The untold truth of Joey Mercury

Professional wrestling truly changed Joey Mercury. Lots of wrestling icons end up going through a series of style, gimmick, or all-out total changes of character, but the sport left its mark on Mercury in a big way. According to his official WWE bio, the "flashy, arrogant and overconfident" Mercury teamed up with the equally egotistical Johnny Nitro to form a tag team duo that started taking championships from veteran wrestlers right out of the gate. They triumphed over Mexican luchador Rey Mysterio and his partner Eddie Guerrero at their April 2005 debut on SmackDown. From there, the team that together with Melina called itself MNM would go on to win both titles and fans like it was going out of style, something which they themselves never lacked. They always entered the arena on the arms of the sultry Melina, rocking sunglasses, sequined tights, full-length fur coats, and braids down to their shoulders.

But they weren't just big personalities with nothing to back it up. Mercury and Nitro won a trio of WWE Tag Team Titles in 2005, triumphing over other fierce competitors, such as Batista & Mysterio and the Legion of Doom. After years of struggling on the independent circuit and other less popular wrestling leagues, it looked like Joey Mercury was on his way to WWE superstardom.

How Joey Mercury got his start

According to his Fandom bio, the ego-driven Joey Mercury (born Adam Birch) started wrestling as Joey Matthews. He got his initial squared circle training from fellow grappler Jimmy Cicero and debuted on the independent circuit in October 1996. The next year saw him join the Mid-Eastern Wrestling Federation, and he snagged that league's Tag Team Championship in 1997 with his teammate Christian York. He rounded out the 1990s taking a number of titles in several independent promotions, both as a singles competitor and with York in tag team competition.

He and York arrived on the ECW scene in late 2000, hoping to use that promotion as a stepping stone to the big leagues, according to Bleacher Report. Although they worked hard to make a name for themselves against some of ECW's greats, like Jerry Lynn and Cyrus, the promotion was experiencing financial troubles that would end up being fatal the following year. When the ECW tapped out in 2001, Matthews and York found themselves out of a job and had to head back to the independent promotions to keep wrestling. He found some more success as a solo competitor, but wasn't satisfied until he got his dream job when signed onto the WWE, starting out in its Ohio Valley Wrestling training ground. Although his tenure in the world's biggest wrestling promotion would start out with a bang, an unfortunate accident would render it tragically short-lived.

The accident that cut Joey Mercury's wrestling career tragically short

At Armageddon 2006, MNM butted heads with three other tag teams in a merciless Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match. While meant to be a brutal showdown, it unfortunately became too real for Mercury when he was smacked by a ladder that didn't pull its punch. It hit him right in the schnoz, shattering it and forcing him to abandon the ring for the emergency room, leaving Nitro to finish the match alone. You can check out pictures of the cranial carnage on this now dead Tumblr called Dead Wrestlers. (Don't worry — Mercury survived the bloody ordeal). Mercury attempted to return to the ring with a protective face mask and without the MNM trio, but the magic was gone. The WWE let him go from his contract in 2007.

Like so many other wrestlers who have gotten hurt in the ring, Mercury had added prescription painkillers to his already established addictions to alcohol and other drugs. According to Last Word On Sports, however, in what was his greatest victory both in and out of the ring, he returned in 2010 completely drug- and alcohol-free. He joined up with notorious straight edge CM Punk, who had helped him get clean.

His return lasted only a year. A muscle tear got him written out of the storylines again, but he would find new life as a bald and besuited promoter with a bright future ahead of him.