GALESVILLE — Sean Waltman woke up Friday morning in Los Angeles, while Scott Hall began his Friday in Atlanta.
Waltman was able to take a more direct route, but Hall eventually joined his longtime friend under a tent in Galesville that same night with more than 200 professional wrestling fans wanting autographs, photos and maybe just a minute to share stories with the WWE Hall of Famers.
The gathering was for the third annual Gravediggers Summer Slam-a-Thon, and attendees were treated to an extended RCCW show while Hall — a star in every major promotion in the country — flew from Atlanta to Detroit to Minneapolis to La Crosse for every one to hear his familiar “Hey, yo” greeting in the ring at the end of the night.
While Waltman was at Champions Riverside Resort before the show to meet fans, Hall’s travel progress was being announced periodically to the crowd, which was thrilled that he battled through the delays that threatened to doom his trip.
Waltman greeted fans early with former football player and wrestler Steve McMichael and former Green Bay Packers stars Gilbert Brown and Santana Dotson. Hall closed out the night by greeting them after Chris Steel defeated Chase McCoy in the main event.
“For me, it’s just a blast to come out and say hi to the fans in a different role now, just signing autographs and taking pictures,” said Hall, a top performer in the AWA, WWF, WCW, WWE and TNA during his career. “I still love it. I still love making towns.
“I traveled 12 hours today just to get here.”
And Hall and Waltman were all smiles as they embraced their current roles in careers that started like the performers in the ring under that tent.
Hall and Waltman became good enough to perform in front of tens of thousands in the most revered venues the world has to offer. They were front and center as members of WCW’s nWo faction during the height of the Monday night wrestling wars that exploded in the mid 1990s and were seen on television weekly by millions.
They made their marks by working for Vince McMahon’s WWF before their WCW run and added to their legacies by going back to what is now McMahon’s WWE after that.
And far away from the lights and fame, here they were with a grassroots crowd that had no specific demographic and was more than happy to enjoy the show. Chairs were filled by kids and seniors, men and women. They high-fived the baby faces and showered the heels with boos.
They all worked together to do their part in the performance.
Crowd reaction is important in professional wrestling, and Hall and Waltman always delivered in getting one. They could get a crowd behind them just as easily as they could convince it that they needed their butts kicked. That’s one thing Waltman, 47, wants to concentrate on when he begins a new job of working with younger wrestlers at the WWE Performance Center.
“I was always pretty good at knowing what the people wanted to see, what they would react to and how they’d react to it,” said Waltman, who left the WCW to join up with the popular D-Generation X stable. “A lot of that isn’t just cool moves. It’s the things you do between them that are things that really count.
“I’m pretty good at teaching that kind of stuff.”
There wasn’t much the 6-foot-7 Hall couldn’t do in the ring, either. He could hold a crowd of any size in the palm of his hand during interviews and have good matches with opponents of all sizes. He’d also like the same chance Waltman is getting to be a teacher of the craft.
“I’d like a full-time gig at NXT,” Hall, 60, said in reference to a division of younger talent under the larger umbrella of WWE. “I’d like to work with the big guys. It’s a different skill set.
“... One thing you have to break these big guys of is them wanting to show that they can move (through more acrobatic moves). A lot of them can, but it doesn’t look good, and no one wants to see it.”
In other words, power is power, and those with large frames should use it.
Working behind the scenes will be different than working in front of the camera, but both seem ready for the challenge. Waltman said explaining the rush that accompanies a big “pop” from the crowd is difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it.
“We miss that feeling because it’s an incredible thing,” Waltman said. “It’s addictive. A lot of us refer to it as the best drug in the world.”
They still get chances like Friday night to experience that feeling, although a bigger scale is always welcomed. Both were recently back on television as part of RAW Reunion show last month.
Hall said the choice to be at the show wasn’t difficult.
“Anytime they want to point those RAW cameras at me, I’m down,” he said with a smile. “I’ll take that global exposure.
“Hang out with my buds, get paid and get a little worldwide television exposure? I’m available.”