Mike Awesome Interview Transcript

mike awesome wrestling interviewThe following interview with ECW champion the late Mike Awesome! Mike had recently returned to action as part of the ECW One Night Stand broadcast. The interview was taped July 30, 2005. This interview was previously broadcast on Pro Wrestling Radio.

Eric Gargiulo: Mike Awesome, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Mike Awesome: I’m doing pretty good man, just hanging out right now, getting ready for a Japan tour coming up, August 15.

Eric: Are you going back for NOAH?

Mike: Yes.

Eric: What have you been up to since ECW One Night Stand?

Mike: Um let’s see, I have been going to the beach, swimming in the pool, hanging out at the house, working out, spending some time with the kids, basically just doing things around the house.

Eric: What are your thoughts on the whole show (ECW ONS) itself and your match (vs. Masato Tanaka)?

Mike: I thought the show was great you know, the entire thing, just the way it all came together, um the way it was put together. Maybe it had a little too much of the WWE influence with the angles that they were doing but overall I thought the show was great and I was very happy with my match. You know usually when I get out there with Tanaka him and I we just beat the hell out of each other and tear the house down.

Eric: After the show everybody was raving about how great your match was with Tanaka. Did you have that same feeling after the match? Did you know you guys hit it out of the park?

Mike: Oh yeah, yeah it was obvious. Um, you know actually you feel it when you are having the match. You know the caliber of match that you are having while you are actually in it and as soon as it was over I felt it, I could tell. There was no question. I talked to Tanaka after and even he came up to me and said something about it. You know, and he doesn’t even speak the language.

Eric: Was that the first time that you had wrestled Masato Tanaka in awhile?

Mike: No, actually maybe for awhile in the U.S. but I have wrestled him in Japan actually several times over the past couple of years.

Eric: Speaking of Japan you had the opportunity not to long ago to wrestle Kenta Kobashi who is universally regarded as one of the best in the history of the business. What are your thoughts on wrestling him?

Mike: I have always said that about him that has been my personal opinion for a long time that he is the best worker in the business and he has been for a long time. The guy’s heart and desire and the way he gets out there and performs, he’s like a dang gum machine out there. It is an honor to be out in the ring with him. To headline a show with Kobashi is great that they even put the faith in me to do that.

Eric: How were you received in the locker room at ECW One Night Stand with the way you had left ECW?

Mike: You know just about everybody I have seen already anyway in different locker rooms throughout the U.S. so it wasn’t any different than it has been, just the same. Everything’s cool no problems.

Eric: Did you sense any heat with anyone?

Mike: None, zero, absolutely zero. I haven’t sensed any heat in a long, long time. Time heals all wounds.

Eric: Speaking of the whole ECW situation, let’s tell people what we are talking about. You left ECW as World Champion and went to WCW. What is your side of the story and how things played out?

Mike: Well bottom line is that Paul (Heyman) wasn’t coming through on what he said he was going to do and that was basically pay everybody. Not just me but everybody. Everybody was getting shafted so I think if anybody had a way out or a better opportunity they would have taken it just like I did. So I left. It had nothing to do with the belt, the bottom line was like Eric Bischoff said, “They (WCW) wanted me for my talent and they also wanted to steal me away from ECW.” Double edge.

Eric: When you went to WCW did Eric Bischoff or anyone ask you to come out on television with the ECW World Championship belt?

Mike: No that never came up, not one time was ever asked of me or never even questioned of me, you know the rumors flew and you know there is no way that I am going to convince some people that I wasn’t going to do it but I wasn’t and that’s honestly coming from me. I just wasn’t going to take the belt on television. They didn’t want me to, they had no desire for me to, and I wasn’t going to.

Eric: How crazy was that week between the time you appeared for the first time on Nitro to the night you wrestled your last ECW match against Taz?

