How many people actually changed the face of Wrestling? Very, very few. Hogan? He was working within the conditions that Vincent K McMahon gave him. Stone Cold? Same. The Rock broke out, didn’t he? Yes, but his mainstream success left wrestling far behind.
When Scott Hall entered WCW with his close friend Kevin Nash in 1996, no one had seen the like before. Sure, wrestlers came and went, pledged themselves to one promotion, and then popped up in another, promotors’ stories were full of ‘em.
But no one had entered with such fanfare and as part of a storyline, no one had had the balls to do that. Credit to Eric Bischoff here too; forbidden door? Scott Hall and Kevin Nash didn’t just open it, they kicked it in and installed a turnstile.
We are reaching probably the last day of a wrestling icon, who knows, but we are praying for a miracle. And people will give us Scott Hall career eulogies, as they should, but I just wanted to share a couple of the things that amazed me.
The first is the WCW trip and the formation of the NWO, the New World Order was such a change for wrestling. It sparked the Monday Night Wars, it made wrestling open and mainstream, it created excitement and it made me watch them again – that War to Nitro and vice versa also made me get Sky Sports. As The Ringside View points out; ‘…none of that would’ve been possible if it weren’t for one monumental evening on WCW Monday Nitro’. Not the ‘third man’ kerfuffle and Hogan turning heel, not WCW beating WWF into 2nd place, not the look behind the curtain.
Some could say that this broke kayfabe. It did and how many at the time complained? Not many, we loved the competition, the sniping, the business of the business.
And Scott Hall was so right for it, a swaggering, strutting ball of certainty, half Razor Ramon, half Scott Hall. Sometimes the same…
The other iconic moment? WrestleMania X is the 2nd best WM out there. Scott Hall. Shawn Michaels. Ladder Match.
This brought that style of the match into the wrestling consciousness. Of course, there had already been ladder matches since 1972 it’s thought, in Canada first and it wasn’t the first time in the WWF either. But it was the best. Why?
Well, because Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels laid it out with humanity. So many of today’s ladder matches are wince-inducing high spot after high spot and although I enjoy watching them, when you concentrate on the people going through the pain, the emotion, the fear, and glory, you get so much more. In 1994 at that event, Scott Hall and Shawn Micheals made it a master class. Of humanity and storytelling. Storytelling is compelling. It was here.
And I won’t forget it. I stayed up to see it. I still watch it now. I don’t go back to any other ladder matches; what would be the point?
These are just two examples of the brilliance Scott Hall brought to the ring. We may be at the end of this wrestling journey and others will want to mention his struggles with demons which seemed so strong.
But Scott Hall mattered. To the fans, to his friends, and to the business that he affected so much. Hey yo…