'Dastardly' Danny Doring is not only an ECW original, but a House of Hardcore original. Even before Tommy Dreamer labeled his popular continuation of ECW's virtues with the 'HoH' branding, Doring was a graduate of the ECW House of Hardcore school two decades ago. There, one-half of the future-final ECW World Tag Team Champions was forged into the wrestling business under the steely eyes of Taz and Perry Saturn.
Today, Doring, 41, serves as a willing vessel to ECW's enduring heart in Dreamer, not only working for House of Hardcore in his familiar wrestling role (still entering to the blaze-it strains of Soul Coughing's "Super Bon Bon"), but tackling a new role as announcer. Beginning this past Tuesday, Doring joins CBS Cleveland's Vic Travagliante in providing studio chatter and narration for House of Hardcore's foray onto The Fight Network (airing as well on Roku), a keystone in the company's growth. For Doring, the faith imbued in him by longtime colleague Dreamer only affirms his love for the business.
While House of Hardcore continues to evolve with the changing tastes of the desirous wrestling fan, the ECW flavor can be felt in every bite of company output, right down to Doring's involvement since day one.
Doring took time Wednesday night to discuss his transition into announcing, his absence from the ring, and also shed light on what makes House of Hardcore an endeavor so unique, that it bears separation from its Extreme forefather.
What excites you the most about transitioning into announcing?
Probably just adding another aspect, another layer to being involved in the business. For me, it's about being around it for as long as I can be around it. Not that I'm done being an in-ring performer, but there's also a part of me that wanted to do the necessary steps to continue to be a part of the business, whether as an announcer, an agent, a manager. It's just another layer.
In ECW, guys like Tommy and Bubba had different jobs behind the scenes, whether it was booking, merchandising, or otherwise. Since the MO of the ECW performer was to wear many hats, did you ever see announcing as being in the cards for you?
Back then, it was always about a team effort. A lot of that stuff I saw in the school up close, whether it was Bubba with promotions or Taz designing t-shirts and belts. I didn't really realize until I started getting a lot of promo time that it was something that I could do. Growing up, I was a big fan of Gorilla, Jesse, and Macho Man, so while I eventually realized it was something I could do, I just didn't know if I would ever have the opportunity to actually do it.
I know you and Tommy had previously done off-the-cuff commentary for the DVD release of the final ECW show at the Arena, but other than the DVD and your prior House of Hardcore work, have you had much announcing experience?
Not really, just a little bit on some different shows for Maryland Championship Wrestling and stuff like that. But my first experience was Tommy and me doing "Behind Closed Doors" with RF Video, which I believe was the first time I ever did overdubs. It was a good introduction for me. There were the other House of Hardcore shows, which I recorded around the same time.
Tommy tweeted that he spent twelve hours in a studio putting together the Fight Network shows with you and Vic Travagliante. Was the session a difficult experience?
No, not at all. It was a lot of work - tedious, but fun. It was different, even for Vic, who has more experience in doing this than I do. We've done shows together over a live broadcast, and it was different being in a studio doing it. It was a new experience, and we got better as the day went on. I think early on, it was tedious getting the format down, but as we went on, when hour twelve came around, we had a lot more chemistry, and a lot more fun doing it. We got stronger as we went on, and you'll see that as the shows progress.
So it was repetition that made it work?
Yeah, absolutely. Not only repetition, but the hands-on work, getting the format of it, getting more comfortable, and getting a lot of input from Tommy, who knows the business inside and out. After six or seven hours, it really helps out.
The audience, of course, has yet to be as acquainted with Travagliante. If House of Hardcore is expected to fill the void left by the now long-since-passed ECW, it's safe to say that Travagliante will be compared to Joey Styles, fairly or unfairly. How do you feel he's fared thus far?
