WWE Superstar Montel Vontavius Porter AKA "MVP" has an idea for next year's WrestleMania: "I'd love to get Ann Coulter and Ariana Huffington in a WWE ring, put them in a steel cage and watch them go at it." Any takers? Someone get Vince McMahon on the phone.
The former United State Champion and sometime "View" cohost Sherri Shepherd arm candy may be on to something (or not), but next year's event is a long ways off and the grappler's still focused on the aftermath of this year's contest, which took place in April at the Reliant Stadium in Houston.
"WrestleMania is always an overwhelming experience. It's the Super Bowl of our industry if you will. You're talking about performing in your craft with the best of the best at the largest gathering of competitors and fans - there's nothing like it."
For those of you interested in seeing the April slugfest, which was attended by more people than the Super Bowl by the way, NBC is airing a special this Saturday at 9 p.m. dubbed "The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania." Essentially the telecast (a first for NBC and the WWE), takes the four-hour event and packs into an hour of highlights set to music from the likes of AC/DC and Korn. I chatted with MVP earlier, and here's what he had to say about life in the ring and out.
What WrestleMania's did you grow up with?
I remember when WrestleMania was brand new with Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorf...MTV being involved with Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou. It was huge then and to watch what it's evolved into has been just unbelievable. Hulk Hogan slamming Andre...there are so many moments..
What's been your "moment" thus far in WWE?
I grew up in Miami. I initially grew up watching Southern wrestling promotions and Ric Flair was "the man." I was able to wrestle him twice. First I defended my US Championship against him and I beat the dirtiest player in the game with a thumb to the eye. The biggest match was at Madison Square Garden. He was on his retirement tour if you will, and basically if he lost, he had to retire. My very first match at Madison Square Garden was his last at Madison Square Garden. I tapped out to his patented figure-four leglock. It's definitely a high point of my career.
You and Flair walk the walk on the mic as well. You seem to be a natural at cutting promos...
It is natural. People ask me all the time, and I tell them MVP is who I am but with the volume cranked way up. The neighborhood I grew up in, you couldn't come out of the house if you couldn't defend yourself. That's what we did all day - lifting weights and tossing the football around, and some people call it snapping - but we called it ranking. We just verbally abused each other for fun. My life growing up in the inner city and being around other tough kids [as well as] being around the Department of Corrections, you just learn how to have a little sporty talk.
You've never ran away from your past jail time. You educated kids about it. Was that a conscious decision once you became a star?
That was a process. While I was in prison, it was really difficult. I was a child of 16, 17 or 18.
I became a man in prison. While there, I saw a number of teenagers with a lot of time and it was the circumstances of how they grew up. When you're brought up in the hood, and all you see is death and destruction-that's all you know. Forget doctors, high school or working a 9-5 job is unrealistic because you don't know anybody like that. When I got out, I wanted to thwart that. I was fortunate to have people in my life who knew I was no dummy. I was just misdirected. People took time to put me on the right path now I want to use my success to show others it can be done. I think it was Maya Angelou who said "you can't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You have to use one hand free so you can throw something back."
Do you think wrestling still gets a bad rap - many die young and use drugs?
There has to be a line drawn between the old guard and the new guard. A lot of guys dying young came from our profession in a different era. They came up in a time where contract were structured very differently. If you didn't work, you didn't get paid. If you didn't get paid, you couldn't feed your family. Guys worked through injuries taking pain medication and whatever other drugs so they could get through the schedule. It's different now. If we were injured, our medical is taken care of. We're still paid. Once upon a time you'd go into locker rooms, and you'd see guys drinking beer or getting high. Nowadays, you'd see guys drinking energy drinks or protein shakes. It's changed a lot. I think WWE and the McMahon family have made huge strides in making wrestling a more palatable product. I challenge you to find an 8-year-old kid who doesn't know who John Cena is or doesn't have action figures in their toy box. We've become so much more.