Shane Douglas recently spoke before the weekend’s Extreme Rising show. Here are the highlights…
Thoughts on the Extreme Reunion Show: Very small portions of the crowd were hostile. When Bob Artese walked out to the ring, he got three words into his introduction, “Hello, and Welcome,” and there were already groups of people around the audience telling him to “Shut the F up.” There were people there with an agenda. The feedback we got back from the show has been 85% to 95% positive. I said from day one, the show did not come off as we planned, and we took responsibility for that. But we made every amends we could, we made very quick decisions that needed to be made immediately to show our fan base that we were taking those directions, ie; Sabu going immediately into rehab, which to me, in the larger scheme of things, the fact that Sabu chose that path because of what happened in April, to me, is a huge win… The quality of the show is there. If you watch it and don’t read any kind of either Shane Douglas’ take or Joe Blow’s take on it, if you watch the show from start to finish, it’s a damn good wrestling show, and I stand behind it… I was so busy in the back literally shuffling the card, second to second, because of Sabu and Justin Credible, who really had the opportunity to stand up and help. I remember the story about Metallica up in Montreal, and James Hetfield got burned pretty badly, and Guns N’ Roses really could’ve stepped up and delivered, and the fans would have walked out and said “man, we didn’t get to see Metallica, but Guns N’ Roses was phenomenal.” Instead, Axl got pissed off and walked off stage, instigating a riot which tore the Montreal Center to pieces. Justin had a unique opportunity to stand up and pull the pieces together which is what everyone that endeavors to be a main event talent wants to do… I assumed going into the last match that the crowd was apprised to the fact that Sabu and Justin were unavailable, especially with Sabu being in the main event. Unbeknownst to me, the crowd had not been apprised of that. I assumed that it had scuttle butted way through, just from word of mouth, because people in the crowd were texting about it, and information was flying back and forth. I guess I assumed wrongly. When I went out to announce that Sabu was not performing, I assumed the crowd knew, that was my faux pas. But 2 Cold Scorpio stepped in the ring in a very tough position, and he really delivered. He didn’t half-ass it because he wasn’t the advertised main event. He went out and gave it his all and really delivered for us. If you step back… and you watch the show from the first bell to the last bell, it stands up, it’s a good wrestling show. Solid. It wasn’t what we wanted to deliver, but I don’t hide from any of it.
On Justin Credible getting a second chance: Absolutely. I’m a huge fan of Justin Credible, more than that, I’m a dear friend of Peter Polaco’s. What angered me more than anything- of course I was angry as the guy who he’d been telling for four months that that wasn’t gonna happen, so yeah, I was pissed about that at the point- but more importantly I was worried about Peter Polaco. As someone that’s been through this disease; this disease kills people. And it kills them quickly and without incident, and it don’t care about whether you’re a nice guy or a bad guy, you’re rich or you’re poor, you’re white or you’re black, you’re tall or you’re short, you’re fat or you’re thin. It kills people. When I saw PJ in that position, it broke my heart. This kid is incredibly talented, no pun intended. At his age, he’s at that point in his life where he could still be making a boatload of money with his talent level, but nobody, and you can’t blame Vince, you can’t blame Dixie, you can’t blame us, you cannot invest money in a guy that’s taking whatever and who can’t guarantee his performance. If he just finished the 45 days, that’s the best news I’ve heard all day long, and absolutely the door is wide open for PJ to come back.
