Scott Garland is a professional wrestler best known for his time in WWE as Scotty 2 Hotty. He joins Chris Van Vliet to discuss how Too Cool was formed, the origin of the iconic Worm signature move, memories of Brian Christopher (Grandmaster Sexay), The WWF Attitude Era, getting back into the ring at 48 years old, being a coach in WWE and knowing exactly what they want from a new recruit, his love of theme parks and more!
So you put out this new video launching your YouTube channel. People were going “Not only do you look youthful, but you look good.”
“Thanks man, I appreciate it. What a crazy time in my life. I am taking this crazy step where I am 48 years old and I am going back into the ring. But I feel like I can go and deliver, if I couldn’t, then I wouldn’t do it. It just felt like the perfect time to do it.”
Is it that you just missed being in the ring?
“Yeah I missed being in the ring, and I never said that I was retired. I took the job as a coach in WWE at the Performance Center back in 2016, I had my last match in August 2016, and that was it. I never said that I was retired, but I also never really saw myself having another match again. But I was ok with that, I look back at some of that Attitude Era stuff, and it is crazier than I remember. Nobody can take that away from me, my career peaked at the peak of professional wrestling. It was such a cool time with cool energy and cool characters, so I feel like I did everything that I wanted to do. But I missed the travelling, NXT wasn’t doing any live events, all the tv was shot in house. I wasn’t travelling and I wasn’t having fun, and I saw people from AEW right down to the small independents having fun, the independents are on fire right now. So I started asking around things like “Well what can I make?” I was doing the numbers and thought to myself that I can go out there and kill it. There are very few guys from the Attitude Era that are still going, Al Snow, The Headbangers, Billy Gunn. Val Venis does a bit and The Godfather does a bit, but there are very few that are still going. I can still deliver, so I am excited.”
How much time and thought went into this? It’s got to be a big thing to leave a sure-fire job at the PC?
“It was over the last couple of months. Once the pandemic happened and all the releases started happening, I think the releases took a big toll on me. When I became a coach, I had no idea how much I would love that job, and those guys are then like your children. You create these relationships with people, and you see them get released, and you find out with everyone else when they come up on Twitter. My buddy in Nashville texted me ‘Oh the releases are happening again…’ So then I jump on Twitter and I see somebody released that was in my class and I just saw 3 hours before. That’s how I am finding out, and dude, this is not cool.”
So you find out when everybody else does. Is there not like a company wide email?
“No, towards the end they started doing a group text when they let people go. That was one of my beefs when I left. I don’t want to know when talents are getting released before they do. But once it’s done, can’t you send something out to you know, have an intern who is sitting beside the person doing the cuts send a text to their coach and say ‘Hey I just want to let you know [this person has been released].’ Me and some of the other coaches had talent texting us saying ‘Hey thanks for everything.’ and we respond with ‘Hey no problem. It’s great having you in class.’ And we think they are talking about being in class today, but no they’ve just got cut. There were just so many releases, and I wasn’t having fun, and I saw people outside that appeared to be having fun.”
When people saw you in the ring and in day to day life with how much fun you were having, this feels like a disconnect from the Scotty that we know and love.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was the last 6 months to a year that it started to get that way. It wasn’t like every day was this horrible thing, I don’t want that to be what people think when they think about me. I had an awesome career, 30 years from day 1. From the first time I stepped into a WWF ring in 1991 to now, that’s 30 years, and I did some awesome things. You and I wouldn’t even be talking if I hadn’t gone there. They gave me a platform to make a name and to do what I am going to do now and I am thankful for that. I just don’t know if the thought was reciprocated, I don’t even know if Vince McMahon knew I worked there. I was on the contract for 5 years and they never did anything with me as far as the Scotty 2 Hotty character.”
That’s crazy. You would think there would be something like a Royal Rumble return.
“You would think. But they or he [Vince] believes that. But it’s his company and it’s his opinion. That’s what I keep saying, anything I disagree with, like how they want to train their talent, it’s their company. So I can either train their way and take the pay check, or I can walk away. I chose to walk away, and honestly, it’s one of the proudest moments of my life to say that I walked away on my own.”
