Today we remember Mike Awesome (1/24/1965 – 2/17/2007). Before he was thrilling fat chicks or driving the Partridge Family Bus as That 70’s Guy in WCW, Awesome had achieved success in Japan, wrestling as The Gladiator for FMW (Frotier Martial-Arts Wrestling). While in the Land of the Rising Sun, Awesome was able to capture a number of championships, simultaneously holding three titles at once in 1997. It was in Japan that he also began his most memorable feud, wrestling Masato Tanaka on several occasion.
In 1998, Awesome made a few appearances in Extreme Championship Wrestling, continuing his rivalry with Tanaka. He departed the company and returned to Japan, but came back to ECW once again in 1999. It didn’t take him long upon his reappearance to capture the ECW World Championship from Taz. During his tenure with the Philly based company, Mike Awesome resumed his ongoing feud with Masato Tanaka, and the two of them put on some of ECW’s most memorable matches. Before departing ECW, Awesome also captured the Tag Team titles, teaming with Raven to defeat Tanaka and Tommy Dreamer.
While still ECW Champion, Awesome debuted in WCW. Before being saddled with the aforementioned gimmicks, his appearance caused a unique situation surrounding the ECW Title. In an unbelievable turn of events, Awesome (a WCW wrestler) lost the belt to Taz (a WWE wrestler) at an ECW event. A week later, Taz lost the title to ECW Wrestler Tommy Dreamer. Upon WWE’s purchasing of WCW, Mike Awesome became one of the first WCW wrestlers to debut on WWE programming. Taking advantage of the Hardcore Title’s 24/7 rule, Awesome interfered in a Hardcore Championship bout between Rhyno and Test and won the title himself, becoming the first of the WCW invaders to wear gold. Awesome teamed with friend Lance Storm for a while, but his stay in WWE was ultimately not a memorable one, and he departed the company in 2002 after being relegated to mostly competing on their B-shows.
Awesome enjoyed one last hurrah at the WWE-produced ECW One Night Stand. There, he wrestled his greatest rival, Masato Tanaka, one last time. Despite being booed initially by ECW fans as a result of how he left the company years before, he was able to convert them by competing in what was easily the match of the night. After claiming a victory with his trademark Awesome Bomb through a table, Mike Awesome received a standing ovation from the packed New York crowd.