There's a new article up on WWE.Com, concerning Nathan Jones' departure from the company, and (surprisingly - to me at least) it is written in a very positive tone; no cheap shots at Jones for being a "quitter" or "cry baby" ... If anything, it attempts to repair his damaged reputation and paints him as a shy person who simply did not acclimate himself to the extensive travel schedule of a professional wrestler.
Fascinating ... You would think Vince would want Jones buried (with trademark McMahon vitriol) for "abandoning" his company, but that does not seem to be the case; unless the author of this article missed the office memo, which is always a possibility.
Nathan Jones could not take WWE travel schedule by Phil Speer Dec. 12, 2003
Nathan Jones is no longer a WWE Superstar because he apparently wasn’t cut out for the vagabond lifestyle.
According to his peers, Jones had all the tools: the look, the story, the charisma, and his wrestling ability was coming along. He just could not handle traveling. And for reasons that aren’t completely clear, he picked Saturday, Dec. 6, in Perth, Australia – the last day of the Passport to SmackDown! Tour – as the day he decided he just couldn’t take it anymore. He packed his bags, shook hands with many of the Superstars, and left.
“Getting your ass kicked is fun. Traveling is not fun,” says John Cena, who has known Jones since he first stepped into a wrestling ring. “People don’t get into this business to travel; they get into it to wrestle. So although it’s strenuous to get your ass kicked, it’s fun, because that’s what you love about it. The drawback is, you have to go from Point A to Point B. I don’t think anybody signs up for this business for the travel.”
Said Scotty 2 Hotty, “On Tough Enough, (fans) got a taste of how hard the wrestling part of it is, but they never saw the travel part. And the travel part is way harder than the wrestling, and this tour proved it. That was brutal – 20 hours over, and 24 hours back. And being away from your family -- we’d been gone since (Dec. 1). If you don’t have it in your heart, there’s no way you’ll make it.”
The Superstars’ travel schedule, which can be crazy even when they’re not flying to international tours – which they’re doing more often than ever these days – is the one and only reason that Jones is no longer with the company, those close to him say.
“He really, really liked it here (in WWE) a lot,” said Rick Bassman, the head of Southern California’s Ultimate Pro Wrestling, where Jones trained. “He said that the travel schedule was just something that got to him. I know he positively appreciates the opportunity he was given here. I know he made a lot of friends here. I know he feels like he let a lot of people down. At the same time, I know he feels like he has to take care of himself first, which is, in any walk of life, not a bad thing to do.”
There are many rumors out there about other reasons Jones walked out: that he didn’t assimilate to the locker room, that his in-ring skills weren’t good enough, that he simply had a few screws loose. None of those are true, his peers say.
Certainly, it took longer for Jones to get comfortable backstage than for most Superstars because he’s actually very shy, which may come as a shock to many fans.
“At 14 years old, the guy was 6-6 and 270 pounds,” Bassman said. “He didn’t have much of a home life to speak off. He was basically adopted, in all the wrong ways, by a bunch of street criminals. … They were pretty abusive of him, emotionally and mentally. He was in prison for eight years. He had the same experience there again. He was in solitary confinement. I mean, the guy has lived a very odd, different life. And it may have been those sorts of things that made him shy.
“At first, that may have been a problem. We all know that the protocol (in the WWE locker room) is that you go up, you’re friendly to everybody, you talk to everybody. He was told to do that, and he did it to a degree, but he kept to himself a lot too. But from what I understand from people both in OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling) and from the SmackDown! crew on the road, everyone liked Nathan at this point, that he has assimilated.”
Initially, some Superstars were hesitant to talk to Jones because his story coming in – several armed robberies, several years in jail – was absolutely true, and they didn’t know quite what to expect.
What they eventually learned is that Jones is more fascinating than intimidating. More than one person has described him as a “gentle giant.”
“I think if you actually ran an IQ test on him, without question he’d be at genius level,” Bassman said. “The guy can take apart and build a computer from scratch – I don’t know if you knew that or not. Like Bradshaw, Nathan’s been trading (stocks) for about the past year. He knows the market really well. I know for a fact that he can discuss American politics better than 95 percent of the people … in the audience. He’s an extremely well-studied guy. He’s very, very smart.”
By the end of his WWE tenure, Jones had developed friendships with many of the Superstars. He’d even won over Bradshaw, who does not just hand out respect.
