Vince McMahon vs Nailz

Date: December 14, 1992
Location: Brown County Expo Center in Green Bay, WI
Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Armpit reader Rob Harvey

The WWF was at a low point in 1992, mostly due to bad booking and characters that didn’t connect. But part of the reason was also so much of the roster vanished in the wake of the US Justice Department’s investigation of the company’s steroid use. Vince wanted all his guys off the stuff, which meant some left, some were fired, some wore costumes to cover their bodies, and others suddenly lost their physiques. Nailz (Kevin Wacholz) was hired as a tall guy in an orange prisoner’s outfit to feud with Big Bossman, and then, the Undertaker.

Nailz was a very intimidating, scary individual, but didn’t have an equally intimidating voice. They chose to alter his voice in promos, to where it really did sound like he had nails in his mouth, and it was effective for his character. In real life, Nailz was very tough and had won some tough man contests in Minnesota prior to entering the pro wrestling business. He was not a good wrestler, but his gimmick was not about having good matches anyway. He was also known for his work in the AWA, where he was “Mr. Magnificent” Kevin Kelly and was managed at times by both Sherri Martel and Madusa. He had a very good physique in the ‘80s, but his outfit covered him up almost entirely in his Nailz ring attire.

At SummerSlam ’92, in London, Nailz squashed Virgil. He reportedly received either $8,000 or $9,000 as his payoff a few months later, which he felt was too low. Before the television tapings in Green Bay on December 14, Nailz voiced his disappointment with the payoff to Vince McMahon in the locker room of the arena. He also wanted advance payment of $150,000 for his upcoming house show run with the Undertaker, in which he’d put the Undertaker over at every show. It led to a heated argument with McMahon, with Nailz shouting very loudly.

Some people nearby thought it was just a wrestler cutting promos for television, as that was done before the tapings in those days. But when he shouted, “I want my f*cking money!” it became evident this wasn’t a promo.

Those nearby heard a thud, and when they came in to see what the commotion was, they found Nailz on top of McMahon with his hands around his neck, choking him.

WWF employees Sgt Slaughter, Dave Hebner, Gorilla Monsoon, and Arnold Skaaland pulled Nailz off of McMahon, who some say had started to turn blue. Nailz was fired immediately. Two days later, he filed a police report saying McMahon had sexually assaulted him. In the report, Nailz alleged this was the second time McMahon had sexually assaulted him, and that the first was in Madison Square Garden the month before. Nailz said he pushed McMahon off of him, which sent him to the floor, and that was the thud the witness heard.

Almost nobody in the industry believed his story. The WWF sent out their spokesperson to dismiss the allegations, and said the truth was that Nailz attacked McMahon over a disagreement about money.

Earl Hebner stated he was just a few yards away the whole time, and saw the assault because the door was partially open. He said Nailz and McMahon were arguing for 45 minutes to an hour regarding money, which conflicts with later reports from other wrestlers that it was just 15 minutes. Earl said the discussion got heated before Nailz leapt across the room, grabbed McMahon by the throat, and threw him down to the ground before agents came in to break it up. Nailz then picked up the phone and called 911 to report he had been sexually assaulted, which Earl said was absolutely not the case. Police arrived 20 minutes later. One of the witnesses listed in the report was also Owen Hart.

One star in the company, who declined to be identified, told the Wrestling Observer that Nailz had complained about the recent drug testing, saying it was unconstitutional. He also claimed Nailz said that the only way to make money in this business was to claim someone grabbed your private parts. This incident occurred not long after several other sexual allegations were made towards WWF officials (namely Pat Patterson, Terry Garvin, and Mel Phillips, although Vince McMahon was accused of rape by former referee Rita Chatterton). It’s possible, but not confirmed, that Nailz felt those who made those allegations were paid off, and he thought he could do the same.

In a surprise, while almost nobody believed Nailz’s story, many were privately calling him a hero because he was the only wrestler to ever lay a finger on Vince McMahon.

Nailz later alleged that McMahon ordered him to take steroids, which McMahon denied. He also sued him for wrongful termination, and WWF countersued him. Both lawsuits were later dropped. In May of 1993, WCW hired Nailz for a one-time surprise appearance against Sting. He was billed as The Prisoner, from Green Bay, WI, which was an inside rib on McMahon since that’s where the assault took place. After that, he never worked in a major promotion ever again.

Nailz is very important in the history of Vince McMahon, and not just because he was the only man to ever assault him (aside from Bret Hart following the Montreal screwjob). When Nailz claimed that McMahon ordered him to take steroids (likely not true as there’s no way Vince would’ve done that knowing he was already being investigated by the Feds), he was brought in as a witness in the government’s steroid trial against Vince McMahon in 1994. Nailz gave what was believed to have been a testimony that wasn’t credible, including admitting on the stand that he hated Vince McMahon’s guts. The testimony was very damaging to the prosecution, and some say it was his statements, and their lack of credibility, that led the jury to not convict McMahon when it came time for the verdict.