Famed pro wrestlers Scott Hall, Rikishi teaching sons art of professional wrestling

JOPPA, Md. - As a professional wrestler, Scott Hall had a career that was unparalleled compared to most.

In the 1990s, Hall performed in front of sold out crowds across the world, helped usher in record TV ratings wrestling has yet to duplicate and made millions of dollars in the process.

But, it will be in front of a few hundred fans later this month in Joppa that will represent a moment Hall will be as excited about as being in the main event at WrestleMania in Madison Square Garden. On Nov. 23 at Joppa Market Place, Hall will be in the corner of his son, Cody, as he wrestles in part of the main event of the latest card being promoted by Maryland Championship Wrestling.

 "Cody approached me a little over a year ago and asked me when I was going to teach him how to be a professional wrestler," said Hall, 55, who grew up in St. Mary's County. "The experience has been wonderful for me and really helped me fall in love with wrestling again."

Road to redemption

Hall, who gained some of his greatest level of fame as part of the New World Order, said getting to train and travel with his son has been a positive experience as he works to reverse past transgressions in his life. Hall, who worked for both WWE and WCW in his career, has battled with substance abuse which strained the relationship with his family. He has been to rehab on about a dozen occasions, many trips paid for by WWE directly.

Over the last year, Hall has worked on staying clean and making sure Cody receives the proper training as he develops his craft. This means wrestling in small towns in front of small crowds for independent promotions like MCW.

"All I wanted to be in life was a big-time pro wrestler, and I got to accomplish that goal," Hall said. "But along the way I made a lot of mistakes that impacted my family. Now I'm getting a chance to make up for lost times when I was on the road so much. We're reconnecting during this experience, and it has given me a purpose and a drive to see Cody becomes a success.

"His mom has concerns that Cody will face the same difficulties that I faced, but I'm not sure those choices were the fault of pro wrestling. I may have made similar choices had I been a car salesman."

Hall gives credit to long-time friend and fellow former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page for aiding him in his recovery. A little over a year ago, Hall moved in with Page where he worked on his sobriety and developed a healthy lifestyle while utilizing Page's DDPYoga program.

Coincidentally, Hall said this was the second time Page had helped him as he tried to take care of his son. Back in 1991 Page was in WCW while Hall – married with his wife pregnant with Cody – returned from touring Europe, and unsure of which turn his career would take.

"Thanks to Dallas, I got the job and opportunity I needed," Hall said. "It was in WCW that I was given the Diamond Studd gimmick, which laid the foundation for my run as Razor Ramon in WWE. Now, I've come full circle and Dallas was there to help me be there for my family again."

Family business

Solofa Fatu Jr. can relate with Hall.

Fatu, known to many wrestling fans as Rikishi, beams with pride as he watches his twin sons each week on WWE television. Wrestling as Jimmy and Jey Uso, Fatu's sons are the latest generation of the famed Samoan family to wrestle at the highest level.

"It's been great seeing the reaction my sons have received," said Fatu, 48, who will be wrestling on the Nov. 23 MCW card, too. "They have had some doors open for them because of their family, but it was up to them to prove themselves and show they had what it takes to wrestle in the WWE."

Like Hall, Fatu has wrestled all over the world, beginning in 1985 in Canada, followed by stints in the World Class territory in Texas and Puerto Rico before reaching the national stage with WCW and WWE.

Fatu returned to the WWE earlier this year leading up to the 1000 th episode of the company's flagship TV program, Raw. After winning his match, Fatu prepared for his post-match dance routine which had entertained millions of fans through the years.

However, right before he began, the arena lights went out momentarily. When they came back on, his sons were standing in the ring with him.

"That was an emotional night," Fatu said. "If you watch the footage, my hat is tilted to the side and I'm tearing up. That was an amazing night for me and my family."

Fatu said he still wrestles about two independent cards a month, but spends most of his time now running his Knok X Pro Academy wrestling school in California. This, he said, allows him to keep a closer eye on the Usos' careers and spend time with his 6-year-old son.

"I missed a lot being on the road," Fatu said. "I'm enjoying being at home much more now and getting a second chance with my kids. Plus, I'm enjoying teaching the next generation the proper way of performing the great art that is professional wrestling.

"There are a lot of schools out there that just set up a ring and

take people's money. It's real easy to learn bad habits and that's when people get hurt. I feel an obligation to give back to something that has given me so much."

Giving back

It's that desire to give back that motivates Fatu to get into the ring with local wrestlers seeking their big break in the business.

"I love independent wrestling," Fatu said. "I do my homework and make sure I understand who I'm working with. I know it can be intimidating working with someone who's been in the business at the highest levels. I work to critique their matches and do what I can to help them reach their full potential."

Hall and Fatu both said they have fond memories of working in Baltimore and can't wait to interact with the local fans. Both wrestlers also fondly recall nights after shows at the Baltimore Arena when they and many other big names, including Kevin Nash, Ric Flair, Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna would grab a bite to eat in Little Italy.

"Baltimore has always been good to me," Hall said. "The fans are knowledgeable and enthusiastic and I hope they treat Cody as well as they've treated me, because I believe he has everything it takes to make it in this business."

MCW owner Dan McDevitt said when he puts together a card, he tries to bring in at least a few "name" wrestlers to help attract additional fans.

But, just as important, McDevitt said he wants to ensure his wrestlers get the opportunity to work with those that are established so they can learn and improve their chances of reaching the top levels of the profession.

"Many fans initially come out to a card and might not necessarily believe they are watching guys that can reach the WWE," McDevitt said. "However, they then see our guys hanging with wrestlers like Rikishi and realize that they are pretty good and our cards provide some of the best independent professional wrestling around."

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MCW's Aggravated Assault card will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Joppa Marketplace, located at 1000 Joppa Farm Road in Joppa. For ticket information, call 410-541-6291 or visit www.marylandwrestling.com .

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