Professional wrestling has long been a spectacular performance that has drawn people from all over the world to witness the spirit of conflict resolved in the arena of a squared ring. Centuries of competitors have walked the long aisle in several avenues to forge legacies that would be remembered long after they have looked up at the bright lights and taken that last walk to the locker room. From the originators of yesteryear such as Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt to the headliners of today, fans of this great entertainment will tell their children about the heroes that paved a part of their childhood in great detail.
This series, however, is the story of untold heroes that do not get their recognition.
2 Cold Scorpio
Innovation has been the development of pro wrestling. Long gone are the days when crowds were treated by the sight and science of a fundamental headlock and wowed at the mere vision of a vertical suplex. Today, we are regularly treated to the sight of a 300 plus pound athlete performing a Tope con Hilo onto a sea of competitors. In between those times, wrestling was a simpler balance – a moonsault would pop the crowd into a frenzy in 1992. That’s why when 2 Cold Scorpio performed the first 450 Splash on TBS in front of thousands in attendance and millions watching at home, it felt like we entered a new realm to take wrestling forward.
I was at the age where you shouldn’t remember what you saw on television, but the subconscious will travel back to that exact moment like it was yesterday. Wrestling was a new experience for my eyes, I was instantly hooked by the vibrant colors and enigmatic characters. Seeing Scorpio, however, was a different experience. It was like seeing my older brother getting in the ring, I was cheering him on while sitting in front of the television. With more experienced eyes, I realized an influence that’s seldom been talked about.
When Scorpio debuted in the fall of 1992, the culture of the world for African Americans was rooted in a sense of originality. Hip-Hop and R&B were becoming a staple on college campuses, shopping malls and family gatherings. An unmatched artistic style was on full display on channels such as BET and MTV, while popular sitcoms such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Martin were on constant rotation on major network television. It was apparent that the influx and influence of Black people was trickling down into all walks of entertainment. Wrestling struggled to keep up with the times and it showed in all promotions of notoriety. For younger people, we never saw someone who dressed like we did or speak in the vernacular that was designed for each other. The glimmer of hope came in the form of the Ron Simmons’ historic World Heavyweight Championship win a few months before Scorpio’s debut, but it was apparent that a segment of the audience that had long been a staple of wrestling fandom was desiring to see more competitors that looked like them.
That’s what made 2 Cold Scorpio a must-see attraction for audiences that were clamoring for more. He stood out during a time of colorful characters with a sense of flash and charisma that few possess. He came to the ring with dance moves that were popularized by artists such as Kid ‘N’ Play or MC Hammer. He spoke AAVE (African American Vernacular English) in his promos. Black fans in the background can be seen with jubilation whenever he would dive into the ring and two-step with the swagger that was truly unmatched. Whether it was WCW, ECW, WWE, or Japan, he carried the same energy into the ring every single time. In the era of big men, seeing a competitor like Scorpio was a rarity that eventually became normalized in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
In recent years, his influence has prevailed in more detail with the influx of more Black wrestlers in the industry. During the height of Scorpio, you could count on one hand the amount of Black talent a promotion would have, whereas today, promotions are rich with wrestlers who have lauded Scorpio as one of their inspirations because they saw themselves on television when he came on the screen. While wrestling was associated with rock music, Scorpio was like hearing hip-hop for the first time. A young, athletic Black man with a fade and breakdancing in his repertoire was imagery that put belief in young kids, that they could do the same thing one day.
Even at the more than 55 years old, Scorpio still dazzles the crowd with the same moves he was doing when he was a young up-and-comer that was looking to change the art of the game. The wrestling industry has long prided itself on a youth movement to keep the evolution going. We have seen countless wrestlers that we grew up with over the years fall short to Father Time, and our memories of them have unfortunately been in constant cries of retirement. At GCW’s For The Culture event, Scorpio stepped in the ring with highly acclaimed wrestler AR Fox in one of the most anticipated matches of 2020. From the moment his iconic WCW music blared through the speakers, wrestlers, fans and announcers were transported back to when we were all children: in admiration and, most importantly, appreciation to a man who made us fans in the first place. Going against someone who was 17 years younger, Scorpio moved like he was still performing at the highest levels. Every move was met with the same excitement and amazement while remembering that he was not the same 27 year old that we were introduced to, but rather a 55 year old veteran that was turning back the clock to show the wrestling world that Father Time can’t slow down excellence.
Just as he did that night on TBS without anyone expecting it, 2 Cold Scorpio unknowingly changed the course of the way we absorbed pro wrestling, and that’s a legacy that you can never take away.