The Steven “Dunn” Doll Story, Death Of A Journeyman

Below is a good article on the late Steven Doll by Brian Tramel.  

I was able to work with Steven starting in USWA, then in Bert Prentice & my Music City Wrestling and NWA Worldwide, (Jerry Jarrett was never really involved other than to put Bert & I together when USWA folded as I needed a TV show asap).  I had the pleasure of managing him and Reno Riggins in Nashville along with Princess Dee (Debbie Combs), and Steven worked on one NWA Georgia show with Wolfie D, and stayed at my house.   I got to manage them with Jim Cornette in New Jersey when they faced the Headbangers at the NWA Anniversary Show.

He was booker for a while for Bert & I at NWA Worldwide & Music City Wrestling, and did a good job.  He had a good mind for the business.   He was a good promo guy (borrowing his style from Len "The Grappler" Denton), and a solid in ring performer.

He will be missed.

"The Death Of A Journeyman – Steve Doll"

—-Steve Doll was born December 9th, 1960 and his hometown was Dallas, TX. He lived in Nashville the last 16 years or more. Doll had been in out of the hospital 30 times in the last couple of years. He had back surgery in 2005, which lead to his retirement. It also would contribute to a pill addiction and heavy drinking. Much like many guys, Steve went from working steady in the business to trying to adjust out of business. He did not adjust well. His addiction to pills and alcohol just got worse. The pain pills would not stop the pain, so he would add more pills and alcohol.

—-In May 2006, RRO originally ran a story about Doll being put on life support. [Reno Riggins stated in an interview him via phone on 3.24.09 that he was never on life support during this incident.] It was believed that it was from the back surgery and his kidneys failing. This scare was actually from his intestines being eaten away from all the different kinds of pain medication he was taking from the back surgery. They had to remove 5 feet of his intestines. His back surgery put him in more pain. It was later reported that Doll was expect to make a full recovery, but less than two years later Doll was dead.

—-“My diagnosis of the death of Steve Doll is from heavier and heavier dose of pain medication, mixed with alcohol and not living a healthy life style.” said Reno Riggins. This past Saturday the dose he took must have been larger than anything his body could handle, because by the next day he was taking blood pressure medicine to keep his pressure up and on a respiratory to help him breath. His family did not have to make any decisions on whether to keep him on life support or not. Doll died a quite death later that day.

—-Doll may be remember to most as Steven Dunn as he formed a WWF tag team with Timothy Well [Rex King] to be “Well Dunn”. The team was mildly successful and both were considered above average workers.

—- Doll began training in 1984 with retired wrestlers Rick and John Davidson. His first match was in Shreveport, Louisiana, in May 1985, against Dick Slater.

—-Steve Doll’s first break came in World Class Championship Wrestling run by the famous Fritz Von Erich. He defeated Killer Tim Brooks in one of his first high profile matches at the Parade of Champions May 3, 1987. He also met The Grappler here and it would lead to both of them heading to Portland, OR.

—-Doll formed a team with Scott Peterson in Portland, OR calling themselves “Southern Rockers” after the success of the Rock’n’Roll Express type tag teams. Doll/Peterson won their first Pacific Northwest Tag Team Titles in September of 1987. They would hold the belts for 7 times losing them the last time as a team to Col DeBeers/Nord The Barbarian.

—-Peterson and Doll did split up for a short period doing an angle [booked by Roddy Piper] where Scotty The Body caused friction between them. The angle lasted only about four weeks and then they got back together. Peterson left the area to get a real job in a mill. He would return about a year later to do one match with Doll as his partner.

—-Rex King then joined Doll as the “Southern Rockers”. Even though Peterson/Doll were a good team, King/Doll were one of the most over tag teams in Pacific Northwest wrestling history. King was also a much better worker than Peterson and even Doll.