Mike: Oh my God it was absolutely nuts. Even the week leading up to me appearing there (WCW) I heard stories that Paul had the Federal Marshals coming down and they were going to arrest me and take the belt away or something, my phone was ringing non-stop, I just said the heck with everything and I took my wife and kids and we went to the beach and we hung out on the beach for a couple of weeks. Nobody knew where we were. (Laughs) And you know, just flew out and did my gigs. In the week after I’d say it slowed down the week after I had debuted because everything was already set, what was going to happen, but I still didn’t come home, I stayed out on the beach. Any excuse for the beach. I live down here in Florida by the way.

Eric: When you did go to WCW did Eric Bischoff or somebody from WCW first contact you or did you contact them first?

Mike: Yeah it was actually me through Hulk Hogan. I was actually driving to a town (for a ECW show) and I was talking to my cousin, Horace Hogan or Horace Boulder, whatever you want to call him, real name Mike Bollea. Anyway, I was talking on the phone to him, just chatting, I was driving through the town, and he was wrestling with WCW at the time and he was already wherever they were wrestling at. I was telling him,” Man this sucks. I’m driving out here I haven’t been paid in three weeks, I can’t believe I’m doing this, man I need to get out of here.” He goes, “Well man you got a contract?” I go, “No.” He goes, “Hey let me talk to my Uncle.” So, he talked to Hulk Hogan and from there I went up to Eric Bischoff and I went on up from there.

Eric: Speaking of Hogan, have you watched Hogan Knows Best?

Mike: Yes I have actually. I have seen a couple of episodes.

Eric: What do you think?

Mike: He’s got his hands full doesn’t he? (Laughs) Have you seen it?

Eric comments that he has.

Mike: Yeah, he’s got his hands full with that girl (his daughter Brooke) doesn’t he?

Eric comments and his son too after seeing that episode a few weeks ago

Mike: Actually you know I haven’t really been around (Hulk) Hogan in about, oh at least three, four years we kind of drifted apart after he left WCW, still hung out with him a little bit, but then just kind of drifted apart. I went back to Japan so when I knew his daughter she was like twelve and she looked like she was sixteen. I knew Nick, he was you know, four years younger, he looked like a little kid and now I see them on television and they look so much different it’s pretty wild.

Eric comments he is a pretty big kid for fourteen

Mike: Yeah, yeah he is and I remember seeing him before and we used to call him Nitro Nick and I was thinking, “Man this kid is kind of small for being Hulk Hogan’s kid.” But he spouted up so that is good.

Eric: Another great story is the night you actually wrestled Taz. Could you tell it?

Mike: Yeah, it was. That was actually I will say one of the most exciting nights of my wrestling career. Even though I was on the heel side, on a shoot heel side I guess you could kind of say, just the atmosphere, the intensity, man it was electrifying. I didn’t even go in the dressing room. It was all set up, they put me over in this different hotel, they were coming over with the script, I was going to go over it, we had to completely go by what was written down. Oh my God it was ridiculous, I had never had to have gone by a script before, you know? (Laughs) They just wanted to make sure everything was set in stone I guess. Man when I came through them front doors at that crowd and they were chanting, “You sold out,” it was just deafening. It was great. You wouldn’t have happened to have been there were you?

Eric comments he wasn’t but has seen it on tape.

Mike: Oh yeah it was great though, it was great being there. And you know tapes never ever capture the true essence of the sounds and how loud and I don’t know just the feeling. The videos never capture the true feeling of what it is like when you are there live, when it’s a great show.

Eric: And you had to change in the car right? You weren’t in the locker room?

Mike: No that was actually the way it was originally supposed to be set up. They (ECW) were going to have me in a van or something. But I wasn’t changing in a van. We went and got a hotel room down the street from the arena.

Eric: You weren’t even in the locker room all night?

Mike: No not at all. Actually we drove up to the show I don’t know maybe twenty minutes before our match, sat out in the car and waited.

Eric comments that its like a throwback of when heels and baby faces would dress on opposite sides of the building and not see each other until they got into the ring.

Mike: Yeah you know that’s maybe something they should go back to. (Laughs)

Eric: Have you watched a tape of the match you had at ECW One Night Stand.

Mike: Can you believe I have not. I have not. No. All I have seen are the first couple of matches because I watched them (live). I haven’t seen it yet.

Eric: Have you gotten the DVD at least?

