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Mike Awesome (1965-2007)

Real Name - Michael Lee Alfonso

Lifespan - 1/24/65 - 2/17/07

6'6" 292 lbs. - Tampa, FL

Athletic Background - n/a

Teacher(s) - Steve Keirn

Professional Background - Indies(`89), USWA(`89), FMW(`90-`99), ECW(`93,`98,`99-`00), All Japan(`99), WCW(`00-`01), WWF/WWE(`01-`02), All Japan(`02-`04), Indies(`02-`06), NWA-TNA(`03), MLW(`02-`03), NOAH(`04-`05)

Aliases - The Pro, The Gladiator

Groups - ZEN, The New Blood, Team Canada, The Alliance, RO&D, KAOS

Peak Years - `93-`99

Finisher(s) - 

- Running Awesome Bomb

- Kamikaze Awesome Bomb (Top Rope Powerbomb)

- Awesome (Flying) Splash

- Liger Bomb

Favorites -

- Flying Clothesline

- Big Splash

- Overhead Belly-to-Belly

- Big Boot

- Lariat

Ringwork Rating - 

 Move Set7

Intangibles Rating - 


Place in History - When Atsushi Onita opened up FMW in 1989, it promised new opportunities to a variety of pro-wrestlers.  Mike Alfonso was an athletic youngster just breaking in after training with Steve Keirn in Florida.  He and his cousin Horace Boulder began touring with FMW and quickly established themselves despite having no established names in either Japan or the United States.  While Alfonso used the name “Mike Awesome” for the remainder of his career in North America, he became “The Gladiator” in Japan.  Within the context of FMW, he was a monster.  He was physically imposing, he tossed around his smaller opponents and he was pushed as a top star.  It was a formula that could have worked for a number of pro-wrestlers, but he was the one in that spot.  The Gladiator, Big Titan and Horace Boulder were key gaijin talent who toured regularly while there was a revolving door of other foreigners, including past-their-prime legends.  The Gladiator held the company’s top singles titles, the Brass Knuckles title and the Independent Heavyweight title, making him one of the key figures in the years after Onita left.  Working with Hayabusa, W*ing Kanemura, Mr. Gannosuke and his most famous rival Masato Tanaka, The Gladiator developed into a one of top gaijins.  However, by the late 1990s, FMW was on a decline and the Gladiator was trying to find some more lucrative opportunities in All Japan or opportunities in the States with ECW.  He went with ECW, which promised to be an environment similar to FMW and one in which he could certainly get over.  Paul Heyman skillfully booked Awesome, gave him a mouthpiece and made him a wrecking machine in a very different mold than his predecessor Taz.  He was the biggest guy on the roster with a host of smaller opponents to toss around, unfortunately he did not have the same depth of talent to battle.  The company imported Masato Tanaka for him and the did bring a level of quality to ECW’s top title that perhaps no rivalry ever did.  ECW, not unlike FMW, had a ceiling and financial troubles.  Mike Awesome made the decision to jump to WCW.  His controversial departure where he left with the ECW title made him a hot acquisition for WCW and his ties to Hulk Hogan proved to start him off in a top spot.  The run was snakebitten however.  Hogan and booker Vince Russo had a falling out, which led Mike Awesome to being repackaged as “The Fat Chick Thrilla” and “That 70s Guy” and toiling in the midcard.  In the last days of WCW, he was able to regain some of his credibility.  When the WWF brought him in as part of the invasion, they used him well for a time, but his weaknesses soon showed through and they eventually cut him loose.  Mike Awesome tried to rekindle his former glory in Japan, in MLW and elsewhere, but his body could not maintain that hard style anymore.  Mike Awesome had one last shining moment in 2005 when he and Masato Tanaka went to war again in an ECW ring.  He retired the following year and took his own life the next.  Pro-wrestling has seen its share of competitors like Mike Awesome, individuals who found great success in one place or a couple places and yet they were never able to build upon that success on bigger stages.  It happens for a variety of reasons and for Mike Alfonso, he always felt those reasons were the treachery of others.  Tragically, those professional failures led to personal struggles before his death.