Johnny Jeter Says He Left WWE By Choice Due to Demons, Talks the Pros and Cons of the Spirit Squad Gimmick
Show: Interactive Wrestling Radio
Guest: Johnny Jeter
Your Host: James Walsh
Johnny Jeter was a part of one of the most infamous and notorious stables in WWE history, the Spirit Squad. That faction tormented top WWE stars and legends including Shawn Michaels, Triple H, “Nature Boy” Rc Flair, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and many others..But, most who saw his work in OVW would always say, “Just wait until you see what Johnny Jeter can do”. Strangely, we never fully got to see that once the Spirit Squad split up. For the first time ever, Johnny Jeter explains why he chose to leave the WWE and the wrestling industry as a whole for over a decade and what has brought him back to the ring in 2019 competing for Championship Wrestling from Arizona.
This is a very interesting, at times powerful interview squeezed into a 20 minute space. So, enjoy!
Please visit http://wrestlingepicenter.com/ to listen to/view or download this interview!
On his feelings of the Spirit Squad gimmick:
“Well, it is kind of a catch 22. Coming from Ohio Valley where you are given the impression, “You’re lucky to have a job. There are a million other wrestlers that could be here. Be grateful for every opportunity.” So, an opportunity comes along… All of us at Ohio Valley kind of knew that when you get to WWE, you do whatever gimmick and then, after that, you can pretty much be whoever you want to be. You kind of have that in the back of your mind. They called the 5 of us up and they told us the idea for the 5 male cheerleaders. Initially, we all kind of looked at each other like, “What the f***?” (laughs) That s like the last thing that you’d ever expect to be called up doing! Initially, I can speak only for myself and not the other guys, I wasn’t too happy about it. But, once I realized the opportunity that was being given to us and how much fun we could have with this and who we were going to wrestle… Again, you’re getting called up to WWE! At that point in your career, you’re not names. No one knows who you are. And, again, when the gimmick is over, and we didn’t know how long or short it was going to be, you can always do what you want after that. They told you that. And, man, I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun we had! And, we got to wrestle with DX, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes! Anyone and everyone! We had a great time. And, eventually win the tag titles. Again, initially, not thrilled. But, we had a great time, made the most of it, and enjoyed it.”
On working with the likes of Flair, Piper, and Dusty:
“It is like if you are playing a sport and you’re playing with those who are your equals, you’re not going to get any better. But, when you’re in there with these veterans, man! The way they move, the amount of time they take, the story they want to tell in the match… Or, they could just say, “We’ll see you out there kid!” That is a learning experience too! (laughs) OVW really prepared us for any situation. But, man, it really taught us to appreciate and respect these guys on another level.”
On his personal struggles and how he chose to leave WWE and the business:
“You know, I’ve thought about that. I know it has been reported as to why I left, at least, I think it has. My wikipedia has something that is completely wrong. But, it really was my choice to leave WWE. At the time, I think I got hurt and I had some time off. At the time, and a lot of guys were doing this, you get caught up doing things you shouldn’t do. You want to play wrestler. Guys are doing pills, drinking, and even with the drug policy, it seemed like guys had ways around it. As a 19 year old kid, you kind of get caught up in it. For me, I was hooked on pain pills. I woke up one day and I was like, “I’ve got to get the f*** out of here! I’m going to kill myself.” So, I went home and got cleaned up. When Johnny Ace called me, he was like, “Hey, we need you back on the road.” I pretty much told him everything. He was like, “Why didn’t you tell us this? We could have sent you to one of the best places in the US.” I said, “I’m an adult. I should own it.” And, I kind of wanted to keep it out of the news… I don’t even know if I was a big enough star to be in the news. But, I know all the wrestling dirt sheets report on that. I didn’t want that. He was like, “Well, what do you want to do? Do you want to go back on the road? Do you want to go to developmental? You tell me, man!” I said, “At this point of my career, I’m passed developmental.” This was when they had just moved to Florida. I said, “I don’t trust myself to be on the road and I feel the best thing for me is to be around friends and family right now. I know I’m of no regard to you in that role. So, I think it is best we go on our separate ways.” He said, “The door is always open to you.” That is how it happened.”
On never getting to be himself in WWE:
“They changed my name to Jayden Jeter when I was in ECW… I totally wanted to do that. When I look back at my wrestling career, while I loved what I did with the Spirit Squad, I just feel I had so much more that I had to offer that I wasn’t able to portray when I was there. Yeah, I would have loved to have done that. And, it would be cool to go back and still do that. But, I’m at a point in my career and my life now where I have a wife, I got my degree… Wrestling for fun on the side is cool but I think it would completely change my life if I ever was to go back wrestling on the road again.”
