Vader v Sting (Strap Match - WCW SuperBrawl III, 2/21/93)
The build up video packages to this are truly too spectacular to describe. Totally ridiculous and hilarious and there's Cheatum the Evil Midget. The build up as a whole was legitimately really good (the video packages are awful, but in the best way possible). Vader kills a jobber on an episode of Saturday Night, smears face pain over him and starts whipping him with a strap. There's a tag match from late January where Race holds Sting down and Vader whips him across the back. A week later Sting has a match with Barry Windham (Vader's partner in the aforementioned tag) and he winds up trying to hang him with the strap. And there's Cheatum the Evil Midget and a tug of war over a burning dinner table.
Actual match has always been my favourite of the Sting/Vader matches, and I didn't change my mind this time around. Really feels like one of the definitive violent masterpieces in wrestling history. Vader just yanks Sting across the ring with the strap a couple times at the start, and you get the sense he's gonna enjoy fucking around with him like this. Sting is a strong dude, but can he do much of anything when he's literally attached to Vader? Dragging him around the ring so he can touch all four corners is akin to towing a horsebox up a hill with a BMX. And even if he can possibly overcome the GIRTH, there's still the fact Vader will punch your fucking face through the back of your head if you get close enough to him. And well, the strap means you can't really NOT get close to him. The early stages are all Vader and before long he's whipping Sting like a mule, using the strap to draw him in close so he can squash him, dropping big elbows (there's one where he blatantly elbow drops Sting in the nuts), splashing him, etc. Sting takes over by essentially using the strap to force Vader into punching himself in the balls, and he goes on a great run of offense. You can clearly see Harley taking the blade across Vader's back after Sting's whipped him a bunch of times, and the visual of Vader stumbling around with his back all cut up was always a crazy violent image that stuck with me from the first time I saw the match. Love the spot where Sting uses the strap to draw Vader face-first into the ring post, and Sting trying to touch all four posts *outside* the ring is something I've always thought was really cool. Sting torpedoing head-first into the barricade is another nasty spot in a match full of nasty spots.
Then we hit the final third and the brutality ramps way up. Vader's big paws open a cut in Sting's forehead and it's anybody's guess as to whether or not his stumbling around the ring is a sell job or not. Because Vader is really laying in the big paws. Feels like I've said that about Vader's punches a million times since I started this blog, but they're honestly as repulsive here as I've ever seen them. Sting's comeback is really tremendous. The German suplex is always a great spot in their matches, but the moment of the match for me is Sting's return onslaught in the corner. I don't think of Sting as a great puncher, but he threw some awesome punches earlier on when both guys were teeing off on each other (while they were on their knees. It fucking ruled), and the close up image of him rifling Vader with HUGE punches while Vader's crumpled like a lifeless sack in the corner was fucking amazing. He kind of collapses after he's punched himself out like a man who's just been pushed to commit horrific violence he never knew he had in him. And then he follows it up with one of the most impressive feats of strength I can recall seeing in wrestling when he carries Vader on his shoulders around the whole ring only to have Nick Patrick accidentally trip him up (after a really good ref' bump) six inches before touching the last turnbuckle, leaving Vader's entire dead weight to drop on top of him when he hits the mat. So close yet so far. Vader's back is all cut up, his ear is mutilated, he's covered in blood...he looks much worse off than Sting does. But Sting just towed a horsebox up a hill on a BMX before getting a freak puncture. Now he's got nothing left. Doesn't matter if he holds onto the ropes for dear life, doesn't matter if he tries to kick and claw and fight it. That stumble at the last hurdle has beaten him.
Just an epic piece of pro-wrestling.