Other News Hall News: Full recap of ESPN's Scott Hall documentary, quotes from Hall, McMahon, Bischoff, Hogan, Nash, Waltman, indy promoter, more (w/Analysis of the story)
Oct 19, 2011 - 11:00:44 PM
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By James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
The following is a recap of the 17-minute, uninterrupted E:60 documentary on Scott Hall that aired Wednesday night on ESPN.
-- In the reporter's room prior to introducing the documentary, ESPN's Shaun Assael (co-author of "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks" on Vince McMahon) loosely exaggerated that the biggest addiction in pro wrestling today is Playstation compared to the addictions of Hall's era.
The documentary, which was titled "The Wrestler" opened with 1994 WWF footage of when Hall was Razor Ramon. In a dark room, Hall said business was huge at the time, which seemed like more of a generalization of the late '90s rather than 1994 when business was not huge.
-- April 8, 2011: Fall River, Mass. Attendance: 480. Hall, looking like a late-period Elvis, was shown barely able to make it through the curtain at a Top Rope promotions independent show, which is how ESPN's producers first caught wind of Hall's story. In a dark room, Hall said he can't quit drugs and he's not afraid of dying.
-- Adding some background to Hall's story, he said his dad was a big-shot in the Army and his entire family were alcoholics.
Jan. 15, 1983: Hall was bouncing at a club in Miami when he shot a man in the head during an argument. Hall said he couldn't believe a guy was dead because of him. He was charged with 2nd Degree murder, but was not convicted because of a lack of evidence. Hall said he should have sought counseling right then.
1984: Hall signed with the AWA one year after the shooting. As footage played of Hall winning squash matches in the AWA, Sean Waltman said he looked like a Greek god. Hulk Hogan, who only talked a few times during the documentary, said he was physical phenom. Hall said he started using steroids because of the attention other wrestlers received from women.
1990: Hall married Dana and they had two children. Hall said he had purpose, which seems to be foreshadowing. This theme comes into play later in the documentary with an unspoken message that Hall's purpose for living in 2011 is seeing his son, 20-year-old Cody, try to become a pro wrestler. Cody seems to be reciprocating that by trying to be a pro wrestler to keep his dad alive.
-- Hall joined WWE at age 33. He described the conversation with Vince McMahon to become The Bad Guy. He said he considered himself one of the best wrestlers at the time.
Eric Bischoff, then-WCW president, said wrestling was "beginning to explode" as they showed clips of Hall, Hogan, and Kevin Nash at Bash at the Beach 1996 when they formed the NWO. Hogan said when NWO hit the ground, business took off. Hall was making over one million dollars, which was noted as one of the richest contracts ever in pro wrestling.
Nash said when Hall was in the ring and sober, he was at his best, but the only time Hall felt in control was in the ring. Bischoff noted life on the road was intense. Waltman said you could be some place and someone had free coke.
As clips played of Hall and Shawn Michaels's famous ladder match at WrestleMania X, Hall noted he used to share a hotel room with Michaels. He described being in a hotel room asking each other if the other was still alive. A graphic noted Hall was abusing cocaine, alcohol, and prescription drugs.
1998: Hall and Dana divorced. Dana said Hall chose a lifestyle of drugs & alcohol over his wife and kids. Dana said the kids needed a dad, not a wrestler. Hall said he never hurt anyone on purpose, and he's sorry for not being a better dad.
-- The producers noted Hall returned to WWE in 2002. WWE VP Stephanie McMahon gave a corporate response that WWE "heard he had some issues," but they thought he was clean. When he wasn't performing up to standard, they "parted ways."
Stephanie then noted WWE has financed his drug treatment; she said it's the "right thing to reach out" and claimed once a wrestler is part of the company, he or she is family for life. Stephanie said they have spent "six figures" sending Hall to rehab, which is the most amount they've spent.
Bischoff said wrestling isn't killing Hall, but his demons are. Nash said nothing will kill him until someone drives a stake through his heart.
-- In his home, Hall went over all of his prescriptions. He said he's on 11 different medications for heart and other ailments. He said the ironic thing is now he's taking pain pills for legitimate reasons and he's not even getting a buzz.
