Mike Awesome

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Mike Awesome
Mike Awesome Grilles the Crowd.jpg
Awesome in 1999.
Birth name Michael Lee Alfonso
Ring name(s) The Gladiator
Mike Awesome
The Pro
Billed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Billed weight 294 lb (133 kg)
Born (1965-01-24)January 24, 1965
Tampa, Florida, United States
Died February 17, 2007(2007-02-17) (aged 42)
Tampa, Florida, United States
Trained by Steve Keirn
Debut 1989
Retired 2006

Michael "Mike" Lee Alfonso (January 24, 1965 – February 17, 2007), better known by his ring name Mike Awesome, was an American professional wrestler best known in America for his work in Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and in World Wrestling Federation and also in Japan for his work with Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling under the name The Gladiator. Mike Awesome was a three-time World Heavyweight Champion.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling (1990–2000)[edit]

Alfonso moved on to Japan, joining Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) in September 1990 and using the name The Gladiator. In 1993, he joined forces with Ricky Fuji, Big Titan, and Dr. Luther in the original Team Canada stable; the stable disbanded in 1994.

In 1993, Alfonso appeared in NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) for a short period (as "Awesome" Mike Awesome) before returning to FMW. In 1994, the Gladiator captured his first title, teaming with Big Titan to defeat Atsushi Onita and Katsutoshi Niyama in the finals of the FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Championship Tournament.[1] They lost the title that April, but Awesome won them again with new partner Mr. Pogo in October.[1] In 1995, he joined the group, Lethal Weapon, reuniting with Ricky Fuji. As the Gladiator, he faced and defeated Hayabusa for his first major singles title, the FMW Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship in September 1995, but was forced to vacate it due to a legitimate injury the next February.[2] In May 1996 he won the title for a second time, then unified it with the FMW Independent Heavyweight Championship after defeating W*ING Kanemura in that December.[1] The next August, teaming with Hisakatsu Oya and Mr. Gannosuke he won the vacated FMW World Street Fight 6-Man Tag-Team Titles, holding all three belts at once, but within a month lost all three during a feud with Masato Tanaka.[1]

In January 1998, Awesome began appearing for ECW again and continued his feud with Masato Tanaka in the United States. Awesome began in ECW by losing to Tanaka on an episode ECW's weekly Hardcore TV. However, following the match, he delivered an Awesome Bomb to Tanaka over the top rope through a table set up on the outside. In his final appearance of his second ECW stint, Awesome lost to Tanaka again at the August Heat Wave pay-per-view event.

After returning to Japan, Alfonso seriously injured his knee during a match with Super Leather, taking him out of wrestling for nearly a year. When he returned, he continued to wrestle as The Gladiator for a brief period in All Japan Pro Wrestling[2] before returning to ECW. Almost immediately upon arriving in ECW for his third stint in September 1999, he shocked the wrestling world by winning the ECW World Heavyweight Championship at Anarchy Rulz by defeating the reigning champion Taz and nemesis Masato Tanaka in a three-way dance, which was signed on the spot. Awesome continued to be a major factor in ECW early in 2000, including teaming with Raven to beat Tanaka and Tommy Dreamer for the ECW World Tag Team Championship.[1] He also gained a new manager, Judge Jeff Jones whom he managed Awesome to the top of winning the ECW World Heavyweight Championship twice in one year of 1999.

World Championship Wrestling (2000–2001)[edit]

In April 2000, Awesome made a surprise appearance on WCW Monday Nitro—aiding The New Blood by attacking Kevin Nash—while still reigning as ECW World Champion.[3] Awesome's friend Lance Storm has said that he had refused to sign a new contract with ECW until Paul Heyman paid him overdue wages.[4] Due to concern over legal issues WCW refrained from having Awesome appear on their television shows with the ECW belt. Eventually, a compromise was reached. Awesome (a WCW employee and ECW champion) appeared a few days later at an ECW event in Indianapolis, Indiana, accompanied by WCW's head of security,[5] where he lost the title to Tazz (a World Wrestling Federation employee), who lost it a week later to Tommy Dreamer (a full-time ECW wrestler).[6] In the extreme shoot interview released by Highspots in 2005, Awesome expressed that he would have rather faced off with his former ECW and WWE colleague, Rhyno and suggested that they could have put on a more entertaining match regardless of the circumstances and the manner in which he had left ECW.

Now with WCW, Awesome continued to be a major factor with the New Blood for the next month, teaming with Billy Kidman occasionally to aid him in his feud with Hulk Hogan. Awesome also engaged in an on-and-off feud with Kevin Nash, as well as feuding with Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon. In May 2000, Awesome threw Kanyon off the top of the first level of a triple cage onto the entrance ramp, which started his "Career Killer" gimmick.

