Of all the ECW acquisitions by WCW, none were bigger than that of Mike Awesome. The then-reigning ECW titleholder, the jacked 6’6 powerhouse should have had the run of a lifetime in the promotion but instead, his time there was hampered by bad creative, alleged backstage politics, and an overcrowded roster. As “That 70s Guy” and “The Fat Chick Thriller”, any dominance from his crusading ECW run was lost and we are left to question what could have been.
Looking back on Awesome’s brief stint in WCW, how could it have been done different? Through 20/20 hindsight, we question how the ex-ECW champion, who arrived with a charge of momentum, ended up with little more than a spark. So here is an alternative timeline as I take over the book for Mike Awesome’s WCW career.
For this fantasy booking, we are already at the point where Awesome has decided to jump to WCW as we cannot alter real events too much.
Mike Awesome’s real WCW debut can be kept largely the same as he surprise-attacks Kevin Nash. Crucially though, he does not cut a promo afterwards, which lessened the impact somewhat in real life. Also, Awesome does not don a fannypack and white jacket attire as if he is about to sing the Frankie Valli repertoire to a bemused cruise ship full of passengers. Awesome should wear something black, perhaps an ECW shirt. At this stage, Awesome injures Nash, wiping him out of action.
As Awesome is not necessarily a strong speaker (yet WCW gave him his own talk show for some unfathomable reason), he needs a mouthpiece. As a fellow ECW star and great speaker in his own right, Mike is taken on as a client by Shane Douglas. Douglas does not become exclusively a manager, more like AJ Styles and Omos for a modern comparison.
In ECW, Awesome loses his ECW belt to the wrestler he always wanted to lose it to: Rhino. With the aid of The Network, Rhino—perhaps ECW’s most promising prospect at the time—is the makeshift face, dominating whilst bringing the belt back to ECW; Awesome too would not be weakened by the match.
Inbetween The Ropes
The good thing about booking WCW in this period is that there is a mass exodus, which sounds negative but also allows for a long line of star-making matches for Mike Awesome in which his credibility is compounded by retiring or injuring established workers.
At Spring Stampede, Mike Awesome makes his in-ring debut. Whilst the obvious choice is to give Douglas and Awesome the vacant tag titles, that is not what I have decided to go for here.
Awesome makes an impressive in-ring debut, beating Finlay in a hard-hitting bout that goes for a few minutes. He wins the No DQ match with a top rope powerbomb through a table. Finlay is then dragged up the ramp and Awesome Bombed off the stage, thus ‘retiring’ Finlay (whose career was winding down at this point anyway).
Later that night, Awesome aids Douglas to win the vacant United States title when he beats Sting in a tournament final.
At the next PPV, Slamboree, Awesome beats Curt Hennig in a match in which his career is on the line (much like his Stasiak match in real life). Hennig is told that if he is pinned or submitted he is fired, so he deliberately loses by count-out or DQ—again, like real life. Douglas retains his belt on the PPV.
Feud and Title Win
At The Great American Bash in June, Douglas is defending his title against Terry Funk when Nash returns to beat up both ex-ECW members. Hall dumps Awesome out of the ring before hitting Douglas with a Jackknife followed by a Funk moonsault. Funk wins the US title thanks to Kevin Nash.
As a result, a match between Douglas and Nash is created, in which Nash is fighting for the contract of WCW persona non grata Scott Hall; in real life, Douglas’ role was taken by Goldberg. This rivalry can build upon both men’s real-life beef, as long as both men are happy to do it which, for the sake of this piece, we will say they are. A week before the event however, “The Franchise” is ‘injured’ (it is later revealed he is not) so Awesome substitutes for Shane.
At the PPV, Awesome wins with an assist from a Douglas steel chain attack. A powerbomb through a table and it’s a win for Awesome, who tears up Hall’s contract.
On the next Nitro, Awesome wins the United States title Douglas lost, triumphing over Terry Funk to win the strap.
