March 30, 2011
An Interview with Scott Hall
I was reading over the weekend you were intending to go to the (WWE) Hall of Fame with Shawn (Michaels) going in at the weekend but you aren’t going now. Are you still intending not to?
Well, I had the chance to go up there. Kevin Nash and Pac (Sean Waltman), they’re hosting a WrestleMania party at a nightclub in Atlanta where I could have went up there, got a nice little payday, been around my friends and been around the fans - and my dear friend Shawn Michaels is being inducted. But the more I thought about it, I’m not healthy enough for that kind of move right now bro. I’m trying to get clean bro, I’ve been partying hard for a long time and I just didn’t want to put myself in that kind of a risky situation, you know. But being around all my friends, and a big party and all that and guys I haven’t seen in a long time…….I just thought, after thinking about it, you know, that’s ok. I’m gonna go down to a club in south Florida and make an appearance there and just watch it on a big screen on the Pay-Per-View. It’d be safer there. What I’m doing now is hanging out with different people. All my friends drink and do drugs, so I’m hanging out with these younger cats coming up now. Like tonight, I’ll go down to wrestling school with some of these guys. All these young guys I’m hanging out with, they didn’t grow up in that era. They’re not part of that thing, so I’m trying to hang out with different people now. All my erratic friends have settled down.
What got you into wrestling at the start?
When I was eight years old - I’m an army brat, my father was in the army here in America – he took me and my buddies on my eighth birthday to a wrestling match in Dothan, Alabama. It was a hair match, the main event. The guy who lost got his head shaved. Eight years old sitting there watching it with my buds and my dad, and even at eight my friends are going ‘You know that thing’s all for show, don’t you? It’s all fake.’ And I’m going ‘No it’s not man! Would you let somebody shave your head?’ - I still have the programme from that show. And I ran down there and grabbed a piece of the guy’s hair, and it had a little piece of the scalp on it where the guy was pretty rough with the shaver, and I still have that programme today. It’s all I ever wanted to do since I was a kid; all I ever wanted to do was be a big time pro wrestler. Professionally, all my dreams have come true. The personal life was where I’ve had struggles, but the professional life, I couldn’t have scripted it better.
Did you ever think of giving it up, just before you went to the AWA in 1985 with Dan (Spivey)?
Oh yeah, there was a time when I seriously came and I said (that I would give it up). I did the AWA run, and actually they wanted to make me their champion, but I didn’t like it there. Minneapolis in the winter time is brutal! And by then I’d been living in Florida for years. Plus I didn’t like the style, it was just like too vanilla. It was kinda boring. I grew up in the south mostly and then living in Florida you got Florida Championship Wrestling with guys like Dusty Rhodes, Barry Windham - I liked that style, the southern, kick-ass babyface and really brutally, violent heels. I was up there in Minnesota and it was just boring. We got paid good and it was national TV but I just didn’t like it. I remember I just went in there and gave my notice. Verne Gagne couldn’t believe I was gonna leave. I said ‘I make $2,000 a week selling suntan lotion on Coco Beach. This is your home town man, it ain’t mine. It’s too dang cold here!’ He goes ‘I can make you a star!’ and I said ‘I don’t need to be on your TV to feel good about myself.’
Was it as equally frustrating for you when you were in WCW as ‘The Diamond Studd’? A lot of people saw great potential with you to move through the ranks into the main event, but was it frustrating for you that nothing seemed to happen for you?
