The following interview features former ECW champion “The Franchise” Shane Douglas. Shane talks about leaving ECW, negotiating with WCW, Paul Heyman, Ric Flair, kicking Scott Hall out of an ECW show, and more. The interview was taped June 12, 1999 and broadcast on Pro Wrestling Radio.
Eric: Truth about the rumored WCW negotiations:
Shane: Well they stand about the same place as the negotiations with the World Wrestling Federation. They’re negotiations going on. To be quite honest with you the WWF negotiations have so far been more fruitful. Both companies, let’s face it. With Vince McMahon rehashing his angle with Steve Austin it’s clear. That they need a heel there pretty desperately and with World Championship Wrestling let’s face it, they need ratings. So both companies have come to the table. But to be quite honest with you so far the deal from the World Wrestling Federation seems to be paying more dividends. When I say negotiations it’s probably a misnomer with World Championship Wrestling. They’re have been phone calls made to ask if they’re would be interest in doing business. So there’s not even been a number put on the table from them.
Eric: Ric Flair has said “if Shane Douglas came to WCW, I would refuse to work any angles or matches with him.” What is your opinion on that statement?
Eric: Does the thought of re-forming the Triple Threat invite you more to go over to WCW, than the WWF?
Shane: Well, the Triple Threat is gonna be part of me no matter where I go. I own the Triple Threat, I won the Franchise, I own Shane Douglas, I own all appropriate logos and likeness. So wherever I go, they’ll go with me. The prospect of that is really attractive in doing it and doing it in a big way. I think that Paul Heyman dropped the ball on that. He never knew how to quite package this thing. We were his Four Horsemen, we were his NWO, and he didn’t know what to do with it. Vince or Bischoff will know what to do with it.
Eric: Is this just an angle with you and ECW? (Shane and ECW were at odds publicly)
Shane: Well I can tell you this. I had a six-year career with Extreme Championship Wrestling that helped solidify me as a main talent in this business. I’m very thankful to Paul Heyman and the ECW fans, especially for that because they are some of the best fans in the world and I owe a lot to them because of that. With no doing on my side of it, my tenure with ECW has come to an end. That was made evident with Paul Heyman, when he never sent me a plane ticket to come to the last pay per view. I had every intention of stepping into the ring with Justin Credible and I had every intention of showing Justin Credible who the real Franchise in this business is. But, without a plane ticket to get there I sure as heck wasn’t going to. I’m in good shape, but not that good a shape to jog from Pittsburgh to Poughkeepsie, at least with a bag on my shoulder so. No, without a plane ticket I wasn’t gonna show.
Eric: Were you surprised that it came to that?
Shane: Absolutely. Absolutely Eric, because I’ve been friends with Paul Heyman for thirteen years, or at least I thought I was. We’ve been friends in my mind for seven years longer than ECW has been in history, it’s been in existence. So, yeah I thought that you know, some public statements that Paul Heyman has made about me um before this and some private things. Paul Heyman always told me “Shane, you have a job for life with ECW. You have nothing to worry about, you and your family will be well taken care of from Extreme Championship Wrestling for all you’ve done for us.” And we’ve pretty much have seen now what Paul Heyman’s word is worth. You know what though? Publicly, thank you Paul Heyman. Because you’ve made me a rich man. Thank you.
Eric: How is your physical state and are you a considering retirement?
Shane: Shane Douglas is in the best shape of his life. Shane Douglas back in January came very close to that. That was not an angle, I don’t think the fans realized how legitimately close I was to retirement. Right now, I’m in the best shape that I’ve been in, in quite a while. I just had a complete physical from two days ago from a doctor friend of mine. We grew up together and he’s given me a head to toe physical, not just the joints, but looking at the heart, and looking at the lungs, and looking at the spine, and every single little thing that he could look at. I am in peak physical condition, so whoever gets the Franchise, whichever side wins the free agency war is gonna get a guy with a fire lit under his rear, because I wanna prove Paul Heyman wrong and I wanna prove the critics wrong. I’m ready to get back to work and I’m ready to show people whether it’s in WCW or in WWF, that the Franchise is still the Franchise of this sport.
