Professional wrestling appeals to Kevin Nash for the same reason the fans enjoy it.
"Where else can you piledrive a chief executive officer through a desk and get away with it," Nash said. "It's an escape. It's what every person would love to do once."
Nash does it for a living.
Nash, a Trenton native and a former high school basketball star at Southgate Aquinas, has reached the height of popularity in his seven-year pro wrestling career.
"People who've seen me wrestle lately say I've come into my own," said Nash, who is 6-foot-11, 300-pounds. "That's easy when you're being yourself. There's so much emotion involved in what we're doing. When you enter the arena these days, the place is at a fever pitch. It's electric."
Nash was known as Diesel when he was a World Wrestling Federation champion. He moved to World Championship Wrestling in June, and formed the New World Order with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and other WWF exiles.
Nash and his tag-team partner, Hall, will wrestle the Steiner Brothers of Bay City during the NWO's "Souled Out" pay-per-view Saturday night.
Ron Gulyas, who coached Nash at Aquinas, said he isn't surprised by Nash's success.
"The kid was very coachable, eager to learn, and had a great work ethic," Gulyas said. "He wanted to be successful, and he's become that. If you can call yourself a world champion, I don't care what endeavor it is, you've accomplished quite a bit."
What pleases Gulyas the most is Nash's attempt to give back to the community. Nash has donated various items to be auctioned off at Aquinas fund-raisers. Nash also has a group of friends and former teammates at Aquinas with whom he keeps in touch.
"That's the important thing," Gulyas said. "He hasn't forgotten the community. That doesn't surprise me. He's the type of guy that if you stopped him in the street, he'd talk with you for hours."
"I love Detroit," Nash said. "It's a great wrestling town. I still have family there. I just hope we get back up there soon."
Nash isn't surprised by the NWO's popularity with fans, despite its bad-boy image.
"Society has changed," Nash said. "There's a sense of darkness nowadays, and people don't necessarily go with the fair-haired guys. The way we came in and didn't adhere to the rules and regulations attracted us to a lot of fans."
Nash's infatuation with wrestling dates to high school. "I was a fan growing up," Nash said. "My buddies and I would go down to Cobo and watch The Sheik, Bobo Brazil, Pampero Firpo. I was a fan, but I didn't think about becoming a pro wrestler until much later."
Nash earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Tennessee, where he played three years. He went to Spain to play professional basketball in the early 1980s and spent four years in Europe before returning to Detroit, where he worked as a bouncer at local nightclubs.
It was after Nash moved to Atlanta, where he was bouncing at a popular club, that he was noticed by WCW wrestlers.
Nash worked out at The Power Plant, a popular Atlanta wrestling school, and become hooked.
"It was destiny," he said. "I should have known I was going to be a wrestler. It fits my personality."
One of Nash's main objectives when he steps into the ring is to get a response from fans. He lets the fans decide the debate whether pro wrestling is theater or sports.
"I want to get the fans involved and create emotion," Nash said. "If I can make (the fan) forget about life for the 15 or 20 minutes I'm in the ring, I've done my job."
On the question of whether pro wrestling is real, Nash said: "You can't fake a clothesline, or dropkick, or shoulder block going at full speed. There is pain involved. I've had the injuries to prove it."
Nash signed a 40-month contract with WCW for about $900,000. The money, and luxury of less wrestling and travel, appealed to him.
Nash was on the road approximately 300 days per year in the WWF. Nash said he's away from his Phoenix home about half the time now.
And that suits him just fine. He and his wife, Tamara, have a seven-month-old son, Tristen, who is 32-inches long and weighs 30 pounds.
"The guy's a little monster," Nash said. "He's huge.