If things went a little differently in January 2005, at TNA’s Final Resolution, there’s a good chance Voices of Wrestling doesn’t exist.
There’s a good chance I’m palling around with my good buddies at TNAMecca.com, arguing about Impact’s ratings, wondering if Destination America will renew “us” and if WGN America is still interested.
Final Resolution 2005 was the turning point for me as a TNA wrestling fan, it was the first time I “gave up” on the product. I’ve jumped back on from time-to-time, especially since I started running this website, but it was never the same. When Final Resolution ended, the honeymoon was over. I disabled my VCR recordings of Impact Wrestling on Fox Sports. I’d keep an eye on the product but, by and large, they had lost me.
The reason they lost me was simple: I was the world’s biggest Monty Brown fan. Watching Final Resolution live, I told myself he was going to win the big one. After his meteoric rise through the ranks of TNA wrestling, this was finally his moment, he was going to win the TNA World Championship.
He didn’t. In a convoluted, overbooked (two ref bumps and two guitar shots) manner, Monty lost to champion Jeff Jarrett. Sure, he looked like a million bucks in losing and you knew he COULD do it but he didn’t, and man was I disappointed. A few months later I found out he turned heel and aligned with Jarrett. It was officially over. I had made the right decision in distancing myself from the product.
More than simply my fandom, the career path of Monty Brown in TNA is a microcosm of an issue TNA wrestling always struggled with: when to pull the trigger on someone, when there was real momentum surrounding a wrestler, when the right time was to move the titles, crown a new champion, get rid of the old champion. Time and time again, TNA has struggled in finding that right balance leading to many of the issues plaguing the company today.
None of those are more glaring than that of Monty Brown.
Brown was born April 13, 1970 in Detroit, Michigan but much of his life was spent in Saginaw, Michigan as both of his mother and father worked for General Motors. Brown made a name for himself in the state of Michigan for his excellence on the football field, most notably in college at Ferris State University. Brown was the first Ferris State athlete to be named both a first-team Academic All-American and a first-team All-American. In 1992, Brown placed fifth among candidates for the Harlon Hill Trophy (NCAA Division II’s Player of the Year).
In 2009, Ferris State honored Brown’s contributions by inducting him into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame. Brown then moved onto the NFL, playing for the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots over his four-year career, recording 68 career tackles in 43 career games.
Despite his success on the gridiron, wrestling was his passion. Upon signing with the Patriots, he mentioned to the Hartford Courant’s Terry Price that “one of the reasons he left the Buffalo Bills and signed with the Patriots this year was to be closer to the Stamford headquarters of the World Wrestling Federation.”
“As a kid growing up, I never had posters of football players in my room…I always had posters of wrestlers. This isn’t something where I thought one day, `You know what? I want to wrestle.’ This is something I’ve planned all along.” –Monty Brown
When an ankle injury ended his football career, Brown, of course, jumped at the chance to train as a professional wrestler enlisting the help of Dan “The Beast “Severn” and Sabu.
Brown’s first big shot came in 2002 when he made several appearances with the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, then in its infancy. Brown wrestled on five of TNA’s weekly PPVs including a notable run in August of 2002 when he defeated Elix Skipper in a Detroit Street Fight, and received an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match against then-champion Ron Killings (WWE’s R-Truth). Though his title shot was unsuccessful, it seemed that Brown had a bright future with the company.
The very next week Brown lost to Sonny Siaki in just over 10 minutes. This would be Monty’s last TNA match until March 2004.
Brown returned in a big way, attacking the Insane Clown Posse (no, seriously, this is what happened). Brown debuted a new gimmick featuring leopard and tiger-print trunks. He was billed as being from the Serengeti and, though on it’s face it appears to be nothing more than a two-bit, bordering on racist Sama Simba tribute gimmick, it worked. Brown was much more comfortable in the role than as a vanilla babyface and his career took off.
“A lot of people say the best gimmicks are those that are really part of yourself, just magnified 100,000 times…That’s really what the whole “Alpha Male” Monty Brown character is.” –Monty Brown
Brown was put over almost immediately as he steamrolled through the TNA roster with PPV wins over the likes of Sabu, BG James (Road Dogg), Siaki and D-Lo Brown. Though, Brown lost a NWA World Heavyweight No. 1 Contender’s match to Jeff Hardy in July 2004, it wasn’t a matter of if Brown would eventually get a title shot, but when.
Not only was Brown improving rapidly in the ring, but his persona and presence in the ring were becoming elite-level. His promos certainly weren’t reminding people of Dusty Rhodes, but he was more than capable. Much like Ultimate Warrior before him, the content was of little importance, and was overshadowed by his cadence and intensity. On the back of his devastating football tackle-esque Pounce finisher, the sky was the limit for Brown. You wanted him to win and couldn’t help but root for this fireball of energy and explosiveness.
After decimating Abyss in a Serengeti Survival match at TNA’s Turning Point in 2004, Brown received another shot at the NWA Heavyweight Title No. 1 contendership.
There was just one catch. If Brown were to defeat Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash in a three-way elimination No. 1 contender’s match, he’d have to face champion Jeff Jarrett that very same night.
Jarrett had held the NWA Championship since June of 2004, so a loss in January would hardly be a quick switch. For all intents and purposes, giving Monty Brown the title was the right decision. Brown defeated Nash and DDP and finally got his chance at Jeff Jarrett. TNA’s hottest babyface was on fire, TNA could strike while the iron was hot and add much needed homegrown juice to their company.
“I want to be at the top of this business. I didn’t come to sit around and watch. Given the opportunity and the latitude to present my character, I think I can entertain people at the highest level.” –Monty Brown
Of course, Brown didn’t win the title.
