Yesterday, longtime professional wrestling great Scott Hall was taken off life support following multiple heart attacks. He was 63 years old.
It’s a loss that has been felt throughout the industry. One of the most charismatic and electrifying performers of his (or any) era, he defiantly carved out a unique path and redefined what it meant to be a heel.
Though he was taken long before his time, the only solace that can be found here is that, for some time, it looked unlikely that he would even make it this far.
A poster boy for the ‘live hard and fast’ mantra, Hall’s personal demons would become well known, even paraded around in storyline on occasion. At his worst, he suffered public humiliation that rivalled those of Jake Roberts or Jeff Hardy.
But he came back. Through the combined efforts of many — Diamond Dallas Page chief among them — he would overcome his vices, and eventually make onscreen cameos that evoked those old feelings of swagger and machismo.
The nWo WrestleMania reunion of 2015 didn’t really make much sense from a storyline perspective, but damn if it wasn’t sweet, sweet fan service all the same.
For every bit of envelope pushing he would make in his own life, he equalled that in the ring, often to the betterment of others. He would revolutionise the ladder match alongside Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X, and played ball in an angle with lowly jobber The Kid that would propel the latter to new heights.
Be sure to let that second one sink in for a minute. Hall’s place on the card was secured, and he didn’t have to let anyone beneath him get one over at his expense. This was especially true considering the era, where egos would dominate the upper ranks, and most of the top guys were far more focussed on progressing their own legacy.
Razor Ramon holds a fond place in the hearts of many, but it wasn’t until he would jump ship to WCW that Hall truly made his mark. That night in July 1996 where Hulk Hogan dropped the leg on Randy Savage to reveal himself as the secret third man to the villainous trio of Hall and Kevin Nash, is as legendary as any in professional wrestling.
“You can call this the new world order of wrestling, brother,” Hogan spat as debris littered the ring, Hall and Nash posing in mockery of the betrayed fans. It brings chills, because you knew you were watching history unfold there in Florida.
To this day, the nWo shirt is synonymous with wrestling events, surpassed in reach and significance perhaps only by Austin 3:16.
For all of his alleged politicking in WCW (much of it, by many accounts, valid criticism), Hall never had the trigger pulled on him with the big, gold belt, content to instead play a supporting role as Hogan and Nash claimed the world championship a combined ten times during this era.
Whether he had the clout to legitimately push for a reign is debatable, but he more than had the talent and presence to have warranted it. Of course, those aforementioned demons were surely the greatest cause for wariness from upper management.
On the subject, Jim Ross opined on his podcast last year, “it wouldn’t have surprised me under better circumstances that Scott was a world champion. He had the skills, he had the look, and he had the aptitude.”
The man was a legitimate draw, even with all of the setbacks that plagued his life. That was the thing about Hall; whether or not he was in a starring role, he commanded your attention the moment he sauntered onscreen. Though he wasn’t universally loved backstage, those who were close to him swore by the strength of his character.
As Nash put it in his touching Instagram post during Hall’s final hours, “he wasn’t perfect but as he always said “The last perfect person to walk the planet they nailed to a cross”.
That may be one of the major takeaways on Scott Hall’s life and legacy. He faltered, he fell, and sure, he pissed off a lot of people along the way. His natural talent would carry him so far, but you don’t get that many second chances when you’re irredeemable.
To his friends and loved ones, he was worth saving, and thankfully, we ended up with a few more years of this wonderful, smug prick smirking at us through the lens, toothpick dangling from his lips as he hit us with another patented ‘hey yo’.
Whether you want to focus on his exploits as a performer, or on his unlikely path from the depths of addiction, you sure as hell can’t say that he didn’t pull it off with style.
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