Date: September 16, 1995
Location: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, International Wrestling Syndicate, Wrestle Reunion, Armpit readers Steve Vendeland, Tony Notsay, and Martin Filion
Kevin Nash drew a lot of money in WCW and was a key reason they turned the corner as a company and dominated WWF in the ratings during the Monday night wars. But Nash’s WWF title reign in 1995, as Diesel, was not considered a success. Much of that wasn’t his fault, as the WWF wasn’t putting out a strong product at the time and didn’t use him anywhere near as effectively as WCW did.
Arena business tanked during this time, but company officials were hoping for a strong run in Canada. They had been building up Jean Pierre Lafitte as one of their top heels, and he was scheduled to face Nash in Montreal and Quebec City in the main events for some shows in September. Lafitte had done a lot of local media and they were hoping for a big house in Montreal, upwards of 10,000 people. Even if they drew half of that, it would’ve been a bigger crowd than what they had been drawing in the US.
The result of pitting Nash against Lafitte in Montreal was eerily similar to the infamous screwjob two years later with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, in the same exact city. This story is best described by breaking it down by location, as this all unfolded over the course of a few days.
The Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (September 15, 1995)
As noted, Lafitte was the big star and top draw as the hometown boy, having done lots of local media promoting the show. Montreal was WWF’s hottest city outside of their home base of New York City. After hoping for 10,000+ fans, they ended up drawing “only” 5,800 for a gate of $85,000. It was a disappointment for sure, but again, it was a bigger crowd than the company had been doing domestically for awhile. Worse, with the unfavorable Canadian exchange rate, the gate ended up being a lot less than that in US currency.
A month prior to the show, Nash had told Lafitte about the finish, almost bragging to him that he’d be pinning him clean in his hometown. Lafitte thought that was odd, that the finish of the main event would be known that far in advance, and that Nash would be rubbing it in. He almost thought it was a rib, and didn’t think they’d have him lose cleanly in his hometown after all the promotion he had done for the company.
That right there kind of soured him on the match, on top of the existing heat Nash and the Kliq (Nash, Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, HHH, and Aldo Montoya) had with much of the locker room.
When Lafitte got to the arena, he was met by Tony Garea (road agent at the time, and longtime star in Montreal from a previous era). Garea told him the finish was going to be just as Nash had bragged about a month earlier: jackknife powerbomb, 1-2-3, for the clean win.
Lafitte balked, and refused to do the job. Garea tried to talk him into it, but he was adamant he not lose in his hometown of Montreal (does that sound familiar?). Lafitte felt, rightly so, it would destroy both his and the company’s drawing power for him, as the local favorite, to lose cleanly in the middle of the ring. He also thought the finish was disrespectful to him.
The agents went nuts, calling each other and trying to reach Vince. Lafitte suggested a double countout finish, and they ended up calling McMahon at home for 15 minutes to talk about it. Lafitte made it clear he’d rather lose his job than do the job; not for Nash, and not for anyone. He agreed to lose to Nash anywhere else but Montreal (again, that sounds very familiar). He said if they insisted he lose, he was walking out and they wouldn’t have a main event.
Finally Lafitte got his way, and it ended in a double countout. Before the match, Nash went up to him and said, “I guess you don’t want to lose to me tonight?” The Kliq did not approve of Lafitte’s actions, and there would be Hell to pay after the match.
As for the match, it went as planned. Lafitte had made a comment that the crowd would be 60/40 in his favor, given that he was the local star, even though he was technically the heel and Nash was technically the top face. But when Lafitte had him in a chinlock, the crowd started chanting “Diesel! Diesel!” At that point Nash looked up at Lafitte and said it sounded more like 99/1, not 60/40. Nash asked him if he wanted to change the finish to go back to the original, and he said No.
It ended up as a good match, but there was tension in the ring. While the crowd was not 60/40 for Lafitte, it wasn’t quite 99/1 for Nash either. Reports from those there said it was more like 60/40 for Nash, which was still considered a surprise. Lafitte claimed Nash was working a little stiff, so he worked stiff back. The finish was Lafitte hitting Nash with a Liger dive outside the ring, leading to a double countout as the two brawled to the back. Lafitte said during the brawl, the tension between them had escalated and you could’ve cut it with a knife.
