Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon aka ‘The Can Am Express’ were a red hot international tag team for several years before getting the call to the WWF. They were legends in Japan, winning All Japan’s tag team titles 5 times. They had one of the greatest tag team matches you will ever see when they wrestled Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi in 1992. Today, Brian takes a look at the duo’s stint in WWE, and why it was cut short.
Furnas and LaFon also had big runs in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Paul Heyman was the first North American promoter that saw the team’s potential and gave them their first real exposure in the states as a team for ECW. It wasn’t long before Vince McMahon and the WWF came calling.
Furnas and LaFon would drop the Can Am Express name and just be known by their given names. They made their WWF debuts at Survivor Series ’96 at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City. They teamed with the Godwinns to take on the teams of Owen Hart and the British Bulldog and the team of the New Rockers. Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon were the survivors in that match and they seemed poised for a huge push.
They began a program with the reigning WWF tag team champions of Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith for the tag team belts. They repeatedly came up short in their quest for tag team gold. The main issue for Furnas and LaFon in the WWF was their lack of charisma and personality. While both were true technicians inside the ring, and a team well ahead of its time by WWF standards, they just didn’t connect with fans.
The WWF attempted to extract personality out of the team when they turned them heels and start a feud with the Legion of Doom. The only thing memorable about their heel run in 1997 was the fact they began an anti-American gimmick. Phil LaFon became the mouthpiece for the team while Doug Furnas remained silent.
The team’s heel run stalled before it really had a chance to take off because in June of 1997 a horrific car accident in Canada derailed their push. Furnas and LaFon were travelling by car with ‘Psycho’ Sid Vicious and the Patriot Del Wilkes from Ottawa to Montreal going at a high speed. Their car lost control and reportedly rolled over a number of times.
All four men sustained injuries in the crash with Phil LaFon suffering the worst. He would be out for a number of months. The WWF tried to continue Doug Furnas in singles matches, but his lack of charisma became a detriment to his WWF career. Once LaFon had recovered, they were both sent to ECW who by that time had a working agreement with the WWF. Furnas and LaFon would continue as heels and even had a very brief run as ECW tag team champions.
While in ECW, they were informed by WWF management that creative simply had nothing for them and were subsequently released from the company ending their all too brief stint with the World Wrestling Federation. The team would eventually split up and go their separate ways.
Doug Furnas would battle Parkinson’s disease and pass away from heart disease in 2012. He was just 52 years old. Phil LaFon battled drug and alcohol demons, but retired and became a trainer. Who knows if Furnas and LaFon would have ever become a successful team in the WWF if not for that unfortunate car accident. They always had the skills in ring, but were missing the personality that Vince McMahon craved. Either way, an unfortunate end to an extremely talented tag team.