This summer I was totally enthralled by the audiobook BLOOD, SWEAT & CHROME by Kyle Buchanan. The book is about the rigors of filming MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.
I’m a big fan of the MAD MAX movies so I still can’t believe I almost passed on listening to the book just because I read a few reviews that came down hard on the Australian accents of the book narrators. Had I followed these snobbish reviews and my own snobbery, I would have deprived myself of an awesome film making story that is almost as good as FURY ROAD itself.
Now just because I can’t tell an Australian accent from a New Zealand one doesn’t mean I’m tone deaf to all accents. I think I’m pretty good at picking up on the authenticity of Spanish accents.
Because I grew up in a predominantly Spanish section of Brooklyn it isn’t hard for me to differentiate between an Argentinian accent and a Dominican one. That being the case, I think I can tell when someone’s faking a Spanish accent. The question is: do I let it get in the way of my entertainment pleasure? Absolutely not!
Had I been a stickler for good Spanish accents in movies, I would have kept myself from enjoying Al Pacino in SCARFACE, Al Pacino in CARLITO’S WAY, or Al Pacino in 1985’s REVOLUTION. He doesn’t play Spanish in that one but his British accent is straight out of Brooklyn. Who cares, right? Pacino’s a great actor and his Tony Montana will forever be unrivalled as one of the best cinematic antiheros of all time.
Now, to be fair, I am not Cuban-American, but I know many Cuban Americans hated the way thousands of Cuban political refugees were painted as criminals in SCARFACE, and how the only real-life Cuban in the cast was Steven Bauer, who played Tony Montana’s sidekick/brother-in-law Manny.
The rest of the cast members, including Pacino, were Italian-American playing Cuban. To boot, Al Pacino speaks one line of Spanish throughout the entire movie even though Spanish is supposed to be Tony’s native language.
Hey, I get it; there is a lot to be angry about in SCARFACE. Pacino’s accent is the least of the issues in contention. Hollywood movies are rife with stereotypes of all kinds. Fixing the problem is a tall order. Who knows if it can ever be accomplished?
Again the question comes up: do I let it get in the way of my entertainment? Absolutely not!
Scott Hall a.k.a. Razor Ramon
Had I been anti-stereotyping, I would have kept myself from enjoying SCOTT HALL, a.k.a. RAZOR RAMON—one of the greatest wrestling heels of all time. We lost Scott Hall this year on March 14, 2022. He was 63 years old when he died in Marietta, Georgia. He died from hip-replacement complications that lead to three heart attacks over the course of a weekend.
As stated in the New York Times, the WWE called Mr. Hall “a hugely influential superstar” in an official statement they released upon news of his death. The WWE got it right. Scott Hall was hugely influential. He came to prominence at a time when other future stars were on the rise: Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker, to name a few.
Razor Ramon's Personae
Scott Hall’s Razor Ramon character was based on Al Pacino’s Tony Montana, even though the two characters did not really resemble each other at all. Razor Ramon had slicked-back hair and gold chains around his neck. He was also 6 foot 7 and 287 pounds—the kind of measurements that might have made Tony Montana piss his pants. Razor Ramon was no joke.
And yet he was a joke, because despite the bad Spanish accent and the silly toothpick he kept at the side of his mouth or at the side of his ear sometimes, Razor knew that you knew whom he was portraying, that we were all in on the joke.
And damn if Razor Ramon wasn’t funny. All you have to do is look at some of the promo skits where he acted like an arrogant jerk. My favorite among these was the restaurant skit.
This promo is hysterical, reminiscent of the SCARFACE “say goodnight to the bad guy” restaurant scene. I’ve watched it so many times and it always makes me laugh.
My brother Ronnie sent me this promo when he heard of Scott Hall’s death. For some reason, I’m always the last to know about celebrity deaths.
As far as I can tell, Scott Oliver Hall wasn’t of Spanish ancestry, but he was as swarthy as any Spanish person I knew growing up, including my leather and denim-wearing motorcycle club cousins from Perth Amboy. This added Latin credibility to his Latin-based character.
Kevin Nash or Rick Rude couldn’t have gotten away with playing a Razor-like character with their complexions. Somebody must have recognized this in Mr. Hall and approved of the believability.
Wrestling lore has it Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson were the first true believers in Razor Ramon. Apparently, they weren’t in on Scott Hall’s SCARFACE references because they hadn’t seen the movie. McMahon and Patterson thought Scott Hall was inventing all the Razor Ramon character traits out of thin air. Naturally, they assumed Scott Hall was some kind of genius.