Eric: Looking back on it, were all the sacrifices you made to ECW worth it?
Shane: Absolutely. Paul Heyman aside, they’re a few people in this business Eric that can count themselves lucky enough to have a mile stone in this business. I mean may people have done it in many a different ways. I’ve made my legacy and established my milestone by the fact that I took a company, Eastern Championship Wrestling. That was an unknown entity. To be quite honest with you, before I worked for them I never heard of them. I took them on my back, I’m not saying this solely. We had a great crew of guys, and we had a good booker, and we had great fans. But the Franchise name was a shoot. They had to build a company around somebody. They built it around me. You win Superbowls at football games by handing the ball to throwing the ball to the guy most likely to score a touchdown for you. I consistently scored touchdowns for ECW and was very instrumental in making the company what it is today. No, I think it was all worth it. Again, because of all my friends that worked there and all the fans that bought the product, I wish ECW a long successful tenure, but Mr. Heyman will get what’s due him.
Eric: How real is a deal between ECW and TNN?
Shane: Well from my understanding in talking to Joey Styles that TNN has started selling commercials, ad rates and time for the slot with ECW. So I’m sure it’s a definite deal. The question is, we were told back when we went to pay per view. “This is it guys, this is gonna make us rich, we’re set.” This was the pinnacle for ECW and since then the company has been in financial turmoil. So you know, I’m not so certain that this is the saving grace for ECW but it’s certainly gonna be a shot in the arm for them. Like I said earlier, for my friends that work there and for the fans that respect the product and love the product I wish them all the best of luck on TNN. In fact, I have gone as far as to if Troy Martin can be of any assistance, which is my real name. If I could be of any assistance in providing ECW help, in obtaining the TNN deal and solidifying the deal, that I was available for that. Paul Heyman never called and I know that Shane Douglas was part of the equation. Because TNN had called me privately through a company called Buddy Lee Productions that they do a lot of business with in Nashville, to ask if I was still with the company and if I wasn’t with the company why? Because they’re feeling was that they were gonna sign a company that would be void of talent. They had heard rumors that Rob Van Dam had signed with WCW. They had rumors that Shane Douglas and Sabu had left over money squabbles. They had heard that Taz was negotiating with other companies. They had heard the Dudleys were leaving. So their fear was, without Shane Douglas that I was like a domino. The lynch pin if you will. That if I left, than a bunch of talent was gonna leave and they were concerned about that. I went on record in telling TNN I was on hiatus from ECW and not gone. So in my own way I helped ECW secure that deal. Hopefully.
Eric: Do you regret kicking Scott Hall out of the building in Florida?
Shane: I regret, I’ll cut you off right there. Do I regret anything I’ve done or said in the past? Absolutely not. What makes Shane Douglas the Franchise is the fact he’s a man that says what he thinks and he stands by what he says. The things I’ve said about Ric Flair. He’s old, he’s over the hill, he aint what he used to be. I stand by and I’m eager to get in the ring and shoot with him and show to the world what I’ve talked about. I tried to get him to come to my playground for six years and it didn’t work, so I’ll got to his if I have to. As far as what was said to Scott Hall in Kissemmee, was basically you can defend your position as a man or leave the building and he left the building. Absolutely I stand by that. Now publicly and I’ve said this before. I wish Scott Hall all the best in taking care of his personal demons. I don’t wish that on anybody, friend or foe. But as a man that tried to screw me when I was in the World Wrestling Federation, he didn’t try he did a pretty good job. Absolutely and in hindsight would I do it again? I guess the question again. Another way to ask it is. If that were to happen today would you confront him again? Absolutely.
Eric: Memories of Owen Hart?
