Saturday, August 16, 2008

Performer Analysis: Mike Awesome

1) Innovation- 5/10
Awesome's innovation came in the form of bringing Japanese hardcore (more or less) to American soil and showing how exciting and hard hitting it could be when done right. He, along with Masato Tanaka, were pioneers in that way because that style of match had never been seen on US TV and pulled off that well. There have been many imitators but I think those two together have pulled it off so well that they will always be remembered for it. If only lava lamps had come back into mainstream, he could have gotten more points.....

2) Conditioning- 6/10
For most of his career, Awesome had a fairly decent build. Extremely muscular with some great cardiovascular power and decent stamina, Awesome was the perfect build for his tall, stocky frame. He carries around a lot of poundage for being pretty lean, at least through the 90's. Late in his career, Awesome ballooned up and his weight got out of control and his work suffered due to having to carry around that extra mass.

3) Skill- 6/10
Awesome v. Masato Tanaka (as I'll keep reiterating) is a fantastic match that very few people could pull off, the way they do it. Awesome versus almost anyone else is either give or take whether or not the match works. He's best when he can control the pace and have someone bump big for his power stuff. Awesome will take big bumps, but he's not a bump man, per se and his selling isn't all that great either. Awesome versus another big man is usually a bad combination but he has a great move set and he hits it well.

4) Psychology- 4/10
Awesome isn't a subtle guy so you can't expect him to be able to articulate the subtlities inside of a wrestling ring, at least not all the time. I can rarely recall him selling a body part and his bumps just aren't that impressive. His character used to lend itself to absorbing pain and using that to come back even stronger which doesn't leave a lot of room for selling. His best psych has been with Tanaka, as they've worked and reworked things from their past matches into their newer ones and shown the history of their feud within the expansion of it, at the time.

5) Interviews- 5/10
Awesome is not your promo guy; when he jumped ship to WCW while still holding the ECW Heavyweight Title, you needed a good promo explaining, in a logical way, why he would do it and Awesome wasn't capable. He's cursed a lot in the past to get his point across but it usually comes off flat and uncreative. He's had several managers do his talking for him in the past or just not cut promos. His lava lamp lounge segment was a disaster once you got past the ridiculousness of it all.

6) Character- 5/10
In Japan, he was the "Gladiator," basically playing a tough warrior who would fight you all night long and who could decimate his opponents with his high impact offense. I take the Mike Awesome character as being just how people described him, as an awesome individual who was big, strong, could fly and take loads and loads of punishment. His heel character in FMW and ECW was his strong suit, as a monster heel and everything after that was a crock. That 70's Guy? The Fat Chick Thriller? The Canadian? The Losing Streak guy? These are all just gimmicks you could slap on anybody and they would usually sink. Awesome just didn't have that sympathetic piece to his puzzle to make fans get behind him and that's why he wasn't an effective face.

7) Fans- 5/10
Fans used to watch in awe at his long, brutal matches and he had a rep of being able to go in the ring and kill his opponent and that was his draw to fans, but once that was taken from him, he was just another big guy. I think in his later years, the fans still responded to his name but it had been tarnished so much, there wasn't much left to fear or care about.

8) Basics- 2/10
It's no secret Awesome wasn't known for his technical ability in the ring so it's no shock his basics score would be so low. There are other factors that play into this category as well, such as effective striking which Awesome's punches look really amateurish, throwing mostly just lumbering forearms and such and his transitions, which have always been slow, unless working with a faster opponent.

9) Matches/ Fueds- 8/10
This is the big one; I truly believe that Awesome will always be remembered for his long running feud against Masato Tanaka, a feud that spanned from Japan to the hardcore bingo halls of ECW to the big stage of WWE. There's something special about that combination that brings out the best in each other when they may not always bring out the best in all of their other opponents. They absolutely killed each other to put on great matches and I think this will be remembered as one of the most hardcore feuds in wrestling history. Let's not discount Awesome's big runs against Hayabusa and Spike Dudley. He's also been in the ring with most of every big name to come through ECW and WCW as well as the hardcore wars of FMW so he's faced quite a gammet of competition.

10) Gutcheck- 6/10
Awesome never had to overcome the odds of being a little man or having a handicap; he was big from the start and could take a shot from a steel chair; on paper, he's tailor made for Vince, but his path wound to the WWE the long way and by the time he arrived, he had become passe. Awesome continued wrestling though, back to Japan, through the US indy scene until his untimely death on Feb. 17, 2007. It's possible that Awesome took his own life due to a cruel industry that didn't have a place for him anymore and that's unfortunate.

Total Score: 52
Ranking: Midcard
PO: Thumbs Middle

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