Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded…but flourished. Others were DOA from the get go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative…but for various reasons….faded away. Those are the focus of this latest series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’.
After setting the WWE’s developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling on fire with a series of classic matches against CM Punk…’The Shooter’ Brent Albright got the call up to the main roster. Brent was a pure technical wrestler who’s style was a bit different than what the WWE was accustom to at the time.
After Brent got the call up..he was asked to chose a new ring name. Brent gave them several that had either Brent or Albright in it..but all were turned down. He finally gave them the name Scott Gunner as a play on his “Shooter” nickname in OVW and it was accepted…the only catch…they wanted to reverse the name to Gunner Scott. While not enamored with the new name…Brent figured it was a small complaint considering that he was headed to the main roster.
On April 7th, 2006, Gunner Scott made his WWE debut on Smackdown by defeating future WWE Hall of Famer Booker T with a roll up. After his upset win, he was congratulated by then Smackdown general manager Teddy Long who introduced him to fans by mispronouncing his name as “Gunther Scott.” Despite the mishap, it was a huge victory against a former 5 time, 5 time, 5 time WCW world champion!
Understandably, in interviews years after his WWE tenure, Brent Albright saw that win as a big stepping stone to a long and successful career with the company. To add to his confidence, Chris Benoit was filmed backstage congratulating Gunner on his win over Booker. WWE creative wrote a storyline where Gunner Scott was going to be the young protege of Benoit.
Chris Benoit was already an established star with the company winning several championships including the World heavyweight title. Gunner resembled Benoit in body type and wrestling skill. So having Benoit as a ‘kayfabe’ teacher to Gunner’s student seemed like a great idea and perfect fit. The two began teaming with one another and it all started to come together.
According to some rumors at the time, the storyline would play out for a few months with Benoit teaching Gunner the ins and outs of the WWE. It would culminate with Gunner turning heel on Benoit and setting up a feud between the two. It was a classic formula that the WWE has implemented in the past to varying degrees of success. The most notable being the teacher/student angle between Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko. That angle drew thousands upon thousands to the old Shea Stadium in Queens, New York.
That might have been the original plan…but in the WWE…plans often change. This was one of those cases. It started with Benoit dealing with nagging injuries and wanting to take time off to properly heal. Once Benoit left for awhile, Gunner Scott was left on his own. Without the Benoit factor to keep his storyline going…he was quickly put on the back burner as other new stars like Mr. Kennedy were making their debut and getting the attention.
Gunner was rarely being used on TV and when he was…he was becoming a jobber. According to Gunner himself, he believed that creative was lost on what to do with him after Benoit’s sabbatical. His last match saw Gunner job to the newcomer the Great Khali and placed into a body bag. Gunner was then sent back down to OVW.
Soon after his demotion, Gunner was given his release from the company. To this day, he still doesn’t know the whole reason why he was let go. Perhaps the WWE saw him more as a wrestler than as a “superstar.” Whatever the real reason was, Brent Albright returned to the indies…most notably working for Ring of Honor. Brent is now more retired than a full time wrestler. He has a family and at last check…lives in Oklahoma. While Albright’s in ring career, is all but done….one cannot help but wonder what might have been. In April of 2006 he was beating Booker T and by June of 2006 he was unemployed. A true waste of talent.