Raj Giri of WrestlingINC.com recently spoke with Shane Douglas about tonight's Extreme Rising iPPV from the Golden Dome in Monaca, PA. You can purchase tickets for the event by clicking here, or order the iPPV starting at just under $15 on WWNLive.com.
All iPPV orders will receive a free iPPV download of the company's 6/30 Philadelphia event, which was headlined by Mat Hardy vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Homicide. Fans ordering the iPPV for 11/17 will receive an email code for downloading the 6/30 event within 24 hours.
Here is the second and final part of our interview, you can read the first part of the interview by clicking here.
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WrestlingINC: When TNA decided to have their own ECW revival, I heard they had asked you to be a part of it. Why did you turn that down?
Shane Douglas: [Laughs.] Well, I turned it down because this was a company that was paying Ric Flair $35,000 a night. And Hulk Hogan $75,000 a night. And Sting, Kurt Angle and everybody else had this incredible contracts. When they contacted me, Terry Taylor called and said, 'Hey, we want you to two days worth of work. A meet-and-greet on the first day.' They wanted me to open the show up with a "cut the f--king music" scathing promos. Then, work the match which I was told was either going to be a tag team match or a six man match later in the program.
For all that, they'd be happy to give me air fair and of course they would, because I'm not going to just walk from Pittsburgh. A hotel room and of course you would because I'm not going to sleep on the street. And pay me $1,000 for that. And I laughed at them. That's so insulting to me and to us as a company. If you can pay these dinosaurs this kind of money, then -- most of the guys on that show were making $250. To me, that was just repulsive. You would ask us to go out and do what we do better than anybody else in the business and you're paying these sports entertainers an incredible amount of money. Then, you tell us, 'Well, you're only worth this.'
If that's what Dixie Carter thought of the product... And I knew it was what she thought of the product because she had been very disdainful of it when I worked for her. She said to me one time, 'Why would we want to copy ECW? After all, they failed.' Well, it seems odd to me that a few years later, she'd be trying to squeeze the legacy to make a few bucks out of it and did a very strong buy rate out of it. Yet, still doesn't to this day respect it. So, I was thankful for the fact that they offered me the kind of money that they did and that they didn't offer me the kind of money that I thought I was worth to go in there and do that. I probably would have taken it.
Not to be immodest or anything, but in the world of ECW/extreme, I was bigger than Hogan. I was bigger than Flair. if that's the kind of money they're paying those guys, I didn't think it was outside the realm of possibility that they would pay me at least a decent wage. Not $1,000.
WrestlingINC: Did you end up watching that show and what did you think with how that went through?
Douglas: Well, I didn't watch it but I still know people that were there. I still have people that are in the TNA office that I can talk to and find out where they stand financially and what's going on in the company and stuff. They're like moles of mine in the company.
But, I had several friends that attended the show and from the people that I talked to in the company about how the guys were treated. Then, of course, the thing with some of the guys being inebriated after the event and everything else. I knew that they would just capitalize on that and try to make us all just look like misfits as opposed to what I feel is a very creative group of guys. Guys that I always respected and that I worked side by side with and shoulder to shoulder with these guys for years.
I didn't think it was right for them to try to squeeze that legacy for a few bucks and then turn right around and treat them ad second-rate citizens.
WrestlingINC: What made you decide to get back in the fold and start Extreme Rising earlier this year?
Douglas: Well, over the last several years on the independent scene, I caught myself almost nightly seeing a piece of talent here, two pieces of talent there at these independent shows. I kept saying to myself, 'Man, this guy would have been great in ECW. This guy would have fit perfectly in Extreme.'
After several times of doing that, over and over and over again and at nauseam, I thought, what if we gave them that forum? What if we were able to give these kids that open forum where we're not saying, 'Here's a script, here's what we want you to read and say. Here's what we want you to do and be.' But, allow those kids -- the same as I was allowed to create the Franchise character and flesh that character out.
What would happen with these group of kids that are so athletic today and yet have no real connection or understanding of where the business used to be and how it was put forth and created. And, if you gave them that, what would be the outcome of it? What will they come up with creatively?
As the promoter of Extreme Rising, I'm enamored by the idea the same as the first time I saw Sabu hit his triple-jump moonsault. I was in the back watching the monitor and I jumped out of my seat like a mark. I was so impressed by seeing that, thinking, my God, that is so cool as hell. I want to see these kids not go out and mimic us or imitate us. Or just use a chair or table because that's what we used to do. I'm enthralled with the idea of seeing these young kids who are so talented and athletic show me what the next thing is. What's the next triple-jump moonsault? What's the next putting-somebody-through-a-table?
Give us their take on extreme in 2012 and 2013. That's what brings the fan out in me.
WrestlingINC: When you ran the first event, it didn't go so smoothly. What do you think went wrong with the first one?
Douglas: Well, first off, let me defend the show. If you watched that show without listening to any of the pre-hype or post-criticism from certain people, if you watch that show from start to finish, that's not a bad show. It holds up pretty strong from start to finish. Kudos to Crowbar who was put in a very difficult situation then went out there and put out what I consider to be a five star performance.
Kudos to 2 Cold Scorpio who was at the last minute put into the main event without any forethought or any opportunity to think it through like we had with all of our other matches up to that point. 2 Cold delivered very well. So, I think the show on it's own merit stands up very strong.
That said, it wasn't what we wanted to present as Extreme Reunion and it wasn't the product that we wanted to put out there. But I don't think that it was anywhere near the people that were being hyper-critical of it because of those things. It's fine to be critical of it, saying, 'Hey, I thought it was going to be Sabu and Justin Credible and instead we got something different.' In that vain, the criticism is well put and completely on the mark. You have every right to say that.
But to say that the show sucked because of it, I disagree. To say that the show wasn't a solid show, I disagree. It wasn't what we wanted to put forward especially when I had gone out for four months before that saying, that was the precise thing we weren't going to let happen. Yet, it still did happen.
I learned something in the process. I can't baby sit 45-50-year-old men, nor will I. But what I can do is keep them close enough so that if I see somebody in that position, they will not get a second opportunity. Sabu is getting the second opportunity because he did the exact right thing. After what happened, he didn't come out and make excuses and say it wasn't his fault or whatever. He went right into rehab and sent me a very long e-mail apologizing and saying that he was never so embarrassed in his entire career. And that he was going to fix it.
That's what he attempted to do in going to rehab. He didn't go for the 10 or 20 days stay. Or even 30 -- he stayed the entire 45 days and took full advantage of it and showed us the committment that we needed. A coherent Sabu can still be a strong assett for Extreme Rising. But, an incoherent Sabu can't be of use to anybody including himself.
With Justin Credible -- who I think the world of. I think he's an incredible talent, he's a great guy. I really respect what he brings to the table. But since the April event when that happened, he's not attempted once that I'm aware of to fix the problem and solve it.
It makes me angry -- not mad personally -- but angry because Justin Credible is still young enough that if he would get his head out of the clouds and fix this problem and save his life, he still could make a nice chunk of change for the rest of his career. He's still young enough. Why he won't do that is beyond me. I can't figure it out and I pray for him that if for nothing else he does it for himself to save his own life. Having been through it, I know how difficult it is. I'm not judging anybody, it just makes me so angry because the kid has so much to offer and still could have a good run in him.
WrestlingINC: Absolutely. You guys did the second show in June and that one was pretty much universally acclaimed. People seemed to really enjoy it. Were there a lot of changes that you guys made behind the scenes or was it just people taking responsibility for themselves?
Douglas: Both cases, affirmatively. We took every precaution we possibly could took make sure that it didn't happen again. That's the thing, though, you can't universally guarantee it. I can't guarantee that this Saturday one of the guys won't show up inebriated. What I can guarantee you is that if they do, they'll be thrown out of the back of the building by his back. We took every precaution we possibly could.
I was proud of the guys that they didn't go in there, even after the negative press that came after the first show, they didn't come in with a down mood and not even try. They came in there with that old ECW attitude -- this where we were, this is what happened and by gosh, we're going to shove it up all the critics' rear ends and were going to prove them wrong. And they did that.
The fans were receptive of it. For me, it was much more comfortable because I wasn't worried about a performance. I could devote 110% of my time and attention to the product. In doing that, I really caught myself, like a mark, watching the show and enjoying it. But to watch the fans walking around the building -- I didn't watch the monitor, I was staying out as much as I could with the fans and watching it -- it feels like if I was in a match. Get the feel from the building. What are they seeing? How is it playing out here staring right at the match, not at the monitor.
The fans were -- I mean, it was universal. They were looking at me and thanking me and telling me how much this reminded them of what they used to see in the old ECW. I knew at that point that we were on the right track. We just got to keep pushing the envelope forward in that direction and not resting on our laurels. Not saying, 'Hey, we've done it right now. Now, we've got the forumla and we know how to do it.'
Every single match we've got on Saturday, we're taking every single precaution we can. We're working overtime to refine go over the card and redo the card and looking over it to see if there's anything that we can do to make it better, to make it more compelling to the fans on iPPV. Just hoping we can be on all cylanders. I think if we can re-create what we did in June at the Corona and Philadelphia shows, I think it'll be another big step for Extreme as we go forward and pull it out of the ashes.
