They started out as five separate wrestlers in Ohio Valley Wrestling, and in 2006, Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Mikey and Nicky were brought together as the WWE's own all-male cheerleading squad. Originally, the squad was going to be four guys, but D'Angelo Dinero (known as Elijah Burke at the time) decided the gimmick was not for him because it would involve too much acrobatic work.
They started out at house shows and in late January of 2006, they had their first TV appearance, on Raw distracting Jerry Lawler during his match against Jonathan Coachman. They were used extensively as minions of Vince McMahon (in particular against Shawn Michaels), distracting people, pushing others around and so on. They also wrestled as a five man tag team, and won the Tag Team Championship in April of that year.
Later in the year they started losing matches in singles competition and in October, Kenny and Mikey lost the title. They broke up a month later and were comically packed into a crate by D Generation X marked for "OVW: Louisville, Kentucky" (sent back to developmental territory). Kenny and Mikey had a brief return to WWE back in October 2016 but it didn't last.
Here are fifteen things you didn't know about these five guys and their unusual heel gimmick.
15 Two Of Them Played College Football
Mike "Mikey" Mondo played football in high school, it is unknown whether Nicky (now Dolph Ziggler) played sports other than amateur wrestling during that time, and Johnny's past sporting accomplishments are unknown. Kenny and Mitch (Ken Doane and Nick Mitchell) however, played football at the collegiate level.
Mitch actually received a full scholarship to Northwestern but blew it when he got himself expelled from the school over a fight. He went on to play for the Beaumont Drillers indoor football team while studying at Blinn College, but never got anywhere close to the NFL.
Kenny went back to school after his WWE career came to a close. He started at Nichols College in 2012, studying sports management, and spent some time playing both linebacker and tight end while on the team.
14 Johnny Jeter's Health
One of the hot-button issues in the sports world for the last few years has been head injuries and the afflictions that accompany them. Between hockey players dropping dead in their 20s and early 30s, football players shooting themselves, and of course that infamous Chris Benoit disaster, many are saying that leagues need to do more to care for their athletes. The WWE is no different and numerous wrestlers have accused the promotion of ignoring performers' health concerns and fostering an environment in which it can be detrimental to one's career to take time off to let injuries heal. Jeter has joined a lawsuit against WWE with lawyer Konstantine Kyros and a number of other wrestlers in late 2016. He says that he is suffering the effects of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
13 Kenny And Mickie James
This is a pretty widely known scandal, but many fans may not remember it, so we determined that it is more than worth a mention. Back in 2007, Kenny (then going by the last name Dykstra) was engaged to sexy fellow wrestler Mickie James. While it was just a rumor at the time, many have speculated over the years that part of Kenny's demise within WWE was an affair between James and John Cena. This was why their engagement was broken off. He didn't tell the whole story until about five years ago on Twitter, when he described a situation in which Mickie wanted to date Cena but got turned down and threw a fit backstage, which he claims was the start of her own downfall within the organization.
He has suggested that he waited a while to release his own side of this story because he thought it would kill his chances at a return to WWE to talk trash about one of their top guys.
12 They Were Paul Heyman's Idea
It has been suggested that the idea for an all-male cheerleading squad was a Vince McMahon original, but this is not the case. This gimmick was primarily one thought up by producer and industry veteran Paul Heyman Jr. You know, the guy who always follows Brock Lesnar around? Yeah, him. He brought the idea to Vince McMahon, selected the guys he wanted for it while he was managing Ohio Valley, and then had the five members do some cheer training, before introducing the team to McMahon. While it might seem strange to think about McMahon entertaining the idea, the group went right into a chanting routine and the boss realized that it would be a decent idea. The rest is history.
11 Mikey's Thoughts On Their Disbanding
Mike Mondo (real last name Brendli) is the shortest of the members of the original Spirit Squad, standing 5'6 while the rest are six feet or taller. He's also said that he was the only one who embraced the idea of a male cheerleading team from day one, while the other four were unsure to start out. He has said that he loved his time with WWE and was disappointed that they didn't bring him back until 2016. He stuck around in Ohio Valley Wrestling, working as a performer and then a trainer. He does however, have a negative view of how he and the team were disbanded. (To be fair, we can't blame him).
According to his own recollection, the crate into which the five of them were enclosed was originally supposed to say "Tijuana", but at the last minute they realized that it said "OVW: Louisville, Kentucky". They all knew what it meant, and Mondo recalled that it hurt, but didn't break any of their spirit.
10 Nick Mitchell And Torrie Wilson
Shortly after achieving his lifelong dream of working for WWE, Mitch was able to do what millions of men worldwide wanted to do...he started dating diva Torrie Wilson. She was one of the hottest names in the business (and she remains sexy to this day) and while their relationship never made it into the ring, they were together for almost five years. They started a clothing line together, but it closed in 2011, the same year their relationship ended. Mitchell has said that he thinks his relationship with the diva may have stunted his career growth in wrestling, but we don't have much sympathy for a guy lamenting having had such a stunning woman.
