Mike Mondo on who passed on the WWE Spirit Squad gimmick and opened the door for him, the group's departure from television, backstage politics, and Jim Cornette's influence in Ring of Honor
Inside The Ropes Radio with Mike Mondo
Show airs Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m.
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How he ended up as part of The Spirit Squad in OVW: Originally I wasn’t supposed to be in the Spirit Squad. It was gonna be Kenny, Dolph Ziggler, Mitch and I believe, Elijah Burke. It was those four. That was who it was planned for. But from what I was told, Elijah Burke didn’t want to take on the role, I don’t know why. I was at home for the holidays. Tommy Dreamer called me. He was in the office at the time. Tommy got me my job with WWE and got me hired. A lot of the office didn’t want to hire me. John Laurinaitis said he didn’t see any money in me. He was like 'Yeah, he can work but OK, so what how can we make money with him?' Dreamer told me to come to New Jersey when Raw was in town. He told me he had a spot for me on the Spirit Squad. He took me in front of Stephanie (McMahon). She took a look at me and said 'Yeah, that’ll work,' and I was in the group."
The challenge of such a high profile spot on the roster straight away: "It was for the most part a great experience but it was a tough experience. We were five young guys, it was Vince McMahon’s idea so it was gonna get pushed to the moon. We had a pretty good idea that as long as we carried our weight we’d get that opportunity. There was some guy that had been there, on the roster for years, and here are five guys who’ve just got there and are put straight into the main events working pay-per-views, house shows, TV, and you know the paycheck obviously is different from the opening match to the main event. There’s always gonna be politics."
On the Spirit Squad’s exit from TV: "Originally the sign that was posted on the box was supposed to be Taiwan. But Triple H thought because of Mitch’s situation, he couldn’t really wrestle and he was injured with a torn ACL for most of the run, jokingly that it would be funny if they put Mitch in the box and put OVW on it and that’s what happened."
His mentor Jim Cornette’s influence in Ring of Honor: "I don’t know how many bookers are still in wrestling, not writers but bookers. He’s one of only a handful of guys that are still around and that’s because he has a love and a passion for this business. He gives young guys an opportunity, not a lot of young guys get an opportunity. Now, with Jim, I think he’ll go out on the indy scene and find the young guys that have the tools to be a star and equip them to go out and use those tools and get the chance to work. A lot of people owe a lot to Jim a lot for the opportunity, because in wrestling, the opportunities are few and far between."
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