Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Big Van Vader Shoot Interview (Part 2)

Vader covers some more of his New Japan battles, his UWFI wars and the beginning of his WCW run

In case you missed part one:

Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Vader’s Classic RF Video Shoot (Part One)

Presented by RF Video

Vader does not know how his interpromotional match with Stan Hansen came about. Leon is thankful that All-Japan trusted him not to accidentally knock Hansen out and win the match.

The Hansen and Vader match is infamous for Hansen hitting Vader with a stiff shot and knocking Vader’s eye out of it’s socket. The camera zoomed in on Vader’s face and the crowd went wild.

Vader puts over Hansen as an awesome talent. The men wanted to work hard to represent their company. All was good in the locker room between them.

Stan Hansen vs. Big Van Vader

The bulls start throwing down right away. They trade chops and punches with neither selling or even really backing up. Hansen eats a short clothesline, which doesn’t knock him down but does force him to backpedal. Vader decides to try the “control the arm and the body comes with it” strategy and manages to take Hansen to the mat for a bit. Vader then reveals his eye has popped out of it’s socket. Apparently the injury took place prior to Vader taking control of things and that bit was done to give him a chance to figure out how bad his injury was.

Vader splashes Hansen in the corner and delivers more strikes. He misses a second corner splash and Hansen delivers a back suplex. The men take things to the floor where each tosses the other into the posts and railing. Vader gets the best of him on the floor and then powerslams Hansen back in the ring. A flying shoulder block downs the big Texan. Vader then selects Hansen’s ribs for the location of some snug punches and an elbow. More shots send Hansen to the floor. Vader tries to splash Hansen as he lays prone against the ringpost, but that ends poorly as Hansen moves. Hansen knocks Vader into the crowd and the men tangle amidst the fans.

Hansen readies his arm pad for the lariat but Vader avoids that with a DROPKICK. The men then exchange very stiff shots before spilling to the floor and down the aisle. They knock over a guardrail as they brawl. The ref calls for the bell. Vader and Hansen both return to the ring to pose. Good brawl, and downright exceptional if you take the injury into account.

Back to the shoot…
Bam Bam Bigelow is a big, powerful and talented worker. There’s little he can’t do in the ring. Bigelow seems to think there was heat with him and Vader since both men were big and pushed in New Japan. Vader loves working with Bigelow as a partner. They worked the Steiner Brothers in Japan and had to teach Rick and Scott how to work a style that the Japanese would love.

With Vader now (1998) being a free agent, he’s been in talks with Paul Heyman about putting Bigelow and himself as a team in ECW. The interviewer then informs Vader that Bigelow just signed a WCW contract. Vader looks a little sad hearing that.

The Steiner Brothers vs. Bam Bam Bigelow and Big Van Vader

HOLY COW! Is there any way this isn’t awesome? We see Vader and Bigelow being interviewed by Masa Saito. Vader is polite, but Bigelow has issues with Saito and punctuates his threats with a “God Damn it!”

Bigelow is hopping around, anxious to tear into his opponents. Scott takes him down with a double-leg to try and calm him down. When he tries a second takedown, Bigelow blocks him and hits and enziguri. Scott answers back with a stiff clothesline that Bam Bam sells beautifully. The heels clear the ring during a skirmish but turn their backs and wind up being caught with a dual attack from the top turnbuckle by the Michigan natives.

Rick and Bigelow reset thing. A Steinerline rocks Bigelow. Vader tags in and punishes Rick with fists. The Dog Faced Gremlin eats this physicality up and answers with his own blows. Vader splashes him for having the temerity to stand his ground. Rick answers with a belly to belly suplex, followed by a German suplex, and he ends that series by clotheslining Vader to the floor.

Scott tries to keep up his brother’s momentum, but he accidentally falls while climbing the ropes, so Vader sits on him, followed by a splash. Bigelow tags in to add a diving headbutt. Scott next endures a nasty looking suplex before Vader tags back in and commences smashing Scott. A powerbomb earns a near fall. Vader follows up with a Dragon sleeper, which was probably brutal just due to Leon’s notoriously poor hygiene.

Bigelow adds a double underhook suplex, which he modifies into a back breaker. An enziguri potentially concusses the younger Steiner. Scott tries a belly to belly suplex out of desperation and proves too weakened to finish the move, leading to Bigelow’s girth crashing down on Scott.

