ESPN’s E:60 ‘The Wrestler: The Scott Hall Story’

ESPN has an investigative journalism news show called E:60, and it covers a gamut of  national and international sports stories, all ranging from anything as common place as football or baseball, all the way to professional wrestling. It was by chance I stumbled upon this documentary, since aside from wrestling, sports has never been my thing. After reading an article or two about aging professional wrestling legends, I found myself reading about one of my favorites as a kid, Scott Hall.

Back in the mid-nineties, Scott Hall was one of the biggest wrestlers out there. His attitude, his style, and even his eclectic speech patterns all painted him as a true game changer in the sport. He was one of the biggest heels in then WWF, under his persona of ‘Razor Ramon’, a Tony Montana/Scarface inspired character who spoke in a faux Cuban accent. He later transitioned extremely successfully to WCW, under his real name of Scott Hall. His new gimmick being one of an “invading force” within WCW, ostensibly the WWF trying to take over the roster of WCW, without ever really mentioning the WWF brand name. He and Kevin Nash went on to form one of pro wrestling’s biggest, most successful storylines of all time, along with Hulk Hogan, to form the infamous NWO. It was an idea at the time that was revolutionary, and it brought huge ratings to WCW, and along with WWF’s Attitude Era, the ‘Monday Night Wars’ brought pro wrestling to heights it has since not seen. While it was the collaboration of many talented individuals who brought wrestling to its apex at the turn of the century/millennium, nobody can deny the massive influence Scott Hall had in helping its creation.

Statistically, this should bring back memories for a lot of you.

Any fan of wrestling, who follows it outside of the “story”, probably follows the real wrestlers lives outside of the show as well. Now with Twitter, Facebook, and the internet in general, it’s been made much easier for the curious fan to find out information, or even communicate with their favorite wrestler directly. So it was no surprise to me to find out Scott Hall was still having issues with alcohol and drug abuse, as those problems have plagued him ever since he was first winning over with audiences worldwide as Razor Ramon. So it was with reluctant curiosity I watched this short documentary on where Scott Hall is now.

What I saw was shocking, and heartbreaking to say the least. The documentary begins with a roundtable of sports journalists discussing pro-wrestling today, and one brings up Scott Hall, and his myriad substance abuse issues. He erroneously claims that todays wrestler’s biggest addictions are “Playstation”, which is a load of bunk. Off the top of my head, Jeff and Matt Hardy, of the Hardy Boyz fame have very publicly had issues with drugs, leading to Matt Hardy to retire early for what he claims were personal reasons. However, the documentary goes on to show Scott Hall currently (2011) alive, speaking about his main traumatic life experiences, including killing a man, and suffering a clear case of PTSD from it, despite never being convicted of the crime. He goes on to detail his regimen of  drug use at the time, and currently. The difference being then, it was relatively recreational, and now, it’s prescriptions needed to keep him alive.

One particularly hard to watch scene, shows Hall attending an indie wrestling promotion,  as fan service, despite suffering heart condition related seizures the night before, and showing up doped out of his mind on painkillers, clearly unfit in his condition to walk, let alone wrestle. We’re treated to clips of him very unsuccessfully trying to execute moves in the ring, and the hired wrestlers being forced to continue the show they were paid to do, and takes half-hearted moves from Hall that could at BEST be considered botches. It was sad, it was degrading, but most of all, it spoke volumes of the money-grubbing promoter who would rather sacrifice a man’s dignity than give refunds.

Towards the end, it picks up a hopeful note, and we see Scott Halls son, Cody Hall, begin training to become a professional wrestler himself, with Hall coaching him. It details the very strained relationship between the two, and one gathers that it’s been a long lifetime of difficult communication between Hall and his entire family. Along with Hall, giving insightful and self-conscious monologues about his past, we also see several other clips of fellow wrestlers speaking about him, all more or less coming to the same conclusion, that Scott Hall is on a railroad towards self-destruction. Hall himself ends the documentary very astutely, with a quote that sums up his lives ambitions.

“All I ever wanted to be was a big time pro-wrestler. I never quit fighting, I might not win but I won’t quit fighting. Life on the razor’s edge, from the outhouse, to the penthouse, to the outhouse, to the halfway house… I dunno. I just laugh as a defense, so I don’t cry.”

Scott Hall was one of my favorite wrestlers when I was a kid. This documentary, while short, is a fascinating look into who Scott Hall really is, and it’s a story more real and more heartbreaking than anything any movie could ever come up with. I only hope Scott gets the help he needs before he dies, which unfortunately, may be sooner than we’d all like.

Here is the documentary available to view in its entirety. If you’re even remotely interested in wrestling, or just like a fascinating portrait of human drama, and past glory lost, it’s worth your 18 minutes.

Unfortunately, after the documentary originally aired last year, Hall’s ex-wife Dana told TMZ, the Father/Son reunion  barely lasted a month, and the two are no longer on speaking terms.

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