On Monday, March 15th 2021, British Wrestling legend Doug Williams announced that he was returning from retirement, having last wrestled in 2018. Williams had gained a tremendous following over his twenty-five year career, earning respect from fellow wrestlers such as current NWA Worlds Champion Nick Aldis.
A true ambassador of British wrestling with a technical style reminiscent of William Regal, his career involved time in Japan where he wrestled for NOAH, America and Germany. For those unfamiliar with Williams, find below five of his best matches from over his stellar career.
5. Ring of Honor: Crowning A Champion (27th July 2002)
ROH Title Tournament Final Four Way Iron Man Match
Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams
Ring of Honor is currently celebrating its 19th year anniversary, having come a long way from the days of 400 people in a small gymnasium. Their fourth event featured the Quarter and Semi-Final matches to help decide their first ever ROH Champion, with Doug Williams defeating Jay Briscoe and American Dragon (now known as Daniel Bryan). For their fifth event, Crowning A Champion, the main event featured a Fatal Four-Way Sixty-Minute Iron Man match, with Doug Williams joined by Spanky (Brian Kendrick), Christopher Daniels and Low Ki.
A main event that perfectly encapsulates all that Ring of Honor stood for (Spanky the high flyer, Daniels the storyteller, Low Ki the physicality and Williams the submission wrestling technician), the intensity of all four men emphasized how much being the inaugural champion meant to them. The rules ordained that every fall won was worth two points, while the wrestler who took the fall lost a singular point, and Williams ended up with a -1 point as Low Ki pinned him to confirm his victory.
A forgotten classic from the early days of Ring of Honor, with Williams an integral part of its growing reputation.
4. Frontier Wrestling Alliance: British Uprising (13th October 2002)
Doug Williams vs. Jerry Lynn
Over a year removed from the closing of ECW and a brief unceremonious appearance in WWE, Jerry Lynn entered the independent scene looking to remind people of how good he was. While an integral part of the early days of TNA, Lynn was also chosen as one of the major American imports for FWA’s biggest event of the year (along with AJ Styles), taking on the beloved Doug Williams. As the semi-main event, ending the first part of British Uprising, the pressure was on both men to not disappoint a salivating audience.
Skip the above video to the 75th minute and witness an excellent match that had the audience enraptured from the first moment. Lynn’s big match experience and fast-paced momentum has Williams struggling early on, but the technical brilliance of Williams forces back the former ECW Champion, with Lynn’s back being the focus of Williams’ offense.
A tremendously paced, smooth match between two of the most underrated in-ring talents of the 2000s, Williams gained a huge surprise victory after a second attempt at the Chaos Theory. A standing ovation for both men was a fair award for their performance, with respect shared in the ring.
3. Ring of Honor: Night of Champions (22nd March 2003)
FWA British Heavyweight Title / ROH #1 Contendership Trophy Match
Christopher Daniels (c) vs. Doug Williams
Eight months after a losing effort in the Fatal Four-Way match, Christopher Daniels had won Frontier Wrestling Alliance’s British Heavyweight Title, and was the official Number One Contender to the ROH Title. Williams at the time was the figurehead of FWA, having featured in the Three Way match that Daniels won the championship in, and was determined to return the title home.
With Daniels at the time the biggest opponent to the Code of Honor, and Williams’ renowned reputation for decency and gentlemanly sport, they were natural enemies. The tactical battle between the two had both men focusing attacks, Daniels on Williams’ ribs and Williams on the neck of the champion.
In the end, Daniels’ infamous Chaos Theory gained him an emphatic victory, earning him a title shot at the ROH title and the emotionally charged celebration of winning back the FWA Title, beginning a 600+ day title reign. It feels perfectly timed that this victory occurred on the night Samoa Joe won the ROH Title and began his own impressionable reign.
2. Frontier Wrestling Alliance: Vendetta (22nd June 2003)
Best Two Out Of Three Falls Match for the FWA British Heavyweight Title
Doug Williams (c) vs. American Dragon
In the early 2000s, FWA was the Progress Wrestling of its day, unfortunately never as big but the respected personification of British Wrestling. During its heyday, Doug Williams proudly held the FWA Title aloft and resolutely defended the championship, becoming a regular on The Wrestling Channel at the time. What made the FWA Title stand out was its regular use of both yellow cards similar to football for offences from the wrestlers, and the Best of Three Falls to determine a winner.
Skip to the 129 minute mark of the above video and witness the closest you will ever get to the dream match of Daniel Bryan against William Regal. Featuring the ambassador of England and America’s finest technical talent, not a single move is wasted as Dragon tries to weaken the left knee of Williams. One of Williams’ toughest challenges as champion, tapping out early to the Cattle Mutilation, an engrossing and physical twenty+ minute contest sees Williams’ pride drive him to a massive comeback victory.
1. Total Nonstop Action: Final Resolution (5th December 2010)
Television Championship Match
AJ Styles (c) vs. Douglas Williams
By 2009, Williams had moved on from England and joined TNA, forming the British Invasion alongside future NWA mainstay, Magnus (now known as Nick Aldis). Despite never being as integral to TNA as he was FWA, the seventeen year veteran was still capable, being presented as a legitimate threat against TNA’s MVP, AJ Styles. Considering Styles’ chemistry with wrestlers such as Jerry Lynn and Daniel Bryan, it’s unsurprising to see the two competitors click, Williams’ underrated selling ability helping accentuate Styles’ offense.
A back-and-forth battle demonstrated Styles’ technical gameplan, hindering Williams by attacking his left leg, whilst a tough and gritty Williams surviving long enough to hit an emphatic Rolling Chaos (TNA’s version of the Chaos Theory) on the outside. With Styles somehow getting into the ring at the nine count, a shocked Williams utilises the Styles Clash to finally vanquish the champion for the title.
A hidden gem from TNA’s history that is pure wrestling and deserves more attention.
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