In the previous ‘Missed Wrestling Opportunities’, Craig looked at the WWF run of Vader. Today he looks at the run of Troy Martin, better known as Shane Douglas, and the time he had in the WWF in 1995 as ‘Dean Douglas’ as the Kliq ran rampant.
For many wrestling fans, Shane Douglas is best remembered as ‘The Franchise’ in Extreme Championship Wrestling and for winning the NWA title in August 1994 and throwing it on the floor declaring that it represented a “dead organisation”. A moment that sowed the seeds for Eastern Championship Wrestling becoming Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Less memorable, however, were his stints with the World Wrestling Federation, which included a 26 minute spell in a Royal Rumble but an even shorter time as Intercontinental Champion.
Douglas first came to prominence in 1989 when he joined the National Wrestling Alliance. He was paired with Johnny Ace (John Laurinaitis) as The Dynamic Dudes. A pair of skateboarders, despite neither being able to skateboard, they pair feuded with Jim Cornette’s Midnight Express.
After Ace left WCW for All Japan Pro Wrestling, Douglas soon followed and spent a time on the American independent circuit until the WWF came calling in 1990.
After signing, he racked up several wins over guys like Black Bart, Paul Diamond, Iron Mike Sharp and the Brooklyn Brawler. He also subbed in for Shawn Michaels and teamed with Marty Jannetty through August. He competed in the dark matches of both SummerSlam and Survivor Series – defeating Buddy Rose on both occasions.
However, his most memorable in-ring moment of his short time with the promotion came during the 1991 Royal Rumble where he entered as number 17 and lasting more than 26 minutes before being eliminated by Nasty Boy member Brian Knobbs. He was also the wrestler that made the save after Rick Martel sprayed ‘arrogance’ in Jake Roberts’ eyes and took a DDT from Roberts who mistook him for Martel.
However, Douglas was unable to capitalise on that success as he soon left the WWF to care for his ailing father. He would soon reappear in Easter Championship Wrestling and cause a fuss with his rejection of the NWA after winning their title and playing a part in the formation of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
In 1995, Douglas returned to the WWF. His gimmick? That of a college dean and giving the name Dean Douglas. His shtick involved grading superstars and matches and he often carried a paddle – dubbed the ‘board of education’ – with him to the ring.
How could it have been different? Well, the 1995 WWF world was a wacky place full of performers who had gimmicks such as bin men, country singers and hog farmers. But many, not all, of the superstars behind those gimmicks were fairly limited when it came to their in-ring work and their mic skills.
The same could not be said for Douglas who got over in spite of the gimmick. He was a talented worker and even better on the mic, and would have been better still had he a better gimmick to sell. Even still, he managed to be in and around the Intercontinental title scene.
In fact, he was due to face then champion Shawn Michaels for the gold at In Your House 4 but Shawn forfeited the gold to Douglas after the infamous attack by a group of marines in Syracuse, New York. However, instead of having a run with the gold he immediately had to face Razor Ramon and dropped the title, giving him a run of just 7 minutes as IC Champion.
The problem for Douglas, though, was the same as for many during that time. Namely the Kliq. The grouping of Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid and latterly Hunter Hearst Helmsley wanted to make sure it was their guys that were positioned in the best possible places on the card. Several superstars, including Sycho Sid and Bam Bam Bigelow left the promotion as a result of their intereference hindering their careers. Douglas can be added to that list.
A real shame. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been the catalyst that the company needed at the time but he sure as hell deserved better than a cup of coffee with the Intercontinental title and then, effectively, being pushed out of the picture for having the temarity to, wait for it, show signs of getting over.
Ultimately, though, the WWF in 1995 was a very different place with your ‘face fitting’ being paramount to success. Unfortunately for Douglas, his face didn’t fit and he was gone by the end of the year and back in WCW until 1999 when he moved to WCW till it closed.
How different it could, and really should, have been for Troy Martin.