June 14, 2007
Montel Vontavious Porter
REAL NAME: Alvin Burke Jr./Hasaan Asaad
Montel Vontavious Porter, or MVP, as WWE fans have come to know him, made a huge splash on the wrestling circuit in 2006. But there is much more to Alvin Burke Jr. than meets the eye; he has been wrestling since 2003, and has been through the independent scene, making stops in Full Impact Pro, Coastal Championship Wrestling, Elite Wrestling Entertainment, NWA Florida, and Ring of Honor (as Antonio Banks). He even had a cup of coffee in TNA back in 2003 and again in 2004. Indeed, his journey to the WWE is perhaps equally as interesting as his ascent up the sports entertainment ladder.
Born on October 28, 1973, Alvin Burke Jr. grew up in Miami, Florida. His childhood remains a mystery, however this much we do know -- he was enthralled with professional wrestling from an early age. As he entered into adulthood, he headed into a dark and dangerous period of his life, serving nine and a half years of an 18-year sentence in prison on the charges of armed robbery and kidnapping. While in prison, he took on the Muslim religion and was given the name Hasaan Asaad. In fact, while his "power ranger" ring costume was assigned to him to cover up his stomach which had become larger than the WWE desired, the costume was also given to him to cover up a Malcolm X tattoo on his chest. Clearly, the time he spent in prison changed his outlook on life.
There has also been confusion concerning MVP's actual date of birth. Some suggest he was born in 1970, while others still insist it was 1980. However, the date of birth on his driver's licence reads October 28, 1973, and that is the most reliable source of information that can be found concerning his age.
Trained by "Soul Man" Alex G. and the more identifiable Norman Smiley of WCW fame, MVP took on the wrestling persona of Antonio Banks. The earliest match of written record involving Antonio Banks was, believe it or not, on an episode of TNA Xplosion on April 20, 2003 where he was defeated by Eric Watts. Slightly over one year later, he wrestled his trainer, Norman Smiley, in a dark match at a SmackDown! taping on June 24, 2004. The WWE passed on Antonio Banks at the time, and he wrestled once more on an episode of TNA Impact on August 26, 2004 alongside his tag team partner, Sal Rinauro, taking on America's Most Wanted. That was, however, the extent of his time in TNA.
From there, Banks hit the independent circuit in his home state of Florida, wrestling for NWA Florida and more notably, Full Impact Pro, the sister promotion of Ring of Honor. While in FIP, Banks wrestled the likes of CM Punk, Scoot Andrews, Erick Stevens, and others, and wrestled Homicide for the FIP Heavyweight Championship on a Ring of Honor show -- The Third Anniversary, Part One, on February 19, 2005. Homicide was victorious on that night, but Banks pressed on. He continued to wrestle for FIP, and added Coastal Championship Wrestling to his list of employers, where he most prominently wrestled Jerry Lynn. He also spent two months in Elite Wrestling Entertainment, wrestling former WWE star D'Lo Brown while there.
In August of 2005, Banks got another chance with the WWE, wrestling Mideon in a dark match for Raw, and, teaming with Buck Quartermain, also wrestled The Shane Twins in a SmackDown! dark match. This time the WWE liked what they saw, and signed him to a developmental contract. Banks finished his independent commitments -- which included a match against Jake "The Snake" Roberts -- and reported to Deep South Wrestling, then a developmental territory for the WWE.
For about a month, he wrestled under the name of Antonio Banks in DSW, wrestling the likes of Kid Kash and Palmer Cannon. On December 22, 2005, however, the MVP character debuted. Inspired by Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character in the hit movie Jerry McGuire, and also using Terrell Owens as inspiration, MVP was a brash, arrogant star athlete that was in it for the money. The gimmick was a success in DSW, and caught the eye of the higher ups in the WWE. With SmackDown! in dire need of new talent, MVP was heading to Friday nights.
His WWE debut was set up wonderfully -- he would sit in the crowd talking to his agent on his cell phone, and would eventually find his way into SmackDown! General Manager Teddy Long's office, demanding that Teddy show him the money. Any time Teddy Long tried to speak to him regarding a contract, MVP would throw up his arms and suggest Teddy speak to his agent. He then began showing up on Monday Night Raw and using their supposed interest in him as leverage, forcing Teddy Long to act quickly and offer him more money to sign with SmackDown!. MVP demanded "John Cena money, plus one dollar." Finally, after two months of negotiations, a press conference was held on WWE.com announcing the signing of MVP to SmackDown!.
MVP's WWE in-ring debut was to be at No Mercy 2006. Certainly highly anticipated after all the hype surrounding his "signing", MVP showed up at No Mercy in a costume that has had him compared to a Power Ranger, and announced that his opponent would be Marty Garner -- an unknown jobber to most wrestling fans, but to the more hardcore fans, Garner wrestled as Puck Dupp towards the end of ECW's original run. Nonetheless, MVP made quick work of Garner and was wildly criticized by the SmackDown! commentary crew of Michael Cole and JBL.
