Gunner Scott shoots for success

WrestleMania is considered the Super Bowl of sports-entertainment, but just five days after the biggest event of them all, Gunner Scott had his WrestleMania.

The newcomer from Tulsa, Okla. made his SmackDown debut in front of a packed house in Peoria, Ill. on April 7, and Gunner Scott seized his opportunity and ran with it. In his first-ever WWE match, Scott went one-on-one with Booker T. Making a debut on national television can be a nerve racking experience, but to make that debut against such an accomplished competitor as Booker T can add even more pressure. But Gunner somehow pushed all of that aside and shocked the world when he defeated the five-time WCW Champion in one of the biggest upsets in WWE history.

"You have to put your nerves aside, and focus on your opponent," said Scott. "When an opportunity presents itself, you have to take it. Booker T is a great champion and a great competitor, but when you get in the ring, all that goes out the window."

Scoring a huge upset victory in a debut match can be just the catalyst a Superstar needs on his way to stardom. After the relatively unknown 1-2-3 Kid defeated Razor Ramon, he went on to win multiple Championships and be involved in both the nWo and D-Generation X, two of the most controversial groups in wrestling history. And after a young Rock debuted at Survivor Series in 1996 and became the soul survivor, he went on to become the most electrifying Superstar in sports-entertainment. Will this win be the huge stepping stone that Scott needs to reach the next level?

Only time will tell, but as of now, fans still don't know much about the Oklahoman. Scott was born in Louisiana, but moved to Oklahoma as a child. Right around his high school years, Scott became interested in professional wrestling, so it was only natural that he started competing in amateur wrestling at school. Scott began achieving success, and was even being looked at by some colleges for wrestling scholarships, but he suffered a shoulder injury, and all of a sudden the calls and letters stopped coming in.

But Scott wasn't discouraged.

"Wrestling is the only thing I've ever wanted to do. Whether it was in college, or in professional wrestling, it's just something that's in my blood," he said. "The competition is what drives me every night. It's really a part of who I am."

One of the people that have helped instill Scott's strong work ethic is his grandfather.

"My grandpa pushed me really hard with wrestling and with everything really," he said. "He was real tough on me to strive to succeed, and he pushed me to get into the wrestling business. Now that I've reached this level, he loves it. He watches all the time, and he's very proud I've made it this far and that I set out with a goal and I pushed towards it and stuck with it."

Inside the ring, Scott prominently displays his amateur background with a primarily technical style that he has patterned after some of his favorite Superstars from his childhood. Scott said that he enjoyed several of the Canadian wrestlers such as Bret and Owen Hart, Chris Jericho and Lance Storm.

"I have a very technical, hard-hitting style. I'm straight forward and don't use a lot of fancy moves," he said. "I'm not a high-flier and don't do a lot of flips. I try to ground my opponent with a lot of technical wrestling and take it from there."

Another Superstar that Scott has always been a fan of is Chris Benoit. And the Rabid Wolverine seems to see some good qualities in Scott as well. Scott was attacked by Booker T last week on SmackDown after a match against Finlay. Benoit, who had complimented Scott on his previous win over Booker, came to the youngster's aid and ran off the five-time WCW Champion. It's pretty apparent that Benoit has become Scott's mentor.

"Chris is someone I've always looked up to. He's helped me out a lot," he said. "We've worked out together a couple of times. He's just someone I'm glad to have the chance to learn from."

Scott will have his chance to get back at Booker T this week on SmackDown when they face off in a rematch. Booker T thinks that Scott got lucky in his debut match, but Gunner is anxious to prove him wrong.

"I'm going to take the fight right to Booker T," he said. "I'm going to show him that the first match wasn't a fluke, and I'm going to beat him again. Friday night I'm going to take it right to him, and beat him again."

But Scott also has some serious plans for the future as well.

"The main goal for any professional wrestler is to be the world champion, so obviously that is my No. 1 goal," he said. "I'm going to take every opportunity that's presented to me. If it's an opportunity to be a United States Champion, I'll take it. If it's an opportunity to be a WWE Tag Team Champion, I'll take it. This business is all about opportunity. You can't wait for them. You have to create your own."

And if Gunner Scott can make the most of his next opportunity, then who knows? Perhaps, the newcomer will be a participant in the next WrestleMania.

And Gunner's next opportunity is a match against Booker T this Friday on SmackDown. Will Gunner make it two in a row over the five-time WCW Champion? Tune in to Friday Night SmackDown at 8/7 CT on UPN to find out.

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