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TonyPulis'Cap

[2004-11-13-FWA-British Uprising III] Doug Williams vs Alex Shane

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The build up for this goes right back to the first FWA show of the year in March. New Frontiers saw the initial Shane/Steve Corino confrontation with the latter trying to hijack the show. As part of the angle, Doug annoyed Shane – newly revealed as the FWA’s Managing Director - by granting Corino an FWA Title match. In the subsequent match, Shane interferes to hit Corino with a chair followed by looking like he was going to go after Doug.

For the rest of the year Shane was presented as the No. 1 heel in the company feuding with a series of different faces, while Williams was the fighting champion taking on all challengers. It was the obvious big match to return to and things would heat up in September. Following Doug coming to the aid of his protégé Aviv Mayan to stop Shane taking him out with a chair, Shane hired Joe E Legend (Just Joe of WWF 2000 fame) to take Williams out by busting him open on the title belt in an effective angle.

This led to Hotwired, the last big show before British Uprising and the point of escalation. Firstly, you get Shane’s ringside confrontation with boxer Danny Williams, something that got decent mainstream press at the time. Later in the night you get Doug Williams (too many Williams’) interfering in the main event to give Corino the big win in the blow-off to his feud with Shane. Danny Williams would continue to be a part of the angle – appearing at the press conference for the contract signing – with the stipulation added to the match that if Shane lost he would have to fight Danny Williams. As so often seems to happen in wrestling however, the best laid plans would end up falling apart. Due to having a fight to prepare for, Danny Williams wasn’t contractually able to be involved further and he would not be at this show or appear for the company again.

So that’s the rather extensive build up – Shane as the No. 1 heel in the company, and Doug the ace 22 months into his title reign. The storyline for the match is technician vs brawler with the inference that in a traditional match Shane is not on Doug’s level. This manifests itself before the bell with Shane getting on the mic to try and goad Doug into agreeing to a No DQ match. Thankfully Doug isn’t portrayed as an idiot babyface so politely declines. We also get FWA head official Steve Lynskey being removed as the ref for the match by commissioner Flash Barker, paying off another long running storyline of him being a corrupt official. The new ref then throws out Shane’s personal security to make it one on one. All of this makes the match feel really important and big time, but rather than feeling like the heel is getting his comeuppance, to me it feels too much like the deck is being stacked against the heel which he has to overcome, which is obviously not meant to be the way round you want it.

To reinforce that Shane can’t hang with Williams when it comes to straight up wrestling we get Doug dominating the early stages on the mat – complete with Shane stooging nicely – before hitting him with a good flurry of knee strikes. When Shane goes to the outside to buy time, Doug follows him out with a great tope, which is not something I recall seeing him bust out often. Now that Doug has followed him to the outside however, Shane is able to take over with brawling on the floor – his strength – and by sending Doug through the time keepers’ area.

Shane works a solid, if unspectacular little heat segment until we get a count out tease following Williams hitting a tornado DDT off the ring apron to the outside. From there we get a heated forearm, big boot exchange, but just as the match looks to be escalating nicely we get the start of the shenanigans.

Today, people seem to have really taken against overbooking – perhaps due to it’s over saturation and lack of creativity – but I think it works here in the context of the storyline that Shane cant beat Williams in a fair fight. The rest of the card also features largely clean finishes as a contrast, although the overbooking would start to become an overused crutch with Shane as the heel champion in 2005.

Following a ref bump we get Shane’s security returning for a group beat down until in a shocking moment we get the return of Ulf Herman seeking revenge on Shane. Herman – Shane’s former tag team partner had been gone a full year since British Uprising II when Shane had turned on him and broke his arm. He ends up taking out Shane’s security but then in the big moment takes out Doug by mistake.  Williams kicks out of Shane’s One Night Stand finisher the first time but a second ends his almost two year title reign. Unfortunately the Herman vs. Shane rivalry would never get paid off with a one on one match and Herman would only appear at one more FWA show.  

This is very much an attitude era style title match, which people’s enjoyment of as a style will vary. The work itself was solid, and I liked the storyline of the wrestler vs. the brawler and Shane having to resort to cheating and short cuts to be on Doug’s level, but my main criticism would be of the heel seemingly being the one to overcome the odds. I know you get the interference from Shane’s security at the end and Doug losing due to Herman’s misplaced intervention, but before that, the match is booked around the playing field being levelled and the cards being in Doug’s favour, only for him to end up losing. (***)

The bad taste also comes in part from British Uprising being the promotions major show and yet having a screwy ending with the heel winning the title, whereas at Uprising I and II, the face had walked out with the belt. With the benefit of hindsight I think it was right to shift the belt. Doug had faced pretty much every challenger and Shane was the hot hand. How far that was due to him booking himself that way is open to question, but having reviewed his 2004, he was arguably the best and most consistent performer of the year. Using your big show to kick off a new direction was also something I could appreciate, even if this show ends up being the company’s peak.

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