On August 8, 1992 Razor Ramon made his professional wrestling debut. The now infamous ‘Tony Montana’ type character would propel Hall to the top of the profession and forever alter the course of his wrestling career. The effects of Hall leaving for the WCW only four years later ripple through the wrestling industry to this very day. But what was left on the table in the WWF? I’m going to explore this topic in depth and hopefully by the end we have some clarity about the events that unfolded in 1996.
Scott Hall 91-92
Hall was actually with the WCW in 1991, wrestling under ‘The Diamond Studd’ gimmick. The gimmick was similar to Rick Rude’s in that Hall was cocky, arrogant, demeaning towards fans, but hot after the ladies. After a stellar start The Diamond Studd quickly fell to the mid card and lost to the likes of Ron Simmons at the Fall Brawl in 1991. Hall followed that loss up with another as part of a team at Halloween Havoc in 1991 in a House of Horrors match. The Studd followed that with yet another loss, this time to Tom Zenk. Shortly after this Hall was injured and missed the remainder of 1991. When he returned in early 1992 the company made a couple of efforts to place The Diamond Studd in tag teams, both of which were short lived. By early May 1992 Hall’s run with the WCW had come to an end, little did anyone know at the time, was that Hall was about to play a pivotal role in a wrestling revolution.
Say hello to the bad guy
In 1992 Hall was ready for a fresh start and quickly signed with Vince McMahon’s WWF. After signing both Mcmahon and Hall spent several sessions brainstorming then molding a brand new gimmick for Hall. On May 18, 1992 Razor Ramon made his WWF debut in a taped appearance and one of the most memorable characters in the WWE’s illustrious history was born. The cocky Cuban gimmick translated perfectly to the ring and the series of vignettes before Razor’s debut created a buzz before he ever entered the ring. Razor was a success from the start and the WWF capitalized on this by putting him in the Championship hunt in a match against Brett Hart.
After Razor’s loss to Hart the company decided to place him in the Intercontinental Championship picture. On the October 11, 1993 episode of Raw, Ramon would win the vacated Intercontinental Championship by performing his now famous Razor’s Edge and then pinning Rick ‘The Model’ Martel.
Almost immediately after winning the Intercontinental Championship Ramon began his now famous feud with Shawn Michaels. The rivalry climaxed with the iconic ladder match at WrestleMania 10 between the pair. To this day the match is considered one of the best matches in the history of professional wrestling. By defeating Michaels, Razor cemented his legacy in what really was a career defining performance.
Ramon was as hot as ever coming out of the feud with Michaels and his then bodyguard Diesel. The bad guy went on to win the Intercontinental Championship a then record 4th time when he defeated then champion Dean Douglas at ‘In Your House 4.’ Shortly after this Hall would drop the Championship to new comer Goldust and before his rematch opportunity at WrestleMania 12, Hall would be suspended for substance abuse. This basically marked a turning point for Hall and his time with the WWE. Shortly after returning form his absence Ramon would lose to Vader and only a few short months later Hall along with Kevin Nash was lured away by the WCW with a lucrative contract which included creative control and more importantly days off.
If you’re a big fan of wrestling then you’re most likely already familiar with this part of Hall’s legendary career, if not then you are in for a real treat. On May 27th 1996 Hall made his way from the crowd to the ring on an episode of WCW Nitro. The crowd and wrestling world were left wondering exactly what was going on because Hall portrayed himself as an ‘Outsider’, just a spectator there to watch the show, but with a surprise planned. On June 10, Hall again emerged from the crowd, this time with an accomplice another former WWF star Kevin Nash. The pair played up the ‘Outsiders’ angle perfectly and many fans (my 13 year old self included) were convinced that both stars were still under contract with the WWE and were invading the WCW.
Over the next several weeks the duo would interrupt matches all the while teasing a third member of their group. Often Hall and Nash would beat down the WCW talent and assault the announcers then commentate parts of the show themselves. The third member ended up being Hulk Hogan and the trio would literally dominate, eventually adding more members to the now legendary stable. From mid 1996 through late 1998 WCW stood tall atop professional wrestling’s peak. During this time numerous of the sport’s all-time greats would either join or feud with the n.W.o. and Hall played a large part in many of the angles on and off screen.
In all Hall’s career spanned the better part of four decades and his son Cody has even carved out a respectable career as a professional wrestler. But I still find myself wondering what actually would have happened had Hall not have left the WWF for the WCW in 1996. If Hall had not been suspended for a period of time in late 1995 and somewhat lost his role in the company, would it have changed the course of wrestling history as we know it?
For one it’s very possible that the n.W.o. doesn’t happen without Hall. With Nash who was a star in his own right the group could have still formed but, Hall provided an element on the camera and microphone that Nash simply couldn’t replicate. Now, Hogan on the other hand was pure gold on the mic as a heel, but Hall still gave the duo a third believable star that made the whole scenario possible.
If Hall would have stayed with WWF would he have gone on to achieve the heights of the Hogan’s, Warrior’s and Hart’s of the time? It’s quite possible, but it also seemed like the company was already looking for fresh young stars to groom by 1996 when Hall left for greener pastures. Hall never held the WWE championship in his career and unfortunately I don’t think he would have held it had he re-signed with the company.
In the end, Hall seemed to always position himself in the right place, at the right time professionally and in hindsight everything seems to have worked out as it should. Hall and Nash leaving for WCW revitalized the careers of the likes of Sting, Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage. It also provided a chance for Vince Mcmahon and the WWE to groom now legendary stars like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mankind.
I honestly don’t know if another wrestler made better career choices than Hall did in the 90’s. Hall was a seasoned veteran at this point and knew that he had the skill, look and experience to play a pivotal role at the highest levels of professional wrestling. Scott Hall probably wouldn’t make the ‘Mount Rushmore’ of most wrestling fans and writers and that’s understandable. However, the role that he played in changing the face of the sport for better or worse can’t be understated and deserves to be recognized.
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