CWE returns to Prince Albert with “The Franchise”

Submitted Photo Former ECW Champion “The Franchise” Shane Douglas will be the headliner for the CWE show at Plaza 88 on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Canadian Wrestling’s Elite (CWE) is returning to Prince Albert for the first time in 2024 on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at Plaza 88.

The featured attraction is ECW Legend “The Franchise” Shane Douglas. This is not his first tour with CWE.

” I remember being extremely cold, very cold,” Douglas said of his last experience on the Canadian prairie.

“I’ve always loved coming to Canada. Most Canadian towns and cities are very reminiscent to me of Pittsburgh. Hardworking—doesn’t need to be steel mill, but everybody in Canada seems to have that hard work ethic. The ardour that they put into everything they do and as fans, they just bring the energy and I’ve always loved that.”

Douglas, who was born Troy Martin, got started in the business because a group of friends built a backyard ring. This led to the group putting on a show to benefit the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.

“He (Lewis) used to always tell kids, ‘hey, have a backyard carnival, raise $5, $10 and help beat muscular dystrophy,’ so I said, just off the cuff, ‘backyard wrestling show.’ We invited our friends and the word got around. Ended up like 50 to 60 people there,” he explained

They worked hard and got raffle gifts and other items by walking around the county. They needed permission from the local muscular dystrophy office.

“We had gone so far as to walk all over the county. We got contributions to give like raffles, giveaways but to do it we had to get permission from the local muscular dystrophy office,” he explained.

This led to him meeting courageous woman Angeline Paparella, a nurse who contracted early-onset muscular dystrophy.

“Even as a 14-year-old kid, what an impression this woman made on me, how courageously she’s fighting this disease,” Douglas said.

Paparella called him up because he was unofficially the leader of the backyard wrestling group and told her there was an Italian wrestler in the Pittsburgh area. Initially, he thought it was Bruno Sammartino, but it was his future trainer Domenic DeNucci. DeNucci was the WWWF Tag Champion with Dino Bravo at the time.

They met with his wife Jeneane, and she was not sure if he would be in town for the show, but would stop by if he was.

“We had four matches that day,” Douglas remembered. “During the first match in this business next door to our friend’s business—where this ring was in the back of—this great Big White LTD pulled in. I remember watching Domenic getting out and I can only describe it as a barrel getting out of a car. It’s just a massive man.”

He became friends with DeNucci and began training with him before college because he planned to do sports in college. There he met wrestlers like Mick Foley, future manager and referee Brian Hildebrand (Mark Curtis) and Cody Michaels.

“Mick showed up in a bunch of others and I guess, like I say, the rest is history,” he said.

His big break came in 1986 after he graduated college. With no plans to be a professional wrestler, he had $77,000 in student loans and a grace period of a few months to pay them off and got a call from wrestler and booker Eddie Gilbert.

“He had come up like a month or two earlier to do a tour with Domenic and Domenic’s kids,” Douglas said. “He called and said, ‘Bill (Watts) would like to bring you in.’”

Originally, Douglas only planned to wrestle until the 1986 recession stopped. Douglas loved the business, and 40 years later he’s still in it.

The name Shane Douglas came from Eddie Gilbert, his then-wife Missy Hyatt and Martin working together. Gilbert, who had been in wrestling for years, told Douglas that fans can find wrestlers if they work under their real name. Changing his name suited Douglas.

“I’m very private, there’s the public side of me, but when I’m off camera, I want to let my hair down, so to speak,” he said.

Between Gilbert and Douglas, they came up with the name Shane and went back and forth on names for hours. He vividly recalls Hyatt going to make lemonade and came out with a suggestion of Shane Douglas.

“Eddie and I looked at each other. It sounded like a real name. It flows and that’s where it came from, so part from me and, well, Eddie had both those names chosen, and then Douglas came from Missy.”

He said ‘thank God’ that he created a name that people could remember.

Douglas spent one year wrestling in the WWF as “Dean Douglas” before returning to the ECW. Douglas said the experience in ECW was a lot of fun, and he embraced his role as a heel. Previously, he had served as a middle-of-the-card baby face.

Douglas relished his new role as a lead heel.

“Paul (Heyman), a brilliant booker, would write great storylines,” Douglas remembered. “But the one thing I think that gets lost when that gets said is that we had an incredibly talented crew and 90 to 95 per cent of it unknown. We had never heard of Peter Senerchia (Tazz) before that or Jim Fullington (The Sandman) or Terry Brunk (Sabu).”

Douglas said that both his Twitter (X) and Facebook accounts have been hacked and he is presently spending time trying to regain those. However, he does have another focus.

“I’ve been spending most of my time on YouTube with James Romero out of England doing a new podcast called Franchise University, and I’d ask everybody to go and check it out. It’s a good little podcast and we cover a lot of different things in it, and that kid James is damn good at what he does,” Douglas said.

On Feb. 20 matches include Douglas against “The Headline” Shaun Martens in a special attraction match, a CWE Championship Match between CWE Champion “The Zombie Killer” MENTALLO and “The Boston Bruiser” Kevin O’Doyle, CAM!!ikaze against CWE Champion “Hotshot” Danny Duggan, “Chiseled” Chad Daniels against “Lion Warrior” Bobby Sharp and the Debuting “Mighty” Leon Lekombo against Canadian Wrestling Legend EZ Ryder.

The Meet and Greet is at 6 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m. and bell time is 7 p.m. at Plaza 88.