After training under Johnny Rodz, Theis made his debut on the independent circuit in 1987 under the ring name "Jonn Reinhart". He later renamed himself "Mondo Kleen". In 1990 he worked for Tri-State Wrestling Alliance. In September 1992, he wrestled a tryout match with World Championship Wrestling as "Mando Phil".
Harlem Heat was a professional wrestling tag team composed of two brothers, Booker and Lash Huffman (better known as Booker T and Stevie Ray). The team achieved their greatest success in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), where they won the WCW World Tag Team Championship a record ten times.