Kevin Nash's Short-Lived Wizard Of Oz Gimmick Explained

As a castle scrim covered the "SuperBrawl" entrance stage and ominous music echoed throughout the arena, a brooding voice was heard. With fog filling the entrance ramp and green strobe lights flashing, the voice said, "Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived a wizard. But not the Wizard of Oz. His name was The Great Wizard and he ruled the Kingdom of Oz."

On the ramp appeared Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. They were being led towards the entrance stage by The Great Wizard, who was heard saying, "Welcome to Oz, haha. Welcome to Oz." The voice narration continued, "And now our weary travelers are at the end of their journey as they face the Emerald City."

Suddenly, a wall of flames emerged in front of the scrim. When the flames subsided, there stood an imposing and towering figure with his back to all. "Welcome to Oz, don't be afraid," said The Great Wizard as the group tried to keep Cowardly Lion from fleeing. As the group got closer, the ominous music played faster until they were feet away.

"I am Oz, the great and powerful," said a deep voice as Oz slowly turned. "Who are you? Who are you? The great and powerful Oz knows why you have come. How dare you come to me. I will show you who Oz really is. I will show the world who Oz really is."

Ted Turner acquires the Wizard of Oz

Nearly three years before purchasing Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) for $9 million, media mogul Ted Turner shocked the entertainment industry in March 1986 by purchasing Metro-Goldwyn Mayer film studio (MGM) for $1.5 billion. Criticized for overpaying and putting his company in serious debt, Turner sold most of MGM's assets back to Kirk Kerkorian, the same person he bought the film studio from, for $480 million. This occurred just three months after the blockbuster deal.

Though Turner lost money, he had the foresight to keep the MGM movie catalog, which spanned from 1924 to 1986, and included movies such as "The Wizard of Oz," "Gone with the Wind," "2001: A Space Odyssey," and "Spartacus." Also included were early "Looney Tunes," "Merrie Melodies," and "Popeye" cartoons. Later that year, Turner Entertainment was created to oversee the film and television properties, now under the Turner umbrella.

Following the purchase of JCP in November 1988, Jim Herd was hired as executive vice president of WCW through a friendship with Turner executive Jack Petrick. One of Herd's ideas was to base wrestlers' gimmicks on the Turner film library, such as the proposed suggestion of Ric Flair becoming "Spartacus." On the "Jim Cornette Experience" podcast, Cornette recalled a comment by Herd that made the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Oh, if we could just find a one-legged wrestler, we could have Long John Silver."

Oz returns to the Emerald City

Convinced the Oz gimmick was a rib to "run [him] out of the business," Kevin Nash took the advice of Kevin Sullivan, who told him, "brother, take the money." With a bump in pay of about $50,000, Nash donned the costume and became Oz. Following his theatrical entrance at "SuperBrawl," Oz made quick work of his opponent, Tim Parker, in 29 seconds by hitting three moves — a shoulder tackle, body slam, and helicopter toss. Several weeks later, Oz defeated Johnny Rich in 90 seconds at "Clash of the Champions XV: Knoxville Knockout." 

The wins over preliminary wrestlers would be the only singles success for Oz throughout 1991 as he never defeated top WCW talent. At "The Great American Bash," Oz was defeated in eight minutes by Ron Simmons and submitted in four minutes by Bill Kazmaier at "Halloween Havoc." 

Oz was defeated on the house show circuit by Tom Zenk, Dustin Rhodes, Big Josh, Van Hammer, PN News, Bobby Eaton, Rick Steiner, and Sting. Oz even suffered a loss to Arachnaman aka Brad Armstrong.

The final television appearance of Oz was the December 22, 1991, episode of "The Main Event" where a 2-month-old match was shown. Teaming with Jushin Thunder Liger, the duo defeated Scott Norton and Hiro Saito at the Kokusai Center in Fukuoka, Japan, on October 17, 1991, when Oz made Saito submit to an overhead backbreaker. One month after "The Main Event" airing, Nash re-debuted in WCW as Vinnie Vegas.

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