This is a very sad article for me to write. I didn't think that my first article of the new year would be a look back at my favorite wrestler's career in the wake of his death. I find it that far too often, I log on to the Internet and see that another wrestler has passed away.
Steve "Dr. Death" Williams was one of the most decorated and feared wrestlers in any era. He held championships around the world and competed for just about every major wrestling promotion you can name. Like many of the guys from Texas and Oklahoma, he had that no-nonsense, brutal style that made him a legend in Japan.
Doc even went without a pinfall loss on American soil for over a decade, until losing to Raven in an ECW Heavyweight Championship match at Crossing the Line Again in February 1997.
As a singles wrestler, he never found much success in America, but captured the UWF World Heavyweight Championship as well as the prestigious All Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown Championship.
Williams was best known in America, prior to his success in Japan, for being a part of WCW, as well as Mid-South Wrestling and the UWF.
Williams had a famous angle in which the Freebirds broke his arm, causing Williams to hire future Dallas Cowboys coach, Barry Switzer, to get him back in shape. It all led to Williams capturing the UWF Heavyweight Championship.
Williams also had a run in WCW with the Varsity Club in the late 80's. Williams run with them resulted in many high-profile feuds within WCW, including a run at the NWA World Tag Team Championship with Mike Rotundo.
It was in tag team wrestling where Dr. Death gained most of his popularity. Forming a devastating team dubbed the "Miracle Violence Connection" with Terry Gordy, they dominated the Japanese and American tag scene. They even earned Tag Team of the Year honors from the Wrestling Observer in 1992.
With Gordy, Dr. Death won the AJPW Tag Team belt five times, as well as winning the AJPW World's Strongest Tag league two straight years in 1990 and 1991.
Williams also won tag gold in All Japan with Gary Albright, Vader, and Johnny Ace. He also won the tag league again in 2000 with Mike Rotunda.
If you want to talk about critical praise, Dr. Death has three legit five-star matches under his belt. One came against Kenta Kobashi in my personal favorite match of all time. It had some of the sickest, most cringe-worthy head drops in wrestling history. A must see for sure.
One of the more comical moments in Dr. Death's career were the antics he got into within the WWF and his late 90's run with WCW. He competed in the "Brawl for All" contest in the WWF, which was a legit shoot boxing/grappling tournament.
Dr. Death even revealed in a shoot interview that he was supposed to win, at least the WWF hoped he would. However, he lost his second fight and the winner, Bart Gunn, went on to be embarrassed by Butterbean.
In WCW he was paired with manager "Oklahoma" which was a parody of Williams' real life friend, Jim Ross. It was a little odd and disappointing to see Steve doing this, but I'm sure he earned some decent money to support his family in the process.
For me, my best memories of The Doc were his matches in All Japan. I prefer Japanese wrestling over American wrestling and Doc was the perfect fit over there. He was big, nasty, and full of energy.
You haven't seen tag team wrestling until you've seen the stuff Doc and Gordy, or Doc and Ace did. Youtube has many of these matches, so check them out when you get a chance.
Really, what it boils down to, is that Steve Williams was a wrestler. No frills, no fancy antics in the ring, just a flat out, balls to the wall wrestler. He was in there with the best and will probably go down as one of the most underrated legends of all time.
Wrestling will surely miss Steve Williams, as he was perhaps the last of a dying breed. Hopefully at some point, the WWE will induct him in their Hall of Fame. He definitely deserves the recognition.
If you want to get a good glimpse at his career I highly suggest you find the shoot interview he did with RF Video before throat cancer took his voice.
You'll hear stories from America as well as Japan. Also, he tells a story about how he and Rick Steiner saved someone from a car that was involved in an accident.
If you want to find his best matches, his Wikipedia page offers a good starting point. Begin with the three five-star matches then move to championship wins and league victories.
Anything Doc did in Japan is pretty good if you like hard hitting wrestling. If you can track down stuff he did in America, most of which isn't available on DVD, then you're in for a treat.
I know this was a short look back, but it can be hard to describe wrestling in words. It's even harder to sum up a man's life in words.
Steve Williams was one hell of a wrestler. I've never heard anyone say anything bad about the man. So here's to you, Dr. Death; the wrestling world mourns the loss of a true wrestling king.