Continuing to work my way through Goodhelmet's Vader set. At this rate I might have it finished before 2012.
Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow v The Steiner Brothers (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 6/26/92)
This is sort of a bigger version of the Vader/Hughes v Steiners Clash 18 match in WCW, only this has Bigelow in Hughes' place. This also gets more than 10 minutes, so it isn't as much of a big bomb throwing heavyweight sprint. Don't worry your pretty little head, though; there's still plenty of bomb throwing to be had here. They actually work a few of the same sequences that they did in the Clash match, so you can pretty much call what's coming next at points. Difference here is that Scotty takes an extended run as a face in peril. I kinda like him in that role, because he sells well enough and belly-to-belly suplexing a fatboy for a hope spot is something I can get behind. There's a cool moment where he gets smacked out to the floor by Bigelow, so Vader picks him up and appears to be ready to dent his cheekbone only to roll him back in the ring like a big ol' sport. He looks out to the crowd with his arms outstretched, like "See, we're nice guys." Then he tags in and pancakes him with a fatboy splash. Bigelow continues to be the guy that'll wear the opponent down with a 400 pound headlock after Vader's boxed them around for a few minutes, and I really wish Bigelow had done a stint in WCW that year other than working the New Japan shows that happened to feature WCW wrestlers. Bigelow v Steamboat on Worldwide... how could that not be good? A ref' bump/flash pin surprised me a little, but it was executed well enough so I'm not complaining. Vader was on his way to the World Title anyway, and as far as I'm aware this was one of his last appearances in New Japan. Rick Steiner takes a bitchin' big boot in the corner, btw. I mean in general. Just runs straight into it, face first. Looks real nasty.
Vader v Sting (WCW Great American Bash, 7/12/92)
Excellent match, although I'd probably call it "only" their third best together. Match is basically built around Sting having to use big offensive hit-and-run flurries while trying to avoid Vader's face-caving punches, because once he strings together a couple punches it usually leads to bigger stuff, which all equates to a heavy hurtin' that Sting wants no part of. The early stages has Sting unloading with a couple big combos, but all they really do is cause him to hit the floor and regroup with Harley. They establish the fact it's a total uphill battle right from the start and they never let you forget it. Vader's stretch on offence is largely really good (shitty looking Scorpion Deathlock aside). It's slow, but it's definitely not dull. Everything looks nasty - Vader's dishing it out, so obviously - and it's a great example of a big guy working "methodical", just taking his time and laying in the meanest shots at the best moments. Some people lose their stack for Nash working "methodical" in the Survivor Series '95 match against Bret, but comparing Nash there to Vader here, Nash just seems bored and uninterested. THIS is what I want from a big guy working "methodical". Sting's comeback rocks, too. There's a couple hope spots where he'll charge right into Vader at a million miles an hour, but charging into Vader is like running headfirst into a snowplough and he winds up floored as a result. His answer to this is to hit a freakin' Koppo kick, which really looked awesome. There's another great spot where Vader does the Shawn Michaels 'lying across the ropes in the corner while my opponent kicks the shit out of me' spot - sans flying 5 feet in the air after every kick - which Sting uses as a set-up for a huge Samoan drop. He really milks it for all it's worth too, determined to stand upright on rubber legs before finally dropping back when it looked like he'd be going face first the other way. We also get a nifty ref' bump that's way less contrived than just about any ref' bump I can recall seeing in recent memory, as Sting manages to hit a big German suplex on Vader, but the ref' had taken a knock just beforehand (as a result of Sting partially catching him with his boot as he's reversing a Vader suplex attempt) and it means he's a few vital seconds too slow at getting over to count. Ross on commentary points out that it may only have been a couple seconds, but those seconds against Vader are crucial. I'm a big fan of the finish here, too. Sting has Vader in the corner, so he blitzes him with a Stinger Splash that doesn't drop him but instead forces him to stagger into the opposite corner. Sting charges in for another one and winds up coming in TOO hard, overshooting it and KO'ing himself on the ring post. The visual of Sting, bleeding from the forehead, feebly trying to throw punches before collapsing face first is pretty amazing. One Powerbomb later and it's over. Vader winning as clean as he did really went a long way in establishing him as being *the* monster. Great drama, great finish, great match.
Vader v Ron Simmons (WCW, Baltimore, MD, 8/2/92) (Aired on WCW Main Event, 8/16/92)
This is a Hell of a match as well. Off hand, I don't think there's ever been another Simmons match as good as this... he really brought it here, as did Vader. Crowd is totally INSANE right from the jump, never letting up at all. Simmons takes a real pounding; much more so than I had remembered. Vader's just letting loose with punches flush to his face and he's eating them all like a trooper. His power offence is great in this, especially his hope spots. Vader'll shoot him down with a big splash or a flurry of punches and Simmons kicks out of everything with such vigour that the crowd are losing it more and more after each one. The responses to the roll up nearfalls are pretty tremendous, too. The pop for the finish itself is just indescribable. I mean... Jesus, it's phenomenal. It's a perfect way to end the match, because you've got Vader on the cusp of killing him dead with a powerbomb only for Simmons to reverses that and fight through everything else he's been hit with to reel off a massive powerslam and stun the champ long enough to hold him down for three. Visually, it looks awesome, because he picks him up and drives him into the mat like Vader was 200 pounds lighter, so a big guy being slammed like THAT is a believable way to pull off a flash pin. Makes Simmons look like a guy that used his heart and athleticism to overcame the obstacle that was Vader to win the world title as opposed to lucking his way into it with a fluke pin. Honestly, the match could be a train wreck and it'd still be worth watching for one kid's reaction at the end. Watch the match, you'll know who I'm talking about. Can't replicate that shit.