“I like Nathan a lot,” Bradshaw said. “I thought he was a good guy. I thought he was probably going to end up doing pretty well (in WWE).”
As far as Jones’ in-ring ability, Scotty 2 Hotty said, “He was on his way, definitely. A lot of guys s*** on his work, but there are a lot of guys who improved when they got here. You’re working with the (Chris) Benoits and guys like that, you’re going to get better. So that wasn’t even an issue, I don’t think.”
Furthermore, Bassman said Jones was never in the business for the money. “That’s another thing about Nathan, and this is the God’s honest truth: Nathan absolutely does not care about money,” Bassman said. “It means less to him, strangely, than pretty much anybody I ever met before.”
Bassman added that Jones was never a prima donna and that while he trained at UPW, he was always the first one at practice and the last one to leave.
“Nathan’s an exhibitionist, and he’s a performer,” Bassman said. “With his physicality (and) with his ability to cut live promos, he thought this would be the perfect stage for him. In a lot of ways, it is. It was the travel stuff that wasn’t working for him. But (saying that) he came in for the money, that’s a mistake. That’s just not true.”
Most Superstars agree that traveling from town to town is even more difficult than getting beat up in the ring every night. “That’s the toughest thing in this whole business,” A-Train said. And Jones apparently couldn’t handle it.
“It was killing him,” Bassman said. “He was a big guy, and he was traveling in cramped conditions. I’ve been on tour buses with him in Japan where we see him start to get that look where it’s like, he’s just about had enough. It doesn’t make him a bad person. It just doesn’t work for him.
“I know that he has trouble sleeping on the road – again, another oddity that probably makes you not built for this business. He gets lost all the time, direction wise, because he’s dyslexic. So he just ends up getting frustrated (and) he’s not getting a lot of sleep. I don’t know if Nathan was flying coach or business (class) – and, again, he would never ask to fly business; that’s not his sort of thing – but he’s 6-foot-10 and 300 pounds, so he’s cramped. So he’s basically just exhausted – physically and mentally exhausted.”
A strenuous international tour, therefore, was not exactly what the doctor ordered for Jones. Apparently, it was what pushed him over the edge.
The trip did not begin on a positive note. The Superstars’ chartered plane was descending into Petropavlovsk, Russia for a fuel stop when it hit an intense blizzard. “You couldn’t see anything,” said Benoit, who called the flight “hands down” the scariest one he’s ever been on. Gusts of wind were knocking the plane almost completely sideways, and the jet missed the runway three times. At one point, the plane dropped about 150 feet.
“When you’re at 35,000 feet, that’s one thing, because you have room to drop and get knocked around,” Scotty said. “But we were making our landing, getting lower and lower, and bouncing all around the place. I just remember thinking, ‘I know (Ric) Flair’s been in a plane crash, and I know Bradshaw’s been in a plane crash. What are the chances of somebody being in a plane crash twice?’”
The flights got easier from there, but the tour perhaps did not. The Superstars did not stay in any of the three countries they visited – South Korea, Singapore and Australia – for 24 hours. The schedule was simply: wrestle, fly to next town, wrestle, fly to next town.
The last event on the tour was in Perth, Australia, where Jones was going to be the hometown hero (or home country hero, at least).
“I saw him get on the bus (to go to the show in Perth) and I just knew there was something wrong,” A-Train said. “I asked him, ‘Is everything cool?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ But you could tell he wasn’t happy. And I thought that a while back when he came in for WrestleMania. I just didn’t know if this business was for him. It takes a special person to do this.”
Later, at the show, A-Train said he “saw a little buzz” going on around Jones. He explained: “I talked to one of the boys who was there, and he said, ‘Nathan doesn’t want to do it anymore.’ I talked to Nathan. I said, ‘Is everything cool?’ He said, ‘I just don’t want to do it anymore.’ I said, ‘I hope you’re not being irrational. I hope you think this through because you could make some money here. And if you choose not to (stay), I respect that. Good luck. Hope you keep in touch with me.’”
Several Superstars said they respected Jones’ decision.
“I respect Nathan because here you have a guy who didn’t like what he was doing, and he walked away from it,” A-Train said. “A lot of people don’t like what they’re doing, but they still stick around.”
Bradshaw agreed, saying, “He said to himself that he wasn’t cut out for it. If he’s not cut out for it, it’s better that he gets out now than waits until later and regrets the time that, to him, would have been wasted.”