Vader comes back in for more pounding. Scott delivers the Frankensteiner out of nowhere to buy enough time to tag off to Rick. Rick pinballs both heels around the ring off of his clotheslines, but Bigelow catches him on a flying tackle attempt and drives Rick to the mat. Vader adds a splash and earns a nearfall that I buy as the finish. A powerbomb earns another 2.333333 that I bite on as the finish. Bigelow splashes Rick but that fails to end things. The ref is then accidentally bumped and he misses a Bigelow cover. Rick snatches a belly-to-belly to steal the win. Awesome match with four MEN just wearing away on each other, with the monsters being dominant but the Steiners surviving on heart and toughness.

Back to the shoot… Vader talks up “Stunning” Steve Austin and reveals he went to bat for Austin and tried to get him into main events as Vader’s partner. He mocks Arn Anderson and Ric Flair’s reputations and thinks he and Austin could blow them away.

Big Van Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Keiji Mutoh and Hiroshi Hase

Mutoh is, of course, the Great Muta, sans make up and gear. We clip to a bit into the match as Hase is abused by the heels as they pummel him with fists and tear at a bandaged wound on his head. The blood starts flowing heavily across Hase’s face and chest. Vader shows no mercy, powerbombing and splashing Hase. Only Mutoh’s run in saves the match. Vader delivers a second powerbomb, and this time Hase kicks out. WHAT!?

Hase is torn into by Bigelow, who forces more blood from his wound. Then Vader smashes him in the corner and unloads with fists. Hase postpones his murder by delivering a pair of lariats on Vader and a uranage on Bigelow. Things turn into a 4-way brawl, leading to Bigelow missing a dive on the floor, which causes him to crash into the railing. The local heroes then double-team hoist Bigelow up and drop him on the rail to take him out for a bit. Vader absorbs a uranage from Hase back in the ring. Mutoh keeps Bigelow at bay so Choshu can work on Vader.

The faces try and lift Bigelow in order to dump him on the railing again, however this time Bam Bam reverses things and DDT’s both on the floor. When Mutoh tries to go back after Vader he is downed with a stiff clothesline and then a powerslam. Bigelow adds a diving headbutt for good measure. Vader presses Mutoh to the floor and launches him on top of a pile of young boys at ringside.

Hase attempts a desperation standing kimura on Vader, but Bigelow delivers the enziguri to end that. The fans really groaned at that spot, perhaps thinking it was Hase’s last gasp. Vader clubs him down and then both big men splash Hase. He still kicks out! Hase Hogan?

Vader grabs Hase by the throat and drills him to the mat with a chokeslam to finally end things. A really fun match with Hase taking all kinds of punishment and showing nothing but heart and determination to win and survive before the abuse finally became too much.

Back in the shoot…Vader explains that Hulk Hogan had run of things in WCW and ultimately Vader didn’t have a role there anymore. This nearly cost him his New Japan spot because WCW had a deal with them. Antonio Inoki wanted to work Vader though, and that over ruled any other issues.

Vader had cartilage issues in his shoulder and had to cancel a late 1995 New Japan tour because of it. (Vader jumped around the timeline a bit here) Jim Ross saw Vader’s match with Stan Hansen where Vader’s eye was popped out. He was given a WCW contract soon after.

Big Van Vader vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Antonio Inoki is serving as ref. We are joined in progress with Vader knocking Bigelow to the floor. Based on Vader’s outfit, I’d wager this is early 1989(?). Vader controls with an arm lock and headlock. Bigelow escapes and scores on a pair of dropkicks. The bulls then collide on a few charges, leading to both hitting the mat.

Vader delivers an impressive powerslam, but Bigelow is up quck and the men trade shots. Vader catches Bigelow charging in and drops him throat first on the ropes. A pair of splashes end things quickly. Disappointing as it was slow and it didn’t really feel like the match was flowing well.

Back to the shoot…
Dusty Rhodes was booking WCW, but Jim Herd, Bill Watts, Kip Frey and Eric Bischoff were all serving as rotating heads at the top, leading to instability.

