Montel Vontavious Porter

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"Antonio Banks" redirects here. For the American football player, see Antonio Banks (American football).
Montel Vontavious Porter
Birth name Alvin Burke, Jr.[1][2]
Born (1973-10-28) October 28, 1973 (age 41)[1][3]
Liberty City, Miami, Florida[4]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Antonio Banks/Bank$
Lord of War[5][6]
Montel Vontavious Porter
MVP
Billed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[3]
Billed weight 252 lb (114 kg)[3]
Billed from Miami, Florida[7]
Trained by Soulman Alex G[4]
Norman Smiley[4]
Debut 2002[3]
Website
MVP305.com

Hassan Hamin Assad (born Alvin Burke, Jr.; October 28, 1973 in Liberty City, Miami, Florida),[1] better known by his ring name MVP, is an American professional wrestler. He is currently signed to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and is also known for his tenures with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)[7] and New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Assad was trained by former professional wrestlers Soulman Alex G and Norman Smiley.[4] Following the completion of his training, Assad began wrestling for numerous independent promotions, including a stint in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).[2] During his time in these promotions, he won various championships in singles competition. Assad signed with WWE in 2005 and was assigned to Deep South Wrestling (DSW), one of the company's developmental territories.[2]

After being promoted to the SmackDown! brand, Assad made his WWE wrestling debut in October 2006.[2] In 2007, he won the United States Championship, giving him his first title reign with the company.[8] That same year, he captured the Tag Team Championship alongside Matt Hardy.[9] Assad won the United States Championship for a second time on March 17, 2009.[10][11] Following his tenure in WWE, Assad joined New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in February 2011. He would spend the next two years with the promotion, becoming the inaugural IWGP Intercontinental Champion in May 2011.[3]

Early life and criminal activity[edit]

Assad was born in Liberty City, Miami but grew up in Opa-locka, Florida. His father was a police officer.[12] He joined a gang when he was 12, describing it as "a graffiti gang", which later turned into a street gang.[12] He spent six months in a juvenile detention center after a robbery.[12] He later completed 9½ years of an 18½ year prison sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping which he started at the age of sixteen.[1][13][14] While in prison, he converted to Islam and changed his name from Alvin Burke, Jr. to Hassan Hamin Assad.[1][2] Due to his past criminal record, Assad's visits to other countries on international tours are subject to permits and background checks for recent behavior.[15]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Assad first entered professional wrestling after completing 9½ years of an 18½ year prison sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping, which he started at the age of sixteen.[1][12][13][14] Assad entered the professional wrestling business through the help of a corrections officer in his prison who also worked as a wrestler in the independent circuit.[15] After being trained by former professional wrestlers Soulman Alex G and Norman Smiley, Assad made his wrestling debut in 2002.[4][12] He worked for many different companies on the independent circuit using the name Antonio Banks, including appearances with Full Impact Pro (FIP) and Future of Wrestling (FOW), where he won the latter's Tag Team Championship with Punisher.[2][12][16][17] During his time in FIP, he wrestled Homicide for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Ring of Honor show Do or Die IV on February 19, 2005, but did not win the title.[2][18] He also made sporadic appearances under the ring name[clarification needed] for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), and wrestled on the April 20, 2003 episode of TNA Xplosion.[2][19] He appeared again for TNA on the August 6, 2004 episode of Impact!, with Sal Rinauro as his tag team partner, losing to America's Most Wanted.[2][20] He also wrestled for Coastal Championship Wrestling (CCW) and Elite Wrestling Entertainment in 2005, competing against wrestlers like Jerry Lynn and D'Lo Brown.[2] In CCW, he won the Heavyweight Championship on August 20, 2005, by defeating Blackhart and Bruno Sassi in a three-way match.[21]

World Wrestling Entertainment[edit]

Deep South Wrestling (2005–2006)[edit]

In 2005, after a number of live events and dark matches, Assad signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and was assigned to their developmental territory Deep South Wrestling.[2][4] He originally wrestled under his "Antonio Banks" ring name, but then developed the Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) in-ring persona: an arrogant, self-obsessed athlete partially inspired by the fictional NFL wide receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) from the 1996 film Jerry Maguire and the real-life wide receiver Terrell Owens.[2]

Debut and feud with Kane (2006–2007)[edit]

MVP during a SmackDown! house show.

