On December 30th, 1992 Big Van Vader regained the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from the same man he had lost it to back in August of ’92, Ron Simmons. Vader was hell bent on keeping the championship for a long time and after one slip up, that’s exactly what he would do.
1993 was destined to be the year of Vader, mainly because that’s what Harley Race and Vader himself would be going around telling everyone. Eventually, you begin to believe what they say. Vader started the year engaging himself into a feud with freshly turned babyface, Cactus Jack. The feud would actually continue for over a year. The issue began when Jack was attacked by Harley Race and Paul Orndorff. Since Race was Vader’s manager, naturally he had to step in and defend Harley.
At Clash of the Champions 23, Vader would team with Paul Orndorff and Barry Windham to take on Sting, Dustin Rhodes and Cactus Jack in a Thunder Cage. Vader had recently challenged Sting to a strap match at Superbrawl, and considering his feud with Jack, this was an explosive match for him. His team was unsuccessful as Jack pinned Orndorff after hitting him with a boot.
Vader would defend the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Sting at Superbrawl III, which ended up being a White Castle of Fear strap match. The match had several videos to promote the match. Yeah, the videos were really corny and were made with a Hollywood type of feel, but it just didn’t work for the feud.
While the videos leading into the match were awful, Vader and Sting were able to put together a great match that saw Vader retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship over his long hated rival. Vader would have a hiccup on March 11th at a house show in England where Sting would steal a victory and the championship. It took only six days for Vader to regain the championship in Dublin after a powerbomb. The rest of the year the championship would belong to Vader.
Moving on from Sting, Vader had a busy April and May. Cactus Jack had two championship matches with Vader on April 17th and 24th. Jack won the first meeting by count-out and their rematch was contested without any rules. Vader destroyed Jack in their second meeting and would cause Jack to be off television for several months.
With Jack out of the way, Vader would put his championship on the line against the British Bulldog, who had just recently signed with WCW. They would meet at Slamboree where Bulldog won the match but only by disqualification. There were rumors circulating that Bulldog was going to win the championship at this point, but the decision switched back to Vader.
Following the event, the feud would become a tag team feud with Vader teaming with Sid Vicious to take on Sting and the British Bulldog. They went back to the Hollywood type of video packages to promote the match.
These four men would compete at WCW Beach Blast in July 1993. At the event, Bulldog scored a pin fall victory over Vader. The victory would allow him to come after the WCW World Heavyweight Championship a second time. Bulldog would get his shot again on August 18th at the twenty-fourth Clash of the Champions. The match didn’t have the disqualification rule, but that didn’t help Bulldog. Vader was able to retain the championship after Harley Race got involved and allowed Vader to splash Bulldog. That’s all great and all, but Vader didn’t have time to celebrate because Cactus Jack returned after months of being out and brawled with Vader. Yes, Cactus Jack, who had been on the streets with homeless people because of a brain injury was back for revenge!
Vader would go on to captain a War Games team at Fall Brawl as he had Sid Vicious and Harlem Heat by his side as they took on Sting, the British Bulldog, Dustin Rhodes and the Shockmaster. As per usual, the heel team lost. Also at the event, Cactus Jack won over Yoshi Kwan and would challenge Vader at Halloween Havoc in a Texas Death Match.
It is probably one of the best American death matches to ever take place and it featured to of the best brawlers in the business, both at their prime of their careers. Vader took Jack out of commission back in April and now six months later Jack has his chance to get his revenge. Harley Race needed to help Vader in order to keep the championship around his client’s waist. After nearly sixteen minutes of action, Vader pinned Jack after Race used a tazer.
Vader had taken care of all the challenges thrown towards him. Now, it was time for WCW’s number one option to come for the gold. Ric Flair got a championship match at the twenty fifth edition of Clash of the Champions on November 10, 1993. Flair held his own but only won by disqualification after he was viciously attacked by Vader, Steve Austin and Col. Robert Parker. This wouldn’t be the end between these two, though.
Ten days later Vader would win Battlebowl after he eliminated Sting. Who could possibly take the championship off of Vader? Vader had taken out everyone that came for his championship, but one of of those challengers would put everything on the line to get their hands on Vader at WCW’s biggest event, Starrcade.
It wasn’t going to be Sting. It wasn’t the British Bulldog, and no it wasn’t Cactus Jack. Nope, instead it was the man who had returned to WCW back in February and was willing to end his career if he couldn’t win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. It was two days after Christmas and WCW held Starrcade in Charlotte, North Carolina. Obviously this is the perfect way to end the story. After nearly a year of complete dominance (aside from six days in March), Vader finally lost the championship after twenty one minutes of action to the Nature Boy Ric Flair.
In my opinion, Vader’s run as WCW World Heavyweight Champion in 1993 is one of the best championship reigns in WCW history. His push throughout 1992 was huge for his success in 1993 as a champion. His size was a big selling point to allow the fans to buy into the character. Plus, the guys he was able to have matches with provided great, entertaining matches both on pay per view and the Clash’s.
His run with Sting could have lasted longer when it came to television, since they did work the house shows a lot with each other. Of all the feuds Vader had, his brief feud with the British Bulldog was probably the least interesting feud of them all. The matches with Cactus Jack were really good, while the angle behind it was just a little bit too goofy.
Anyway, this would Vader’s last big time push with WCW as he wouldn’t hold the WCW World Heavyweight Championship ever again. Actually, I don’t think he would hold a heavyweight championship in America again. As I said before, Vader’s run is a great example of a top heel destroying the babyfaces and then finally getting what he deserves at the end of the year at the biggest show the company has. Well done, WCW. Well done indeed.
Thanks for reading.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.