Ric Flair beat Vader at Starrcade 93 and Vader applauds him for taking Vader’s stiff shots. Vader was booked to win the title back at Superbrawl, but Flair ended up as booker before the match could take place and he changed it to himself winning. Flair ended up screwing himself over because he brought in Hogan and then ended up doing nothing but losing to him.

The Mastadon helmet Vader wore was not used for long in WCW as the office felt it made Vader too plodding as he came down to the ring. They wanted him to be be snorting and screaming instead to get heat.

Vader had to change his name to “Super Vader” when doing the MMA/Pro Wrestling hybrid UWFI cards due to New Japan holding the rights to his gimmick.

Super Vader vs. Tatsuo Nakano
Nakano is the sacrificial lamb for Vader’s debut as he’s only 5’9 and a hair over 200 pounds. UWFI had a heavy emphasis on strikes and both men take boxing stances as they measure up one another. Vader snags a brief leg lock but loses it. Nakano is then back suplexed. He gets up and eats more punches. Nakano tries a German suplex and the crowd pops big. Vader sits down to avoid it – but finds himself in a rear naked choke. Vader fights out and twice drops Nakano with strikes. A powerslam downs Nakano for a bit and more strikes earn Vader a TKO victory. The match pulled off appearing fairly real but was nothing special in execution.

Back to the shoot…
Vader gives himself and Sting credit for keeping WCW in business when nothing else was drawing in 1992 and 93. Even when Hogan came in, he was gone often doing TV and movies and Sting and Vader had to save the day once again.

From the Great American Bash 1992: WCW World Champion Sting vs. Big Van Vader
I can’t see the fans attending this to be expecting a title change. Vader was a part timer leading up to this and missed the two most recent major shows.

This very much feels like Sting is battling the monster of the month and he’ll move on to other things afterward. Harley Race is also managing Mr. Hughes and the Super Invader, so it’s not like Vader is in a group of super villains or anything. Smarks on the other hand knew Vader as the man who had held “World” titles on 3 different continents at the same time in 1989 and someone capable of excellent matches to boot.

Sting tries to show no fear to start but is battered right into the corner with big hammer blows. Sting tries a clothesline and Vader wonders why this gnat is buzzing around him. A missed charge by Vader opens up for Sting a chance to deliver a back suplex, followed by a pair of clotheslines. The second clothesline sends Vader over the top rope and to the floor. The crowd explodes!

Sting foolishly accepts a test of strength but pokes Vader in the eye when he starts to go down. The blinded beast is rocked with punches and suplexed. Sting attempts a sunset flip but Vader just squashes him with a sitdown splash. Vader poses and JR and Jesse Ventura use that as a chance to take shots at Vince McMahon’s WBF. Vader splashes Sting, then just chokes him before throwing him down like a sack of garbage. He locks Sting in the Scorpion Deathlock to add insult to injury. Vader’s execution of the move leaves something to be desired. Sting fights out but Vader just clubs him back down. Sting fires up and manages a DDT but is too exhausted to follow up on that. He catches Vader trying to climb the top rope and scoops him unto his shoulders for a fallaway slam. Vader manages to get up as Sting is still groggy. A back suplex attempts sees Sting accidentally kick the ref. Vader is then German suplexed but the ref was a second late getting there for the count. Vader is wobbly as the fifteen minute mark passes by. Sting hits a Stinger splash. A second one misses as Sting’s head bounces off the metal turnbuckle connector. This opens up the chance for Vader to deliver the powerbomb for the shocking (upset?) win. The fans are actually half shocked/half applauding seeing a title change. Match was awesome!

Back to the shoot…
Talk turns to the WCW mini-movies from 1993. Vader was dying out on the beach where they taped the vignette. He burns easy and they made him do take after take. Finally Vader refused to do more, since they weren’t aiming for an Oscar or something like that.

Harley Race wanted to keep wrestling, but injuries basically forced him to retire. WCW took advantage of Race’s name and put him with Lex Luger as a top act. Vader was given him after Luger jumped to the WBF/WWF.

We close out this part by showing a Vader promo where he challenges Cactus Jack to fight him anywhere – his backyard or where ever. Vader doesn’t even care if he’s paid for it. Vader then starts shoving Tony Schiavone and overturning railings. Good little promo.

More next week…

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin’ and true crimes.

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