During Mid 2000, his gimmick was tweaked, with him becoming infatuated with heavyset women and calling himself "The Fat Chick Thrilla" Mike Awesome, and feuded with Scott Steiner and Lance Storm for the WCW United States Championship[3]

On the September 6, 2000 edition of Thunder, Awesome changed his gimmick and became "That '70s Guy" Mike Awesome (a reference to the hit TV series, That '70s Show), dressing in various 1970s inspired outfits and hosting the "Lava Lamp Lounge" interview segment. At one point, he was even given a bus painted in the style of the one featured on The Partridge Family to drive into arenas for his entrance.[3][7] During this time, he had a feud with Vampiro, which created many brawls between Awesome and Vampiro's allies, the Insane Clown Posse. At one point, Awesome battled Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J in a Handicap match.

On the January 3, 2001 edition of Thunder, Awesome dropped the '70s gimmick in favor of a "Canadian Career Killer" gimmick and joined WCW's Team Canada stable with Lance Storm and Elix Skipper. A feud with the Filthy Animals led to Awesome challenging Billy Kidman to a Hair-vs-Hair match, on January 15, however before the bout could take place, Team Canada attacked Kidman backstage leaving him unable to compete. Konnan (who had no hair) took his place and got the win, giving the Animals the right to cut off Awesome's long-time mullet.[3] Awesome then faded into the background, mostly helping Storm in his battles against Ernest "The Cat" Miller. On the final Nitro on March 26, 2001 Awesome and Storm were defeated by Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire in a WCW World Tag Team Championship match.

World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment (2001–2002)[edit]

After the March 2001 purchase of WCW by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), Awesome became part of The Invasion storyline in the WWF. His WWF debut came on the June 25, 2001 episode of Raw is War during a match which saw Test defending his Hardcore Championship against Rhyno. After Rhyno Gored Test against a wall and pinned him he stood celebrating his new title only to be attacked by Awesome wielding a metal pipe. He then powerbombed Rhyno onto a ladder and pinned him, becoming champion himself due to the 24/7 rule.[8] Awesome was the first "Invader" to gain gold in the WWF, stealing away with the Hardcore belt before any WWF wrestlers could catch him.[3] Awesome's hardcore reign came to an end a few weeks later on the July 12 edition of SmackDown! when he was pinned by Jeff Hardy.[8] Awesome pinned Edge on the July 16, 2001 edition of WWF Monday Night Raw.[9] Awesome also pinned Crash Holly on the September 18, 2001 edition of WWF Sunday Night Heat.[10]

Awesome and Lance Storm were defeated by Edge and Christian at WWF Invasion, Awesome's first WWF Pay-per-view match. From here Awesome's push slowly declined after that and he began appearing mostly on WWF's B-shows. He was left off the majority of the Invasion storyline pay-per-views and was eventually sidelined with an injury in November 2001.

Awesome returned to the SmackDown! brand on the July 27, 2002 edition of Velocity where he was defeated by Tajiri. Awesome was a mainstay on SmackDown's B-Show, Velocity for the next 2 months jobbing to wrestlers such as Faarooq, Bull Buchanan, Mark Henry and Funaki.

He was eventually released on September 27, 2002 along with Shawn Stasiak and Horace Hogan. Awesome quoted saying "Being in the WWE (formerly the WWF) sucked. I hated it. You had to kiss everybody's ass... You had to be on your political toes all the time. You would not believe the backstage politics. You were getting stabbed in the back constantly. I was so happy when I was told I was gone [fired]."[11]

Independent circuit (2002–2006)[edit]

After his release, Awesome made a few appearances in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling but mainly competed on the independent circuit in both the United States and Japan where he worked for All Japan Pro Wrestling as "The Gladiator" once again.[12] On the independent circuit, he had a short stint with Major League Wrestling where he won the MLW World Heavyweight Championship from Satoshi Kojima, only to lose it ten minutes later to Steve Corino[3] (Kojima's employers, AJPW would not allow him to drop the title to an employee of a rival company Zero-1).[13]

Awesome made an appearance at WWE's 2005 ECW One Night Stand reunion pay-per-view, again facing Masato Tanaka. Throughout the match, Joey Styles (who was doing commentary) frequently made references to the way Awesome left ECW in 2000, calling him a "Judas" and making somewhat disparaging comments about him, including his dismay that Awesome didn't kill himself on a suicide dive to the outside. The crowd greeted Awesome with jeers at the beginning of the match, but by the end—which Awesome won after Awesome Bombing Tanaka to the outside of the ring and through a table and following that up with a slingshot splash—were chanting "This match rules!" and gave both men a standing ovation.[3]

In February 2006, after 17 years in the ring, Awesome announced his retirement from wrestling, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and adding that he felt underpaid for his work at the One Night Stand event and that he would only return to the ring "if the money was right".[14]

Personal life[edit]

On May 11, 1991, he married his high school sweetheart in Hillsborough, Florida.[15] They had two children together. Mike was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed fishing and trail bike riding with friends and his son.[16] He enjoyed mountain biking and would ride frequently at Alafia River State Park in Florida, close to his Tampa home. His wife had asked for a divorce, which allegedly resulted in an altercation between Alfonso and his wife.[citation needed]

Awesome was the cousin of Hulk Hogan's nephew Michael Bollea who was better known for his stint in WCW under the name Horace Hogan. He is no relation of fellow ECW alumnus Bill Alfonso.