—-King/Doll won their first Pacific Northwest Tag Team Titles beating The Grappler & Scotty The Body [Raven] in August of 1989. They would hold the belts 4 times before leaving for Memphis in February of 1990. The 1-27-90 Portland Wrestling TV show was a build around “Southern Rockers” going on “world tour” with their final match on TV. Doll/King would win the titles beating The Grappler & Brian Adams in their final match. Jonathan Holliday joined Grappler/Adams after the win and spike piledrove King on a chair. The next week, the promotion vacated the tag belts because King was “injured” and could not wrestle and King/Doll go to Memphis.

—-I am not sure who was booking TV at the time of that angle [probably Piper], but it was ingenious. The fans got to see Doll/King win the belts and get over even bigger. Doll/King would then leave with Holliday/Grappler/Adams on top by injuring King.

—- I remember being told that the guys working the Portland territory were being paid less than the Memphis crew. The major perk for the area was they had very good rats!! LOL The rats were legendary as even though you were not paid lots of money, they would take care of you by feeding, clothing and putting a roof over your head.

—-In the early 1990s along with working Portland, Doll and King moved to Tennessee to work the USWA Memphis area. Doll/King held the USWA tag team titles three times from February to May in 1990 working Memphis. Doll went back to Portland in August to team with various partners including Scott Norton; Crush [Bryan Adams]; Scott Peterson; Rex King; Scotty The Body; Jimmy Jack Funk and The Grappler. He would hold the tag team titles 7 more times with Scotty The Body; Funk; Crush and more than half [4] of those reigns with The Grappler. Steve Doll/The Grappler would go down in wrestling history as the last PNW Tag champs when the office closed in July, 1992.

—-Doll would hold the Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Title for 3 times. His first reign would last 9 months from 11/10/90 until 8/17/91 when he was defeated by Billy Jack Haynes. He was also part of the tag team champions three times during this stint while singles champ. Doll was over in a big way. He would hold the Title 2 more times and also during one of those times he was tag champ with The Grappler.

—-August of 1992 in Puerto Rico for WWC, Doll/King were tag team champions. King had come in December, 1991 and asked Doll to join him after the PNW closing rumors started. Dean and Joe Malenko would make an appearance at the WWC 19th Anniversary Show in August, where they lost to the WWC tag champs, Doll/King. The tag belts were held later that month. Doll left Puerto Rico and King stayed.

—-Doll/King won the USWA tag team again in April of 1993, but only held them for a short time before dropping them to Home Boy & New Jack. They were involved in an angle where they jumped Jeff Jarrett and Brian Christopher jumped to help them, but Doll hit him on mistake. Jarrett/Christopher who were pushed in a major feud would team for the first time vs Doll/King, but Christopher would turn again on Jarrett after the match.

—-Doll also worked for the new Portland promotion CWUSA for a few shows, but didn’t last long as the promotion was having money problems. In October of 1993 “Well Dunn” was on WWE RAW winning via countout over The Rock N Roll Express during the Express’ WWE debut, which also may have been their first RAW bout??

—- On July 24, 1994, Doll lost his friend and tag team partner Scott Peterson. Peterson was killed in a motorcycle wreck.

—-In 1994, Doll/King spent time back & forth from Smokey Mountain Wrestling to WWE. Smokey Mountain had a working relationship with WWE and King/Doll were working there as “Well Dunn” . They feuded with the Thrillseekers [Lance Storm & Chris Jericho].

—-Records show “Well Dunn” with 66 matches in the WWE in 1994 with only 12 wins. They were being used pretty much as a jobber team. In December of 1994 Well Dunn were on Monday Night Raw being managed by Harvey Whippleman [Downtown Bruno] wrestling against The Bushwackers. Bruno had this to say about Doll..

“Steve doll was a friend of mine for close to 25 years, although I haven’t seen or had contact with him for over 10 of those years, but friendship doesn’t fade just due to absence. I managed Steve and Rex King both in Memphis and in the WWE. I got along very well with him at all times. Me, Steve, Adam Bomb and Crush(Bryan Adams,steve’s brother in law,who preceded him in death),traveled together in the WWE quite often. We always laughed and cut up and had a good time. I have nothing but sadness and sorrow for his close family and friends.”

