The Man they call Sting had several rivalries stand out in the early years of World Championship Wrestling. His most famous was probably against the nWo in the late 90s. He also had several knock-down-drag-out battles with Lex Luger, Ric Flair, and Rick Rude. However, arguably none were as brutal as the one with Big Van Vader. These two stars took each other to the limit match after match. Sting handled himself surprisingly well in the ring with Vader. Many times Sting proved to be just as strong as the Mastadon, Vader.
WCW’s Hero Sting
Sting was the face of WCW. There’s no argument when it comes to that fact. Even before his legendary rivalry with the New World Order, The man they called Sting was headed for greatness. He had several classic encounters with Ric Flair. Including a 45 minute draw and a bloody grudge match with the Four Horsemen. He also had an international inter-promotional rivalry in New Japan Pro Wrestling with the Great Muta for the NWA Television Title.
On July 7, 1990, Sting defeated Ric Flair for the WCW Championship. Flair regained it in January, but Sting proved he could be the man. On Aug 1991, he defeated Stunning Steve Austin to win the vacated US Championship. Unfortunately, after a rude awakening, the icon lost to Ravishing Rick Rude. Sting also is the very first winner of the WCW Battlebowl. Sting was the hero in WCW.
Monster from the Rocky Mountains
Every hero needs a monster to defeat. Big Van Vader was the definition of the word monster. Leon White, aka Vader, was discovered at a gym. His size caught the eye of Japanese promotions. Just like Godzilla, Vader terrorized the Land of the Rising Sun. In New Japan Pro Wrestling, he captured the IWGP Championship twice. He and another monster, Bam Bam Bigelow, also captured the IWGP Tag Team Championship. The duo was known as Big Bad and Dangerous. In 1990 Vader debuted in WCW at the Great American Bash. He was billed from parts unknown and weighing 399 lbs. He acquired the services of NWA legend Harley Race. His first target was non-other than the man called Sting.
Sting vs. Big Van Vader 1992 Great American Bash
The Mastodon received a title shot at due to a combination of Harley Race’s influence and Vader’s trail of broken bodies. Vader was disqualified. He broke Sting’s ribs after the match. Vader seemed to have ended Stings career. However, The Stinger was tough, choosing to compete taped up. Big Van Vader got his rematch at the 1992 Great American Bash on July 12, 1992. Vader concentrated on Sting’s ribs. Sting had several comebacks, including putting Vader on his shoulders for a Samoan Drop. Unfortunately, he overshot a Stinger Splash and ended up busting himself open. Like a shark smelling blood, Vader attacked. Vader power bombed Sting and won the WCW Championship. After his loss to Vader, Tony Schivone asked Sting if the memories of the loss of that match were painful.
“It not painful at all. Painful is being put into a corner. Painful is not knowing what to do the next time you’re with Big Van Vader. I know what I have to do. I have turned it up not one notch, but I’ve turned it up two notches. I’m ready for you Vader.”
Vader was not threatened by Sting.
“Sting I told you I was going to take you to the school of pain. I told you I was going to take your most prized possession. Now you want a rematch, you want one more piece of Vader. Well, you’ve got it all 445 lbs of it. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, you have one shot and then you’ll have nothing left.”
In 2015 on WWE Networks special the Round Table, Vader and Sting recounted their physical battles. Sting said that he slammed him during the match with Vader, but Vader fell on top of him and dislodged a rib. He said he could see it poking out of his skin. He recounted how he couldn’t breathe for a split second. But, like true professionals, both knew this was just part of the deal.
King of Cable 1992
Unfortunately for Vader, he suffered a knee injury three weeks after becoming champion. He was defeated by Ron Simmons. Simmons was a last-minute replacement for Sting due to a Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts sneak attack on the icon. Leon White underwent extensive knee surgery. He returned at Halloween Havoc, sending legend Nikita Koloff into retirement. The Masatadon was back. He immediately went after Sting. The two faced off in the finals of the King of Cable Tournament at Starrcade 1992. The King of Cable Tournament was created to celebrate 20 years of wrestling on TBS. The winner received a trophy and was recognized as the most dominant star in WCW. Stings’ strategy was to tire out Vader.
Sting hit a flying plancha on both Harley Race and Vader. The Stinger even amazingly superplexed the 400 lb rocky mountain monster off the top turnbuckle. Sting went for a stinger splash, but Vader moved, and Sting hit the guardrail. Vader zeroed in on Sting’s arm, which was damaged in the splash. The Mastadon did what he did best and mauled Sting for most of the match. Vader even tried to make Sting submit with a modified abdominal stretch. However, Vader became overconfident and went to the top rope for a superplex on Sting. Sting fought off the Mastadon, and all 450 lbs of Vader hit the mat. Vader began to maul sting again, but with each blow, Vader seemed to tire himself out.
