Shane Douglas Interview: Backstage WCW Politics, Heat with Flair & HBK

A few days ago, “The Franchise” Shane Douglas was interviewed by The Two Man Power Trip podcast. Topics included the trashing of the NWA title, the death of ECW, heat with Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels, WCW politics, the WWE Network and many many more. Below are just a few topics that were brought up.

Were you worried about working with Flair after the years of bad blood between you both?

“No. 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 sir 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.”

Going back to WCW in 2000, were you shocked by the amount of backstage politics or did you expect it?

“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.”

Shawn Michaels refused to drop the belt to him at In Your House in 1995, claiming they couldn’t have a good match together. Any truth to this?

“If you listen to Shawn Michaels comments, Shawn will tell you that Shane Douglas wasn’t very good. I’ll tell you upfront, I think Shawn Michaels was probably the most gifted worker the business has ever seen. Which always dumb-founded me as to why he would resort to the type of games and politics that he did and I can’t answer that only Shawn can. I would in a heartbeat tell you that Shawn Michaels is a better in ring performer than me and I would also tell you in that next breath that I was a much better promo then Shawn was and in the business and especially in those days that was the package. So if Shane Douglas was able to have great matches with Sabu, Taz, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Sandman, Terry Funk, Bam Bam Bigelow and Pitbull #2 but Shawn couldn’t have a great match with me then maybe you have to ask the question of why?”
“Shawn goes out and tries to make the comments that I am not a very good worker, well I am not saying I’m the best worker in the world, I am far from it but I was certainly proficient at what I did and if not I doubt I would have been around for as long as I’ve been around in the business and had achieved the things I did in ECW. In ECW we couldn’t have an off night. An off night could have killed ECW so if me and The Sandman had a match (and we did not get along in those days) if you put us in the ring that night, he was busting his ass to get me over and I was busting my ass to get him over.”

Ski’s Take – I’ll start this off by saying that I was never a big fan of Shane (Dean) Douglas. I appreciate what he has done for the business and the impact he’s had, I was just never a fan of his in ring style and his work. the guy was good at a promo, but when I was brought up on Flair and Rhodes, his work was just okay.

He does have a point about the lack of a title switch with Shawn though. At that time, Shawn could have wrestled a wet paper bag, and make that paper bag look like a legitimate threat. So I do wonder why he thought he couldn’t get a good match out of Douglas. Professional jealousy? Or just didn’t like the guy? I don’t know, but it’s a question that’s never been answered.

Again with WCW not using the real life situation between Shane and Ric Flair. That storyline could have been dynamite, and reignited a flailing Flair in WCW’s dying days. I doubt it could have saved the company, but it might have given it a few more months of breathing room.