In the history of professional wrestling there have been a lot of talents that have come and gone, some became legends and others completely forgotten about but Monty Brown is a talent that fans that remember his short run in the business as what could have been or the one that got away. It is often said that to truly succeed in the wrestling business you need IT factor, as it is not something that could be taught or learned, you either have it or you don’t, and Monty Brown definitely had it. The IT factor for those that don’t know is that special quality that allows the wrestler’s character or gimmick to connect with the audience. It is what sets that performer apart from those that don’t have IT.
There have been a number of wrestlers over the years that were former NFL stars and many of them found success in the wrestling business especially if they were fans to begin with but there have been failures too. Monty grew up a wrestling fan and from what has been reported over the years he had wrestling pictures all over his walls as a child and that was his real dream profession.
However, his other love football took priority in his life as he excelled at it, professional wrestling would have to wait. Monty attended Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, where he became an All-American American football linebacker for the Ferris State Bulldogs. Where he would go on to break and set several defensive records. He became the first Ferris State Bulldogs athlete to be named both a first-team Academic All-American and a first-team All-American. In 1992, Monty ranked fifth as a national finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy (awarded to the NCAA Division II Player of the Year) and was named conference co-player of the year in 1992. As a senior, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Ferris State Bulldogs. In his final year, Brown was named the C.M. Frank National Defensive Player of the Year. In 2009, he was inducted into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame.
This collegiate success would get the NFL calling to Monty, so again professional wrestling would have to wait. His NFL career would be short lived as it would only last 4 years, where he played for the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. He played in Super Bowl XXVIII with the Bills, but they lost.
With his football career over, there was no question that Monty would finally pursue his dream of becoming a wrestler. He would receive training from UFC and Wrestling legend, Dan “The Beast” Severn and from ECW legend, Sabu. Talk about two polar opposites to receive your training from, but that eclectic mix gave Monty something unique as Severn is a technical wrestler with the focus on realism and believability and Sabu is the wild man and knows how to stand out. He would begin his in-ring career in 2000, wrestling on the local Michigan independent scene but in 2002, the upstart TNA liked what they saw in this relatively green performer and brought him in.
He would make a few appearances in those early 2002 weekly PPV days of TNA, which included an NWA World title match with Ron “The Truth” Killings. However, something just wasn’t right, and Monty and TNA knew it too. He just wasn’t able to connect with the audience as this young green babyface. TNA was Monty’s first exposure to a global audience and although his first appearances showed potential in the ring, Monty knew he needed a character or gimmick that was unique and could connect with an audience. So, Monty left TNA and returned to the independent scene to experiment and develop a character that would hopefully connect with the audience.
He would make his shocking return to TNA in 2004 attacking the Insane Clown Posse. He returned with a new look and personality that was a dramatic transformation that took hold of the audience. He now hailed from the Serengeti, and he wore leopard and tiger-print trunks. His personality was that of a predatory animal or hunter. To me he reminded me very much of the Spiderman villain, Kraven the Hunter:
He not only had a new look and personality but arguably the newest thing that Monty brought with him was a new finisher that was absolutely explosive, The Pounce. During his first run he utilized a power bomb maneuver, but he was the first to utilize the Pounce. Since that time, guys like Keith Lee have used it but to this day NO ONE has delivered it with such force like Monty.
Comparisons to Goldberg’s early WCW days, immediately came to fans minds as a relative rookie with a completely devastating move, with the same football background and explosive power moves. However, unlike Goldberg who shied away from delivering promos and just let his devastation in the ring do his talking, Monty very much wanted to talk. Monty’s new “The Alpha Male” character that he developed not only wanted to destroy opponents in the ring, but he also wanted to verbally destroy his opponents as well.
As can be seen in the video above, he had a completely different promo style that was never really done before or since. His promos would switch from serious to out there Scott Steiner/Ultimate Warrior territory and back to serious. That outlandish side of him that he would let loose in his promos and the pounce is what truly set Monty apart from every other performer in the industry and connected him with the fans that could see he was a future money talent for years to come.
When plans fell through for TNA at the last minute for their 2005 Final Resolution PPV, which originally was supposed to be Jeff Jarrett defending the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against the legendary and future HOFamer, Macho Man Randy Savage before Savage pulled out of the show, they needed a new challenger for Jarrett. They setup a triple threat featuring DDP vs Kevin Nash vs Monty Brown, where the winner would challenge Jarrett later that night.
Monty would go on to defeat both multi-time world champions, DDP and Nash to receive a world title shot. Now to this day the decision to have Jarrett defeat the RED-HOT Monty Brown is still questioned as a potential booking blunder by TNA. See TNA’s plan was for Jarrett to eventually lose the title to AJ Styles as they viewed him as the franchise star, and they didn’t want to deviate from that plan. To this day Jarrett has been criticized for his strangle hold over the NWA World title as both the booker and owner of TNA. Jarrett has recently stated on his podcast that “Monty just wasn’t ready to be champion” that he wanted to eventually make him champion but that wasn’t the right time.
