There are a wide range of opinions on “The Franchise” Shane Douglas among wrestling fans. Some people like his work while others are less than impressed with Douglas over the years. Personally, I find myself being rather indifferent. I don’t actively seek out his matches, but if he’s on a show I watch, I’m going to watch the match he is in. Despite the wide range of opinion, I think most fans would agree that Douglas can be a controversial guy.
Thus, I recently decided to seek out various interviews that Douglas took part in and include his comments in this article while touching base on various things that happened in his career. I hope you come across something you otherwise didn’t know about.
Douglas had started wrestling in 1982 and worked for the UWF. He credited Missy Hyatt and Eddie Gilbert with his early success and for coming up with his ring name. The death of Gilbert impacted Douglas and pro wrestling in general. “ Eddie Gilbert was, to me, my key in the business. Eddie saw me and Mick Foley and he instantly saw something in us. We stunk to high heaven! I’ll eternally grateful to Eddie and I miss him. He was one of the rare guys that, “gets it” and understands how to make it work.” Douglas said in a 2004 interview with the Interactive Interview.
Shane would end up working for World Championship Wrestling in 1989 teaming with Johnny Ace going by the team name Dynamic Dudes. However, that wasn’t the original plan for the team. Instead, Eddie Gilbert had came up with an idea to make them a younger version of the Rock N’ Roll Express, but that was later changed. Douglas didn’t believe the Dynamic Dudes gimmick was real and believed it was a rib. He was wrong.
After getting hurt in WCW, he returned with the expectation he’d get a push since that was communicated to him by Jim Ross. Instead, he was told he’d be losing to Mark Callous (the Undertaker in WWF) in under three minutes. There was a lot of miscommunication in WCW at this time. Eventually, Douglas left to go to Atlanta to confront Jim Herd. The meeting with Herd didn’t go very well and he made his decision to jump to the WWF.
Upon his arrival in the WWF, he noticed that WWF’s production was at an NFL level while WCW was like a peewee football team. WWF had a lot of people there to help with various things while WCW didn’t even have a coffee pot.
His run with the WWF in 1990/1991 is his favorite run with the WWF but had to leave due to his father becoming ill and doctors were concerned that he may pass away. Douglas recalled what Vince McMahon said to him. “Listen Shane, family comes first. This business is bullshit. It’s secondary to anything having to do with family. You go home and spend time with your dad. If you ever want to come back, the door is always open.” Douglas recalled.
Luckily, Shane’s father did not pass away.
Douglas left the WWF in the summer of 1991 and reappeared in WCW in the fall of 1992. He would form a team with Ricky Steamboat, who Douglas put over a class act. Douglas credited Steamboat for his success later in his career, too. “A lot of success I had later in my career as “The Franchise” I directly credit back to Ricky Steamboat. He taught me how to be a main eventer. He taught me how to go from being that guy that gets beat up in the corner to the guy that does the beating up. As far as gratefulness goes, I’ll always be grateful to Ricky Steamboat.” Douglas said.
While he had a successful team with Steamboat where they won the WCW Tag Team Championships, Douglas was out the door by May 1993 after suffering a shoulder injury. At Slamboree 1993 WCW created the masked tag team Dos Hombres because they feared that Douglas would screw them over. Brad Armstrong and Tom Zenk played the role of Steamboat’s partner during that time.
Douglas had left WCW because of the Dos Hombres situation and also because he didn’t get paid what he felt he had deserved. Ole Anderson simply didn’t understand how inflation worked because Ole told him that he made the same money had Shane’s age and was fine. By this point, Douglas was done with wrestling and went back to teaching.
However, his mentor Eddie Gilbert had a position of power in ECW, known at the time as Eastern Championship Wrestling. Douglas wasn’t interested at first, but jump onboard when Gilbert offered him the top heel spot.
Quickly into his run in ECW, Douglas won the heavyweight championship. As many remember, Douglas was the guy who tossed down the NWA World Championship in the summer of 1994. Douglas remembered a story where Dennis Carluzzo suggested that Douglas not be booked by promotions. The story was basically Douglas not working fora promotion after they backtracked on flying agreements for the show. Douglas didn’t even remember that and was reminded by Mike Tenay.
Douglas does believe that him throwing the title down in 1994 caused many to hold resentment towards him when he arrived in TNA ten years later.
Shane doesn’t have fond memories of his second run in the WWF as Dean Douglas. The character was supposed to be someone who exposed flaws of the workers in the WWF, but the wrestlers didn’t like it. Douglas went into detail about how he signed with the World Wrestling Federation in 1995.
