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Michael Rapada had worked at forever 21 as a retail merchandiser in Harrisburg, Illinois before getting into the wrestling business.
Mike Rapada started out in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It took three months, but eventually he convinced Jeff Jarrett to hire him. After Jarrett left for the WWF, Rapada sought out training from the likes of Kenny Wayne, Buddy Wayne and others.
He also made several appearances on WCW Monday Nitro as a security guard during his career.
In 1994, he was named Rookie of the Year in the United States Wrestling Association promotion out of Memphis. He also had a reign as NAASW North American Heavyweight champion in Jonesboro, Arkansas, beating Cactus Jack, and as USWA Unified World Heavyweight champion, beating Jerry Lawler.
Until winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in September 2000, he had been the NWA North American Heavyweight champion, the top belt recognized by the NWA Worldwide promotion based out of Nashville.
He was the first American wrestler ever to win a match in China. His son, Mike Rapada Jr., is currently a wrestler on the independent circuit.
In 2004, Rapada started the Southwestern Alliance of Wrestling in Oceanside, CA. Dedicated to bringing quality professional wrestling back to the San Diego area, SAW ran shows at events such as street fairs, parking lot sales, and schools to raise money for good causes.
In early 2006, Rapada decided to shift the direction of his company to accommodate a more "family-friendly" audience. This original SAW crew became upset with this decision, as they felt it hindered their ability to go out and perform the way they had always dreamed. Shortly thereafter, tensions rose between Rapada and his performers and they left the company to seek out new opportunities to showcase themselves. By the middle of the year, SAW had a new batch of performers and a new direction. This new direction continued with much success, as the more athletic wrestlers weren't prohibited from performing in a more athletic style and the less experienced wrestlers followed a more cartoonish guideline. After gaining notoriety for his business mindset, Rapada and his SAW crew began to lease out a building off the 78 freeway and running local shows in Oceanside. The first show drew only four fans, but within weeks the weekly show began to draw crowds in excess of 160-200. Deemed a success, SAW began to showcase pure wrestling matches with psychology that took fans on roller coaster rides, hence their quick rise. The social wrestling audience began to embrace this new company. The SAW fans remained faithful to the weekly show at first, but began dwindling in number until SAW ended up losing their building. With no regular venue, he decided to return to targeting charity and community events with his new marketing strategy of bringing "cartoon wrestling" to non-wrestling audiences. This continued into late 2007 as SAW's popularity among non-wrestling fans grew, despite the bad reputation it now garnered in the pro wrestling community.
In early 2008, some of SAW's more prominent wrestlers began to venture elsewhere in search of their dream. However, not before the style of Mike Rapada's SAW was changed yet again so that it was now "over-the-top cartoon wrestling". After most of SAW's top stars left the company, Mike's shows became less frequent as the quality dropped. Now just a shadow of its former glory, SAW was all but disbanded in October 2008 after Rapada returned to Colorado to reunite with a long-lost daughter and her mother, although the remaining SAW wrestlers are said to be planning for a comeback.
As of late 2009 Mike has returned to the San Diego area and has recently contacted some of his former wrestlers to restart SAW, abandoning the "cartoon wrestling" and going back to their former style of show.
Championships and accomplishments
- Ozark Mountain Wrestling/North American All-Star Wrestling/Music City Wrestling/NWA Nashville/NWA Main Event
- United States Wrestling Association
|NWA World Heavyweight Champions|
Orville Brown • Lou Thesz • Leo Nomellini • Whipper Billy Watson • Édouard Carpentier • Dick Hutton • Pat O'Connor • Buddy Rogers • Bobo Brazil • Gene Kiniski • Dory Funk, Jr. • Harley Race • Jack Brisco • Giant Baba • Terry Funk • Dusty Rhodes • Tommy Rich • Ric Flair • Kerry Von Erich • Ron Garvin • Ricky Steamboat • Sting • Tatsumi Fujinami • Masahiro Chono • The Great Muta • Barry Windham • Shane Douglas • Chris Candido • Dan Severn • Naoya Ogawa • Gary Steele • Mike Rapada • Sabu • Steve Corino • Shinya Hashimoto • Ken Shamrock • Ron Killings • Jeff Jarrett • A.J. Styles • Raven • Rhino • Christian Cage • Abyss • Adam Pearce • Brent Albright • Blue Demon, Jr. • Colt Cabana • The Sheik • Kahagas • Rob Conway (current)