MOONEYHAM COLUMN: Scott Hall past the point of no return?
Former pro wrestling star Scott Hall is back in the news and, unfortunately, not in a good way.
It was reported last week that Hall was arrested for domestic abuse after allegedly grabbing his girlfriend's throat in a drunken fit of rage outside his Florida home.
According to a sheriff's report, Hall grabbed the woman, Lisa Howell, around the neck and arm and tried to pull her out of her car as she sat in the driveway of the home. Police who responded to the domestic disturbance were told that Hall had been drinking “for days” and that the two had gotten into an argument.
Police observed several signs of physical injury on Howell, including red marks around her neck, and Hall was placed under arrest for domestic battery. A deputy wrote that the 6-7. 275-pound Hall was so drunk he could barely stand. His arrest required two sets of handcuffs due to his large stature.
The report also noted an “unknown white secretion flowing from both sides of his mouth.”
Hall, who reportedly was so intoxicated he had to be taken to a local hospital to be checked out before police could book him, has denied getting violent.
His attorney, Loredana Nesci, told celebrity news website TMZ that Hall did not choke out his girlfriend even though the woman told authorities that he grabbed her by her throat.
Howell later refused to press charges. Hall's lawyer says police arrested the ex-wrestler against Howell's wishes. “Ms. Howell claims that there was no physical abuse,” said Nesci.
Sadly, the fact that Hall, 53, has made headlines again should come as no surprise to those who have followed the fallen hero's troubled career — and life — in recent years.
The ‘90s pro wrestling icon, whose substance abuse issues have been well documented, has been in rehab numerous times, the most recent being a WWE-sponsored stay earlier this year, and suffers from a number of health ailments that include congestive heart failure.
His deteriorating physical condition led to him having a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in his heart in 2010.
Hall's problems were chronicled last year in a critically acclaimed ESPN documentary.
A statement by his attorney that Hall and his girlfriend have “a peaceful and amicable relationship” drew a strong rebuke from Hall's ex-wife and the mother of his two children.
Dana Hall, to whom Scott was married on two different occasions, says she doesn't buy the “peaceful and amicable” line.
“I know for a fact ... this relationship is not peaceful and amicable, but sick, unhealthy, disturbing, disgusting, unstable, violent and enabling, just to name a few. I completely believe he did this to her, as he has tried to do it to me in the past and to others. It's deplorable.”
Dana Hall says she believes her ex-husband, who suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, has continued to surround himself with enablers.
“It is a sick/codependent/abusive relationship of major proportions that needs to be seriously addressed, not schmoozed over so that the sickness can continue.”
She says she has long since wiped her hands clean of the situation, yet still worries about her two children, one of whom is training to be a pro wrestler.
“I am just praying for an end to all of this insanity someday soon,” she said. “Whatever that takes or means, this family has had enough. My children do not deserve any more embarrassment at the hands of their so-called father. It just needs to stop.”
The Dark Side
The incident was just the latest in a long string of out-of-the-ring physical altercations involving Hall.
Marsha Field, who knew Hall before he got into the wrestling business, claims he also tried to choke her in 1979 during a fit of rage.
Like many others before and after, Field was attracted to Hall's strong, striking features and chiseled physique.
“He was tall, dark and handsome, a waiter at Rosie O'Grady's (nightclub) when I first met him,” she recalls. “We both were alcohol servers at Rosie's.”
Field had just relocated to Orlando with her aunt and uncle after opting to take a job at Disney rather than attending college right away. She left her job as a hostess at Top of the World dinner theatre to take a higher-paying one as a waitress at the popular O'Grady's establishment.
From a fifth-generation family of cattle/citrus/vegetable farmers and herself an admitted country girl who loved horses and tennis, Orlando — and Scott Hall — proved to be an eye-opening experience for Field.
“Orlando was a big step for me. Tennis was the only form of entertainment in my small town where there was not even a movie theater. I knew country boys, ranchers and cowboys, so Scott being a body builder at the time was a whole new experience for me.”
A religious conversion at that same time, she says, also was taking place within her soul. Hall, she says, was her first experience with “demons and forgiveness.”
“I became a Christian somewhere during the time with Scott or just before I met him, and we had to change our lifestyle and not sleep together anymore. That created problems, and we decided to get married and kept setting dates, but God kept intervening.”
The relationship between Field and Hall, however, soon took a disturbingly dark turn.
“Scott had a way of manipulating me ... then I would feel sorry for him and think he would never do it again. He tore up the condo I was leasing by kicking holes in the drywall next to where I was crouched in a ball. As I scooted down the hall he followed and kicked and punched and threw things into the walls. He really wanted to kick me but I was praying,”
Hall was 21 and had just started to train and work out to build his muscular body. The two had made plans to marry, but Field says “a very evil presence” emerged when Hall was drinking, and on one terrifying occasion he tried to choke her to death.
Only divine intervention, she says, saved her that day.
“He put his hands around my neck and with all his strength tried to choke me, but I had just been saved a few weeks before this happened, and when he choked me I cried out, ‘Help me Jesus,' and as strong as Scott is, he could not put any pressure on my neck because the angels of the Lord were protecting my neck and throat.”
Field says Hall was arrested, but the two got back together several weeks later. That, she now admits, was a big mistake.
During a Wednesday night nickel beerfest at O'Grady's, Hall broke a brandy glass full of fruit punch in Field's face, she says. Hall lost his job because of the incident, but Field's losses could have been far greater.
“A fraction of an inch closer and the stem would have cut my jugular vein,” says Field, who spent most of that night in an emergency room and still sports scars on her throat, chin and lips.
