Friday, April 25, 2008

Mike Awesome, part 3

He dropped the '70s gimmick in favor of a "Career Killer" and later "Canadian Career Killer" gimmick and joined the 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, 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. Awesome then faded into the background, mostly helping Lance Storm in his battles against Ernest "The Cat" Miller.

After the March 2001 purchase of WCW by the World Wrestling Federation , 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 WWF Hardcore Title 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. Awesome was the first "Invader" to gain gold in the WWF, stealing away with the Hardcore belt before any WWF wrestlers could catch him. 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. Awesome's push slowly declined 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.

After The Alliance ended, Awesome was not used much in storylines or matches and was drafted to SmackDown! with the brand extension. As a part of the SmackDown! roster he was still rarely seen on TV, eventually being released in September of 2002.

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. 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 (Kojima's employers, AJPW would not allow him to drop the title to an employee of a rival company ZERO-1).

Awesome made an appearance at the 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 and even going as far as to say that its a shame he didn't succeed at taking his life after doing a suicide dive, but also handing out praise for his in-ring work. The crowd also 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.

In February of 2006, 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". In his retirement he took up selling real estate.

On February 17, 2007, at around 10:30 p.m, a group of Awesome's friends found him hanged in his Tampa home. It is believed he committed suicide. WWE recognized Awesome's death on-air by displaying an "In Memory..." graphic at the beginning of the February 20 edition of ECW on Sci Fi, and an article about his death was posted on, saying that Awesome was found dead but it never stated the cause of death. Awesome's marriage had suffered following his arrest for domestic abuse, and beyond distraught and depressed about his marriage, which he felt was stable and secure, he killed himself shortly after his release from jail. He is survived by his wife Delisa and two children, Casey and Carissa.

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