Personally, my feeling has always been that they should have pulled the trigger and given Monty the ball and let him run with it. The whole well the plan was for Jarrett to drop the title to AJ Styles, was not a new concept as he had already dropped the NWA title to AJ twice previously. So, why not take advantage of Monty’s momentum with the crowd and give him a chance to see what he could do as champion. If Jarrett would have defended against Savage as was originally planned, are you telling me that Savage was going to lose? I don’t know for certain, but I would think Jarrett would have dropped the title even for a short Savage reign. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying Monty matched the star power of the Macho Man but my point being that they would have deviated from the whole Jarrett will hold the title until he drops to AJ.
What would have been the worst thing that could have happened with a Monty reign? If it didn’t work, you could have easily switched it back to Jarrett. Jarrett wouldn’t drop the belt to AJ until May, and this was January.
The booking of Monty after this became frustrating to say the least, after Jarrett cheated to defeat the babyface Monty in his world title match, Monty would turn heel and become part of Jarrett’s heel faction (Planet Jarrett) that was designed to protect his title reign. Monty would chase the NWA title and have a variety of feuds, but he would never be given the ball.
When the opportunity of jumping to the WWE in 2006, Monty jumped at the opportunity. The fact that TNA not only never game him a world title reign, but they also never gave him any reign with any championship in the company. So, you are seriously telling me he wasn’t ready to hold any gold in 3 years of being in the company? This is the same booker (Jarrett/Vince Russo) that put the tag title on NFL star at the time Adam “Pacman” Jones and I kid you not the NFL decreed that they would only let him appear if Pacman couldn’t touch or be touched by anyone. Russo made himself and David Arquette WCW World Champions, but Monty couldn’t get a reign as champion? Jarrett said he tried convincing Monty not to jump and that he wasn’t ready but when he was, he would be champion, but Monty likely felt that it was just a promoter telling him what he wanted to hear so he wouldn’t leave, and Monty wanted to bet on himself.
He would debut on the ECW brand in November 2006, using the name, “The Alpha Male” Marquis Cor Von. He received the standard new star push picking up wins against jobbers and was essentially the same character just with a new name that WWE could own. Monty would eventually be paired with other newcomers to ECW, Elijah Burke, Matt Striker, Kevin Thorn, and Ariel as a stable known as The New Breed. They would go on to feud with ECW Originals, Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, Sabu and RVD leading to a Wrestlemania match. The New Breed would go on to lose on the grand stage but for some bizarre reason would win a re-match on the next ECW show in an Extreme Rules match. The team would soon add fellow newcomer, CM Punk but Punk would self-destruct the group from the inside as he would turn back face.
In June 2007, Monty would not only have his last WWE match but his last match ever as he left the wrestling business for a personal “family issue”. Years later it would be reported that the family issue was that his sister had passed away and he would raise her children. I have tremendous respect for Monty for giving up his childhood dream to step up and do the right thing for his family. He knew the children needed him and he couldn’t be there if he was on the road.
Since that time, he has gone on to live a life outside of the industry, but he still stops by to visit old friends at WWE, Impact and other independent shows. Supposedly, Impact has tried to get him to return but he isn’t interesting in returning. He did make a charity appearance for his former New Breed stablemate, Kevin Thorn and made a video endorsing his fellow TNA Alumni, Lance Archer, when he was challenging for the AEW title but despite the interest it appears Monty doesn’t have any interest in returning.
To me Monty is someone that should really be talked about as one of those great talents that never got the opportunity to be world champion. The fact that he made such a massive impact and impression on the fans and promoters that after only a 7-year career that ended in 2007 that now in 2022 they still want to see him wrestle at least one more time is a testament how special he truly was. There have been a number of talents that had tremendous promise or were pushed but they self-destructed, but Monty was never one of those talents. Monty was beloved by the fans and his peers as you never hear a negative word about him.
Although never holding a championship during his career, he is fondly remembered by the fans and elements of the Alpha Male are seen today by talent like Keith Lee using the pounce, Big E. using humor in his promos mixed with seriousness and the current reigning Impact World Champion, Moose, who comparisons could be made that he followed a similar path as Monty from NFL to Impact and unlike Monty he is the world champion. Personally, I would love for Monty to make one last return to TNA/Impact and challenge Moose. It would be a truly special moment for Monty and the fans. Moose wants the match but so far Monty isn’t taking the bait.
If anyone deserves an Impact HOF induction and a possible WWE Warrior Award, it is Monty Brown. The impact he had on early TNA in such a short career deserves an Impact HOF induction and the self-sacrifice of giving up his dream to do the right thing for his family certainly deserves a Warrior Award consideration. Regardless, Monty left his mark on this business that fans still remember to this day and that is something truly special for someone that had such a short career.
Photo Credits – Impact Wrestling, WWE, AEW, Marvel Comics, NFL/Buffalo Bills, TheNextBigThing/Tenor.com and Robert Roode’s Twitter