MVP already has two titles to his name, one of them the WWE Tag Team Championship with long-time rival Matt Hardy. A versatile and sometimes ethically-dubious ring technician, MVP also hosts The VIP Lounge on SmackDown. The Lounge made an appearance in Auckland this past week, where MVP interviewed New Zealand wrestling legends Butch Miller and Tony Garea.
Fresh from two days in New Zealand, wowing Auckland and Christchurch crowds, MVP takes time out to speak to NZPWI Editor Kirsty Quested just before the show in Brisbane.
Kirsty Quested: Since debuting on SmackDown in August two years ago, my guest at this time has gone on to defeat some of the biggest names in the business, including winning the United States Championship and the WWE Tag Team Championship. He claims to be the highest paid athlete on SmackDown; he claims to be better than you. He is Montel Vontavious Porter – MVP.
MVP: Hello Kirsty.
Hi MVP, how’re you doing?
I’m doing quite well, and you?
I’m very good thanks.
Unfortunately not. We never get much chance to look around, because our schedule is so rigorous. We’re in and out… but I did have an opportunity to meet with the Auckland Warriors, and by chance happened to run into some of the All Blacks, and got around Auckland a bit, so that was cool.
How did you finding holding The VIP Lounge in Auckland with Butch Miller?
Outstanding. Absolutely outstanding. It’s one of those things… being in the WWE, and being a lifelong fan, there are times when I have these surrealistic moments, where I’m standing in the ring with two WWE greats – Tony Garea and Bushwhacker Butch – and it was surrealistic, it was absolutely breathtaking.
What did you think of New Zealand fans? How did they compare with other international fans?
They were just full of energy, and I guess because we only make it to New Zealand once a year, they were very hungry, and I guess with the anticipation and excitement of seeing us just allows them to be so loud and over-the-top, so… the US fans, they’re great, and fans in other places are outstanding, but I guess because we only get to New Zealand once a year, it allows them to be that much more excited about our arrival.
So, what first got you into wrestling? Is it something you’d always wanted to do?
No, as a matter of fact I stumbled into wrestling, if you will. I was always a fan, but it was when I was in prison, towards the end of my sentence, I was at a work release centre, and I met a correctional officer who was an independent wrestler, and he would bring in videotapes of independent shows, and title belts, and we’d watch them. And he and I would strike up conversations about wrestling, and I would always ask him questions about the moves… I just wanted to be, I wanted to know the behind-the-scenes things if you will, and he was in the process of starting up his own independent promotion, and asked me if I’d be interested in learning how to wrestle, and I knew that I was getting out prison soon, and I was going to need something to keep me out of trouble, and I took him up on his offer to train.
And… well since you bring it up, your prison sentence, do you think that it has done that? You know, wrestling has helped you to keep out of trouble?
Wrestling saved my life. Because if it hadn’t been for professional wrestling, I most certainly would have gone back to engaging in some sort of criminal behaviour, so I probably would be back in prison for life, or dead.
Did you have any concerns early on, when you first debuted for WWE, about the “look” of the MVP character – you know, the response to the “Power Ranger” chants, things like that?
Oh absolutely. [laughs] I hated – absolutely abhorred – that first outfit. It was nothing like what I had designed. The concept was supposed to be Under Armour. And what I got was Star Trek. I actually went to Mr McMahon and asked if I could cut the sleeves off, or if I could do something to change it, and he said “no, no, that’s it.” His exact words to me are: “MVP’s ego is going to make that work.” And he was right.
Hah, I was going to say, he was absolutely right.
But since then, if you notice the evolution of the outfit, it’s been a little bit more towards what I want, and even now I’m working on even newer designs to keep it more in tune with the Under Armour, and Nike dry-fit type thing.
Cool. We’ll be looking forward to seeing that.
Wow [laughs]. It was un-nerving, to say the least. You’re in a wrestling ring, and surrounded by – I would have to say, those flames, when they shoot up, they shoot up to probably 10 feet or something like that – and standing in there with Kane, who’s about 320 pounds, and maybe 6-foot-10? I mean, when you talk about frying pan into the fire, there you go, quite literally. And it was hot to begin with, and difficult to breathe because of the heat…
I was going to ask, does the oxygen get sucked out of the ring?
…oh yeah, and at one point, it was interesting, Kane knocked me down, and as I was close to the edge of the ring, and the gas that ignites the flames – I happened to be taking a deep breath, right as the flames were being pumped…
Oh no, you got a lungful?
…lungful of gas, so you know, for a few minutes there, I was like – I couldn’t breathe at all, and not only fight for breath, I had to fight Kane off as well. I came close to panicking for a second, but was able to make it out the other side.
