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[2004-03-26-FWA-New Frontiers] Doug Williams vs Steve Corino


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The build-up for this match comes out of the burgeoning Corino/Alex Shane feud that ratchets up on this show (read more about that here) when Doug agrees to defend the FWA Title against Corino, in part to stick it to Shane (who was the FWA’s heel authority figure, both on and off screen). WOS legend Mick McManus is the guest timekeeper for the match which gives a nice nod to British wrestling history and also makes the match feel more bigtime.

FWA Title matches at this stage were 2/3 falls and reflecting the need for both guys to pace themselves we get a methodical start, with Corino trying to hang with Williams on the mat but being outmatched and caught off guard by Doug employing a lot of old WOS counters. There’s a nice story that, getting frustrated and recognised he is outmatched when it comes to technical wrestling, Corino then tries to make this into more of a brawl, but Doug won’t be bullied and as regular now for NOAH he’s happy to go strike for strike as well. I really like how Doug is presented at this point- being smart and tough as the top face.

Given Doug is dominating, the first pinfall feels on the one hand that it comes out of nowhere, but on the other, I liked that Corino recognised he was only going to get small windows so went for it with a DDT when one opens and ends up getting the cobra sleeper to go 1-0 up. Given it’s a 2/3 falls match, it makes sense that Doug taps quickly to avoid sustaining more damage.

Now Corino has the advantage, he gets more aggressive trying to wrap up the match quickly against a now vulnerable opponent becoming more heelish in the process but not in a cartoony way. However, this ends up costing him, serving to fire up Doug who starts fighting like a wounded animal from underneath. I love Doug’s fire here, really snapping off his European uppercuts, and he responds with a revolution DDT to level things up.

I really like the through lines in the match, with the aggressor getting sloppy in his determination to win to end the match quickly – and this time its Doug that makes that mistake. Following the start of the third fall he immediately goes to the top for his bomb scare knee drop but ends up being caught with a superplex. We then get both guys emptying the tanks with big moves, including the tease of a double count out when both get back in at 19. Corino again tries to go for the cobra sleeper, but this time with his foot on the ropes for leverage showing his desperation to try and win the title.

Just as we are building to a crescendo, we get a ref bump and both guys end up getting visual pinfalls. While this does interrupt the flow of the match, it leads to Alex Shane and Jack Xavier getting involved, and Doug pinning Corino in the confusion. This is an instance when parts of one match have been sacrificed to push forward other interweaving storylines. That ends up taking away slightly from the final result, however the interconnected storylines running through matches was something the FWA was very good at in 2004, and sometimes you have to look at that bigger picture. In saying all that it’s still a damn good match though (*** ¾)      

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