Making it to WWE is no easy task for an aspiring wrestler. They pick a select few to train in their developmental promotions and even a smaller group finally makes it to the main roster.
Johnny Jeter was one of those who progressed from Ohio Valley Wrestling to WWE and even became a tag team champion as a member of the Spirit Squad. Jeter joined Wrestling Epicenter where he discussed his initial thoughts on having the gimmick of a male cheerleader.
"Well, it is kind of a catch-22," said Jeter. "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 five of us up and they told us the idea for the five male cheerleaders. Initially, we all kind of looked at each other like, 'What the f***?' That's like the last thing that you'd ever expect to be called up doing!
Jeter said that initially he wasn't happy about being a male cheerleader, but once he saw who he'd get to wrestle with, he was sold on the gimmick.
"And, man, I can't even begin to tell you how much fun we had," exclaimed Jeter. "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."
After being sent back down to OVW in 2006, Jeter wrestled there for a couple of years before being released in 2008. He then retired and went back to school but he says personal demons contributed to him leaving pro wrestling.
"You know, I've thought about that," stated Jeter. "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.'"
Jeter went home to get cleaned up and he got a call from VP of Talent Relations Johnny Ace telling him WWE needed him back on the road. Jeter then confessed his struggles to Ace who asked why he didn't tell him earlier as WWE could have helped him.
I said, 'I'm an adult. I should own it.' And, I kind of wanted to keep it out of the news...," said Jeter. "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 pass 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."
Jeter says he regrets not being able to reach his full potential and showcase all of his abilities in WWE. He doesn't rule out another return to the ring but doesn't see himself being a full-time wrestler again.
"[WWE] changed my name to Jayden Jeter when I was in ECW... I totally wanted to do that," stated Jeter. "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."