by Jeremy Cundiff
1. Sycho Sid vs. Vader from WWF In Your House 10: Mind Games (1996)
Let’s jump right in with a match that’s not exactly 5 star material…but given its participants and the circumstances the end result was, dare I say, well above and beyond expectations.A little bit of backstory for you going into this one. We’re a month removed from SummerSlam, where Vader and his push were soundly defeated by the tandem of Shawn Michaels and douchebaggery. If I, as a 12 year old diehard HBK fan at the time, knew how Shawn had acted backstage legit…I could have turned out a WCW fan instead. But anyways, Vader had just lost a WWF Championship match he was supposed to have won. So, obviously, there was no master plan for him at this time. I wonder how thrilled he was now about leaving WCW and Japan. Meanwhile, Sid was fresh off a midcard victory over The British Bulldog, and he too was in a position where there was no master plan for him. As you may or may not remember, Sid came into the WWF in July 1996 to replace the Ultimate Douche-WARRIOR in a big six man main event, because Warrior no-showed a ton of events that may or may not have had to do with his dying father. So, what do you do with two big power guys that have nothing to do? You stick them into a match together and pray one of them isn’t Ted Arcidi.
On paper, most modern fans would look at this match and go “psh, I don’t see Kevin Steen’s name anywhere on the card.” But for those of us who remember, let’s delve into it. Sid was never a guy you looked to for classic mat wrestling. He’s not considered a good worker, if a worker at all. However, there are two things that Sid brought to the table. One was high impact power offense, and the other was impressive athleticism. While Sid just about never puts any effort into doing anything in the ring, on the rare occasion he does you can see the natural ability. In this match, you get to see both his power and his athleticism. Not only is Sid throwing his (and Vader’s) weight around with a bodyslam or two that actually look pretty decent (considering Sid was about 315 lbs. and Vader 450 lbs.), but you get to see the master of the squirrels whip out many of his common moves such as the crossbody from the top rope…
Sycho Sid hit a top rope crossbody on Vader. What? Next you’re gonna tell me Sid is going to hit him with a sunset flip…
Honestly, these screenshots don’t do these moves justice. When Sid hit the crossbody, Vader didn’t just go, “GUFFAW!” and fall down like Jackie Gayda after a can of Four Loko. He caught Sid with one arm and held him for a few good seconds prior to slamming him to the mat. The sunset flip was very impressive as well. And when Sid wasn’t pretending to be Shawn Michaels (who was sitting right there at ringside doing commentary by the way) he was doing just that: slamming Vader like Onyx. Of course, Vader was returning the shots too. While these guys might not be Misawa and Kobashi mixing it up with their punches, this match has a little bit of a quicker pace than most Sid matches. And given that Sid is the runt of the two, I believe that means it’s possible that smaller, faster wrestlers actually slow Sid down, and he works at his quickest pace when facing a larger, slower opponent. (Please don’t prove me wrong by posting a link and saying “SEE? SID AND MABEL FROM 1995!” It’s Mabel and it’s 1995, it shouldn’t even count in the record books).
The point is, Shawn Michaels did his usual entertaining commentary and got to watch Sid pull some pretty acrobatic stuff, while Vader reminded everyone why Shawn didn’t want to take that ass whooping from him. There weren’t many slow points. The match was quick, but not so quick it required both men to stop and take a chinlock breather. The ending was cool, if not expected for a match with a Jim Cornette protege. Sid won after some botched chicanery, and went on to face Shawn in November at Survivor Series 1996, where he took the WWF Championship and the NYC smark crowd was pleased. I believe this match is proof they didn’t know what they were doing, because if the plan was Sid and Shawn all along, they should have used the commentary to push Sid’s agility and possibly that Sid was using Shawn’s style a little bit to piss him off while he sat watching at ringside. Or Vince just didn’t care because everybody was watching WCW at the time anyway. As for Vader, he did a metric shitton of nothing for the remaining two years of his WWF career, at which point there was nothing left to do but hit Japan on cruise control, his American career in shambles thanks to the abrupt derailing of his monster push. So, this is what I consider Vader’s final match in North America worth remembering until In Your House: Final Four next February. Then, that would be the end of his relevancy in this country…and that sucks ass from a straw with ten holes in it.
Either way, it’s a hell of a match that nobody remembers because it’s 1996 and the main event of this pay-per-view was a Shawn/Mankind brawl where Shawn hit Mick with the backdrop suplex off the top through a table on the floor. If you like seeing two big guys beat the crap out of each other while a skinny guy tries his best to make himself relevant throughout the match, then this will be about sixteen minutes of paradise for you. For the rest of us who just like wrestling…this is a good power match with two talented big men, with some pretty good surprises and not a great deal of filler. Oh, and Shawn Michaels on commentary.
Photos 1-2: youtube.com