On AEW’s birth and wrestling the wrestling scene in 2019:
“There are good and bad things in wrestling today. I think it is awesome that these huge investors are getting involved and that the NWA is kind of being brought back to life. It is going to give WWE competition and I think they need it. Also, it is going to give an opportunity to wrestlers outside of WWE to make a name for themselves. The one thing I’ve noticed (the bad) is, and it could just be the old school way I was trained in Ohio Valley… We were trained to tell a story in the ring, do less, make it mean more. Pretty much sell your ass off and make the other guy look good. I was watching wrestling and I saw a guy hit a great kick and the guy would roll back and the whole crowd went “OOH!” and then he picked up the guy, hit him with a Death Valley Driver, and the guy kicked out. So, he shot him in and the guy reversed it and it pretty much made that sick move mean nothing. It isn’t becoming a spot fest. But, to have a match like that… Man, think about your career longevity. There is a good number of WWE guys who can’t do that crazy stuff and if they are, think about your career. You’re wrestling 4 nights a week, 52 weeks a year. You know you’re going overseas every 6 weeks. When I was up there, not that anyone was putting a lack of effort in, but, you know you have a bump card… You go out there and you give it your all but at the same time, you’re trying to make less mean more and tell a story. As I was watching, I felt like that bitter old guy… “Back in my day!” (laughs) But, I’m kind of curious what they are teaching and if it is the same, make less seem more.”
“I was driving back from San Diego to Phoenix with my wife. I saw a call from Stanford, I was like, “No Way!” It was Mark Carano. We caught up a little bit and he said, “We’re doing something with Miz and Ziggler. We’re going to bring back the Squad. Are you interested?” I was like, “I’m an auditor. I sit at my desk all day. Yeah, I work out but I’m not shredded like I used to be.” I asked my wife and she said, “Yeah, you should do it.” But, I was already unsure. I was working for Deloit at the time who are the auditors for WWE. I knew there were ethics and compliance things that you have to adhere to. So, I called the Deloit Ethics Hotline. They said they’re a restricted company and I couldn’t perform any paid or unpaid tasks for them. I reached out to the directors in the Phoenix area. They were thrilled. They all wanted me to go back. I wasn’t a manager, I wasn’t invested in the company. They (the managers) signed off on that and submitted it but Deloit still said no. So, I told them (WWE) no. I didn’t watch it. I mean, I saw some of it on YouTube and that they posted on social media. It would have been cool to go back. But, when you go back to something like that, you want to be the best you that you could possibly be. You want to be 5% body fat, shredded, and ready to rock and maybe it would turn into something more. I was going to be a sedentary auditor going to RAW. (laughs)”
On his return to the ring:
“It is definitely great to be back! It has been a while! Honestly, what got me back in was when my former tag partner when I was with the Thrillseekers in Ohio Valley Wrestling, when Matt Cappotelli passed away, a close friend of mine – one of the Heartbreakers, I think he went by Romeo Roselli in WWE, he said he was going to put together a memorial show for Matt with kind of an undetermined date. A lot of people said they were going to attend the show. Again, I left in August of 2008 and I pretty much haven’t been in a wrestling ring since… Well, I was in one once but Mondo and Kenny pretty much did everything. (laughs) So, I was like, “I”m not really in wrestling shape. But, sure, I’ll do it.” So, I started looking around for wrestling rings here in Arizona. I live in the Southeast side, Gilbert, and there is a wrestling ring on the northwest side, which is really far for me. So, I got in contact with another friend of mine, James, who wrestles as Oliver Grimsley in CWFAZ. He was like, “Come check out our shows. We wrestle once a month. Maybe you could get in the ring and roll around before the show.” Well, I went there on a Saturday and I realized they really set up the ring on an at hawk basis. They set up the ring, they start doing pre-tapes, they do the show, and then they break it down. There isn’t really a lot of time to roll around and wrestle and get practice in. So, I said the only way I am going to get any real ring time is if I wrestle for the promotion. I said, “I don’t care. I’ll lose every night. I just want to get some in ring experience, kind of get the wind back, and get the feeling back.” Ultimately, I’ve become a bigger part of the show and it has become something fun I can do on the side and kind of has lit that fire in me again about wrestling.”
On the feel of Championship Wrestling from Arizona:
“Oh man, I dig it! Honestly, it kind of reminds me of Ohio Valley. Obviously, the production value has gone up significantly since I was there. I like it. They set the ring up, the guys go over their matches, you get to talk to the boys. It is a well oiled machine, man. You go down to the production meeting, they tell you what they want you to convey. I dig it. It is almost funner with the smaller crowds. You get to play with them a little more.