The name haunts him in his sleep.
The Waxing Moon peers through Just Scott’s window, somewhere half between blinding him and merely holding him from rest. Not the actual moon, mind you– The Waxing Moon, a 24-hour hair removal joint with a giant neon sign that points directly into THE GREAT ESCAPE. Life had been a little rougher going since Just Scott had been forced to abandon his super sweet parking space at the MGM Grand, and it was becoming evident that neon living and cities that never sleep were not on brand for any kind of Scott, be they Just or be they GREAT.
With a mighty heave, Just Scott pulls the comforter from the foot of his bed, all the way up past the near troubling girth of his neck and over his head. It isn’t just to stave away the neon lights, though– something unfamiliar was happening to Scott Gratesburgh. Growing up in the Greater Metro Area of Great Falls, Montana, he’d been no stranger to barren winters and cool summers. Shorts when it’s fifty degrees. Tank tops in March. Hell, he was a grown man who spent nearly 90% of his life wearing the same wrestling singlet, regardless of the weather. Up until tonight, “chilly” wasn’t even a word in his vocabulary, unless he was misspelling what he wanted to eat for dinner. It was just one of those weird little facts of life– GREAT SCOTT never got cold.
Well, Just Scott isn’t just cold.
The covers can’t wrap tightly enough, as the name drifts slowly over his head. He’s hardly been able to sleep. Hasn’t been able to eat. Even the LIQUID STRONKUMMS has started to turn sour in his stomach since he started hearing Brandon Youngblood’s name reverberate between the walls of his skull. He shivers in place atop the bottom bunk of his bed on the GREAT ESCAPE, frozen in fear, and for good reason.
Brandon Youngblood isn’t just his next opponent.
Brandon Youngblood is a GOD.
It was only a house show, but the energy in the air feels electric as a young, flowing man with a young, flowing mullet throws his young, flowing arms into the air in celebration. A boyish looking, eight year old Scott Gratesburgh screams out in excitement, his popcorn flying wildly into the air along with his arms, bathing the family in front of him with buttery goodness and regret.
The ring announcer finishes announcing the winner, as a much younger looking Brandon Youngblood stands victorious in the ring, holding the PRIME Five Star Championship high in the air. It’s a little hard to make out from the cheap seats, but it makes no difference to Scott— this is the single coolest moment of his life up to this point and will be forever, unless he somehow ends up wrestling Brandon Youngblood himself some day.
But come on.
What are the odds of that?
EIGHT SCOTT: THIS IS THE COOLEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME AND ALWAYS WILL BE UNLESS I SOMEHOW GET TO WRESTLE BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD SOMEDAY BUT COME ON WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT?
Sorry, one second.
I think I’m having a stroke.
A grin spread from ear to ear, Young Scott remains on his feet, screaming with glee as Youngblood exits the ring. The poor schmuck who just took the pin rolls dejectedly out of the ring, hands on his hips as he shakes his head. Even from the nosebleeds, Scott can tell that the man is shaken. He’s just given it everything that he had, but it was hardly enough to unseat a prime Brandon Youngblood.
How could it be?
He’s the greatest wrestler alive.
EIGHT SCOTT: BOY BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD IS MY HERO AND SOMEDAY I WANT TO BE THE GREATEST GOOD GUY WHO HAS EVER LIVED JUST LIKE HE IS NOW. I TRY TO BE A GOOD BOY AND A GOOD SCOTT BUT BRANDON MAKES ME WANT TO BE BETTER THAN JUST A…GOOD… SCOTT. HE MAKES ME WANT TO BE…
He pauses, stroking his chin.
EIGHT SCOTT: …A TERRIFIC SCOTT.
The sapling that would one day grow into a Large Daddy Oak throws a triumphant high kick out of pure adrenaline and excitement, knocking his nachos off the arm of the chair and into the lap of the stranger sitting next to him. If you came to this house show hoping to enjoy a night of dope wrestling matches and pants free of carnival food stains, I’m afraid that you only went home half satisfied.
CHEESED STRANGER: Hey asshole, would you fucking watch it? These sweet zip-off cargo pants are one hundred percent in style right now and I was going to wear them with my ironic t-shirt to the Coldplay concert this weekend because it is 2005 and these are all things that are very in-style right now.
The eight year old Scott looks over at him, eyes wide as he realizes he’s accidentally made an absolute mess. His mouth turns try, as he tries to stammer out an apology.
