Subscribe to the podcast via: iTunes | RSS Feed | Email Newsletter
In the months after Scott Hall returned to WCW in 1996, the WWF sought all forms of legal remedy in the hope of getting the angle between he and Kevin Nash against WCW squashed; on the basis that it was infringing on the character that they created, and that the similarities between what was being presented on Nitro and the characters the pair played in the WWF, they touted that it could mislead fans into thinking this was an official invasion. After all that failed, the WWF then decided they would "reintroduce" the Ramon and Diesel characters using new performers. After all, if the success of the characters was entirely down to the creative genius and marketing machine of Vince McMahon, why wouldn't it work again?
There's a fabled discussion that is said to have took place between Hall and Vince McMahon during his final weeks within the company. Hall, looking for more money and an elevated spot on the roster wanted to know what was holding him back? Was it his in ring work? Was it his promos? Vince McMahon didn't have an answer.
The uncomfortable truth may have been because the answer was that Vince simply saw more in other guys. Hall was easily one of the WWF's best workers, certainly for a guy of his size. The pair of ladder matches with Shawn Michaels will always be remembered, but he was consistently having good or very good matches with many members of the roster including Owen Hart (January 1995 Raw), Jeff Jarrett (1995 Royal Rumble), Diesel (Summerslam 1994). It was his status as a face, however, that was really holding back.
Having turned in 1993, he'd enjoyed a pretty successful run as an upper card face that could be relied upon to get one of the best crowd reactions in the company. One interesting fact about Ramon's run (in fact, his entire WWF/E career) was that he never appeared in the Royal Rumble match itself. In four years from 1993-96, he would be either defending or challenging for a title. As a heel against Bret Hart in 1993, then as a face for the Intercontinental Title against IRS, Jeff Jarrett and Goldust in the years that followed. Razor's run as perennial Intercontinental Champion cemented the view in Vince McMahon's mind that Hall was a very good, trusty, reliable performer - but not a main event talent. As Vince had shown with guys like Diesel, and to a lesser extent Lex Luger, once he got behind you in a lot of cases he'd just shoot you to the moon. Well, he'd try anyway.
But come the beginning of 1995 there were problems beginning to emerge with the balance of the WWF roster. With Diesel as a babyface champion, and Bret Hart and The Undertaker tucked in closely behind, the path up that side was blocked. Within a few weeks of Wrestlemania, and the two lead heels from the show (Michaels and Bam Bam Bigelow) now both turned face also, the balance of their roster was beginning to resemble a see-saw with Yokozuna on one side and The 123 Kid on the other. More amazing still was in six months following Diesel's title victory, they hadn't really built up any viable challengers.
I'll save retelling a story I've been through before, but essentially the company settled on Sid and Mabel as their two lead heels. Sid, as time would show, would prove to be a big act within the company around 18 months later, but with the wrong opponent he was still awful. Then again, Mabel – and later King Mabel after his coronation at one of the companies most notorious pay per view events of all time – was significantly worse.
Razor was just left treading water, working alongside the likes of The 123 Kid and Savio Vega against guys like Jeff Jarrett, Dean Douglas and Goldust. The perennial mid-card babyface, Ramon in theory was the guy who was the gatekeeper to the main event. Even with that,none of the guys ever really got close to Diesel – and even booked well neither Jarrett nor Douglas had the size to be a viable challenger anyway.
And yet, when push came to shove in August of 1995, they went back to the well. After a poor couple of pay per views in-ring wise, and a setup for Summerslam headlined by Diesel vs King Mabel and Shawn vs Sid, changes needed to be made. The Diesel/Mabel match would remain unmoved (in more ways that one – as both reportedly lobbied not to go on last), but Shawn and Sid was replaced by Shawn and Razor, in a repeat of their ladder match from the year before.
In both cases, Michaels was the star, Razor was seen as second best or, as some have claimed in the case of the first match, third best after Shawn "took a ladder to a great match". The match would improve as years and iterations went along, but it cannot be denied that the pair both put in great strides to help make the ladder match what it is today.
But that was for Shawn – his ascent to the top of the roster now a certainty even if on paper it took him eight months to win the title after that night, it was quickly becoming when rather than if. What for Razor in all of this? A listless feud with the 123 Kid (which if you think would've been great, really wasn't) and positioned to get some edge out of Vince McMahon's newest toy – Goldust.
It was around the time of the programs with Goldust and the "Cry Baby" match between him and The Kid that rumours started swirling that Razor was WCW bound. While all the talk of money dominates the story (WCW were offering a higher guarantee for fewer dates – hard to turn down in anyone's book) it wouldn't be the biggest stretch to say that a defection to Atlanta would also give him the chance of a spot near the main event he so desired (even if Hall hasn't mentioned this as a factor subsequently). A look at someone like Lex Luger, who was a prominent feature on WCW Monday Nitro, might aid things even more.
News of his departure would see a quick change in direction – a suspension, no less. His match with Goldust at Wrestlemania scrapped (he didn't like working with Goldust anyway). His inauspicious exit would be complete with the "Curtain Call" as both he and Nash were WCW bound.
As for Razor's legacy within the WWF? He went into the Hall of Fame under that name (all the more strange as Kevin Nash went in as Kevin Nash). While it's basically semantics - he's not going in as Scott Hall separately, and any NWO induction would be predicated on Hulk Hogan restoring speaking terms with the company, his four year run in the WWF could not be reasonably seen as Hall of Fame level. He was over, he put on really good matches, he could talk... but he was never pushed as a main eventer. Looking back, it's somewhat difficult to work out why.