The Rise & Fall Of Mike Awesome
In the early to mid 1990s, Mike Awesome was pretty successful competing for various Japanese wrestling promotions most notably FMW. Every now and then, Awesome would make a few shows for Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), but he didn’t stick around very long. That was until September 1999.
Awesome appeared at Anarchy Rulz 1999 on September 19th and ended up walking out as the ECW World Champion defeating champion Taz and Masato Tanaka in an elimination match where Awesome pinned Tanaka to win the title. Awesome and Tanaka had several hard hitting matches for ECW from 1998 to early 2000. They traded the championship in December 1999 with Tanaka holding the title for a week.
Upon his arrival in September, Awesome quickly became a dominating force. Compared to other wrestlers in ECW Awesome was a “big guy” who was able to successfully perform high impact moves. He had an impressive top rope splash and his running powerbomb over the top the floor through a table were incredible moves to witness.
ECW had regularly lost big names to either WCW or WWF during this time. Luckily for them, Awesome became the next top heel to carry the company going into 2000. One of the major matches that ECW began to tease would have saw Mike Awesome battle Rob Van Dam, who was the ECW Television Champion. However, in January 2000 RVD would break his leg and be out of action for 6+ months.
It’s not a secret that ECW was facing money issues by the time 2000 came along. A few times checks would bounce for performers. By the spring, Paul Heyman tried to sign Awesome to a contract, but Awesome declined because he was owed backpay, which he hadn’t received.
Personally, Mike Awesome competing in ECW is something I generally enjoyed watching. The atmosphere and style of wrestling did very well for Awesome’s career. So much so that a rival company offered Awesome a big money deal. There’s no way Awesome would take a deal as ECW World Champion, right?
April 10th, 2000 saw Mike Awesome make his World Championship Wrestling debut on Nitro where he attacked Kevin Nash. Awesome was still the ECW World Champion and this led to a legal battle between the two companies. WCW ended up paying ECW 500k to use Awesome on television and they mentioned ECW on-air.
After having a successful six month run in ECW there was excitement for Awesome to have a similar amount of success in WCW. There was still strong names in WCW with the likes of Nash, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair, Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T, Scott Steiner and Jeff Jarrett competing in main events. I’m not sure how many of those guys would actually take the big moves that Awesome made famous in ECW.
His first feud was with Kevin Nash after the previously mentioned attack. Nash cost Awesome his match in the WCW US Championship tournament at Spring Stampede after hitting him with a crutch and allowing Scott Steiner to win the match by submission.
Three weeks later on Nitro, Awesome earned a pin fall victory over Hulk Hogan. Of course, Awesome needed help from Billy Kidman whom Hogan was feuding with at the time. Over the next few weeks, Awesome would win matches against the likes of Diamond Dallas Page and Sting in stretcher matches before losing to Kevin Nash in a stretcher match on May 15th, 2000.
The following month at Great American Bash, Awesome beat DDP in an ambulance match. A few weeks later on June 26th edition of Nitro, Awesome lost to Nash a second time. Two days later, Awesome pinned WCW United States Champion Scott Steiner in a non-title match. Awesome would find himself in a feud with Steiner over the title, but failed to win the title. Awesome was also the first challenger to WCW World Champion Booker T on the July 10th edition of Nitro, which he loss.
On July 18th, Awesome competed in a tournament to crown a new WCW United States Championship and ended up losing to Lance Storm in the finals. Following the loss, two larger women helped Awesome to his feet. And so it begins…
For the next several weeks, Awesome would be known as the “Fat Chick Thriller” and would have larger women by his side. The former ECW World Champion Mike Awesome who was a badass in ECW and was being portrayed as such in WCW as well for a brief time. Now, he’s being treated as a comedy act.
Awesome entered into a feud with WCW United States Champion Lance Storm and they had a match at New Blood Rising. On the show, Awesome defeated Storm several times but ended up losing because Jacques Rougeau was a heel enforcer and helped Storm retain the championship. That mostly killed off Storm.
Shortly after that gimmick, Awesome transformed himself into “That 70s Guy” and dressed as if he was from the era. Under this gimmick, Awesome found himself feuding with Jeff Jarrett and won a match on pay per view at Fall Brawl with help from Sting. Following the victory, Awesome continued to feud with the likes of Scott Steiner, Booker T and Vampiro.
2000 ended with Awesome defeating Bam-Bam Bigelow in an ambulance match at Starrcade 2000. The following night on Nitro, Awesome lost to Jarrett in a tournament match with the winner getting a shot at the WCW World Championship.
On the first show in 2001, Awesome would change his character yet again joining Team Canada and becoming the “Canadian Career Killer” joining forces with Lance Storm, Elix Skipper and Major Gunns. For three months in WCW before the company ended, Awesome remained with the Team Canada group teaming with Lance Storm as they failed to win the WCW Tag Team Championships.
Awesome would have a short run with the WWF as he won the WWF Hardcore Championship on the June 25th edition of RAW. He also earned a pin fall victory over Edge on the July 16th edition of RAW. That’s the most success Awesome would have as he would then be left off television and got hurt in November 2001. He’d return during the summer of 2002 losing to guys like Mark Henry, Funaki, Bull Buchanan and Faarooq.
On September 27th, 2002, Awesome was released from WWE and he was thrilled about it due to the company having a lot of backstage politics. For a brief time in April 2003, Awesome worked for TNA before leaving the following month.
He’d return to WWE for the One Night Stand pay per view in June 2005. He worked Masato Tanaka at the event and tore the house down showing what ECW was all about. However, Awesome didn’t return to the company as he felt underpaid for his work and retired the following year.
Sadly, on February 17th, 2007 Mike Awesome committed suicide. He was 42.
What are your memories of Mike Awesome? Leave them below!
Thanks for reading.