Shane: Well first of aside form the wrestling business because sometimes we get caught up in this little game that we call wrestling. He was a true gentleman. He was a great, great man. I mean he was a man of his word, he was a straight up guy. People always talk about Owen as a ribber, a practical joker. His practical jokes were harmless. He never defecated in anybody’s bag or anything like that. His deal was to put a padlock on your shoes when you were running late to catch a plane or something like that. Things like that, that were more a pain in the rear end than anything else. Wrestling has truly lost one of it’s ambassadors. He was a great guy, he was a great friend and I’ve never seen at the funeral, so much sorrow in one room. I mean, there were a thousand, two thousand fans outside of the funeral home. The family and all the wrestlers, I’ve never seen so many grown men cry in my life. I’ll say this about the Hart family. They are an amazing family, absolutely the most courageous people I’ve ever seen. His mother, Helen Hart just exhibited a backbone, a character, and a strength that I don’t think I have and I hope that I never have to find out that I do. She was an extraordinary woman as is his widow, Martha. The family was just extraordinary. The sad thing about it is. As I was saying with Scott Hall’s problems I wouldn’t wish on what happened to Owen to anybody, I mean on the worst person on the planet. The last person I’d expect it to happen to was Owen. There were other people that if you told me that it happened to I wouldn’t be surprised. It woulda still bothered me greatly, it probably wouldn’t have shocked me because a lot of people in this business have taken crazy. I mean how many wrestlers have we lost? We’ve lost a lot of wrestlers to drugs. We’ve lost a lot of wrestlers to car accidents. That wouldn’t surprise me. But this was just totally senseless.
Eric: How will his passing and the way it happened effect wrestling and the WWF?
Shane: Well two fold. As far as for an individual company I can’t say. I hope, first of all that the wrestling fans understand that what we’re doing is dangerous. Not just the stunts, but the in ring stuff. I’m seeing these kids do this backyard wrestling and guys, if you’re listening out there. Please be careful in what you do. I’ve been trained in 18 years in what I do. I’m very capable in the ring because of that time that I’ve spent learning. God oh mighty, I don’t want one of those kids out there to end up with a broken neck or something. Some of the stuff they are doing out there is dangerous. I saw on 20/20 a kid jump off a roof with his knees first hit another kid in the rib. That’s just dangerous. Please be very careful of what you’re doing out there. But I hope the fans see that whet we’re doing is dangerous and they take into account that when they’re cheering, like when Cactus or Mankind got thrown off the top of the cage in Pittsburgh. The crowd was smiling and it was almost smoke and mirrors. A man could have been literally crippled. I hope that the fans realize this and they’re thirst for blood. Unfortunately and I’m sad to say that ECW was responsible for publicizing it in the first place. I hope that their thirst for blood doesn’t lead to another incident.
Eric: What did you learn by promoting ECW’s Pittsburgh shows.
Shane: I learned trial by fire. I’m real proud of what my CO-promoter Marc Keenan and I did in November of 97′ and we still hold the attendance record for ECW at a time, and if you put this in perspective Eric. At the time that we established that record of nearly 5,000 people, the company was half as big as it is right now. So, I mean it would be like drawing 10,000 today. ECW’s houses, from what I understand are dropping right now. I understand they had four or five hundred people in Boston, you remember? We used to do a lot more than that. But what I learned was that it aint easy to fill those seats. Somebody that promotes well, the fans and the wrestlers ought to take their hats off to them. Because I know what it took to put 5,000 people in that building. It was two and a half months of absolute pure hell. I would go through it again in a heartbeat for the success of the company. I did learn a lot about it. I want to comment on Pittsburgh. That’s a huge loss to ECW because, Pittsburgh was the most lucrative town in ECW’s whole landscape. It was by far the most money generating town for the most merchandise. We routinely did 3,000 people there. Every place else we’re going, we’re getting 1,100, 600. Losing Pittsbugh is not just a simple loss like “we’ll get another town that will fulfill Pittsburgh’s role.” Pittsburgh was huge, to the tune of half a million dollars a year in revenue for ECW. Again, if there is anything I can do to help ECW with those towns afterwards.
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