The facade didn't last long though -- that same week on SmackDown!, Teddy Long ordered MVP to wrestle Kane. After trying unsuccessfully to convince Teddy Long to reconsider, MVP reluctantly got into the ring with Kane; but not for long, as MVP intentionally got himself counted out. And so began his first true WWE program, a feud with Kane which culminated in an Inferno Match at Armageddon 2006. In that match, MVP was set on fire and subsequently sold the "burns" for the next month.
MVP began a hilarious streak, defeating completely made up champions from foreign countries, such as El Gran Latte, the "Undisputed Champion of Hondorous," Cedrick Von Haussen, the "Leichenstein Heavyweight Champion," and Viko Vatamongo, the "Ethiopian Heavyweight Champion." This streak was a build up for WrestleMania 23, where MVP was to take on Chris Benoit for the United States Championship -- a program which would become very influential on MVP's in-ring work. Benoit is said to have taken MVP under his wing behind the scenes, teaching him the ins and outs of wrestling psychology and how to conduct himself in and out of the ring. It seems Benoit believed in MVP's ability very strongly, lobbying to put him over. Well, as it turns out, Benoit defeated him at WrestleMania, and then again at Backlash. However, at May's Judgment Day pay-per-view, Benoit was set to defend the U.S. title against MVP in a two-out-of-three falls match. MVP went on to win the match in two straight falls, and got a taste of WWE gold for the first time.
Without question, Montel Vontavious Porter has come a long way, and his in-ring work has improved noticeably since his program with Chris Benoit. Hailed as one of the WWE's fastest rising stars, we can expect big things from MVP in the very near future.
MVP would defend his title for the next several months before starting a feud with Matt Hardy, one that nearly ended prematurely when MVP needed surgery to correct a heart condition. The grudge was marked by a series of dopey non-wresting competitions before the duo inexplicably teamed up together to win the WWE Tag Team Championships from Deuce and Domino.
MVP continued defending his singles title, and at Cyber Sunday, retained against Kane, although he was unable to beat him. In fact, he just took his U.S. belt and bailed, thereby getting counted out.
In the meantime, one of the strangest Tag Team Champion combos ever would either defend their titles together or face off against each other on opposite teams. Not surprisingly, their reign didn't last, as John Morrison and The Miz beat them for the titles in a mid-November SmackDown episode. But just when MVP and Hardy were set to settle their differences one-on-one, Hardy required an emergency appendectomy for a ruptured appendix, which left him out of action for months. That suddenly left MVP without a dance partner, and he bounced around from opponent to opponent, including Rey Mysterio, Punk, Ric Flair, Batista, and Chris Jericho.
MVP's feud with Hardy reignited at WrestleMania 24. While vying for a title shot in the Money in the Bank ladder match, Hardy showed up and prevented MVP from capturing the briefcase. After some hype, MVP and Hardy faced each other a month later at Backlash. Hardy bested MVP to take the U.S. Championship, and won again in their rematch at the next SmackDown.
There was a dearth of significant angles for MVP for a couple months thereafter, until he started beaking off about Matt's brother Jeff on the VIP lounge in late July. MVP helped Edge beat Jeff on Saturday Night's Main Event, and interfered in Jeff's matches against U.S. Champion Shelton Benjamin. Jeff sought satisfaction at SummerSlam, but distraction from Benjamin helped MVP get his bearings and hit the Drive-By kick for the pinfall. Perhaps more importantly, Jeff won their rematch on SmackDown, which was the start of a massive losing streak for MVP.
His agonizing winless spell lasted from August 29 to January 16, and resulted in MVP losing his alleged "incentive bonus" and the NFL-like inflatable tunnel he used for his entrances. MVP would finally win, but his victory came at the expense of the least likely of opponents and circumstances as he beat Big Show in a Last Man Standing match. But the fact of the matter is that Triple H's Royal Rumble spot was hinging on MVP winning, so naturally, Triple H lent a bit of assistance in the form of his trusty sledgehammer.
The unlikely victory by this once loud mouthed braggart-turned underdog effectively switched MVP into a babyface. From there, MVP actually put together a good winning record and beat Benjamin to regain his U.S. title on SmackDown. He had another chance at the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 25, but Punk came out on top again. A few days later and MVP was drafted to Raw, where he has since gotten into a feud with William Regal, who ambushed MVP because he was fed up with this over-assertive Raw newcomer who had effectively taken some of the spotlight off of him. Regal was joined by Matt Hardy, who wanted to renew acquaintances with his old tag partner. MVP has had the lead in the early part of the feud, coming out on the winning end with Kofi Kingston in a tag match against Regal and Hardy, and in a singles title match against Hardy.
-- compiled by Mark Xamin and Richard Kamchen