WrestlingINC: What is the plan going forward? I think a lot of people when they first heard of the first show, that this was going to be just a tour, a final ECW reunion tour. Now, it's looking like it might be more than that, almost a promotion. What's the plan right now?
Douglas: Well, the plan had always been from it's inception to take it on one initial loop around the original ECW towns including; Philadelphia and New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Poughkeepsie, Cleveland, Chicago and Fort Lauderdale. Take it through the original ECW loop, presenting it to the fans as an homage to what ECW had achieved and accomplished. But, the bigger of the two eyes, looking forward, as we segue from the legendary names of ECW into the new names and the new generation of extreme warriors at Extreme Rising.
I said from the beginning, this was not about giving us original guys another platform to have another go-around in the business. It was to use us to present the product to the fans and open their eyes to these new talents that we think can be the next generation. In doing that, providing one small taste of the past, then looking forward and moving to the next thing.
There are no plans to make it a second go-around for us. That said, you see Sabu in the shape that he's in, if he can stay on the wagon, and keep himself to where he can give the performances he's capable of giving -- there will always be room whether it's in the ring as an on-air talent or, for those people like Jerry Lynn who's wrapping his career up -- there will always be some place for Jerry Lynn at Extreme Rising. Whether it's as an agent, as a writer, someone to help the younger talent.
I have always respected Jerry Lynn and think he's one of the most overlooked talents in our business. We can always use someone that has the gifts that jerry Lynn has.
So, what I'm hoping for from my generation of guys, from my class, that we can use us to provide the foundation. Give these kids spotlight. Let's face it: Shane Douglas doesn't need the spotlight anymore or Sabu. We've all had that and been blessed with it. It's not time to shine that light on that next generation.
WrestlingINC: Is that behind the reason for the name-change from Extreme Reunion to Extreme Rising?
Douglas: Yeah. The first one is always meant to be like the inaugural show. So, we used the name 'Reunion' by design to let the fans know that this was the bringing back together of all these names and faces.
But Extreme Rising, you know, I came up with the name and put it on the table because I really do believe that after the whole fiasco of Vince gave us with his version of 'ECW,' and just all the things with Dixie Carter trying to squeeze the legacy and everything else, it was time for us to say, 'OK, Vince, you own the name. You can't change that. But the legacy is ours forever. And it's only going to do what we want to do with it because it was ours in the first place.
So, as we move forward, it's kind of like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it's time for extreme to rise from the ashes of what had happened with the original ECW, what's been done to it since. And now we present that next generation with that platform to raise it back up to where it should be.
WrestlingINC: This Saturday, you're wrestling Matt Hardy who, correct me if I'm wrong, you've never wrestled before. What can fans expect from your guys' match this Saturday?
Douglas: First of all, when I said back after the first show that I was taking myself off the active roster to put all my energy to the back side of it, the production value, the writing and the presentation of the company, this is not a second coming of 'The Franchise's' career. When we were forced to move from Philadelphia -- a show that we had already announced for November 17th and were subsequently told that the building may not be available because of reservations -- we had to move so that the fans wouldn't end up getting screwed. Pittsburgh then was the obvious choice.
It wasn't until after we made the announcement for the November 17th debut moved to Pittsburgh, that I realized it was the 15th anniversary of November To Remember '97. Which was the show that, even though Philadelphia was our home, really put ECW over the top. It was a legitimate 5,000 seat venue. I turned 3,000 people away or close. It was our first legitimate six figure live gate, our first $75,000-$85,000 in merchandise sales. It was what even told us -- Paul Heyman, me, Taz, Tommy -- all of us that believed that ECW had a very finite and small group of loyal followers that maybe we had a much larger group of followers and we could be a lot bigger than we even thought we could be.
So, we're hoping that this will sort of be the same thing. And because it's in Pittsburgh, we heard from the fans that they wanted to see me perform again. For me, with Matt Hardy, what I've really been impressed with -- and I've seen him multiple, multiple times in the last 6-8 months on the independent scene -- what I've seen from Matt is impressive. For somebody that had problems that I'm familiar with and critics were savagely getting on him, and I think correctly in some veins because of what was happening, Matt has come back with a firing burning in his belly that I have rarely seen in talents of his caliber.
For somebody that's been the top of the hill like he's been to come back and be so righteously hungry and adament that they're going to prove the critics wrong... It's a fire that quite frankly is really refreshing to see in somebody of his caliber. I've never seen him go out there and take it easy. I think Matt has the intention to show the world and his critics that they were wrong, that what happened was an abberation not the paradigm and that he is going to show the world and the critics that there's another chapter in Matt Hardy. He's taking advantage of these opportunities to show that he's not going to rest on his laurels and slide on by.
