Wednesday, March 21, 2007

WCW: Mike Rotunda

Lawrence Michael (Mike) Rotunda (born March 30, 1958), also known as Captain Mike Rotundo and Irwin R. Schyster, is a former American pro wrestler. He is currently a Producer for WWE.

After graduating from Syracuse University, Rotunda started wrestling in 1981 as a fan favorite in Florida Championship Wrestling. He often teamed with his real life brother-in-law, Barry Windham. Rotunda and Windham joined the WWF as The US Express in 1984. They won the WWF World Tag Team Wrestling Championships twice, first winning them from Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis in January 1985. The US Express' most notable feud was with The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, who they lost the tag titles to at WrestleMania 1. The US Express regained the belts in June 1985, but lost them two months later to Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine. Windham left the WWF soon after, and Rotunda was teamed with "Golden Boy" Dan Spivey as "The American Express," who had limited success in 1986.

Rotunda left the WWF in early 1987 and returned to Florida, where he won the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship in March. There, he feuded with Sir Oliver Humperdink's "Shock Troops." Later in the year, Rotunda joined the National Wrestling Alliance affiliate Jim Crockett Promotions, where he lingered at mid-card level as a face before turning heel and joining Kevin Sullivan's Varsity Club, a group of wrestlers with amateur wrestling credentials. Rotunda began bickering with fellow Varsity Club member Rick Steiner, a graduate of the University of Michigan, over which of the two had a superior alma mater. This in turn led to the two arguing over which of them was the superior wrestler.

Rotunda went on to win the NWA World Television Championship from Nikita Koloff in January 1988 and subsequently gave the Florida title to Steiner. He then began a feud with Jimmy Garvin because Sullivan wanted Garvin's wife Precious. Steiner eventually left the group and began feuding with Rotunda, with the enemies trading the Television Championship before Rotunda lost the title to Sting.

"Dr. Death" Steve Williams and Dan Spivey joined the Varsity Club in late 1988, and Rotunda teamed with Williams to win the NWA World Tag Team Championships from The Road Warriors. Referee Theodore Long turned heel during the match and administered a fast count, enabling Rotunda and Williams to overcome the champions. Long went on to become a manager following the controversial officiating.

In May 1989, Williams and Rotunda were stripped of their titles and Rotunda briefly left the NWA. He returned in 1990 as a face, using the maritime gimmick Captain Mike Rotundo. He formed a "crew" consisting of Abdullah the Butcher and Norman the Lunatic and feuded with Kevin Sullivan's new stable, "Sullivan's Slaughterhouse" (Cactus Jack, Buzz Sawyer, and Bam Bam Bigelow).

In mid-1990 Rotunda turned heel again and became Michael Wallstreet with Alexandra York and her computer as his manager. The partnership was a brief one, as Rotunda left the NWA for a bigger role in the WWF in early 1991.

In the WWF, Rotunda became Irwin R. Schyster (I.R.S.) and he is perhaps best known for this role. Irwin R Shyster was a heel "tax-man" gimmick (he was portrayed as a former IRS tax collector from Washington, D.C.) who harassed all of the faces and fans, urging them to pay their taxes. However, he was a sound technician in the ring - this would later see him form the team of "Money Inc." with Ted DiBiase and together the two men won the WWF World Tag Team Championships a further three times. Money Inc.'s first title reign was at the expense of The Road Warriors (by this time using their umbrella name "The Legion of Doom" in their WWF stint), making Rotunda the only tag team wrestler to defeat the Warriors twice for the World tag team belts. As "I.R.S.," Rotunda's biggest singles feud was with Razor Ramon. Rotunda was briefly part of DiBiase's "Million Dollar Corporation" before leaving the WWF for World Championship Wrestling.

Once in WCW, he played a character similar to I.R.S. known as V.K. Wallstreet (a play on Vincent Kennedy McMahon; the "V.K." was later dropped and he became known as Mister Wallstreet.) but failed to recapture his earlier success. He joined the nWo briefly at the request of DiBiase after defeating Mike Enos on an episode of Nitro, and wrestled in All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling as a member of "nWo Japan". He was soon kicked out of the group, but still declared himself to be "anti-WCW", participating as a jobber on WCW Saturday Night. In 1999 he reformed the Varsity Club with Kevin Sullivan, but it never reached the level of its prior success, partly due to nagging injuries on Rotunda's part, and was disbanded in early 2000.

Rotunda continued to wrestle primarily in Japan throughout the 1990s until he retired to run a security company with his wife (Blackjack Mulligan's daughter) in 2004.

Rotunda was rehired by WWE as a producer in 2006, and made a special appearance (as a face gimmick of Irwin R. Schyster) on the RAW Family Reunion special in October 2006 appearing along side The Million Dollar Man after Ric Flair defeated a member of the Spirit Squad.
technorati tags: wcw, ecw, eddie guerrero, pro wrestling, wrestlemania, hulk hogan, ric flair, booker t, tna

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