By Liz Carlie
Scott Hall wasn’t the first wrestler I ever saw.
I saw my first wrestler when was eight or nine years old. Dad liked to watch it off and on, but he had to do it when Mom was at work – she hated the stuff, and swore my brother and I would never watch it. Too violent, rots your brain…the answer was, emphatically, no.
…but what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her, right?
I don’t remember much about it…I don’t remember much about my childhood. As a survivor of parental neglect and various forms of psychological abuse much later in life, excessive gaslighting has messed up a good deal of my memory, stolen large swaths of time I will never get back. What I do remember, however, are the three that made the biggest impression on me…how they made me feel.
They were Hulk Hogan, the Road Warriors, and the Undertaker.
Naturally, I was a Hulkamaniac. He was the coolest…the Road Warriors were tough and mean, a little frightening. The Undertaker and Paul Bearer…well, they just gave me nightmares. Flat out.
I never wanted to watch wrestling ever again…but I was aware of it. In the media, in the news, in commercials.
The pink and black clad Hitman. The dancing Heartbreak Kid covered in chains and animal print…and the rough looking wall of muscle and gold chains called Razor Ramon.
The Bad Guy.
Scott Hall wasn’t the first wrestler I ever loved.
I was about fourteen or fifteen when I was in the living room one day, my dad sitting in his favorite chair when he suddenly spoke up.
“…you know something? I…don’t think I like Hulk Hogan anymore.”
“He’s a bad guy now.”
Nothing was stopping him at this point – Mom had been dead for a year or two. She had a brain tumor – glioblastoma multiform, the same tumor that killed men like Ted Kennedy, John McCain, and RUSH drummer Neil Peart. I only had to wait for the repeat of WCW Monday Nitro to see it.
Hollywood Hulk Hogan – and he wasn’t alone. There, by his side, was Razor Ramon, now answering to Scott Hall.
I began watching weekly from that point on. I didn’t yet realize that wrestling was “fake” – I became quickly aware that it was theatrical in nature, but still believed outcomes weren’t predetermined. I got sucked in hard by the clash of WCW versus nWo, screaming at my TV and jumping up and down when the chips fell in our favor.
We, in this case, were WCW. That’s right: while the rest of the world was digging the cool bad boys of wrestling, I was waving the banner of tradition. As things at home got worse in the wake of my mother’s passing, I escaped not just into the war for the soul of WCW, but into the legacy it represented. Wrestling history, the men and women who paved that highway. While my younger brother’s behavioral issues turned into the beginnings of verbal and emotional abuse, and my father’s reliance on me for support turned into neglect and its own form of abuse, I saw less of myself in the nWO and more of myself in the men and women of WCW.
The loose cannon that was Rowdy Roddy Piper was the fearlessness I wanted to have. The Four Horsemen were the fraternity I craved as an isolated teenager. The self made, relentless hero that was Diamond Dallas Page made me feel like nothing was impossible.
The man called Sting, the silent sentinel in the rafters who chose WCW when he finally picked a side in this war…this was the hero I wished I had in my own life, piercing through the darkness to bring real and lasting justice to pro wrestling.
Page and Sting were my biggest heroes as I got deeper into the stories…but as evil as Hogan was, as bad as the nWo got, there was no one I loved to see get his just desserts more than Scott Hall. In my mind, he was the bad guy with the real cool factor, and a heart as black as sin…and as the beginning of the end came for WCW later on, when he had his shot at the title he was the guy I wanted to see defect, to return to the light.
And later, it was those passing memories of him that got me to start flipping back and forth on Monday nights between WCW and the WWF, until I finally stopped flipping and WWF was the only thing I was watching.
The company that built the Bad Guy.
Scott Hall was not the first. He was not the favorite, he was not the seed of the obsession.
Let me share with you the missing link between knowledge and passion.
Research has given me the date: December 18, 1995. I was thirteen, and Mom was in the hospital. She had been for a while at this point…I had not been to see her in some weeks. I would not go to see her until the 23rd of that month. She would die the next day, on Christmas Eve.
Dad was an x-ray technician, working the graveyard shift in the radiology department of Medical Center of North Hollywood in Southern California. My younger brother, afraid of staying home alone, would accompany Dad to work and sleep in the radiology viewing room if he got tired.
I was home alone, fending for myself until bedtime. Dad would be there when I woke up in the morning, returning home at 4AM.
