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Thursday, April 13, 2017

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Retrospective: MVP's WWE Run

By @TrueGodImmortal 

When we talk about that era of WWE when they seemed to be rejecting of transition and progressing, we always have to talk about the stars that WWE never really pulled the trigger with. That time period would be the 2005-2009 era where the only huge stars the WWE really made were Batista, Randy Orton, and John Cena. Edge would rise to prominence as well, but it was mostly guys like Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho (here and there), Jeff Hardy, JBL, and a few other well known names kept the company alive. Before the company put focus into the next wave of guys, they had some interesting talent rise up who deserved a main event spot, but were never given them. During 2006-2009, no wrestler exemplified that other than MVP.

The thing about MVP was that he was brash, arrogant, and for me, a talented black wrestler. He had a gimmick that was pretty simple, but it still worked. His promo skills were natural given that he was a native of Miami, Florida (by way of Opa-Locka also), known for notorious shit talkers. Taking a gimmick that was a mix of the Rod Tidwell character from Jerry Maguire (I'm assuming Vince liked that movie) and Terrell Owens, MVP would be created. A self obsessed athlete that has all the money, lives luxuriously, and always has women around. This was the initial basis of his character and despite how stereotypical it was, it still seemed to work. When MVP was appearing on Smackdown to talk to Teddy Long, the WWE played it as if he was a "free agent", keeping with the sports theme of his character. A press conference would be announced and it was noted that MVP signed with Smackdown to the biggest contract in history. I'll admit, the earlier parts of this MVP story was just not executed the right way.

Fast forward to after his first feud with Kane (and subsequently The Undertaker alongside another promising upstart Mr. Kennedy), and MVP was slightly a disappointment. He was seen as over the top and a joke almost, as his inflated tunnel for his entrance and his odd attire (many called him a Power Ranger) made him very tough to take serious. MVP wrestled in what was supposed to a bodysuit made for athletes, though it didn't really look like that. After his Kane feud, he would attempt to move into a situation that led people to take him more serious. Enter Chris Benoit. Perhaps Benoit saw something special in MVP. Whatever the case, MVP and Benoit would begin a feud over the US Title leading into WrestleMania 23 and beyond. Though MVP would come up short at Mania and at the following PPV Backlash, he would win a two out of three straight falls match for the title over Benoit at Judgment Day 2007. This would be the final Benoit PPV match in his career. MVP then embarked on a big journey and a mini feud with a legend. His brief feud with Ric Flair was seen as a test I'd assume and MVP was up to the task. He could keep up with Flair somewhat on the mic and at Night of Champions, he would cleanly defeat Flair to retain the US Title, one of his most important wins in his career. It was after this feud however that MVP would reach the peak of his WWE career.

We know Matt Hardy as a genius in wrestling, from his Version 1 days to his BROKEN brilliance, Matt has always been able to make gold out of anything in wrestling. He would end up feuding with MVP after his Flair feud and they would end up making pure magic. After a decent match at the Great American Bash, it was believed that health/injury issues (MVP had a heart condition) caused the feud to slow down for a seconf, in terms of in ring action. While they didn't really have one on one matches for a little while, there were moments that we were treated to, such as Evander Holyfield appearing to get involved, a beer drinking contest that saw Stone Cold stun MVP, and much more. MVP was also given his own talk segment with a full set up, called the VIP lounge and MVP used this to hone his promo skills and further his feud with Matt. Shortly after Summerslam, Matt and MVP would be put into a makeshift tag team and they would end up winning the tag team titles in their first go round from Deuce and Domino. Eventually, Hardy and MVP would start to get along as tag champions, leading to the hilarious odd couple style tag team that we had seen before in WWE. Regardless, for months, MVP and Matt would go back and forth as tag champions, winning matches and getting over with the fans. This is where the MVP popularity began to take off as he was a double champion (Tag and US Titles), but the truth was he was just holding this title until he and Matt broke up, then dropping the belt to Matt. However, an injury would put a halt into those plans, as Matt would be sidelined for months with an appendix issue. Matt and MVP would drop their tag titles, MVP would turn on Matt and be a full fledged heel again, then Matt would take some time away to heal and rest up.

During this time, MVP edged in short but fun feuds with Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair (again), and entering himself into the Money In the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 24. Matt Hardy made his return and the feud rekindled briefly. At Backlash the next month, MVP would drop the US Title to Matt, ending his interesting reign at 343 days. Throughout this time, MVP began honing his look even more. Adding a durag and more black bodysuits into his attire, MVP felt closer to himself than the athlete gimmick he was given. The WWE would go back to this gimmick again a bit when it was realized that due to lack of success, MVP didn't get his "incentive bonus" and would soon lose his inflated tunnel. 2008 was a rough year for MVP, despite him being pretty popular and over with fans as a heel/tweener, he was forced to go on an unnecessary losing streak, which I assume was to put him in better favor with the fans. He would get a shot at the WWE Title once in this time, going for the belt in a Championship Scramble, but for whatever reason, he didn't even get any follow up after this match. He we struggling on Smackdown until Triple H helped him win his first match in months over the Big Show which helped MVP turn into a fan favorite sort of.

Still, the transition was done oddly and it didn't register as much. He was still over, but it seemed like fans had a slightly rough time taking to him this go round. Still, he managed to win the US Title again as 2009 was getting underway, defeating Shelton Benjamin and engaging in a small feud with him during this time. MVP would be in another MITB match at Mania 25, but come up short again, though many wanted him to win. It seemed like WWE didn't see the potential in MVP that he really had. MVP was moved to RAW in the Draft and would end up kicking off his arrival with a mini battle against Randy Orton, who was the WWE Champion, but it meant nothing as he was sent back into the mid card soon after. After dropping the US Title to Kofi Kingston, MVP was once again lost in the WWE shuffle as he had been prior to his Benoit feud and after losing the US Title the first time.

MVP would be put with Mark Henry briefly in a strange pairing for a tag team, but the short lived partnership didn't seem to have any success. Following that small tag team run, MVP would get into a solid feud with the Miz, yet again over the US Title, and that was how he ended up starting 2010, his final year with the company. He wouldn't Winn the US Title back, and sure enough, the WWE would have him in yet another MITB match at Mania 26, but MVP would be successful yet again. At this point, it seemed like WWE had given up on him, despite being popular still amongst the fans. The WWE ended up sending him back to Smackdown, but it was clear the WWE didn't know what to do with MVP or his talent. He had a brief feud with CM Punk and Luke Gallows alongside Rey Mysterio, but that was quickly scrapped and MVP did nothing for months.

He would be on the Smackdown show usually, but would miss the PPVs or be stuck doing dark matches, like when he lost to Zack Ryder in a dark match at Fatal Four Way or defeated Chavo Guerrero in a dark match at two different PPVs on the year. It was an embarrassing moment to see WWE waste him and his talent like that but also not a surprise. WWE was centered on Batista, Taker, HHH, Jericho, Cena, Orton, HBK, and Edge during the heyday of MVP and he was never going to get a fair chance in that era. He would end up asking for his release after a horrible showing at Survivor Series 2010 where he was the first man eliminated at the 5 on 5 match. Despite a shot at the Intercontinental Title against Dolph Ziggler, MVP was given no other opportunities and after getting his release from WWE, he would never look back. If anything, this story will let you know that the WWE is capable of letting good talent go to waste. MVP wasn't the greatest, but he was fun to watch and had something sort of special. It's a shame WWE never really gave him the shine he deserved beyond the US Title picture.



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