The Nation-al Crisis: The Failed Ahmed Johnson Heel Turn

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Brian Damage

During the 90s, a stable with a great deal of longevity was the Nation of Domination. It had many incarnations, however, and one of them involved Ahmed Johnson, a former foe of the group. In this latest piece Brian wonders what would have happened to Ahmed, during that heel turn, had he not picked up another injury.

The ‘Attitude Era’ as we know it to be didn’t happen overnight. Many incidents occurred that paved the way for arguably one of the most successful periods in WWE history. Some of the biggest stars of that era weren’t just made by happenstance. Other scenarios played out that created opportunities that made some of the biggest stars of all time.

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For instance, the now infamous Madison Square Garden “curtain call” with members of the Kliq changed the WWE’s course of action. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was made to be the scapegoat and curtailed his mega push for well over a year. Instead of HHH winning the King of the Ring tournament in 1996, the spot went to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin instead. It was on that night that Austin 3:16 was born. The meteoric rise of Steve Austin to super stardom happened because of something that unexpectedly occurred in real life. Austin wasn’t the only one during that time that benefited from an unusual occurrence.

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Dwayne Johnson aka Rocky Maivia aka The Rock became legend pretty much by another one’s unfortunate circumstances.. In the summer of 1997, the WWF’s answer to the hugely popular n.W.O in WCW was a faction of their own called the Nation of Domination. It originally had members like JC Ice and Wolfie D, Crush, Savio Vega and it’s leader Farooq aka Ron Simmons. The Nation of Domination wasn’t working as well as planned, so WWF creative changed the look and feel of the NOD. Out were Crush and Savio Vega and in were new members like Kama Mustafa and D-Lo Brown.

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They weren’t the only new additions to the new, revamped Nation of Domination. An old foe of the original group, Ahmed Johnson, turned heel and joined their ranks as well. Ahmed was for many years Vince McMahon’s special project. He saw big dollar signs with the character and his future. He won the Intercontinental title and was recognized as the first ever African American to win that belt. He was also made number 1 contender to the WWF title, but a series of injuries held him back.

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In June of 1997, the WWF came up with a plan to turn Ahmed heel and join the Nation of Domination. Ahmed was scheduled to then face the Undertaker for the WWF title at Canadian Stampede pay per view. Some believed that Ahmed was pegged to win the WWF title at that event and in the process take over the leadership role of the Nation eventually kicking Farooq out of the group.

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Those plans never came to fruition, as shortly after his heel turn, Ahmed Johnson injured his knee in an in ring brawl between the Nation, the Disciples of Apocalypse and Los Bariquas. The injury sidelined Ahmed until August of 1997, when WWF creative then decided to remove Ahmed out of the heel faction. Ahmed quickly returned to babyface status, but around this time things were beginning to change on the WWF’s landscape.

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Rocky Maivia was brought into the Nation after he turned heel and basically took the angle that was originally meant for Johnson. Rocky slowly began to take over the NOD and even added Mark Henry to the group without Farooq’s consent. Farooq was soon thrown out of the Nation and Rocky became leader and showcased his undeniable gift of gab and charisma. It wasn’t long before Rocky became hugely popular star and eventual mega star during the Attitude Era.

Would it have happened if not for Ahmed Johnson’s proclivity to injury? Perhaps, but then again we may never know for sure. If Ahmed never got hurt, he would have surely won the WWF title and become the NOD leader. Would Rocky have been added to the group if Ahmed was healthy? If not, could the WWF somehow tap that charisma out of Dwayne Johnson another way?

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All those questions are moot, because like the Triple H/ Steve Austin scenario a year earlier, somehow I would think that the Rock’s natural charisma would’ve shined through one way or the other. It just got sped up because of an ill fated heel turn and injury to somebody else.

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5 thoughts on “The Nation-al Crisis: The Failed Ahmed Johnson Heel Turn

  1. Ahmed’s heel turn was a mistake and only hurt whatever promise he had in late ’95/early ’96. It was known that he was injury-prone where he would injure himself or sometimes injure others. I think by the time he had turned heel, he was lost in the shuffle of what was happening and had lost momentum. It didn’t click as well as the fact that he was terrible on the mic since many couldn’t understand what he was saying. When he came back from injury, he was pretty much done as he just didn’t possess what the Rock had nor what Farooq, D-Lo, the Godfather, or Mark Henry had as they were all engaging in some ways. Ahmed just never did that as it became very evident by late ’97/early ’98.

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    • Why are people always discrediting Ahmed Johnson? I have understood him clearly on most of his promos and interviews. Yes there have been times where he didn’t make any sense but only a handful and not the way people over exaggerate. Further more Ahmed was over with the crowd until he left, I watched this carefully as I have recently watched the 96 and 97 season of Raw and the PPVs during that time frame, and though his push obviously came to an end before his departure, he remained over with the crowd. A combination of injury and a bad decision by the writers held him back.

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      • In ’96, he was over but by 1997. He pretty much became another guy we didn’t give a shit out about because he had gotten injured too many times and was also injuring other wrestlers. Teddy Long was right, he was a moron.

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  2. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2016 week 28 | Ring the Damn Bell

  3. What WWE should have done was make Johnson a heel from the start. There is no question on my mind that he could have been a dominate force had he been pushed that way.

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