Mike: No I don’t even have the DVD, nobody sent me anything can you believe that? I was expecting they will send me something, you know what I mean? C’mon, send something! Nothing. (Laughs) Could you believe I haven’t even seen the match I had with Kobashi yet. I need to get this stuff. Everybody just automatically thinks you know, “Hey you did the match and they just give you loads of DVDs and stuff,” Man I never get crap, never. I guess you have to ask, I don’t know. Maybe I should start asking?

Eric: I ask because I was wondering if you had heard any of the comments that Bradshaw made during your match while he was doing commentary.

Mike: No I haven’t. Were they good or what? He’s a controversial guy.

Eric comments that he doesn’t have the exact wording in front of them but that he made fun of them for using so many false finishers and killing the business.

Mike: That’s fine, that’s fine and you know a lot of people feel that way and you know maybe it is true to a degree but that’s kind of what we did in ECW, that’s what they wanted, and that’s what they got. I can’t disagree with him 100%. Maybe it helped revitalize the business at one point when the business was going down in the freaking dumps. You know? Then it comes up the whole adage, “How do you top that?
” Top it, and top it, and top it, and then where does it go? Where does it finally end? Yeah I could see his point.

Eric: Something that got you noticed here in the States early on was your infamous match in ECW against J.T. Smith.

Mike: Oh yeah, where it looked like I broke his back. That’s actually when I thought my career ended in the United States, at that exact moment. I hit him, and he, I don’t know, if you haven’t seen it, you need to see it. If you have seen it, see it again. Every time I watch it I can’t help but cringe and I know he is OK now but I still, I can’t help it. It looked like I snapped his back.

Eric comments that as old as that clip is that ECW would continue to use it in promotional clips several years later.

Mike: Right, right, yep.

Eric: Are you a distant relative of Hulk Hogan?

Mike: No, not really. My dad’s sister married Hulk Hogan’s brother. So that doesn’t make me a relative at all. But Hulk Hogan’s nephew which is actually my real cousin we share a Grandparent but yeah. His nephew is actually my real cousin which is Horace.

Eric: In WCW, after the Bash incident with Hulk Hogan and Vince Russo, was your career affected by Hulk and Eric Bischoff’s departure?

Mike: I’d like to blame it on that, you know? It makes me feel better. At the time I sure felt like it. I mean it just seemed like all of the sudden Hogan helped bring me in, it was through Bischoff, not really through Russo as much, and then it just seemed like wham! It was like, “We can’t fire the guy, let’s see if we can make him quit.” They could have fired me I guess. They could have found a reason they can always find a reason to fire you. But you know it would make them look bad, they didn’t want to do that. They were all concerned about what they look like and how they come off to everybody on the Internet, the chat rooms and all of that, so. Yeah so that is probably what kept me from actually getting fired I believe.

Eric: So that’s what started you chasing fat chicks huh?

Mike: Fat chicks, let’s see what else was I doing? Oh yeah, I was getting my groove on in the 70s, yeah. Yeah it was crazy. (Laughs)

Eric: Was ECW your favorite time of your career?

Mike: Oh man I don’t know if I would say that or not. I mean it was a great time but when I was working with FMW there were some really good times there. I mean Sabu was working there, my cousin (Horace) was working there we had a great crew at one time with Hayabusa and (Masato) Tanaka. Man for a couple of years in FMW, I wouldn’t say the last couple of years, I would say leading up to the last couple of years things were just really good there and other guys there, Super Leatherface we had some really good times there, and I enjoyed being in ECW too because my friends were there. Sabu was there and the guys I hung out with, Rob Van Dam, it was a great time, yeah.

Eric: I remember seeing tapes of your early days teaming with Rick Bogner. The both of you were very big and very agile at that time. Were you two contacted by anyone to bring the team over here to the United States?

Mike: No, no and rightfully so because we were green as grass. (Laughs) If you saw any good matches that we had or anything it was just out of pure luck. Yeah we were definitely not ready, definitely not. I think I kind of improved a little bit when Rick left and went to the WWE. He probably should have stayed there (FMW) a little longer and learned a little more I guess.

Eric comments that it didn’t help being saddled with that Razor Ramon gimmick at the time.

Mike: Yeah that’s true, that’s true. We can always blame ourselves on bad gimmicks. I have done it to so. (Laughs) We don’t want to blame our wrestling do we?

Eric: Did you find it odd that as soon as you went over on Rhyno for the WWE Hardcore Title to begin the WCW Invasion angle that you were losing on the house shows?

Mike: Actually it seemed very odd to me, right after winning the title I went on the road that following week and I am in a tag match and I’m tagging with Diamond Dallas Page against Undertaker and Kane and I’m getting beat. I’m like, “Man I just won that Hardcore belt.” I even brought up to the (WWE) agents I was like, “You know if they beat me they win this belt. You realize that because it is a pins anywhere type thing?” He was like, “Oh, no, no, no we are not event that. Oh, don’t worry about that.” I was like, “Ok things aren’t going right. Something is wrong here.” So I don’t know. Maybe I did something in the beginning. Maybe they didn’t like what I, I don’t know. I don’t know what it was exactly. Maybe they saw something they didn’t like and decided to go with a different direction because they definitely did. There was no doubt about that.

Eric: Were you guys (ex WCW wrestlers) labeled the, “WCW guys” when you started integrating into the WWE locker room?

Mike: Oh absolutely I think so. Most definitely. Most definitely, yeah.

Eric: How did the whole Team ECW angle come about because to a viewer at home it came across as something that came out of left field?

Mike: It seemed like it left out of left field. You know? I mean, they started doing it and it started, I thought the crowd was getting with it and chanting, “ECW,” and maybe they were chanting ECW a little too much from what I heard. And all of the sudden it was done. No, I remember it coming out of left field. I don’t even remember how it came about to be honest.

Eric: Speaking of chanting ECW, do you find it odd that coming off of ECW One Night Stand that it has become forgotten about on WWE television?

Mike: It’s not? Because I don’t watch wrestling, honestly I don’t. I don’t watch any of the, you know not knocking the product I just, I don’t enjoy it, I don’t like it. Whenever I do try and watch it, it seems to be some kind of crazy, long, stupid interview. Tune in to see Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit going at it, it will catch my attention and I won’t move, you know? But it never happens like that. So I don’t even know what is going on on there? It is already out of the spotlight over there? It is over, so.

Eric comments that after the Raw immediately after that it has been rarely mentioned.

Mike: Right, right, you know what I thought was really odd? And I guess this information that I got was correct. Is that the Dudleys got fired right? All of them?

Eric comments that from what he understands Bubba and D-Von were not exactly fired and it was more of a contract thing, but they won’t be back, but Spike was released and that was odd.

Mike: Oh. Hmm. Yeah, especially after the pay-per-view, you’d think they would want to retain them, have them there for sure. Yeah.

Eric: I presume any thoughts about an ECW brand extension are non existent?

Mike: Right unless they wanted to release them all and then get some kind of ECW thing going on and have them under different contracts.

Eric comments that after last week’s interview with Rhino where he said he had signed with NWATNA that it probably isn’t the case.

Mike: Oh did he? Good for him. Glad to hear that. Rhino’s a good guy.

Eric comments that he and Jeff Jarrett and wrestling Raven and Sabu in the main event of the next NWATNA pay-per-view.

Mike: Oh so, you know I haven’t talked to Sabu in awhile. Everybody was speculating that the lights were going to go out and he was going to be popping up in WWE or something. I guess that didn’t happen did it?

Eric: How did your tenure in WWE come to an end?

Mike: Um basically let’s see. Getting beat by everybody. Getting beat by the upper guys, then getting beat by the mid-level guys, then just getting beat by everybody, not being used, not being used, (laughs) I hurt my knee, came back early, wasn’t ready to come back, getting beat by everybody, got fired. It was just a downhill slippery slope from day two. Day one was really good. Day one seemed great I won the belt you know? (Laughs) But the following week on the road it was obvious it was all downhill from there.

Eric: Speaking of day one, were you excited about the possibilities of the WCW vs. WWE angle?

