|~The Lord Of The Ring~
WWF Star Scotty 2 Hotty of Westbrook
By Dan Sargent
|Reprinted with permission from Portland Magazine.� The content of this interview is the property of Portland Magazine and may not be reprinted without permission.|
|photo obtained from wwf.com|
| We love our sports heroes like Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Julie Parisien, and Ian Crocker. But what rough beast is slouching out of Westbrook to be born?
Maine loves her heroes, from Sen. George Mitchell to Andrew Wyeth. But were these guys ever stars of their own video-games or the models for action figures? Scott Taylor, who grew up in Westbrook as unknown and unheralded Scott Garland, is, as far as we know, the only Mainer ever to have won both distinctions. In fact, as major character in both Sony Playstation and Nintendo games, the WWF wrestling superstar is earning international renown, not to mention a small fortune in royalties, but in spite of this, most Mainers don't know who he is.
It might have remained that way always, but for a lightning stroke of fate. Young Scott Garland, barely a freshman at Westbrook High, climbed into the ring on a dark November evening in 1989 for his professional debut against another largely unheralded and brilliantly underpromoted local opponent, Steve Ramsey.
"I lost!" laughs Garland. "But it didn't matter. Winner or loser, we both got paid the same!"
By 1991, Scott, still in high school, had worked his way into a part-time contract with the WWF and was beginning his quest for fame as "Too Hot" Scott Taylor. But his newly developed skills didn?t exactly translate into interscholastic success.
WHS wrestling coach Dennis Walch remembers the afternoon Scott walked into the gym for a tryout. "He wrestled for half an hour," Walch says, and deadpans for a moment. "He's a nice, tough kid, but we tried him out at about 5'9", 175 pounds against a 119-pound wrestler of ours and our guy flattened Scott, even though he was giving up 60 pounds to him. Scott's a great kid - a friend of my son's, but he was no wrestler!"
It must be quite a shock to see where Scott is today.
As he improved, he began to venture outside of Maine, wrestling independently. "For the first couple of years I wrestled in Boston and other places...mostly New England," Scott says. With encouragement from Pat Patterson, one of the World Wrestling Federation's top talent scouts, Scott landed enough assignments to body slam his more modest earnings at the Windham Kentucky Fried Chicken. On the other hand, Kentucky Fried Chicken offered a far more attractive bonus - "That's where we first met!" says Scott's wife of two years, Terri Garland. "We worked there together. I wasn't a fan of wrestling back then, but I've always been a fan of Scott's."
In the mid-1990s, the young wrestler was working days as a bank teller at Fleet Bank at the former Maine Savings Plaza on Congress Street, Portland. "I remember when he was at Fleet," says Roberta Wright, an events planning staffer at Cumberland County Civics Center. "He was such a sweet guy, and so naturally friendly, that when I made the deposit each day, I found myself switching lanes just to talk to him. He told me he wanted to become a professional wrestler, and I didn't know what to say - he was only 5' 9". He really was just a little guy. But there was a sparkle in his eyes that showed a real passion for what he was doing. And month by month I watched as he bulked up, getting stronger and stronger. One day I walked in and he was overjoyed, jumping up and down like crazy. That was the day he was accepted with the WWF full-time."
Scott worked at UNUM during the next year to hedge his bets. "I hated it. If all this hadn't happened, I probably would still be stuck in some lame job like at UNUM."
By 1997, Scott's agility, break-dancing skills, and malignantly effervescent sense of humor (no one, but no one, is more fun to watch win or lose than Scotty Too Hotty) were fully appreciated by the WWF and spotlighted in the ring as part of the Tag-Team "Too Much." With his prospects zooming, Scott and tag-team partner Brian Christopher became "Too Cool," one of the WWF's most popular and talented teams, in early 1999, with Scott's transformation into "Scotty Too Hotty."
The pair has won many matches, but nothing compared to the night Too Cool danced, jived, top-rope-dove, and hip-hop-dropped their way to the Undisputed (well, nothing is undisputed in the WWF) World Wrestling Federation Tag-Team Titles. "I was so excited, being in the ring and holding that tag-team belt - I didn't know what to think." Though the pair lost the titles in an extremely close match about two months later, Too Cool is entirely focused on winning the title back.
Until justice is restored, Scott continues to win crowds over with his finishing move, "The Worm."
"It's probably the thing that gets the crowd the most excited," he says, "that and the dancing Brian and I do in the ring." With his energy and audience appeal, there's no doubt that Scott will again be a champion in the near future.
The life of a professional wrestler is a grueling one - over 250 days on the road every year. Even though he and his wife, both native Mainers, love the warmer climates of the California and Florida shores, they still live in Maine. In fact, most of Scott's family still lives here - his parents still live at the same street address in Westbrook, on Duck Pond Road near Pride's Corner.
Scott and Terri live in nearby Windham. When he comes back to Maine, "I just want to go home!" he laughs. "I come home every week to see my wife." You might already have bumped into them. "My favorite restaurant is Tortilla Flat." And during the beautiful Maine summers, you might find Scott relaxing at Pine Point Beach. "I loved to go to the beach as a kid - I still like to go." Just this season, Scott was honored at a Portland Pirates game. "That was the first promotion that I've done in Maine, as Scotty Too Hotty." A great start, but Maine needs to see more of its local wrestling hero in the months and years to come.
As much as Scott and Terri love Maine, they love to visit other places, too. Terri, a nurse at the Barron Center in Portland, accompanies Scott on the road whenever she can - mostly to warmer states. "We go to the Disney parks when we're in the area," Garland laughs. Even after Scott leaves wrestling, they will probably still be traveling often. Though Scott declines to tell us his income from wrestling, the Scotty Too Hotty action figure, and the video game royalties, he does admit "We're looking into buying a house in Florida, and living half in Maine and half in Florida when I retire... in just 10 years!"
"It was amazing to see my former bank teller, who could barely get his head above the counter, cheered by thousands on thecenter of the ice when he was featured at the Portland Pirates game," says Roberta Wright. "Now we weren't waiting in line to make a deposit. He had the longest line of people waiting for his autograph that I've ever seen."
|Copyright, 2001, Portland Magazine, Portland, ME. Used here with permission. No additional reproduction or distribution of this article in any form is permitted without the written approval of Portland Magazine.