After Awesome's retirement, he served as a real estate agent in New Tampa, Florida.[17]

On February 17, 2007, at around 10:30 p.m, a group of Awesome's friends found him hanging in his Tampa home. It was believed his death was due to suicide.[18] He was 42 years old. WWE recognized Awesome's death on-air by displaying an "In Memory..." graphic at the beginning of the February 20, 2007 edition of ECW on Sci Fi, and an article about his death was posted on WWE.com, saying that Awesome was found dead but omitting the cause of death.

The family received friends from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Thursday, February 22, 2007 at Serenity Meadows Funeral Home in Riverview, Florida.[19] A celebration of Mike's life was held at 10:00 a.m. the following day at Serenity Meadows.[20]

In wrestling[edit]

  • Nicknames
    • "The Gladiator"
    • "That '70s Guy"
    • "The Fat Chick Thriller"
    • "The 300 Pound Luchador"
    • "The Canadian Killer"
    • "The Career Killer"
    • "Awesome (ECW)"
  • Entrance themes
    • "Every Minute, Every Day" by Scorpions (FMW, 1990–1996; AJPW, 1998–1999)
    • "He Is Awesome" by FMW Productions (FMW, 1996–1998; ECW, 1998; AJPW, 2002–2003; NOAH, 2003–2005)
    • "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses (ECW, 1993)
    • "Dive" by Nirvana (ECW)
    • "Phantom Lord" by Anthrax (ECW, 1998)
    • "The Zoo" by Bruce Dickinson (Ft. Roy Z) (ECW, 1998–2000)
    • "Awesome Bomb" by "Reckless Fortune" (ECW, 2000; WWE, 2005)
    • "Manic Attack" by "BRG Music library" (WCW, 2000)
    • "Awesome Theme" by Jimmy Hart & Howard Helm (WCW, 2000)
    • "Mike Awesome Theme" by Jimmy Hart & Howard Helm (WCW, Starrcade 2000)
    • "Saxy Lady" by "Match Music"
    • "Lance Storm Theme" by Jimmy Hart & Howard Helm (With Team Canada) (WCW, 2001)
    • "Take You Under" by Dale Oliver (TNA, 2003) – as a member of the Disciples of the New Church

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Mike Awesome career highlights
  2. ^ a b The Wrestling Gospel Mike Mooneyham 25 February 2007
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Black, Jake (May 2007). "Mike Awesome 1965 - 2007". The Wrestler (London Publishing). pp. 53–55. Volume 15, 2007. 
  4. ^ Evers, Lance (2007-02-20). "Mike Awesome 1965-2007". StormWrestling. 
  5. ^ Molinaro, John F. (2000-04-14). "Tazz wins ECW World title". Slam! Sports. 
  6. ^ Kapur, Bob (2001-08-05). "Tazz talks: ECW, Tough Enough, WWF". Slam! Wrestling. 
  7. ^ Evers, Lance (2007-02-21). "Mike Awesome Stories". StormWrestling. 
  8. ^ a b History of the Hardcore Championship
  9. ^ http://www.profightdb.com/wrestlers/mike-awesome-328.html?prom_id=1
  10. ^ http://www.profightdb.com/wrestlers/mike-awesome-328.html?prom_id=1
  11. ^ Reynolds, R. D.; Alvarez, Bryan (2004). The Death of WCW: WrestleCrap and Figure Four Weekly Present. ECW Press. p. 232. ISBN 1550226614. 
  12. ^ "Life after WWE". Power Slam Magazine (Lancaster, Lancashire, England: SW Publishing LTD). August 2003. pp. 32–35. 109. 
  13. ^ Martin, Findlay (August 2003), Power Slam, SW Publishing, p. 23, issue 109 
  14. ^ "Warned.net article - Mike Awesome retires". 
  15. ^ https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VNY5-N8Y
  16. ^ http://www.serenitymeadows.com/obits/obituary.php?id=6708
  17. ^ http://www.serenitymeadows.com/obits/obituary.php?id=6708
  18. ^ Meltzer, Dave. "Former ECW champ Mike Awesome passes away". Wrestling Observer. Archived from the original on 2007-12-24. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  19. ^ http://www.serenitymeadows.com/obits/obituary.php?id=6708
  20. ^ http://www.serenitymeadows.com/obits/obituary.php?id=6708
  21. ^ a b "Wrestlingdata Proflie". Wrestlingdata.com. 2013-09-07. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  22. ^ a b World Championship Wrestling (2001-03-26). "Team Canada Vs. Sean O'Haire & Chuck Palumbo (c)". WCW Nitro.
  23. ^ "Major League Wrestling". Online World Of Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  24. ^ http://www.100megsfree4.com/wiawrestling/pages/pwi/pwi50000.htm

References[edit]

Highspots Extreme Shoot Interview, 2005.

External links[edit]