Scott Hall, professional wrestling’s “Bad Guy” who revolutionized the industry as a founding member of the New World Order faction, has died. He was 63.
WWE announced his death Monday night and aired a tribute video on its flagship “Raw” program. Hall, who also wrestled for WWE as Razor Ramon, was a two-time inductee into the company’s Hall of Fame. His longtime friend and fellow NWO member Kevin Nash wrote on social media that Hall was taken off life support on Monday following complications from hip replacement surgery.
Former WWE and WCW star Sean Waltman tweeted Monday, “ He’s gone.”
Hall battled alcohol abuse for years and chronicled his decades of substance issues in an 2011 ESPN documentary in which he said, “I should have been dead 100 times.”
The wrestling world mourned Hall and some WWE stars paid tribute to his mannerisms and catchphrases on “Raw.”
“Scott Hall was a towering figure among his contemporaries — a legend inside and outside the ring,” WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley tweeted.
In the ring, few professional wrestlers oozed machismo quite like the “Bad Guy.” Hall worked his way up through several wrestling territories in the 1980s before he caught his big break in 1992 when he signed with the then-World Wrestling Federation. He was named Razor Ramon, a knockoff of characters from “Scarface” that he molded into one of wrestling’s cool heels.
With his dripping wet hair, scruff and omnipresent toothpick, Ramon affected a Cuban accent and quickly rose to main-event status with matches against Bret Hart, Diesel and the 1-2-3 Kid. He won multiple championships during his five-year run and defeated Shawn Michaels in a landmark ladder match at WrestleMania in 1994. It earned match-of-the-year honours from Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
With promotional rival World Championship Wrestling nipping at WWE’s spot for top wrestling company in the 1990s, Ted Turner’s company started making big contract offers to some of the biggest stars in the industry. WWE and WCW had never acknowledged each other on TV until the rivalry escalated through what became known as the “Monday Night Wars,” pitting Vince McMahon’s “Raw” against Ted Turner’s “Nitro.”
Hall made his biggest splash when he signed with WCW and made a surprise entrance through the crowd on a May 27, 1996 episode of “Nitro.” Before the internet totally pulled back the curtain on the industry, Hall’s announcement — “ You know who I am. But you don’t know why I’m here,” — had fans truly believing WWE had invaded WCW.
Hall was soon joined by former WWE star Kevin Nash, the “Outsiders” who claimed they were sent for a hostile takeover of WCW. The angle gained mainstream attention in July 1996 when their claims of a third man to help them lead the invasion turned out to be Hulk Hogan. Hogan became a bad guy and the trio formed the villainous New World Order, helping WCW defeat WWE in the ratings for 83 straight weeks.
Hall later returned to WWE and wrestled in other promotions, but his career was cut short by drugs and alcohol and multiple trips to rehabilitation.
“I tell my kids this, ‘I can’t tell you not to drink and do drugs, they are fun. It’s fun. They work,’” Hall said in the documentary. “But what sucks is when you want to quit and you can’t, and pretty soon you alienate or you hurt everyone around you.”
Hall was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice, once for his Razor Ramon character and once as part of the NWO stable.
His 2014 speech when he went in as Razor Ramon has been wildly quoted by wrestlers and fans of the industry since news of his condition broke over the weekend.
“Hard work pays off,” Hall said. “Dreams come true. Bad times don’t last. But bad guys do.”