On New Jack and taking the Gangstas out of the upcoming cage match, and precautions in general: As the booker, and one of the owners of the company, I have to be cognizant that a: someone is healthy enough to go to the ring, and b: that they’re not going out there just because of the warrior attitude that we all have, how many times I’ve gone to the ring injured. After I had major reconstruction on my elbow after November to Remember ’97, I checked myself out of the hospital, in order to make a show that weekend where Taz german-suplexed me in a cast up to my shoulder. Now that was stupid on my part. We were brought into the business to make your shots, don’t let the fans down, and all of that. I, as the booker of Extreme Rising and an owner of the company, will not allow anyone to go out there and do that. Look, New Jack’s toughness is not in question. He’s proven that how many times over the last two decades. What I don’t want is Jerome Young going out and performing stunts just because he’s got that attitude, and walking away in much worse condition than he would’ve been going in. I can’t allow- especially because it was news to me. At the show that night in Pittsburgh, I spoke to New Jack. He didn’t seem to be in any pain, he never said to me that he was in pain, he wasn’t limping or hobbling around. So when I read this on Facebook, I certainly was concerned about it because my first thing was that Jerome Young’s health be protected. I can’t let somebody go out there like I did, injured, and allow themselves to bang themselves up, and then down the road, God knows what happens. An Oxycontin addiction or whatever. These are not made-up scenarios, these are real-life scenarios that happened in my life, and how many brothers I’ve put in the ground. I care not to do that anymore. So if I can do something as the booker to safeguard our talent when they won’t safeguard themselves, it’s beyond a question of doing the right or wrong thing. There’s legalities on top of that. So we have to do the right thing for our talent, and I think we’re doing the right thing here. We can come back to this angle at any time (with BLKOUT), the heat’s there for it and the fans are ready to see it. I do firmly believe that our fan base wants us to protect our talent first and foremost… There’s nothing more I would love than Saturday night to deliver the Gangstas vs. BLKOUT. I’m a huge mark for this business and I would love to see this angle play out. But from the booker of the company, I also have to be aware, letting New Jack go out there injured, when he’s told the world that he’s putting off surgery, and he’s got a broken heel and a broken ankle, and all these different things, for me to allow someone like that to go to the ring, I’m doing a disservice to him and to the fans… because they can’t clearly perform to the level I expect for Extreme Rising, and I’m doing the company a disservice, by allowing someone in that condition to perform… And what if he got hurt performing? What do we say afterwards?
On Luke Hawx and Papadon: I’ve known him (Luke) for about 12-13 years. The kid has amazing potential. Underscore the word potential. The attitude of some of these guys, not just him, a lot of the younger guys in the business, like they’re owed something even though they never proven themselves, to me is confounding. To me, when I broke into the business, when I was that young snot-nosed kid who didn’t know up from down, who thought I was the greatest thing to come along since sliced bread, I was very humbled very quickly…These kids that endeavor for the top haven’t proven anything in the business. To me, that’s where the balancing act falls out of whack. What made my first run as champion in ECW, having traveled with Ricky Steamboat and worked with guys like Terry Funk, and a lot of guys from the previous generation, that for me I knew what was coming with it, so I expected it. Not that I liked it any less or more, but I had an understanding… The feedback I’ve gotten from the Pittsburgh show, it’s been 10 out of 10 people that have told me this… 100 percent, the fanbase is amazed at Papadon. They were really impressed with this kid that nobody had heard from or of, that really didn’t have a lot of expectation, and yet walked away going “wow, that kid’s got it.” And the Luke Hawx feedback I get is, and as booker I take it all in, was “we expected a lot more.” This is the issue: when you try to push yourself as a talent beyond what your capabilities are, whether it’s talent level or attitude level, or whatever. When you push yourself beyond that, the expectation from the fanbase shoots through the roof. And when they believe you to be a 10 just off what they’re reading and hearing, then they see it and walk away and you’re a 6 or a 7, which still ain’t bad, but they were expecting you to be a 9 or a 10, in their eyes you dropped the ball. The feedback on Luke has been, across the board 100 percent, “We expected a lot more.” Did Luke Hawx, with all this ranting and raving on Facebook and the social medias present himself as something much bigger than he is, and made expectations much higher than they should be, or would he have been better off letting his ability in the ring do the talking? I think the kid is very talented. Trust me, as a young punk I was the same way. But I quickly found out I was wrong, and I took the time to learn. That’s my concern about Luke Hawx, that he’s not going to live up to his potential because of his attitude.
