That two-word catchphrase became a staple in the repertoire of Scott Oliver Hall, aka Razor Ramon. Hall was known for keeping a toothpick at the top of his ear, having one in his mouth, and before a match, his ritual of throwing a toothpick in his opponent’s face. Hall oozed machismo, hooking viewers of all ages, like myself, back in the mid-1990s almost immediately.
Hall died Monday after a series of heart attacks stemming from hip surgery complications. He was 63.
In the ’90s, he truly was one of the first cool heels on WWE (then WWF) television. With his borrowed Cuban accent and Scarface impersonations, Hall (as Razor Ramon) was an instant hit upon debuting in the WWF during the summer of ‘92 after weeks of vignettes. If you’ve never seen any of these vignettes, check ‘em out. They’re hilarious now but did exactly what they were supposed to do back then. They made Razor one of the most hated heels in the company. As they say in wrestling, Ramon had heat and lots of it. His arrogantly crude attitude was over, and Hall had finally hit the big time and was on his way.
Most fans were introduced to Hall for the first time in the World Wrestling Federation with the Razor Ramon gimmick, but he’d been around for almost a decade by the time he stepped foot in a WWF ring. Hall was part of that final era of stars that came up through the old territory system. Hall got his start with NWA affiliate Championship Wrestling from Florida. The first time I can remember watching Hall on TV was around 1989 during his brief stint with NWA/WCW. Even then, he looked like a star. He just wasn’t seasoned at the time.
Fast forward to ’92-’93 and the Razor character, and when I first saw him, I thought he looked familiar, but his whole persona, his swagger, was completely different from when I’d watched him a couple of years prior. Although the Ramon character was a dick initially (as it was supposed to be), his style was different and more refined. Now, of course, as a kid I wasn’t calling Ramon refined, but I knew something was different. Maybe it was his look, which had changed a bit, or perhaps it was his in-ring style or his fake Cuban accent. Call it machismo or whatever you want. But I was reeled in and became a fan.
During Hall’s long career, which spanned parts of four decades, he was involved in numerous legendary moments in pro wrestling history. One of which usually gets overlooked is that as Razor Ramon, Hall was the person to retire “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, defeating him in DiBiase’s final match at SummerSlam ‘93. Nowadays, there would have been a big farewell tour on the way to that match, but back then, that wasn’t how it worked. Ramon got the rub from DiBiase with little fanfare. In fact, unless you were in the business at that time, you probably had no clue that bout would be DiBiase’s swan song. Hall’s biggest match in the eyes of many came in 1994 at WrestleMania X in the first-ever Mania ladder match against Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental title. Since then, we’ve seen far crazier ladder matches, but this one, for its time, was absolutely on another level than anything we’d seen in the WWF at that point. Hall and Michaels put together an instant classic that won Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Match of the Year award for ‘94.
In ’96, on his way out of the WWF, Hall, Michaels, Kevin Nash, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley gave fans at Madison Square Garden one last image of the four friends together in the ring during the infamous “curtain call.” The crazy part about this was 1) it wasn’t a televised match and 2) according to the participants, it wasn’t meant to be as controversial as it became. All four men shook hands, threw up the wolfpack sign, and hugged in the middle of the ring after the match, essentially “breaking kayfabe,” which was still a strict no-no in ‘96.
That moment led directly into the first big shot fired in the Monday Night War between WCW and the WWF. Lex Luger had unexpectedly jumped ship the previous fall (Sep.’ 95) and popped on the debut of WCW Monday Nitro, but that didn’t have nearly the impact of Hall walking out through the Nitro crowd and jumping in the ring during the middle of a match and cutting a promo on WCW. When I saw that, I literally lost it. I couldn’t believe my guy Razor, who was just in the WWF a couple of weeks before, had now shown up on the competition’s programming. As a kid, I read some pro wrestling magazines (or dirt sheets), but I was not prepared for this move. Like most, I never saw it coming.
Scott had a great mind for the wrestling business in those days. He really understood the psychology of making fans believe. Initially, Hall was supposed to walk down the aisle, jump in the ring, interrupt the match, and cut his promo. But since this was supposed to be an “invasion” angle by WWF guys, Hall came up with the idea of walking in through the stands, hoping the rail and the rest is history.
That one minor tweak to the angle made it feel real. By ‘96, Vince McMahon had long exposed the business, but at that moment, unless you knew, you didn’t know. Were McMahon and the WWF really invading WCW? Or had Hall just defected to the other side? When Hall’s best friend Nash soon followed, they eventually joined forces with heel Hulk Hogan to form the New World Order. That began the next significant boom period in wrestling. That moment was so real to the WCW fans in attendance that they began to throw trash in the ring. This was one of the first times I can remember fans throwing that amount of garbage at the wrestlers on live television.
So many moments and so many of my wrestling memories are directly attributed to Scott Hall. I know he wasn’t an angel. Hall had demons that plagued him most of his life. I think most of us have demons of some form we’re battling, and they can take shape and manifest themselves in many ways. This doesn’t absolve anyone from holding themselves accountable for their actions, but it also means that we continue to try and fight to be better and overcome them. Scott Hall fought. He fought for as long as he could. Along the way, he just happened to become one of the best in-ring performers and entertainers of his time. To me, that counts for something.
So, say goodnight to the bad guy, chico. Scott’s in-ring legacy will live on forever, and I know I’ll be going back to watch many of his most memorable matches and promos.
My life is like driving down a road. I occasionally glance in the rearview mirror, but I’m not focused on the past or looking back anymore.
Hall’s contributions to the NWO, The Kliq, The Wolfpac, WWF, WCW, and the wrestling industry overall will never be forgotten by fans. Rest in peace.