He's hungry, he's got a fire burning, and he's been putting in some really great and inspired performances. So, for me, it was exciting to even have the prospects of getting in the ring with a guy like that, that is that hungry after being written off my so many people.
WrestlingINC: Yeah, I agree 100%. I think he's done a phenomenal job over the last year of pulling his life back together.
Douglas: Kudos to him for that. Let's face it, in this business, how many people have we lost to addiction? How many careers have been lost to that and lives have been lost to it? To see somebody of Matt's caliber not taking it for granted but showing that he's got a lot more gas left in the tank...Kudos to him and respect to him that he's been able to do it because I know how difficult it is. If it were easy, I don't think we'd have near the death toll that we have in this business.
Kudos to the fact that he can show other people that are in that same situation that it can be done and you can be well-received on the other side coming out of it. All the respect in the world to Matt.
WrestlingINC: I have one last question for you. We've been in the business for years now, you've kind of seen it all. What are your thoughts on the business today and where it's going? How much longer do you expect to be a part of it?
Douglas: Well, I mean, I've spent this much time in the business, I must be fairly decent at it. Obviously, I'm very passionate about it. If I had my way, I'd be involved in the wrestling business until they put me in a box. And I hope that's a long way off. I love the wrestling business. I am a mark for the business when it's done properly. There's nothing else I'd rather watch than a great, strong, professional wrestling card when it's done right.
I could not be more turned off the product that the big companies giving us right now and have been giving us. I want to be inspired by what I'm watching and I haven't been. And I want to under score this, I'm not blaming the young talent for it. It's the scripts that are literally being handed to them and they're being told, 'Read this and nothing else. Go out and do this and nothing else.' These poor kids that have all the talent in the world are being painted into a corner. They don't even know their own characters.
'The Franchise' is not a real person. 'The Franachise' is a character that I played for 20-plus years. But, I can tell you as if he were a real person the kind of food he likes, what his taste in women is, what kind of books he reads, how he'd vote, what kind of movies he likes and dislikes as if he were a real person. I fleshed that character out over 20-plus years. These kids don't even know their own characters because it's just regurgitating a script and somebody elses take on what that character is.
When you watch the show, at least I can see that very, very clearly. It's what I call the 'deer in the headlights' look. They get that feeling of what should I do next instead of just organically flowing with it because they know that character. You can see in their brain, they're saying, 'What should I do. What would the next thing be?'
For somebody who's fleshed the character out and who's comfortable with the character, that's never a thought any more than it is to you when you're talking to somebody or walking up the stairs. You don't have to think about each time to pick your leg up and go to the next one. Your body just goes through it. [COULDN'T UNDERSTAND.] An organic character that's fleshed out the proper way should be the same thing.
So, to me, I think where the business is and it's on it's ass -- Vince's numbers are at historic lows, numbers I would have never believed. Into the 2's for the WWE? That's amazing. His stocks are at historic lows. TNA has invested $200 million into a hole that has given them nothing back. To me, that's where the opportunity is.
In 1992, if WWF then and WCW were giving the fans what they wanted, nobody would have given a damn or cared or paid attention to what was going on at the bingo hall. Instead, this card in a dingy, grungy, dirty, filthy building with no air conditioning and no heat in the winter and no shower was somehow able to put on a product that captured the fan's imagination. It re-energized the wrestling business. That's the same opportunity I see right now with the WWE's product as lackluster as it is and TNA spending the money that they have getting nothing back in return.
It's time for that next thing to come along and there's the opportunity. That's what the intention of Extreme Rising is, to bring that excitement back and hopefully be a second revolution and resurges our business again. Think about what happened with that first revolution. WWE/WWF had a very strong run with the whole Attitude Era. WCW did some very strong business with the nWo. All the other companies sparked.
The wrestlers won out because they were employed. The fans won out because the product was sharp, cool, hip and engaging. So, I think a revolution, regardless of where it comes from, is going to be good for everybody -- Vince and Dixie included. But especially the wrestlers and the fans.
You can check out the first part of our interview with Douglas by clicking here.
The debut iPPV from Extreme Rising takes place tonight from the Golden Dome in Monaca, PA. In the main event, Shane Douglas will battle Matt Hardy (w/ Reby Sky). The following matches are also scheduled for the event: Sabu vs. Devon Storm, Jerry Lynn vs. Homicide, FBI vs. BLK Out, Bestia vs Facade, Perry Saturn vs. Luke Hawx and Stevie Richards vs. Papadon. You can purchase tickets for the event by clicking here, or order the iPPV starting at just under $15 on WWNLive.com. You can check out a promo for tonight's event below: