Real Name: Mike Alphonso
Weight: 285 lbs.
Date of Birth: 1966
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Finisher: Awesome Bomb
Titles Held: ECW World Heavyweight Title (2 times)
|Bio: Mike Alphonso was raised in Tampa, Florida. His professional wrestling training began at Steve Keirn’s wrestling school, also in Tampa. Here, Alphonso learned all the basics and fundamentals of the business until he was noticed by a Japanese wrestling scout. Alphonso soon went overseas to wrestle, now using the name The Gladiator. Mike fit in well with the promotion, despite its penchant for violence and “extreme” behavior. It was in this promotion where he met one of his greatest rivals to date: Masato Tanaka. The two engaged in many brutal battles, some of which were sited as the greatest FMW matches of that time. The Gladiator also had notable encounters with Hayabusa and W*ing Kanemura, the latter of which Alphonso defeated for the FMW Independent World Title in December of 1996.||
History: As early as 1994, Mike
“Awesome” made his debut in ECW. Being a huge fan of Japanese wrestling,
Paul Heyman was familiar with the abilities of Awesome and urged him to
give the young, upstart promotion a try. Awesome’s early matches with Sabu
were considered fantastic, but it was an encounter with FBI member J.T.
Smith that is usually remembered. After launching Smith tot he concrete
of the ECW Arena, Awesome launched himself over the top rope, connecting
with Smith and nearly snapping his back in half on the unforgiving guardrail.
Awesome truly made a domestic name for himself in 1998, with his match with Tanaka at Heatwave. The two put on a brutal match, which saw Tanaka go over Awesome after dumping him outside the ring and through a table (in the powerbomb position). Their feud was far from over however, and the two had several other 4 star matches in the years to come.
|A true turning point for Mike Awesome was the evening of Anarchy Rulz ’99. Tanaka was scheduled to challenge Taz for the World Heavyweight Title, but Awesome and his manager Judge Jeff Jones interrupted the pre-match introductions. After cutting a scathing promo on the two, the title match was declared a 3-Way Dance. In a shocking twist that made the Odeum crowd go silent, Taz was quickly eliminated, leaving two bitter rivals and a new heavyweight champion to be crowned. After a lengthy battle, Awesome pinned Tanaka after powerbombing him off the top turnbuckle and through a table. As Awesome’s hand was raised in victory, Taz showed his true colors by shaking Awesome’s hand and leading the crowd in an “Awesome” chant. The Awesome era had begun.||
|In the months to come, Awesome refined his image as a fighting champion and even gained a tag team belt in the process. In early 2000, a rumor spread that Awesome was being courted by World Championship Wrestling. As the internet buzz grew, so did the ill feelings and the chants of “you sold out”. During a routine title defense, Awesome had signed an open contract and was booked against an unannounced opponent. As a familiar music played over the PA, Taz made his triumphant return to ECW. In a short match, Awesome dropped the belt to Taz (with a bit of help from Tommy Dreamer) and in a truly memorable image, left the arena through a sea of fans while being serenaded with “Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye”. Though he was attracting much heat in a “heelish” way, there was no doubt that the ECW fans appreciated Awesome and recognized the contributions he had made towards the promotion.||
He’s Doing Now: On April 10 of
2000, Mike Awesome “shocked the world” (or something like that) by appearing
on WCW’s Monday Nitro and attacking an injured Kevin Nash. His WCW career
has been marred with horrible gimmicks ranging from “The Fat Chick Thriller”
to “That 70’s Guy”. After joining the Team Canada faction, WCW was purchased
by Vince McMahon. It has been reported that Awesome has indeed signed a
contract with the “new” WCW and it should be interesting to see how things
pan out for him.