Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Mike Awesome, ECW Champion

Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Mike Awesome, ECW Champion – ECW, 1999-2000

History

It was the December 23rd edition of ECW’s TNN television show. A week earlier, Masato Tanaka had defeated World champion Mike Awesome to win the title. In a surprising turn of events, Awesome defeated Tanaka to regain the belt. After the match, Spike Dudley tried to hit Awesome with the Acid Drop and got caught. Spike’s girlfriend (a woman in the audience who dressed like Spike) hit the Drop on Awesome’s manager (Judge Jeff Jones) before she got clotheslined by Awesome. Spike then got up and tried again only for Awesome to toss him through a table.

A week later, ECW aired a video tribute of the ECW World title’s history. At the video’s conclusion, we saw footage of Spike Dudley challenging Awesome to a title match.

That brought us to the 2000 Guilty As Charged pay-per-view. The match went as expected. Spike was tossed through table after table and finally an Awesomebomb put him away.

After missing a week (but he was shown in the PPV recap), Awesome returned to ECW TV. He announced that he was the “whole f-ing show,” which brought out Rob Van Dam to dispute the point. Sabu soon followed. As the crowd went nuts, hoping for a triple threat match, Sabu clocked Van Dam with a chair, then set it for Awesome to Awesomebomb him on it. They then attacked Bill Alfonso. Spike Dudley tried to run in for the save, but Awesome and Sabu easily destroyed him.

The next episode saw Spike getting a World title rematch with Awesome. After destroying Spike, Awesome called out Van Dam. RVD made his way into the aisle and got jumped from behind by Sabu. After that, Awesome came out and attacked Sabu.

The next show opened with Van Dam and Alfonso walking backstage, looking for Awesome. Van Dam attacked. Alfonso tried to separate the two and wound up put through a table for his trouble.

The show closed with the viewers being notified that Van Dam had since fractured his ankle and would be out of action.

Two weeks later saw Tanaka’s return to ECW television as he vowed to regain the title. Awesome gave a rebuttal that said Tanaka wouldn’t.

The main event saw a brawl between Tanaka and Awesome that ended when Awesome put Tanaka though a table with a sit-down Awesomebomb.

March 3rd’s show saw Awesome again retaining his title over Spike.

The tenth gave us an unusual turn of events. Masato Tanaka and Tommy Dreamer had defeated the Impact Players (Lance Storm and Justin Credible) to win the ECW Tag Team titles. On this episode of ECW on TNN their archenemies, Awesome and Raven, joined forces. An Awesomebomb through a table wound up winning Awesome and Raven the belts, making Awesome a double champion.

That brought us to Living Dangerously. Awesome’s first match was a World title defense against Kid Kash, which saw Kash get obliterated in under five minutes.

Later, Awesome and Raven defended their titles against Dreamer & Tanaka and the Impact Players. In the end, the Impacts hit Dreamer with a spike piledriver to regain the belts.

The next show saw Tanaka challenging for the World title again. Tanaka hit the Roaring Elbow only for Judge Jeff Jones to distract the referee and keep the pin from being counted. That brought Raven in to hit a DDT on Tanaka and the referee. Awesome then powerbombed Tanaka through a table, which was Dreamer’s cue to attack. An Awesome spear put him through a table. The show closed as Joey Styles and Joel Gertner wondered why Awesome and Raven had joined forces.

The next week Awesome put in an appearance as a new member of the show claimed to be responsible for Awesome and Raven’s success, much to Francine (Raven’s manager)’s displeasure.

And then everything changed.

Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Mike Awesome, ECW Champion – WCW, 2000

History

April 10th saw the debut of Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff as the new creative team of WCW. This show also saw the beginning of the feud between the New Blood and the Millionaire’s Club.

Unknown to many fans, however, was the fact that Russo and Bischoff had a plan to help regain interest in Nitro. One thing which had helped fuel Nitro’s growth in the period from 1996-1997 was the parade of WWF stars who had jumped to WCW. Fans tuned in to see who would be next.

Later in the night Kevin Nash came out to the ring and talked about how the show had changed, then wondered what had happened to the Dog. He then brought up Scott Hall and began implying that Hall was on his way back.

That was when Nash got jumped from behind and attacked by the debuting Awesome, who even grabbed one of Nash’s crutches and beat him with it.

That’s right – the ECW champion had just shown up on WCW programming without dropping the belt. Mike Awesome had just become the most hated man in wrestling.

Still, things didn’t go down the way that WCW executives wanted. The original plan was reportedly for Mike Awesome to show up and disrespect the belt, much like Madusa had.

In 1996, Madusa was the WWF Women’s champion under the name of Alundra Blayze (she had been in the WWF since 1993). She suddenly appeared on Nitro and said that she was there because she wanted to be “where the big boys play” (Nitro’s logo at the time). She then picked up a trash can and dropped the WWF Women’s title into it. (Vince McMahon reportedly found out about this as it happened during a live Raw broadcast.)

To say that Paul Heyman was livid would be an understatement. He refused to let the ECW title be devalued by WCW and started calling lawyers. A last-minute settlement saw WCW agree to not have Awesome bring the belt out (he didn’t) and agree to drop the belt at the next ECW show.

At the show (April 13th), Awesome entered through the crowd with WCW head of security Doug Dellinger by his side. The crowd went insane as his surprise opponent was revealed – WWF superstar Tazz had returned. Tazz defeated Awesome to regain the title and Awesome left through the crowd while Tazz took the belt back to the WWF with him and would drop it to Tommy Dreamer on the 22nd.

Analysis

Awesome had all the tools necessary to dominate in ECW. He had a great look and was a believable monster. He wasn’t afraid to take to the air and his finisher, the Awesomebomb, was visibly devastating.

However, Awesome’s only believable opponent during this time period was his old rival Masato Tanaka. Spike Dudley feuded with Awesome, but fans knew there was no way Spike would take the title from him. It also appeared that an RVD feud was derailed by injury.

Awesome’s jump was extremely controversial because of his departure from ECW. Fact – Awesome should have dropped the title on his way out. However, to be fair, while Awesome was being booked as a monster, but it must be remembered that he also had a wife and children to provide for. At this point in history, ECW’s money problems were getting worse and wrestlers were going unpaid. It is likely that Awesome was one of these. Also, Heyman had never signed Awesome to a contract.

In the end, this just showed how bizarre the world of wrestling can be. The night that a WWF wrestler beat one from WCW to win the ECW title will never be forgotten.

Where are they now?

Mike Awesome remained with WCW until the company’s buyout in 2001. He was one of the wrestlers picked up by the WWF and was the first Alliance member to win a WWF title (he ran in on a Hardcore title defense between Test and Rhyno to win the belt). Awesome’s role diminished after the Invasion ended and he was released in September of 2002. He made a few appearances with TNA, but spent most of his time on the independent scene and in Japan (where he had originally gained his fame). Awesome’s last US wrestling appearance was at the 2005 One Night Stand, where he faced Masato Tanaka again. The following February he announced his retirement from wrestling in order to spend more time with his family. Shortly thereafter, he entered the real estate industry. On February 17, 2007 Awesome committed suicide.

Tags: ,