What happened then was, I was working for Otto Wanz’s CWA in Germany & Austria. I went to high school in Munich, and so I loved it over there and I got to go there as an adult, and I was doing like a cowboy gimmick then. I had blonde hair, the AWA look. I’d been working in Japan, Puerto Rico & Europe, but the place to be successful is in the U.S. It just wasn’t happening for me there and I remember looking in the mirror going ‘Man, I think I got what it takes but I must not because it’s not happening.’ All the guys I started with, guys like Shawn Michaels, they were moving up the ranks and I wasn’t, so I said I’m gonna have the other risks in life; I’m gonna get married, I’m gonna get a job working in a warehouse driving a forklift or something, I’m gonna have some kids and live in a little apartment –have that life. That could be a wonderful life too. And sure enough, I got married, but I had one more commitment for Otto Wanz in Europe. I had a seven month commitment. And sure enough, we went over there and we wanted to have a baby. We came back, my wife’s seven months pregnant, it’s like ‘Oh my god!’……I was uninsured. They wanted money up front, cause in American hospitals you have to pay up front. $40,000, like in a minute. The lowest guy in the wrestling business in getting paid, even the lowest guy gets paid, so I called my buddy Diamond Dallas Page and said ‘Man I need a job! You need The Diamond Studd standing next to you.’ Dallas came up with the look – dye the hair black, shave the moustache, grow the stubble. He even gave me the toothpick. So I went to Atlanta and did one TV and came back. During this time I’d been calling the WWE every week. Once a week I’d call and ask to speak to Pat Patterson and he was always busy. I drive to Atlanta, sign a contract, do one TV, come back and there’s four messages on my answer machine from Pat Patterson. So I call him back and go ‘Yea, hey Pat, it’s Scott Hall’ and he goes ‘Hey, how are you? Vince loves the new look. Are you under a contract?’ I said ‘I just got back from signing one. I didn’t wanna work there! I wouldn’t have called your office every week if I did!’ ‘How long a contract?’ ‘One year.’ He goes ‘In a year you’ll be able to tell them that New York wants you.’ Then I went there…..I’d been doing the Scarface schtick in the car, you know, ‘Say hello to the bad guy!’ Me and Mr. Perfect, Curt Hennig, we would do it in the car when I had the cowboy look. When I went in there it worked out great. I had the trial match in Lexington, Kentucky. It went well, I was the first match before TV went on……it was packed. I came back to see Vince figuring to hired for sure. They go ‘Vince wants to talk to you.’ So I go in and Vince goes (complete with Vince impression) ‘I understand your father’s in the army?’ I said ‘Vince, man, you want me to be G.I. Joe?’ He was trying to make everyone like…….you know, Bossman was a corrections officer so they made him a corrections officer. I said ‘Vince, you ever see Scarface?’ I went into the schtick ‘Say hello to the bad guy!’ He started laughing, he loved it, I pitched the name to him and we ended up doing it. It all worked out great.
Your push was, relatively speaking, very quick through WWE at the time. Did you get any heat from any of the guys because of how quickly you were put through the ranks?
For how quickly I got pushed? Well, no, because guys in the business knew I’d been around a long time. My dues were paid in full. At the same time, I’ve never really cared about being popular in the locker room. I’ve got me three or four good friends and I’d just as soon get along with everybody, but I just don’t care. You don’t have to want to travel with me, or have dinner with me, or have to date, but most guys wanna do business with me, they wanna wrestle me. I’m a good performer and I get paid.
Where did the idea for the Razor Raomn/123-Kid surprise defeat come from? Whose ides was that?
I was villain, I was a heel, for years as Razor but after a while, especially in the big markets in the U.S. or even in Europe, the people are a little more sophisticated. They kind of like the villains. In New York, Chicago, Philly, London, Dublin, the fans are a little bit more hip. They kind of like the bad guys. What’s not to like? They beat people up and look good doing it. So some of these towns are starting to chant ‘Razor, Razor, Razor’. Six months before we do the angle, Vince calls me in and says listen, the fans are starting to turn you. We’re gonna have to turn you babyface. Ideally you’d stay heel as long as you can. Anybody can be a babyface. It takes skill to be a heel. Anybody can be a babyface, all you have to do is win. He (Vince) goes ‘I don’t wanna do the same old thing where you run in and help somebody, I got this idea. We got this guy who weighs 120lbs soaking wet.’ I had seen Kid on the TV out of Texas, on Global, and I remember I said (to Vince) ‘Lightning Kid?!’ He said ‘Do you know him?’ and I said ‘No, but I’ve seen his work, I love him.’ Kid’s got skills – he’s been working since he was, like, twelve. I just got off the phone with him earlier. They said that we’re gonna do this thing where he beats you – and we were like the first major angle on Monday Night Raw – we’re gonna promote it for six weeks when they take sweeps, the ratings. We’ll do the rematch, every week you’re gonna offer more money, more money. Six weeks later you’ll offer him $10,000 in cash, he’s gonna accept the challenge but he’s not gonna pin you this time – he’s gonna steal the money and run away. I’m kinda trusting him, say ‘Ok, you’re kinda burying me, but ok!’ After that, what we’ll do is every time any other heel does an interview then they’ll go ‘And by the way, speaking of losers, that Razor Ramon – what a loser! He can’t beat a man who stole the money, blah, blah, blah.’ He laid this out to me six months before we did the thing on TV. Then he (Vince) said ‘Then you’ll probably work with Million Dollar Man at SummerSlam – just beat him with your finish.’ That’s what we did. I think Vince’s product was a lot stronger when he’s laying stuff out way in advance like that. I just don’t get that vibe.
