Was Scott Hall Really That Good?
Ey yo! This time , in memory of The Bad Guy, we look back at the legendary Scott Hall's career and ask the question; Was he really that good?
“You know who I am… but you don’t know why I’m here.” This is the sentence that shook wrestling to its very core. The sentence that changed the wrestling landscape forever. Coming through the crowd dressed in a Canadian Tuxedo of double denim, recent WWF defector Scott Hall was about to utter the sentence that set wrestling on fire. As one half of The Outsiders and a founding member of the New World Order, Scott Hall helped pave the way for an edgier, more unpredictable wrestling product that set WCW on the path of ratings supremacy and was the spark that blew up TNT on Monday nights from 1996 – 1998 (see what I did there?) Scott wasn’t without his problems and they have been well documented. As always, we’ll look purely at his career and his body of work. We’ll look at the legacy that Scott Hall has left behind and the instrumental part he played in shaping wrestling into what it is today. So, in honour of Scott, let us ask that question that we love to ask; Was Scott Hall really that good?
Before we get into this, I want everyone to know that I was never a Scott Hall fan, he never really appealed to me until the late 90’s. He was in the first match I ever saw, which makes it somewhat surreal writing this. I have written this as a tribute, not to grab views. Please be kind and courteous in the comments and please give his family time to grieve. It doesn’t matter what side of the wrestling fence you sit on be it new product vs old product, AEW vs WWE, WWF vs WCW, it’s not important. What is important is that we remember someone who gave his body for our entertainment and changed the wrestling landscape in such a huge way. Now let’s get into this.
Scott Hall began his career in the Florida territory, after training with names such as Dusty Rhodes, Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham, Scott made his debut in 1984 for Championship Wrestling from Florida, where he was promptly thrust into a programme with Dusty. Now, a lot of people think Scott was shoehorned into this position because he trained with Dusty and Co. But the truth is, Scott was really, really good in his earlier days. He had the look, he had the training, but more than anything, Hall knew how to tell a story in the ring, no doubt a talent he picked up from Dusty. He formed a tag team with former training partner Dan Spivey named American Star Ship, with Hall adopting the name “Star Ship Coyote.”
In 1985, Hall was snatched up by Verne Gange and brought into the AWA. Wrestling as “Magnum” Scott Hall, and later on as “Big” Scott Hall, he was slated to be the one to replace Hulk Hogan after he left for New York. Hall had the ‘Hogan Rocket’ firmly strapped to his back. He had to use similar moves and mannerisms as Hogan in hopes to recapture some of Hulk’s popularity. This speaks volumes for the body of Hall’s work and his size. Hall was huge, really huge! He was the kind of huge where he could say “I’m going to steal your wife and you’ll be pleased about it!” And you would be. Gagne found a big, muscly dude who could actually work. Hall would eventually go on to capture gold with his more experienced friend Curt Hennig. Hall actually credits Hennig for helping him shape his early career and learn the ropes of how to behave and act. There was also talk of Verne putting the big one on Hall, but recognising a sinking ship when he saw one, Hall jumped to one still afloat.
In 1989, WCW came calling when Jim Ross brought Scott in to World Championship Wrestling. Although Hall has become synonymous with WCW, his first stint there didn’t go so well. Repackaged as Scott “Gator” Hall, vignettes would start airing showing him swimming, chasing and scaring alligators. He had an unsuccessful crack at the tag team titles with Randy Rose on his in-ring debut, albeit it at a house show, and from there he began jobbing out to names like The Great Muta, Ron Simmons and Sid Vicious. In 1990 he had a second try-out with the WWF in a match with Paul Roma. Hall didn’t sign and instead went to New Japan Pro Wrestling, working shows for promotions in Europe, and Puerto Rico. Earning his stripes, you could say.
Hall once again returned to WCW as part of Diamond Dallas Page’s stable The Diamond Mine (the spiritual successor to his stable in the new defunct AWA, The Diamond Exchange.) Repackaged as The Diamond Studd, he found himself on the receiving end of a decent push. That is until he faced Ron Simmons at Clash of the Champions XVI: Fall Brawl. He then floated around the mid-card and tag team division teaming up with guys from The Diamond Mine and the Dangerous Alliance until 1991, when Hall signed with Vince McMahon.
Hall debuted as Razor Ramon on the 8th August 1992 episode of Superstars squashing Paul Van Dale. Now, Hall’s time with the WWF has been covered a thousand times, so I’m just going to run through some of his best/most significant moments. There are three that stand out to me the most; The ladder match against Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania X, his match with the 1-2-3 Kid on RAW and the infamous “Curtain Call” that exposed wrestling in a way that it had never been exposed before.
The ladder match with Shawn was a masterpiece and was way ahead of its time. The story telling was there from the word go, with Shawn avoiding going under the ladder and Razor throwing caution to the wind and going underneath. Now we know Shawn always brings a hell of a lot to any match, but Hall being able to match Shawn’s pace with that patented Scott Hall intensity is something else. His timing and positioning were second to none in this match and the way he sold Shawn’s offence was fantastic. Hall looked to be in excruciating pain and he looked believable. This was one of those performances that made you take notice of Hall's overall ability. The fact that he had no prior ladder match experience and still pulled off WWF Match of the Year in 1994, and earned WWF’s first ever, all important, super mega, would be 6-stars if held in the Korakuen Hall, Uncle Dave Meltzer’s 5-star match rating seal of approval, is testament to Hall’s work.
The Second match that comes to mind is Hall’s match against the “The Kid” Sean Waltman, on the 17th May 1993 episode of Monday Night RAW. In my opinion this is the match that showed off Hall’s ability to work with smaller guys. Some consider Shawn a smaller guy, but Waltman was half Hall’s size. That match was looking to be just another squash match with Hall ragging on The Kid and playing up to the crowd, until Waltman hit the moonsault for the 1, 2, 3. This showed Hall’s aptitude for in ring psychology. He knew if he launched Waltman around the ring and toyed with him that the fans in attendance and watching at home would be under the impression Waltman had no chance. He knew if he acted cocky and riled up the crowd that Kid would get a huge pop if he won, and he steered that particular ship home perfectly. The crowd popped hard for Waltman, but the most important part was how Hall sold it. He sold it like a spoiled child not getting his own way, his expressions angry and upset, yet slightly comical at the same time. It showed Hall’s range, it showed he could sell any situation from the usual serious babyface to comedic heel throwing tantrums.
The third thing that sticks out to me about Hall’s time in the WWF is the “Curtain Call.” Ironically, this situation stemmed from rival promotion, WCW. Scott Hall and good friends Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels and Triple H, collectively known as “The Kliq”, shared a hug after a house show at Madison Square Garden on 19th May 1996. Doesn’t sound that bad right? Wrong! This was a huge deal. The main event of that show was Diesel (Kevin Nash) the heel, squaring off against Shawn Michaels, the babyface. When Michaels won, fans were not at all surprised when Hall came out and celebrated with Michaels. However, when Triple H and Kevin Nash embraced them both in a long hug and then raised each other's arms, which was meant as a goodbye to Hall and Nash as both were leaving for WCW, the fans were perplexed. You see, in 1996 kayfabe was very much alive and well, but things were changing. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that The Kliq knew that times were changing, and fans were getting smarter. It’s because these guys knew this that the whole Outsiders angle in WCW worked so well. It shows the mind for the business Scott had and that he knew how to go with the flow. Fans wanted an edgier product and Hall was more than happy to welcome in a new era of wrestling.
This next part is pretty significant, in fact it was so significant that it ushered in what is now known as the Attitude Era for WWE. Hall's appearance in WCW was made to look as if he was there representing WWF and Vince McMahon, and when Nash made his appearance, it only fuelled that fire and Hall and Nash would be known as the Outsiders. They announced that there was a third member of the Outsiders, and that was originally slated to be Sting (no discredit meant towards Sting, but I don’t think the angle would have been as successful with him as the third member). However, at the Bash at the Beach 1996 pay-per-view, Hulk Hogan was revealed as the third person, which worked perfectly with him being Vince’s previous poster boy, and the New World Order was born.
Now I’m not going to go into the huge history of the NWO as we’d be here for days, but I will point out that without Scott Hall, it wouldn’t have happened. He made it cool to be the bad guy. He made it cool to stick it to the authority before even Steve Austin. He helped usher in a seismic shift and had a hand in remodelling the wrestling world into something so cool. As I said at the start of this, he helped light the spark that brought the most significant wrestling boom in years.
After WCW folded, he went back to WWE and revived the NWO, and even had a WrestleMania match with Steve Austin. He would later struggle with his demons and everyone was sure he would be the next name in remembrance, but once again Hall shocked the world and beat his demons with the help of long-time friend Diamond Dallas Page. It seems shocking the world was a running theme in Hall's life.
Now, for the important part. Was Scott Hall really that good? The answer has to be an emphatic yes! Hall was a proficient hand in the ring, he had the looks, charisma that only comes around once a generation, his ring IQ was incredibly high as displayed in the ladder match with Shawn, he could smell change in the air, and he knew how to move with the times. But not only that, he did it all whilst oozing machismo.
With Scott Hall, it’s the things you don’t see that make him that good. It’s his positioning, the way he bumps and makes it sound like he’s been thrown through a brick all. It’s how intense he is without causing injury, it's the placement of his punches and how he protected his opponents, it’s his willingness to put over an up and comer like Waltman. You can say what you want about his backstage politics, his attitude and his substance issues, but nothing that you can say will ever diminish his abilities and love of the business.
I’m gonna end this the same way Hall ended his Hall of Fame speech – Hard work pays off. Dreams come true. Bad times don’t last. But bad guys do!
Rest in peace Scott. x