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[1992-12-28-WCW-Starrcade '92] Big Van Vader vs Sting

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This was tremendous. I love how simple moves like backslides and reverse chinlocks seem like life or death because it's Vader. Also, what makes these matches so great is always seeing what new spots Sting is going to roll out on Vader. Late entry MOTYC. One of the best thing about these matches is that Sting tries to cover up when Vader is throwing the punches at him, which isn't something most people in wrestling do regularly. Of course, Vader's shots also look great. I have to think more about what I like better between this and the Bash.

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Man these guys are awesome together. Everything Vader does looks devestating.Those punches. Sting comebacks are great. Just a big time match.

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The tournament may not have been prestigious, but who cares as it's Sting vs Vader. They matched up so well. Sting's height made him look credible. Early on his offensive flurries proved very effective, not to mention exciting. Before long though the big man had gained control and was laying into his opponant with brutality. Sting took a pounding, yet even egged Vader on whilst he blocked forearms. Rope-a-dope baby as the monster punched himself out. Fantastic match, very enjoyable. The finish wasn't bad but was inconclusive. Had they taken it on 5m and used the Scorpion Deathlock it could've been even better. I guess they wanted to hold a little something back for next time.

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Tournament seemed to be nothing but you still get Vader versus Sting. The splash/powerslam reversal off the top can look obvious but it is still impressive when it is done to guy with Vader's size. Good match overall though and nice way to end a solid WCW year.

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I grew up with WCW, and loved the King Of Cable tournament. Starrcade 1992 is one of my all time favorite ppvs. This match is easily ****3/4. The finish was cool too, as Sting just outsmarted Vader to win.

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I liked this better than the Bash. Sting's selling of Vader's strikes is tremendous, from his covering up to his staggering to his knowing when to sell and when to Hulk Up to standing in the corner and daring Vader to hit him some more. And Ross and Jesse were on top of everything--Ross picked up on the cool running theme of Vader not being able to finish when hitting his splashes, and Jesse brought up the Ali/Foreman rope-a-dope. And I loved how Sting continually used wrestling moves against Vader instead of just strikes and high-flying. As Loss said, moves like backslides looked like epic feats of strength. Vader basically shrugs off everything Sting does and only through one last mistake does Sting pull out a win. Fantastic match, probably the #3 WCW Match of the Year.

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This was great but I still think I prefer the Bash match. No matter how many times I see their matches it always amazes me how well Vader bumps for Sting, who never looked like a better babyface than when in against Vader. I loved when Vader hit his splash off the ropes and Ross says he wanted to cover him but bounced so far away that he couldn't. Great match, just not quite up to the Bash or Superbrawl.

 

****

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Sting vs Vader - WCW Starrcade 1992

 

"That's got to be depressing as hell when you do the move and the other guy's up first" - Jesse Ventura, Vader covers on after a Sting Suplex.

 

There was a period of time when this was my favorite match of all time and still is one I will just give it a spin when I need a pick me up. A couple years ago, one of my cousins (11-12 years old at the time) was getting feisty about whether pro wrestling was real and was on the verge of ruining it for my younger cousin. I played this match and he was totally hooked all over again and thought Vader was the toughest badass to ever walk the planet. He still talks about Vader to this day. I love this match.

 

It is almost the ideal David vs Goliath match with Sting giving his career performance in this match.From there the very beginning, he conveys the daunting task that stands before him. He is not going to cower, but he also realizes the gravity of the situation. When he tries to unload with punches early and Vader shouts back the classic "NO PAIN!" "NO PAIN!", I still get chills. Unlike the Great American Bash, there is no hot start for Sting. Vader is going to bulldoze him and throw him around at will. Sting tries to run at him and is that awesome Vader body attack. It is one of my favorite spots in wrestling. Vader takes a page out of Akira Taue's book and Vader drops him throat first across the ring ropes. Sting starts to stick and move. He avoids the clotheslines and hits a Kappo Kick, jumping Kawada kick! Vader was really good at selling the missed clotheslines and the beautiful German suplex and making it believable. They both spill to the outside and the crowd is rocking! Vader takes off the match and starts swearing. The front row loves this and gets on his case. Sting comes flying over the top to crash down on Harley and Vader.