—-“Well Dunn” were also in the 1995 Royal Rumble. Worked most of their matches vs The Smoking Guns [Billy and Bart Gunn] in the early part of 1995. Worked RAW in April vs Allied Powers [Lex Luger/Davey Boy Smith].

—-All Japan Tour in early 1996 with Rex King. They were not given a big push, but they didn’t lose every night either. Results from 1/9/96 @ Korakuen Hall had Doll/King over Yoshinair Ogawa/Maunakea when Doll pinned Mossman; 1/24/96 @ Matsumoto with Joel Deaton/The Lacross over King/Doll;1/31/96 @ Korakuen Hall with Doll/King over Joel Deaton/Bobby Duncum Jr.

—-Doll worked WCW in 1996 where they just used him as a TV jobber losing to Booty Man [Brutus Beefcake], The Giant [Big Show andEddy Guerrero. He was part of “history” as Razor Ramon Scott Hall made his WCW Nitro debut May27, 1996 by jumping in a Doll vs Mike Enos bout.

—-Doll returned to USWA in Memphis in 1996 to team with Flash Flanagan. Doll and Flanagan held the USWA Tag Team Titles two times between November 1996 and January of 1997. Doll would also hold the tag belts that year with partner Paul Diamond.

—-Doll and Flanagan won the belts for the third time by beating PG-13 [Wolfie D/Jamie Dundee] and go down as the next to the last set of tag team champs before the USWA closed in November 1997. PG-13 beat them on 8/13/97 to become 15 time USWA Tag Team Champions and become the last ever recognize champions.

—-Flanagan remembers Doll as being just a good guy. Flash told a story about Doll and him going on a drinking binge one night Doll having to take Flash from the bar to his hotel room because he felt it was time for Flash to quit drinking. “As Doll is taking me to my room, I am walking with my arms out like Frankenstein trying to go back to the bar.” Doll took him to the room. “Doll threw me on the bed, I bumped off the bed and then within minutes was headed back to the bar.”

—-Flash also remembered a funny incident during a tag match they were having. “If I was working with Doll, I was usually taking the heat and he was getting the hot tag.” On that night Doll was taking the heat. Doll took a bump into some powder that was on the mat from a previous match. The powder acting as his comeback – all over his face he made the comeback and hot tag to Flash.

—-Doll will also go down in the record books as the last ever USWA Southern Champion as he defeated Doomsday [Kane] on 9/6/97.

—-The folding of USWA brought a joint venture with Jerry Jarrett/Bert Prentice called Music City Wrestling based Nashville,TN in October of 1997. The first big show billed as “Tennessee Homecoming” on Thanksgiving night featured the start of a Steven Doll vs Rex King feud. Their match would end that night with Doll winning my DQ for putting a plastic bag over Doll’s head. By January, 1998, Rex King disappeared and Doll would form another tag team “Tennessee Volunteerz” with former WWF jobber Reno Riggins.

—-Doll/Riggins would win the MCW North American Tag Team Titles and feud with “Limited Edition” [Nick Dinsmore/Rob Conway]. Rex King returned in May with him joining Doll/Riggins as the “Tennessee Volunteerz”. King/Doll won the NA Tag Titles, but it was short lived when they ran angle where Doll/Riggins beat him up. MCW had a big NWA 50th Anniversary card with Doll/Riggins vs King/mystery partner. King brought in Flash Flanagan [one of Doll’s old time partners] for the match. King would disappear again and Doll/Riggins would feud with Wolfie D/Flanagan.

—-Nashville area manager and current SAW regular, Paul Adams had this to say about Doll, “He was the first real booker that I ever worked for, for Music City Wrestling. Steve was always very generous with his advice. With both his work in the ring, and as a booker, he tried to make everyone look good, which shows his understanding, respect and love of the wrestling business. He would meet certain guys with a tall boy when you walked through the curtain after your segment or match, which to me made him a good captain of the ship. Not the fact that it was a free beer of course, but the gesture of thank you for a job well done. You wanted to do a good job for the guy, and you enjoyed working for him, which means a lot.”