After the match, the heat continued. At some point during the night, Shawn Michaels went off on Lafitte, saying he wasn’t about business and that he was a mother*cker who wasn’t professional. Lafitte shot right back at him, and Michaels threatened to hit him with the Intercontinental belt. Lafitte said he better not or else he was going to rip his head off. Agents had to come and separate the two.
Michaels later riled up Nash about it, which made Nash furious about everything. Lafitte went to Nash’s dressing room, but it never came to blows. In the car ride back, Nash said the Kliq thought it was bullsh*t how he refused to do the job, and it only made Nash more angry over the next 24 hours.
In Shane Douglas’s version of the story, he painted a very professional picture of Nash. He said Vince had wanted a non-finish (countout, DQ, etc) to set up a return match and draw an even bigger house. Nash was on board with this, but then Michaels told him he was the world champ and should be winning clean. Nash explained to Shawn why it couldn’t be clean, because they wanted a rematch later on in the same market, but Michaels was adamant that Nash go over clean.
As Michaels left the room, having talked down Lafitte, he saw Lafitte walking towards him and said, “Hey man, how are you doing” like nothing was wrong. Lafitte then spoke to Nash, and since he’s blind in one eye, couldn’t see Michaels behind him. Lafitte asked him what the finish was going to be, and Michaels was mouthing quietly to Nash, “Jackknife powerbomb, 1-2-3!” Nash then repeated calmly, “Well, I was thinking, jackknife powerbomb and 1-2-3.”
Lafitte said that wouldn’t work because it would hurt return business, and then it escalated from there with his refusal to go along with the clean pin.
A few notes on the landscape at the time. Shawn Michaels was not well liked backstage, as this was the peak of his crybaby phase. The Kliq in general wasn’t popular among the boys, but they were also feared for both their political power and because Nash and Hall were so huge and both were considered tough. Many wrestlers will say they weren’t afraid of them, but the fact was, if you took one of them on, you had to take them all on because they had each other’s backs. They also had pull with the booking, and if you crossed them, it was considered career suicide. So most of the guys put up with them, begrudgingly.
Lafitte was one of the boys who was not a fan of the Kliq. There was heat between he and Michaels that existed as a separate, ongoing issue that he later admitted was true. Michaels threw lots of tantrums back then, and whenever anybody pointed it out, his supporters would defend him by saying his workrate was the best in the company. And that was true. But his detractors would come back and say Lafitte could do anything Michaels could. Lafitte was a good worker who did amazing things for his size, but he didn’t have Michaels’ level of talent or charisma. But that comment bothered Michaels, and that was one of the main reasons the two had underlying heat.
Laffite’s clique was Sid Vicious, the Smoking Gunns (Billy Gunn and Bart Gunn), and Bob Holly. If you compared the toughness of Lafitte’s clique with the real Kliq, it actually would favor Lafitte. He himself was tough, Sid was almost as big as Nash (but not as tough), and Bart and Bob were legitimate ass kickers. On the Kliq side, Nash was definitely huge and tough, Hall was just a shade below him, and nobody really knew about HHH. Michaels was among the least tough of the WWF roster, while Aldo and Waltman were smaller than almost everyone there.
Still, the Kliq ruled the power structure, and that’s why nobody wanted to mess with them.
As for Lafitte, he was burnt out and fed up at the time, which is why he didn’t care if he was fired for not doing the job. The way he discussed the incident later, it almost seemed like he wanted to get fired.
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (September 16, 1995)
In the hours that followed Montreal, the two sides had different feelings. The pressure was on Lafitte to apologize to Nash and make peace, which he tried to do. Meanwhile, Nash had been worked up by his buddies to where he was in no mood to cooperate.