Some of his peers, however, were a little confused at the timing of his departure. There were a few whispers that Jones knew in advance that he was going to leave and that, in essence, he simply went on the tour to get a free trip back to Australia.
But several Superstars dismissed that hypothesis as ridiculous, saying Jones had plenty of money, and frequent flier miles, to get back home if he wanted. Plus, Jones has since returned to the U.S.
“I think the nerves just got to him – his big homecoming match,” said Scotty, explaining another theory. “He was the (fan favorite) and there was all this buildup to it. On top of the bad travel, when he got there, his nerves, thinking about going out in front of his home peeps, got to him.”
Others simply think that Jones reached his breaking point during the long, difficult tour. “In my year and a half here, I’ve been overseas five or six times now, and that was easily the toughest (tour) ever,” Cena said, adding, “I think he was very much fit for wrestling, but I guess he wasn’t fit for traveling. I think he found out that it was a little bit more than he signed up for. It’s a shame that he didn’t compete in Australia. I think the fans would have really liked to see him.”
Bassman said Jones would love to return to WWE if the right circumstances could be arranged.
“If he could come back today and the schedule was not as demanding, he would want to come back today,” Bassman said. “I know that he would take a pay cut, absolutely, which would show that he’s not in it for the money. He’d take less money. But it’s hard also to keep coming back and asking for special treatment, special consideration and special deals. He doesn’t want to be perceived as a prima donna, and I don’t know if there’s any way for him to come back and ask for a lesser schedule without being perceived that way. But if that’s something that would be entertained, I think he would be back, and willing take a (pay) cut to do it.”
The WWE probably knows how important Jones is for their future and think that maybe he just needed some time off, then he'll return. I would mean that as sarcasm, except I think it's possible this is what WWE thinks.
I see the inability to use Nathan Jones as a huge failure on Mcmahons part. Jones was horrible in the ring. Mcmahon has done more with less. Jones was incredible on the stick. When they did the stuff on confidential with him, and he was talking about killing the samoan guy in prison, and kicking prison doors off of their hinges, and scaring a judge so much he got a limo ride to the courthouse and a chocolate bar.... He did it all with this jubilation like a little kid telling his dad how he hit a homerun during T-ball. He just had a scary amount of charisma, and a great look to him. So what do they do? Turn him into Takers goofy buddy. In the 80's, he would have headlined PPV's against Hogan, and made a ton of money on the house show circuit. How hard is it to hide the guys flaws... The guy just had too much of an upside, smarks aside, to use the way they did. I appreciate them using him to make Benoit look strong. But in the long run, Nathan Jones has more money drawing potential then Chris Benoit does, as much as it pains me to say it.
First off, this article's already been posted here on the board. But the reason I think the WWE's still positive about Jones is because they think they might be able to get him back. I don't think they're worried about him going somewhere else, and I'm almost positive that they have a non-compete clause in his contract anyhow.
The article actually made me feel bad for Jones. But if he had been a Tough Enough contestant, especially on the first season, you can bet he would have been endlessly berated on-camera for wanting to quit.
-- Asteroid Boy
Wiener of the day: 23.7.02
"My brother saw the Undertaker walking through an airport." - Rex "Was he no-selling?" - Me
Perhaps he can join the WWE.com team with his computer skills?
I'm sure it was his award winning personality that won Bradshaw over, not the fact that he'd make Bradshaw his prison bitch if he tried picking on him.
Nathan Jones would've been good fodder for Hogan in the 80's but it's not the 80's anymore, Dorthy. Then again, Sid managed to get more big money contracts then anyone without ever delivering at the box office.
Originally posted by fuelinjectedI'm sure it was his award winning personality that won Bradshaw over, not the fact that he'd make Bradshaw his prison bitch if he tried picking on him
Hilarious, that was laugh out loud funny!. Personally I wouldn't mind Nathan being on my side.
Despite his past he might actually turned himself around became a decent guy. I remember DJ Frosty telling a story on how he bumped into him(literally) and Nathan came off really nice. Also know a lot of people who met him and he seemed pretty humble and polite to them. Which is really 50/50 these days with the roster they have now... If he is actually a nice guy, I'm glad the WWE didn't feel the need to bury him
I must say I agree (in part) with rookie poster Poorly Told Joke. I remember Nathan Confidential piece and what really got me was what a good storyteller he was. I don't know what it was, if it was the accent or the actual story he's telling. He came off as someone who spoke really well and had my total attention during his story... Too bad that's pretty much the highlight of his WWE career.
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