Recently, BeneathTheMat.com's Brian Soscia talked with former ECW Champion Shane Douglas during a candid, lengthy conversation that virtually covered his entire career. Among the topics, Douglas discussed; John Laurinaitis, his WWE runs, Shawn Michaels and much more. Here are some of the highlights:
On his former tag team partner in the Dynamic Dudes, John Laurinaitis, and where he is today: "Johnny's an extraordinarily bright guy. He came from a corporate background. He worked for Honey Well up in Minnesota before he even got into wrestling. So, [his success] doesn't surprise me because, A, he's college educated and B, he's got that corporate background. He fits into that three piece suit routine that I never quite acclimated to. [Laughs.]
"But, he does have a good head on his shoulders. The one thing that surprises me with Johnny is that, for years -- not just when we were together as a team because we traveled together before then when he was still working with the Sheep Herders -- he used to say it nightly. At the time, he didn't like how the boys were being treated by the company. You were treated like a piece of meat. If you get hurt -- Ahh, if you're hurt, get out of my way. That kind of stuff. You were treated very condescendingly. He told me every single night, 'Shane, with our college educations and our backgrounds, one of these days, we're going to run this industry. We're going to do things differently.'
"Now, I hear from the wrestlers that are up there now that it seems like Johnny Ace is just the same old promoter. Becoming a boss is very different from being a wrestler. There's a lot of baby sitting that has to go on. Last night, we were on the phone until three o'clock in the morning, taking care of guys. Travel issues and all of these last minute issues that as grown men and professionals, they should have taken care of or asked about before last night. But that's what happens in that position so it goes with the territory.
"I saw an interview with Paul Stanley from KISS and he said, 'If you want to be a politician, don't b---h about wearing a tie.' [Laughs.] What a great line. So, you know, I'm not complaining but it goes with the territory. To be fair to Johnny, that's a very tough position to be running a company of that size with that money prima donas, egos and attitudes.Too be able to to do that and not take flack for it -- sooner or later, somebody's going to say something."
On whether or not he could tell that his ECW run was going to be as big as it was: "I felt good about the character. When Paul Heyman came and gave me the whole idea for the character, 'The Franchise', I remember the NFL was just starting to classify one of their players as the franchise player. So that was the whole idea, that 'The Franchise' was the franchise player for ECW.
"When he gave me the idea for the character, it was very simple. He only ever gave me one direction, he didn't micro-manage it every week. 'Do this, do this, don't do that.' He said to me the very first night we talked about it, 'You're the captain of the football team that steals everybody's girlfriend and sleep with them.' So, I said, 'I know that guy.' Then, over the next two years, we fleshed that character out and we made a ton of mistakes with the character but I only made them once. When it didn't work, we scratched it off the list. So, after a year and a half or two, there was a character that was very organic, very close and true to who I was on the dark side -- which I think everybody has.
"'The Franchise' is that guy that never had an off switch. Whatever pops into his head, he says. Whatever he wants to do, he does. Some people would call that psychotic with a guy that can go out and murder someone and explain why it was the right thing to do. To me, that character had very compelling possibilities for television. The first guy that ever came out and used the f-bomb on television. It just oozed through that this guy was -- in his mind -- the most important thing walking on the planet. When that character stepped on camera and had this beautiful valet with him, and you see him throwing guys down with broken necks and throwing the NWA title down -- there was nothing he wouldn't do. That's compelling to watch. It's a train wreck. You're waiting to see what he's going to do next."
On how it was in WWE for his second run with the company: "There was nothing I could point to and say this was a red flag or that was a red flag. I just didn't want to go there. After several trips up, about five trips up, I finally took my wife on one of the trips. She didn't know the first thing about the professional side of things or the business side of our sport but I wanted to use her as the good cop, bad cop (thing). So, I told her on the plane ride up, I said, 'Listen, if he asks you any questions, look him in the eye and tell him exactly what your thoughts are.' It was the only time in my relationship with Carla that I ever did that.
"He said, 'Carla, I'm sure you have some concerns.' She looked him in the eye and said, 'My husband teaches school five days a week and loves that job. He works for Extreme Championship Wrestling, the only company that has utilized his talents fully. He's worked for you once before and he's worked for WCW and NWA and nobody's capitalized on his talent like ECW has. And he's at home with me, five nights a week, in bed. What can you possibly offer my husband to walk away from all that?' She said that right to Vince.
"I thought, like, atta girl. Vince doesn't have a desk, he has a table and it's the most gaudy -- he makes Elvis Presley look tasteful. But, he leaned across and he stroked her hand and said, 'Carla, you have my word as a man: I'm going to make your husband a very wealthy man.' At that point, I slipped in and I said, 'Well, Vince, I'm sure you and I have different definitions to the word wealthy. What are we talking about?' He said, 'Well, we don't offer guaranteed contracts, pal. But, it's not uncommon for someone in the position we're going to put you to make $350,000-550,000 a year.
"I still didn't jump at that. I left, went home and I called Ricky Steamboat, Sharri Martel, Rick Rude, Curt Hennig, Mike Hegstrand and Joe Laurinaitis of the Road Warriors -- literally everybody that had worked in a top spot over there. They all told me the same things. 'That's exactly what he told me and I got rich.' That was when I signed the contract."
On being handed the Intercontinental title by Shawn Michaels: "Vince would always say, 'We believe the fans should always go home happy.' I'd say, 'Well, Vince, with all due respect, that's where you and I disagree. Because I believe in sending the fans home ticked off once in a while so they want to come back and pay to see you get your butt kicked.' So, he told me that Shawn was forfeiting the title -- and it'd take to long to get into the whole thing but he was fine. He hadn't been beaten up like they said he was beaten up. He was fine, the make-up girls beat him up like that.
"He had run his mouth when I was in Germany in the dressing room three weeks prior saying he was going to embarrass me on national television. I said to Davey Boy Smith, rest his soul -- one of my best friends in the business who was a great ribber and loved to stir the pot -- that if he tries to embarrass me on national TV, that I'll stretch his rear end. And I didn't say rear end. Almost within hours, I get the call that the finish has been changed and that Shawn has had a relapse of his concussion and can't perform. ... That's Shawn.
"He's afraid of his own shadow. Not that I'm the toughest guy in the world, but I've always been very passionate about it. If you have a problem with me, we can just as easily go outside to settle it or we can settle it like professionals. It really doesn't matter to me. But if you go out and make a statement in front of the dressing room, saying you're going to embarrass me, then you can expect there to be a response to that.
"So, when he forfeited the belt to me, I told Vince that this is the worst thing you can do. We always go out and say, 'I'll kill for this belt. I'll spill my blood for this belt.' Unless I get a knock on the head, then I'll just hand it to you. I said, 'Wait for him to be healthy and come back. The whole idea was to replay the Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude angle. I would beat him for the Intercontinental belt and the next year, he would beat me with Chin Music. Let's face it: Shawn is probably the greatest in-ring performer this business has ever seen and as a heel, I could certainly up-hold my end of the bargain. I think if he had been on the page, he and I could have done some magical things.
"He didn't want to because he and the Kliq felt that that belt was theirs and they had the right to decide, 'We don't like you, so you don't get it. This guy, we like. We're going to keep it with him.'"
To check out the entire interview, click here.