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  April 9, 2000

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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

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 weekend.

ECW World Champ Mike Awesome is WCW-bound.
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.

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 SLAM! Wrestling.

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.

SLAM! Wrestling's ECW Guide
More on Mike Awesome
John Powell's interview with Mike Awesome

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