EIGHT SCOTT: I AM SO SORRY SIR I DID NOT MEAN TO SPILL CHEESE ON YOUR LIVESTRONG BRACELET THAT IS NEVER GOING TO AGE POORLY. I DO NOT WANT TO FIGHT YOU. I AM NOT A BIG STRONG WRESTLER LIKE BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD HE IS THE BEST WRESTLER IN THE WORLD AND ALWAYS WILL BE UNTIL THE WORLD ENDS IN 2012. BECAUSE IT IS 2005 AND PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT THE WORLD IS GOING TO END IN 2012.
The literally and metaphorically cheesed wrestling fan looking the eight year old up and down, realizing that he is a prepubescent brick shithouse who is in all actuality only a third grader. A third grader with hams for fists who someday will stop eating ham but then will turn rebellious and then start eating ham again.
He decides that it isn’t worth it.
CHEESED STRANGER: Whatever dude. I’m gonna go home and tell all seven of my friends on The Facebook about what a nerd you are. Because you are a real nerd and you will never be great like Brandon Youngblood. Nerd.
Flopping the excess cheese off of his pants, the annoyed wrestling fan pulls out his Motorola Razr which is currently very popular, snapping a picture of Young Scott and storming away. 2005 was almost 18 years ago. I know we’re hitting this pretty hard right now but I really can’t stress enough that it was eighteen years ago.
Fuck everything, man.
EIGHT SCOTT: WOW THAT WAS A WHOLE LIFE EXPERIENCE THAT I JUST HAD AT A YOUNG AGE AND IT WILL PROBABLY INFLUENCE MY LIFE AND MOTIVATIONS FROM HERE ON OUT. WHAT A CROWNING MOMENT IN MY SCOTTOLESCENCE.
Looking down at the sweet Brandon Youngblood t-shirt hanging loosely over his youth wrestling singlet, Young Scott feels his fists tighten. He didn’t like that guy calling him a nerd, and he especially didn’t like the threat of being made fun of on a small, burgeoning social media platform that will always be cool and hip and will never be taken over by your parents sharing factually dubious pictures with words on top of them.
He feels his butthole tighten.
EIGHT SCOTT: EFF THAT GUY. HE SAID THAT I WILL NEVER BE GREAT LIKE BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD. BRANDON IS THE GREATEST GOOD GUY TO EVER EXIST IN WRESTLING AND MY NEW LIFE GOAL IS TO BE JUST AS GREAT AS MISTER YOUNGBLOOD AND IF THE WORLD DOESN’T END SOON AND I EVER GET A CHANCE TO WRESTLE HIM I WILL DO IT.
Gritting his teeth, the young but growing Scott picks up one of the nachos that didn’t fall all the way to the floor, dipping it in the cheese on the armrest of the chair. Someday, this man will be entrusted with a live bear, a house that drives, and will be expected to understand how insurance works. He bites down on the chip without fear of a pandemic, but with the vague caution of knowing that Al Qaeda may be watching.
It is a different time.
EIGHT SCOTT: THOUGH SINCE I AM CURRENTLY ONLY EIGHT YEARS OLD AND BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD IS A GROWN MAN WITH A CHAMPIONSHIP BELT I GUESS IT IS UNLIKELY THAT HE WILL STILL BE WRESTLING WHEN I AM A GROWN UP UNLESS HE MAKES SOME TERRIBLE FINANCIAL DECISIONS BUT I GUESS WE WILL SEE. ANYWAY I HAVE TO GO NOW IT IS ALMOST MY BEDTIME BECAUSE I AM EIGHT.
He finished absolutely crushing those tortilla chips, wiping his hands on the legs of his Fisher Price My First Singlet. Once they’re clean, he pulls out his LG THE V cell phone and flips open the keyboard, sending an SMS text message to GREAT GRANDPA to tell him that he is ready to leave the show.
EIGHT SCOTT: BOY THIS PHONE SUCKS. IF THE RUMORS ARE TRUE ABOUT STEVE JOBS RELEASING A CELLPHONE BY 2007 I WILL GET ONE OF THOSE IMMEDIATELY AND THEN NEVER LOOK BACK.
Scott stands with his hands on his hips, waiting for GREAT GRANDPA to get his SMS message and return from buying deep fried bacon squares from concession, he looks out over the whole arena. This was as good as it gets. No clinical depression. No living under an overpass. He’s never had his identity stolen, or been told that he isn’t a megastar. GREAT GRANDPA has not yet died from a ninja attack on his heart that doctors would later claim happened because he did things like buy deep fried bacon squares from concession stands.
This is what he wants to do with his life.
