MR. TITO: Enjoy Your Favorite Pro Wrestlers Today… They May Be Gone Tomorrow (Updated for Scott Hall)
3/14/2022 UPDATE: One of the wrestling greats and legends has passed away, Scott Hall or “Razor Ramon”, died at the age of 63 following multiple heart attacks after a blood clot was dislodged following hip surgery that put him on life support. What a shame… For the most part of the past 10 years, Scott Hall was cleaned up and able to make appearances again along with greeting many fans at fan fests.
I wrote the below column for NoDQ.com following the excitement that I had attending a wrestling legend fanfest on Saturday, March 12th in Chillicothe, OH. I posted it during the morning of Sunday, March 13th and I had yet to hear about Scott Hall’s condition. After I read the news when checking upon comments on my column, the below’s column really rings true! Holy cow… Better yet, at this Chillicothe, OH fanfest, Scott’s best friend Kevin Nash was actually there to sign autographs and take photos with fans. Then, just a few hours later, Nash is probably hearing news that his best friend is fighting for his life.
I LOVED Scott Hall as a wrestling talent and larger than life personality. He was just so damn cool and smooth… He really took that Scarface gimmick to the limits while being a great performer in the ring. When he returned to WCW during 1996, he took his wrestling career to a whole new level. If you go back to his first segment in WCW during 1996 when he interrupts that midcard match and warns that the NWO is coming, it is bone chilling how well done that was to begin the New World Order storyline. It was handled perfectly and then weeks later, Scott’s buddy Kevin Nash debuts… Then, they destroyed Eric Bischoff at Great American Bash 96 through a table!!! Then, the 3rd man is revealed to be Hulk Hogan and it ignited the pro wrestling world on fire!! Hall and Nash made wrestling COOL again.
It’s sad that Scott Hall had some issues on the road, but back then, excesses where everywhere and wrestlers were worked much harder than they are now. I’m not excusing it, but there were many around Hall doing the same thing he was. With Hall, he was a tough guy and his body could somehow handle the wrestling business on top of what he was putting into it. Hall made his choices and yet he was still able to live to 63 to tell about it. I guarantee you that many younger wrestlers have learned from Hall’s mistakes and that probably saved a few lives.
But what a talent… He was EVERYTHING that you’d want in a wrestler. Great look, great charimsa, awesome mic skills, and excellent in-ring ability. Best punches in the business, period. And those taunts… The toothpick!
He’s one that you’ll never forget… Scott Hall is one of those wrestlers where the mold was shattered after he was made. He was unique and being unique is what’s lost with today’s wrestlers. Hall was larger than life and had a glowing personality that always made you tune in. He was such an effective character that the WWE’s lawyers argued that WCW stole intellectual property from them and the result of the lawsuit allowed for the WWE to buy WCW in March of 2001 for less than $4 million!
Rest in Peace, Scott. Outside the ring, your life could be tough at times. Inside the ring, however, you entertained billions of people and we all love you for it. THANK YOU for everything that you’ve given us and we’ll never forget…
And now that you’ve read that, check out my 3/13/22 column that reviews the fanfest that I attended on Saturday… The news about Scott’s passing will really HIT HARD now after you read what is below.
3/13/2022 Column entitled “Enjoy Your Favorite Pro Wrestlers Today… They May Be Gone Tomorrow”
Before you go “ZOMG, Tito has come out of retirement! I told you he could come back!”… Please hear me out. This column is intended to be a special message to Pro Wrestling fans and in particular their appreciation of the past wrestling legends that they idolized and worshipped when they were younger.
Yesterday, I had the privilege to attend a wrestling fanfest attached to an independent show at Chillicothe, OH within the Unioto High School. The show was called “Big Time Wrestling” with a live wrestling event at 6:30pm but from 1-6pm, they had a legitimate wrestling convention happening where you could meet many great wrestling legends. Here are the wrestlers that I saw:
Greg “the Hammer” Valentine
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
The Fantastics (Bobby & Jackie Fulton)
“Wildfire” Tommy Rich
New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg)
Originally, this show was set to happen during March 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19 running wild. The original intent of the show was as a fundraiser for a local charity that was providing transportation for Southern Ohio cancer patients to hospitals in Columbus, OH for care. Bless his heart, as Bobby Fulton had throat cancer and endured throat surgery and treatments to get better. He wanted to create opportunities for others in his situation to obtain the necessary treatment to travel to Columbus.