As MVP, he made his first appearance on WWE television on the August 4, 2006 episode of SmackDown!, during which announcers described him as a coveted free agent.[22] The initial angle involved MVP appearing backstage and in arena crowds, often flanked by women and/or a bodyguard, and talking to SmackDown! General Manager Theodore Long about the contract his (unseen) agent was supposedly aggressively negotiating.[23][24] Throughout his segments, commentators described MVP as arrogant, noting that he would stop conversations in the middle to answer his mobile phone or admire his own jewelry while people were speaking to him. Finally, on September 26, 2006, video of a press conference announcing the signing of MVP to "the largest contract in SmackDown! history" was uploaded to WWE.com.view

MVP made his in-ring debut at No Mercy as a villain with a ring entrance featuring an NFL-like inflatable tunnel, before defeating Marty Garner.[25] During the match, commentators Michael Cole and John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL) decried the choice of opponent, since it had been implied that it would be someone "more competent", and joined in with fans mocking his athletic suit styled ring gear, calling him "pathetic" while the fans chanted Power Ranger.[2][26][27] On the following week's SmackDown!, MVP made a demand for a tougher opponent to prove his mettle, which was answered by Kane making his SmackDown! debut.[28] The two feuded for the next two months, with MVP narrowly scoring wins over Kane in a Street Fight and a Steel Cage match before losing to Kane in an Inferno match at Armageddon, from which he suffered storyline 1st degree burns.[29][30][31] Because of the burns he was "out of action" for a short time, during which color commentator JBL expressed rage with the fans for cheering a match where the only way of achieving victory is to set an opponent on fire.[32]

United States and Tag Team Champion (2007–2009)[edit]

MVP made his WrestleMania debut against Chris Benoit.

When the Kane feud died down, MVP began a feud with the WWE United States Champion Chris Benoit over Benoit's title.[33] During the buildup for a title match with Benoit, MVP appeared on SmackDown! introducing various supposed champions from around the world, defeating them in squash matches.[2][34][35][36] MVP lost to Benoit at WrestleMania 23 and at Backlash,[37][38] but finally defeated Benoit in a Two out of three falls match at Judgment Day, with MVP taking the United States Championship, his first WWE title, in two straight falls.[39] MVP credits his time working with Benoit for improving his in-ring skill.[27]

His first major feud as the champion was against Matt Hardy, whom he started claiming to be better than at everything, after defeating him at the Great American Bash.[40][41] When MVP was legitimately diagnosed with the heart condition Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, it was written into the storyline, with MVP blaming the condition for his losing an arm wrestling match against Hardy.[42][43] When MVP was given an interview segment during SmackDown!, the VIP Lounge, it was used to bow out of a scheduled boxing match at Saturday Night's Main Event– with Evander Holyfield replacing him, and eventually punching out MVP during the bout.[44] On the August 24, 2007 episode of SmackDown!, MVP bragged to General Manager Theodore Long that he was so good, he could win the WWE Tag Team Championship with anybody, prompting Long to grant him a Championship match alongside the next person who entered the room, who turned out to be Matt Hardy.[45] The following week, MVP and Hardy took the championship from Deuce 'n Domino, making MVP a double champion.[9][46] MVP and Hardy's contentious relationship had them competing with each other in various ways while MVP proclaimed himself "Captain" of the team and refused to defend his United States Championship. In the months coming, MVP started getting along better with Hardy and helped him defeat Finlay on SmackDown!.