The only reason I watched the USA Network was for their reruns of the vampire themed show Forever Knight. I loved vampires, I had a crush on the star…I liked Canadian TV, and I do to this day. I taped every episode on my VCR religiously, watched them all live at the same time…
…and on this night, I tuned in a little earlier than usual, allowing me to catch the tail end of Monday Night Raw. There, Doc Hendrix was interviewing a familiar face, disheveled from a recent encounter in the ring. The topic of discussion was a mysterious love letter sent by someone named Goldust, Razor had a championship belt in his arms…
I can’t say why that interview made an impression. I can’t tell you for sure why I still remember it to this day – remember it so clearly I found it on YouTube just by searching for things like ‘Nineties Razor Ramon RAW interview.’ When so much of my life has been stolen from me through the conditioning that taught me not to trust my own memory, I don’t know why this stuck around.
Maybe it was star quality and charisma. Maybe it was the memory of The Bad Guy, and a passing warning that the contents of that mysterious letter weren’t for children – that dichotomy of virtue and toughness, decency and conniving. Maybe the trauma of that period of my life just made it stand out.
The color. The voices. The energy of a crowd – the easy camaraderie between Razor Ramon and the bombastically voiced Doc Hendrix. For some reason or another, this vivid imagery burned itself into my brain, seared my mind like sunlight on retinas.
Without that afterimage flickering in my head, the awareness wouldn’t have mattered. Without that negative of Scott Hall’s face appearing when I closed my eyes, that hook in WCW never would have caught, and professional wrestling would never have become part of my life.
When my father wouldn’t buy me clothes and I was wearing my brother’s castoffs, the frenetic, uncaring renegade of Roddy Piper wouldn’t have been ranting in my ear, reminding me that what I looked like didn’t have to matter. I defined myself.
When my younger brother, who stood over half a foot taller than me and outweighed me by fifty pounds, berated me for the tiniest mistake and kept me awake for hours many nights, locked in arguments I couldn’t walk away from for fear of physical harm, I wouldn’t have had the voice of Diamond Dallas Page in my lowest moments in my head. I wouldn’t remember that I could be knocked down, and all that mattered was getting up again.
When depression, grief, pain, and heartache made me feel powerless and weak, I would not have seen the Undertaker taking his own darkness and turning it into supernatural power to defeat his own menace – a younger brother, torturing him for things which he was not responsible (or so we thought at the time).
If I hadn’t had those powerful stories of men and women being beaten down and broken, only to rise and conquer as something greater…in all honesty, I might not be here today. Not under the burden I carried.
You’ve seen many tributes to the career and to the life of Scott Hall, singing his praises and extolling his virtue. We all know what he did in life…none of us will ever forget.
For what I owe him, offering more of the same just doesn’t feel right.
Hard work pays off.
In 2012, I stole slivers of time to be part of a podcast called The Corsair’s Closet. That show got picked up to air weekly on an internet radio station now known as SciFi Radio. While the show was canceled a few short years later, I remained in touch with the station manager, writing articles for copy off and on over years.
Today, I write professionally – I still have a day job, but life as a paid writer is satisfying in a way few things can be. I do write for one other site on a regular basis, however…
The one that I founded. This one, the X-Press. One day, I hope to write professionally in the pro wrestling arena as well.
Dreams come true.
Writing is something I have always done, since I was six years old. I’m no booker, so I’ve never written creatively in the field of pro wrestling, but those larger than life personas? There’s no shortage of inspiration to fuel my own creative endeavors.
Now, as of this writing, my novel – a story inspired by some of my favorite pro wrestlers – is being considered by a literary agent. If they take me on as a client, I will achieve something my mother never did in her lifetime: I’ll be a published author.
Bad times don’t last…but Bad Guys do.
Today, I am an abuse survivor. I have a strained, but safer relationship with my brother, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the mid-2000s. It doesn’t forgive what happened to me, but provides the perspective to try and start healing…it remains an ongoing process.
My father died in 2017 as a result of congestive heart failure from years of smoking, complicated by diabetes, acute renal insufficiency, chronic cardiac problems, and other health issues he never properly addressed. I remained his primary caregiver to the end, looking after his health and well being with more effort and attention than he ever gave mine. The abuse only ended when his life did.
Five years later, I am a living example of the words Scott Hall will be remembered for – and I am here as that example, in part, because of him.
Without Scott Hall, I never would have plugged in to professional wrestling. If not for Razor Ramon, the third man, the Outsiders, the New World Order, I wouldn’t be here. None of us would be…not in this space, in this moment, reading this text.
To honor a great man, the demons he struggled with, and the impact he had on one life – my life – I feel like a more worthy offering is just that: a life.
Hey yo, one Bad Guy to another?
Thank you. For everything.