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FORMER AWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPION 'PRETTY BOY' DOUG SOMERS PASSES AWAY

By Mike Johnson on 2017-05-16 14:25:00

PWInsider.com is sad to report the passing of former AWA World Tag Team champion "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers (real name Douglas Somerson) at the age of 65.  We are still awaiting word of the circumstances of his passing as of this writing.

A Minneapolis native, Somers was trained by former NWA World champion Harley Race and competed primarily for Verne Gagne's AWA, although he did also wrestle for a number of other territories, including Championship Wrestling from Florida, NWA Big Time Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.   He broke into the business working the ring crew for Gagne before moving up to refereeing and eventually becoming a pro wrestler. 

Somers' most well known success was teaming with "Playboy" Buddy Rose to win the promotion's tag team championship, defeating Scott Hall and Curt Hennig by countout.  The duo, managed by Sherri Martel, were the first major feud for The Midnight Rockers, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty when that duo was formed in the AWA.

Somers would remain with the AWA through its demise in 1991, teaming with names like Boriz Zukhov and the future Nailz, at the time "Mr. Magnificent" Kevin Kelly.  After the AWA closed, he would do enhancement work for both the WWF and WCW, including a loss to Van Hammer at the 1991 Halloween Havoc PPV.  Although he would occasionally do independent work, it was sparingly and he last wrestled in 2012.

In November 2011, Somers filed suit against WWE and Vince and Linda McMahon regarding their usage of AWA footage containing his likeness and matches on four DVDs, WWE Classics on Demand, books and other materials without his personal consent.    WWE moved to have the case dismissed, citing that Somers was a public persona and any material related to him used by WWE was newsworthy and factual. The company argued that any usage of Somers' name and likeness were related to telling a factual, newsworthy story and would fall under the First Amendment, just as a news broadcast or article would be protected. The company even used the court ruling of the late Nancy Benoit and her nude photos being published by Hustler Magazine as one of the legal precedents in their favor.

Somers had argued that WWE was using their website as a springboard to promote themselves and professional wrestling. Somers also claimed that WWE's cited legal precedents couldn't be applied since their stories weren't factual but were instead a "fictionalized narrative created by the Defendant." Somers also noted that in Georgia, "the commercial use of a person's identity is actionable when it is done for commercial gain," claiming that the only reason WWE maintains their website is for their own commercial gain. Therefore, their use of his image in WWE.com articles "can only be used for purposes of marketing and/or advertising its product."

The court eventually ruled in favor of WWE, citing that Somerson could not legally claim invasion of privacy when he himself had noted in court documents that he spent years of his life becoming a famous pro wrestler and had performed in front of thousands of fans. It also ruled that WWE's usage of his name on their website were a "timeline" of his activities in pro wrestling. It also noted that while Somerson claimed WWE had put his image on a DVD to sell, it was actually only a listing of a match that was only available inside the DVD after it was purchased, so it threw out that claim. The court also ruled that the Somerson's appearances on old AWA tapes would fall under the copyright of the original owner (the AWA) and that WWE had legally acquired those rights.

On behalf of everyone associated with PWInsider.com, we'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Doug Somers.

 

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