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Chair Shots: Interview with Ring of Honor's Mike Mondo

Ring of Honor will return to the DuBurns Arena in Baltimore for a national television taping on Friday.

Earlier this week, ROH wrestler "No Fear" Mike Mondo spoke with the Carroll County Times about his goals in ROH, his career as "Mikey" of the Spirit Squad in WWE and how far he'll go to win a match.

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So tell me a little bit about your background. When did you decide to become a professional wrestler?

Turned pro at the age of 18, right out of high school, first year of college, I made the step. i always knew I wanted to be a pro wrestler. I never knew when, it was just the right timing and right place, and I decided to go ahead and do it. I've been in the business for 11 years now, I've had more than 2000 matches, I've wrestled all over the word, and now I'm here with Ring of Honor where the greatest athletes have come together from all around the world to bring the sport back to professional wrestling. We're coming back to the DuBurns Arena this Friday. It's going to be a great show like it always is, the crowd is rowdy and we always bring our A-game so I'm looking forward to that.

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You guys have done a couple of TV tapings in Baltimore now. Has the Baltimore crowd been pretty receptive to Ring of Honor?

Absolutely. Every TV they are always very receptive. We shoot about 3 weeks worth a TV tapings every time we go there. They never seem to get burnt out, they are always alive and excited. I always tell people there is nothing like that live experience. You're going to get every pennies worth. Every single guy on the roster works hard to entertain the fans because that's what we do.

Come Friday, I'm wrestling Adam Cole, he's an up-and-comer, and there's a lot of talk going around that he's been nominated for the up-and-comer of the year. I don't like that. I've been wrestling all around the world for 11 years, I've been in the ring with the best, I've beaten the best. My name is "No Fear" Mike Mondo, and I've been on kind of a roll lately if you've been watching ROH on TV. Adam Cole, he's just going to be next my friend.

What wrestlers did you look up to when you were growing up?

One of the reasons I got into the business and somebody I always looked up to was Bret "The Hitman" Hart. He's always been the guy who drew me to the live events since I was 8-years-old. I grew up in Long Island New York and my dad used to take me to the shows all the time at Nassau Coliseum and MSG. He was the excellence of execution, he was a great technical wrestler and that's something that always inspired me and attracted me to pro wrestling -- the technical aspect, going move for move and hold for hold. Bret was always my favorite.

You spent some time in the WWE as part of the Spirit Squad? What was that like?

Great experience, got to wrestle with a lot of the guys I grew up watching. I wrestled Ric Flair over 60 times, Shawn Michaels over 60 times, Triple H, Sgt. Slaughter, Dustry Rhodes, Ron Simmons -- Hall of Famers.

It was a good learning experience for me and took my game to the next level, just learning the timing, ring positioning and listening to the crowd and it was really beneficial as far as experience goes, and I wouldn't trade that for the world. So that I was really cool, I learned a lot and I'm really grateful for that.

It was definitely an interesting gimmick, a group of male cheerleaders. Did you have any reservations when WWE first approached you guys about it?

It was something that I never really thought about, it kind of came out of nowhere. A lot of times in pro wrestling, it's when you least expect it that things start happening. A lot of things that happen in the wrestling business is all about being in the right place at the right time. And that's pretty much how this came about. It was just five guys and out of nowhere -- boom -- hey, we need you to do this, look like this, then -- boom -- you're at TV the next day. Always expect the unexpected in pro wrestling. You never know what's going to happen.

Talk about the differences between the WWE and Ring of Honor?

Vince pretty much monopolized the wrestler industry -- When I say monopolize, what I mean is there is only one place in America to make a million dollars and that's WWE. Vince McMahon can pretty do what he wants when he wants. Back in the 80s and 90s wrestling in WWE was more of a sport. There was a winner and a loser, and more wrestling oriented. Now, Vince has taken WWE into more of a entertainment type product where it's kind of more like a male soap opera. I think they even did a tally one day where, out of 120 minutes ... only 23 minutes, I think, was actual in-ring wrestling. When you do the math, that's not a lot of wrestling.

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With Ring of Honor, it's really the complete opposite. For me, you have your ups and downs with wrestling; sometimes you get down on yourself and get unmotivated, sometimes; and Ring of Honor really boosted that passion and hunger and inspiration and that drive for me. That's why I always liked Bret Hart as a kid, he was a wrestling machine, and his matches and what attracted me to pro wrestling was actually wrestling. And that's what Ring of Honor is all about. And Ring of Honor is a combination of -- we have guys on the roster who are black belts in martial arts, MMA, Jiujitsu, and Muay Tai and pro wrestling obviously. So there's a lot of things you can do to make it really creative and entertaining for the fans, and that's what's so awesome about Ring of Honor is the fans are so much more involved than they are in WWE. When I watch WWE, they cheer and boo, but their not as vocal as fans with Ring of Honor. If they like you, they are going to let you know, and if they don't, they're going to let you know they don't. I dig that. The fans are just as passionate about pro wrestling -- the keyword being wrestling -- as us, the wrestlers, are.

I love the atmosphere there, being in Ring of Honor has made wrestling fun again for me. It's definitely a challenge, but I'm willing to step up to the plate and show the world and everyone watching the Ring of Honor product that I'm the best at what I do. And I have one goal, and one goal only, and that's to be the Ring of Honor World Champion because to me, that title symbolizes that you are the best at what you do in terms of being a professional wrestler. It's not just passed around like a lollipop. That's what I'm aiming toward. ...

Adam Cole, he's got a lot of talent and I respect him, but he's going against a man, Mike Mondo, that fears no one. Did you know the lengths, that when I wrestled Technical Lighting on TV last time, I tried to eat out his eyeball. Have you ever met a wrestler who tried to eat another man's eyeball?

I can't say that I have. ...

Not many people can, but guess what, I will. Maybe I'll eat both of Adam's eyes, because I'll do whatever I can to win. He may be a great wrestler, but I win. He can fight. Great. I win. He can do karate, martial arts. Good. Guess what? I win. Mike Mondo is a winner.

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Talk about the new ROH Champion Kevin Steen?

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There's going to be a special interview with him on Friday, and I'm curious what he has to say. i want to take my hat off to the big man Kevin Steen. he's a guy who does what he wants when he wants and I respect that. There's no doubt in my mind Kevin Steen deserves to be the ROH world heavyweight champion, but he's got to remember one thing: Being the ROH champion

He won the belt, but it's not about winning the belt, it's about keeping the belt. I'm curious to see what he does in the future, but I'm going to keep my eye on him because one day I will be the ROH heavyweight champion because I'm the best at what I do. But my hat's off to Kevin, I'm happy for him, he deserves it, he's worked his butt off for a really long time, and it couldn't have happened in a better place for him than his hometown of Canada. I'm happy for him, he deserves it, but now that he's at the top of the mountain, he's a marked man. It's not just me that's going to be looking for him, I'm sure Davey Richards isn't going to be too happy about the events happening in Toronto. When you're the champ, you've got a bulls eye on your forehead. You never know who's going to come up, so you've got to be in training mode 24-7, 365.

What's been your biggest accomplishment in the wrestling business so far?

I'd have to say, as a package, I've been able to make a living in wrestling 9 out of 11 years. Being the scarce amount of places to work these days -- as we talked about earlier -- it's really hard to make a living on the independents. A lot of guys have side jobs, along with professional wrestling. It's everyone's dream to be a professional wrestler, to make a million dollars and make your mark and be successful. So 9 out of 11 years still making a living in this business I've very proud of that accomplishment.

Wrestling in MSG is another of my major accomplishments I'm really proud of. That's the world's most famous arena. Roddy Piper once told me you've made it once you've wrestled at Madison Square Garden. I did that, actually I wrestled against Roddy on 9/11 in 2007. And of course, WrestleMania, that was a big deal for me. WrestleMania is WrestleMania, it's the Show of Shows.

Something that I've never been -- one goal must be accomplished before I retire ... to one day be a World Champion. And the one place I want to do that -- because I firmly believe this the future of professional wrestling, because we have the talent, we have the brians behind the scenes, we have the greatest fans in the world that get involved and the energy is just unreal -- and that's the ROH World Heavyweight Title, a title that means something and that is my major goal. And, in a perfect world, if I had to choose a place, it'd be New York City, my hometown, Hammerstein Ballroom, the one place in New York I haven't performed yet, that would be a dream come true and be my ultimate accomplishment, because that ROH title, that means something in the wrestling business.

So who would your dream opponent be?

I've been in the ring with a lot of great competitors, but there's one guy on that roster I haven't wrestled, and that's the ROH champion for 8 months, and that's Davey Richards. I think he's got a lot of ability, tremendous talent, he's very versatile. And I believe you put Davey Richards and myself in that ring, we wouldn't just tear the house down, I think the whole arena would set on fire. I think we'd rock the house big time. But you know what? My name is "No Fear" Mike Mondo and I don't fear anybody, so pick anybody. Put them in my way and I'm going to knock 'em down.

At WWE's Over the Limit this Sunday -- CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, two ROH alums. Are you and your colleagues looking forward to that?

Definitely. Those two are highly respected in the wrestling business. I've had the pleasure of working Punk many times. I've wrestled him in OVW in tag matches, singles matches, three-way matches; I've wrestled him in every scenario. I've never been in the ring with Brian Danielson, he's always the guy I wish I would've gotten in the ring with. He's a phenomenal wrestler, he always knows where he's at in the ring, he's technically sound. And both of them are core Ring of Honor guys. For me, it's hard to look at them as WWE guys, you know? When I see them I think of Ring of Honor where they made their name for themselves. I think it's going to be one hell of a match. It's going to pretty much be a five-star classic, you can guarantee that. So I'm definitely looking forward to it and seeing who comes out on top. Whoever it is, I'm sure it's going to be by like half-a-second. And I'm sure the fans are going to be real pleased when it's all said and done.

What would you be doing if not a professional wrestler?

I had two goals that I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a pro wrestler, but I didn't know when. The other was to be in the NFL; I had a very successful football career (as a full back and nose guard) and had colleges looking at me at the time, but wrestling took it's path and I believe everything happened for a reason. If all that never happened, I probably would've pursued football and gotten a degree to be a physical education teacher, and I also -- I love bodybuilding -- I would've liked to maybe open my own gym or become a personal trainer. But when I was kid, really anything having to do with sports. I'm really not that 9 to 5 kind of guy, ya know? But something in athletics, that's what I enjoy. That's probably why I watched wrestling to begin with, because it was a sport -- and I still believe it's a sport and should be a sport.

Ever try to bite someone's eye out on the football field?

No, I couldn't really do that because of the bars on the facemask. But I was young then, I'm a lot smarter a lot wiser, so the referee better keep his eye on me because if not, my opponent might be blind for the rest of his life because I'm going to do what I have to do to win. That's what I do, I win.

Thanks for your time today Mike, but before you go, I just have one last question: What's up with the hair?

What's up with the hair? Let me ask you, what do you think's up with the hair? How 'bout I ask you the questions? What do you think's up with the hair? What's your opinion?

I have no idea ...

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The hair, it's just me. It's who I am, it makes me different, it makes me standout and shows my personality in the ring. So if you watch me Friday at the DuBurns Arena, aka the Mondo Arena ... watch what I do to Adam Cole ... he's going to find out what gut check time is all about, and when you see what I do to him, you'll know why the hair resembles what I do in the ring.

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