To summarise the career of Scott Hall, he was the greatest wrestler to never win a mainstream World Championship.
That’s perhaps one of professional wrestling’s most tedious aspects. There have been so many in-ring greats over the years that simply didn’t make it to the top of the card, despite their mesmerising star power and superb match quality. Needless to say, Scott Hall oozed charisma and was a consistently great wrestler at the peak of his career, deserving of that lucrative World Championship victory in a major promotion. For the record, he did capture the World Championships of Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council and Memphis, Tennessee’s United States Wrestling Association.
WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett has, quite rightly, referred to Scott Hall never winning a WWE or WCW World Championship as a head-scratching booking decision:
“I don’t recall exactly but my gut tells me I would’ve reached out to him. The Jeff Jarrett – Razor Ramon relationship was pretty deep and travelled a lot of miles with him and all that, when he became available, I definitely remember I was super excited. I think to this day for him not to have been a World Champion, to me is sort of a head-scratcher. He had it all. I was very excited and my dad and him always had a great relationship, I was very excited to get the opportunity to have him on board.”
‘The Bad Guy’ constantly left you with something to talk about, whether it was his impeccable WrestleMania X ladder match vs. Shawn Michaels, dramatically changing the landscape of pro wrestling as we knew it with his jump to World Championship Wrestling, or his remarkable, real-life turnaround. His 2014 WWE Hall of Fame induction speech remains one of the most emotional, purely based on the tumultuous life Scott Hall has led. That he bettered himself to reach that destination made it all the more tear-jerking.
There will never be anyone else that can compare to Scott Hall. His life story, both professional and personal, exemplifies this statement more than words ever could.
Born Scott Oliver Hall on 20 October 1958 in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Scott began his wrestling career in 1984 after attending high school in Munich, Germany. Starting off under the National Wrestling Alliance banner, in particular its Championship Wrestling From Florida subsidiary, Hall would feud with the legendary Dusty Rhodes early on, before forming a team with Dan Spivey. Both Hall and Spivey had received training from ‘The American Dream’, as well as Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham, before donning the monikers of Starship Coyote and Starship Eagle, respectively. Collectively, they were dubbed American Starship.
Unsurprisingly, this team failed to achieve much success, wrestling so rarely that Jim Crockett gave both of them crew jobs at the Charlotte Orioles. When they did wrestle, be it in CWFH, Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling, or NWA Central States, they were predominantly used as enhancement talent. The team of Scott Hall and Dan Spivey faded quickly, leaving Hall to enjoy a fairly more successful tenure in the American Wrestling Association. It was here that, under the alias’ of ‘Magnum’ and ‘Big’ Scott Hall, AWA promoter Verne Gagne initially envisioned Hall as the next Hulk Hogan, though this quickly faded.
Once Hall captured the promotion’s World Tag Team Championships with fellow WWE Hall of Famer Curt Hennig, doing so in an unimaginable fifty-eight-minute contest in New Mexico, his attitude soon became unbearable to work with, as detailed by Gagne himself. Verne puts this down as the reason he never reached the success of Hulk Hogan, as he claimed while appearing on Sportskeeda’s UnSKripted podcast (h/t Sportskeeda):
“Attitude [why he never reached Hulk Hogan’s level]. Simple, yeah. He came here from Kansas City and he was floundering around. We put him with Curt Hennig and made a tag team out of them. Once he became Tag Team Champion, you couldn’t talk to him anymore. I think once he got to the WWE and learned where he stood, he came around and he was much better. But I believe he was probably hard to work with.”
Recognising the AWA as a “sinking ship”, Scott Hall departed the company not long after dropping the World Tag Team Championships to Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, despite Gagne vowing to make him the AWA World Heavyweight Champion. Soon debuting for World Championship Wrestling, at the time still under the NWA banner, Scott Hall – who was brought in alongside the likes of Brian Pillman to develop newer, younger talents for the company – would still be hampered by a gimmick, wrestling as Scott ‘Gator’ Hall and appearing in vignettes where he scared alligators. He achieved little to no success, resulting in his hiatus.
Becoming The Bad Guy
Although he had brief flurries of work everywhere from the World Wrestling Federation to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Scott Hall remained under contract to WCW, though he’d be repackaged as The Diamond Studd. The persona that Hall would adopt upon this character change laid the very foundations upon which he would create ‘The Bad Guy’ under Vince McMahon’s empire. In WCW, this saw him become almost a second coming of ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, though the character failed to get him far before he departed the promotion in May 1992.
