How am I doing? Better than you, chico.
Yesterday, we lost one of the true greats. Scott Hall also known as Razor Ramon, aged 63, was taken off of life support and ultimately succumbed to complications from a heart attack he suffered over the weekend. I can’t even lie – I didn’t expect it to have the impact that it had.
When I look back, though, it makes sense. It has always hit me hard when pro wrestlers pass away. When Eddie Guerrero died I cried for 3 straight days.
But seeing all the love and outpouring of attention Scott Hall received unlocked a core memory in me and one I was happy to live in, for a moment.
When I was around 5 years old, my father left my home, never to return. It would be an understatement to say that our relationship has been complicated ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I love my father, but he and I don’t have a lot in common, and we don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things.
But when it came to fandom, dad and I always found common ground in pro wrestling.
One time when I was sick, my dad came into my house with a plastic bag, full to the brim of action figures of different wrestlers. It was the coolest thing EVER. This bag had everyone – the absolutely despicable Roddy Piper, the over the top and electric “Macho Man” Randy Savage, the unfailingly good Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
But none of them were as charismatic, as larger than life, as effortlessly cool as “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon.
Between the ladder matches with Shawn Michaels and his scrambles with the 1-2-3 Kid, there was never a dull moment. He showed a kid in the 90s that a giant could fly.
He also showed me that men can, and should, feel joy.
It was obvious that whenever Razor Ramon was out in front of a crowd, he was having the time of his life. His ability to build a relationship with an audience and have them on the edge of their seats, whether as the villain or the hero, was second to none. And no matter what he was doing, he always had that smile.
As a Black man, especially 30 years ago, allowing that level of vulnerability was something totally foreign to my father. It still is, if I’m honest. But the vignettes? The fits? The gold chain? Razor Ramon was an icon of male joy and flamboyance.
I don’t know what that meant for a Black, queer boy in a hypermasculine world. I don’t know what it meant to see the masculine world of pro wrestling mixed with the flamboyance of drag and cultures I’d never experienced before through the lens of Adrian Adonis, Goldust, or Rico.
I didn’t know what it meant to see men in pain, who were often drowning themselves, feel that one moment in the sun. I didn’t know a lot of things then, and maybe I was better for it. Maybe I was better for not looking those demons in the eye right then or even knowing they were there at all. Maybe I wanted to see these people as they could be, not as they were.
But I knew that the world could be colorful and seeing my father’s eyes open in the same way is something that will live in me forever.
Is that All Immortality is?
I don’t know what it takes to live forever. Goodness knows I wish I did, so I could always be there for my baby or see all the world has to offer. But what I do know is this: an Al Pacino impersonator in the 90s created a thread that connected me to a father I was very much in danger of losing, and I’ll always remember and be thankful. Ladders, the edge, and the shock of a show in the Mall of America in 1996 lives rent-free in places I can’t name but know are inside of me.
I didn’t know who he was, and I truly didn’t know why he was there. But I knew for sure I’d stay to find out.
And when I think really hard about it, as I lie awake at night contemplating my own grief – those I’ve lost, both people and the worlds that will never be in their absence – I think that it’s true. It has to be true. Otherwise, I have no idea what to do with all these timelines full of all these things I and countless others did not become.
Maybe immortality is just everyone you’ve ever touched remembering you at the same time.
It’s surviving where someone else couldn’t and giving them form because you loved them once.
I don’t love Scott Hall the way I love my child. Or my nieces and nephews, none of whom are even wrestling fans. Or like my partner or best friend or anything like that. But I did love the man. I loved him the way I love someone who went through it and never let it show for the sake of someone else’s smile. Or maybe it’s in the way that I love someone who hit rock bottom then climbed their way out. In the way that I love someone who went through things I didn’t want to get into but that we know are there. Or maybe it’s in the way I love myself. But I know I did love him.
I still do. Present tense. And because of that, he’ll live forever. It’s like he said himself:
Bad times don’t last. But bad guys do.
Cover Image via WWE