So the independents is the next step, but what is the next step after that?
“So for 6 years I have been a coach at The Performance Center, and I was one of 8 to 10 coaches. Now I have that in my back pocket, I can do the independent shows and then I can do a seminar during the day, very few people can say ‘Hey, this is what they [WWE] are looking for right now.’ Of course it changes from day to day, and maybe I’m wrong. But this is a thing that I have struggled with. When I was 40 years old, I was still wrestling the independents and thought to myself what am I going to do [after]? I put myself through firefighter school and EMT school, and what a great transition, because most firefighters do 24 on and 48 off. I could do that job, get a pension in 20 years and still take my bookings. So I went through the whole thing, started volunteering and trying to find a job, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I went to real estate school, got my licence, but again that wasn’t it. After that was when the Performance Center thing happened. When you are at WWE and everything is going at 100mph, it’s hard to think about anything else. I now have time to think about what that next step will be.”
So you mentioned that you know what WWE are looking for. What are they looking for?
“Well it might be different now [laughs]. But when I left there a month ago, they want young. [Chris asks if they want people who have been in a ring before] It doesn’t seem like it. I know that they are doing try-outs for people who have never done this, they are hiring all these college athletes. I have always said that you can’t teach passion, and you need passion to do this. No matter how much money you are making, if you are on the road doing 200 shows a year and you are travelling, which adds about 50 days, you are looking at 250 to 300 days a year on the road. No matter what you are making in money, you need passion. I think at some point it will swing back the other way and they will go ‘Where are the men at? We need men!’ And then you will see a bunch of guys come in who are a little bit older and more experienced. Putting green on green on live television can be dangerous.”
Can you still use Scotty 2 Hotty?
“No I can’t legally. I say that I am lukewarm now [laughs].”
Whose idea was it to have you go from a singles wrestler to have you paired with Brian Christopher?
“We were just thrown together at WrestleMania 14. We were just thrown together in that battle royal, which is crazy, because he had been a heel at that point and I had been nothing but a babyface. All of a sudden we are thrown together, I have no idea why, I think it was supposed to be a one off. I had actually wrestled as Scott 2 Hot Taylor on the indies and I pitched the idea to Vince McMahon in catering at WrestleMania 14. So I said ‘Hey, thanks for putting me on the show. I know me and Brian together, he’s “Too Sexy” and I wrestled as Scott 2 Hot Taylor on the indies.’ Sure enough, the next TV we were thrown together as a team on Shotgun Saturday Night. They called us Too Much.”
When did you decide that The Worm was going to be a signature move?
“It was once Too Cool started. I would lay the guy out by the ropes, hit the other ropes, stop, hit the brakes and worm across and drop an elbow or a headbutt. But I was getting a reaction from the crowd, so I was onto something. Once I started doing the Too Cool stuff, I started hopping around the ring, there weren’t 4. But one night on Raw, Jerry Lawler started going ‘W O R M.’ Then I asked him if he would keep doing it, and a month later, the crowd was doing it along too. It’s crazy how Brian’s dad helped to get that over.”
Was there a specific moment where you were like ‘Ok, this thrown together tag team between me and Brian Christopher is really taking off?’
“We were getting good reactions when we were doing the Too Much stuff. We were getting good reactions, but it didn’t feel like it was for us, it was like we were there to help somebody else get along. Once we switched to Too Cool and they put Rikishi with us, that first night that we did the dance, that was special. We felt something with that. That snowballed fast and it was crazy, the 3 of us were on the chopping block at the time. They weren’t doing anything with any of us, and it just clicked.”
From the outside looking in with Rikishi, it didn’t feel like it would work. But for whatever reason, it was lightning in a bottle.
“That was something that I would tell my guys and girls too as a coach. If I said to you ‘I’m going to lay this guy out by the ropes, stand over him, hop to the other side of the ring and hope they spell out the word worm. Then I’m going to drop down and do the breakdancing worm across the ring, stand over them and drop a lousy chop on their chest.’ On paper, that sounds awful. Don’t tell anybody about it, just go and do it. If you have an idea and you feel that it’s going to work, then don’t let anybody shut it down, just go out there and do it. Probably 90% of the time, you might fail. But all it takes is that one time, whether it’s The People’s Elbow, The Worm, The Stink Face, Al Snow had Head. Whatever that thing is, you’ll feel it, the audience will feel it and the office will feel it.”
