Lots of birthdays today!
Montel Vontavious Porter, or MVP, turns 45 today. His teenage years could be conservatively called “troubled”. He joined a gang at 12, and at 16, was sentenced to 18 1/2 years in prison for armed robbery. He completed 9 1/2 years. While in prison, he converted to Islam and changed his name from Alvin Burke Jr. to Hassan Hamin Assad.
Assad entered the professional wrestling business through the help of a corrections officer in his prison who also worked as a wrestler in the indie circuit. He was trained by Norman Smiley. No word on if Norman taught him the Big Wiggle. He wrestled on the indie circuit from 2002-05 before signing with WWE. He started in Deep South Wrestling as Antonio Banks but was then given the MVP gimmick.
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. 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 that his agent was supposedly aggressively negotiating. 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.
MVP made his in-ring debut at No Mercy a ring entrance featuring an NFL-like inflatable tunnel, before defeating Marty Garner During the match, Michael Cole and 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 ring gear, calling him “pathetic” while the fans chanted “Power rangers”. 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. The two feuded for the next two months, with MVP narrowly scoring wins over Kane in a Street Fight, a Steel Cage match and Tag Team matches with Mr. Kennedy against the reunited Brothers of Destruction, before losing to Kane in an Inferno match at Armageddon.
MVP began a feud with Chris Benoit over the WWE United States Championship. 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. MVP lost to Benoit at WrestleMania 23 and at Backlash, 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.
He started a feud with Matt Hardy, while at the same time winning the WWE Tag Team Championship with him, after claiming he could win the titles with anybody. Their feud reunited after they lost their tag titles, and Hardy eventually won MVP’s US Championship, ending his reign at 343 days. In late 2008, MVP began a long losing streak. 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. He eventually broke the streak by defeating Big Show in a Last Man Standing match. In March 2009, he defeated Shelton Benjamin to win the United States Championship for the second time. He and the championship were drafted to Raw the next month, and he lost the title to Kofi Kingston in June. He was drafted back to SmackDown in 2010, and was released in December.
Since his release, he’s worked in NJPW, TNA, and Lucha Underground as well as making indie appearances. He was seen playing a game of poker with the APA and other wrestlers on the 25th anniversary episode of Raw. Happy birthday MVP.
Christy Hemme is 39 today. A model and lingerie football player, she won the 2004 WWE Diva Search, receiving $250,000 and a one-year contract with the company. Hemme began her WWE career as a member of the Raw roster. She quickly began a feud with Carmella DeCesare, the runner-up of the Diva Search. The feud culminated in a “lingerie pillow fight” at Taboo Tuesday on October 19, which Hemme won. If you watch this video, don’t expect a five-star match:
Following her feud with DeCesare, Hemme began a rivalry with WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus. Stratus, along with Molly Holly and Gail Kim, threw Hemme an initiation party, but, it soon turned into a 3-on-1 Bra and Panties Handicap match, which Hemme lost. As Stratus was ostensibly scornful of Hemme’s appearance in the April 2005 issue of Playboy, she interrupted Hemme’s unveiling and spray painted all over the cover. Trish delivered Chick Kick to Hemme and spraying the word “slut” on her back. Hemme eventually challenged Stratus to a match at WrestleMania 21, with Stratus’s rival Lita training her in the weeks preceding the event. At the event on April 3, Hemme unsuccessfully challenged Stratus for the Women’s Championship.
In the months after WrestleMania, Hemme began a feud with Victoria, who claimed to be jealous of the opportunities afforded to Hemme. Hemme would feud with Victoria during Raw house shows, and defeated her on several occasions. On the June 6 episode of Raw, Hemme teamed up with Rosey and The Hurricane in a losing effort to Victoria and The Heart Throbs. The feud culminated in a bout at Vengeance in June, which Victoria won. With her feud with Victoria over, Hemme briefly aligned herself with Eugene, before she and Stacy Keibler were traded to the SmackDown brand in exchange for Candice Michelle and Torrie Wilson in August
Hemme began a feud with Melina, the valet of MNM, after losing to her in a singles match, and in the process joined forces with the Legion of Doom. At No Mercy on Hemme and the Legion of Doom defeated MNM in a six-person intergender tag team match. On the November 5 episode of SmackDown, Hemme defeated Melina in a Bra and Panties match. Her feud with Melina continued into November, with Melina defeating Hemme in two singles bouts.
Later that month, Hemme was sent to OVW, and was released from her contract in December. She joined TNA and was with them from 2006-16. Hemme appeared at the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame to support Beth Phoenix, the first time she has been seen in the WWE since 2005.On January 16, 2018, she gave birth to quadruplets, three boys and a girl. Happy birthday Christy.
Mayumi Ozaki has a big birthday today as she turns 50 years old. Ozaki debuted in a tag team match in August, 1986. In her career, she held the WWWA tag titles with Dynamite Kansai from April 11, 1993 to December 6, 1993, winning them from Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada of All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling, selected for “Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Match of the Year for 1993”.
In 1995 Ozaki competed WCW at the 1995 World War 3 pay-per-view, where she teamed with Cutie Suzuki against Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto, a match that Ozaki and Suzuki lost. They competed against the same team the very next night on WCW Monday Nitro which they also lost.