The sad part about that March 2020 show was that it featured Animal, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, and I believe a few others that I’m not remembering.
And that’s the point that I want to bring up to wrestling fans with this one-time column.
In the past, my Dad used to provide wisdom about “respecting your elders”. He’d often bring up Totem Poles, which Native American tribes would use to display family bloodlines and usually the most elder members were at the very top of the poles and the youngest members were at the bottom. My Dad spoke about this regarding my Grandparents who were still alive and then later just before I got married, he gave the same Totem Pole speech to me regarding my soon-to-be In-Laws.
Thinking back to my past, when I was a teenager who just got my license, I was at a family event and I quietly left it to go on a date at the time. My Dad caught me doing this and he let me have it… “NEVER leave family without saying goodbye”, he told me. “For your Grandparents especially, you never know if it will be your last time seeing them. Once they are gone, they are gone for good!”. From that day forward, I definitely learned my lesson and grew as a human being. I made up for it by obviously saying “goodbye” to everyone before leaving a family event, but spending more time with them. I got closer to my Grandparents and I’m quite happy I was set straight by my Dad. Once family members pass way, it is permanent and they will never come back. Almost 6 years ago, I lost my Dad and I’d give anything just to have another moment with him.
Let’s consider this in a wrestling context…
Many of you reading this column LOVE Pro Wrestling and you’ve been fans for DECADES now. These pro wrestlers are putting their bodies on the line while traveling for MILES to entertain you. Many of them have had to work through injuries and have also sacrificed spending time with their family to remain employed as a wrestler. They gave everything they had to you and you’re grateful for the many years of entertainment that they’ve provided you. IF YOU GET A CHANCE, attend these wrestling conventions or fanfests. If a favorite wrestler of yours appears at a Comic-Con, attend that too. Put some extra money into their pockets, because life on the road was tough, they never had health insurance, and they might need some positivity in their lives by seeing longtime fans.
By having the March 2020 version of this show postponed, thanks to COVID, I’ll never get another chance to see the Midnight Express in full without “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton. I’ll never get a chance to tell Animal how awesome the Road Warriors were. Both Hawk and Animal are gone for good and I can never tell them how much I loved watching them as a team. Hence on Saturday, when I had the opportunity to meet BOTH Steiner Brothers, I went after it. Scott Steiner’s autograph and photo were part of our ticket but Rick Steiner wasn’t, so to complete my autographed photo of them, I had to pay $40. Oh well, please take my money because life is tough and you never know when you’ll get the opportunity to see both Scott and Rick together at another local fanfest.
This fanfest on March 12th, 2022 in Chillicothe, OH was AWESOME. Huge turnout to see these great wrestling legends and it warmed my heart to see long lines to get photos or signed content from these stars.
First guy I met, through waiting in a very long line, was Kevin Nash. I was a HUGE New World Order fan, though I mostly liked Nash’s Diesel work especially as a heel. And he was super nice… Considering his age and years in the business, while also considering that his prior years in basketball hurt his knees to begin with, Nash looked great. He’s aging quite well and on top of that, he’s so articulate and smart. Just a super awesome guy to speak to and it makes me wonder HOW neither the WWE or AEW has that guy backstage to help with their Creative process. Nash gets a bad wrap for what happened during late 1998 and early 1999, but he was part of a committee who could get overruled by whatever Hulk Hogan wanted. I was grateful to thank Kevin for his many years of making WCW watchable again during 1996-1998.
I was able to see 3 important members of the Four Horsemen next with Tully Blanchard and JJ Dillon together at one booth while Barry Windham was at another booth. JJ and Tully had great senses of humor and I was able to perk up Tully by asking about his daughter, Tessa Blanchard, was doing. Tully said she was really enjoying working for the Women’s promotion that she joined and they were set to record more tapings for the future. I could tell that Tully was proud to talk about her and as a parent myself, I appreciated that. For whatever reason, Barry Windham was on the other side of the arena and was sharing a booth with Sharkboy. There just wasn’t a line waiting to get autographs and photos for this guy, and that shocked me… Windham was an amazing wrestler and just had bad luck in the business after 1988. I told Barry up and down how much I appreciated his work and how he was one of my favorite NWA stars back in the late 1980s.
