Remembering Scott Hall: Say Good-Bye to the Bad Guy

Scott Hall is one of the biggest wrestling stars in my lifetime to never win a major company's world title. He had all the ingredients including a superstar look, mountains of charisma, engaging mic skills and what many fellow wrestlers said was a genius mind for wrestling and storylines. But unfortunately, it was likely Hall's well-known battle with drug addiction and alcoholism that stopped him from ever being a face of the WWF (now known as WWE) or WCW (now known as out of business).

I was already aware of Scott Hall when he debuted in the WWF in the fall of 1991 as Razor Ramon. I only occasionally watched WCW at the time, but I had seen him as the Diamond Studd in that company. Despite his great look and imposing presence, I had not given him much thought because WCW didn't really give him much thought, leaving him to swirl around in the lower to middle of the card position.

WWF was the land of the big men, and they saw a potential superstar in him. They also must have realized he already had a cool gimmick as they kept most of it including the toothpick, hairstyle, and swagger while suddenly turning him from a Maryland born Caucasian into a Cuban as Razor Ramon. He also kept his awesome finisher, but it changed names from the Diamond Death Drop to the Razor's Edge (still one of the coolest variations of the powerbomb move that every big guy was doing in the 1990s).

The first major difference when he came into the WWF was that they took advantage of his larger-than-life personality and his charisma by allowing him to not only talk, but star in several weekly vignettes to hype up his character before his in-ring debut. Ramon was heavily inspired by Al Pacino's Tony Montana in Scarface and during the heavily kid-friendly WWF era, it made him an edgy character to be patterned off. 

Hall shined in the short videos by introducing himself by telling the viewer to 'Say hello to the Bad Guy.' The weekly vignettes would show him as a bully that takes what he wants and would push around anyone that gets in his face while claiming he was oozing machismo. This led to him skyrocketing to the top with his first major program being with main eventer and wrestling icon, 'Macho Man' Randy Savage to see who had the most machismo.

Only a few months in the company, he was teaming up with 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair to wrestle 'Macho Man' Randy Savage and 'Mr. Perfect' Curt Hennig (who replaced the Ultimate Warrior in a last-minute angle after the star suddenly left the company) in one of the key matches at the 1992 Survivor Series PPV (pay-per-view). 

His star continued to shine bright as he got the WWF World Title shot against champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart at the next PPV, Royal Rumble, in January 1993. That would actually be his only PPV World title shot in the WWF, but despite that, he would become one of the biggest and most important stars in the company until his departure in 1996.

Scott Hall was often praised for his mastery in crafting matches or angles that would connect with fans and be a hit. This may be one of the reasons he was one of the few big stars in the 1990s, during the time when it was all about 'protecting your spot', that was willing to put over younger talent. He always knew how to keep himself looking like a star while making others look good too. 

One of the more famous angles early in his WWF career was when he lost in a shocking upset to a skinny 'unknown' who was getting squashed every week. On one of the most memorable Monday Night Raw episodes in its first year, a cocky Razor Ramon came charging into the corner but missed his small opponent who darted out of the way, and then the youngster scaled to the top rope to execute a picture perfect moonsault to get the surprise pinfall win over the self-proclaimed Bad Guy. Any wrestling fan knows that small underdog wrestler would become the 1-2-3 Kid, and the storyline was so well-executed that it launched him immediately into a main spot and made Razor Ramon into an even bigger star.

The storyline led to 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase and Irwin R. Schyster, known as Money Inc, mocking Razor for not being able to get his win back, which led to Razor not only forming a partnership with the Kid but turned Razor from heel to top level babyface. He also defeated Dibiase at Summerslam '93, in what was Dibiase's last ever match in the WWF. This led to Razor's biggest push as he won the vacated Intercontinental title against 'The Model' Rick Martel when the title was still prestigious and went to top stars.

While Razor Ramon never really sniffed at the WWF World Title, except for the one major match, he was a standard bearer for the Intercontinental title division for most of his run and helped keep it as a revered and respected championship. Ramon won his first title after 'The Heartbreak Kid' Shawn Michaels had real life contract issues with the WWF and was stripped of the title. Michaels came back in November, and this led to an angle where he declared he was the real Intercontinental champion, and this led to one of the most famous and beloved matches in the history of WWF/WWE. The two stole the show and created the template of the high-risk spectacle match on a big stage with the iconic ladder match at Wrestlemania 10.

The ladder match is still not only held up as one of the greatest Wrestlemania matches ever, but it was the first ladder match on a PPV or major WWF show, thus laid out how that style would be used for decades. This match likely influenced many of the high flying and high-risk wrestlers that still wow fans today. While Michaels may have done the big bumps, he needed someone like Ramon to keep the match together and add in the psychology to make it more than just a spotfest. This match is one of the clear legacies left by Hall's career.

Another part of his legacy will be the many stars he made by being the gatekeeper of the Intercontinental title. He made big stars out of Diesel (Kevin Nash), Jeff Jarrett and Goldust (Dustin Rhodes) by dropping the title to them in marquee matches. The Goldust feud was controversial as it centred around Goldust lusting after him, and Ramon in turn wanted to beat him up for such insinuations. Obviously, a storyline like that would never air today, but both guys pulled it off well even if the homophobia rooted in it means it has aged horribly (and shouldn't have even been exploited then). 

The Goldust feud never had a blowoff due to Scott Hall's demons were creeping into his real life and he was sent home for a bit, and during this time, he ended up signing with WCW, and so he only ended up on TV one more time where he put over Vader on the April In Your House PPV. His return to WCW led to another iconic and historic moment in pro wrestling history. It is not hyperbole to say it changed the entire landscape and direction of mainstream North American professional wrestling for the second half of the 1990s.