In Japan, Ozaki made her mark mostly in tag team matches as she competed in four bouts that were among the greatest ever in women’s tag team wrestling, having earned a 5-star rating each by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Happy birthday Mayumi.
“Iron” Mike Sharpe would have been 67 today. A second-generation wrestler whose father and uncle (Mike and Ben Sharpe) also competed in the profession, Sharpe was a mainstay for various territories throughout the United States and became a regular for both the WWF and NJPW. After his retirement from in-ring competition he opened a wrestling school in New Jersey, where he trained wrestlers such as Charlie Haas and Nova.
In January 1983, Sharpe entered the WWF where he would stay until his retirement in 1995. He was a regular of WWF programming throughout the mid-1980s and early 1990s. He was announced and self-proclaimed as “Canada’s greatest athlete” and was further distinguished by his near-constant yelling and grunting throughout his matches, as well as a black brace on his right forearm, supposedly protecting an injury but more widely believed to contain a foreign object. Initially in his WWF career he was managed by Captain Lou Albano and received a sizeable push, regularly defeating jobbers after smashing them with his forearm. This culminated on April 30, 1983, with a match against WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund at the Philadelphia Spectrum, where Sharpe was defeated. He would never reach such main event heights again. In fact, Sharpe would never hold a title for the promotion, and was primarily used as a jobber to rising WWF stars in television tapings.
While Sharpe’s television appearances were always as the role of a jobber, and victories even at house shows were rare, he chalked up quite a few untelevised victories between 1984 and 1988. Sharpe had a few more memorable moments over his WWF career. He appeared on Piper’s Pit in 1984, provided the opposition in Ivan Putski’s 1987 comeback match at Madison Square Garden, and pinned Boris Zhukov to reach the second round of the 1988 King Of The Ring tournament. And though he wrestled as a heel in the WWF, Sharpe was also the tag team partner of Hulk Hogan during a tour of Japan against stars of NJPW in early 1984 as Hogan was a heel in Japan. His last televised match was on June 6, 1995, in a losing tag-team effort with Duane Gill against the Smoking Gunns.
Sharpe was described in at least three books by former wrestling personalities, Dynamite Kid, Hulk Hogan and Gary Michael Cappetta, and by longtime WWF wrestler-commentator Gorilla Monsoon, as having shown characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder. He had a preoccupation with cleanliness that caused him to spend hours washing his hands or showering at arenas and meticulously folding and re-folding his clothing. According to Cappetta, Sharpe’s behavior earned him the nickname “Mr. Clean” among his co-workers. At a televised house show in the Boston Garden in March 1986, Monsoon even joked to fellow commentator Lord Alfred Hayes that Sharpe had the first match of the night at a previous Boston show, and was still in the showers when they locked up later that night forcing him to spend the night in the arena. During his WWF career, many commentators also noted that other than his obsessive cleaning, Sharpe was also obsessed with physical fitness and that if he was not in the ring or in the showers, he would be working out.
In 2007 he returned to Hamilton to live with his aging mother. That summer while doing a landscaping job he suffered a deep cut to his leg which became infected. He became confined to a wheelchair and ended up living in a basement apartment where he became a recluse. Other health problems developed along the way. Only in 2015 did he allow a video camera to record him as part of a tribute to Angelo Mosca Sr. Sharpe died on January 17, 2016, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at the age of 64.
Les Thatcher is 78 today. he began training in February 1960. On July 4, 1960, Thatcher made his professional wrestling debut against “Cowboy” Ronnie Hill in Blue Hill, Maine. In 1966, Thatcher started to work as part of a “cousins” faction. He was a member of the team with Roger Kirby and Dennis Hall. They used this gimmick in various southern territories until 1969.
In the 1970s, Rudy Kay brought Thatcher to the Maritimes territory. This was the only time in his career that he worked as a heel. It was in the Maritimes that Thatcher also began announcing matches. Afterward, he worked with Jim Crockett’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, announcing with Gordon Solie.
In the 1970s, Thatcher also announced for Southeastern Championship Wrestling. Throughout his broadcasting career, he also worked with Bob Caudle, Lance Russell and Jim Ross. He also worked for Georgia Championship Wrestling.
In 1994, Thatcher worked as an announcer for Smokey Mountain Wrestling. He also ran the Heartland Wrestling Association beginning in the 1990s. He helped produce the Brian Pillman Memorial Show. He also opened his professional wrestling training school Elite Pro Wrestling Training, which he runs with Harley Race and Tom Prichard.
Notably, he helped produce the first wrestling T-shirt in 1972 and helped publish the first color edition of WWWF Magazine in 1978. Happy birthday Les.
Wally Dusek was billed as a “cousin” of the famous Dusek wrestling family. He was born on August 10, 1909, had his first pro match at 16. Before he was trained, Wally Dusek spent 3 years wrestling all-comers on the carnival circuit, and was known for his incredible strength. He also served as a road agent and a ring announcer for Jim Crockett Promotions. He died on October 28, 1991, at the age of 82.