I recently spoke with WWE Hall of Famer Scott Hall, who will be participating in a Q&A session at the Resurrection of Jake the Snake movie screening this Thursday, October 29th, at the Regal Green Hills Stadium 16 in Nashville, TN. Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Diamond Dallas Page will also be appearing, and there will be autographs and photo ops after the Q&A session. You can get more details or purchase tickets at JakeTheSnakeMovie.com by clicking here.
Below is part one of the interview. Make sure to check back next week for the second and final part of the interview, where Hall talks about leaving WWE for WCW, WWE suspending him for an old drug test after he gave notice, working with talent in NXT, almost being a witness for the defense during the WWE steroid trial and more.
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Had you and DDP talked much about creating the Diamond Studd gimmick before it happened?
"Actually, no. I had been successful in Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico, but nothing in the US where it really matters. I'd been in the business about five years at that point and working regularly. Five or six tours a year of Japan, a 6-7 month season in Europe. Puerto Rico was running shows every day. This wasn't the indy scene, this was back when territories were still running. I wasn't successful in the US and I was being realistic about it. I remember in Vienna, I was staying at this hotel the promoter set me up with. No TV or anything like that. I walk to a store that sells TV, and they leave them on so the people can see them. I'd wait until WWE came on, sometimes at 2 AM, but I'd stand there and watch out. I'd sometimes watch with my girlfriend. and point at guys and say 'I know that guy.' Now that girlfriend has become my wife. I think I have what it takes to make it in the wrestling business, but apparently not, because guys I started with have went on to success, and I haven't gotten a call.
"I had one commitment left to fill in Europe after a seven month tour. I'm getting married, and I said I'd learn to drive a forklift and work at Sears. I wanted the other riches in life. I wanted a family. She comes back six months pregnant and I needed a job that paid immediately. Even the lowest paid guy in wrestling was doing good. Even the referees were doing pretty good. I called Dallas and pitched an idea I heard him talk about once when we crossed paths-- The Diamond Studd. At the time he was managing the new version of the Freebirds. I remember telling him he was too tall to manage those guys. Normally managers are small. He said 'No, when we do interviews, I stand with my legs split apart." You'll never catch Dallas not thinking about something. He thinks about every move he makes.
"I said 'you need someone to stand next to you and make you look small. You need the Diamond Studd'. I was in really good shape, and was jacked. He said 'Bro, I love it.' He planted the seeds, and Dusty was the booker of WCW. I got a tryout to wrestle as the Diamond Stud with Dallas. Meanwhile, I'd been calling WWE offices every week for a year. Curt Hennig was my buddy, and he had great success with Mr. Perfect. He said to call the office and speak to Pat Patterson. I call every week for a year and get told he's in meetings. They're real professional and polite. Then I debut with Dallas as the Diamond Stud. I'm so low on the totem pole that WCW isn't even flying me back and forth, I have to drive from Atlanta to Orlando.
"I get home to my wife, about to burst, and there's two messages from Pat Patterson. Now he's calling me. He says 'Hey kid, how ya doing? Vince loves the new look.' It was Dallas' idea to change my look. I had been doing the blonde hair with a Village People mustache. It worked out great for both of us."
When you got to WWE, you were immediately put in a main event program with Randy Savage. What was that like?
"Macho vs. Machismo. The way Vince did TV back then, Curt was announcing Superstars with Vince. So I'm getting all the inside info in the pipeline from Curt. He taught me so much about wrestling. Guys who came through Minneapolis when he was there, like Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty, he got in your head. He would teach you the way he thought business should be done. He was one of the first heels to take big bumps to make the babyfaces look really good. He'd do the whirl-n-twirl on the clotheslines. He learned that from Pat Patterson."
"I'm going to NXT for about a week to work with those guys. I want to teach them what I learned from Pat, and that's if you're going to o this, you might as well be great. Guaranteed money wasn't a thing until I went to WCW, then Vince caved and started giving everyone guaranteed money. At one time, nobody did. Back then it was like 'If I sell for you, how do I know you'll give me a good comeback?' Curt was like 'If you're going over, you're not beating me with something quick. You're making a comeback and beating me with your finish, and I'm not going anywhere until the music stops playing.' If you're putting a guy over, put him over. There was a time when people would kick out at 3 like 'oh you didn't get me.' Forget that, lay there for a 20 count. It's a show, make it great. When you're a villain working with a hot babyface like Macho, put him over. When the fans spend money, you normally leave the audience happy. When you shoot angles on TV, the heels go over when it's free for your audience. When they're paying, you leave them happy. That's how it normally works."
To go from working as The Diamond Studd to working with Randy Savage in the same year, what was that like for you?
