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Whether it's the 1-2-3 Kid in WWF getting his chance at the Winged Eagle belt, or 'The Natural' Dustin Rhodes taking on the power of Col. Robert Parker's Stud Stable in WCW; wrestling fans seemingly love an underdog. The little mongrel in the back alley fighting over the day's scraps can't help but inspire fans to back them. It's the closest you can get to an everyman competing against your favourite stars between the ropes. One such plucky little fighter is ECW's Mikey Whipwreck.
The Philadelphia failthful have taken the youngster right under their wing throughout 1994. Mikey has very little offensive manouevres, but the best offense is a good defense, right? Seemingly so. At a mere 21 years of age, young Mikey already has an impressive CV to hand including a lengthy ECW TV Title run as well as holding the Tag Team Titles with mentor, Cactus Jack.
When dealing with a cavalier promotion such as Extreme Championship Wrestling, particularly with a man in power like Paul E Dangerously, you sometimes have to take the stories you hear coming from the hardcore halls with a gram, not a grain, of salt. However, if certain rumours are to be believed, Mikey is certainly something a little bit different.
Rumour has it, after leaving school, the long-time wrestling fan used to be on the other side of the barrier; but after offering to help out the company by aiding with setting up the ring and generally helping out for free, he was taken on. All Mikey asked for in return was the chance to take some bumps in the ring before & after shows. The hustling visionary behind what was once known as the Dangerous Alliance must have been proud.
As above, who knows which details of the above urban legend could be true or embellished, but one thing that can't be disputed is the rapport Mikey has with the infamous Philly crowd. You can see why - he's one of them. No more, no less. He might get the chances few are afforded, but the cost in bumps & bruises can't be denied and he certainly earns his pay cheque. Assuming he has one these days...
After picking up his TV Title from Jason's Pitbull in May of 1994, it seemingly became a weekly feature of ECW Hardcore TV what hell Mikey would be put through. It was surely a matter of when he would be found out. Days, not weeks. Yet, somehow, the youngster would end up having a near three-month reign with the belt and only eventually lost it due, in no small part, to Jason's expanded stable including another Pitbull, "Bad" Chad Austin & the Rockin' Rebel.
Just after this loss to Jason, some wondered what the future held for Mikey. He wouldn't leave the doubters long to ponder, as on that fateful night of August 27 where 'The Franchise' would shock the world and "Extreme" would officially be baptised in front of a raucous crowd, another surprise would occur. Having heard of the night's plans, former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk, who was scheduled to team with Cactus Jack against the Public Enemy, would instead no-show the event. When Cactus arrived in the ring with no Funk, it was advised he would forfeit unless able to find a partner to face Rock & Grunge. Cactus then went backstage and - quite literally - dragged Mikey out by the ear. After a brawl typical of the teams involved, it would be Cactus who threw Mikey onto the seemingly unconscious Rocco for the pinfall to win the belts.
During their brief five-week reign with the titles, the two were often found backstage cutting promo's and on one occasion, rather aptly, Cactus would hum the start of the theme tune from 'The Odd Couple'. They really were, but it worked. Mikey cutting the awkward, insecure gait of an insecure teen; Cactus, the wild-eyed, bar fighter-esque, doting father/uncle almost daring anyone around to try testing his boy in battle and see what would happen.
This short-lived, but much-loved pairing would be as strange as they were embraced by the ECW Arena's congregation. The experience Mikey would gain from Cactus whether in-ring or on the mic would be invaluable for the now-former teen. With two out of three goals met to become an ECW triple-crown champion already by the age of 21, could a Heavyweight Championship reign really be out of his reach? Don't count the little man out.