Shane Douglas On WWE Network Royalties, Axl Rotten, & More

Shane Douglas as Dean Douglas (Photo by Mandy Coombes)
Shane Douglas as Dean Douglas (Photo by Mandy Coombes)

Shane Douglas was the latest guest on The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast, and it looks like a relatively timely appearance for someone who’s largely out of the business. Not only does he follow up on the WWE Network royalties topic that Kevin “Kevin Thorn” Fertig brought up on a recent episode of that show, but he also touches on the death of friend and ECW colleague Axl Rotten. Here are some of the highlights that they sent in:

ECW’s role in the development of WWE Network and the ECW talent not getting royalties for their likenesses being used:

Their are two ends of this compendium. The one end is the amazement of the technology. When I was a kid it was black and white television with rabbit ears to now with my son he can pull up with his smart phone WWE content or historical content or pay per views or a video game. It is astounding with the technology. It has made all of us present and accounted for to young kids. I can’t even tell you how many 8,9,10 year old kids have come up to me and said you are my favorite wrestler and I’ve seen you on “the network” or on YouTube. All of these social media’s and networks have kept us current and brought us back in a time past where our age would allow and that is the amazing part of it.

The other side of that compendium is you have somebody making an awful lot of money off of footage that we all have worked and tore our bodies to pieces to film and shoot originally. Nobody in 1982 or 1992 or even 2002 could have conceived the incredible technology ever existing and coming into the market everyday and that is only going to speed up. It’s hard for you to sign away your rights and say I just filmed you doing this wrestling match today and now we are going to take this and you sign away so that we can use this whenever we want in the future. Nobody could possibly conceive that, that is like Star Wars or Star Trek back in those days.

I feel strongly that the guy who played Eddie Munster on The Munster’s back in 1965/66 or Leave It To Beaver still get residual checks. I think that clearly we should be getting at least similar feedback and benefits and we are not getting that. So that’s why I have a big difference with Vince McMahon because I think the technology is astounding and as he has always done he has brought wrestling into areas that nobody could have ever conceived of. But again as always in the past, Vince benefits from it and the wrestlers who are literally dying to make that footage [are not].

I am not saying that Vince McMahon did it but do you think that Axl (Rotten) came into the business a drug addict? All the banging and Tapie Death matches forced him to self medicate some of that pain. So if we are going to do that then clearly we should be some beneficiary of it. For me, I have two sons 10 and 14 years old and by my thinking if anybody on the planet is going to benefit from what I broke my body up to do it should be two kids named Connor and Caden ,nobody else. If Vince makes a million dollars selling Shane Douglas merchandise or footage then should get I $999,000 ? Absolutely not, but aren’t I worth a thousand of it? Two thousand? Ten thousand? Some percentage of that should be coming to me and my kids and sadly there is a difference of opinion with Vince on that and to my understanding there is a lawsuit being brought over it very soon so it will be very interesting to see how that lawsuit turns out.

The passing of Axl Rotten & a tribute that Douglas posted online:

Axl was first and foremost a friend and a colleague and one that I respected as a worker in the ring. He was one of the guys that if I saw my name on the card tonight versus Axl Rotten I knew I was in for a hell of a match on my hands and I knew it was going to be a good match. Axl did more than up-hold his end of the bargain in a good wrestling match. So often it is easy for us to digress and we all want to say that the guy deserved what he got and whatever else and there is some validity to that because at the end of the day each of us is responsible for ourselves. I look at it from the perspective of having been through that. Axl Rotten had worked to overcome his demons, he’s been through rehab how many times and if the guy didn’t care he wouldn’t even do that.

I can assure you that when you are addicted to something you are not having fun and having a big old party and it’s great, it is a real heavy burden and monkey on your back. So the fact that Axl at so many times worked to try to over come them tells me that he wanted to get well and the nature of that disease is it never goes away, it tries to sneak up on you and is a cunning foe. He (Axl) entertained a hell of a lot of people for a good, long time and he did that with his body. Like I said in what I wrote and it came straight from the heart; all Axl ever wanted was to be a professional wrestler and entertain people and in that context Axl’s life was a success.

Axl Rotten exemplifying what ECW was all about in Re: “cast-off” wrestlers getting chances to perform for a passionate fanbase:

No question about it. With what we were doing in ECW the first thing you had to overcome was the fear of getting hurt. ECW was extraordinarily physical and you can see that in the tapes and Axl did that above and beyond. The Axls, the New Jacks, the Sandmans, Terry Funk those guys went out and gave ECW its flavor. This (ECW) was clearly something different then Saturday morning “rasslin” or even Saturday evening wrestling. That started with the physicality of it and to do that there was no smoke and mirrors and no trickery to what you were seeing because guys were beating the hell out of each other. Axl certainly personified what ECW was all about and helped give it its flavor.

 

The Franchise gimmick from ECW:

It has really stuck after all these years. When Eddie Gilbert had called me to come to ECW my first name in ECW was the “Fabulous One” Shane Douglas and it was going back to the Memphis days for Eddie and my theme song was “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz and I think there would have been something to that character and you would have seen some incarnation of the The Franchise character at that time. But the name (The Franchise) was so perfect because the NFL had each team name the franchise player and since Paul knew who he was building the company around Shane Douglas’s character and thats where the franchise character came from and it stuck. Paul only gave me one direction of the franchise character and he said you are the captain of the football team that steals everyones girlfriends then screws them and leaves them at the dance. It was a great character and very timely. As hard as it is to do something new in wrestling, it was something new in wrestling.

In the full podcast, Douglas also covers the death of ECW, throwing down the NWA title, Vince McMahon’s promises,The Clique, Ric Flair, The Dynamic Dudes, his relationship with Johnny Ace, his WCW stint in 2000, The Triple Threat, WWE today, and much more.