Their reign together came to an end on the November 16, 2007 episode of SmackDown after Hardy demanded a shot at the United States Championship, but MVP declined, and announced they had a Tag Team Championship defense against John Morrison and The Miz instead.[47] They lost the match, and immediately afterwards, MVP invoked the rematch clause, but they lost that match as well.[47] MVP then attacked Hardy, targeting his knee, which in storyline had been injured during the matches, and put him "out of action". Hardy suffered a legitimate ruptured appendix while he was off television, putting their feud on hold.[48] While Hardy recovered, MVP engaged in short feuds with Rey Mysterio and Ric Flair.[49][50][51][52] He participated in the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXIV, and during the match, Hardy made an unannounced return and knocked MVP from the ladder with his signature Twist of Fate maneuver, reigniting their feud.[53] At Backlash in 2008, MVP dropped the title to Hardy, ending his record reign at 343 days, which was at the time the longest reign of the WWE era, and the third longest in the entire history of the championship (the record has since broken by Dean Ambrose in 2014).[54][55]

Beginning on the August 29, 2008 episode of SmackDown, MVP developed a losing streak that lasted over five months, losing in both singles and tag team matches.[56][57][58] At Unforgiven, he challenged for the WWE Championship in the Championship Scramble match, but was unsuccessful.[59] The losing streak meant that, in storyline, MVP did not receive "his contract incentive bonus", and also was no longer allowed his usual entrance with the NFL-like inflatable tunnel.[60] During this losing streak he had a short feud with The Great Khali.[61][62] On the January 16, 2009 episode of SmackDown, MVP finally broke the losing streak by defeating Big Show in a Last Man Standing match with help from Triple H, as he was fighting to ensure that Triple H would be allowed to compete in the Royal Rumble match, in the process turning him into a fan favorite.[63] At the SmackDown taping on March 17, he won the United States Championship for the second time by defeating Shelton Benjamin.[10][11] At WrestleMania XXV, MVP competed in the Money in the Bank ladder match for the second year in a row, but failed to win.[64]

Brand switches (2009–2010)[edit]

On April 13, 2009, MVP was drafted as the first overall pick to the Raw brand as a part of the 2009 WWE Draft. As a result of being the reigning WWE United States Champion, he transferred the title to Raw for the first time in history.[65] He lost the title to Kofi Kingston on the June 1 episode of Raw.[66] He then formed a tag team with Mark Henry, and they challenged Jeri-Show (Chris Jericho and The Big Show) for the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship at the Breaking Point pay-per-view, but they failed to win the championship.

After beginning a feud with The Miz, MVP faced him for the WWE United States Championship at Royal Rumble on January 31, 2010, but was unable to win.[67] After this preliminary title retention, both also participated in the Rumble itself. MVP entered 14th and was surprise-attacked by Miz (who was not yet an official entrant) who hit him with the United States title belt. MVP later recovered and entered the match (having not been eliminated) to double-eliminate both himself and Miz.[67] MVP challenged The Miz for the title a second time at the February 21 Elimination Chamber pay-per-view but was once again unable to win.[68] He also competed in the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI, but was unable to win.[69]

As part of the 2010 WWE Supplemental Draft, MVP was drafted back to the SmackDown brand.[70] He made his SmackDown return on the April 30 episode, interrupting CM Punk's promo, and later teaming up with Rey Mysterio to defeat Punk and Luke Gallows.[71] On June 1, MVP was announced as the mentor of Percy Watson for the second season of WWE NXT;[72][73] Watson was eliminated from the competition on August 17, finishing fifth overall.[74] On the November 5 episode of SmackDown, MVP fought in a Triple Threat Match for the number one contendership of Dolph Ziggler's Intercontinental Championship against Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre. The match was won by MVP, and the championship match was set for the following week's SmackDown, but MVP was unsuccessful in winning the title.[75] MVP was announced as part of Team Mysterio, teaming with Rey Mysterio, The Big Show, Chris Masters and Kofi Kingston to take on Team Del Rio (Alberto Del Rio, Tyler Reks, Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes) at Survivor Series. At the pay-per-view, MVP was the first man eliminated in the match by McIntyre, who was aided by Del Rio holding MVP's foot down so he couldn't kick out.[76] MVP's last match with the WWE aired on December 3, a day after his announced release, teaming with Kaval in a losing effort against Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler; afterward, he and Kaval were attacked by Kane.[77] On December 2, 2010, WWE announced that Assad was released from his WWE contract.[78]