“I thank God it did not put my eyesight out because he smashed the glass into my face, and when he saw what happened, he took his bloody hand and rubbed it in my face ... My concern was the glass going into my eyes as he crushed it with his large hands, and in the process he had to have, I believe, 18 stitches.”
Field says Hall later told her that his first inclination was to push her down the stairs. “That would have killed me. It would have broken my neck.”
The fight, she recalls, was over a girl that Field says Hall took in her car and to her bed to have sexual relations with.
“She was the one who took my place at Rosie's when I was let go for not being able to get the Can-Can dance steps down pat. When I saw her I knew what had happened as if it was written out. He was caught and exploded. He was drinking and on steroids at the time.”
More than 30 years have passed since Field last spoke to Hall.
“It was a long road of forgiveness toward Scott because I loved him very much and he hurt me physically and emotionally, so the wounds were deep, but God brought healing in time.”
Scott Hall's name is not an unfamiliar one on the police blotter.
In 1983 Hall shot a man to death, allegedly in self-defense, outside Thee Doll House strip club in Orlando during a fight over a woman. Prosecutors dropped a second-degree murder charge because of a lack of evidence, according to ESPN's E:60 documentary.
Hall was arrested in 1998 for allegedly getting intoxicated and groping a 56-year-old woman outside a hotel in Baton Rouge, La., while wrestling for WCW.
Noted psychiatrist David Reiss says Hall's case appears to be a severe one that is accentuated by serious health issues.
Rehab, at this point, may not be addressing the root of Hall's problems.
“Anyone who has that long of a history and who has cardiac problems, which can cause oxygen depletion, you want to know what their brain functioning is. I've seen that with people who go to rehab and cognitively, five minutes afterward, they don't know what was said to them. Even if they're well-intended, they can't hold on to it.”
Even a minimal amount of drugs, says Reiss, can trigger a quick relapse.
“You don't have to use much to get back into it. The use of anything, even in amounts that might seem benign or would be benign for someone who doesn't have an addiction, is going to trigger relapse. Assuming there are medical complications, he may well have some organic
issues where it doesn't take much to really put him in an altered state. The further you go, and obviously he's a long way down the line, the easier it is to get way out of control.”
Reiss, who will lead a panel discussion on a comprehensive wellness program at this week's Cauliflower Alley Club convention in Las Vegas, says lives and families are often changed forever in such extreme cases.
“This is a very sad case. The best you can hope for is that he stays safe.”
For now, Hall is out of jail, at a local dojo training his 20-year-old son, Cody, to become a pro wrestler.
At 6-9 and 250 pounds, the strapping youngster has all the physical tools. While he has little ring experience, Cody Hall said in an interview last year that wrestling has always been a part of his life.
“Growing up with my dad as a wrestler has given me an extra appreciation for it, and all that it entails, so it has always been in my head as to if I could do it too,” said Hall. “I have yet to have a calling to a certain profession, but if there is one, this would be it. It makes sense to start here. I know I have what it takes, and a whole lot more to bring to the table.”
It was his dad's dream, said Cody, for him to follow in Hall's footsteps.
“He said I could take it even further, and as long as I can avoid his vices, I could have all the success imaginable.”
Point of no return
Scott Hall was one of the highest-paid performers in the wrestling business during the ‘90s when he headlined as Razor Ramon and later as a member of WWE's Kliq (with Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Triple H and Sean Waltman) and WCW's NWO (with Nash and Hulk Hogan).
It was a period when drugs and excess were the norm in the industry, and when his professional and personal life spiraled out of control due to a string of drug-related incidents, the self-proclaimed “Bad Guy” became a problem child and liability that lost favor in the business.
For Hall, the fame and fortune came with a price. For all the success Hall achieved in the ring, there is an ominous asterisk at the bottom of his resume that tells the story of a tragic figure, a self-destructive soul whose real battle has been with his own personal demons.
“He will live and die for wrestling,” Dana Hall said last year.
Hall, who was admitted to a Rhode Island hospital in April 2011 after overdosing on prescription medications, has been open about his dependence on drugs. By his own estimates, he “should have been dead 100 times.” At this point, he admits, there isn't even a glimmer of hope that he can overcome his addiction.
“I tell my kids this, ‘I can't tell you not to drink and do drugs, they are fun. It's fun. They work,'” he said in an interview last year with ESPN. “But what sucks is when you want to quit and you can't, and pretty soon you alienate or you hurt everyone around you. It's a family disease and then you can't keep a promise to anybody. What sucks the most is when you can't even keep a promise to yourself.”
“I want to remember my dad as just a dad, not a wrestler, but the guy who was there when I rode without the training wheels or who waited for me by the bus stop when he was home. As long as I have those memories, that's how he will always be to me in the end,” says son Cody, who has been living in his father's house since January.
Is Scott Hall at the point of no return? Or has he already passed it?
“I believe he is not dead because God has a plan for him,” says Field. “I am still praying and battling for him in the spirit realm, and if the Lord wants me to talk to him, He will make the way.”
“His demons are killing him,” former WCW executive vice president Eric Bischoff said last year of Hall's downfall.
“The only person at this point that can help Scott is Scott,” tweeted longtime friend Kevin Nash. “Those of you that think otherwise are lost to what addiction is.”
- Old School Championship Wrestling is holding an outdoors event April 22 at the Market Street Saloon in North Charleston. The show has an early bell time of 4 p.m. Seating begins at 3 p.m. Adult admission (cash at door) is $10; kids 12 and under $5.
- WWE is bringing a Smackdown event to the North Charleston Coliseum on May 6. Tickets are available at the box office, online at Ticketmaster.com, or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.