US Title Reign
Awesome has televised defenses on Thunder and Nitro against the likes of Rick Steiner, Rey Mysterio, and Jim Duggan. On Nitro, Sting wins a match for the #1 contendership of the US belt, going on to pin Douglas the next week. At Fall Brawl, Awesome wins although he does enlist help from Sting’s rivals of The Dark Carnival (Vampiro & The Great Muta).
At Halloween Havoc, Awesome makes a challenge to any opponent. Out comes Bam Bam Bigelow, who Awesome had not beaten in ECW as their paths never truly met. Bigelow tries a Bam Bam Sault but Awesome moves and hits his distinctive flying splash for a win. The commentators make a big deal of how unstoppable Awesome is and how he wins with practically a different move variation each match, making him that more unpredictable and dangerous.
In the real timeline, Awesome won the Millennium Final battle royal for a dominant win. Perhaps oddly at first, he will be booked less strong here instead being a runner up, eliminated by Diamond Dallas Page who wins. This means Awesome does not have to lose in a subsequent qualifying match and that he is still unpinned or submitted.
At Starrcade, Booker T manages to find the chink in Awesome’s armour, using a combination of finishing moves to score the underdog win. Ex-partner and now ally Stevie Ray had chased off Douglas, allowing T—who WCW were very keen on pushing at the time—to garner his first US belt. (Side note: Lance Storm’s great US title run comes between Booker’s win here and regaining of the belt on the last Nitro.)
Simultaneously, Goldberg is blamed by paranoid, panicked on-screen authority figures for fewer ratings. It is said that if he cannot beat his old 173-0 win streak, he would be getting the chop.
Already injured in a backstage segment by a jump attack with a chain by Douglas, Goldberg is subject to Awesome who prevails with a forceful top rope Awesome Bomb.
The next night, a mock funeral is held, objected to by allies and tag champions KroniK (who never feuded with Goldberg, as they did in actuality). In an impromptu brawl, Douglas knocks out Brian Adams with a Crushing steel chain punch, rather Reckless of him! Bryan Adams jokes aside, Clark is forced into a handicap scenario, beaten after a big Belly-To-Belly from Shane. We’ve got new tag champions!
As much as we play with titleholders, match results, and matches themselves, there are some things that are required to be followed. We cannot book around it: WCW was doomed to fail. Even had Awesome been made a top, cash-making megastar, WCW still likely would have ceased, with its suffering prolonged.
This brings us to the final ever episode of Nitro in March 2001. On the 26th of March, then-tag champions Awesome and Douglas lose to Sting and Flair in a title match in the opening bout, with the long-time rivals winning the tag straps together; however, they still wrestle in the main event. This may seem nonsensical and counterproductive (it is WCW, however) but it is a nice final thank you to “The Icon” and “The Nature Boy”—perhaps the two most definitive stars in WCW history.
Where to go from here? It is really up to the WWF to decide what they want to do with Awesome now outside WCW. Especially after the Invasion, it is up to WWF where to move next with Mike Awesome.
WCW’s bungled mishandling of Mike Awesome was one of their greatest creative shortcomings in 2000—which should be saying something.
As with my Taking Over The Book on “Dr Death” Steve Williams, others may argue that Awesome should have been in the WCW top brass, but there was already too many cooks. Scott Steiner, Booker T, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Jeff Jarrett, Diamond Dallas Page, Sid, David Arquette (okay, Arquette was only around for a brief time but still…it’s David Arquette)—there seemed little space for the ex-ECW world champion to plug into this scene without being diluted and lost.
Although not world-conquering, this booking would give Awesome enough impact to utilise his skills. He would have had top programmes with Nash and Sting whilst also picking up various title belts in just under a year, being booked strong as “The Career Killer”. Instead, by Awesome’s own recollection due to his relation to Hulk Hogan, he was almost unrecognisable after having passed through Atlanta—stifled by gimmicks such as “The Fat-Chick Thriller” and “That 70s Guy” whilst having his mullet shaved off, turned Canadian, and feuded with The Insane Clown Posse. With that, Awesome deserved to be booked far more like the hoss powerhouse he was, which is what I hope I’ve done effectively as described in the events above.
But that is just how I would do it, feel free to leave suggestions or improvements in the comments below.
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