200px-awesome_promo.jpgFormer two time ECW World Champion Mike Awesome, real name Mike Alfonso, sadly passed away at the weekend. He was only 42.

Most will remember Awesome for his stint in Extreme Championship Wrestling where he had one of the company’s most memorable feuds with several bloody battles with Masato Tanaka.

He was the ECW Champion on two different occasions, the later being the most controversial as he won the belt and signed with WCW whilst still their world champion. He showed up on episodes of Nitro, which eventually led to one of the most bizarre matches in Professional Wrestling History.

It was Mike Awesome (ECW champ but now under contract with WCW) jobbing against Tazz (employed by WWF at that time) in an ECW Title match at an ECW arena!!!

Awesome’s stint in WCW saw him wrestle the likes of Kevin Nash and Jeff Jarrett and later being forced to take on one of the silliest gimmicks of wrestling history, as “That 70’s guy”.

Maybe his most memorable moment in WCW was his hair vs. hair match against Konnan (who was bald) which he subsequently lost and suffered the embarrassment of having his long time mullet shaved off.

When WCW went under in 2001, WWF picked up his contract along with around 20 other guys from the defunct company and he became the first WCW wrestler to win a title from the WWF when he pinned Rhyno for the Hardcore Championship on June 25th. This shows you the glaring problems with the Invasion storyline, why would anyone care that Awesome won the Hardcore Belt, when the likes of Pete Gas, Funaki and aged Gerald Brisco were former champions?

He wrestled at the Invasion PPV alongside Lance Storm in the opening match against Edge and Christian but was strangely cast aside for the rest of the program and rarely ever used on television.

After a couple of months off injured, his return in mid 2002 was short lived as he was given his release in September 2002 after a year of probably his most unhappiest in wrestling….. he jobbed to Funaki on Velocity for god’s sake!!!

His post WWF career, saw Awesome briefly show up in TNA, some indies and shows in Japan.

The moment I will always remember Awesome for, was in June of 2005 when he was hired by the WWE for one night only to be part of ECW One Night Stand where he of course fought his arch nemesis Masato Tanaka to the cries of “This Match Rules, This Match Rules” from the crowd.

The match easily stole the show and was considered by many to be just behind Angle and Michaels at Wrestlemania 21, as being the second best match in the WWE for the whole year.

Awesome was found on Saturday morning, where it appears he committed suicide by hanging himself from his home.

This is truly a sad one, especially for those of us who were such big wrestling fan’s in the 90’s. Awesome truly helped change the image of the “big man” wrestler, changing the conventional wisdom that big man can’t fly or technically work well in the wring.

He wasn’t quite Awesome, but he was highly under-rated by both WWE and WCW in the 21st century and I’m so glad he got his one last memorable match against Tanaka in 2005, which is difficult to top as a “farewell match”.

Mike Awesome, you will be missed.

CAREER AND TITLE HISTORIES (only chronicles the big companies)

ECW (1993, 1998-2000)

ECW World Champion (2 times)

ECW World Tag Team Champion (1 time) with Raven

WCW (2000 – 2001)

No title reigns, but famously lost his “Mullet” in a Hair vs. Hair match against Konnan

WWF/WWE (2001-2002, 2005)

WWF Hardcore Champion (1 time)

His appearance in 2005 was a one off deal in a match against Masato Tanaka at ECW One Night Stand that completely stole the show.