When people talk about the legends of British wrestling, the same crop of competitors are always brought up: Davey Boy Smith, William Regal, Johnny Saint, Rollerball Rocco, Big Daddy, Dynamite Kid, Mick McManus, among others. But in this long list of legendary talent, one name always seems to be wrongfully omitted. Perhaps it’s because he is yet to work for WWE, or because he wasn’t grappling in the days of World of Sport, or simply because he is yet to hang up his boots, but in my opinion, Doug Williams is one of the most underappreciated, criminally underrated wrestlers in not just Britain, but in the entire wrestling world.
Williams’ grappling journey began when as a teenager, when he used his championship level judo skills to transition into professional wrestling. Since then, The International Ambassador for British Wrestling has applied his craft around the globe, winning championships in major promotions such as TNA and ROH along the way. He also captained a team on Fort Boyard. How cool is that?! They didn’t do very well, but still, Fort freakin’ Boyard!
His years of wrestling around the world, learning and adapting to various different styles, has gifted Williams with one of the most wonderfully diverse, yet sadly underappreciated, movesets of all time, including high flying maneuvers like a diving knee drop to the face, a bevy of different suplexes, a diving European uppercut that could be framed and hung up in an art gallery, and of course, the jewel in this man’s glorious grappling crown is a rolling, bridging German Suplex known as Chaos Theory, one of my favourite finishing moves of all time. It is truly a thing of beauty; pretty to the eye, devastating to the victim.
An O’Connor Roll seamlessly transitioned into a deadlift bridging German Suplex is enough to make any pure wrestling fan erupt with delight. Williams seems to flow across the ring in one fluent motion, opponent locked in his grip, before hurling them backwards onto their shoulders. With so much fluidity and exceptional levels of technique and core strength required to pull off it off, Williams makes it look effortlessly beautiful. It’s rather fitting that one of the most underappreciated wrestlers in the world also has a finishing move with similar lack of recognition, but that still doesn’t take away from how criminal it is that this incredible move, as well as the man performing it, don’t get the acknowledgement they well and truly deserve.
The sign of a truly great wrestler is the ability to wrestle anyone, anywhere, in any style; something which is of no challenge to Doug Williams. In his almost 25 year career, Williams has amassed an impressive list of opponents under his belt, including AJ Styles, Minoru Suzuki, Daniel Bryan, Ric Flair, Eddie Guerrero, Cody Rhodes, Kazuchika Okada, and future WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle (he won an Olympic gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck!). Having wrestled in Japan, Europe, and the US, against some of the biggest names of all time, Williams is capable of putting on one hell of match regardless of who is standing across the ring from him, meaning that is he a perfect fit within any division in the world. As seen by his time as TNA X Division Champion, Williams can fly around and trade holds with cruiserweights, yet still has the size and power to fit right in with heavyweights. His fantastic technical ability and experience in catch-style make him perfect for Europe and Japan, whilst the flashier weapons in his vast arsenal, along with his underrated promo skills and character work would allow him to fit right in any American promotion. Although often praised for his technical ability, which admittedly is world-class, Doug Williams deserves to be recognised as one of the best all-around wrestlers on the planet.
One of the most overlooked periods of William’s three decade-spanning career is his time in ROH and NOAH. Williams has stated that his dream was always to wrestle in Japan, and he achieved that against some of the true legends of that nation. During this time, Williams managed to pick up victories against some of wrestling’s biggest names, including the aforementioned American Dragon Bryan Danielson, he won the ROH Pure Championship, and formed a tag team with current NXT commentator Nigel McGuinness. Doug Williams was one of the best performers in both of these companies during his tenure there, and was a firm part of both of their mid-cards, yet people seem to ignore this amazing part of his career, and that is a crying shame.
Throughout his time in both of these companies, Williams put on a plethora of fantastic technical showings, yet sadly they never got the credit they deserve. What’s more, it seems as though this has been an ongoing occurrence throughout his career. Williams’ best known work was arguably during his time in TNA, where he became a television Champion, a 2x X Division Champion, became a member of the Ric Flair-led Fortune faction, and even won the IWGP Tag Team Championships. So with such a successful few years on an international stage, it really is a shame that none of his matches from this time period are given much attention today, especially his bout against the aforementioned Phenomenal One himself, AJ Styles. These two men put an absolute classic of a match for the X Division title, yet not many people seem to really remember.
It was an incredible back-and-forth contest that saw the two men constantly trading shots and moves, without a single second of rest. Even though Styles was already a former world champion at this point, Williams managed to hit an insane Chaos Theory outside of the ring, followed up by a Styles Clash, and actually beat the now former WWE Champion in convincing style. It was a truly monumental win, and was a confident sign that the company had complete faith in him, but sadly, they never did award Doug the main event push that he had well and truly earnt, and his incredible talent eventually went to waste.
Doug Williams may have never been given the world championship run that he rightly deserved, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is one of the best all-around wrestlers in the last twenty years, and a true homegrown hero. Thankfully for many budding young grapplers, Williams now shares his wealth of knowledge, skill, experience and top quality training ability with students all around the world. And even though he has transitioned into one of the best trainers in Britain, Williams still remains one of this country’s best wrestlers, and his current Mr Brexit character is an extremely entertaining satire of modern, stereotypical, British, conservative values, and proof that Williams still has plenty left to offer. He may sadly be criminally underrated , but he is without doubt one of the greatest British talents of all time.
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