If there was ever a guy who seemed like he was custom-made for the sport of professional wrestling, Nathan Jones, at least on the surface, fit that bill. At 6’11” and 350 pounds of pure muscle, he had a build that most wrestlers and promoters only dream of. When you add in the look of a serial killer, a surprisingly good speaking ability and one of the most badass real life back stories that sounded tailor-made for a wrestling gimmick, to the average wrestling fan, it would look for all the world that Jones would skyrocket to the top and was a future world champion in the making.
After a little bit of time in former WWE developmental system UPW and the short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars in Jones’ homeland of Australia, he inevitably caught the eye of Vince McMahon, and a lucrative contract was signed. For the next few weeks, we began to see vignettes for his impending debut, and they were honestly some of the best vignettes I had seen in a very long time.
After all of these videos, a lot of fans were really excited to see what Jones could do. Here was a legitimate badass in every sense, getting ready to beat the piss out of everyone who stood in his way inside a WWE ring. Vince clearly had faith in this happening, too, as in his final vignette, Jones said he was looking for “the biggest dog in the yard”, that being the Undertaker. This led to Taker taking Jones under his wing in a new alliance. Now, you take one of the biggest guys in wrestling (Jones) and pair him with one of the biggest stars of all time (‘Taker), and it seems like a winning combination.
One major problem, though: somewhere, between his wrestling debut and the time he first appeared on WWE television, someone forgot to teach him how to, you know, wrestle.
As it turns out, despite being trained at one of the then-best wrestling schools in the country, Jones was absolute clown shoes in the ring, screwing up the most basic of moves, such as kicks and punches. It was beyond embarrassing to watch Jones stumble around the ring, looking like a deer in the headlights from bell-to-bell. Despite all the hype, for months before his debut, even Vince and company saw that there was a huge problem. Jones was scheduled to team with Undertaker at Wrestlemania XIX against Big Show and A-Train, but WWE saw such little faith in his abilities after just a few performances that he was “taken out” by the Full-Blooded Italians (Nunzio, Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli) backstage, turning the match into a handicap affair. Jones eventually did come out at the end of the match, hitting a roundhouse on A-Train and allowing ‘Taker to eventually score the pinfall. A couple days later, at a Smackdown! taping, Jones was once again taken out by the FBI, having his leg “injured”, thus giving WWE excuse to get his green ass off television.
Despite all of the hype, Nathan Jones turned out to be a colossal (pun intended) failure, and wasn’t seen again for months. He spent most of 2003 getting experience in Ohio Valley Wrestling. Some wondered if he would ever be back.
Late in the year, when it seemed like most had even forgotten about Jones, he all of a sudden made his return, now being managed by Paul Heyman in a stable of monster heels consisting of himself, Brock Lesnar, A-Train and Matt Morgan. He wound up competing on a team captained by Lesnar at the Survivor Series, and surprisingly, he had managed to improve his skills significantly. Although his move list was still very basic, he had abandoned MMA-style strikes and kicks in favor of power moves like throws and suplexes. Average big man stuff, yes, but the few moves he used he was now using well, and he looked much more comfortable in the ring. He was far from great at this point, but his matches were at least watchable.
Nathan Jones continued to serve as a henchman for the remainder of November that year. In December, however, things took a turn. While WWE was on a tour of Jones’ homeland of Australia, Jones began to not only get homesick, but also began to complain of WWE’s difficult travel schedule. It was while on this tour that Jones basically told Vince McMahon that was done with wrestling and simply stayed in the country rather than return to the U.S.
Just like that, with only a handful of matches under his belt, Nathan Jones was done with WWE, and pretty much wrestling in general. He had a few matches in 2005, and officially retired at that point.
Since leaving WWE, Jones has taken up acting, appearing in numerous action films, including The Condemned (a WWE Films product, no less), The Protector and Jet Li’s Fearless. He has even been rumored to play Kratos in a film based on the God of War video game franchise. Acting seems to be working well for him, and although he plays mostly thugs and bodyguards in his movies, it’s a role he’s well-suited for, as he definitely looks the part.
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