Before we get any further into Scott Hall’s humor as Razor Ramon and then some, let’s get into his wrestling prowess, because this guy was the real deal if there ever was one.
Scott Hall's Wrestling Credentials
Scott Hall was a four-time WWE Intercontinental champion, an unprecedented achievement at the time. Some of his best wrestling bouts were ladder matches. One of those matches was a contest to grab the championship belt, hung above the ring, using a ladder against Shawn Michaels.
This was at a time when ladder matches were virtually unheard of in the WWE. The Michaels v. Ramon matches were considered some of the best in wrestling history.
Razor Ramon never became a world champion in the WWE but he is generally considered one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of the 1990’s. From the start of his career at the WWE, Ramon fought some of the best talent in the WWE at the time.
He fought Randy Savage, Mr. Perfect, Tito Santana, Bob Backlund, and Bret Hart. And those are just a few of the memorable stars Ramon fought. There were many more.
Scott Hall Rejoins WCW
In 1996, Scott Hall—having dropped his nom de guerre—returned to his earlier stomping grounds in the WCW as himself. Originally build as one half of the Outsiders; Hall and his WWE compatriot Kevin Nash hatched a plan to take over the WCW.
The invasion plot line gathered a lot of traction, upping the ante of the television ratings war for pro wrestling in general. Even HULK HOGAN got in on the act, as he too joined Hall and Nash to become the third largest member of the NEW WORLD ORDER (NWO).
For the first time in a long time, Hulk Hogan turned heel. The defection left a lot of long-time Hogan fans devastated. It left them feeling like America had fallen to Communism.
The New World Order was a brilliant plot line but like a dragon eating its own tail, it soon fell victim to its own avarice appetite. Week after week, the New World Order was swallowing up more and more wrestlers, leaving little to no resistance.
Eventually, even Hall and Nash began to fade into the background. Like arsonists torching their brand new home, all they could do was stand by the sidelines and watch the place go down in flames.
Scott Hall was going down in flames too. He was struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, entering rehab at least a dozen times during his career according to the New York Times March 16, 2022 obituary.
In a case of art imitating life, Hall’s alcoholism even became a story angle during the WCW MONDAY NIGHT NITRO telecasts. Whether it was done to embarrass him into cleaning up his act or not is questionable, but it smacked of exploitation.
Playing up the drunken angle in a match with Lex Luger on a 1998 Nitro telecast, Scott Hall took a long swig of what was supposed to be alcohol from a paper cup at ringside and threw up all over a “very concerned” Eric Bischoff.
Gross and not at all funny, it’s hard to believe anyone thought this storyline could go anywhere positive or make the fans clamor for more. I can’t imagine a TV show using a cast member’s real life addiction as part of an ongoing storyline. Maybe its been done since, but it doesn’t make it any less disgraceful. Scott Hall needed help with his substance abuse problem, not a good shaming.
In 2014, Scott Hall was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame for his work as Razor Ramon. In 2020, he was inducted for his work as a member of the NWO. That’s two inductions for two amazing contributions—contributions that elevated wrestling to the next level.
You have to wonder why certain wrestlers choose the personas they do when its their brainchild. Did Scott Hall see himself as the “bad guy” in the SCARFACE restaurant scene, drunk and bloated with success, telling the elites around him where to stuff it?
Did he see himself as the cool kid class cutup who secretly ruled the classroom with his best buddy (Kevin Nash)? He was both of those characters the way we are all so many different personas when our varying situations call for it, until the lines blur and we can’t differentiate one persona from another.
Why, that would be like knowing the difference between an Australian accent and a New Zealand one. Now that’s fine for you if you can do that, but I’m not going to let it get in the way of a good story or character. Neither should you.
Scott Hall’s 2014 induction speech ended with these words:
“In my lifetime, I’ve learned hard work pays off, dreams come true, bad times don’t last, but bad guys do.”
Now it’s my turn to say GOODNIGHT to THE BAD GUY
Goodnight, Scott Hall. Rest in Peace. You were truly one of the GREATEST.
SIGN OFF: You’ve been listening to WRESTLING WITH HEELS ON. Join me next time as we take another stroll down villainy lane.
Only on the SPORTS HISTORY NETWORK.
Hi everyone. My name is Ariel Gonzalez, originally from Brooklyn, now living in the Garden State and I have a new podcast called “Wrestling With Heels On.”
On the podcast, I get to reminisce about my favorite wrestling bad guys from yesteryear. Light on stats and heavy on nostalgia, this little trip down villainy lane gives me a chance to visit the dark corridors of my wrestling soul, and it’s also fun to have a podcast.
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