January 30, 2010
MVP addicted to the adrenaline rush
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
The song is as distinctive as the wrestler himself.
When the clock starts ticking in the opening seconds of his Iím Coming entrance music, Alvin Burke Jr. bounces out to a huge pop from the fans.
As MVP, the 36-year-old Burke has become a huge fan favourite and one of WWE's shining stars. MVP is looking forward to Sunday's Royal Rumble, hoping it takes his career up another rung on the ladder.
"Each man (in the 30-man over-the-top-rope Rumble) is vying to be the last man standing, fighting for that coveted spot at Wrestlemania. This is one of the Big Four, along with Summer Slam, Survivor Series and Mania," says MVP.
So what does it feel like when he hears his music, when he hears the deafening roar of fan support?
"It's indescribable," he says. "If you could take that adrenaline that I'm feeling and bottle it, the entire planet would be addicted. In the past, I had a bit of anxiety, but when that curtain opens, it's go time."
MVP has made a smooth transition from heel to face.
"I had a lot of fun as a heel," he says. "The transition has been very organic. I didn't do anything instinctive to become a fan favourite. I was in a losing streak and the fans got behind me. The same things I did to get me booed were all of a sudden getting me cheered."
Whatever the reaction from the fans, MVP has turned his life around. This is a guy who spent more than nine years of an 18 1/2-year sentence in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping -- at the age of 16.
"Earlier in my life, I didn't feel it was my responsibility (to reach out to others and try and keep them on the proper path), but as I attained success, I realized I do have a responsibility to people who know my life story," says MVP, who has become a spokesman for an army national guard program aimed at drop-out and at-risk kids.
"I know what it's like to come from that life of hopelessness. I went down that path. I made bad decisions. You have to think for yourself. Somebody told me a long time ago, 'Always shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you'll hit the stars.'"
MVP is a sports fanatic. He lists his favourite teams as the L.A. Raiders (NFL), New York Knicks (NBA), New York Yankees (MLB), New York Rangers (NHL), Miami Hurricanes (college football), Georgetown (college basketball) ... and Manchester United (English premier soccer). Yes, soccer!
"When I'm in the UK, I'm thrashed for being a Man U fan," he says with a laugh. "I became a fan when I was in the eighth grade. I had a paper route and the guy who drove the truck was from England and he was a Man U fan. I followed them periodically after that."
As a two-time U.S. Champ and former WWE tag title holder, MVP has tasted success, now he's looking for another strap around his waist -- the WWE or world title.
"Anytime I've been placed in that position, I've shown I'm more than capable," he says. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity."
Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.email@example.com.