Heel referees are very much a throwback gimmick that you no longer see. In this latest Whatever Happened to piece we take a look at one of the originators of that gimmick, WWF’s “Dangerous” Danny Davis.
Dan Marsh started out in 1982 in the World Wrestling Federation as a referee under the ring name Danny Davis. From 84 onwards, he also wrestled under a mask as Mr X – working as a jobber -competing against some of the top names at the time.
Come 1986, as Mr. X wrestled less and less, Davis was given the gimmick that he would begin to favour heel wrestlers in the matches he refereed. He would often make fast counts in the heels’ favour and disqualify babyfaces for very little reason.
Davis involved himself in a steel cage match between face Hulk Hogan and heel Paul Orndorff. When both wrestlers escaped the cage at the same time, Davis declared Orndorff the winner while Joey Marella stated that Hogan won. This resulted in the match restarting and eventually being won by the Hulkster.
On the January 26, 1987 edition of Superstars, The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart) defeated the British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. Davis refereed this match and allowed the heel victors to use a series of illegal double team moves. For his part in this title change, WWF president Jack Tunney stripped him of his refereeing duties. Afterwards, he began to accompany the Hart Foundation to ringside and would interfere in their bouts.
At WrestleMania III, Davis made his in-ring debut when he teamed up with the Hart Foundation to defeat the British Bulldogs and Tito Santana. It was Davis that scored the winning pinfall over Davey Boy Smith after he was hit over the head with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone. At the inaugural Survivor Series that same year, he took part in the opening match alongside The Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, Ron Bass and Harley Race against the team of “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Brutus Beefcake and Jim Duggan. He was eliminated third by Jake Roberts. He competed in the battle royal main event at Royal Rumble 1988 and was in the ring for the fourth-longest time before being eliminated by the eventual winner Jim Duggan. At that year’s WrestleMania he competed in the 20-man battle royal at WrestleMania IV but was eliminated by Paul Roma.
By 1989, the WWF began to phase out the “Dangerous” Danny Davis persona and he was reinstated as a referee. He began to officiate straight down the middle. Perhaps his most high-profile appearance after that was at WrestleMania IX when he overturned Hulk Hogan and Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake’s win over then tag champions Money Inc. and disqualified Hogan for use of a foreign object.
His last appearance on WWE TV was at WrestleMania XXX in a backstage segment involving a series of legends including Steamboat, Ted DiBiase and Sgt. Slaughter.
To this day occasionally he still wrestles and appears frequently at conventions and autograph signings. He was interviewed by WWE.com in 2010 and when asked who the greatest referee ever was said “there is a guy by the name of Danny Davis,” he said with a laugh. “I think he was the best.”
You can read all previous ‘Whatever Happened to’ pieces here.