Dave Meltzer reported earlier today that former tag team wrestler and Jim Crockett Promotions, WWF and WCW booker George Scott passed away yesterday at the age of 84 from lung cancer.
As a wrestler, he was best known for his babyface tag team with younger brother Sandy (real name Angus) called The Flying Scott Brothers, which had great success in Western Canada, Toronto, Buffolo, Indiana and Australia, although he also had spells as a singles headliner in Stampede Wrestling.
He retired in 1973 after suffering a serious neck injury a year earlier in Texas, where he immediately fell on his feet by being offered the book in the Carolinas, which was a natural career progression given that he helped Stu Hart with match making when he starred in his Calgary based territory.
Scott revolutionised the territory, turning Jim Crockett Promotions from a staid, formulaic company doing average business to the hottest place on the wrestling map, despite the lack of major cities in the market. He did this by phasing out the ageing tag team headliner George Becker and bringing in rough and tough singles stars like Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel and The Super Destroyer. It took awhile for the local crowds to warm up to the new acts, but once they did, JCP was off to the races.
Not resting on his laurels, Scott took a pudgy, green AWA wrestler named Ric Flair and turned him into The Nature Boy, telling him to pattern himself after the wrestler who first had that gimmick, Buddy Rogers, instead of being a cowboy as he then desired. Under Scott's guidance, Flair would become a local icon and prepared him to become arguably the greatest NWA World Heavyweight Champion in history.
He certainly had an eye for talent at the time, as he would also give Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, Jay Youngblood and Tony Atlas their first big breaks in the wrestling business, as well as give "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka the opportunity to headline in bigger territories than they had done previously, and came up with The Masked Superstar gimmick for Bill Eadie, who would later become Demolition Ax.
According to Scott, he quit as booker of JCP in 1981 over the Crockett family's failure to live up to promises of giving him 5% of the gate of any new towns he opened up.
After a short-lived stint booking Georgia Championship Wrestling for Jim Barnett, his amazing track record led Vince McMahon to hire him in 1983 as a WWF booker, in the run up to taking his company national. For a few years, he was Vince's right hand man, helping him craft the storylines for the first two WrestleManias and coming up with the cards for the three house show tours that ran close to nightly around the country.
However, the business was starting to pass him by. Being a traditionalist, he butted heads with NBC's Dick Ebersol over the goofy skits he wanted for the WWF's new flagship show Saturday Night's Main Event. Moreover, he didn't get on with Hulk Hogan, falling out with him over some unsavoury characters he was hanging around with at Madison Square Garden, which led to The Hulkster going over his head and getting him fired shortly after The Big Event headlined by Hogan vs. Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorrf sold out Toronto's CNE Stadium.
His later brief booking runs for World Class Championship Wrestling and WCW proved that his once Midas booking touch had left him.
Although Texas was likely beyond saving at that point, his stint there was best remembered for repackaging Bam Bam Bigelow as Russian Crusher Yurkoff.
In WCW, in early 1989, he gave Steamboat a stuffy, clean cut, family man gimmick that led to the crowd partially turning against him at times in his feud with the cooler Ric Flair. He was fired soon after the classic Flair vs. Steamboat best of three falls match at Clash Of The Champions VI, which drew an embarrassing papered crowd of 5,300 fans in the massive New Orleans Superdome, for failing to promote the TBS TV special on syndication for fear it would hurt the gate at the house shows where rematches of that bout were taking place.
He also didn't realise that the territorial era of wrestling was dead, as he helped start up and book South Atlantic Pro Wrestling in the Carolinas in late 1989. The promotion struggled to make ends meet for a few years drawing small crowds before dying an inevitable death. It was most notable for being the company which gave The Nasty Boys, Ken Shamrock as Vince Torelli and Chris Chavis, aka Tatanka, their first pushes in the business.