Icons of Wrestling #38 – Nailz

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Jamie Lithgow

Height: 6’5″
Weight: 297 lbs
Hometown: C Block, Cobb County Jail
Glory Days: 1992
Fun Fact: Nailz spent 2,478 days in prison, that’s more than six and a half years and takes him into the territory of a Class D Felony. That could mean anything from armed robbery and manslaughter to pissing in the local water supply… seriously.

Bio:

Booker T famously spent time in prison before becoming a wrestler while countless other performers have had brushes with the law over the years too – you can read about these stories in Brian’s Wrestling With Sin series. However, back in 1992 a young man went one better than Booker by literally leaving prison – sorry, a correctional facility – and heading straight for the World Wrestling Federation, without even heading home for a change of clothes first.

Nailz, aka prisoner number 902714, was released from Cobb County Jail on April 29th 1992 and made his way directly to the Syracuse War Memorial Arena where one of his old prison guards was wrestling. Having dispatched of Dave Roulette in under a minute, The Big Boss Man then saw fit to smack his opponent around a little more after the match. Having travelled all the way from Cobb County in Georgia, Nailz burst into the arena just in time to make the save. The hero in orange ran through the crowd to save Roulette and managed to detain the power-mad prison guard with his own handcuffs. Nailz also used Boss Man’s nightstick to control the rogue prison guard. Some will say that the former inmate went too far and took liberties with The Boss Man, but let’s face it, he deserved it for smacking around a defenceless jobber. The incident was shown on the May 30th episode of Superstars by which time Nailz was somehow portrayed as the villain.

Regrettably, during the skirmish The Boss Man sustained injuries that kept him side-lined for a few months. In the meantime, the remarkably deep-voiced Nailz was able to elaborate on his relationship with the former prison guard. Mr. Nailz claimed mistreatment from The Boss Man and was merely looking for a measure of retribution against his abuser. During his time at Cobb County Jail, ‘Mr Law, Order and Justice’ would abuse his power by rattling Nailz’s cell bars with his nightstick and spraying him with a fire extinguisher. Nailz also alluded to being assaulted with said nightstick, just as countless babyfaces such as Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage had been when the Boss Man first entered WWE.

The Nailz Hasbro figure, released a solid year after he was fired

While waiting for The Boss Man to recover from his injuries so that the two could settle their differences in a fair and competitive sporting contest, Nailz got some practice in against a plethora of local enhancement wrestlers. Dominating all of his matches – including Virgil at Summerslam – the former prisoner’s only shortcoming was a lack of understanding for the rules. When he won he did so by sending his opponent to sleep, however our man would often be disqualified for choking his adversary instead. This is to be expected, after all he had only recently been released from prison with no apparent formal wrestling training to speak of.

When The Big Boss Man returned to action in the Autumn, he quickly set about slandering Mr. Nailz and undermining the US legal system. On the October 12th episode of Prime Time Wrestling, Boss Man remarked that Nailz was “crazy” and should therefore be serving a life sentence. He went on to disparage the legal system for allowing Nailz to be released. Having his mental health brought into question, Mr. Nailz defended himself by correctly stating that he had paid his debt to society. It was around this time that a match between the two was finally announced; a nightstick on a pole match at the Survivor Series.

Up to this point, the nature of Nailz’s alleged crimes were never revealed with the man himself choosing not to share said information. However, at the Survivor Series, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan exclusively revealed that he had in fact committed no crimes and that Nailz was an innocent man. Heenan elaborated by stating that Nailz had received parking tickets when he drove his mum’s car to a local florist to buy her some flowers for Mother’s Day. Upon returning to the vehicle, the tickets had blown away in the wind with Nailz completely unaware that they were ever on the windshield in the first place. The legitimacy of this story was brought into question by co-commentator Vince McMahon but I ask you this; do you believe the man who was right about Hulk Hogan all along or the man who would go on to have his own daughter abducted and start his own ‘Kiss My Ass Club’? While we’re at it, do you believe a man out buying flowers for his elderly mother or a sadistic former prison guard who once stole a fellow wrestler’s pet chihuahua, cooked it and fed it to him for dinner?! Exactly, hindsight is not kind to the babyface/heel dynamic in this feud…

What could have been for Mr. Nailz…

Back to the match, and of course the more experienced Boss Man won. However, Nailz did look very strong in defeat. It is even conceivable that he may have committed a rookie mistake by overlooking the Boss Man as he had recently transition into a feud with The Undertaker after the pair had a stare-down on an episode Superstars. This confrontation even made it onto the front cover of the January ’93 edition on the WWF Magazine. However, this feud never happened – although they did have a match at Madison Square Garden. Shortly after the Survivor Series, Nailz disappeared from WWE. It is understood that the he had a confrontation with Vince McMahon in Vince’s office at a TV taping. Nailz claimed a sexual assault against the owner of the company, but the case was later dropped. Most people dismiss Nailz’s claims as total nonsense, but as a former prison resident I’m sure he knows a thing or two about this sort of behaviour to be able to identify it…

A man matching Nailz’s description would later resurface in WCW wrestling Sting and again in NJPW wrestling El Gigante/Giant Gonzalez. The Big Boss Man would later tie the casket of a colleagues’ deceased father to the back of his car and drag it around the cemetery during the funeral service. Again, just who was the heel and who was the babyface in this feud?!


All previous ‘Icons of Wrestling’ can be read here.


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