A few months before MNM made their WWE television debut in the spring of 2005, WWE nearly replaced Joey Mercury in the group.
On the latest episode of Colt Cabana's Art Is Wrestling podcast, John Morrison revealed that some of the decision makers in WWE wanted Chris Cage, not Mercury, in the group with Morrison and Melina. at the time, Morrison was going under the name of Johnny Nitro.
"They even tried us out on a live event loop: me, Melina and Chris Cage," Morrison recalled. "It would've been a whole different way for my career to go."
Morrison went on to describe Mercury's reaction to the potential change.
"He [Mercury] was already bummed, and he was super good friends with Chris," Morrison said. "Chris felt bad. It was a bad situation -- a group of people who were all really tight and friends. Chris is told he has to wrestle as a tag partner with me, he doesn't have any matching gear."
Morrison recalled he worked with Cage on multiple OVW live events trying out the team and "a couple" of WWE live events as well. House show records list a dark match prior to a November 4, 2004, episode of Sunday Night Heat taped in Indianapolis that saw the makeshift team take on Johnny Jeter and Matt Cappotelli.
Ultimately, WWE decided to keep the original MNM team intact. They teamed together for about a year in Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE's developmental territory, prior to being called up as a trio.
"I think the whole creative team, like, looked at what we'd done in OVW," Morrison said. "We'd been a tag team for a couple of years, we had this entrance , we had this chemistry. Instead of reinventing the wheel—which is what they usually like to do, hand someone a gimmick—to just let us go with what we had. Which was awesome."
Mercury and Nitro had three tag title reigns in WWE as a team. Later, Nitro went through another repackage to become John Morrison.
Cage made his way to the WWE main roster in late 2009, teaming with Trent Baretta.
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