MITCHELL'S TAKE MITCHELL: ESPN was had... why the E:60 story made me angry and what ESPN missed
Oct 27, 2011 - 2:16:58 PM
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I watched the Scott Hall feature on ESPN’s E-60 documentary last week with the same emotions most viewers had.
There was the sadness at the physical and mental descent of a top wrestler who was once known as one of the cannier operators in the game. It’s one thing to hear the stories, to get briefly blown off by him a year or so ago (“Tell Madden to eat a doughnut.” – he seemed bloated, but nothing like he did on ESPN), see the camera-phone footage, or watch his half-assed YouTube show, it’s quite another to clearly see Hall stumbling his way through his public appearances.
Mostly, though, there’s the sadness of knowing that this is it, that one of the things that’s killing Scott Hall inch by inch is that he knows he’s not getting better, that there’s nothing he can do about the damage he’s done to himself and to the people who care about him. That all he seemed to have to pass on to his son was to send him down the same career path was sad, too.
Which brings me to the stronger emotion I felt watching E-60: Anger.
Yeah, I know, who didn’t feel some anger watching that asshole indy promoter send a messed-up Bad Guy through the curtain to slur his way through the motions of some imitation of some NWO skit he kind-of did fifteen years ago? Watching this boy-promoter self-righteously pretend he didn’t know exactly what he was getting when he hired Scott Hall in 2011, a drug-addled broken-down bad gamble, was a little much. Seeing this clown claim all the fans he had lured to his show deserved to see what they paid for, and the fiasco was all on poor addled Hall, might have given movie fans a flashback to that Mickey Rourke movie from a few years back, but it just reminded me why most of this types get what they have coming.
I do wonder how Justin Credible found the integrity to go on national television to express his embarrassment about what happened that night, but not integrity to object or walk away when it was happening.
I imagine it had something to do with a payoff.
That wasn’t what really made me furious, though. What triggered my anger was that Eric Bischoff might have earned himself a landing place after his time in TNA comes to its inevitable end when the E-60 producers bought his line about “Wrestling is not killing Scott Hall. Scott Hall is killing Scott Hall. Scott Hall destroyed Scott Hall.”
I’m sure Bischoff said the same thing about Curt Hennig.
And Louie Spicoli. And Bobby Duncum. And Johnny Grunge. And Road Warrior Hawk. And Rick Rude. And Mike Awesome. And Bam Bam Bigelow. And Brian Adams. And Jerry Tuit.
E-60 Producer Shaun Assael wrote a damn book about pro wrestlers, another book about steroids, and he still fell for “the only addiction today’s wrestlers have is for video games” con, and that everything is fine in pro wrestling because WWE runs their own drug testing program. Apparently, Assael and the rest of ESPN missed that a modern-era WWE wrestler, Tyson Tomko, was arrested just days before broadcast due to his drug addiction, that the second-most popular wrestler of the last five years, Jeff Hardy, just got out of jail on felony drug charges, and his brother Matt, another long-time current star, is in drug rehab in order to avoid a million dollar bond.
They clearly missed (and how the hell did Assael miss this?) that all that heart damage Hall takes all that medication for might have something to do with all those steroids he took over the years and all those pain pills he swallowed—drugs he took to survive in pro wrestling.
You don’t suppose taking a beating in the ring night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year on pro wrestling’s infamous schedule, without systematic time to rest and recuperate had anything to do with it, like it did with the dozens of dozens of wrestling deaths over the years? You don’t suppose any of those video-game playing sports entertainers use pain medication to get through their matches today, do you?
Scott Hall may have destroyed himself anyway, but pro wrestling accelerated the process, and not just because of the party on the road either.
My understanding is that E-60 producers now have a pretty good idea they’ve been had, and you might think that would mitigate my anger.
It might have, if ESPN had bothered to put together a follow-up piece. That’s not going to happen. ESPN is at its best when it serves the interest of its sports-entertainment properties, including the ones it might acquire in the future.
Bruce Mitchell of Greensboro, N.C. has been a PWTorch columnist since September 1990. He's widely regarded as pro wrestling's best columnist for two-plus decades. A huge selection of his long-form feature articles are available in the Bruce Mitchell Library at the PWTorch VIP website. He also hosts the PWTorch Livecast on Monday nights and records the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with PWTorch editor Wade Keller for two hours every week exclusively available to PWTorch VIP members. Columns such as this are published every week in the PWTorch Newsletter, and on occasion here on the free site and app for PWTorch.
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