9 Nicky Is the Only One Who Became a Big Name Star
While he's been Dolph Ziggler since 2008, Nick Nemeth was Nicky back in 2006 when this team first got together. He and Mikey were repackaged as the Frat Pack and kept up the frat boy gimmick for a couple of years while in Ohio Valley Wrestling and then Florida Championship developmental territories.
In September 2008, he returned to Raw as Dolph Ziggler. Since then he's been a mainstay and a fan favorite. On top of his Tag Team Championship won with The Spirit Squad, he's been a World Heavyweight Champion, and a multi-time Intercontinental Championship winner. The other four haven't come anywhere near his level of success.
8 They're All Still Friends
We should include here that "as far as we can tell" they're still friends. They did have a very public kayfabe falling out in late 2006 but when they've been asked in interviews the members of The Spirit Squad have never said anything negative about each other. Of course, Kenny is noted, as we mentioned earlier, for having outed an alleged real life affair between Mickie James and John Cena, and left the WWE on less-than-great terms, but based on interviews, he has nothing against his Spirit Squad teammates. Nicky (Dolph) and Mikey actually shared an apartment together in Florida back in 2008.
7 Why Johnny Didn't Appear Recently
While the five are all still at least civil with each other and there is no public bad blood between any of them, there were some rumors floating around late in 2016 when two members of the former Spirit Squad didn't appear to taunt and torment Dolph Ziggler (Nicky). While it might seem a little strange at first, Johnny actually had a pretty solid reason as to why he ultimately didn't show up to the event. Johnny's excuse was that he now has an important job with a management consulting firm and he was not willing to put his position within the company in jeopardy to show up at the event, as his company was busy at the time.
6 And What About Mitch?
Now off to the other missing member of The Spirit Squad. Nick "Mitch" Mitchell is tough to find these days, but the WWE did contact him to return in October 2016. According to Inquisitr, Mitch found religion and has little time for other things these days. He apparently lives in Israel and while he holds no grudges against his former activities and those with whom he participated, he had no interest in coming back to the WWE, even for a one-off appearance. He has appeared at some Israeli wrestling events, and still has interest in sports, but he's living a quieter life in Jerusalem these days and can't be bothered to step back into the spotlight.
5 Nicky/Dolph and Amy Schumer's Sex Life
As long as she isn't talking about politics, Amy Schumer is pretty attractive and damn funny. She and Dolph Ziggler (Nicky) dated for some time several years ago. After they had gone their separate ways, Schumer went on Howard Stern's show and spilled some very complimentary information about him. She basically detailed how strong he was and that she felt like she was being wrestled and thoroughly dominated in bed. She said it was great at first but not her thing. When asked about that interview, Ziggler implied that he had no problem with anything she had said, and that he was a little flattered.
4 The Five-Man Tag Team And The Freebird Rule
We'll admit that many hardcore fans of wrestling will know what this list entry is all about, but it warrants mentioning for those who don't. We mentioned that The Spirit Squad won the Tag Team Championship back in 2006. History was made, as all five members of the team were announced as Tag Team Champions. It was the first time that had happened. Of course, Kenny and Mikey were the only two guys officially competing, but all five got credit (there was of course some help from the other three). The promotion then invoked the "Freebird Rule" (referring to the Fabulous Freebirds, a tag team trio from the 1980s) allowing the team to decide which two wrestlers would represent them for each match.
3 Kenny Doane's Children's Book
As we're seeing, and will continue to see, Ken Doane is a man of many interests and talents. Another of his ventures outside of wrestling is children's literature. Not only is he a multi-talented fellow, we can also see that he's a decent guy, despite his villainous character in the ring, based on the theme of his book. He wrote Billy's Bully, which, as you might have figured out, tells a tale about a young boy who stands up to a bully who mercilessly tormented him. The idea came to him while he was in rehab for a knee injury and he decided to run with it. The book is available on Amazon.
2 Nick Mitchell's MMA Career
We'll give it to him, Nick Mitchell (Mitch, while in the Squad) is a pretty decent athlete overall. We already know he's able to stay fit enough to compete in wrestling, but he was also a university-level football player prior to his time with Ohio Valley and WWE. He also tried his luck in the world of MMA. Unfortunately, there was no luck to be found, and his one professional fight was against Derrick "The Black Beast" Lewis, who is now the UFC's number eight Heavyweight, riding a five fight win streak. At the time, Lewis and Mitchell were both in their first professional bout at Worldwide Gladiator in Texas. Lewis won via TKO in the second round. He was expected to fight again, but injury kept him from doing so.
Mitchell's only other two fights were in amateur promotions. He went one and one, getting submitted via choke and submitting his opponent via shoulder lock in 2012.
1 Kenny Was Fired From His Day Job Over WWE
Well, we mentioned Kenny's children's book a few entries ago and he better hope that it sells plenty of copies, because back in November he lost his job because, according to his former bosses, he missed too much time while getting ready for his WWE return. He was working in a high-up position with a non-for-profit when the WWE called him back and he considered the chance at another contract with the promotion to be worth risking his position with that organization.
He and Mikey did not get that new contract however, and it remains unclear whether Kenny has found steady work since his brief step back into the squared circle. As of now, it appears as though WWE do not have any immediate plans for the returning Spirirt