On March 1, legendary Tennessee wrestling promoter Jerry Jarrett shared on social media, “Just got off the phone with my friend Scott Hall. He fell and broke his hip and he’s in the hospital. Prayers will help him recover.” Tragically, Hall never recovered, and I’ve been thinking about the impact Hall had on the world of pro wrestling and myself. How exactly did I go from watching The Bad Guy as a kid to briefly meeting Hall by happenstance?
Perhaps TikTok knew I read Jarrett’s Facebook status update the same day he posted the above message because several clips of Hall’s career began showing up on my For You Page (FYP) immediately afterward, which took me down memory lane.
I recall watching the earliest Razor Ramon vignettes and his debut in 1992 from my childhood home in Tennessee. I found the character to be mesmerizing, especially in an era of unbelievable cartoonish characters, and I do not believe anyone else but Hall could have pulled off the Razor Ramon gimmick. And yes, I bought into his accent but was unfortunately unable to buy the official World Wrestling Federation (WWF) razor blade shaped gold necklace marketed to kids – it was a different time.
Tennessee public schools usually dismiss for summer break around mid-May, but our school year was extended into June because of an abundance of missed days thanks to the blizzard of 1993. Young me was feeling down about the delay of summer but looked forward to watching wrestling Monday evening. I remember jumping out of my seat on May 17, 1993 after the unthinkable: Ramon was pinned by the 1-2-3 Kid (Waltman got the moniker from this match) during Monday Night Raw at the Manhattan Center! The upset was the talk of the playground, and wrestling chatter made the unwanted extra school days somewhat bearable.
Flash forward to May 6, 1994, and I was excited for more than summer break. My cousin and I had tickets to see a WWF house show at the McMinnville Civic Center, which is located 30 minutes away in the adjacent county. Instead of driving over an hour and half to the big city of Nashville, the WWF was coming to our backyard and we were stoked! I’m sure our parents were also stoked about the shortened commute and lower ticket prices.
We did not know who was going to be on the card, but we knew we had to arrive early at the venue to sit on the bleachers near the wrestlers’ entranceway. Lo and behold, Razor Ramon took on Diesel in the semi-main event. My cousin and I got to touch Ramon’s shoulder as he made his way to the ring, which is a funny memory in retrospect.
Ramon had some great matches in the Fed, but his next move was the start of a paradigm shift. The Monday Night Wars were heating up, but a major dose of gas was thrown on the fire when Hall made his May 27, 1996 debut on the Memorial Day version of Monday Nitro, which was the first two-hour edition of WCW’s flagship show. Hall jumped the security barrier, interrupted and stopped a match between Steve Doll and The Mauler with his promo. Hall would return at the end of the broadcast and used words and phrases like “dirt sheets” and “we are taking over.” Both Hall’s promos felt very different that night than the standard fare of the time.
Just like before with Razor Ramon, Hall’s verbal delivery cemented his new Outsider character. The wrestling world was about to change with the New World Order (nWo). Like many fans, I found myself flipping back and forth from Raw and Nitro thanks to the original freshness of the nWo.
In 2002, I made trips to Nashville to cover Jerry and Jeff Jarrett’s newly launched NWA-TNA pay-per-views for my then weekly college radio show on WTTU 88.5 FM. College me would occasionally be allowed backstage afterward. On one occasion, Scott Hall walked up and briefly chatted with myself and two to three other hangers-on who he probably thought were production staff. I may have been the only one in the small group not on staff unless you count the fact the office usually gave me tickets for on-air giveaways. Hall exchanged pleasantries and wished us a nice night.
Over the years, I learned more about Hall’s early life, pre-Razor Ramon wrestling career and his extensive substance abuse. I also discovered second-degree murder charges against him were dropped after Hall killed a man in January 1983 in what he described as self-defense. Hall admitted in an ESPN documentary to living with the traumatic event for the rest of his life.
A friend and recovering alcoholic once told me addiction is typically born out of trauma. The reason a person continues using drugs and drinking is because they want to numb the post-traumatic pain and then become addicts along the way.
Hall stated in multiple media interviews he was no saint and continued to battle his demons. Many started to expect the worst after multiple rehab programs, relapses and run ins with law enforcement over the years, which is why I was delighted when Diamond Dallas Page took Hall into his home in early 2013 to help the former four-time Intercontinental Champion rebuild. I even made a point to thank Page for helping both Hall and Jake Roberts when I saw him at the 2018 Motor City Comic Con. Page lit up and talked about the growth of both WWE Hall of Famers for several minutes. [Here’s a clip of DDP talking about it.]
I send my condolences to Hall’s children, extended family and friends, like DDP, who never game up on The Bad Guy. I just wish the outcome would have been different.
Scott Hall oozed both the it factor and machismo like no other. Rest in peace, Chico.
TOP PHOTO: Scott Hall as TNA tag team champion. Photo by George Tahinos, georgetahinos.smugmug.com