On who he has his eye on for Extreme Rising: There are several (talents) and the only reason I don’t want to give names off the top, I know WWE and TNA listen- I found it quite interesting that Luke Hawx was on a WWE show. I didn’t see it but I heard a lot of feedback, and texts and stuff that came to me. So I don’t want to go and tip my hand but I can tell you for someone that’s been out on the independent scene for the last 4 years, I’ve been seeing a lot of talent out there. I can tell you this up front, and this is not “hey I’m so great, my generation was great and these kids aren’t.” I’ve not seen anyone out there that convinces me that they are the total package. For me, I’ve seen a lot of talent out there that really impresses me. Kids that seem to have it, seem to get it, and I’m watching a match, you’ll see them do something fantastic, and in the middle of the match you’ll see them do something and go “why the hell did he do that? That made no sense.” But Shane Douglas at that stage did the exact same thing, if not worse. So you try and balance it out and say “what do these kids have to bring? What pieces of the puzzle do we need to fill?” And then to plug it in that way. There are a number of Papadons out there waiting to be found, and that’s what I’m hoping and expecting for Extreme Rising. For a company that’s on the move, stepping from ground zero and building from stage to stage. Five years from now, I’d like to be doing this interview with you guys and saying “Man, remember five years ago we started with nothing and now look at the guys we have. Look at the roster we have…” The magic that came out of the ECW locker room was amazing, and that’s what I’m trying to recapture with Extreme Rising.
On Crowbar: My thing with Devon, from earlier on in ECW, you know he’s been around, and he certainly has the skill level, he knows where the camera is, he knows the psychology, but to me his approach to the business was much too subdued. He was always a bit too apprehensive, a bit not sure of himself. And what I saw of him in April was somebody cocksure of himself. Willing to step into a very difficult situation, and not just step in, but step in and deliver, and he did that in spades. That’s when I realized that he’s finally arrived; this kid has brought all these pieces together that he’s had for all these years, and he shook off that last little bit of apprehension, and he’s become a star. I think we’re blessed to have him and I see huge things coming from Crowbar down the road.
On whether we’ve seen the last of Shane Douglas in the ring: After the match with Matt Hardy in Pittsburgh, when I got back in the dressing room, there was a thought that popped through my head as I was getting my boots off in the back: “This wasn’t fun tonight.” It wasn’t fun for me because when you’re booking and promoting a show and trying to run a dressing room, it’s just too many hats to wear. I take main event matches and main event status very seriously. It wasn’t just “hey, I’m in the main event because I’m Shane Douglas, and I can be okay, I can take it easy tonight.” I’ve always believed as the main event, you don’t earn it then walk away from the responsibility. Once you earn it, you have to keep proving that you belong there. And so with that in mind, along with booking and promoting, by the end of the night I was so mentally exhausted, it just wasn’t fun to me. My criteria when I first came back into the business in 2007, 2008, was as long as I’m having fun at it, I’ll keep doing it. I’ll tell you honestly. I get all the stimulation and challenge I need, and more, out of booking the company, writing the storylines and dealing with the talent, but then also trying to grow the company. I learned a long time ago never say never… But when it comes to Extreme Rising, and trying to move this company forward, I don’t honestly believe we need Shane Douglas in the ring to sell that point. The reason I was in the ring in Pittsburgh was because it was an homage to the ’97 November to Remember pay-per-view, me and Bam Bam… I don’t think that with the talent roster we have, not that’s there not a place for a Shane Douglas, but you certainly don’t need Shane Douglas in the ring to sell Extreme Rising.
On BLKOUT’s mystery opponents: I’d love to let the cat out of the bag… if we’re gonna replace the match the level of the Gangstas vs BLKOUT… this couldn’t just be any Tom, Dick, and Harry and whatever two guys, whether names or not, thrown in there. I think the fans will be very shocked and pleased with who we replaced them with in that match. They will not be wearing black and gold in the ring that night, I can tell you that.