Scott Hall has been one of the most unfortunate and pathetic cases in the last decade. Alcoholism, drug abuse, and inability to get out of an environment that enabled him his vices have pushed him near death so many times that we as fans have lost count.
Years of substance abuse haven’t exactly left Hall with a nest egg, and working in wrestling all your life leaves you with worse benefits than if you were a Starbucks barista. So he’s doing what Roberts did when he needed his surgery. He started a Indiegogo fan-donation driven campaign in order to pay for his surgery. He’s taken scrutiny for even starting the campaign, which has been criticized as tantamount to panhandling. Personally, I disagree with the campaign, but not because Hall is relying on fans to pay for his surgery. I think donating to help a guy get healthy is a way better endeavor than the people who buy stuff for wrestlers they like off their Amazon wishlists.
I honestly think this is an awful development because Vince McMahon should pay for the surgery.
I caught a bit of flak for this opinion. I was told that McMahon doesn’t owe Hall anything. In the legal sense, I guess you could say that view is correct. McMahon is not culpable for anything that has happened to Hall now. In fact, one could say he’s “done enough” for Hall by paying for rehab after rehab. And far be it from me to say what a man should do with his money. McMahon earned that money through his own vision, drive, and determination!
Except that last sentence really is a crock of bull.
Professional wrestling cannot succeed without wrestlers. No one promoter can do a show without talent, let alone carry on a business for the last thirty years like Vince has without wrestlers. He couldn’t have attained the successes he has without guys like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Mick Foley, Dave Batista, Randy Orton, John Cena, and CM Punk, among others. It’s lost on so many people when discussing businessmen and women in this country that they are the ones who deserve all the money and credit because they started the companies, but almost none of them could get where they get without labor. And yet, in businesses across America, the cabal of owners, CEOs, and corporations try to depress labor costs and deny the fact they could get where they’ve gotten without labor.
It’s especially awful in wrestling because of the tolls these performers put on their bodies. In addition, wrestlers can’t easily get health insurance because their line of work is so high risk, so it’s not a surprise that the rate of attrition has gotten out of control with the escalation in physicality. In a way, McMahon, who has become a billionaire off WWE, may not be legally bound to care for all his former employees, but I feel like there’s a moral obligation that he has to help take care of his former wrestlers. To his credit, he has paid for rehabilitation for countless wrestlers, funeral costs for those who died in destitute conditions, and other acts of charity throughout the years. He has shown an uncharacteristic magnanimity of what is normally attributed to his brash, arch-conservative public image.
It sounds awfully demanding of me to want more out of him, but the harsh reality is that the attrition on wrestler’s bodies is due to McMahon’s own insanity. He’s gone far, but it’s not far enough if Hall is relying on the kindness of Page to get his yoga program for free and is so far in the hole that he can’t afford surgery. It’s fair to assume that a life of being in wrestling, in locker rooms where there was not even a paper tiger Wellness Policy to keep the façade of being on the straight and narrow, led him to his case.
The counterargument is that Hall has to bear the brunt of some personal responsibility as well. I can dig that a lot, but at the same time, the only thing that could have prevented him from that life was likely not working as a wrestler. Sure, he could have picked a different career path, but that statement, while true on the surface, shows a complete lack of empathy for someone who actually followed his heart and did the job that was presumably a dream of his. Plus, by not having a Wellness Policy and by skirting workplace safety issues by incorrectly labeling his employees as independent contractors, McMahon didn’t necessarily provide the best working environment for him.
Furthermore, McMahon has put his earnings under even more scrutiny by offering them up to fund bids for public office. Linda McMahon’s Senate campaigns were mostly self-funded to the tune of $100 million. When you spend that kind of scratch using money earned from wrestling fans such as you and me, you had better believe you open yourself up to criticism from us, since we, the WWE Universe, are basically WWE’s personal Super PAC. As a de facto investor in the McMahon campaign, I myself would feel a lot better if they didn’t spend the money I directly give them through merch and pay-per-views or indirectly through advertising monies earned from watching RAW and Smackdown on such a spurious venture that wouldn’t even benefit me as a resident of somewhere other than the state of Connecticut. I know that since it’s money earned from a business, I don’t have a legal right here other than “not buying WWE stuff” (and honestly, why should guys like Bryan Danielson and Phil Brooks suffer because of the sins of their boss?), but man, I’m not interested in a legal code that is set up to protect corporations at the expense of real people.
And since McMahon wants to have presence in Washington to have a say in how they want to handle my money, well, it’s only fair that I have at least an opinion on how he handles his.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.