I think it is a fair comparison. I think that's without question the comparison people are going to try and make. I think he'll be very well-received as the series goes on. I think he's got the role down, and his skills are on par. Joey had a lot of years to get to where he was. I don't want to say that if Vic sticks with it, he'll be the next Joey Styles, but he'll definitely be the first Vic Travagliante.
You're now 41 years old, and have clearly taken on a lighter wrestling schedule. How 'retired' would you say you are from the ring?
(laughs) I would say not at all. The reason for my lighter schedule is because I have a full time job and three kids, two of which are baby girls. That's really it. I actually feel better now than I did at 26. I feel amazing, actually. I've been keeping myself up and I could work the schedule, but independent wrestling isn't actually beneficial for a steady paycheck, nor does it offer insurance. So I have to do the adult thing. When we own houses and raise kids, we have to do the work thing. That's the only reason for my relaxed schedule. If there was an opportunity where I could do it full time, I could. I just don't know if I'd want to, or if I'd want to leave my kids for that long.
Being out of the ring, how much do you miss it?
I miss the camaraderie of traveling with and being with the people I like. Being around House of Hardcore the last week and a half and doing the studio show really made me remember why I love doing anything at all in this business. Being around Tommy for all of that time makes me want to be around it as much as I can again.
You've been with House of Hardcore since Dreamer first started up the project. What's been the most rewarding part of the near three-year experience for you?
The fact that he's always seen something in me that a lot of people didn't. He's given me a lot of opportunities where a lot of people wouldn't. It's good to have somebody like that in your corner. The most rewarding part of it is every part of it, really. What I've done there touches on every part of my emotions. I got to team with Roadkill again, got to wrestle Little Guido several times, and I got to wrestle again with Stevie Richards. It's all of the aspects - I got to relive a little bit of my past, and settle into my future. In that respect, the whole thing has touched upon all of my senses.
It's easy to compare House with ECW due to some of the striking similarities, but to you, in what way is it most different?
We'll never forget where we came from. We'll always pay homage to that, but Tommy's also a visionary, and won't simply try to recreate something that just cannot be recreated. If you think about where ECW would be today if, say, Paul had left and Tommy took over, you know, Tommy has a very keen eye for new talent. He's building a future with younger guys that totally flabbergast you, and blow your mind. I think it's a homage to the past, but it's also where ECW could be today if Tommy had taken the helm. He sees the future and he's got his own grasp on it. We'll never forget where we came from, but we're trying to create something new and fresh. We're keeping our finger on the pulse of the wrestling audience that wants an alternative, and needs one.
When you see wrestlers like Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio fly in for special appearances, and when Lance Storm breaks retirement to work a match or two with House, what does that indicate to you about both Tommy's word, and the actual lure of the promotion?
I think you answered the question. Basically, the fact that these people do these things for him shows you what he's all about. The respect that he commands in the business is second to none, and very rarely do you hear a negative word. The way you stated that question should pretty much put that in perspective.
House of Hardcore is running in Toronto on July 18, and Tommy indicated in a recent Twitter AMA that a return to Philadelphia was definite. How soon do you think it will be until we see a more consistent, regular schedule?
I think that depends on the growth now with The Fight Network and Roku. Tommy set it at a methodical pace. He doesn't want to kill these towns by selling out and then running there again right away, so he's taking his time. It's continuing to build that way. When you get into what Fight Network can do for us, that will be the key into upgrading into the more consistent product and schedule.
You were a part of ECW for about five years, from the beginning of your training, until the company's dying day. Do you feel it's possible that House of Hardcore could surpass what ECW was in its heyday?
That's a great question. I think it can be more successful, but ECW has such a mythological lore to it. It's like comparing Brett Favre to Joe Montana, or LeBron James to Michael Jordan - there's always going to be that lore of what was before it. I don't know if it's fair to compare it to what it could be. I don't think you're ever going to kill the "ECW!" chants in any promotion. Vince gave it a real good shot, and it didn't work. I think it can be better and more successful, but the lore of ECW will always be kept in a special place.