Jeremy’s Blog: Initial thoughts on Scott Hall: The Wrestler from E:60

In case you missed it last night, ESPN is offering up the Scott Hall’s “The Wrestler” segment from E:60 online. The segment was incredibly short and really shows how bad off Scott Hall is now. What it doesn’t do is explore anything in great detail. Sure, it gives probable cause for his addictions and shows what he goes through now, but there is no deep investigation. Some of this is the pratfall of committing only 15 minutes or so to the actual story.

The piece features a bunch of other wrestlers, friends, family or wrestling execs commenting on Scott Hall, but the way the short documentary was packaged it came across like they are distancing themselves from his ailments rather than explaining.  These are just my initial thoughts on the program. I reserve the right to reverse course after more viewings, so go screw.

Kevin Nash comes off as a jokester instead of a concerned friend. His line about driving a stake through Hall’s chest as the only means of killing him may be funny but it is sad all the same. It was never explored past that. It was a one-off comment that added little. Sure, it is meant to explain the copious amount abuse Hall has done to his body, but it came off as aloof instead of poignant.

One aspect that should have been explored to same detail was the fact that X-Pac/Sean Waltman was in a similar position and came out of it and thus his pain at seeing Scott continually failing would have been stronger. Waltman taking issue with promoter Steve Ricard is spot on, but then listening to Hall try and explain his situation afterwards lessened the blow. He says that a combo of medications messed his head up so bad that, “Brother, I didn’t even know what country I was in. I don’t even remember being there.” It is hard to feel sympathy for someone who appears to be reveling in it as he smiles and nearly laughs while explaining it all.

While watching this with my woman, it became clear that ESPN was not ready or did not feel the need to explain the strong connections the soundbite-interviewees have to Scott Hall.  This caused me to fill in the gaps to my girl. In doing this, it became clear that the material here was only a surface scrub instead of anything invasive. Again, this is most likely due to time constraints.

Stephanie McMahon’s segment was eye-opening. Stating WWE has spent in the six figures to help Scott Hall in his recovery, if true, is either an exercise in self-torture or an incredible show of compassion. How can an entity designed to make money continually throw money at something with no hope of repair? The critics will say WWE is the cause of the problem, but as documented in the piece, Hall was already on steroids or other drugs by the time he got to and had already left WWF.

Another criticism must be levied at Eric Bischoff. He didn’t generally say anything wrong but his delivery is so matter-of-fact and standoffish that the viewer wouldn’t be wrong in saying he is washing his hands of a problem he could have steered. His line about Scott Hall killing himself is spot on but the delivery is very much harsh. If he had toned down the delivery his point wouldn’t have gotten lost, but it sure supplied the quick sound byte ESPN loves.

This of course brings on some criticism of ESPN on this piece. It has no natural flow. It moves all over in time instead of supplying a linear telling of his career/life. Sure, they toss the dates up from time to time but the pictures and videos they use are from all different periods. They should have rightfully stuck with a linear presentation on all fronts. It would have enhanced Scott’s story to see how his body and mental state deteriorated over time instead of jumping all over by using the wrong photo during the later stages of his life.  It is a television segment and they did not utilize this fully. Also, the way this piece begins is the same typical mainstream sports media trying to pump up a story for better effect. At no time was Scott Hall bigger than Andre the Giant or Hulk Hogan. He was an important player in WCW during the NWO run but on a world scale the comparison falls flat.

Also, one contributor proclaims, “It’s interesting because it’s fake but this story is real.” The arrogant notion that a grown adult male or female throwing themselves on a piece of plywood or worse at least four nights a week is fake is just one of those things that sportswriters will never get. Again though, this was all hyperbole to pump up a story. It was just the soundbyte that this story needed to hook all of the viewers turning up their nose at wrestling on sports TV.  It could have been used as an explanation for Hall’s addiction to Somas or painkillers. Instead it was used as a soundbyte. Nothing more.

ESPN would be wise to use the unused footage and make this a much longer piece. If there is a strong reaction to this piece, it could happen. It needs to be explored in greater detail. What ESPN presented could have been an exhaustive exploration of Scott Hall. Instead it barely scratched the surface of what he had done and does do now. They made the point of showing him on top, then the fall and then the glimmer of hope for a better day even if it probably won’t happen.

This will inevitably be a topic on a future edition of Stunt Granny Audio, as it should be. The Scott Hall story will inevitably have that one sad ending everyone is expecting. They did end the story with a small glimmer of hope which was unnecessary. The end is written already. It would have been nice for ESPN to devote more time to the subject so that maybe there would be a greater understanding. -Jeremy

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