There has been an established narrative that no wrestling fans knew that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left WWF and signed with WCW. But the internet did exist in 1996, and almost every avid wrestling fan knew that Nash and Hall were leaving WWF for WCW. What nobody knew was the plan for how they would debut. Most just assumed Hall would come back as the Diamond Studd and Kevin Nash would be his Vinnie Vegas character again, and it would be a signing that gave the wrestler much more money, but they wouldn't have some significant impact on WCW or wrestling. 

We all assumed going to WCW was a mistake, and they would have been bigger stars in the WWF.

But we were wrong, and it not only did turn WCW into the number one wrestling company for a few years, but completely reshaped how wrestling was presented in the mainstream with a bigger focus on risqué and controversial storytelling.

In a throwaway match that screamed filler between Mike Enos and Steve Doll, Scott Hall in a jean jacket vest (because it is the 90s) came out of the crowd and jumped into the ring where both wrestlers stop and seem to not know what to do. Hall then grabs the mic to famously declare that we know who he is, but we don't know why he is here. He then mocks some WCW wrestlers and issues a challenge, because they (along with some unknown associates) are taking over. It was done perfectly, and even though most people really knew that Hall was under contract, it felt like he was going against script and being a rebel. 

If you even have a passing knowledge of 1990s wrestling, then you know this led to the New World Order, and one of the most memorable, popular, and iconic wrestling groups ever. The angle was the start to WCW winning the hotly contested ratings war between WCW Nitro and WWF Monday Night Raw for 83 straight weeks, and eventually forced the WWF to change its style of presentation, and ushered in what was known as the Attitude Era with more 'mature' subject matter, wrestling gimmicks and match styles. The edgier style in mainstream wrestling began with Scott Hall and the NWO.

Even if the idea of a group trying to sabotage and take over a wrestling promotion is a brilliant storyline, this never would have worked if it weren't for the right casting of the first three members. No other combination could have been as perfect as Nash and Hall as the Outsiders, and Hulk Hogan being revealed as the third man at the Bash at the Beach PPV in July 1996. 

Nash and Hall were real-life best friends, and so there was a great casual chemistry between them where you believed they had each others' back and they played off each other wonderfully. While the premise was that they were former WWF stars who were now here for a hostile takeover of WCW, it wouldn't have worked if it were Mabel, Jeff Jarrett and Hacksaw Jim Duggan declaring war on WCW.

The necessary elements were the charisma and screen presence of Hall, Nash and Hogan. Hall brought a unique coolness and edge. They were the bad guys, but they were hip. It led to NWO t-shirts being one of the hottest selling wrestling items ever, and even non-wrestling fans could be seen wearing them at the time. It was a pop cultural phenomenon by 1997. The talents and presence of Hall was a major part of it working. 

NWO is one of the biggest moments in wrestling history, and a major reason is the work done by Hall to make that group something unique and innovative. One of the strongest parts of the group was the trio of Nash, Hall and X-Pac (Sean Waltman who was the former 1-2-3 Kid), because not only did all three perfectly embody the bad-ass and cool vibe of the NWO, but their real life friendship meant they all had amazing chemistry and felt like a believable pack that would die for each other.

The biggest problem is that the NWO became too cool, and most weeks they ended up beating up and defeating all the WCW wrestlers, thus making everyone not in the NWO look like a bunch of losers. WCW also probably tried to milk the NWO story for a year too long, but none of that is the fault of Hall.

The NWO dominated WCW for the next several years, and Hall was always near the top of the card. He ended up having six WCW World Tag Team title reigns as part of the Outsiders team with Nash. They both did an excellent job of elevating the division and making those title defenses feel like main events, since they were such big stars. Hall also had two short US title reigns and a minor TV title run, but outside of challenging for the WCW World Title once at the Uncensored '98 PPV against then champion Sting, Hall never came close to the World title. While Hall was a major star in WCW, there were several periods where he disappeared off TV due to his unfortunate drug addiction and alcoholism. If Hall had been able to get that under control during his WCW run, it is likely he would have been an even bigger star and a World champion for a short run.

Scott Hall is a two-time WWF Hall of Famer where he is in as Razor Ramon and for being a member of the NWO. While the WWE Hall of Fame lacks a lot of credibility, since it has people like Vince McMahon's dad's former limo driver, the parrot loving long-time midcarder Koko B. Ware and definite non-wrestlers like Drew Carrey, Hall is a true hall of fame worthy wrestler and someone that almost every other wrestler praised as one of the smartest when it came to knowing what will get over in wrestling. 

The demons of drug addiction and alcohol was one that Hall eventually gained control over. His good friend Diamond Dallas Page became a mentor and introduced him to yoga to get him back on a healthy track. It seems like Hall's life was in a much better place the last several years. It is sad that he ended up dying at what is still a young age, but he has left a major wrestling legacy and has many friends in the industry that will remember him along with many young wrestlers that he inspired to enter into wrestling. His son Cody Hall is now in the wrestling business, so the lineage continues.

I am not as big of a wrestling fan as I was in the 1990s. There are many reasons for that, but a major one is they don't have the same compelling stars as they did back then. Many of the stars from the 1990s still draw a crowd or get the biggest crowd reactions when they make a special appearance on a WWF or AEW show. Scott Hall was one of those special stars that made that decade such a magical time for wrestling. I have so many fond memories of classic matches and angles that involved the great Scott Hall.

Scott Hall was a wrestling legend, and like he said in his Hall of Fame speech, 'hard work pays off, dreams come true, bad times don't last, but bad guys do.' I'll always remember the Bad Guy.

RIP Scott Hall (October 20, 1958 - March 14, 2022)