Next up was Buff Bagwell… The thing I liked about Buff is that he badly wanted to talk to any fan that stepped up to his booth. If you got a photo with Buff, you’d get at least 5-10 minutes of hearing him speak about his recent life or past wrestling stories. Post wrestling life has been tough for Buff and I could tell he was excited for any fans who wanted an autograph or picture. He stood up for us and he was kind of struggling, as he some kind of leg injury. That’s a shame, as wrestling injuries don’t go away and make it tough when you get older. I sincerely hope that Buff Bagwell realizes how much he is loved by longtime WCW fans and just continues to attend these fanfests to hear that love.
Loved seeing the Steiner Bros. Even if he is older, Scott Steiner still looks like a badass! He was very nice to us an many other fans that interacted with him. I liked seeing Rick Steiner, as he was a lot thinner and you could tell that he was firmly away from the business. Next to Rick was Ron Simmons. I LOVE me some Ron Simmons. He’s truly one of the more inspirational stories in wrestling. Former football player who not only tried pro wrestling, but succeeded quite well. When the price of $60 was told to me for a photo op, I was like “take my money”. First black NWA champion, a guy who took a ridiculous gladiator gimmick in the WWE and still got over, Nation of Domination was awesome, Acolytes/APA was awesome, and then later, he got PAID by just saying one phrase: “DAMN!”. What a stud… Super nice guy and one of my personal favorites.
Here’s a regret… While waiting in line, I kept thinking I’ll get Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat‘s autograph later… I kept thinking that as I was waiting in line for Nash, the Steiners, and Kurt Angle. Kurt Angle had the longest line, as we waited almost an hour (he was running out of photos, too!). After we obtained our pictures and autographs from Angle, we sent back to Ricky Steamboat’s booth and he was already gone! I at least got to see him up close, but damn, I would have loved to get a photo with him. I LOVED his work with Savage and Ric Flair. Missed opportunity… Getting back to Angle, he was nice to his fans but I believe he was overwhelmed with the long lines waiting to see him. He probably signed a few thousand autographs that day. Clearly the “main event” of that fanfest.
Others that were there were Enzo Amore, who is looking great (come on WWE or AEW, give him a shot), Greg “the Hammer” Valentine, who looks good for his age, and the New Age Outlaws created a lot of energy at the fanfest when they arrived.
Great atmosphere, many wrestling fans in attendance, and it gave me a chance to say “THANK YOU” to many wrestlers that I adored to their face. I cherished having real conversations with some of these absolute legends.
What I’m trying to tell you, folks, is that if you get the chance, do what I just did on Saturday. Attend these wrestling fanfests and warm the hearts of these wrestlers who gave up their bodies and their lives to entertain you. For many of these wrestlers, these fanfests have become a primary source of income as well. Support them… It’s through their efforts that wrestling became very popular during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s that enables many wrestlers of today to earn a much better living.
In the immortal words of the 1980s rock band Cinderella, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”.
This not only goes for your favorite Pro Wrestlers, but your Family and Friends too. Life is too damn short and you never one. Once someone is gone, it’s permanent.
Don’t EVER waste an opportunity to say “thank you” to those who you appreciate.
As for me, I’m good… I’ve found other activities and hobbies to get my “Tito fix” and I have a personal project about to blossom very soon in the future.
With due to respect to the current happenings in the wrestling business, I’m just not watching any of it at the moment. Royal Rumble 2022 was the only bit of wrestling that I’ve seen this year and I really don’t want to watch anything other than that. I’ve seen Brock vs. Roman many times now and nothing else on the Wrestlemania card impresses me. Now, if they can somehow get Steve Austin on that show, I may reconsider. I may subscribe just to see Undertaker‘s Hall of Fame speech, though. Love that guy. Freakin’ legend!
I’m good, folks… I had a GREAT experience yesterday meeting with wrestling legends and I wanted to just impart wisdom to the many Pro Wrestling fans here on the NoDQ.
Thank you for the many, many years of reading my columns. Back to the retirement home, I go!
Remember… Don’t squander opportunities to say “thank you” or how much you appreciate a favorite entertainer, hero, family member, or friend. Just as I am doing right now by thanking all of you for reading my columns for years. I love you, guys.