He’d always dreamt of being an astronaut or a shift leader at a Burger King, but none of that would be as cool as being the greatest good guy of all time. No one ever calls Brandon Youngblood a nerd. No one ever gets mad if he accidentally cheeses them. No one ever talks bad about him on The Facebook, which I can’t emphasize enough is what it actually used to be called. Every single person in this arena bought a ticket to see Brandon Youngblood do Brandon Youngblood shit.
And they got it.
He came, he saw, he conquered.
Of course, over the span of this run in PRIME, he would also have the title stripped off of him twice and never win the big one until Lindsay Troy literally dragged PRIME from the ashes to compete with High Octane Wrestling, and he’d eventually lose the title to an even older man who subsequently got glue murdered by a guy who later lost to GREAT SCOTT on a HOW go home show, but that’s another story for another day.
…It would be a good story though.
I mean, GREAT SCOTT beat the guy who beat the guy who beat Brandon Youngblood, which via the transitive property makes GREAT SCOTT three times the wrestler that Brandon Youngblood is, but that would just be a petty observation to make. Besides, despite looking so much like a muscle boi Lee Best that both Mike and Tyler are considering having Brandon Youngblood do a 23 and Me, this match isn’t happening in Chicago, and Chicago is his source of power. Anyway, we’re getting off track.
Hurry up and get back in the DeLorean, Marty.
Where we’re going, we don’t need promos.
The name dangles deep in the throat of Scott Gratesburgh circa 2022, as he stares at the card for Revival, his heart slinking down somewhere between his knees and his beefy thigh muscles. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but since he was eight years old, it had always been Scott’s dream to someday face Brandon Youngblood in a singles match.
Brandon Youngblood, his hero.
Brandon Youngblood, the reason he became a wrestler.
Brandon Youngblood, the greatest good guy of all time.
JUST SCOTT: this is the worst thing that has ever happened except for maybe the holocaust that was pretty bad.
He looks like he’s just seen a ghost or lost a world title to a man in his fifties, his skin going clammy and pale. For eighteen years, he has dreamed of this moment. Prayed for it, to whatever God happened to be listening this week. Brandon Youngblood was his idol. A demigod. The greatest good guy in the entire world, and everything that GREAT SCOTT ever aspired to be.
Except that he wasn’t GREAT SCOTT.
He was just… Scott.
He pulls the paper copy of the card off the bulletin board, clutching it in his meaty hands and staring intently at the name across from his own. This should be the single greatest day of his life— you don’t often get the opportunity to square up against the men who helped to make you who you are in this life. He’d literally joined PRIME for the opportunity just to be in the same locker room as his hero, but now that his dream is finally coming true, he feels like a mushy bag of smashed assholes about the whole thing.
JUST SCOTT: why god why is this happening to me?
It’s unclear as to which of his many persistent deities he’s addressing. And maybe that’s part of the problem— when Treacherous Trent and Catfish Cathy stole his identity, they seem to have gotten a lot more than just his credit cards and his social security number.
They got his actual identity.
A splintered, fractured, husk of a man has been shambling through the halls where GREAT SCOTT once walked, calling itself a myriad of nonsense names. LARGE DADDY SCOTT. SCOTTZILLA. For some reason, JERBOI… and now he was Just Scott. A man without an identity. A man without heart, which despite the sixteen wheels of luxury provided by THE GREAT ESCAPE, also makes him a man without a home.
Because, you know.
Home is where the heart is.
JUST SCOTT: i bet GREAT SCOTT would know what to do right now. he would have already cut a witty promo about brandon youngblood being the best wrestler ever but also looking like john malkovich as a beach ball and then he would say one of his cool catchphrases that are very over. but I am not GREAT SCOTT anymore I am Just Scott and I am very afraid that brandon is going to beat me up and call me a nerd. this reminds me of this time when I was eight and—
Before Scott can take us down a much too immediate trip down Callback Lane, the door swings open and interrupts his nostalgic moment of despair. Morty the Mortician barges into the room like an undead Kool-Aid man, holding a giant cardboard box and looking like an absolute madman. He drops the box into the center of the room, grinning from ear to ear as Just Scott gets a whole look at him– a red baseball with white letters covers his long, scraggily hair, emblazoned with the words “MAKE GREAT SCOTT AGAIN” on the front, and it is paired exquisitely with a “GREAT SCOTT MATTERS” t-shirt.
MORTY: Scott Gratesburgh, I come bearing merchandise and sinister tidings. How fares thee on a grim weekday evening?
