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A true MVP -- take it to the bank
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun


MVP talks to the crowd at the THQ Superstar Challenge at Detroit's Gem Theatre on Thursday, March 29, 2007. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
RELATED STORY: Burke dominates, wins THQ Superstar Challenge SPECIAL SECTION: WRESTLEMANIA 23 PHOTO GALLERY

To spend a few moments with Antonio Banks, you'd never guess he wiggles into a purple bodysuit and sunglasses and struts to the ring as the arrogant Montel Vontavious Porter.

You'd never believe he has an axe to grind with Chris Benoit.

And you'd never, ever peg him as a criminal -- a guy who was arrested for robbery at age 16, serving 9-1/2 years of an 18-year sentence.

But whatever you believe, it seems like only a matter of time before this WWE Smackdown! superstar has a gold belt around his waist.

As for Benoit, MVP is full of praise: "Chris Benoit is one of the five greatest wrestlers (in history)," he says.

"He's a machine. He's someone I've studied ... I'm a student of the game. Terrell Owens studied wide receivers who came before him ... and now he does it better. Mike Tyson studied tapes of Ali ... and he did it better.

"I've got a couple of bookshelves full of videos ... The Dynamite Kid, Tiger Mask, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Kawada ..."

Banks has to pinch himself each day for his success to sink in ... he has gone from street thug to superstar.

"This is redemption," he says. "Redemption for driving up and down the highways, for the jobs you get fired from, from getting stiffed by promoters. I made up my mind I wanted to make it in WWE ... and I made it."

Of course, he has to slip into his in-ring character during the conversation, if only briefly: "Everything I do, I do big. In the history of pro wrestling, there has never been an MVP. I'm a straight-from-the-street player."

A player who has his feet back on the ground ... and his eyes on the prize.

LOCKDOWN: TNA will have plenty of caged fury at tomorrow night's Lockdown pay-per-view. Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Rhino, Sting and Jeff Jarrett) takes on Team Cage (Christian Cage, AJ Styles, Scott Steiner, Abyss and Tomko) in a Lethal Lockdown main event. Other matches: LAX vs. Team 3D (electrical steel cage match); Chris Sabin vs. Sonjay Dutt vs. Jay Lethal vs. Alex Shelley vs. Shark Boy (Xscape match for the X Division title); Chris Harris vs. James Storm (blindfold match); Jerry Lynn vs. Fallen Angel; Pety Williams vs. Robert Roode; Gail Kim vs. Jackie Moore; Austin Starr vs. Senshi; and Christie Hemme's team vs. Voodoo Kin Mafia.

AROUND THE RING: CM Punk has joined the New Breed. Booker T will be out a few months after knee surgery. Bob Holly is scheduled for elbow surgery.


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