Where Are They Now? "Dangerous" Danny Davis
Of all the men who have donned the black and white stripes of a WWE official, few have been as despised as "Dangerous" Danny Davis.
"People hated me," Davis admitted with a laugh. "Everywhere I went I was paying attention so that no one would come up and punch me in the mouth."
Davis had good reason to watch his back. As WWE's most crooked referee in the 1980s, the New Hampshire native was prone to fast counts and blatant favoritism and often cheated beloved Superstars like Hulk Hogan and The British Bulldogs out of victories. But long before he drew the ire of the WWE Universe, Davis was just another enthusiastic fan dreaming of wrestling stardom. (PHOTOS)
"I was first brought to a show by my sister when I was a young kid," Davis told WWE.com. "I was so excited and eager to go back. At that point in time, I knew somehow, someway that I would [be a WWE Superstar]."
Although he wasn't even a teenager, Davis was sure of what he wanted to do with his life and set about making it happen. By the time he was in high school, the wrestling fanatic was already working for WWE, helping to set up the ring whenever shows came to the New England area. Davis enjoyed the job, but he wanted something more.
"I wasn't making much money," Davis revealed. "I went to [Mr. McMahon] and I asked him if I could do something else and he came up with the referee thing."
Although Davis was excited to put on the stripes, he quickly learned that being an official wasn't as easy as it looked.
"I made mistakes," Davis admitted. "I got elbows in the eye. I got tripped, knocked into. There is more to it than people think. There are places you should be when things are happening, places you shouldn't be. There is a lot to it that people don't see."
Despite these early woes, Davis would eventually find his rhythm in the ring and become one of WWE's leading referees. And after officiating countless matches with legendary Superstars like Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino, Davis soon got the itch to compete himself.
"Hanging around these guys, you become friends and you start going to the gym with them," Davis said. "I had a couple of guys putting me on some weightlifting programs and I started putting on muscle."
Thanks to his ring savvy and impressive physique, Davis was eventually given the opportunity to compete on the undercard as the hooded Mr. X.
"I would referee and then go backstage and put the mask on and go out and wrestle." Davis revealed.
Although he didn't chalk up many wins as Mr. X, the referee-turned-grappler gained priceless experience competing against the likes of Chief Jay Strongbow and Junkyard Dog. Davis would continue to pull double duty as an official and a competitor until 1986 when the persona that made him famous started to develop.
While he had earned a reputation as a fair and balanced official throughout his career, Davis began to attract the attention of the WWE Universe in the mid-80s for his controversial decisions. He disqualified popular Superstars for no apparent reason and once wrongly declared Paul Orndorff the winner of a Steel Cage Match over Hulk Hogan. WWE commentators like Gorilla Monsoon began to speculate that Davis had been paid off by underhanded managers like Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Before long, the corrupt official was the most hated man in WWE.
"Even my friends were saying things like, 'What did you do that for?'" Davis said with a smile.
The final straw came in February of 1987 when Davis clearly helped The Hart Foundation defeat The British Bulldogs to capture the World Tag Team Championships. Because of his actions, Davis was suspended from his official duties. But instead of leaving WWE, the ref began to compete full time under the name "Dangerous" Danny Davis and linked up with Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart and Jimmy Hart.
"They taught me a lot," Davis said of the legendary trio. "They kind of took me under their wing and showed me the ins and outs of the business."
The devious referee's association with The Hart Foundation would also earn him a spot on one of the most historic events in WWE history when he teamed with the former World Tag Team Champions to defeat Tito Santana & The British Bulldogs in front of 93,173 screaming fans at WrestleMania III.
"That would be my favorite match," Davis said. "It was just amazing to be there."
In the years that followed, the grappler would continue to have success, performing at WrestleMania IV and the inaugural Survivor Series and engaging in rivalries with memorable Superstars like Koko B. Ware and Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
Despite these peaks, the WWE Universe's interest in Davis's evil referee persona began to wain by the end of the decade and in 1989 he quietly went back to his thankless position as an official.
"I wasn't happy about returning to being a referee, but I did the best I could," Davis admitted. "But I was disappointed. I wasn't there long after that."
Davis would continue to maintain law and order in the ring until 1995 when he parted ways with World Wrestling Entertainment and set about pursuing other opportunities.
"I started looking for another career," Davis said. "I could always drive a truck. I had a license, so that's the career I chose.
Starting his day before the sun is up, Davis works long hours hauling supplies around the New England area. While he keeps a busy schedule, the "Dangerous" one always makes sure he's home by the end of the day.
"I work local," the former Superstar said. "I don't want to be away overnight anymore. Been there, done that."
After spending years traveling from city to city with rowdy competitors like Nikolai Volkoff, Davis is now happy to hit the road by himself.
"The peace and quiet is nice," he joked.
When he's not behind the wheel, Davis still finds the time to pursue the passion that made him famous.
"I still wrestle," he told WWE.com. "I do some conventions and autograph signings. I get to see all the guys that came before me, guys I've worked with. We sit down and shoot the breeze and catch up on what's going on in our lives."
Although he hasn't competed in a major promotion in over a decade, Davis has been a fixture on local cards in places like Massachusetts and Connecticut for years. This longevity and commitment to sports entertainment resulted in Davis being inducted into the New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009.
And while he hasn't counted a pinfall in some time, Davis still has a clear opinion of who the greatest referee of all time is.
"There is a guy by the name of Danny Davis," he said with a laugh. "I think he was the best."
Still healthy and youthful, Davis enjoys a life that's much less hectic than his days on the road with WWE, but he is thankful for all the memories his mat career provided him.
"I love the wrestling business and always wanted to be a part of it," Davis said. "I actually lived my dream. How many people can say that?"