Alex Marvez conducted a recent interview with former WWE star Kenny Doane (Dykstra).
Marvez: Released by WWE, Doane still chasing wrestling stardom
Kenn Doane still has spirit even if World Wrestling Entertainment doesn't.
A member of the ill-fated Spirit Squad who later wrestled as Kenny Dykstra, Doane was released by WWE last November. But Doane still plans to keep pursuing the dream of grappling stardom he has chased since his early teens.
"Life is all right," Doane said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "It's nice to take a step back and not have to travel so much. I've been able to let my body rest."
He deserves the break.
The 22-year-old has wrestled professionally since the age of 13 after fudging his age with Massachusetts-area independent promoters. Doane performed on local shows while attending a technical high school in Charleston, Mass. He even appeared in a 2003 handicap match against Rodney Mack on WWE's "Monday Night Raw" at 17. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Doane said he told WWE brass he was 18 even though he needed permission from school officials to make the appearance.
"My principal was a big wrestling fan," Doane said. "I told him I had to go do this thing for WWE. He said, 'Go ahead. If I see you on TV, I'm not going to do anything and it will be an excused absence.'
"All my teachers saw (the match), too. It was weird because none of my teachers ever talked about wrestling, but they apparently all watched it."
A full-time WWE stint awaited in January 2006 after Doane trained in the Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) developmental territory. "Kenny" Doane debuted as a member of the Spirit Squad -- five heel male cheerleaders who did the evil McMahon family's in-ring bidding.
Thanks to the comedic overtones of their gimmick, the Spirit Squad served as perfect foils in a long-running feud with Degeneration X (Shawn Michaels and Paul "Triple H" Levesque). The quintet also enjoyed a seven-month stint as WWE tag-team champions under the stipulation that any two of the group's five members could defend the belts.
Reduced to glorified jobbers by late 2006, WWE disbanded the Spirit Squad but not before doing all members a disservice by completely destroying their credibility in the group's final television appearance. Levesque -- who can craft his own story lines as the real-life husband of WWE executive Stephanie McMahon -- and Michaels dumped the entire Spirit Squad into a box "postmarked" for the OVW.
Three of the Spirit Squad members (Johnny Jeter, Nick "Mitch" Mitchell and Mike "Mikey" Mondo) quickly faded into wrestling oblivion. A fourth -- Nick "Nicky" Nemeth -- was recently recast by WWE as Dolph Ziggler.
And then there's Doane, who WWE inexplicably renamed after former Philadelphia Phillies/New York Mets star Lenny Dykstra. Doane was initially fast-tracked for success after scoring repeated victories over the legendary Ric Flair on "Raw" (9 p.m. EST, USA Network).
"That's something every wrestler dreams about as a little kid," Doane said of wrestling "Nature Boy." "I thought (Flair) would be retired by the time I made it to WWE. Instead, he was there longer than I was. Go figure."
Doane could never find his niche as Dykstra in a wide array of story lines that included pairings with Victoria and Johnny Nitro (the current John Morrison) as well as low-level feuds against Nick "Eugene" Dinsmore and Val Venis. Having done little for WWE in 2008, Doane's release wasn't personally devastating after being saddled with a colorless character that was going nowhere.
"It had no range," Doane said of the Kenny Dykstra persona. "And whichever way I stepped, I always had someone telling me, 'No, do it like this.' It was hard ..."
Doane has considered pursuing career opportunities in real estate and personal training. Doane, though, is still hoping for a wrestling livelihood now that he can perform elsewhere with his 90-day no-compete clause with WWE having expired.
"I like doing this," Doane said. "It sucks right now that I'm not."
(Alex Marvez writes a syndicated pro-wrestling column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail him at alex1marv(at)aol.com.)