February 12, 2006
REAL NAME: Mike Brenley
Trained for his June 2002 debut at the Critical Mass Wrestling School, Mondo began wrestling for Ohio Valley Wrestling in September 2003, wrestling in dark tag matches on OVW TV tapings that also involved Tank Toland, Joey Matthews and Carly Colon (Carlito Cool).
Mondo was finally signed to a developmental deal by WWE in February 2005 and assigned to Ohio Valley. He quickly became part of Bolin Services, led by Kenny "the King" Bolin. His first few matches with Bolin Services weren't a success, as he was defeated by Steve Lewington and Romeo Roselli.
Mondo was also wrestling for the New York Wrestling Connection, and his early dates there were much more successful, boasting a nine-month undefeated streak. Then, on March 26, 2005, he defeated Joey Matthews for the NYWC Heavyweight Championship and retained it against Mikey Whipwreck. However, a little over a month after his title victory, Mondo lost the belt to Matt Striker on April 30th.
In Ohio Valley, Mondo wasn't having as much luck, losing in the first round of the OVW TV title tournament to Alexis Laree (later WWE's Mickey James). Mondo even lost to Victoria when he issued an open challenge to any woman in the back.
In late summer 2005, Mondo feuded with Brent Albright after attacking Albright during a match with Da Beast and injured his eye. Albright got his revenge with a submission victory at the September 7th TV taping.
Mondo continued to team with various members of Bolin Services (including Johnny Jeter and Da Beast over the course of the fall and early winter of 2005.
In December 2005, Mike Mondo introduced a new gimmick. Pretending to be a luchadore, Mondo dubbed himself "El Mondo". Although he got several victories in dark matches (including one over Roadkill, he lost to CM Punk during a televised match.
As 2006 began, Mondo went on the road with WWE Raw, as he and Ken Doane introduced their Spirit Squad gimmick in dark matches and live events. Mondo fell to Chavo Guerrero, Jr during one such dark match on January 2, 2006. After a short return to OVW, the Spirit Squad (which also included Johnny Jeter, Nick Mitchell and Nick Nemeth) headed to WWE Raw. Their appearance on the January 23rd Raw cost Jerry Lawler a Royal Rumble qualifying match against the Coach. They have since made several appearances on Raw, as well as at the Royal Rumble itself.
--- compiled by John M. Milner