Mike: Heck yeah I was excited about it especially after they told me I was going to win the (WWE) Hardcore belt. You know I just looked at my career and thought, “Oh wow look at this!” It was great, good things were happening. But it didn’t but that is ok because good things will continue to happen. You know I have stepped right back into the roles that I had in Japan and just haven’t missed a beat, so. I’m not that concerned about it.

Eric: What is the landscape in Japan like today? NOAH seems to be the only company making money especially after their big show last week.

Mike: Actually I didn’t even know about the show in July. They had a good show?

Eric comments about how much he enjoyed Misawa-Kawada, and Sasaki-Kobashi. He also remarks that no foreigners were booked on the show.

Mike: You know they got a lot of good talent over there, when those guys want to perform on them big shows they can go at it, they can do it. I can see it but yeah, wrestling over there has gone down. I was working with All Japan and it was just so bad I couldn’t do it, you know? I couldn’t stay there because they just weren’t making enough money. They weren’t drawing any people. We were doing the Budokan (Hall) and what, geez, 2,000 people? That’s a 15-20,000 seat arena, well it’s not that big. It’s 10-15 (thousand) maybe? Yeah it’s just terrible and that’s in Tokyo. And that’s one of the high drawing places. One of the places where they make their money and they couldn’t even make enough money to pay for the building.

Eric comments that Kawada working for NOAH speaks volumes in itself.

Mike: Yeah it does. If these guys want to make some money and survive this is what they have to do. They have to put the match ups together that the people want to see I guess.

Eric: Will you be doing any wrestling at all in the States?

Mike: Um I have nothing scheduled in the States right now. I’m actually looking to slow down my wrestling career and I have been over the, oh let’s say six to eight months. I don’t know. I just turned forty this year. I’m wanting to spend more time with my family and not be gone as much. You know fixing to leave for like five weeks and then come home for two weeks, leave for another four weeks, so my family wants me home, I want to be home, I’m getting older, beat up, my body’s sore, and looking to get out of wrestling.

Eric: How sore were you after your match at One Night Stand?

Mike: Oh actually I hurt my knee so I was pretty sore. Yeah that’s where I power bombed Tanaka over the top rope through the table. Um I did the plancha over the top and landed on it. I think my pad hit the top rope or something. I kind of came down head-first and my knee kind of jammed into the wooden part of the table or the metal part. I got about nine stitches in my knee. It sliced part of my tendon. But it’s better now. They (WWE) had a surgeon the WWE surgeon that they had on hand was really good and just fixed me right up there in catering.

Eric: How could you describe the chemistry you have with Masato Tanaka?

Mike: Oh it’s great. Geez, how to describe it? You know what a lot of people don’t realize is I was working in FMW while Tanaka was being trained by Tarzan Goto of FMW. So he’s coming on the road with us, haven’t even wrestled a match and he’s getting trained and we’d get in the ring sometimes with him while he’s training and you know, knock him around a little bit and try and toughen him up, and you know he had all of his matches when he was considered a young boy. You know over in Japan when you first start out wrestling you’re a young boy and everybody beats you and you get beat for two solid years (laughs). So you know I went through all of that with him and went through him rising up and becoming a mid-level wrestler and all the way up to main-eventing with him. The experience has been great, it’s just been great. You know it’s like we get out there and we know exactly what each other are going to do.

Eric: In the remaining time I have with you here, is there anything you want to promote?

Mike: Anything do I want to promote? Um, let’s see just touch upon I’m retiring. I’m not leaving because I am disappointed in the business or anything like that but it’s just I’m getting tired of being out and I don’t want to be one of them real old wrestlers still wrestling and you know I have some other things working that I am interested in doing. So I don’t know what is there to promote? Promote your show. You all listen to it and go to the website and check it out.

Eric: Mike I want to thank you so much for coming on. I’d love to have you back and I wish you nothing but the best.

Mike: Oh hey I appreciate it. I’d love to be back. It’s been great.

The original ECW One Night Stand on DVD

Bloodsport : ECW’s Most Violent Matches

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