With his 20th year in professional
wrestling about to come to an end, Steve “Dr. Death” Williams
is looking to make a dramatic change in his wrestling career. Williams
said he is ready to end his 12-year relationship with All Japan to
work for other promotions, including interest in a return to World
Wrestling Entertainment. In the following interview, Williams talks
about his lot in Japan, what went wrong during his WWE stint in 1998
and 1999, his early days in the Universal Wrestling Federation and
his future in the business.
Williams will appear at the South Florida debut of the Major League
Wrestling promotion Friday night at the War Memorial Auditorium in
Fort Lauderdale, teaming with P.J. Friedman tonight for the first
round of the MLW tag-team title tournament. Other matches include
Dusty Rhodes vs. Terry Funk vs. Steve Corino, Jerry Lynn vs. Mike
Awesome, Sabu vs. La Parka, Super Crazy vs. Fuego Guerrero (a k a
The Amazing Red), Christopher Daniels vs. Michael Shane, and Vampiro
(who is nursing an injured knee) vs. MLW champion Satoshi Kojima.
Tickets are $25, $20 and $15 and available through Tickertmaster.
Information, call the arena box office at 954-828-5380 or visit www.mlw.com.
Highspots.com also will hold a fan festival in conjunction with the
MLW show at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Ramada Inn, 2275 State Road 84
in Fort Lauderdale. Merchandise will be sold from wrestling promotions
around the world, along with appearances by Funk, Kojima and other
performers on the MLW show. Admission is free with an MLW ticket stub
and $15 without. Information, call 704-364-7818.
Q: How are things going in Japan for you?
Williams: “I’m surviving. I’m
gonna put it flat out like that. I’m pulling no punches. There
have been so many changes. It’s very interesting. Let’s
put this way. I’m looking. I’m looking to be a free agent
more in Japan and working for every company one way or the other.”
Q: How different are things with Keiji Mutoh taking over All Japan
Williams: “It has gone in a different direction.
I’ve been there for 12 years now. In 12 years, I’ve seen
a real big change. I’ve seen 42 guys leave All Japan. A lot of
them were (late All Japan promoter Giant) Baba’s boys. All of
a sudden, I saw other guys come in and take over and want to get rid
of all the guys. I was one of the guys who helped keep the boat floating.”
Q: It seems like NOAH would be a natural fit for you with the style
they run. Is that something you’re interested in?
Williams: “Riki Choshu is getting ready
to start up a promotion and I have an interest in going to work for
him, too. I’m putting my name all the way out there. I’d
like to have a change, too. I’ve been a main-eventer in every
company I’ve worked for, so I figure I’ve still got a run
here. As I put it, and this is straight talk from Doc, just give me
the ball and I’ll run with it.”
Q: A lot of U.S. fans have no idea about what a big star you are in
Japan and the matches you’ve had. Do you regret not spending
more time wrestling in the U.S.?
Williams: “I don’t regret anything.
It’s been fantastic. I came back (to the U.S.) for Vince (McMahon
in 1998). I’m not throwing that out the door, either. I want
to open up all the doors right now. But I wasn’t given the chance
I wanted when working for Vince. I wanted a deal that didn’t
go the way they planned it. They should have run me and Stone Cold
(Steve Austin). What they had promised me didn’t happen. I got
hurt and was out for a while. But it was like a guy ordering a car
and saying he wants this (particular) one. It takes six months and
then when he gets it, it’s not the way he dreamed it. I just
use that as an example of what I went through. I hurt my hamstring
and was out for six months. When I came back, they didn’t have
any idea where to put Doc. So I worked a different deal and it went
flat and I was gone. But I don’t regret anything. If I wrote
book, I would say that I accomplished everything I want. I’ve
been blessed. Last year, I suffered seven broken ribs and punctured
a lung and still worked. I didn’t miss a tour. I would tape myself
like a mummy. The Americans don’t know the story … It’s
gonna be 2003 and maybe the good Lord will bless me and I’ll
be back in the states working. I’d like to see that opportunity,
Q: You usually don’t take very many independent bookings. Why
did you decide to work Friday for Major League Wrestling?
Williams: “Pay. Money. I’m not in
this thing for the ego or glory. I enjoy what I do, but I do it for
the money. I’ve got a 10-year-old boy who I put through school
and take care of. I’ve got a tanning salon in Hawaii and a smoothie
shop, Dr. Smoothie, in Shreveport. I keep myself busy. Having money
makes a lot of things a lot easier. If somebody wants me to get out
of my house and leave (for a booking), I’ve got to get paid.
If he can’t come close, let’s talk about a two-day show
where I could work twice instead of once. I’m pretty easy. I’m
not hard to get along with. I’m so excited I get to come down
to Fort Lauderdale. I’ve got some buddies I’m going to see
for Christmas. I’m going to go see Jim Duggan (in Titusville,
Fla.). We’re going to have eggnog and cookies. Jim told me to
say that when I told him I was gonna do an interview.”
Q: The matches you and Duggan had in the Universal Wrestling Federation
(in the mid-1980s) were outstanding. What was it like working there
at the time?
Williams: “Wrestling hadn’t gone world-wide
yet. We were just a little territory. We had good guy/bad guy, cop/robber,
Indian/cowboy, villain and white hat. We would go back to towns every
two weeks and the places would be rocking. It was tough being on the
road. You made a good living but Bill (Watts) didn’t make you
a millionaire. It was good working with Jim. I e-mailed him weeks
ago. I want to talk to some promoters about booking us against each
other. I asked him if he could still do a run, if he could still slam
me and give a couple of football tackles.”
Q: Didn’t you bust your head open on a ringpost while working
for the UWF?
Williams: “I got 108 stitches and still
worked that night. Bill told me, ‘ Go out there, kid. You’ll
be alright.’ I was as green as baby poop and I went out there.
I made $50 that night. The kids, not the boys, the kids nowadays when
they get paid don’t realize what guys like myself went through
Q: Overall, what did you think of your time in WWE?
Williams: “I thought it was great until
they didn’t like what I did. They call it a Doctor Bomb, a side
suplex. They were all scared. Everybody else (in Japan) could take
it. They didn’t want me doing it. Quack. Quack. You’re going
to tell me with all the top-dollar producers and writers up there
that they could come up with some good angles. They tried to put a
swerve or something in there. It was a stupid thing to put me in a
mask and a gi. I almost felt like I wanted to call myself a geek.
They put a mask on me. I couldn’t believe they did that. I saw
(Jim) Ross the next day and he said, ‘They can tell it’s
you.’ No kidding. Nobody has a body like mine and they tried
to cover it up and put a mask on me. Take it off.
“The best thing I did there was in Pittsburgh. We tore the place
up. I worked Bob Holly in a hardcore match in a frat house. It was
unreal. Everybody say it was the greatest thing when I went through
a fish tank. It was unreal. I think the fire department came because
I hit a gas pipe. Jim and (WWE’s production crew) ran out the
front door into the limo and went around the block so I could run
out the backdoor.”
Q: What do you remember about your Brawl for All match with Mike Burton
(a k a Bart Gunn)?
Williams: “I talk to him all the time.
I remember tearing my hamstring and having my hands down. I was punch-drunk
and out on my feet. I had never been knocked out. I don’t remember
where I got knocked out. I did see the video. All I could think about
was my leg. All of a sudden, I walked into a punch and boom. I didn’t
know what happened until I got back to the hotel and heard I swallowed
my tongue and my eyes rolled in the back of my head.
“Folks, I’m not the bionic man. First of all, I’m a
wrestler not a boxer. You don’t put a wrestler in boxing gloves.
It took away my hands. That’s what I use to take a guy down.
I could cup Bart but I couldn’t use my hands to pull him all
the way in. But hey, Bart was fantastic until he got knocked out by
Butterbean. Quack, Quack. That shows what I’m talking about with
the difference from a wrestler to a street fighter to a pro boxer.
Bart is more of a street, tough-guy boxer. He went and trained, but
they put a turtle out against him. The guy didn’t have a neck.
He looked like a turtle.”
Q: Overall, how did you feel about the Brawl for All concept?
Williams: “It got people hurt and they
had to pay them while they were at home. Quack, Quack. They didn’t
like doing that either. It was all bad, all bad. I’m just glad
it’s over. I hope they’d be interested in me again because
I would love to go over (to Japan) and do their shows in January.
Who would I like to run against? I put a challenge out to Rock and
Kurt Angle. I want to go in and wrestle both those guys. I wrestled
Angle when he came into (a WWE developmental) camp. I had to go to
that camp to slap people around a couple of times and show them the
Q: After leaving WWE, you resurfaced in WCW doing a spoof of Jim Ross.
I understand you guys have mended fences since then, but why did you
Williams: “I was hot. What they did to
me and he did to me made me hot. He understands it’s all business.
They cut me out of money. I had a chance to make some money in WCW
and I grabbed it. Then they wanted me to put guys over and I said
no. That’s why I went back to Japan full-time again.”
Q: What are your career goals at this point?
Williams: “I would love to have one more
great run. If you give me the ball, I can still run with it. I have
been really concentrating on All Japan floating the last two years,
but they haven’t really given me a chance to perform for the
Triple Crown. Give me a chance. Give me the ball. I can run with it.”
Alex Marvez's weekly pro wrestling column can be found in the South
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Dr. Death Steve Williams
email@example.com or call (662) 335-5665