—-During the MCW days, Reno remembered a funny story about Doll. They were feuding with Flash Flanagan and Wolfie D. They had a cage with them left in the ring beating up the babyface team. Reno had a chair and would knock everyone off the cage and such keeping them from making the save. Also keeping them from coming in the door. A security guard, who marked out about the finish, went thru all the babyfaces and tore the door off the cage. It made all the babys look weak and Doll was furious at the security guard. He gave the guy hell and the guy finally walked out of the dressing room. Doll went to take a shower and as he was showering the security guard decided to return and let Doll know what he thought of him. He was yelling at Doll and finally Doll just turns off the shower. The security guard runs out of the front door before he could get out of the shower and Doll runs towards him. Doll doesn’t make it too far as he slips and falls. “ Doll was just sitting there selling it. I was thinking do I go over there and help my naked partner or not?? Steve then looks over at me and I say, “You showed him; didn’t you?””

—- Promoter Dennis Coralluzzo used Doll/Riggins managed by Jim Cornette vs The Headbangers [Mosh/Thrasher] on the NWA 50th Anniversary Show October 24, 1998 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. They defended their NWA North American Tag Team Titles losing by DQ when they did the over the top rope gimmick.

—-Doll worked WWE Shotgun tapings in 1999 with Reno as his partner losing to The Hardy Boys and others. Doll also along with Reno opened Main Event Championship Wrestling in the summer of 1999. They had broken away from Bert Prentice in an attempt to run Nashville Fairgrounds on their own. MECW drew around 900 fans for their first TV taping [which had higher production than past tapings] with them bringing in The Bushwhackers; Tatanka; Tommy Rodgers and Yokozuna. Bert Prentice started running the Municipal Auditorium and it was little promotional war in the making.

—-It took Reno/Doll three months to get the TV show finally on the air. It was hosted by Dutch Mantell & Les Thatcher. “Volunteerz” feuded mainly with “PG-13” after the initial tapings were shown. They had close to 16 week run and by January Dutch Mantell was the only one in the studio showing old clips and actually said on the air “I’m the only one here and the only one that cares.”

—-Doll/Reno would again work for Prentice when he took over the Nashville Fairgrounds. They even ran an angle where they said Bert was secretly running MECW all along. This was the infamous angle where Bert came on TV out of a dream.

—-Doll/Riggins won the NWA World Tag Team Titles for four days beating Curtis Thompson/Drake Dawson on Easkan Air Force Base, Saudi Arabia before losing them to The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express at Camp Carroll, South Korea.

—- Doll opened a wrestling school in Nashville, TN with Riggins and “Kodiak” Steve Hall.

—-Doll/Reno sold the MECW set to John Collins’ Main Event wrestling. Collins ran a big free show at ECW Arena in Philly. Collins would end up being one of the biggest con men this business has ever seen. He stiffed numerous workers over paydays.

—-Riggins/Doll reformed the “Volunteerz” team in 2003 as a reunion type gimmick with Bert Prentices’ opposition in Nashville Mike Porter. Doll was still in good shape and the team looked good. The reunion gimmick did not get over as well as Porter had wished. They moved on to work for Prentice again with Riggins injuring his calf muscle. Doll worked some singles then.

—-Doll’s name appears very little in results in the years following 2003. The few times that he did wrestle his body looked as if he had quit working out. The “bad shape” can be attributed to his ailing back that kept him from doing very much. Doll reaching the age of 45 and a bad back would end his actual wrestling career. It would then end as a trainer. For the last 9 months of his life he was a recluse taking more pills and drinking more each day. When most wrestling experts come up with best tag team wrestler, the name Bobby Eaton comes to mind. Doll may not have been the best, but he should be recognized in the business as one of the best. He was the perfect definition of a journeyman performer. In every sense of the word was a professional wrestler. He died Sunday at the age of 48.

—I would like to thank everyone that helped with this article. Trent Van Drisse ; Ken Hamlin; Mike Rodgers;, Reno Riggins, Paul Adams, Flash Flanagan, Downtown Bruno and Google Groups