Waltman said he's been preparing for Hall's death for one-and-a-half years. The producers played 911 calls as Hall talked about possibly drinking himself to death. He said someone told him he wrote a suicide note, but he doesn't remember any of it.
April 6, 2011: Hall was hospitalized after suffering seizure. They showed footage of Hall in a hospital while still wearing an NWO t-shirt, symbolic of not being able to separate himself from his wrestling identity.
April 8, 2011: Hall traveled to Massachussets to headline a Top Rope show at age 52. Hall said he was worried about doing the show, but he couldn't just hibernate from wrestling. He called it a bad mistake.
The promoter for Top Rope said Hall wanted his money as soon as he got off the plan. He said they carted their "main draw" into the building. Justin Credible was interviewed on-camera. He noted Hall was really out of it and the angle they shot was one of the embarrassing things he's ever been a part of in pro wrestling.
The Top Rope promoter said he "absolutely made a business vs. moral decision." He said Hall is not his friend and he only met him for one day. In the next shot, Waltman said, 'So you shoved him out of the curtain so you don't have to give a refund? F--- you.' The promoter took almost a vindictive approach, saying people wanted to see Hall and he showed people what Hall looks like today.
The producers played footage of Hall's promo where he slurred his speech, then took a bump in one of the saddest moments of his career. Bischoff said Hall is representative of what younger wrestlers see as what happens if you allow the wrestling business to consume you. The producers noted Hall was treated for an overdose afterward. Hall, in the dark room, said he should have been dead 100 times and there must be a reason why he's still here.
-- The final segment focused on Hall and his relationship with his son, Cody, after Cody visited Hall in the hospital earlier this year. Cody said he feels it's now or never to help him live. Hall said he doesn't want people worrying about him or embarrassing his kids. Nash said he doesn't know how much longer Hall's heart can take it. He said he hopes Cody is the "anchor to keep it in the harbor."
May 2011: Scott is mentoring Cody to become a wrestler. Hall said his dream is to teach his son and Cody has "everything it takes, except the last name." Dana said she is not in favor of Cody getting into wrestling, though.
Cody said he wants to give Hall something to do. They showed Hall going through the curtain doing his Outsiders routine at a Florida independent show while flashing back to Hall as Razor Ramon 15 years earlier. Cody said Hall is a shell of himself. They showed Hall doing a promo half-smiling as he said "Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated."
Dana said Hall as addicted to his alter-ego and wrestling as much as he is to drugs. Cody said he's trying to get Scott to keep living his life and he wants to be the one to do it. Hall said all he ever did wanted to do was big-time pro wrestling. He said life on the Razor's Edge is "from the outhouse to the penthouse to the outhouse and to the outhouse." After laughing, Hall said he laughs so he doesn't have to cry. The final shot was of Hall standing in the corner of a ring looking dejected toward the canvas.
Caldwell's Analysis: Very real, alarming, sobering story. The reality of it is this is not an isolated incident with Hall - his demons might be greater than others, but wrestlers from past eras are dealing with similar issues or have died from similar issues. It points to the one disappointing aspect of the documentary that probably would have been dealt with in a longer feature - wrestling's culture of death and how Hall fits into the context of pro wrestling's ongoing health epidemic.
As for Hall comes across in the story, he seems to have the mind of a child - whether it because of arrested development from childhood trauma, the effects of drug/alcohol abuse, or even concussions, which continues to slide under the radar of potential causes of wrestler health issues - where 75 percent of Hall's demeanor seems to be him unaware of what's happening and 25 percent him not caring. The scene of him working an angle for Top Rope and being knocked to the mat came across like a mentally-challenged child being bullied at school. It was sad and heart-breaking all at the same time.
The redemption aspect comes in where Hall says there must be a reason why he's avoided death despite numerous close calls. Perhaps it's a wake-up call for past and current wrestlers, or a chance for him to share a redemption story with addicts in and out of wrestling. Hopefully it impacted someone watching to deal with his or her own issues before it's too late.
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