“The way it was pitched to me isn’t the way it played out. It took seven or eight trips up there for me to sign. There was something in the back of my gut that told me it wasn’t the right fit. I no desire to leave ECW but in 95, I was reaching my mid 30’s I’d been the World Champ multiple times…I’d pretty much done everything in ECW, all I could do is repeat. That was one of the reasons I didn’t wanna miss an opportunity to make a living for my family. The last time I went there, I took my ex-wife with me, and I was working as a teacher five days making good money and making pretty good money the two nights a week working for ECW.”
“She looked McMahon in the eye and said ‘What could you possibly offer my husband to make him leave all that and being home in bed with me every night?’ and he leaned across the table and he stroked her hand and said “You have my word as a gentleman that I’ll make your husband a very wealthy man.’ He went on to tell me, ‘It’s not uncommon for someone in the position we’re putting you in to earn $300,000 a year minimum base salary.’ I spoke to Piper, Hennig, etc and they said Vince told them the same thing and they got rich. I called home one night and my wife said the cheques hadn’t been great and she said they all came to $1,400 and I told her to add them up and she said that was them all added up.” Douglas said in an interview with Inside The Ropes Radio in 2012.
During his time in the WWF, he wrestled Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon. He recalled a story involving Ramon where he slapped Ramon’s toothpick out of his hand and Ramon crawled around the ring looking for it to perform the spot because Ramon would work the same match all over the country.
The Dean Douglas character was created due to Vince McMahon having a boring teacher growing up. Douglas didn’t think the character would work because fans can turn the channel while students can’t avoid their teacher. He admitted that he felt regret leaving ECW for WWF after a production meeting where he delivered promos in the “Franchise” manner and the production crew siding with Vince’s vision despite saying that Shane’s way was better when Vince was not in the room.
Douglas ended up suffering a broken back in a match with Razor Ramon due to the ring falling apart. There was a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave due to negligence of the company. In the four months he worked for the WWF, he made $6,700. Prior to signing with the WWF, McMahon promised his wife that he’d make Douglas a wealthy man. Douglas commented at the time how he felt when he left during an interview with Bob Ryder.
“I feel like somebody took 1000 lbs off of my shoulders. It’s unbelievable the way they run their company. I don’t know how they were big for so many years…the number one group. I think now I can understand why Turner is able to give them so much trouble in the ratings…and Turner’s product isn’t great either.” Douglas said.
Thus, Douglas left the WWF and headed back to ECW in early 1996. Douglas would win the ECW World Championship and ECW Television Championship during his second run with the company. In early 1999, Douglas was in a program with Taz involving the ECW World Championship. Douglas remembered being hesitant to drop the title to Taz because he wouldn’t get his money he was owed. He knew he could have gone to Nitro with the belt, but he didn’t want to be like Shawn Michaels and decided to do the right thing, which he was happy he did.
Prior to that feud, Douglas worked an angle with Al Snow in the spring of 1998, but didn’t drop the title to him despite telling Heyman he should due to injury. It’s likely because Snow was going back to the WWF and Heyman caught wind of that.
According to Douglas, the Triple Threat was designed to lessen the Four Horsemen with the mindset being they needed only three guys to dominate a company. He also remembered a discussion about Ric Flair possibly jumping ship from WCW to ECW due to issues he had with Eric Bischoff in 1998.
“Flair had started discussions with ECW when he had his problems with Bischoff, about working with me. His concern to Paul Heyman was that I would shoot on him. He wanted $150,000 for one match, which we couldn’t possibly afford that. So, I suggested to Paul, offer back to him, three shows, first one in Charlotte. I put him over, 55 minutes. Second, Pittsburgh, he puts me over, same time frame. Third time in Philadelphia, no doubts that promoted well, we could’ve sold the Spectrum out.” Douglas said.
In an interview that took place on June 12th, 1999 for Pro Wrestling Radio, Douglas talked about where he was at. According to Douglas, he was in negations with both the WWF and WCW and talks with WWF were going far better than they were with WCW, at the time. The idea of forming the Triple Threat in WCW was attractive and believed that Paul Heyman didn’t know what to do with them since they were essentially his NWO or Four Horsemen.
His time in ECW came to an end when he didn’t have a plane ticket to compete in a match against Justin Credible in Poughkeepsie. He wasn’t going to jog from Pittsburgh with a bag over his shoulder. He was surprised that it ended that way.
By the summer of 1999, Douglas returned to World Championship Wrestling and formed the Revolution, which he regretted doing the Anti-America gimmick even prior to 9/11. While in WCW, he wasn’t promoted on television when Kevin Sullivan was in charge due to his issues with Chris Benoit. Plus, Douglas had torn a muscle in his arm 90% off the bone. He returned to television in six days.