When he joined the World Wrestling Federation later that same month, Scott Hall would become known as Razor Ramon. He’d still be as cocky and cool as his Diamond Studd character, but he was now a Cuban-American bully modelled off of Scarface characters Tony Montana and Manny Ribera. It was clear from the off that Scott Hall was going to be a big deal for the WWF. He caught the crowd’s attention from the moment he sauntered down the aisle, kept them invested throughout his matches, and, perhaps most importantly, wasn’t afraid to up the ante of his character. A flick of the toothpick or threatening behaviour towards ringside attendants was such simple, yet effective heel behaviour.
Even though he’d wrestled Randy Savage, Bret Hart, and Bob Backlund, amongst others, in his first year, the moment that set Razor Ramon up for success was actually a loss. Famously losing to The 1-2-3 Kid on the 17 May 1993 broadcast of Monday Night Raw set both on their respective paths to becoming bonafide Hall of Famers. In Ramon’s case, he turned babyface shortly thereafter, having gradually gained respect for the future X-Pac, and in turn, captured the Intercontinental Championship that had been left vacant when Shawn Michaels was suspended for a positive steroid test result.
It was as the Intercontinental Champion that Razor Ramon found mass success, most famously competing in a critically-acclaimed ladder match (the first of its kind in the WWF) against former champion Shawn Michaels – who’d since returned to television with his own version of the championship – at WrestleMania X. Not only does this remain one of the most talked-about matches of all time, with the clip of Michaels’ body splash from atop the ladder being etched in video packages for eternity, but Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers voted it as 1994’s Match of the Year, while the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer made it the then-WWF’s inaugural five-star-rated match.
Even today, when the Intercontinental Championship has aided the flourishing careers of eventual main eventers such as Chris Jericho and The Miz, Razor Ramon remains recognised as one of the greatest to ever hold the ‘workhorse championship. A WWE.com feature posted in 2010 listed him as the sixth greatest Intercontinental Champion in history. The feature described his and Shawn Michaels’ ladder matches as having been crucial for the next generation to develop the ladder match into what it has now become.
Following the infamous Curtain Call incident alongside fellow members of The Kliq – Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kevin Nash, and Sean ‘X-Pac’ Waltman – Scott Hall’s time in the World Wrestling Federation was done. A new opportunity awaited ‘The Bad Guy’ in World Championship Wrestling, but Hall, having ditched the Razor Ramon moniker in favour of his birth name, wasn’t one to debut in the traditional manner. On the 27 May 1996 edition of WCW Monday Nitro, no one could have foretold what was going to follow over the coming months. When Scott Hall walked through that audience, the very landscape of professional wrestling changed.
Eric Bischoff, who worked his way up to ultimately be the President of WCW, was responsible for signing Scott Hall to a WCW contract, though ‘Easy E’ didn’t do so without his own hesitations, owing to Hall’s less-than-complimentary reputation (h/t 411 Mania):
“Scott obviously had a reputation, and I was a little bit concerned about it. It wasn’t a secret. I really wanted to get inside Scott’s head…I was very familiar with the character Scott Hall and a little familiar with the person having worked with him in WCW before he had gone to WWE. I picked Scott up at the airport and had him ride with me. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get inside his head.
And at this point in 1996, the morale in the WCW locker room was very high, particularly compared to what the morale had been through the Bill Watts era and some of the others. I was a little concerned about Scott coming in and upsetting the apple cart, so to speak, and reversing some of the gains we had made.”
Joined by Kevin Nash, who’d wrestled as the WWF Championship-winning Diesel previously, two weeks thereafter, the pair became known as The Outsiders, initiating a hostile takeover of the Ted Turner-helmed company by emphatically slamming Eric Bischoff – then an onscreen member of the broadcast team – through the announce desk. This, of course, led to the dramatic formation of The new World order at the 1996 Bash At The Beach pay-per-view, as Hulk Hogan did the unthinkable, dropping a leg on Randy Savage, turning heel, and siding with Hall and Nash as one of wrestling’s most historic stables began its first chapter.
Scott Hall ended up being one of WCW’s most successful performers throughout the Monday Night War, amassing one reign with the World Television Championship, two with the United States Heavyweight Championship, and seven with the World Tag Team Championships, six of which were alongside Kevin Nash (The Giant, now AEW’s Paul Wight, made up the numbers). He was never the face of the company, nor was he at the top of The nWo, but Eric Bischoff and the rest of WCW management treated him as if he was. ‘The Bad Guy’ won the 1997 World War 3 contest, though he’d ultimately fail in his World Heavyweight Championship challenge against Sting.
As a member of one of wrestling’s key stables at such a pivotal point in history, Scott Hall found himself at the forefront of media publicity. He, like many professional athletes, had his flaws, but these are often exemplified when you’re a constant fixture in the public eye. Hall was arrested for the second time in 1998 for groping a 56-year-old woman in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; a prior arrest fifteen years prior had seen Hall charged with second-degree murder, having shot – and killed – a man with his own gun, an incident he was never able to forget. WCW controversially turned this into a storyline, despite Hall, in reality, being arrested for a third time, this time for keying a limousine.
