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Say Goodbye to the Bad Guy: Remembring Scott Hall

Scott Hall left an indelible legacy on professional wrestling/sports entertainment that few can match. He changed the game forever and while he might be gone, he won’t be forgotten.

Scott Hall Dead Legacy nWo Razor Ramon WCW WWF WWE Hall of Fame
Photo: WWE/YouTube

Hey Yo! The world of professional wrestling/sports entertainment lost one of its most recognizable and charismatic figures on Monday night when Scott Hall passed away at age 63. Hall was a 20-plus year veteran of the industry getting his start in the Verne Gagne’s AWA in the mid-1980s. When the AWA folded, Hall made his first trip to WCW where he was paired with Diamond Dallas Page portraying the Diamond Studd, a character that he said in many ways was the precursor to what would eventually be his big break in the business.

Hall was a four-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, seven-time WCW World Tag Team Champion, two-time WCW United States champion, and the promotion’s last ever World TV champion. Scott Hall epitomized what it meant to be cool as a professional wrestler. He was one of the first characters that made being a “heel” cool and would eventually do more to change the industry for those that followed than anyone else that stepped into the squared circle.

Razor Ramon

Hall’s big break came in 1992 when he finally joined the WWF as Razor Ramon, a character that subtly portrayed a Cuban drug dealer.

Known as “The Bad Guy,” Razor immediately received a major push upon entering the federation. It was this character that made it good, to be bad. In many shoot interviews, Hall talked about Vince McMahon taking a hiatus from television to personally direct his vignettes that would appear on WWF programming prior to his debut, which was a distinction reserved for top stars at the time.

Upon making his debut, Razor immediately feuded with one of the industry’s icons, Macho Man Randy Savage, in the battle of Macho vs. Machismo. The feud would continue for the latter half of 1992 and into early 1993. In September of that year, Hall won his first singles title defeating the Model, Rick Martel, to capture the vacated Intercontinental Title. His victory and title reign subsequently set up one of the greatest feuds in WWF history against real-life friend Shawn Michaels, who had been stripped of the title months earlier due to a suspension.

The feud culminated with the original ladder match at Wrestlemania 10, a match that is still revered as one of the greatest in Wrestlemania history (and my personal all-time favorite). Razor and HBK had unbelievable in-ring chemistry partially due to their road travels together discussing the industry, so they had a great sense of how each other wanted to work a match. The match was an instant classic that has still held the test of time, and if you for some reason haven’t watched it already you need to do yourself a favor and fire it up on Peacock.

Following Wrestlemania 10, Razor held the Intercontinental Title for much of the next 21 months feuding with the likes of Diesel, Jeff Jarrett, and Dean Douglas, before eventually dropping the title for good to Goldust at the 1996 Royal Rumble.

Following his defeat to Goldust, Razor’s contract was reaching its expiration. In an effort to, as he said, improve his status with the company, Razor began negotiations with WWF Chairman Vince McMahon. Unable to see an increase in his salary or merchandise royalties, Razor began to have back-channel discussions with rival promotion, WCW, brokered through friend Diamond Dallas Page about a possible return. In late February of 1996, Razor served his notice to Vince McMahon that he would be joining WCW, and he subsequently failed a drug test through very shady circumstances that prevented him from having a final Wrestlemania match before departing and cost him a large payoff.

With his departure imminent, Razor wrestled for the WWF one final time in Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1996. This night would become one of the most infamous nights in professional wrestling history known as “The Curtain Call.” It was here that real-life friends Razor Ramon, Diesel, Shawn Michaels, and Hunter Hurst Helmsley broke “kayfabe” and shared an emotional embrace as Razor and Diesel departed for the WWF’s rival promotion.

This was a seminal moment in the industry’s history as kaybafe had long been regarded as the most sacred element of the business. The four friends breaking the sacred tradition was seen as taboo and left a bad taste in the mouths of many traditionalists.

nWo Invasion

Fresh off the heels of The Curtain Call, Scott Hall made his return to WCW eight days later in one of the most shocking live moments in the history pro wrestling. It was only the beginning of what would be the greatest angle the sport has ever seen. What many perceived as a “shoot” rival invasion would be the genesis of wrestling’s greatest faction, the New World Order. This moment served as the opening shot in the burgeoning Monday Night War that would captivate cable television for the better part of three years.

