It started as something you barely noticed when watching Raw or Nitro in the late ’90s. Shawn Michaels may have thrown it up in the middle of a match, or Scott Hall would flash it on his way down the aisle. It was an unmistakable gesture that hinted at a secret brotherhood known only to a few.
Twenty years later, it has become the not-so-secret handshake seen in sports-entertainment rings around the world, bridging a generation of Superstars and connecting The Kliq with The Club.
Kevin Nash, Triple H and the four Superstars who brought it back to the forefront of sports-entertainment — AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows and Finn Bálor — reveal its strange origins, The Kliq and nWo’s influence today, and the person in the locker room who loves to “Too Sweet.”
WWE.COM: Why did The Kliq start to use the gesture?
KEVIN NASH: It came up during a European trip. X-Pac brought it to our attention. It was just one of those things where we got it and the five of us [Nash, Sean Waltman, Scott Hall, Shawn Michaels and Triple H] started to use it.
TRIPLE H: When we did it originally, we were sneaking it into places where we could get away with doing it. A lot of it was breaking the rules, anyway. It really was more about sneakily breaking the rules and seeing if anybody catches on that we’re doing it.
NASH: Whenever The Kliq was together, we’d throw it up. Whenever we were solo, we’d throw it up. When we split in ’96, it became a symbol of the unity of The Kliq.
WWE.COM: What do you call the gesture? A couple of different names are out there.
NASH: We call it the Turkish Wolf. That’s what The Kliq calls it.
FINN BÁLOR: We call it the Too Sweet.
TRIPLE H: The “Too Sweet” sounds very weak. Kevin said that now and then, but it’s not the Too Sweet hand signal. It sounds weak to me. Can we come up with something tougher to call it than the Too Sweet? We sound like a bunch of goofs.
NASH: Everyone calls it the Too Sweet because I used to throw it up in The nWo and call it “Too Sweet,” but it was already established long before The nWo was around.
WWE.COM: Do you guys associate it more with The nWo or The Kliq?
“For Finn to carry that torch for us,
all it does is make our legacy stronger.”
AJ STYLES: Everybody wants to take responsibility for it. Obviously, The nWo. If we want to go way back, who did The nWo get it from?
LUKE GALLOWS: Japan?
STYLES: Wrong. No, no, no, no, no. NC State. [The North Carolina State Wolfpack]
GALLOWS: [Scoffs] Who cares about that?
STYLES: That’s the Wolfpack. That’s a Wolf Kiss, bro.
GALLOWS: That’s stupid. We’re talking about sports-entertainment, brother.
STYLES: Hey, back off, man. Anyway, that’s where it came from, in my head. Therefore, I think it’s legal for everybody to use it and have a good time with it.
NASH: We were throwing the Turkish Wolf up, so it made sense that we were the “Wolfpack.” Since the Wolfpack was owned by NC State, we made it The Wolfpac, so we could register it.
WWE.COM: The Too Sweet first started popping up again in Japan. When did you start using it?
KARL ANDERSON: It started for sure with me and Finn in 2006, in Santa Monica in the New Japan Los Angeles Dojo. We were just buddies and would Too Sweet each other for the hell of it because we thought it was fun. Then, as we progressed and moved into New Japan Pro Wrestling, we always did it to each other on the bus. It was part of our handshake.
BÁLOR: We’d be on these six- to eight-hour bus rides on the New Japan tour bus, going from Tokyo to Osaka or to Kyushu, and absolutely going insane on the bus and trying to think of ways to entertain ourselves. We went through this phase of quoting all The Attitude Era stuff.
ANDERSON: We loved The nWo. We loved Scott Hall. We loved Kevin Nash. It was just kind of our thing.
BÁLOR: It got to the point where we’d be on the bus and four hours into a journey, and there’d be complete silence. We’d just look at each other and wouldn’t even say anything, but we’d both know that we were going to Too Sweet right then. And we would, then go back to sleep or do whatever we were doing. We’d be Too Sweeting each other backstage before we went out or in the locker room that day or in the bar that night.
ANDERSON: Then, one day in the ring, in Tokyo, Japan, we just got a win. Finn got the win.
BÁLOR: We were standing in the ring and Karl goes to give me a high-five.
ANDERSON: He held the Too Sweet up in the air and looked at me. I started to get chills. I said, “Are we doing this right now?”
BÁLOR: And I said, “Yep.” That’s the exact moment it transferred from the locker room to the ring. We started to do it everywhere.
ANDERSON: It was the beginning of a Too Sweet relationship.
WWE.COM: How would you explain its meaning to an outsider?
TRIPLE H: The hand signal was us putting this little tag that said, “We were part of something that we weren’t acknowledging on camera but behind the scenes was big.” When everyone went their separate ways — Kevin and Scott formed The nWo and we became DX — it was a way for us to continue to mess with the part of our fan base that understood the behind the scenes. It was a way for us to look at the world and say, “We’re still together. We’re running in two companies now: WCW and WWE.”
