Spontaneity can often lead to some of the greatest moments, and this day in wrestling history focuses on one of the greatest moments that broke kayfabe twenty-four years ago on May 19, 1996. It was a chink in the armor that separated reality from what went on in the business, and it causes all kinds of ripples.
Breaking of the Kliq
We’ve all heard of the Kliq at some point. We’ve heard claims they had Vince McMahon’s ear and ran the show among others. What makes this and others believable for many is the level of stars the four men in the video were.
Kevin Nash (Diesel) and Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) were two of the WWE’s biggest stars and were leaving for WCW, making this their last WWE appearance for several years.
Shawn Michaels was the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) was an up and coming star.
Everyone has said it was organic, that it’s something that just happened. Kevin Nash recently posted on Instagram about it: “4 friends saying goodbye to each other. Nothing more than that. No malicious intent.”
With one of the oldest and strongest held traditions shattered in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden, and a fan perceptive enough to have a camera to record it. There have been plenty of reports that Vince McMahon and others were furious over it, and rightly so. In front of fans the faces and heels were supposed to hate each other. It shatters the suspension of disbelief.
But with Hall and Nash leaving, and Michaels the world champion, the only one McMahon could punish was Triple H. And punish them they did by fully burying him the entire summer before rewarding him for accepting his punishment with a win for the Intercontinental Championship over Marc Mero in October 1996.
On the flip side, Vince Russo has gone on record as claiming Jim Cornette and others wanted Triple H fired for what he did, and that he kept telling them to grow up and that “everyone knows wrestling is fake.”
While Russo isn’t wrong, it also shows the disconnect between the two groups. While most of us know it’s scripted (the bumps take away the fake part), there is that suspension of disbelief. It’s been said, and his actions have shown, that Russo hasn’t bothered to try to understand that part of it. Right or wrong, traditions that are in place to protect the business are taken very seriously by those that are in the business. But it’s things like these that add to and make moments like these stand out where they may not have otherwise.
A sense of humor
In the end, there was too much talent in the ring for things to end badly for them, and each of those four men have gone on to have awesome careers. In 2015, they even surprised the fan that recorded the video.
It’s good to look back and laugh at a moment that had such a profound effect on so many people one way or another. This day in wrestling history is one of the more memorable ones and will be discussed by fans and insiders for years to come on one level or another. Who ever thought such a simple gesture would have such an impact?
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