New Japan Pro Wrestling (2011–2013)[edit]

In 2011, Assad signed a one year contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling, pursuing his noted passion for puroresu.[79] TMZ reported that Assad's prior convictions had made it difficult for him to acquire a visa but that he would be debuting in February.[80] As WWE owned the rights to the name Montel Vontavious Porter, but not MVP, Assad was able to continue working under the abbreviated ring name.[81] In storyline MVP was brought in to the promotion by NOSAWA Rongai, who wanted him to join the villainous Kojimagun, led by Satoshi Kojima.[82] In his debut match for the promotion on February 20 at The New Beginning, MVP teamed with fellow Kojimagun member Taichi to defeat Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma in a tag team match by making Honma submit to his Take it to the Bank crucifix neck crank.[83] On March 6, MVP entered the 2011 New Japan Cup, used to determine the new number one contender to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, defeating Karl Anderson in his first round match.[84] On March 19, MVP suffered his first loss in New Japan, when he was defeated by Togi Makabe in the second round of the New Japan Cup.[85] The following day, MVP achieved a major victory when he tapped IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi out with the TTB in a tag team match, where he teamed with Satoshi Kojima and Tanahashi with Hirooki Goto.[86] On May 3, the returning Minoru Suzuki took over as the new leader of Kojimagun, after its members Taichi and Taka Michinoku had turned on Satoshi Kojima.[87]

MVP in New Japan Pro Wrestling in June 2011.

In May 2011, MVP took part in the Invasion Tour 2011, New Japan's first tour of the United States. On May 13 in Rahway, New Jersey, he entered the tournament to determine the first ever IWGP Intercontinental Champion, defeating Kazuchika Okada in his first round match.[88] The following day in New York City, MVP defeated Tetsuya Naito to advance to the finals of the tournament.[89] On the third and final day of the tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, MVP defeated Toru Yano in the finals to become the first IWGP Intercontinental Champion.[90] Earlier in the event, MVP showed his allegiance to Satoshi Kojima by saving him from the debuting Lance Archer, thus breaking away from the newly renamed Suzukigun.[91] On June 18 at Dominion 6.18, MVP made his first successful defense of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship by defeating Toru Yano. After the match, Yano attacked him and cut his hair.[92][93] The two would face each other in a third title match on July 18, where MVP was once again victorious.[94] After the match MVP was attacked and challenged by Yano's Chaos stablemate Masato Tanaka.[95] In August, MVP took part in the 2011 G1 Climax, where he managed to win six out of his nine matches, but a loss to Karl Anderson on the final day of the tournament caused him to narrowly miss advancing to the finals.[96] On October 10 at Destruction '11, MVP lost the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to Masato Tanaka, ending his reign at 148 days.[97] MVP received a rematch for the title on December 4, but was again defeated by Tanaka, following interference from his stablemate Yujiro Takahashi.[98] On January 4, 2012, at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, MVP teamed with Shelton Benjamin, making a special one-time appearance, to defeat Tanaka and Takahashi in a tag team match.[99] MVP reunited with Benjamin on June 16 at Dominion 6.16, where they defeated Karl Anderson and Tama Tonga in a tag team match.[100] In August, MVP took part in his second G1 Climax tournament, where he won four out of his eight matches and failed to advance to the finals.[101][102] In November, MVP took part in the 2012 World Tag League, where he teamed with Shelton Benjamin under the tag team name "Black Dynamite".[103] MVP and Benjamin finished their tournament on December 1 with a record of three wins, one over the reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions K.E.S. (Davey Boy Smith, Jr. and Lance Archer),[104] and three losses, failing to advance from their block.[105] On January 4, 2013, at Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome, MVP teamed with Akebono, Manabu Nakanishi and Strong Man in an eight man tag team match, where they defeated Bob Sapp, Takashi Iizuka, Toru Yano and Yujiro Takahashi.[106][107] On February 26, Assad announced that he had parted ways with New Japan and would be next focusing on a television project with Lionsgate Television.[108] He later explained his reasons behind leaving the promotion, saying that he wanted to stay closer to his home in addition to just "recharging the batteries".[109]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2014–present)[edit]

MVP in a TNA ring in January 2014.