BÁLOR: It’s kind of almost like a secret handshake or secret acknowledgement to the past and the people who paved the way, to pay tribute to those guys and to help carry forward.
NASH: It’s very Masonic Temple, very Freemason and Illuminati.
BÁLOR: When I do it to Karl and Gallows, it feels like a secret handshake vibe. It’s an acknowledgement of a brotherhood — something we’ve been through together. It’s bigger than that now and it’s out there. It has multiple meanings for multiple people.
WWE.COM: June marks 20 years since the formation of The New World Order. Even though this gesture was popularized by The Kliq, it’s part of The nWo’s legacy, too. How did those groups inspire you?
BÁLOR: X-Pac has been one of the people who made me believe in myself that I could become a wrestler. We have a similar size, with him being a smaller guy in a big man’s world. He was definitely one of the people that instilled a belief in me that this was possible. Obviously, Shawn Michaels was my childhood hero. There was nobody cooler than Razor Ramon and Diesel. When they turned into The nWo, they were so bada**. The whole Kliq was hugely influential in all aspects of why I loved and wanted to get into wrestling.
ANDERSON: The Too Sweet is bada**ness because when I think —
STYLES: What did you say? “Bada**ness”? That’s an adjective, by the way.
ANDERSON: — When I think about it, I think of The nWo throwing it up. They were so sweet. For us to bring it back, it’s cool.
GALLOWS: The Too Sweet epitomizes cool. That’s what we grew up on. The nWo was cool. The Kliq was cool. Then we grew up to be cool. So why would we not throw it up? It’s a symbol of unity and it’s bada**ness.
WWE.COM: What do you think about The Club and Bálor using it now?
TRIPLE H: I saw it as nothing but a tribute when they started to bring it back. It wasn’t like they started to do it in a joking manner or a manner to kind of dump on it. The people who are doing it now are people who grew up during The Attitude Era and watched The nWo and DX. And that’s what’s leading them to do it.
NASH: A lot of people are really up in arms about it. Finn is a Superstar. Everyone in WWE is a Superstar, but Finn is a Superstar. Finn is very much like a Shawn Michaels kind of athlete. For him to carry that torch for us, all it does is make our legacy stronger. I wasn’t in a college fraternity, but if I was in Sigma Nu or whatever and your brother underneath you wants to keep the torch alive, I can’t think of a better guy than Finn to do it.
WWE.COM: What does it mean for you to get Triple H and Nash’s blessing?
BÁLOR: Obviously, I’m humbled. I’m a huge fan and admirer of Kevin Nash. To have his blessing is quite humbling. Essentially, we were fans of The Kliq and The nWo. The whole thing came from us paying tribute to them as fans in the back. It transcended the back and into the ring. For him to endorse it is a huge compliment.
GALLOWS: Nash is one of the coolest guys in the business. I got to throw it up to Kevin Nash in the ring. He reciprocated. We had a Too Sweet moment. It was pretty awesome.
STYLES: In other words, Kevin is a good brother, is what we’re trying to say.
GALLOWS: A great brother.
ANDERSON: To get his blessing feels good. It feels right.
GALLOWS: A lot of nWo guys have said that to us, too. Scott Hall said that before. Buff Bagwell told me in Atlanta that he liked seeing it because it brought back fond memories.
TRIPLE H: As far as I look at it, if they can carry on that legacy we created, that’s pretty cool. That’s awesome, as long as they pay royalties. [Laughs]
WWE.COM: Does anyone else in the locker room throw up the Too Sweet?
GALLOWS: Zack Ryder. He Too Sweets us every time we see him.
STYLES: Yeah, he goes, “Too Sweet, bro,” and throws it up to us. For sure. That’s about it, though. Seth Rollins tried to get me to Too Sweet him in the ring the other night, but I didn’t. That’s because he went for the pin and I had to pull him off. But that’s another story.
BÁLOR: Originally, it was just me and Karl [in Japan]. Then as Gallows came in, we started Too Sweeting him. It was kind of like an inner circle deal. Now, when people see me, they’ll throw up a Too Sweet. In the beginning, I was reluctant to give it to people who weren’t in the inner circle. But now, I’m embracing it left, right and center.
WWE.COM: Have you started to Too Sweet the fans?
STYLES: All the time.
ANDERSON: Constantly. It was cool at the Live Events last weekend, when we came out, everybody in the crowd was Too Sweeting. It got me pumped up, man. It’s everywhere.
NASH: I did a signing [May 26] — 60, if not 70, percent of the people in my line for three hours were 8- to 12-year-old kids that weren’t alive during my run. I got a picture with a 3-year-old kid sitting in my lap, and the mom says, “What do you want to do with Mr. Nash?” And she says, “Throw it up.” She threw The Kliq sign up and we took a shot.
With additional reporting by Dustin Wallace.