Hall Of Famer
George Scott, who wrestling extensively in the Carolinas before becoming the booker for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, the the WWF, the early era of WCW and World Class Championship Wrestling passed away yesterday. He was 85 at the time of his passing.
Although born in Scotland, Scott grew in Ontario, Canada and began training for the business in his late teens. Local territory stars Mike and Ben Sharpe were neighbors and that became Scott's in into the business, making his professional debut at the age of just 17.
Scott was an up and coming babyface working in several territories in the United States and Canada early in his career until suffering several herniated discs during a bout with Buddy Rogers, often credited to a stiff kick Rogers gave him.
Scott was told surgery was the easiest option but it would have likely ended his career, so he chose not to do the surgery, putting him out of the ring for a long period of time.
Scott would eventually return to the ring and became a top draw for Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling in the 1950s, breaking his brother Angus into the business. Angus, known professionally as Sandy Scott, and George were quickly christened the Flying Scotts, feuding with The Vachons and the Tolos Brothers over the promotion's NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship. The duo were a huge draw for the promotion at the time.
When the brothers had a legitimate fallout of a family matter, George headed to Texas and worked for the precursor of World Class Championship Wrestling, feuding with Johnny Valentine. The feud was kicked off by an angle where Valentine attacked Scott, ripped his clothes off and ran him into the ringpost, busting him open. Valentine, one to always lay it in, ended up legitimately hurting Scott to sell the angle, requiring a short hospital stay.
Scott would eventually return to Stampede as a singles competitor as well. During that return, Scott would begin to take part in the booking of the shows, showing an immediate aptitude for that aspect of the business. He would soon take a similar apprenticeship role while working for Jim Crockett Promotions. After suffering another neck injury in the early 1970s, Scott retired from the ring and began working exclusively on the creative side of professional wrestling.
When Jim Crockett Sr. passed away, he had decreed that John Rigley, his son-in-law, take over the promotion. Ringley would bring in Scott as the booker of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. As it turned out, he would outlast Ringley in the promotion as Crockett's sons, Jim Jr. and David, soon assumed control under allegations that Rigley had strayed from his marriage to Francis Crockett.
At the time, Mid-Atlantic had been a promotion that built around tag team rivalries. Scott "broke down" the promotion in order to rebuild it around singles competitors. He brought in Johnny Valentine to build the promotion around and handpicked a young crop of talent from elsewhere including Ricky Steamboat, Paul Orndorff, Jimmy Snuka, Roddy Piper and Ric Flair.
It was Scott who booked the first Flair vs. Steamboat matches, a rivalry that would go on to become the measuring stick for great, athletic professional wrestling bouts. It was Scott who handed Piper a mic and made him the co-host of the program with Gordon Solie.
When Crockett bought into the Tunney family's promotion in Canada, Scott became a partner, allowing for international talent to come into The Crocketts territory and sending Flair, Steamboat, etc. to Toronto for the first time. This continued until Frank Tunney passed on, with his son Jack instead selling to Vince McMahon and becoming the figurehead President of the World Wrestling Federation. Scott sued Tunney for selling without his permission and eventually won a court judgment worth nearly $600,000.
Scott left Crockett Promotions in the early 1980s over a pay issue and bounced around for a bit, turning down an offer to become a partner in what was designed to be the first legitimately national promotion, Eddie Einhorn's International Wrestling Association. Scott looked into buying into several different NWA territories at the time, including Oklahoma.
Then WWF came calling. It was 1983 and Vince McMahon was poised to take over the wrestling world. Vince McMahon Sr. had just sold his promotion to his son and called Scott to assist Vince Jr. Scott signed on and was involved in the WWE buyout of Georgia Championship Wrestling and Stampede Wrestling, the latter of which was later rescinded.
Scott also began promoting local events for WWF in Florida and recognizing his talents, Vince Jr. brought him on to help book the promotion. He was heavily involved in the booking of the first Wrestlemania and with negotiating with Mr. T and others who came on board to work the show. Steamboat, considered one of Scott's proteges, was soon hired by the company as well.
As the WWF business began to change towards more spectacle and campiness, Scott became disenfranchised with the direction. He and Hulk Hogan had issues at one point over backstage etiquette and visitors. Scott at the time became concerned about the drug use by talent in the company and had pushed for testing as well as for a tighter locker room, feeling that the wrestlers, amped up by their fame, were allowing the wrong crowd into the locker rooms. Hogan was THE man at that point and when he complained about it to Vince McMahon, Scott lost political points.
Scott's arguments also fell on deaf ears when he fought against the presentation of the WWF Saturday Night's Main Event specials, feeling they were silly and exposed the business, as opposed to treated the industry with respect. When the ratings came in, he lost more power as the hard numbers showed that the direction Vince McMahon and NBC's Dick Ebersol wanted was the right one, at least in the moment when it came to ratings.
Scott warned McMahon the direction could kill the business by exposing it and when McMahon chose not to listen to him, Scott quit, citing the stress and the workload of a national promotion. He had come from a world where the promoter let the booker have the final word, but in WWF, Vince was the final word and Scott exited.
In many ways, Scott's been forgotten by WWE history, as he is rarely acknowledged and was never called upon by WWE to take part in historical interviews or features. With his passing, a lesson that should be learned here by WWE is to reach out to older talents who might have deep insight into the unique cornerstones of the business so their views and memories can be recorded for future use on projects.
Scott bounced around booking a number of different promotions, including a short run in World Class Championship Wrestling.
When Ted Turner purchased Crockett Promotions, Dusty Rhodes was removed as the booker of what was now WCW (although still referred to as the National Wrestling Alliance at the time). Scott was brought in as the booker and went right back to what he knew best, luring Ricky Steamboat out of retirement as a mystery partner with Eddie Gilbert against Ric Flair and Barry Windham. Flair was pinned by Steamboat with a flying bodypress and the two rivals were back off to the races.
The two would have a trilogy of matches, two on PPV and one live on a Clash of Champions special that was opposite Wrestlemania V, that would become the measuring stick. Unfortunately for Scott, he would be gone by the time the program was concluded. When it came time for the Clash to be promoted, Scott downplayed the fact it would be airing live on TBS, feeling that the company giving away its best matches would kill the live house shows. His outlook made logical sense but it was a different era where the TV ratings for a promotion owned by a cable network were just as, if not more important. It was Scott's miscalculation that ended up with him being removed and replaced by a booking committee of Ric Flair, Jim Cornette, Kevin Sullivan and more, kicking off a great 1989 for WCW, at least in terms of match quality and angles.
Scott would eventually promote The Carolinas under the South Atlantic Pro Wrestling (SAPW) banner before retiring to Florida.
Scott would make a few rare appearances in the business from time to time, including the annual Charlotte Fanfest, but for the most part had left the business behind.
Scott had been in ill health for some time before his passing.
On behalf of everyone associated with PWInsider.com, I'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of George Scott.
"22 years of my fucking life just got fucking ruined!!!!"---Fan outside Wrestlemania XXX
PRO WRESTLING HALL OF FAME: http://www.angelfire.com/pa5/old (updated December 10 2017)
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