in a double disqualification because Ouellet refused to be pinned by Nash. Ouellet was fired shortly after the incident. In his book, Michaels states: “we buried him because he did not want to put Nash over”. This is a key example of the power The Kliq had in the WWE at that time. If any wrestlers rubbed the group the wrong way they would find a way to bury them in the company.