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TonyPulis'Cap

[2002-10-25-FWA-London Calling] Jody Fleisch vs Doug Williams vs Christopher Daniels

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bftPCKrQfpA

 

This is just a couple of weeks after the big British Uprising show and kept up the FWA’s momentum nicely. On the undercard there is not too many big stories to note, the biggest probably being Alex Shane and Ulf Herman beating the UK Pitbulls for the tag titles. Given the very bloody and intense feud that Shane and Herman get into with The Family that runs for pretty much all of 2003, that’s a big moment.

 

We are in Walthamstow Town Hall, which is a fun venue (I’m biased for having worked there), and one I’m glad that Rev Pro is now running again. The main event is Fleisch putting the belt that he won at Uprising on the line for the first time, with Daniels a late addition to make it a three way. With Fleisch and Williams both being faces, the addition of Daniels means there is an antagonist which helps the structure. At the beginning he is content to sit out while Fleisch and Williams go at it. It’s interesting that the Low Ki/Daniels/Dragon three way from the first ROH show was at the beginning of that year, as Daniels again takes on the role of being the more heelish and looking to take shortcuts. This match is in no way up to that standard, but there is a similar story they are trying to tell.

 

As you’d imagine for the time, the action is fast paced with some pretty spotty selling, but it’s always engaging and you could tell that the UK guys were really starting to look at the style being worked in ROH as well as the X Division in TNA for inspiration. At this time, both Jody and Doug had been across to the US to compete for ROH, with Williams getting a pretty decent push. Doug is largely presented as the most dangerous of the three, being the more powerful but with the technical base, and he is coming off an impressive year when he’s been able to cleanly defeat both Eddie Guerrero and two weeks before this, Jerry Lynn. For most of the FWA’s run he was presented as the ace of the company and I like how in this match Daniels is largely trying to avoid him, which also plays into the feud they were having in ROH at the same time.

 

A criticism would be that Fleisch - given he had just won the title in the big feel good moment at the end of Uprising I - feels like a bit of an after thought at times, although it’s more a comment on his size rather than his ability, that both the other two look to target him. He also still gets in some hugely impressive moments such as the springboard shooting star press to the other guys on the outside. This leads to the key part of the match with him selling a knee injury when landing, to where officials take him to the back and say he can’t continue. This being wrestling of course he ignores their best advice and comes storming back. It’s a decent way of trying to not make him look too weak in losing the title so soon. As befitting his character, Daniels takes advantage of Fleisch being injured to pin him and win the title in a pretty shocking moment.

 

At the time I think a lot of people thought that Daniels being added to the match was just a way of adding cache and in terms of ‘having a good match’ and no-one expected him to win, not least as he wouldn’t be a regular and given Jody had just had his big crowning moment two weeks before. Reading Greg Lambert’s book, Holy Grail, on this period, he says that it was a way of raising the prestige of the title and getting more international eye balls on the FWA, while booker Alex Shane was also working with ROH to get them over for a show in 2003. He also says that it was a move designed to be shocking to the FWA fanbase that was very much a hardcore ‘smark’ audience.

 

Looking back, I think it was a good move – with the FWA not running weekly shows, they didn’t need the title defended on every show and it was smart to try and raise the international prestige of the title. It also meant that the next show at the end of 2002 was centred around finding a No. 1 contender with a round robin tournament. Finally, the storyline of the title being taken hostage by an American was pretty compelling, and crossed companies to being a part of an ROH angle with Doug Williams trying to get it back.

 

Overall, this is a fun match, with lots of action, that wouldn’t look out of place on a 2002/2003 ROH show, although I think at this time, Doug in particular was still trying to find himself, as in 2003/04 he would utilise his technical skills more. At this point I think he (along with a lot of the roster) was trying to work a more high flying/spot heavy style to fit in with the vibe that the company was trying to move away from the more traditional British style that in 2002 was seen as outdated. (*** ¼)

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