"Imagine how I felt. The vignettes, Vince left TV, and they would just have me there to watch. They do that a lot now. They bring the entire NXT roster to the back to just watch. You learn that way. We were in Ottowa and Vince left the TV tapings to personally direct the Razor vignettes."
Was that normal for him?
"No, it was unheard of. He may have directed vignettes before, but he wasn't leaving TV. That was a good signal, and the fact that he was liking them. It was good stuff. I'm going around the loop with Randy, and I'm beating him. That's when Randy didn't do jobs. He wasn't too happy about that. He'd just lost the belt to Flair because I'd caused him to. He was coming off the top and got hit with a chair by Curt. It went on like seven more minutes, but the way it was edited, it ended right after. Vince was furious with Flair and Macho. He sent Bobby Heenan out during the TV taping to bring them out, and screamed at them 'I told you to work the leg!' The story we were going with is that Randy's leg was hurt. I was beating him with a single leg Boston Crab. He was just submitting. Going into Survivor Series, it was supposed to be me and Flair against Macho and Warrior. The way Vince told me, I was going to cripple Macho. I was going to break his leg and he'd move on to broadcasting. Warrior held Vince up for money, and Vince was fed up and called his bluff and brought Curt back. When you have a substitute, you have to feature him, so me and Ric both got PerfectPlexed. They used to write it in pencil, but I guess now they have a delete button."
You said Savage wasn't too happy, right?
"He was doing it, but he wasn't happy about it. Initially he was tapping out. After a few nights, he would come off the top, and I'd beat him in on the countout. He was selling the leg the whole time. I rode with him a couple of times and said to him 'I guess you called the office about the finish.' He said 'Yes, I did.' (laughs). I was cool, I just wanted to know. Imagine me working Macho, I was marking out. Going over him? I was loving life. Going from a guy who was about to leave wrestling to this? That's what I like about working for Vince. Everyone has the bat in their hands. He points the camera at everyone. In WCW, your future was determined by the time you signed the contract. I was the lowest paid guy in the company at $75,000. You're never going to be a guy who makes 250k, because the guys think they have guys they invested 250k in. They don't base it on crowd reaction or workrate or move-set. I always just wanted to work for Vince. I just had to know. Maybe I strike out, maybe I hit a single. But maybe I knock it out the park, but I wanna know.
"I did my first matches as Diamond Stud and got nothing. Then Pat's like 'I love the gimmick, did you sign a contract with those sons of b-----s?' I said 'Yeah Pat, I just drove back from doing it. I don't want to work for them, I wouldn't have called your office every week for a year if I did.' He told me to calm down and tell them New York wanted me in a year."
I wanted to talk about the Resurrection of Jake Roberts film. When you moved in, what was that like?
"I've never been in denial that I had issues. I did 12 inpatient rehabs and several outpatient things. The first 6 or 7 things I went to were all step based things. Go to meetings, call your sponsor. Well, gee, don't drink, never thought of that. How much is that? 40 grand? Okay. It was actually WWE that steered me towards going to a dual diagnosis facility where they offer psych analysis, too. They wanted to treat the root problem, what's fueling the drug and alcohol problem? When I did that, I really gained some traction. So I was at a low point, and they reached out to me. I was like am I going to rehab, or am I going to try something different? I wanted to try something different? I came in and I wasn't keen on being filmed about anything, because I've failed in the past. Dallas said 'no, we'll make it Jake and you.' I told him to keep it about Jake, out of respect to Jake. If I'm in it, I'm in it. We didn't have any idea how this thing was going to end up. For years, I've done interviews and been in character promoting some upcoming wrestling event. Now it's all different to be talking about me, and my part in this movie, and people asking what my message is. I have to come up with little catchphrases on the fly, because I'm not used to talking about my stuff. It's a learning thing. We're going to Chicago, Atlanta, then I'm going to NXT. It's nice to travel when I want to, and not getting handed a stack of tickets."
You couldn't have scripted that any better with you and Jake going into the Hall of Fame.
"That's what's so crazy, because to me it's not a slick Hollywood production, it's like a home movie. You'd never know they filmed Jake going to Cauliflower Alley, that could have been the end of it. Then the WWE thing happened. It got pretty cool then."
When did you see the full documentary?
"I've only seen parts of it. I'm not real proud of the guy I was at the start of it. I usually come in and watch when the happy stuff starts happening."
Make sure to check back next week for the second and final part of the interview, where Hall talks about leaving WWE for WCW, WWE suspending him for an old drug test after he gave notice, working with talent in NXT, almost being a witness for the defense during the WWE steroid trial and more.