 

This brings me to my favorite part of this match and that was Sting's strategy. Jim Ross starts off the broadcast explaining Sting was going to try extend the big man and fatigue him. Jesse pointed out if the victory presents itself you got to take it. Sting amalgamates both points into a perfectly wrestled match. When the opportunity was present after the Kappo Kick, he was absolutely suffocating Vader. It was a full court press, giving Vader minimal time to recover. Sting simply would not be denied as he fought through Vader's counters to hit DDTs and apply the Scorpion Deathlock. It was only Vader's size that saved him from a quick exit. It is crucial how urgent Sting's actions are because it sets up the big turning point. He goes for the Stinger Splash on the railing and eats steel. Now that full court press has backfired and Vader smells blood. What follows may be one of the greatest exhibitions of selling in wrestling history as Sting was just so on point with modulating selling throughout the rest of the match.

 

Vader dominates Stinger, but not all the credit can go Sting's way. The fact that Vader was selling the effects of Sting's offense allowed for the comeback to make more sense. Vader was beating the shit out of Sting with clotehslines, strikes and splashes, but Vader was not staying on Sting as well he should have because he was recovering from the attack. Sting looked resilient and the finish was not jeopardized by overkill in the heat segment. I loved Vader being overzealous on a pinfall after a splash that basically pulled Sting's shoulders off the mat. My favorite moment of the match and my favorite Ventura call (quoted above) was Sting finally gets a suplex, but it takes so much out of him that Vader is able to cover him. That is a totally ingenious spot! Sting now executes the second part of his strategy as he retreats to a corner and puts his arms up to block. Vader is throwing heavy blows, but is not landing as much damage. This whole segment is so dramatic. You can actually see the shift in Vader and Sting. Vader is being sapped of his power and Sting becomes emboldened as Vader no longer has much behind his punch. Now Sting is punching Vader in the face. He has him rocking! He has him reeling! He knocked him down! Samoan Drop! FLYING STINGER SPLASH! 1-2-NO! Can David do it? Harley is nervous for his investment and tries to buy time for his charge. It works as Vader clobbers Sting from behind. Damn, it was a good run. Vader splashes Sting from the middle rope, but he bounces off instead of hooking a pinfall. Vader is beside himself. He goes again, but this time from the top and Sting is able to catch him with a slam and cradle to win!

 

Sting wrestled the match of his life. His offensive strategy was pitch perfect as discussed and his selling was even better. At beginning, he sells the enormity of the task, in the middle he sells the beating, but he is still defending himself. Then as he is staggering around with his arms up trying to drain Vader was absolutely perfect. Then when the moment was right he mounted an electric comeback. Vader was no slouch himself and was timing his offense perfectly for great damage, but also to make a Sting comeback credible. My slight qualm that keeps this from the tippy top is that the finish is clearly just Vader doing a flying somersault. It takes a bit of steam out of the match, but still one of the best matches in the history of pro wrestling. ****3/4

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Personally I prefer the Bash match, but only by a slim margin. I especially like the finish of this match as the cross-body reversed into the poweslam by Vader was blamed for Sting's injured ribs back at the very beginning of the feud. Seeing Sting beat Vader with the same move gives a good feeling of revenge.

 

Poor Sting took a lot of punishment in this one. The spot where he missed the Stinger Splash into the railing looked brutal. With Vader's strikes on top of that he's bound to have felt pretty sore the morning after.

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This was excellent, but one of the greatest matches in pro wrestling history? Sorry, but no.

 

I think this was a bit confused, actually. They weren't quite sure whether to present Sting as an underdog or the one man who was Vader's competitive equal, so they tried to spit the difference and missed. One second Sting's outclassed and should have quit (at least according to Jesse), and ten seconds later he's trading punches and lifting Vader like he's a normal guy? Unh-uh. I'd rather have seen Sting literally not get one offensive move- not even so much as one punch- until the powerslam reversal and final pin if they were going with the underdog story. If they'd gone with the equal story I'd have had Sting doing the rope-a-dope from almost the beginning, like Ali did with Foreman, instead of waiting until he'd had the crap pounded out of him.

 

Again, we get after Vince for a lot on this board, but booking every single guy over four hundred pounds exactly like Andre in his prime is one thing I think he was a genius at. I'll never get used to Vader selling almost like a normal guy, and he'll never be as impressive in the ring as someone like Bundy, even though I know in my head that he's the much better athlete. I like my giants to be immovable and (almost) invincible, period.