Normally, the two things in the world that get GREAT SCOTT the most excited are merchandise with his name on them and Morty the Mortician speaking like a vampire in a SyFy original. Unfortunately, GREAT SCOTT isn’t here right now, and Just Scott is about as easily excitable as a eunuch in a quaalude factory.
JUST SCOTT: hi morty. I am not great actually.
The Mortician stands with his arms crossed, slowly nodding his head as he mulls over the situation that he’s just walked into. Scott looks absolutely fucking miserable– bags under his eyes, pale skin, timid demeanor. It would be easier to believe that he was cosplaying as Morty himself than it would be to believe that this is what TAFKA GREAT SCOTT had been reduced to.
No, this wouldn’t do at all.
MORTY: Young Scott, in the name of all things unholy, you must turn that countenance upside down and take heed to the words that I am about to say. Whatever is going on… it is going to be okay. No, nay, I banish these words– it is going to be great.
Forcing half a weak smile, Just Scott hands the Revival card to Morty, letting him take a look at his luck of the draw. Morty’s smile slowly fades, as he somehow turns a shade paler.
MORTY: Scott Gratesburgh, it brings me no joy to inform you that you are fucked.
He stares at Scott, who stares back at Morty. Morty looks at Scott. Scott looks at Morty. Morty looks at Scott. The audience looks to see exactly where the fuck GREAT BEAR has been during the last month or so (he’s on vacation), but then Scott looks back at Morty again.
JUST SCOTT: morty i agree with you. I am really effed in the bee on this one. brandon youngblood is my hero and the reason i became great and i always wanted to wrestle him for my whole life since i was eight. but i can’t wrestle him like this morty i am just some guy named scott who is right now the same age that he was when i was eight years old and that is real math you can google it.
Morty softly nods his head, rubbing at his chin.
He slowly makes his way over to the box, opening the flaps and digging around inside the endless cardboard vortex of shirts and hats. A full pile of borderline Republican wrestling merchandise begins to pile up around the sides of the box, until Morty finally finds what he was looking for, hidden at the bottom.
MORTY: I perhaps have the cure for what ails you, Scott Gratesburgh. But you must believe in it. I see the Greatness in you– it is not gone, my child, but simply hibernating. You have within you all the power you need to beat the old blood out of Youngblood, I simply believe that you lack the confidence to reach down deep and grasp it.
He digs around one last time in the box, grabbing hold of whatever it was that he’s found. He isn’t done monologuing yet, though. He really likes to monologue.
MORTY: I did not wish for us to have to break the glass just yet, Young Scott, but desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures. I believe it was the modern philosopher Tobias Keith that said “You ain’t as great as you once was, but you’ll be as great once, as you ever was”, and I hold the secret… right here in my hand.
As his not-actually-undead hand emerges from the box, what he holds in his grasp nearly shines under the fluorescent lights. The sounds of angels on high sing from the rafters, as Just Scott’s eyes grow wide. It is the single most beautiful thing that he’s ever seen:
A lone can of LIQUID STRONKUMMS.
Except that it isn’t.
Glistening in the condensation on the front of the can, GREAT SCOTT’s smiling face peers back at his namesake, appearing to be sweating because of product design without forethought. The words “LIQUID SCOTTUMS” are brushed across the metallic can, practically begging to be read out loud at a very high volume.
JUST SCOTT: morty… thank you.
He leaps up from his slumped position, wrapping Morty the Mortician in a big, sincere hug. Unfortunately, he is still a SWOLE BOI, so he instantly crushes his pal’s ribs in a bear hug that has absolutely been used on a bear.
MORTY: HNNGH. Thanketh… not… meeee…. Yo..ung Sco…tt. Thanketh… STRONK.
Scott drops Morty’s feet back to the ground, wearing a smile that matches the one on the can. For just a moment, he can feel it. What it’s like to be GREAT outside of a Chicago area code. As tempted as he is to snatch the can away from Morty and guzzle it down, he decides that he isn’t going to– he may drink a thousand of these a day in the future, but not this can.
This can is special.
This can is a reminder.
A reminder that despite the offensive messaging in Morty’s apparel, the necromancer is right– the GREATNESS is still inside of him. This wasn’t the worst time in the world to fight Brandon Youngblood… it was the best. Who better than to bring the GREAT out of Just Scott than the man who inspired him to become GREAT in the first place? Just Scott might be stepping into that ring, but if he somehow manage to overcome the odds… somehow manage to beat his hero… well…
MORTY: How are you feeling, Young Scott?
Scott lets out a giant sigh of relief, holding the can in front of his face and smiling like it’s his birthday.
JUST SCOTT: morty… I feel… GREAT.