At ECW One-Night Stand, Joey Styles attacked Mike Awesome with one of the worst lines of commentary ever uttered by a WWE commentator. Given the context of Awesome’s life following the event, the comment looks even worse than it did at the time, and is something the entire company should be ashamed of.
The situation surrounding ECW One-Night Stand 2005 was something brilliant. Four-years after ECW was forced to close due to bankruptcy, the fans had not stopped pestering the WWE to bring the brand back into relevancy. “E-C-Dub!” chants appeared at every WWE show, and whenever a chair shot or table spot occurred, the fans could not help put chant for the fallen promotion.
Rob Van Dam pitched the concept of ECW One-Night Stand to Vince McMahon, wanting to honor ECW by letting all the former ECW wrestlers on the roster wrestler under the extreme brand for a one-night only pay per view. This included Chris Jericho, Tommy Dreamer, Rey Mysterio and many more wrestlers Vince McMahon didn’t know were part of Paul Heyman’s promotion.
“I’m telling him I want to do this ECW pay-per-view, just one night.” Rob Van Dam revealed on his One of a Kind podcast, “That’s exactly how I told him, and it ended up being, you know, ‘One Night Stand'”
“But I told them ‘Just One Night Only’ is the way I put it. But I, um, I thought of a title. I was telling them, ‘Just one night only. We don’t need any storylines, no build-up. It’ll be pure. You don’t even need to bring anybody in.’ It was like, ‘Wow, Rob, that sounds like a great idea. I think I could make some money.’ I was like, ‘Awesome.’ So then every week, I would talk to him.”
“I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, do you realize how many guys you have that are former ECW guys? Like Chris Jericho and all three of the Dudleys, you know?’ And he was like, ‘Oh, no, I didn’t realize that.’ So the following week, I gave him a big list of everybody, you know, Rey Mysterio, and here’s just everybody, everybody that had been through ECW that was already on his roster”
“He wouldn’t have to do anything except let us wrestle each other, and that would be the theme of it. So, yeah, I talked to him a lot during that time. As it got closer towards actually producing the thing and putting all of it together the way it was going to go, then I was talking to Paul [Heyman], and Paul was talking to the higher-ups.”.
In the end, WWE did bring out some outside talents to wrestle at the show. Terry Funk returned for his last WWE match at the event, as did two former ECW Champions in Masato Tanaka and Mike Awesome, rekindling their legendary feud from 1999 and 2000.
The pair faced off in an Extreme Rules match that wowed the crowd. It had some of the best action the WWE had ever seen, ranking over a 9.00 rating on Cagematch. The match was incredible, but was somewhat marred by one horrific comment made by Joey Styles about Mike Awesome.
Some time into the 10-minute bout, Mike Awesome hit a giant suicide dive on Masato Tanaka. As he hit the move is opponent, Joey Styles commented that he wished Mike Awesome had killed himself for real.
Despite the horrific reception he got from the ECW fans and the commentator, Mike Awesome still put on one of the best performances of his life. By the end of the match, they were cheering for the former ECW Champion, chanting “this match rules!” and giving both men standing ovations. However, this does not excuse the comments made by Joey Styles about Mike Awesome.
Now, even in the best of times, this is a horrendous thing to say. Obviously, wrestling isn’t real and comments made in promos or on commentary should not be taken as the real-life thoughts of the performers. However, with Joey Styles not being presented as a dastardly heel, him saying these comments about Mike Awesome could not come across as anything other than his own views on the man.
If somebody like Don Callis had said this comment about somebody he was feuding with, then it would be in bad taste, but we’d know that he was just saying things in character. If Christian Cage said that somebody’s father should have killed themselves, the many himself doesn’t believe it, but his character has been set up in a way that he would say that.
The context of Styles saying it is based on history, so it is not completely without reason. Mike Awesome left ECW in 2000 while still holding the ECW Championship and signed for World Championship Wrestling. While he did return to the company to drop the belt to Taz (who was signed to the WWE by that time), the fans never forgave Mike Awesome for leaving the company (despite ECW owing him money for his time there).
However, the comment comes across even worse if you explore, even briefly, into what happened to Mike Awesome after ECW One-Night Stand. On February 17, 2007, Mike Awesome killed himself in his home of Tampa, Florida. He was found to have hanged himself by a group of his friends, dying at the age of just 42.
He had been told by his wife that she was leaving him just days before, and Awesome spend time in jail after attacking her in her home. She also threatened to take all his money, which led to him spiraling into a depression which culminated into him taking his own life. This information came out following the death of Chris Benoit.
While it was not a real beef between the pair, and Joey Styles didn’t really want Mike Awesome to kill himself (despite the bad blood between Awesome and the ECW fans), it is still an incredibly insensitive thing to say about anybody, no matter what the circumstances of the exit from the wrestling company you work for (as if that even needed to be said).
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.