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Mike Awesome WCW bound
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling
As The Law reported on Saturday, ECW World Heavyweight Champion - Mike
Awesome - has abruptly jumped ship to World Championship Wrestling and
could appear as early as Monday on WCW's flagship Nitro program. Awesome
no-showed a house show and an ECW On TNN taping in Buffalo, New York, this
At press time, Awesome is still in possession of the ECW title belt.
Worried that their current champion could appear on Nitro with their strap,
it is expected that ECW will contact police in Denver, Colorado, to
retrieve the title belt which ECW sees as "stolen property" unless Awesome
voluntarily turns it over. Sources say that WCW booker Vince Russo and WCW
Vice-President Eric Bischoff want Awesome to throw the ECW World Title belt
in the trash as part of their mega-hyped revamping of Monday Nitro which
could also spotlight the WCW debuts of Tammy Lynn Sytch (formerly Sunny in
the WWF) and Sabu, a tournament to decide a new WCW World Champion and the
destruction of the old Nitro set.
ECW World Champ Mike Awesome is WCW-bound.
With their television ratings, house show attendance and pay-per-view buy
rates taking a beating, WCW is setting their sites on the hardcore
federation as their main competition. WCW has countered ECW's growth by
bringing back Bischoff and Russo to formulate a new direction for the
company. Word is that World Championship Wrestling is interested in
rebuilding the ailing wrestling promotion with Mike Awesome, Rhino and
Lance Storm as headlining stars. Though he still is under contract to ECW,
Awesome has signed on with WCW while Storm and Rhino remain in the ECW
stable. Awesome's signing could open the door for a possible lawsuit by ECW.
In reaction to the dilemma, all press functions at the ECW On TNN taping in
Buffalo were abruptly canceled. Mainstream media reporters, some who had to
wait in the sleet and snow for hours, were bluntly turned away by acting
ECW publicist Debbie Beaumont. Beaumont stated that it had been decided
that the press would not be allowed backstage at the show. Clearly
flustered, she refused to give a reason as to why the plans had changed and
would only say that it was an "internal decision". When pressed for
clarification on the matter, such as if the one-on-one interviews would be
rescheduled, Beaumont became hostile with reporters.
"It was a pretty very tense atmosphere backstage," says Donnie "Big Daddy" Abreu from The Law, who was not a member of the working press that night but a guest of the ECW talent.
Another backstage source reports that the on-going crisis did not disrupt
the television taping though security was tight. Anyone not employed
directly by ECW was shown the door. The attitude amongst the talent and
producers was that Awesome's departure wouldn't "kill" the company. That
like the departures of Raven and The Sandman in the past, ECW would
continue on. ECW owner and President - Paul Heyman - held a meeting with
the talent before the camera rolled stating that WCW was intent on putting
ECW out of business and warned people that if they didn't sign contracts
with the company, they would disappear from ECW broadcasts.
All this comes at a bad time for ECW. Talk within the television industry
has been rife with rumours that the World Wrestling Federation is
considering moving their Monday Night Raw program from the USA Network to
TNN in September. If the decision comes to pass, it would effectively leave
ECW's weekly show without a network unless ECW in turn inks a deal with the
USA Network. Publicly, WWF insists that just because they haven't re-signed
with the USA Network doesn't mean they could be heading to another network.
In an interview conducted by SLAM! Wrestling in January, Awesome seemed
happy with his status in ECW and with the new contract he had just signed.
In fact, he was looking forward to where his character would be heading.
"When I came into ECW I wasn't exactly sure which direction I was going to
go with my character," he explained. "Now that I am seeing what's going on
with the organization, I know the direction I am going to take," he told
Awesome is the second prominent ECW star WCW has lured away in recent
months. In the midst of a storyline with Mike Awesome, hardcore star Sabu
was prepared to leave ECW but legal complications stalled his exit.
Ironically, ECW was still selling Mike Awesome merchandise throughout the
night at their souvenir outlet during the ECW On TNN taping.