 

All of that said, Sting sold his beating fantastically, and we're left to wonder how he'll survive this match and get to Battlebowl, and as Jesse asked, should he even try? Which trophy's more important? Taking a quick loss to Vader might have left him in better shape for the battle royal later, especially since he'd already wrestled a tag match, but we know that's not his way, or Vader's either come to think of it. One of these events, preferably this match, should have been done at some other time; then again, with the World title match needing a sub and turning out to have a crappy finish anyway, they had to have a singles match that was worth a damn high up on the card, and this was it.

 

Jesse was at his analytical best here, talking about the strategy of both men and getting over Vader's frustration at not quite being able to put Sting away, even with splashes that would have crushed a normal man. He led JR into the whole rope-a-dope discussion effortlessly, which spotlighted Sting's defensive strategy in a way you don't often get on wrestling broadcasts. Give credit to JR for embracing these observations instead of blowing them off the way Vince most likely would have. Of course, Vince and Jesse were a complete comedy act anyway, and I don't think even Gino would have quite caught where Jesse was going. These two are probably the best team in wrestling at this point, and it's a shame they don't believe that themselves, because neither one of them has ever sounded better. (Extra credit to Jesse for what may be the first use of the phrase "It's Vader time!" on American TV.)

 

I think Sleeze has already spotlighted what would have been my Line of the Night. I agree with him that this bout wasn't designed to settle anything, and I'm looking forward to their strap match at Superbrawl, which I've heard awesome things about. This is definitely behind the Bash match; even if I'd agreed with the booking right down the line, a World title change beats a match for a meaningless trophy that isn't even the centerpiece of the pay-per-view it's on, even as good as this one was in spite of its conceptual difficulties.

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I actually think it is the ideal David/Goliath match. It's probably my favorite match, and I do go ****3/4 as well. This is a match I can watch anytime. It's awesome. Is it The Godfather? No. But is it Rocky IV, yeah it is. I don't want to pick it apart or analyze it. I just want to enjoy it for what it is. It's one hell of an action packed fight with Sting probably delivering the best performance of his career. I would echo most everything Sleeze said above. I love the Bash and strap match too. I do think Flair/Steamboat is The Godfather Trilogy or a better title might be Lord of the Rings. But the Sting/Vader trilogy is like Star Wars or better yet Die Hard - It's just awesome and really damn fun.

 

Coming back to add this hit #59 on the list created by Loss.

 

placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-100-51/2/

 

I can say, that I would rank the trilogy as follows:

 

1. Starrcade

2. Superbrawl

3. GAB

 

All would be at ****3/4, but I am always debating whether or not this one hit the ***** star mark. Honestly, who cares, it's an incredible match :)

...back again as I wrap up 1992... I moved on from thinking of matches in stars... but, I haven't moved on from thinking this is probably my favorite match. 

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My favorite match of the series. Loved the opening few minutes, with Vader no selling the punches,, powering Sting around before Sting comes back with that cannonball kick and a release German suplex, building momentum, knocking Vader out of the ring, knocking his mask off, and then hitting a plancha onto Vader AND Harley Race. Whoa. Sting even hits a SUPER DDT at one point. Sting will get these little flashes of offense through Vader's dominance and he does such a good job of selling here. Loved his struggle for the backslide. The finish was really cool too. Great match.

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This was a great match but, not what I would call a classic. Everyone has talked about the positives which I agree with but, I'll mention my gripes.

The DDT off the top rope should have been later in the match. That is such a devastating move on the ground so, an elevated version should be a guaranteed KO...especially in '92. The fact that it came off more as a chancery suplex..eh maybe that can explain it away.

In a similar vein, I felt the selling of damage was intermittent. Sting absorbing Vader's forearm clubs in a rope-a-dope fashion is a good for instance. I haven't seen their other encounters so, there may be a reference that I'm missing. I appreciate the Ali tactic early on in the match or as the overarching story but, to employ this 75% of the way in is a bad idea :) Both real and imagined. 

And that leads to my final complaint which is the finish. Sting got obliterated by a 2nd rope splash but, he's got the stamina and wherewithal to get up and catch slam Vader? Nah...he shouldn't. Roll outta the way? Yes. Knees up? Yes. 

So, all that being said, this was still a physical, action packed match that would have been right at home in a 1992 NJPW ring. Great stuff but, not a classic in my book.

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