What is your favorite memory of Brian?
“We were never close. But after I was released in 2007, we did a weekend for Hermie Sadler in the Carolinas, and we did some Rock ‘n’ Roll Express tournament. Brian, it [the tournament] was 3 days long, and on the first night he showed up and he was in a bad place. I could smell it on his breath, he was a mess. By the time Sunday had rolled around, we had a big fight in the locker room, not a physical one, just a verbal one. I was like ‘Dude, I don’t need this.’ We were just different people, we didn’t speak for 5 years. Then on our first appearance back, he pulled me aside and apologised for everything, we both apologised. Over the next few years, I felt like we got closer than ever. There were a bunch of shows in the UK with me, Rikishi and Brian, and I bought my son, who was 10 years old at the time. I have a picture of Brian showing my son Keegan how to use a payphone. It’s from behind of both of them, but it’s so cool. Brian was in a good place and cleared himself up, but towards the end was when we got closer than ever. I also was taking everything with a grain of salt, if he said let’s meet up at the hotel at 1am and go to a show, I would be there at 1 o’clock and he wouldn’t be there. I go and knock on his door, he’s half asleep. But I don’t let it bother me as much as it once did. Towards the end it was getting worse and worse, he had a fight and got beat up, then was arrested again. That last mugshot I saw, I knew he was in a bad place. Brian always smiled when he got his mugshot taken, because he knew that it would be publicity. This was in Memphis, where his dad was king. But that last one was where he was in a bad place, and he ended up passing away in jail.”
So you were never close with him when you were on the road?
“No. I’ve always said that we have never roomed together, but we did at Owen Hart’s funeral, because the company paid for us all to go out there. So they doubled everybody up in the rooms, and because we were a tag team I guess they just threw us in the same room together. But that’s the only time, we never rented cars or anything. Him and Rikishi travelled a little bit, but I was always with Kane or with Edge or Funaki.”
Did your personalities not mesh or were there issues between you guys?
“We were just different people. He would like to go out and was a party guy, I was never a party guy. I think that part of Brian’s problem was that he liked Grand Master Sexay better than he liked Brian Lawler. He liked to live that character 24/7, we would do shows and he would leave in his gear, he would be in his Too Cool gear while we were sitting in a restaurant. But that was Brian, and I think he went down that bad road and just couldn’t get away from it. But I was never into that lifestyle, I’m a theme park nerd.”
When you are at the PC, who was one of your students that you developed a connection with and were like a proud father when they made it?
“That’s easy, Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez. Those are the 2 that I feel like I helped the most. Talk about a reward, Rhea will say I’m like a father figure to her, how much better can it get than that? She was a 20 year old kid when she came in, and I’ve seen both her and Raquel grow up over the years. My last show that I produced for WWE was the WrestleMania on sale, the last segment was Rhea and Raquel standing in the stadium together, it can’t be any better than that.”
We’ve talked about all the amazing Too Cool moments. What is your favorite Too Cool match?
“My go to is February 7th 2000, right after the Royal Rumble where we danced at the Garden. So it was me, Rikishi, Brian, Cactus Jack and The Rock against Perry, Benoit, Malenko, X-Pac and Hunter. Eddie was on the outside, Stephanie was on commentary, Kane and The Outlaws came out at the end… It was in Dallas and the crowd was just electric that night. That’s my go to, but people always bring up the Malenko match from Backlash. It still holds up and it’s 2 different styles, which makes wrestling cool. The problem with the Performance Center is that it’s all the same style. It can all be right or it can all be wrong, it’s just different opinions, it’s wrestling. The only thing that is right to me is what sells tickets.”
I end every interview talking about gratitude. What are you most grateful for right now?
“My girlfriend, my kids and just being able to still do this.”
Featured image: Wikipedia