Doug Williams is one of the most talented and gifted, technical British grapplers of his generation.
Having watched the old World of Sport wrestling shows live in Reading to performing on a world level with TNA, Doug has lived his dream by winning numerous titles including being a two-time tag team champion, Television title holder and X-Division champion.
We caught up with Doug to talk about, attending World of Sport wrestling, wrestling Eddie Guerrero, and Vince Russo's departure from TNA.
Q. How did someone from Reading go about getting into the sport of professional wrestling?
I was a fan of it when I was very young and I used to go with my dad to watch the live World of sport shows at the Octagon in Reading. When I was about 11, I then started to do Judo before learning more of a grapple style moves and holds and what have you. Then when I was 20, I began to look around for a wrestling school and there wasn't very many in the UK at the time probably only one or two but I managed to find one and that's where it started.
Q. You mentioned the old World of Sport wrestling there, were you also a fan of the WWF at the time?
I use to go and watch the old World of Sport stuff when I was very young and probably drifted away from watching wrestling when I got to 11 or 12-years-old. But then I actually moved to Germany with my parents and we got the first Sky satellite system, so when I was 13 or 14 I started to watch the old WWF on that and it kind of reignited my interest in wrestling, so yeah I was a fan of both styles.
Q. Who were some of the wrestlers that inspired you to get into the sport?
From World of sport I enjoyed watching guys like, Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco, Fit Finlay and Johnny Saint, the more technical and faster moving, action packed kind of wrestling bouts. From the WWE I used to like the heels, 'Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase was my absolute favourite probably followed closely by Randy Savage.
I have taken bits of both the technical side of things and really enjoy playing the heel, so it just goes to show your influences determine how you act further on in your career.
Q. I saw you in action at a recent IPW:UK show, from when you first started out, how has the British Wrestling scene changed?
Quite a bit, when I first started in the nineties the British wrestling scene was pretty much on it's death bed, it was two or three years removed from TV so a lot of the other stars were retiring and a lot of the promoters were shutting up shop.
Now nearly 20 years later you have a lot of guys coming through and they've all got good looks and gimmicks and they've all worked on their skills, so there is a lot of very good professional wrestlers around at the moment. There are a lot of reasonable shows up and down the country that draw reasonable crowds which gives these guys some good exposure.
From a talent point of view it's never been better than it is now in this country and there is a lot of factors that influence that. The main one is that the WWE have been signing lots of British based guys over the past few years, and wrestlers in the UK see that and work harder to be noticed and try and get there.
Q. You wrestled and beat Eddie Guerrero at an FWA show, what was it like working with Eddie and who's idea was it for you to wrestle Eddie and beat him?
Before my match with Eddie I was already booked to move to America with Ring of Honor. I don't know who suggested I wrestle Eddie, but my guess is it was whoever booked the show and that was Alex Shane. In terms of why they chose me, I was probably one of the emerging new British heavyweights coming up at that point so it kind of made sense and I know they wanted an all British final.
I couldn't have asked for anything more really, it was fantastic working with Eddie, he was the ultimate professional and to be honest with you we just went out there and had a great match.
Q. Who are some of the wrestlers we should be looking out for on the British scene at the moment who could be the next big thing to go to America?
There are a lot of guys, I've been a big fan of Johnny Moss who is a great heavyweight , there's also guys like Mary Scrull and Zack Sabre Jnr. At the moment I could probably reel off ten or fifteen names who I think should have a lot more exposure than what they're getting.
Q. Your first stint in America was with Ring of Honor, and you had a couple of matches with Bryan Danielson, what were those matches like and what was it like working with Bryan?
The first time I wrestled Bryan, I had been working for eight years and he was just starting, but from that first point where we met, we've crossed each others paths a few times and our careers have grown at a similar rate. I always knew he would get to the top and would prove any doubters wrong, not because of his wrestling ability but his size and look. I always knew he had a great personality and he is deserving of everything that has happened.
Q. You wrestled in a dark match during one of WWE's tours of the UK, was there ever a possibility of wrestling full-time for the WWE?
I have spoken to them on and off over the years, that dark match was in 2006. They called me several times before but it's always been a timing issue, I've either been in Japan or somewhere else abroad when they've been in the UK doing TV tapings.
Q. What was it like when you made your debut with TNA?
I made my debut with TNA during their first tour of the UK and really that was like working on any other kind of wrestling show. It was a little nerve-wracking knowing that all the eyes were on me, seeing how I would perform and everything. I just got in the ring and did the same stuff I usually did, treat it just like any other show.
My television debut was another experience altogether as there are more things you have to worry about other than just what your doing in the ring, but you get used to it over time.
Q. You have been with TNA since 2008 and have been a part of the Maximum Impact tours, but what was it like being a part of IMPACT being filmed in the UK?
I think it was a huge achievement for TNA to do their first set of television tapings internationally and it couldn't have been a more perfect audience if they tried. It was a sold out Wembley Arena and it looked fantastic on TV, I only hope they can do more in the future. Everyone could see the difference between those TV shows and the ones that are filmed in the IMPACT! Zone and it looked a million times better.
For me personally it was great, it was the third time I had done a Wembley show and it's always a special experience as it's the nearest major venue to my home town of Reading.
Q. With the success of the UK Impact tapings, do you think we could see a UK PPV?
I'm not involved in those types of conversations but they've already got the dates lined up for next year's tour and I'm sure there will be some sort of discussion of whether it will be tapings or a PPV - I'm sure it will be thrown out there, how could it not be after this year's experience?
Q. With yourself, Rob Terry and Magnus and Winter all winning titles in TNA, do you think we will ever see a British world champion in TNA?
Good question. The odds are going to lessen with more of us there. There are potentially three challengers so we will have to wait and see. We are all doing our own thing at the moment, Magnus being one half of the tag team champions probably has the best shot out of us - but it might happen in another company first to be honest with you.
Q. Recently TNA and Vince Russo parted company, and lots of people have said it could be one of the best things to happen to TNA, what are your thoughts on the departure?
Personally I had a great relationship with Vince. I can't knock him, he was responsible for my entire first TNA tag title run and the whole of my X-Division title run in 2010. He gave me huge opportunities which I took and it went well for me.
I'm sad to see him go really, but I can understand why people say the things they do about him and what he writes isn't appropriate for a wrestling show. At the end of the day it's now up to the people who have taken over to produce better ratings, so we will see what happens there.
Q. What more can we expect to see from Doug Williams and TNA in 2012?
Hopefully from a personal point of view I can start challenging for a few titles again and get a few decent feuds under my belt and create some good matches . There are a lot of guys in TNA that I haven't done a lot of work with in singles programmes, that I would love to get in the ring with, so hopefully that will happen. I would love to have a longer programme with Kurt Angle and I would like to take on Bobby Roode in singles competition.
With regards to TNA, I just hope the company can continue to grow and build on the success they have been having and getting some more of the guys over as real stars.
Catch Doug in action on Challenge TV FREEview 46, Sky 125 and Virgin Media 139 every Sunday night at 9pm on TNA Impact Wrestling.