He believed the duo of Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff would work in WCW because they were different kinds of bookers. But, that didn’t end up happening. While in WCW, he enjoyed working with Hugh Morrus and Billy Kidman. He did feel that his feud and match with Ric Flair was disappointing. Douglas talked about the backstage atmosphere in 2000 and if he expected backstage politics.
“No, I certainly expected it. Keep in mind for several years prior I had been pretty vociferous on the microphone and publicly about WCW and WWF and believed that I had burned bridges with both companies so I never contemplated there was a possibility for a job in either place when I left ECW. Dusty Rhodes had made a comment on Mike Tenay’s radio show that Shane Douglas was the “Ric Flair” of his generation and I had sort of been on the outs with Dusty so I called Dusty to thank him and we talked for several minutes and he asked if I minded him bringing my name up in a booking meeting. He called me up the next day and said you ought to give Eric Bischoff a call and I did and the rest came to pass. It wasn’t by any means a marriage made in heaven nor was it a comfortable move for me. That was the only move in my career I made solely based on economics. I was so deep in red ink coming out of ECW that I had to make a good solid living just to get my nose above the water line because of ECW. People can say what they want about Eric Bischoff and I’ve heard a lot of people make negative comments about him. I’ll comment on his booking. His booking is not what I look for in wrestling but that said I will always be appreciative and thankful to Eric Bischoff for offering me the contract he did, when did because it saved my financial life. It’s pretty hard to argue with that.” Douglas said.
Douglas also went in-depth about his encounter with Flair in WCW when he arrived. He encountered Flair in Florida when he was on vacation with his wife. “In fact when I first signed with WCW for that last run I knew that I was going to be pretty busy or figured I’d be pretty busy for the three years of the contract that I took my wife on a two week Caribbean Cruise and made arrangements to hang out in Florida for a week when it was over. As luck would have it they (WCW) were in Jacksonville, Florida that Monday Night for Nitro and I decided that I would get myself there and I wanted to go and make a good showing. I’m standing there saying hello to everyone and everybody goes dead quiet and you could literally hear a pin drop and I knew that Ric Flair had just walked in right behind me. When I turned around sure enough Ric Flair is standing right behind me and Ric who is keen on paying attention to what is going on around him, looked around and saw everyone looking at us and said “Franchise, how are you sir” and put his hand out and we shook hands and I said I think you and I should talk.”
“When I got to Ric’s room he was lacing his boot and I said you and I have several things to talk about and should clear the air between us. At this time in WCW, I was certain that this angle of Ric Flair vs. The Franchise with the believably of the fans and how much the fans had known that this was a shoot that the two of us if we worked together could turn the tide back in WCW’s favor and he agreed. I said I am going to look you in the eye and ask you if you are man enough to uphold your end of the bargain and he said “yes sire I believe I am” and I shook his hand and said I am going to hold you to that. In my head, it’s water under the bridge at this point but then if you look at how that angle played out it was always this person running in or that person running in, or David Flair out there with a masked hoodie on and Russo out there with a mask it became a spectacle that had nothing to do with the match between the two of us it was about all the other “dog and pony” show as Raven would say. I think it was really undermined and was really a huge dis-service to WCW and I still maintain that that angle if executed and showcased properly would have helped turn things into WCW’s favor. But we will never know that side of it. What happened was the politicking that Ric had sworn wouldn’t happen did and at TNA years later Vince Russo told me that almost from the very first day Ric started politicking and you can only go by what you hear as being facts and truths by certain people and put it together with what you saw happening in the buildings and arenas and to me WCW deserved to get a return on their investment in both Shane Douglas and Ric Flair and to do that it would have meant that the two of us would have been willing to work together and went out and worked hard together and I believe had we done that and what I said about Ric earlier I believe Ric is probably the greatest pure performer our business has ever had I believe the two of us could have had some outstanding matches and given WCW a return on that investment.”
Douglas ended up working for XPW as their booker, but it was difficult to work with the company when he was far away. Douglas recalled a time when he sold the most tickets the company ever did for a Pittsburgh show, but the show was cancelled because the owner, Rob Black, thought they would lose a lot of money. When he wanted to put the show back on, Douglas realized it was over with XPW and quit the company, too.
More recently, Douglas was involved with the Extreme Rising reunion promotion after having promoted a successful Hardcore Homecoming tour in 2005. However, Extreme Rising had a lot of issues with their first show in April 2012 and would cease operations by 2013, though Douglas was not part of the company by that point in time.
In 2014, Douglas claimed to have found a wealthy investor to form a wrestling promotion that would have benefits for wrestlers including a 401k and health benefits. As of September 2017, nothing has been announced.
What are your favorite memories of Shane Douglas? Leave your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading.