Former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar Scott Garland, famously known as Scotty 2 Hotty, is relishing the opportunity to visit Malta in the coming days.
Garland will land on our shores on an invitation by Pro Wrestling Malta (PWM) where he will attend a Meet and Greet with the local fans at the Żurrieq Wolves Club on Wednesday (19.00), while delivering a seminar at the PWM Dojo, on Thursday (18.00).
“It is my first time in Malta,” Garland told the Times of Malta.
“It is a place that I do not know a lot about. But you know, this last year, what I call this little run that I have been on since last January of coming back and wrestle again, has been cool and it takes me to places like Malta, spending some time there.”
Garland explained how in his experience with the WWE, you would be travelling to different countries every single day and while you will be having a great blast in front of huge crowds, you would not have the opportunity for some downtime.
“So, Malta sounds really exciting to me. I don’t know a lot about it, but from the pictures that I have seen, it looks beautiful and I have heard the people are really nice and, and I am just looking forward to coming there where will be having great event and also a seminar as well,” the former WWE superstar said.
A respected figure inside the wrestling industry, Garland competed under the name of Scotty 2 Hotty between 1999-2007 in WWF ad WWE, although he was already participating sporadically as Scott Taylor previously.
In 1998, then Scott Taylor, he had his first taste of being involved in some of the big shows produced by WWF/WWE when he joined “Too Sexy” Brian Christopher in a Tag Team Battle Royal in the pinnacle events of all – Wrestlemania XIV (considered as the wrestling’s World Cup or the Super Bowl), then organised by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) before renaming itself to WWE in 2002.
His faction with Christopher, then known as ‘Grandmaster Saxy’ and popular superstar Rikishi, was one of the most memorable from the Attitude Era, when there was a boom in professional wrestling from the late 90’s to early 2000’s on TV.
Moreover, Scotty 2 Hotty’s finisher, The Worm, was one of his moves that allowed him to win over the fans and raise his wrestling profile during that era.
“The top of my career was at the peak of professional wrestling,” he pointed out.
“It was a crazy time, like a perfect storm of everything just coming together at the right time.
That is what allowed me to have my main run in 2000, which was now 23 years ago.
“You know. I am able to still do this all these years later and people still remember that time so fondly and it is pretty cool because I am meeting adults that 23 years ago were 10-year-old fans and now they are in their thirties.”
“Some of them might have kids of their own and they are bringing them to the show, something that I did not anticipate when I came back out to do this.”
In a short spell as a solo wrestler, Scotty 2 Hotty competed in the Light Heavyweight division and in April 2000, he was crowned the WWF Light Heavyweight champion at the expense of Dean Malenko.
Against Malenko, Scotty 2 Hotty produced one of his most memorable fights when both wrestlers fought each other in one of WWF/WWE’s former pay-per-view events, Backlash – back in 2000, a few days after losing the title belt to the same opponent.
However, Scotty 2 Hotty had other memorable moments including his dance moment with Rikishi and Christoper in the 2000 Royal Rumble at the Mecca of Sport, New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“As far my go-to moment, it is always the Royal Rumble, when we danced in 2000 – it was perfect. Royal Rumble, Madison Square Garden, sold out,” Garland said.
“When we did that dance in the middle of the Royal Rumble, it just kind of like solidified us and put us on the map as WWE superstars.
“Here we are, 23 years later, and every time the Royal Rumble rolls around, everybody’s posting that clip. It is so cool to have a moment like that. That’s what you work for.”
“That is what you should be working for – create moments that people will remember years and years later.
“It’s not gonna be the moves, you know? How often do you see just moves when they put together a package and show a video? The people remember the cool moments, you know, The Rock and Hulk Hogan stare down at WrestleMania, for example.”
Garland is a firm believer that the fans love characters. Going back to the Hogan era and with characters like himself, The Ultimate Warrior and Jake the Snake to the Attitude Era, it was always the larger-than-life characters that took centre stage in the wrestling industry.
“Now, it feels like it is so athletic-based and, and based around moves and, and I do not know if that is the right thing,” he said.
“For me, it just kind of all becomes the same. After a while, like, how far can you push the human body? To me, it is about the connection with an audience. Like, how do you connect with that audience and make them feel something? Rather than just moves – the moves are cool, but do they really connect with the person doing the moves?
“I always say, think about how a 10-year-old child is going to tell his friend about you… how is he going to describe you? Like, wow, I thought this guy, he did the worm and he did this dance, and he did the moonwalk, and, you know, and he had this crazy hair. You have to give them something besides the wrestling.”
Besides lifting the Light Heavyweight Championship title, Scotty 2 Hotty was also a two-time Tag Team Champion in both the WWF and WWE.
In 2000, he and Christopher outworked popular duo Edge and Christian to the WWF title. Four years later, Scotty 2 Hotty teamed up with Rikishi to claim the WWE title at the expense of the Basham Brothers, in Wrestlemania XX.
“I always enjoyed working with Edge and Christian, and also the Hardy Boys. These were guys with whom I was friends with, and we always clicked together. So, it was always fun to be with those guys.
“Moreover, I always wished that could have done something with the New Day. There was a window where we could have done something before Brian (Christopher) passed away. It would have been cool just to have a moment with those guys, even if it maybe would have been just a WrestleMania moment. You know, the six of us danced or whatever it would have been.”
In 2016, Garland returned to WWE when he landed a job as a trainer at the WWE Performance Center while also serving in the production department for NXT Live – a development territory for future superstars.
As a trainer, Garland took under his wings several pupils that are now established figures in WWE such as this year’s Royal Rumble winner Rhea Ripley, Raquel Rodriguez, Lacey Evans, Street Profits and Otis.
“It was great. I mean, there were parts of it that were the highlights of my career. You know, we are working with people like a Lacey Evans or Raquel Rodriguez or Rhea Ripley or Street Profits or Otis,” he said.
“You know, those are all people that I was close with and worked pretty close with. So, to see them up there just killing it now and, and you know, I knew they were going to, it is just, amazing.
“Confidence is the hardest thing to get. You can teach all the stuff you want, but until they have self-confidence and truly believe that they belong there, it is tough going.
“I never went to a wrestling school myself, so a lot of it was just me trying to figure out the best way to coach and teach these people and get them to gain that confidence.”
Opening about his role in the NXT Live production, Garland explained how he learned to put a show together while understanding the needs and requirements for a perfect event.
“You do not want it to go too long, like more than three hours. I don’t wanna go to concert. You always want to leave them wanting more and that is what a lot of people struggle with a lot in the independent shows I work on now,” Garland admitted.
“It is like, you know, four hours. Nobody wants to go sit for a four-hour show. And then you go, okay, they were here an hour before the show started, they left their house an hour before that, you know, so it turns into a six-hour night. Nobody wants to do that.”
Speaking about the high-level characters that manage to forge a lasting legacy with the WWE fans, Garland pointed out at two current superstars that are involved in a storyline that has captivated everyone.
“I am a huge fan of Roman Reigns, I am a huge fan of Sami Zayn and what those guys are doing. That stuff’s so fun,” Garland said.
“And you know, Roman (Reigns) is a perfect example. Over the last couple of years, he started to come into this character that you can tell he is comfortable in and has confidence with, and that is fun to watch. The same thing goes for Sami (Zayn). He has been there for how long, and all of a sudden, we have seen him evolve into this really fun and lovable character.
“I think that says a lot… people still want good storylines and good characters.”
In 2021, Garland took to the ring for the first time in five years when he fought in a one-off match against former All Elite Wrestling superstar Joey Janela. Following his trip to Malta, Garland will be involved in two fights – in Germany and in Italy respectively.
Besides taking part in exhibition fights, Garland also hosts seminars where he shares experiences with the future generation of wrestlers that aim to reach the heights of Scotty 2 Hotty.
Despite his WWE background which allowed him to become a recognised figure in the industry, Garland does not forget where he has come from as he stresses on the importance of independent wrestling circuits.
“Independence is super important to what we do. Years ago, there were small territories and, and small companies all over the place where you could go and learn – it was kind of like the minor leagues before going to for example the WWE,” Garland explained.
“All of those territories have dried up and went away. Now, you have these smaller independent circuits all over the place where.
“A lot of times, I’ll speak to the audience and say, you know, there is no in-between anymore. It can be a small circuit, independent circuit, or an event in Malta, in front of 100 to 200 people, and you know, literally, a week or two weeks later, somebody from that show could be in Orlando at the WWE Performance Center or on Monday Night Raw. You never know.”
There’s just no in-between anymore. It is just independent circuits or WWE or any other big wrestling stage. The talent out there should take it that way. They should take it as rehearsals and a chance to get better, trying stuff and perfect the art of what we do.”
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