When Vader went to the top again, sting caught him on the way down and got the win. This win made Sting the King of Cable. Later in the night, both stars were involved in the Battle Bowl Match. Sting actually had an advantage as he was the 1991 Battlebowl winner. Unfortunately, this year a Rocky Mountain Monster was hot on Sting’s trail. Vader tackled Sting on the Ramp. They ended up eliminating each other. Battlebowl only intensified this feud.
Two days later, Vader defeated Ron Simmons and regained the WCW Championship. Simmons put up an amazing effort coming within seconds of defeating Vader. Vader was too powerful and caught Simmons with a shoulder breaker. Vader was the new WCW Champion. At Superbrawl III, Vader defeated Sting in a strap match called White Castle of Fear match. Both Sting and Vader were tied together with a leather strap that can and was used to beat your opponent unconscious. The winner would need to touch all four corners of the ring successfully. In other words, for Sting to be victorious, he needed to drag all 400 lbs of Vader to each post. Vader would splash Sting repeatedly.
Sting fought back, and actually, german suplexed Vader. He followed that up with a DDT. Sting literally carried Vader on his shoulders as he touched 3 corners. Unfortunately, during the process, the ref was shoved to the mat by Vaders foot. Sting tried to get the 4th turnbuckle but fell over the ref. It was now Vaders time to touch all 4 turnbuckles. He tied Sting up and drug him feet first with him. He touched 3 buckles in succession. Sting grabbed the ropes on the last corner, but when he kicked Vader off, Vader touched the final buckle.
Vader won the match, but Sting grabbed the strap and starting beating Vader with it. Vader was a bloody mess. On the same episode of Round Table, Vader recalled after the strap match, Sting sliced his eardrum. He said all this blood came gushing out. His equilibrium was off, and he couldn’t even find his way back to the locker room. Vader even joked saying.
“so that injury never got around because it’s ok for Sting to hurt Vader, but if it’s the other way around, poor Sting.”
When Vader was asked if he was bitter, he said no.
“That was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Needless to say, these stars took the word brutal to the next level. Sting defeated Vader for the WCW Championship in London, England. However, a few days later in Ireland, Vader had the luck of the Irish as he became WCW Champion for the third time.
Sting & British Bulldog vs. Masters of Powerbomb (Vader & Sid Vicious)
Sting defeated Vader for the WCW Championship in London, England. However, a few days later in Ireland, Vader had the luck of the Irish as he became WCW Champion for the third time. After dealing with challenges from Cactus Jack, Sid Vicious, and new WCW star Davey Boy Smith, Vader and Sting once again crossed each other’s paths. On July 19, 1993, at Beach Blast, Sting teamed up with Smith to challenge Vader and Viscous. Sting and the Bulldog won. Although Vader went for a moonsault, Sting saved Davey from being pinned. Later in the match, the Bulldog pinned Vader.
That following year, Vader and Sting crossed paths again at Slamboree 1993 on May 22, 1994, for the vacant International World Heavyweight Title. Sting was going to be awarded the title due to Rick Rude’s injury. However, being the competitor that Sting is, he asked to face Vader. Sting defeated Vader and won the title. Vader may not have been the International Champion, but he was still the WCW Heavyweight Champion. His next challenge was from none other than the Nature Boy Ric Flair. Originally Vader was booked to defend against Sid; however, due to an infamous incident that occurred, Sid was no longer with WCW. As a result, Vader lost the WCW Championship to Ric Flair. Sting even congratulated Flair on ending the Rocky Mountain Monsters Reign of Terror.
At WCW Fall Brawl on Sept 18, 1994, Vader defeated both Sting and The Guardian Angel, formerly known as Big Boss Man, to determine the number one contender for the WCW Heavyweight title. Vader was now focused on Ric Flair and ending a new threat in the form of Hulkamania. Unlike Vader, Sting actually became a Hulk Hogan ally. Sting also fought with Ric Flair, who again reverted back to his dirtiest player ways.
The Aftermath of a Classic Rivalry
As we all know, Vader eventually invaded the WWF. Unfortunately, on June 18th, 2018, Leon White passed away. In an interview with Leon Whites Son, he stated that he wants to thank Sting for helping him and his family through his father’s final days. He claimed Sting was a huge blessing. Both stars were Christians, and Sting was very comforting to the White family.
Sting stayed in WCW and became the key figure in the rivalry with the NWO. However, in 2016 He made his way to the WWE. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. After a short rivalry with HHH, Sting joined AEW. He is currently the advisor of Darby Alin. Arguably the hottest rivalry in the early 90s in WCW was Sting vs. Vader. It set the bar for a new era in World Championship Wrestling.