We have just passed the 10 year anniversary of the closure of WCW/sale to Vince. Do you think the more experienced guys on the roster had too much power, or what led to its downfall do you think?
The downfall of WCW? Well, for one thing, we drew a lot of money but we might have been spending more than we were making, because it was Ted Turner’s money and those are some deep pockets! We got first class tickets & we were flying in private jets. Vince (WWE) is a wrestling company that produces a TV show. WCW was a television company that was producing a TV show. Vince’s grandfather was a promoter, his father was a promoter, his family is involved – they know wrestling. They are really detailed, they know everything. They know how we think, what we do, what hotels we stay in, what gyms we go to…….WCW had never been successful. Me and Nash came in and blew that place up and the thing where they suffered was they didn’t have a merchandising team equipped to handle the demand because there had never been any demand before. They couldn’t keep NWO t-shirts in stock. I would go to towns early on, we’d only been there like a month or two – we never wrestled on TV for like a year and a half but we went to every house show and wrestled , me and Kev – and on the road some fan would go ‘Hey Scott, can I have your t-shirt?’ I’d have an NWO t-shirt on or I’d have one on top of my suitcase and I’d go ‘Buy one!’ But there aren’t any, and I’m going ‘Oh my god!’ We’re going two weeks on the road and there’s no shirts! A lot of opportunities were missed. A lot of people talk about Bill Goldberg. I introduced him to my agent who got him paid. His first road trip ever was with me and he wasn’t the chosen one yet. People talk about what a phenomenon he was; well, yea, but I’m thinking at the same time when your first match is in front of a sold out crowd it’s easy to make the people go ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’ but lets see you make 200 people go ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’, you know what I mean? Bill was really lucky that by the time he got his break and was popular by now the merchandising was up and running. Four years later they can handle the demand and there’s Goldberg merchandise. Good for him, God bless him. I ain’t got no heat with him. I just think a lot of times when people don’t have all the information and make statements…..be aware, wrestling in front of a sold out crowd…..Let me get this straight - you debuted in front of a sold out crowd. That means you had nothing to do with drawing that crowd. No-one even knows who you are and it’s sold out, so come on……I’m gonna be in Deeside in the UK, me and Kev are gonna be there on May 28th. I spoke to a guy yesterday - I got some property next to my house I’m selling, some lakeside property, so one guy came for the second time, he owns a bunch of pubs all through the UK. The other guy, have you ever heard of Ultra FM?
Matt Lee, maybe? He’s the morning DJ there. He came over, he was a pop start as a kid, and promotes some entertainment stuff in the U.S. and the U.K. – I’m gonna meet with him. He said there’s a demand for the American style wrestling in (the UK). I’ve been in England, they do the rounds and stuff like that, which I don’t have a problem with. …..I haven’t watched a lot of (U.S.) wrestling lately, like the current guys, I’ve been working with the younger guys. I haven’t watched Vince’s show, TNA I just can’t watch! I only live forty five minutes from there bro but I don’t want the money that bad! I don’t get along with Vince Russo. I was around him – you’re talking about the fall of WCW, Vince Russo was a big part of that collapse. And now he’s out there in TNA and he’s just killing it. It’s brutal. He doesn’t know. It’s not his fault!....The guy, Matt Lee, said yesterday that it just doesn’t seem to be as entertaining, there’s not that showbiz aspect. I can’t comment cause I haven’t really been watching it, but the guys there are working hard doing the best they can. It’s not their fault. If you don’t work with guys who are better than you then you don’t get better. I will make this comment – if you look at the television ratings, the Pay-Per-View buy rates, the attendance at the live shows, everything’s down. That would seem to me that what they’re doing’s not working. We are gonna do this retro tour if we can get everything worked out. Kev and I, Pac, I talked to Sid Vicious yesterday – we’re gonna bring some of the big names from the golden age and at the same time bring some young cats. I was over there (UK) two Thanksgivings ago. I went to London and signed autographs with a company called WrestleFest. We were in Manchester. I went for two days and ended up staying for two weeks! I spent a fortune but I had a great time! We went out every night in Soho. One night I was out in Chinatown in London and six or seven of the younger English cats came over and we all had dinner and I think that on this tour we wanna make it like….over there you have Pop Idol, we have American Idol. We wanna make it like that where we make it interactive with the fans. We’re gonna film everything, for either a documentary or a DVD. I’m gonna go over there, we’re gonna meet with him and go to some of (Brian) Dixon’s shows or wherever the English boys are performing, go in – I don’t know if we can get away with it – film it. If not we’re gonna throw out not so much a challenge but an invitation. Do you wanna be part of this tour? The tour won’t be for almost a year. We’ll have plenty of time to promote it and do it right, but make it something fun where the fans can be part of it too. One of his buddies has a new thing he’s working on, it’s similar to Twitter, where you can get instant response in a lot of the arenas or football stadiums. We’re gonna say ‘Ok, who do you wanna see wrestle who?’ They clock, and of course they pay a little fee – Screech or something he’s calling it. We’re gonna do that and let the fans be interactive. Which European wrestlers do you wanna see on the tour? Make it kinda cool and fun like that, and why not? Go over to England and make some guys look good then when you come to Florida you make me look good. There’s some exciting things going on bro……For me trying to get clean, I have to have something to put my creativity into. Wrestling is my drug of choice. I can get Madison Square Garden, or Wembley or the Royal Albert Hall but I can go to these little towns here in Florida, and there might be four or five hundred people but I still get that rush. Just going out there and working, managing, announcing, working with some of the younger guys. I’m going to wrestling school tonight, just like seven or eight guys down there, a pretty good crew, we got some potential. But I just love it man, working with these young guys. Praising them when they do right and jumping in their face when they do wrong. It’s a healthy outlet for me because the whole sitting around doing nothing thing was really getting destructive. Get in trouble, get out of trouble, get back in trouble, get back out of trouble. Sitting on my rear end doing nothing was not good for me. The first four or five years were ok, but like ten years later that’s not good.
Do you have any regrets in your career? You were never heavyweight champion in any……
I was actually thinking about that – I think I only got one title shot ever! I really am serious. When I was doing the Razor gimmick as a heel….
You wrestled Bret.
I wrestled Bret Hart at SummerSlam in Sacramento, California, and I don’t think I ever had another title shot since then. Never.
There’s still time!
I’m not a mark about it but at the same time, what the heck – if he gets paid more I’d as soon have that belt! The Intercontinental belt is heavy too but if the other one pays better I’ll take that! I never really was a mark about it, like gee I want the belt, I don’t have the belt, or anything like that. I think that maybe this whole outlaw character that I was living outside the arena, maybe they don’t want you carrying the banner if you’re living a little bit wild. But, I mean, whatever. The only regrets I have when I look back on my career in that era were….professionally I couldn’t have scripted it better. Would I have liked to be world champion? I ain’t gonna lie, heck yea! All my regrets are….I made a lot of bad choices. Would I have changed anything? The only thing I would have changed is that I hurt some people’s feelings that I shouldn’t have hurt. Would I still go to the parties and all that stuff? Yea, probably. I just wish I hadn’t hurt some people’s feelings. I don’t think I’ve ever hurt anybody’s feelings on purpose but that’s no excuse. If you’re all pilled up and drunk and offend somebody, you did it. You don’t get a pass for being wasted. For me that’s like another charge. He was wasted and he was a jerk. Professionally I didn’t always agree with everything I was instructed to do and I would lobby like a baby in the back, pout and everything and try to get my way, but I always yielded to the boss who made the decisions. I would go out there and whatever I was instructed to do as good as I can, even if I though it was wrong. If he was right, I would say you were right man it worked but if you’re wrong you're gonna hear me say I told you so! I think I was a pretty good employee. I would have hired me! When I hear you talking about going to the Hall of Fame and all that – right now, it’s one thing to get clean. I’ve done it a million times. You gotta stay clean. People say why don’t you get the headphones on? I’d love to, but right now I wouldn’t hire me. Just like you’re talking about being world champion. If you’re wrestling in the company on that level you can’t be no risk. We can’t hear about you being in a strip club getting arrested for dancing on stage with the strippers (laughs) – it’s bad for business! You can be the Intercontinental Champion and get away with that!
Thank you for giving me some of your time.
I wanna holler out to all the fans in the UK. You’re calling from Ireland, right?
I’ll say this in closing. I love Europe. I went to high school in Munich. Americans, we call it Munich, it’s Munchen. We Americanise everything. I don’t get it. I wrestled in Puerto Rico and the guy’s name would be Jorge, he comes to America and he’s called George! It’s Jorge! I like London, I like England fine. To me, London’s like being in New York. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a big city, there’s pretty girls, everybody dresses good, but I prefer the south-east of the United States – people are a little bit friendlier, a little bit more laid back. That’s how I look at England & Ireland. Ireland, it’s so green, the people are a little but friendlier, it’s just a good vibe, so I wanna holler out to the fans out there and we’re gonna start running, man. You’ll see me there. Me & Kev are gonna be there May 28th, after that I’m gonna be popping up over there a lot!