Hall would serve as the fulcrum to the new faction, eventually being joined by Kevin Nash, formerly Diesel in WWF, who followed Hall to WCW two weeks after his arrival. The group teased of a third man that wanted to challenge three of WCW’s best at the promotion’s summer PPV extravaganza, Bash at the Beach in Daytona Beach, FL. It was there that the wrestling world was changed forever, and Scott Hall was at the center of it all.

For much of the next three years, the nWo would run rough shot over WCW and help propel the company to the top of the industry, surpassing the WWF for the first time in the company’s history. Through it all, Scott Hall was an integral part, holding the WCW tag team titles with Kevin Nash as the Outsiders for close to two years. The group made being heels cool for the first time in wrestling history. Although the nWo would see many additions and the eventual split and reunification of the faction’s founding members, Scott Hall was always front and center. He famously coined the expression “when you’re nWo, you’re nWo for life!” This is evident by the fact that you still see nWo shirts and merchandise at any wrestling event to this day.

WWF Return/TNA

Following WWF’s purchase of WCW in March of 2001, Scott Hall was largely absent from American wrestling TV. But he re-emerged with his founding nWo cohorts, Kevin Nash and Hollywood Hogan, for one final run in February of 2002.

The angle simply was never able to get off the ground and recapture the magic it had less than a decade earlier, as Hall would be released three months later. His noted substance abuse issues became too much as the company felt he was no longer able to handle the rigors of the road. He would never wrestle in a WWF/E ring ever again.

For much of the next eight years, Hall bounced around independent promotions and made several stops in TNA wrestling. None of these stints were extensive as his personal demons would continually rear their ugly head, causing him to continually leave promotions.

Post-Wrestling Life

Hall’s personal demons continued to take a toll on him and eventually became the subject of an ESPN 360 segment in 2011. This segment highlighted his battles with drug and alcohol addiction and the impact it had on his personal relationships with family and friends. Following the segment’s airing, Hall would reconnect with longtime friend, Diamond Dallas Page, who following his own wrestling career dedicated himself to helping others overcome their addiction battles. With the help of DDP and his famed yoga regimen, Hall was able to reach a level of sobriety that he hadn’t seen since the mid-1980s.

With a clear mind and body, Hall was welcomed back to the WWE family in 2014 when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the first time. There, he delivered one of the most iconic moments in induction history.

Following his induction, Hall would make sporadic appearances on WWE television for Hall of Fame and anniversary events. You could find him frequently doing “shoot” interviews with internet and radio wrestling shows, telling stories of the road and giving his take on the modern business.

Legacy

Scott Hall is widely regarded as the greatest performer to never be a World Champion in a major promotion. His influence has stretched far and wide from indy promotions to mainstream characters of today in WWE and AEW. There may have been bigger stars in the history of professional wrestling, but nobody was cooler than Scott Hall. He had the charisma with his look, the iconic catchphrases, ability to cut classic promos, and work matches against opponents of all stripes.

He changed the financial landscape for future generations when he jumped to WCW, helping make guaranteed contracts the norm. This would help performers of his era and into the future reach a level of financial security they were not afforded previously.

Scott Hall didn’t need a title to get over with the crowd, he just had to show up. He could do it as a heel or a babyface, something few have the ability to do. Hall was regarded as having one of the best minds the business ever saw, as was evident by him giving Sting the idea to adopt his legendary “Crow” persona. He overcame his demons later in life and seemed to be happy and healthy until the last two weeks when he ultimately went down for the count one last time.

Scott Hall is a legend in every sense of the word. Anyone who spends more than 30 seconds on my Twitter profile will see a litany of Scott Hall GIFs, because that’s just how cool he was. The hair, the toothpick, the strut, the machismo, the catchphrases — he was everything you look for in a professional wrestler. He was my all-time favorite performer and I will always look back fondly on his work and transport back to my pre-teen and teen years when he was the coolest guy on TV. There is only one way to close this out, and that’s with a little survey. And survey says:

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Former scrub JUCO pitcher

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