He’s since gone on to start working independent dates, while the wholesale changes at the Performance Center have continued. Part of Garland’s life-after-WWE plans included a visit to Talk Is Jericho for (as the name indicates) a chat with Chris Jericho.
Scotty’s discussion of why he chose to leave, the changes he saw happening to a program he’d been proud to be a part of, pretty much just confirms reports we’d already read & heard. It’s good to have a first-person account though.
It also gives us a doozy of a Vince being Vince anecdote...
“Hunter [Triple H] used to say that we have this culture here, and if we could bottle it, we could make millions off this culture. The backstage culture of ‘We are NXT’ was a real thing.
“That was a real pride amongst the roster. I feel like that’s been lost to a degree. It was the coolest environment I’ve ever been in my 30 years in wrestling. It was still a wrestling business, don’t get me wrong, but there was a certain pride there that there wasn’t anywhere else.
“It started to change. They started coming in with rules. One of the first weeks since COVID was, they started to let us wear NXT tracksuits to TV because we don’t see anybody. We come into the Performance Center for television. We don’t have any fans waiting outside, and for the longest time, there weren’t any fans. In the building, it was all in house people, so we were wearing NXT tracksuits.
“As soon as it started to change, Hunter went away, and the other guys started to come in, it was, ‘Ok, we gotta get back to business casual again.’ The next week it was, ‘Vince wants the coaches looking younger, so we need you guys to start dyeing your beards and cutting your hair.’ I literally lost sleep over it. I’ve had every kind of facial hair, dye, goatee, the beard, spiked up hair, bald head. It’s not about that. It’s like, if they’re going to have us jump through hoops like monkeys just to see if they’ll do it, so if you do that, what’s next?”
There’s not much to add to the NXT 2.0 discussion. Whether you loved the black-and-gold era or not, some of the business logic behind the change makes sense. And whether you are on-board with the new direction or not, what happened to the old NXT and the people who built it still stings.
But move over “don’t sneeze in front of me”. There’s a new contender for most Vince thing ever: Telling people who are never on television they need to look younger.
h/t WrestlingNews.co for transcription