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Dan Marsh is a former professional wrestling referee and wrestler most famous as Danny Davis of the World Wrestling Federation. He also competed in the WWF for several years as Mr. X, a masked wrestler. As a referee, Davis showed blatant favortism toward certain wrestlers, which eventually led to his removal as a referee. He then helped manage the Hart Foundation and began wrestling. He competed at several major WWF events, during which he won a six-man match at WrestleMania III and advanced to the semi-final round at King of the Ring 1987. He was later reinstated as a referee and remained with the company until the mid-1990s.
WWF Referee (1981–1987)
Dan Marsh started out in 1981 in the World Wrestling Federation as a referee under the ring name Danny Davis. He also wrestled from 1984 to 1986 as the masked Mr. X. The Mr. X character was a jobber who won very few matches. He wrestled some of the WWF's top stars, including former WWF Champions Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino. He also participated in the 1986 King of the Ring tournament. He was given a bye to the second round but lost his match to Billy Jack Haynes. His biggest win as Mr. X came on the October 28, 1986 episode of WWF Prime Time Wrestling when he defeated fellow jobber Rudy Diamond.
Starting in 1986 Davis was involved in several controversial matches in which he was thought to favor the heel (villain) wrestlers. Davis made fast pinfall counts and disqualified face (fan favorite) wrestlers with little or no provocation. WWF commentator Gorilla Monsoon accused Davis of accepting bribes, pointing to Davis' wealth as evidence. Davis involved himself in a steel cage match between face Hulk Hogan and heel Paul Orndorff. When both wrestlers escaped the cage at the same time, Davis declared Orndorff the winner, while referee Joey Marella stated that Hogan won. As a result, the match had to be restarted, and Hogan eventually won.
Davis' refereeing style angered many of the fan favorite wrestlers and led to them physically attacking him. The wrestlers hit him or threw him when they got frustrated, which led to Davis disqualifying them. They also attacked him after some matches in which they felt that his officiated led to the heels winning unfairly.
"Dangerous" Danny Davis (1987–1989)
On the January 26, 1987 edition of Superstars, The Hart Foundation defeated the British Bulldogs for their first WWF Tag Team Championship. Danny Davis was the referee and allowed the Hart Foundation to use illegal double-team maneuvers in the match. As a result of the match, WWF President Jack Tunney stripped Davis of his referee duties. That same night, Davis was approached by manager Jimmy Hart about joining his stable of wrestlers. Davis joined up with Jimmy Hart and the Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) and became "Dangerous" Danny Davis. He accompanied the Hart Foundation to the ring for their matches and often became involved by attacking the Hart Foundation's opponents from outside the ring or entering the ring to reverse pinfalls by placing Hart or Neidhart on top of their opponents.
At the beginning of his suspension as a referee, Davis was involved in a scripted storyline in which he occasionally came to the ring and insisted that he would referee a match. This led to officials from the state athletic commission removing Davis from ringside. Davis appeared on Piper's Pit, an interview segment hosted by Roddy Piper to discuss his decisions as a referee. Davis refused to admit to any wrongdoing and was confronted by Marella, who criticized him. The segment ended with Piper attacking Davis.
At WrestleMania III, Davis made his in-ring debut when he teamed up with the Hart Foundation to defeat the British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) and Tito Santana. Davis got the pin on Smith after he hit him in the head with Jimmy Hart's megaphone. His next major appearance was in the 1987 King of the Ring tournament. Davis defeated Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog before being eliminated in the third round by Randy Savage, who went on to win the tournament.
During 1987, Davis was booked in several series of matches: against Koko B. Ware, George Steele, and Jake Roberts. The feud with Ware included a match televised on the April 13, 1987 episode of Prime Time Wrestling, which ended in a draw. Ware won most of the matches, but Davis won several matches after using foreign objects to attack Ware. Davis initiated a feud with Steele when Steele was facing Randy Savage in a lumberjack match, which is a match where the ring is surrounded by other wrestlers. Davis, one of the "lumberjacks" at ringside to ensure that neither competitor could escape, attacked Steele with the timekeeper's bell and helped Savage with the match. This feud culminated in a match on the November 28, 1987 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, in which Steele defeated Davis by disqualification after Davis kicked referee Joey Marella. Davis' feud with Roberts began when Davis showed up unexpectedly on the Snake Pit, Roberts' interview segment, while Roberts was interviewing Mr. T. Davis ran away after Roberts brought out Damien, his pet python. On the September 19, 1987 episode of WWF Superstars of Wrestling, Davis attempted to steal Damien during one of Roberts' matches, but Roberts chased him away again. Davis also had a rivalry with Mr. T, who was booked to enforce the rules during matches and thwarted Davis' attempts to interfere.
At the inaugural Survivor Series, Davis participated in the opening contest, joining The Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, Ron Bass and Harley Race, facing Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Brutus Beefcake and Jim Duggan. Davis was the third man eliminated on his team, after Roberts performed a DDT on him. Roberts and Davis had a singles match the following month on Prime Time Wrestling. Roberts beat Davis quickly, placed Damien on Davis, and left the ring. As Davis' feuds were winding down, he entered into a new feud with Sam Houston. Houston defeated Davis in their first encounter, but Davis was upset because his foot was on the ropes and the referee should not have counted the pinfall. This disagreement led to a series of angry promotional interviews and fights, as well as a series of matches that lasted several months.
The following year, he competed in the battle royal main event at Royal Rumble 1988. He was in the ring for the fourth-longest time but was eliminated by eventual winner Jim Duggan when Davis was thrown over the top ring rope to the floor. He also competed in the 20-man battle royal at WrestleMania IV. He was thrown over the top rope by Paul Roma to be eliminated from the match.
WWF Referee (1989–1995)
The "Dangerous" Danny Davis persona was eventually phased out, and in 1989, Davis was reinstated as a "probationary" referee. His officiating style had become objective, and the crooked referee gimmick was dropped. He was involved in another controversial match at WrestleMania IX after Hulk Hogan used a foreign object to attack his opponents in a tag team contest. After Hogan's team won the match and the WWF Tag Team Championship, Davis came to the ring from backstage, disqualified Hogan, and returned the title belts to Money Inc. He worked for the WWF until 1995.
Although Davis was not the first crooked wrestling referee, he is often mentioned as a prototype of a corrupt official, which is a storyline that has been used by several wrestling promotions. One year after Davis was banned from referee duties, the twin Hebner brothers (Dave and Earl) were involved in a controversy when Earl took Dave's place and showed favoritism to André the Giant, helping him to win the WWF Championship. In a similar manner, Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon, the heads of World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment, respectively, have used the gimmick of evil owners in storylines.
Davis's fame as a wrestler and referee led to him appearing in the 1989 line of Classic WWF trading cards. Davis has continued to wrestle occasionally and currently wrestles on the Massachusetts independent wrestling scene. He competes for the World Wrestling Alliance, where he is the current WWA Champion. He also occasionally acts as a referee for wrestling matches in Massachusetts.
- "Dangerous" Danny Davis