Scott Hall’s WCW tenure still saw him near the top of the card through association to The nWo, but understandably, WCW never really gave him the same singles opportunities he had been receiving beforehand. It was around the same time that his issues with drugs and alcohol also came to be in the public eye, which led to the divorce between him and his wife of eight years. He was removed from television and legitimately admitted to rehab, as he and ‘Big Daddy Cool’ showed up to a March 1998 Nitro broadcast intoxicated and under the influence of painkillers. Hall’s WCW career slowed down tremendously, with injuries picked up along the way, before he departed following SuperBrawl 2000.
The Fall & Rise Of Scott Hall
Wrestling for New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling following his WCW departure, Scott hall – along with Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash – made his way back to the World Wrestling Federation, resurfacing at the 2002 No Way Out pay-per-view as Vince McMahon brought The nWo into the fold. Though this started off well, feuding with and losing to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin at WrestleMania X8, the personal issues of Scott Hall began to affect his now-subpar wrestling career.
That May, Scott Hall was onboard the plane during the infamous Plane Ride From Hell. In his case, ‘The Bad Guy’ became heavily intoxicated, was accused of licking the face of flight attendant Heidi Doyle, and allegedly made various sexual remarks towards both Doyle and Taralyn Cappellano. Hall would be let go from the WWF two days later, stemming from his substance abuse issues, but instead of taking time off as he perhaps should have, Scott Hall found a new home in the newly-created Total Nonstop Action promotion. He appeared sporadically between 2002 and 2005, and then between 2007 and 2008.
Over the next few years, the life trajectory of Scott Hall was a one-way ticket downhill. He no-showed a series of events, beginning with TNA’s 2007 Turning Point pay-per-view, where he, Kevin Nash, and Samoa Joe were due to face Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, and Tomko, before failing to appear as scheduled at the World Wrestling Council’s 14 and 15 December events. Hall claims to have begun having emotional issues around this time, though this didn’t stop him regularly appearing for various promotions in the late-2000s and early-2010s, including a return to TNA in their infamous 2010 arc.
Unfortunately, Scott Hall’s real-life issues continued to plague him. He was arrested a further three times between 2008 and 2012 for issues ranging from charging towards comedian Jimmy Graham for a distasteful Owen Hart-related joke (Graham claims Hall was under the influence of alcohol during all of this) to disorderly conduct and resisting a police officer. Hall’s demons were documented in a heartwrenching 2011 ESPN documentary, with letters shown from his children. Among the phrases seen were “I want you to be in my life”, and “Please get help daddy, please”.
At the time of that documentary’s release, a number of shocking realities came to light regarding Scott Hall. He’d been to rehab ten times. WWE had paid a six-figure amount to get him the help he needed. He was taking a mountain of pills a day just to get his life back on track following a regular, heavy intake of drugs and alcohol. Cody Hall, Scott’s son, vowed to become a professional wrestler to act as an anchor in the hopes of saving his dad’s life. Furthermore, Diamond Dallas Page personally invited Hall into his home to aid him in staying sober, while also organising a fundraiser to pay for hip replacement surgery and dental work for Scott.
The battles Scott Hall faced outside the ring were tougher than any match he may have wrestled.
That’s what makes his 2014 Hall of Fame induction speech so much more poignant. Scott Hall was always a bonafide Hall of Fame inductee, but there was an incredibly high possibility of Hall being a posthumous inductee. Instead, ‘The Bad Guy’ was there, in-person, to take his rightful spot in the real ‘Showcase of the Immortals’.
Scott Hall’s Legacy
Tragically, Scott Hall passed away on Monday, 14 March 2022. He had been hospitalised after breaking his hip, after which a blood clot was dislodged, bringing on three heart attacks. He was placed on life support in Marietta, Georgia, but ultimately, this was switched off on 14 March. His passing was confirmed later that day.
Scott Hall was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. Through all of his troubles and misfortunes, everyone could have given up on him, but he was worth fighting for. He was the perfect opponent for just about anyone to have an enjoyable match with, irrelevant of their experience or their notoriety. The impact he has left on this business is being felt in the immediate aftermath of his passing, and will continue to be felt for years to come.
There will never be another soul brave enough to pull off the eye-catching look of Razor Ramon. There will never be another Scott Hall to change the face of professional wrestling. There will never be another ‘Bad Guy’.
Hard work pays off. Dreams come true. Bad times don’t last, but Bad Guys do.
Rest easy, Scott Hall.