You won your first WWE title – the United States Championship – defeating Chris Benoit after you had had a series of matches. How did the Chris Benoit tragedy affect you?
Deeply. Very deeply. It’s an absolutely abhorrent tragedy, but… I don’t even have the words to express how shocking and deeply disturbing the whole ordeal was.
It’s been… it’s funny, I’m never at a loss for words, but there are times, when reflecting on my career, up to this point – it’s just so overwhelming. Because I think about the fact that – I even joked with Matt, telling him that – I remember being in wrestling school, watching Matt and his brother Jeff, win the tag team titles and become tag team champions, and carry them, and to actually be standing with Matt Hardy, sharing the tag team titles, it was just outstanding.
But my series with Matt was challenging. Because Matt’s a hell of a talent, and he will push you, he really makes you bring your best every time.
But, we were fortunate. Because Mr McMahon allowed Matt and myself to have a lot of input into the rivalry and the contests and the things that we were doing through that whole ordeal. So we were very fortunate, there was a time there that our angle was one of the most exciting parts of the show. And being allowed to have a say and make suggestions, a lot of what you saw during that time, between myself and Matt, were things that we came up with, and it’s great when you get to see your ideas come to fruition.
Yeah, for sure, for sure.
And when the people are so receptive to them as well.
Fun would be an understatement. And it’s funny, because WWE Magazine, one of the recent issues, interviewed me and asked me about some of the other talk shows that are on the programming, and some of the previous ones, and you know, Pipers Pit was just… I remember watching it, when I was younger, and just thinking “man, that’s absolutely outstanding”. Piper was the man. I was never ever a Hulkamaniac, I was always a Piper fan.
And as time went on, there were other classics, but in recent memory, The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho, and The Cutting Edge, I watched these guys and studied them, these are the current greats. So to be able to have my own talk show, and to actually have been on The Cutting Edge with Edge, or to have had Chris Jericho as a guest on The VIP Lounge, these are just accomplishments that make me beam with pride.
SummerSlam is the next really big pay-per-view coming up for WWE, and this was an event you didn’t have a match in last year. What are you hoping for in this year’s event?
Well I’m always hoping to be – my goal is to always be the absolute best that I can be, and I tell people all the time, it’s my goal to be a multi-time world champion, so if I had my druthers, I’d be at SummerSlam getting a shot at the world title. We don’t know, because it’s still a ways off, but I have every intention of having a – barring unforeseen circumstances of course – I have every intention of having a very high profile match at SummerSlam.
What’s something that fans would be surprised to learn about MVP?
There are so many things. [laughs] It’s funny, because there are things about me that people find out, and they’re surprised… you can’t judge a book by its cover, and with me that’s especially true.
Okay, here’s something I think’s pretty good: naturally, I love hip-hop, I’m a big fan of rap music, but a lot of people probably don’t know that also, I’m a big fan of hardcore punk, and even a bit of metal. The lead singer of Killswitch Engage, they do CM Punk’s entry music as a matter of fact, is a friend of mine, we talk all the time, yeah. I really, really enjoy their music. Some of my favourite bands are legendary American punk bands, like Bad Brains, I’m a huge fan of Fishbone, Red Hot Chili Peppers, music of that sort. So most people probably wouldn’t guess that, and would probably be surprised to find that out.
What does the future hold for MVP?
Um… wow. The sky’s the limit. I’m really excited about the WWE Films division. And I’ve been shouting to the rooftops about their ambitious goal of putting out two theatrical releases a year and four straight-to-DVD releases a year. And it’s a great opportunity for a lot of the WWE talent to swim in different waters so to speak.
I recently had an opportunity to read for a part in one of their films, and I got very, very good feedback, so I think that in the near future there’ll probably be some WWE feature films – if not “featuring” MVP, definitely having some MVP content.
That’s exciting, all the best for that.
Well listen MVP, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us, and all the best for tonight’s show in Brisbane.
Thank you very much. And if you could tell your New Zealand fans…
I wasn’t, before, a rugby league fan. But, after having an opportunity to meet the Warriors, I was so impressed with Ruben Wiki. Initially, I didn’t know much about him, and didn’t know a whole lot about rugby league, but since I’ve been here I’ve been watching the program quite a bit, and did a little research on Ruben Wiki, and what an amazing athlete. And just, some of the things I found out about him are just astounding, so I guess it’s safe to say that – [big sigh] – that I’m a Warriors supporter now.
And I will probably be following the team from here on out.
Ah, that’s great to hear. Well thanks again MVP, and all the best for the future.
Cheers, all the best.