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[2002-04-03-AJPW Champion Carnival 2002 - Tag 10] Steve Williams vs Taiyo Kea

Ma Stump Puller

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This wasn't on TV but they showed all of this on the VHS release afterwards, which I'm thankful for because the two have good chemistry in the ring. Williams offers a handshake but wrecks Kea with a lariat when he accepts, but Kea uses his speed to outpace the guy by dodging his corner splash and landing a dropkick. We get some decent outside brawling as Williams stumbles around and tries for a backdrop but gets reversed out of it. Kea lands a apron forearm to send the guy into the crowd, but his big running splash gets countered as Williams dumps him belly-first on a table instead. He controls things in the middle half, cussing all the time and threatening the ref when he doesn't count three off a good powerslam. He also does Kobashi's chops for some reason? Namely to the face, which was funny. They establish Kea as a solid underdog that has to work under Williams using weapons and skirting the rules to keep control of the match, so there's a good bit of brawling and then leg-work after he chips Kea's leg with a chair, giving them a excuse to slow down things here. Seeing Williams do stuff like a figure-four on the turnbuckle post and even a leg-dropkick were pretty out there, but I definitely think it worked for what it was trying to go for here as the two scrambled around in places, with Kea having the better strikes in his kicks but having to consistently stop and mind the leg meant he couldn't keep momentum, and Williams has to turn up the cheating, using a low blow when Kea starts to get the better of him. Dr Death can no longer just bulldoze though people like he could in the 90's, instead having to pull every dirty vet move out of the bag to try to keep this under control. 

They work some good spots involving Kea as he turns a attempted shin-breaker into his sliding DDT and had him do his nifty inverted Enzuigiri after a kick combo (why hasn't anyone stole this yet? It looks cool). You can definitely notice the Muto-influence on Kea as he's starting to move around a lot like the guy (or at least trying, anyway) as well as using stuff like his Frankensteiner and Dragon Screw. There's one sloppy bit where Kea just stands in front of Williams and basically talks to him about the next spot, but it only lasts a few seconds and didn't detract much here. It was cool to see Kea use the Shining Wizard to finally put Williams away, even if it did feel a little bit like pandering given he'd just jobbed to Muto the day before. Williams is of course far from his best, but he could still go and his signature flair with his chaotic brawling came out a fair bit; definitely still had a good few years left in him had he sadly not been side-lined with cancer. I'm of the opinion that people very much overlook his later years post-WWF stuff, and this is no exception given it's a well worked Carny match that really got over Kea as a solid upper-card act, no small part to Williams making sure he looked good here.


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