Mike Bucci “Nova”
|(Wrestler - WWE/WWF; ECW)|
|Michael “Mike” Bucci is an American semi-retired professional wrestler. Bucci is probably best known for his appearances in Extreme Championship Wrestling as Nova, Super Nova, and “Hollywood” Nova and World Wrestling Entertainment as Simon Dean. Bucci failed to win a single championship during his tenures with ECW and WWE.|
In April 2002, Nova, in his OVW debut, beat The Prototype (who would later wrestle in WWE as John Cena) and became the promotion’s Heavyweight Champion. He held the title for half a year before losing the title to The Damaja. In June 2004 Bucci was named the assistant booker of OVW. It was around this time that he was called up to start competing in SmackDown! dark matches and on Velocity. He then began to try out a Richard Simmons–like fitness-expert type of gimmick.
In his debut for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Bucci portrayed the gimmick of a physical-fitness guru, very similar to Ben Stiller’s character Tony Perkis in the movie Heavyweights, named Simon Dean. The name was inspired by Dean Malenko’s real name, Dean Simon. Introductory promos showed him “selling” his “Simon System,” a supposed program of diet, exercise, and supplementation. The promos parodied fitness infomercials, as Simon routinely insulted his supposed customers. The promos went so far as to provide an actual telephone number to call and order the Simon System; however, unlike virtually all infomercials, the number was not toll-free. People who called the number wound up hearing a WWE promo.
During this gimmick, he acted as the sponsor of Raw, occasionally wrestling after first insulting the fitness of the crowd and the area in which they were located. After not making much of an impact on Raw, he formed a tag team with fellow heel wrestler Maven who supposedly was a user of the “Simon System.” Again, not much of an impact was made, as Bucci was traded to SmackDown! on June 30, 2005 and Maven was released the next month.
During a WWE produced ECW pay-per-view, One Night Stand, Bucci returned as Hollywood Nova with Da Blue Guy and Big Stevie Cool as the bWo. During the event, Joey Styles made a reference to his “Simon Dean” character. After Bucci was hit with two chairs, Styles said, “That’s more painful than having to be Simon Dean on national TV.”
When Bucci moved to SmackDown! as part of the draft lottery, he joined the other members of the bWo and appeared as “Hollywood” Nova for his first appearance on the show. His next appearance for the brand was wrestling on its sister show, Velocity, as Simon Dean. The general belief was that the bWo appearance was going to be a one off, meaning Bucci would keep to his “health sponsor” gimmick. It was announced, however, that the bWo would participate in a 6-man tag match at The Great American Bash against The Mexicools (Juventud, Psicosis, and Super Crazy). The announcement of this match occurred on the same edition of SmackDown! that Bucci’s Simon Dean character had a match with Booker T. At the Great American Bash, the bWo lost to the Mexicools in the six-man tag team match. The appearance of the bWo soon faded as The Blue Meanie wasn’t staying with the company and Richards began returning to his previous heel gimmick while Bucci continued with the Simon Dean persona.
In late August, the Simon Dean character began coming to the ring on the Dean Machine (a Segway PT type machine). He would also force feed “Simon System” products to jobbers who wouldn’t accept his offer to try them after defeating them in squash matches. The Simon Dean character had his first major WWE pay-per-view appearance at No Mercy, in a loss against Bobby Lashley. After the match, Dean ate 20 double cheeseburgers which caused him to vomit backstage. Dean had been noted on his later appearances as the “Head of SmackDown!’s welcoming committee,” a position in which he was used as a jobber to debuting wrestlers.
During the January 6, 2006 episode of SmackDown!, Dean came to the ring and challenged any tag team. Paul London and Brian Kendrick answered the challenge, only to be brutally attacked by The Gymini (Jake and Jesse), two alleged users of The Simon System. Dean began managing the team, but the team soon faded off television after Jesse suffered an injury in May 2006 and Dean went back to jobbing to other superstars.