#3. Sal E. Graziano | November 11th, 2000
In real life, Scott Hall’s demons that caused him to show up drunk, no-show, or get arrested which led to him becoming persona non-grata in the company before an exit. In his forgotten ECW run, he wrestled three matches, only losing to Sal E. Graziano.
There are a few things ECW’s Sal E. Graziano is remembered for: the henchman of The Full Blooded Italians (FBI), a memorably stiff chairshot from Balls Mahoney, and his large size – at 6’9 and 600lbs.
Although an ECW faithful, Graziano wrestled a limited amount of matches. These were largely few second squashes in which he was beaten by “The Giant Killer” Spike Dudley. In his few matches however, he did mix it up with the likes of The Sandman, John Kronus, Tommy Dreamer, Mikey Whipwreck, The Dudley Boyz, and New Jack, to name just a few.
Strutting out to The Fugees’s ‘Ready Or Not’, Hall debuted in ECW at a live event (he never made it to TV) on November 10th 2000, teaming with Jerry Lynn to defeat Hall’s real-life friend Justin Credible and Rhino. The next night in Poughkeepsie, Hall main evented, defeating Credible in a singles match.
Yet in the opener, Hall lost to the faux Italian, with FBI interference allowing Sal to get a win after hitting a Bonzai Drop.
In an interview with WZWA Network, Graziano revealed Hall specifically wanted to work with him and even planned for Sal to go over. Graziano explains:
Both men seem to have said “sod that for a game of soldiers”, neither again wrestling in ECW after that night.
#2. Hiroshi Tanahashi | September 9th, 2001
By April 2001, WCW and ECW had closed and Hall had started a brief run in New Japan Pro Wrestling. After teaming with the likes of Scott Norton and Masahiro Chono in TEAM2000, Hall embarked on some solo outings.
On September 9th, 2001 at the Togane Arena, Hall faced off against a young 23-year-old rookie who Hall put over believing him to have a strong future. That youngster? Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Hall mopped the ring with Tanahashi for about three minutes. Hall hit his Razor’s Edge before being overcome by confidence. The ex-Diamond Studd then grabbed a microphone to call out Keiji Mutoh (The Great Muta), whilst Hiroshi laid motionless behind him. This excessive exuberance cost him as Tanahashi then hooked in a deep school boy pin and got the then-biggest win of his career. Hall was a heavyweight, giving Tanahash his first major win outside the cruiserweight scene which he was then part of.
Hall’s career was not affected, with Scott going on to challenge for perhaps the most prestigious Japanese title, the Triple Crowd championship. He challenged for the belt but lost to Mutoh.
Tanahashi went on to become a record-setting eight-time IWGP Heavyweight champion, on top of 13 other titles in NJPW, various G1 Climax wins, and a smorgasboard of other accomplishment which have arguably and statistically made him the most successful and decorated wrestler in the history of New Japan.
“The Ace Of The Universe” would show his appreciation of the impact the nWo member had on his career. He commented: “The match with Mr. Hall had a great influence on my life as a wrestler and my way of thinking about professional wrestling. I think Mr. Hall taught me the answer to the question, ‘What is a true professional?’…I will hold on to and cherish that memory.”