Jarrett eventually dropped the title to A.J. Styles in May of ‘05, before Styles himself lost it one month later to Raven. Of course, in true early TNA fashion, Jarrett won it back in September.
In hindsight, the decision to not pull the trigger on Monty turned costly. Brown lost a ton of momentum… quickly. He was still winning most of his matches, but he was back down the card facing the likes of Johnny Devine, Lance Hoyt (now NJPW’s Lance Archer) and Trytan. It made absolutely no sense then and makes even less sense now. Brown came within inches of winning the title and what did it mean? Nothing.
Little did we know, this would be just the beginning of a long, arduous end. Two months after coming within inches of winning the NWA Championship until the dastardly Jeff Jarrett cheated him out of the glory, Brown turned heel at March’s Destination X and helped, yup, you guessed it, Jarrett retain the championship.
Monty, who was still one of TNA’s most over babyfaces, joined the aptly named Planet Jarrett stable (consisting of Larry Zbyszko ,a lawyer named Mr. Daggett, Chris Candido and The Naturals – Chase Stevens and Andy Douglas).
Commentator Don West summed it up perfectly: “If there’s anyone that hates Jeff Jarrett it’s Monty Brown…”
Brown joining Planet Jarrett wasn’t Sting joining the nWo Wolfpac after spending the past three years trying to stop the nWo levels of stupidity, but it was damn close. The fans groaned at the turn and commentators West and Mike Tenay did everything they could to get it over, but it made absolutely no sense.
Brown spent the remainder of the spring and early summer of 2005 feuding with Planet Jarrett advisories and teaming with The Outlaw/Kip James (Billy Gunn). At August’s Sacrifice PPV, Brown teamed with Kip against 3 Live Kru members Ron Killings and Konnan with B.G. James as the guest referee. Brown had spent the last few months trying to get James and Kip to reform their New Age Outlaws tag team (dancing around the name of the team, of course). James took the side of Konnan and Killings at Sacrifice, costing Brown and Kip the match.
Brown turned his back on Jarrett, leaving Planet Jarrett the very next week. In his promo, Brown said he was back on the path to get what was rightfully his, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (held by Raven at this point). TNA was clearly regretting the decision to turn Monty heel and ready for him to get back into the groove he had going into 2005. The problem, of course, was that the bloom was already off the rose, the band-aid had already been ripped — you can try to rehab him, but fans saw right through it.
At September’s Unbreakable PPV, Brown declared his intention to gain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, setting his sights on Bound For Glory. Brown was inserted into a ten-man Gauntlet for the Gold No. 1 contenders match, but eliminated himself when he went over the top rope. In TNA land, those sort of things don’t matter because Brown received another shot at November’s Genesis PPV. Brown won the No. 1 contendership, defeating Jeff Hardy, setting the stage for his triumphant return to the main event…right? Wrong.
After an altercation with the newly-debuted Christian Cage, Brown put his title shot on the line at December’s Turning Point.
Of course, Brown lost. How do you get back on the horse? Well, you align with Jeff Jarrett again, as Brown did on the December 17 episode of Impact.
Starting to see a trend here?
Jarrett and Brown began a feud with another debuting superstar: Sting. Brown, now in a full-out comedy role, took to impersonating Sting in the most boring manner possible. All of the natural charisma, explosiveness and excitement Brown had a year ago was gone.
At January’s Final Resolution PPV, the tumble continued as Brown and Jarrett were defeated by Sting and Cage. The next month, Cage used his No. 1 contendership to defeat Jeff Jarrett and become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Brown received a title shot at March’s Destination X, but did not defeat Cage.
Shortly after, Brown underwent surgery on his knee.
Brown returned to TNA television on the May 18 episode of Impact, demanded to be included in the King of the Mountain match, then promptly failed to quality. It was yet another bump in what had become a completely destroyed road for a man who was once TNA’s top babyface. Brown feuded with Rhino and Samoa Joe for the remainder of 2006 before his TNA contract expired and he left the company.
It’s impossible to know what Brown could have been. Perhaps it’s booking with rose-colored glasses to think he could have been a viable heavyweight champion.
Regardless, the fumbling of Brown’s push, and the continued heel/face switches in a year when someone is most popular, is never a good move.
TNA had something with Brown — but like most of their history, they struggled with the decision to pull the trigger, instead relying on their security blankets like Jeff Jarrett and stars from other companies (Sting and Christian Cage).
After his TNA contract expire, Brown moved to WWE, debuting under the ECW brand as “The Alpha Male” Marquis (later changed to Marcus) Cor Von. After gaining some momentum with the fledgling brand, Cor Von ran into personal issues — mainly the death of his sister, forcing him to take time off WWE to care for her children. Brown was released for his WWE contract on September 19, 2007 and quietly retired from pro wrestling. These days, Brown is a personal trainer in Saginaw, Michigan.
The aim in writing this biography and analysis of Monty Brown’s career was to open your eyes to a potential great career derailed by dumb decisions and an ability to strike while the iron was hot. I was initially going to frame this as a wrestling’s biggest bust column but it didn’t feel right to tag Brown with that label. If anything, Brown maximized his potential, he did everything he could to make it work in TNA and become a top star.
“Monty Brown is still one of my favorite TNA stars from our early days. He was able to transition from the NFL to the ring and showed good charisma.” – TNA president Dixie Carter
Sure, circumstance plays a huge part in any bust situation but still, Monty isn’t a bust. Monty is simply someone who had the tools and was ready to become a star, just never given the opportunity. Brown’s precipitous fall down the rungs of TNA was a microcosm for the issue that would plague TNA through much of the decade. When the shiny bright lights of legends or stars from “up north” came calling, TNA was always quick to leave their high school sweetheart at the altar.
None were more glaring than “The Alpha Male” Monty Brown.