Scotty 2 Hotty has lifted the lid on the culture change within NXT which led to him leaving WWE.
Back in November 2021 Scotty 2 Hotty, real name Scott Garland, left WWE after requesting his release. His departure brought to an end a three decade long association with the company as an active performer and as a coach.
Speaking in a new interview, the former World Tag Team Champion explained that a shift in culture meant that his work in NXT became less enjoyable. In conversation with K&S WrestleFest, Garland described how working in NXT was the greatest experience he’d had in his entire career.
“It wasn’t one day, it came over time,” Scotty 2 Hotty said on his decision to quit WWE. “Over the last six months, things started to change. At one point, it was the greatest thing I’ve experienced in my entire 32 years in wrestling. Anybody who was there understands it, it was such a cool culture, it was a genuine culture.
“That, ‘We Are NXT’ thing wasn’t just a marketing slogan, that was a real thing. There was pride there, I rode with them. Everyone’s on the same bus traveling together just having a great time, out there killing it. You know, we’d go to a WrestleMania weekend, or a SummerSlam weekend and do a Takeover, steal the weekend, best show of the weekend hands down.”
Expanding further, Scotty 2 Hotty said that as the number of opportunities outside of WWE began to increase, he got the itch to get back in the ring.
“Then over the last six months to a year, some changes, you know and maybe part of it was me starting to change, and seeing outside of WWE starting to change. With not only groups like AEW, but some of these independents were on fire and comic-cons were on fire, these signings were on fire.
“There was just so much going on outside of WWE, and I’m 48-years-old. So I go, ‘hey, if I’m going to do this, where I can actively get in the ring and go, now is the time to do it. I feel like I can still go and I feel like I proved that to everyone and to myself a couple of weeks ago with Joey Janela.”
The Attitude Era star also reflected further on the specific changes that took place in WWE and the wrestling industry as a whole which led him to decide to leave.
“Management changing, culture-changing, just a lot of change. Probably COVID had something to do with it, the releases had something to do with it,” he admitted. “As everybody knows, whether it’s wrestling or working wherever. It sucks to go to work and be walking on eggshells every day.
“It’s not like I had a dream to go to Japan or a dream to go to WCW, I grew up in the North East, so WWF was what I grew up on. That was my dream my whole life was to work for that company, and I did. I worked for them on and off for 30 years. Wrestling, I started in ‘91 as an extra and worked pretty consistently. Not only working TV’s, but the live events in the North East from ‘91 to ‘97, and then I signed my contract. I was there full-time for 10 years, I left in ‘07. Then I came back nine years later in 2016 to be a coach.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here right now talking to you guys if it wasn’t for them. So, I am thankful for everything I got from them and everything they did for me. They gave me a platform to do what I love. But it was time to go, so that’s what I did.”
Scotty 2 Hotty first appeared for WWE in October 1991 and wrestled occasionally as an enhancement talent until signing with the company on a permanent basis in 1997. He initially wrestled in the Lightweight Division before teaming with Bryan Christopher as Too Much at WrestleMania XIV.
It was alongside Christopher that Scotty enjoyed the most successful run of his career. The team was renamed Too Cool in 1999 recruiting Rikishi later that year.
Off the back of their fun-loving style and post-match dance routines, the trio achieved incredible popularity before disbanding in late 2000. Garland remained with the company for a further seven years, until he was released in May 2007.
During his time with WWE, Scotty 2 Hotty won tag team gold twice as well as the Light Heavyweight Championship as a singles wrestler.
After leaving WWE he continued to make sporadic appearances for the company while also competing on the independent scene. He later returned to WWE in September 2016 as a coach, working in NXT.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.