Nearly 40 years after Daniel LaRusso beat Johnny Lawrence in the All-Valley Karate Tournament, the longtime rivals finally got a real rematch. Ralph Macchio and William Zabka‘s Karate Kid characters have continued their rivalry throughout Netflix‘s Cobra Kai series, and they have had their fair share of squabbles throughout the show’s first three seasons. In Season 4, however, Daniel and Johnny had the chance to return to the mat and keep score, a fight that fans have been waiting to see for quite a long time.
About halfway through Cobra Kai’s fourth season, after bickering for several episodes about how to train their students together, Daniel and Johnny had a rematch at the Miyagi dojo. While the fight itself was epic, it didn’t exactly end the way fans might have expected. Both looking for their final point, Daniel and Johnny struck each other at the exact same time, resulting in a draw. Following the debut of the new episodes, Macchio and Zabka spoke with EW about putting the long-awaited fight together.
“They had Johnny win [in the script], but then Ralph wouldn’t have that,” Zabka joked. “The rematch between Daniel and Johnny was really exciting to read on the page. We just wanted it to be done really well.”
“There was a lot of pressure in a good way for us to deliver and the writers to deliver, and our stunt team choreographed something great,” said Macchio. “It’s two opposing styles, which really came through, and a spectacular music score under that scene – one of my favorites of the season. I don’t think it disappoints.”
For the creative team, there was never really a back-and-forth about who should win the fight. The plan from the get-go was to have it end in a draw.
“It was always a draw for us,” explained co-creator and executive producer Josh Heald. “These characters are so passionate, in terms of whose karate is ‘better,’ in quotation marks. The show is giving you that Yin and Yang, exploring [how] it’s not better, it’s just different. It goes to that theme over and over again. Giving one of them a win at this stage of their lives, after they’ve come so far with their exploration of each other’s karate, and with their own interpretation of their masters’ karate – it would have felt inauthentic.”
What did you think of Daniel and Johnny’s big rematch? Let us know in the comments!