At the January 30, 2014, tapings of Impact Wrestling, Assad returned to TNA using the MVP name, revealing himself to be the storyline "investor" responsible for signing The Wolves and counteracting Dixie Carter's agenda in recent weeks, establishing himself as a face.[110] On the February 13 episode of Impact Wrestling, MVP made his in-ring debut, defeating Rockstar Spud.[111]

The following week it was announced that MVP would captain a team to face a team captained by Bobby Roode in a Lethal Lockdown match at Lockdown. The head of the winning team, either MVP or Dixie Carter, gains complete control over TNA.[112] On March 9, 2014, at Lockdown, MVP gained total control of wrestling operations in TNA Wrestling as his team defeated Team Dixie.[113] On the May 8th edition of Impact Wrestling, after telling Young how "proud" he was of him, MVP attacked Eric Young and announced himself as the #1 contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, turning heel again in the process. However, TNA announced on Friday that due a torn meniscus, MVP was deemed medically unfit to compete, removing him from the match in the process. According to PWInsider, the original plans were to crown MVP as champion.[114] On the June 19th episode of Impact Wrestling, MVP and Kenny King helped Lashley win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Eric Young, but firing Earl Hebner in the process. On June 26 episode of Impact Wrestling, he was relieved of his duties as Director of Wrestling Operations by Earl Sullivan Armstrong, Board of Directors Representative as MVP attempted to fire Bobby Roode, and MVP's replacement as Executive Director of Wrestling Operations was revealed to be Kurt Angle.

At Bound for Glory 2014 in Japan, MVP turned face for one night, expressing his love for Japanese wrestling and the Japanese fans, and defeated Kazma Sakamoto in a singles match.

Other media[edit]

Assad made a cameo appearance in the film MacGruber, alongside fellow WWE Superstars Chris Jericho, The Great Khali, Big Show, Kane, and Mark Henry.[115]

MVP released his first hip hop song titled "Holla to the World" featuring Dwane Sweazie in June 2011.[116] A music video for the song, featuring cameos from Carlito and Hernandez, was released the following October.[117] The song was released as a single through iTunes on April 5, 2012.[118] On March 18, 2013, he released his second song entitled "Tokyo".[119] On January 30, 2014, MVP released his third single, titled "Return of the Ronin".[120] The song also became MVP's entrance theme in TNA.[121]

Personal life[edit]

In August 2007, Assad was diagnosed with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome, a rare condition that causes the heart to beat faster than normal. The condition was discovered during his tenure with WWE, when he had undergone a routine check-up in accordance with WWE's Talent and Wellness Policy, which otherwise would have gone undetected until it was too late.[42][122]

Assad has acquired numerous tattoos through his life, including; a portrait of Malcolm X on the upper left portion of his chest,[13][123] the sarcophagus of King Tut and pyramids on his left upper biceps,[13] the legend "Monte Cristo" along with the phrase "The best revenge is living well" in script on his right forearm (both references to the book The Count of Monte Cristo),[13] and an Eye of Horus on the back of his left arm.[13] He also has a star on his right shoulder. He also has a number of homemade gang related tattoos that he had done when he was a teenager, which he is no longer proud of.[13]

Assad has stated that he was a video game fan growing up, and that the finishing maneuver he used on the independent circuit, the Malicious Intent, was inspired by a similar move performed by a character in the Tekken series.[122] He has been a fan of Manchester United F.C. since he was 13, and his favorite player is Eric Cantona.[124] Despite his earlier conversion to Islam, Assad has since described himself as a nonbeliever and an atheist.[125][126]

In wrestling[edit]

MVP prepares to hit Ballin' elbow on The Miz.
MVP preparing to perform a Playmaker on Matt Hardy.
MVP as both the United States Champion and one half of the Tag Team Champions.
  • Wrestlers trained

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

  • Coastal Championship Wrestling
    • CCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[21]

References[edit]

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