own Frank Romeo conducted the following interview with the Franchise, Shane
This interview was conducted prior to Shane's signing with World Championship Wrestling.
THIS INTERVIEW MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN PART OR IN WHOLE WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF ECWNEWS.COM
Frank Romeo: Who were some of your biggest inspirations and mentors as your started up in the business?
Shane Douglas: Well, obviously being from Pittsburgh, Bruno Sammartino was a huge reason as to why I got into wrestling. I had been watching him since I was six or seven years old. "Superstar" Billy Graham was the first person I ever remember watching. When we were kids we'd emulate the men we saw on TV by jumping around, jumping off the couch and off each other, my brothers, and my sisters. But it wasn't till I was around 11 or 12 year old. . .13, 1976, that my father and I sat down one Saturday night and watched WWWF. We had just got cable and it came on at midnight. I still remember that night. My dad was laying down on the couch and I was sitting down in front of the couch by him, and the first person who came on was "Superstar" Billy Graham. I remember being mesmerized, first off by the size of his muscles, which to any kid is impressive. Also, his manner of speaking, his manager, The Grand Wizard, his tye dyed tights, his bleach blonde hair, I mean it was everything that captivated me, and it was at that point that I knew I wanted to be a professional wrestler. But kids fantasize. One day you want to be a cowboy and the next day an astronaut and the next day a wrestler, but that was the first time I remember telling myself, "Man, that would be a cool job."
FR: What about once you got going?
SD: Once I got going, again, it was a lot of the old timers such as the Samoans, "Superstar" Billy Graham, "Cowboy" Bob Duncum (Sr.). Those were the guys who were on the independent circuit that I was working and they were a big influence on my career. Once I really got into it, obviously Ric Flair, because he was "The Man" in the sport. Ricky Steamboat probably had the most profound impact on my career, because every night we'd go to the ring and I would learn something new. He was the "How-To" manual of professional wrestling. I greatly, greatly respected the man, and every time he spoke, I'd listen and learn from him.
FR: What are your thoughts on the talks of Ricky Steamboat coming out of retirement for a match against Ric Flair?
SD: I think that as long as he does it one more time it will be a tremendous thing to see, just out of nostalgia sake. A part of me worries for him, because I know what the business is like today and its so high impact in the stuff that we have to do, granted Ricky and Ric probably wouldn't do a lot of that stuff, but Ricky's back is pretty bad. I mean, he's in tremendous shape. I saw him back in February and he's in as good or better shape that most of the wrestlers in the business, and certainly in a lot better shape than a lot of the guys in ECW today. He's well conditioned, so that's not the problem. I think his back problem is four ruptured discs which he's never had surgically repaired. So if he does make the decision to come back, I hope it's the right decision, because I'd hate to see him come back for just one more time and hurt himself seriously.
FR: Who came up with the moniker "The Franchise," and if you do decide to leave ECW, will you be able to use it elsewhere?
SD: Yes, I own anything that pertains to me. I have a copyright lawyer in Pittsburgh, Jamie Armstrong, and he also has offices down in Washington, DC He does all my copyright and trademarking applications, which is really a complicated law. You can come up with something and say, "hmm. Let's copyright this thing," well there's a lot more involved than that. There's a lot of hoops you have to jump through and after that there's 41 different classifications. So, you have to look through them and say, "Can I use 'The Franchise' to sell jewelry?" Probably not, so class 18 goes out the window. "Can I use it to sell T-shirts?" Yes, so class 21 or 23 comes into play. "How bout toys?" Yes. So, you have to look over each of the 41 applications and file for each one of those applications. I own the name Shane Douglas, and have since the late '80s. I own "The Franchise." I own "The Triple Threat." I also own all applicable logos, my likeness, and my voice. So, if someone comes out doing "Cut the fucking music," and they do it in my voice, they better be careful. Because if they copy it exactly like I do it, not the phrase, but the style of saying it, because I won that. In this business you have to be very protective of those things. That's one area I know that ECW is remiss. I hope that as they get larger and larger they cover the bases on that, otherwise down the road it will be very easy for them to have a wrestler come out and they say, "Ya know what? I'm gonna have a wrestler come out and call him Taz, and we're gonna have him called the Human Suplex Machine," unless Taz himself has copyrighted it, which is very possible because he's a bright guy. In today's business environment, you have to protect your investment.
FR: Who came up with it?
SD: Who came up with? Paul Heyman came up with it. When I first entered ECW, before Paul Heyman took over, I was called "The Fabulous One" Shane Douglas. It was a very short lived period of time when I was called that. Then he came in and came up with the idea of calling me "The Franchise Player." At that time, the NFL and all the major sports teams were signifying who was each team's franchise player. The Pittsburgh Penguins obviously had Mario Lemieux. Later, in Philadelphia it became Eric Lindros. Each team in each sport began to identify a franchise player. What it was, was the most important player on the team and the player they would build the team around. As a legitimate shoot, that's what "The Franchise" became in ECW, he was the guy that Paul Heyman would use to build his entire team around. If you look back into the old days, it's very specific and easy to see. "The Franchise" was the calm in the middle of the storm. He was the wrestler in the middle of all the chaos. He was the champion amidst all the violence. That's where the name came from.
FR: That's another thing I wanted to mention. Now as long as you don't come after me for using the name "Franchise" in my articles, I'll be very grateful. I was at a party 3 years ago and after beating 13 people in pool, someone turned to me and said, "You're the Franchise!" From there, people called me "Franchise" all night, and at work the next day, and then it was something that stuck. Years later, people still call me "Franchise" when they see me. Now, I use it as a way to honor you.
SD: Well, thank you. I appreciate it. When you see somebody do that. . .some people in the business get upset at people doing that. . .but I look at it as allovation as to what has been done for 18 years. There's a lot of bad times in there. A lot of bad politics, a lot of bad injuries, a lot of back stabbing, a lot of long road trips for a little bit of money, a lot of times you go into the ring and you get to the back and the promoter is gone and you get stiffed. Overall, I have a very positive feel about the business. It's given me a good life. A lot of people will come onto the Internet and say, "Ah, 'The Franchise' sucks!" Then you see 25 other people saying "Oh, are you crazy? 'The Franchise' has done this, this, this, and this." That makes you feel good that you know somebody is watching out there.