99. STEVE WILLIAMS
Aliases – Dr. Death
Hometown – Norman, Oklahoma
Debuted – 1982
Titles Held – AJPW Triple Crown; WCW World Tag Team; NWA World Tag Team
Other Accomplishments – NCAA runner-up in 1982; 1985’s Most Improved Wrestler award from both Pro-Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer; won the $50,000 UWF
Challenge Cup in 1986; 1992’s Tag Team of the Year from both PWI and W-O alongside Terry Gordy
Steve “Dr. Death” Williams wrestled most of his greatest matches in Japan. His reputation in the US and Canada was very badly damaged by his role in the disastrously ill-fated Brawl for All fiasco. Still, he richly deserves to be listed among the top 100 US Pro Wrestlers of the modern era.
A legit tough guy, Williams was an All American wrestler and football player at the University of Oklahoma. In 1982, his senior year, he lost in the NCAA wrestling finals to Bruce Baumgartner by a score of 4-3. Baumgartner would go on to compete in the 1984 Olympics and capture the gold medal in wrestling.
After having a cup of coffee in the USFL, Williams was recruited and trained by the legendary pro wrestling promoter “Cowboy” Bill Watts. Watts was also a former amateur wrestler and pro football player, and he must have seen something of himself in the similarly barrel-chested and mean-looking “Dr. Death.” Williams was ideally suited to wrestling the athletically credible style that was the hallmark of Watts’ Mid-South/UWF promotion.
He quickly became one of the best wrestlers and top stars in the territory, forming a championship tag team with Ted DiBiase. On July 11, 1987, he pinned Big Bubba Rogers to win the UWF heavyweight title.
The UWF years were definitely Williams’ best as a wrestler outside of Japan. The following matches are among the many that are worth going out of your way to see:
Texas Tornado Match: Ted DiBiase & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. Hacksaw Duggan & Terry Gordy (1/21/85)
Mid-South Tag Titles: Rock n Roll Express (Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton) Ã‚Â© vs. Ted DiBiase & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (5/3/85)
Ted DiBiase & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers) (6/5/85)
Steve Williams & Ted DiBiase v Jake Roberts & Nord The Barbarian (Cage Match) – 08/09/85
Ted DiBiase & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers) (9/25/85)
Steve Williams vs. Rick Steiner (UWF Title Tournament- 5/30/1986)
Steve Williams vs. Terry Gordy (UWF Title Tournament- 5/30/1986)
Steve Williams vs. Dick Murdoch (6/13/1987)
In late 1987, Jim Crockett bought out Bill Watts. Williams moved to the NWA, where he became a member of the Varsity Club and feuded with the Road Warriors.
From 1989 through 1993, Williams joined up with Terry Gordy to form one of the greatest tag teams of all time, The Miracle Violence Combination. They dominated the tag scene in All Japan, and also had a brief but exciting run in WCW in 1992, where they had a couple of great matches against The Steiner Brothers, most notably at Clash XIX (6/16/92) as part of the NWA Tag Title Tourney.
Williams then went back to Japan, where he continued to wrestle in classic matches that didn’t count for consideration when putting this list together.
In 1998, he was brought into the WWF to participate in the Brawl for All, a shoot tournament that Williams was expected to dominate. Instead, he was knocked out by Bart Gunn, which effectively ended his WWF push before it had begun.
The following year, he went back to WCW where he was wildly misused as part of a pathetic attempt to make fun of Jim Ross. The less said about that, the better.
Successfully recovered from a battle with advanced throat cancer, Williams has served as a trainer and special referee for the WWE in recent years. The autobiographical How Dr. Death Became Dr. Life details his inspirational story.
The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.