Lafitte, now that they were no longer in Montreal, agreed to lose clean. He suggested the big boot and pin, but Nash said his finish was the powerbomb, not the big boot. Lafitte still thought they should just do the big boot. It’s not clear what was decided before they went out, but it didn’t matter anyway. One anonymous source said the planned finish was another double countout, but that doesn’t add up because Lafitte stated he’d do the job anywhere but Montreal.
Something happened during the match, and for whatever reason, Lafitte didn’t protect Nash when he did his legdrop off the top rope. He came down with all his weight and force, with his butt landing on Nash’s face and nose. Lafitte was nowhere close as tall as Nash, but he was still a very large, heavy, thick, powerful man. Such a landing could’ve seriously injured Nash.
Nash didn’t sell the move. He instead got up before Lafitte was even able to stand up, and kicked him in the balls like he was kicking a field goal. Lafitte wobbled over to the corner, where Nash struck him in the face a couple more times as Lafitte tried to fight back. Nash grabbed him by the throat and said something like, “Big boot, powerbomb, I’m gonna kill you.”
He bounced Lafitte off the ropes and kicked him as hard as he could with the big boot, picked up his limp body, and powerbombed him as hard as he could for the pin. Everyone in the back was watching this and screaming, “Kick the shit out of him!” to Nash. Nash flipped off the Canadian promoters at ringside, and the boys in the back continued shouting, “Suck on that, Canada!”
Lafitte came backstage and was furious. He was so high on adrenaline that he wanted to jump on Nash and was willing to do anything to him. The agents grabbed him by the arm, holding him back. He shouted to Nash that they if he wanted to go, they’d go. The agents would never have let that happen. Nash responded that if they go, he’ll kill him because he won’t stop beating him until it’s over. Renee Goulet (another agent and former star in Montreal) later said that Lafitte was serious and was ready to go, but Nash told him he saw the fear in Lafitte’s eyes and that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Lafitte later said he saw Nash had his Kliq there, and he knew they’d jump on him if he attacked Nash. Indeed, Nash had told his friends that if he (Nash) is on top, to leave them alone, but if Lafitte was on top, they had permission to kick him in the face. Lafitte had Holly, the Gunns, and Sid. In an all out war between those groups, it could’ve gone either way. But the Kliq had nothing to lose, while the others didn’t have the political power and had everything to lose. Ted DiBiase, for example, once told Vince either the Kliq goes or he goes, and Vince chose the Kliq.
Nash said that if Lafitte wanted to hurt him, he could’ve done a leg dive because everyone knew Nash had bad knees (which is why Roddy Piper tried it when he had his own skirmish with Nash two years later). But again, it would’ve have mattered because he said if you fight him, then you have to fight all five of the Kliq (six if you include Aldo Montoya).
Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (September 17, 1995)
Now that the tension had exploded, what usually happens in this situation is both sides realize they have no other choice but to make amends and be professional. And that’s what happened, as Nash told Lafitte they should forget about this and try to be professional. In Toronto, Lafitte’s match with Nash was changed to him working with and putting over Fatu (Rikishi). Lafitte also did a clean job on Raw the following week as punishment.
After the Canadian run, the crew went to Europe for two weeks. Despite Lafitte’s heat with the inner circle, he was still put over Kliq member Aldo Montoya every night of the tour.
A month or so later, Vince McMahon appeared at a house show in Toledo/Cleveland, believed to be November 7. McMahon almost never made appearances at house shows, so everyone figured something was up. Apparently the Kliq had a closed door meeting with Vince where they said who they felt should get a push and who shouldn’t.
After that meeting, Lafitte was booked to lose almost every match he was booked in. He later blamed Nash for that, and said he cost him his career.
Lafitte later went to WCW, before Nash arrived. There were no reports of problems between the two in WCW. In 2009, the two turned their legit heat into an indie feud to draw money. They did a worked shoot finish, where it looked like Nash was supposed to pin him, but Lafitte popped up as if he wasn’t supposed to.
Nash acted surprised, and threw what looked to be real punches (they weren’t, but it looked like it) before Lafitte caught his arm in a submission and made him submit. After the match he flipped Nash off and mouthed the F word, but it was still all part of the angle.