March 24, 2009
Graham Cawthon

Kayfabe Commentaries: "Ringside" with Vader

Whether it's Big Van Vader, Vader, or just Leon White, the name is synonymous with hard-hitting matches against many of wrestling's biggest names.

Now the name is synonymous with a new series by Kayfabe Commentaries entitled "Ringside."

Upon reading the background of the DVD, I was intrigued. Vader and KC co-owner Sean Oliver discuss some of Vader's most famous matches while actually watching the matches together.

I have high expectations when it comes to Kayfabe Commentaries. They've done such a great job with each shoot-style DVD release that they consistently up the bar.

Popping in the DVD, it seemed as though this new style of shoot interview wouldn't meet expectations because the audience is left out of the viewing party. Vader and Sean sit at a table while watching a TV screen - a TV screen that is out of view of those sitting at home.

"How am I supposed to follow this?" I asked myself.

Those familiar with several recent WWE DVDs will recall how some matches have new commentary provided by an actual announcer and the wrestler being profiled. I assumed the situation would be the same here, with Vader providing play-by-play for his own matches.

It wasn't long before I realized that's not really the point of "Ringside."

Rather than give a blow-by-blow description of the action, Vader gives a step by step recollection of how the matches came to be, the backstage goings on of the time, and some fantastic stories from both in and out of the ring. While the in-ring action is mentioned from time to time, it's not a distraction and it doesn't leave the viewer feeling left out.

Matches profiled:

Baby Bull vs. Bruiser Brody
AWA, May 1986

- How Vader broke into the business
- What it was like working for Verne and Greg Gagne
- How the AWA talent of that time went on to become successful in other promotions
- Working against Brody and what influence Brody had on his career

Big Van Vader vs. Antonio Inoki
Sumo Hall, December 1987

- Working in Japan
- Making his debut against Inoki
- What liberties Inoki gave him to help Vader get over in the match
- Drinking backstage with Masa Saito just before the match

Big Van Vader vs. Shinya Hashimoto
Tokyo Dome, April 1989

- How he compares Hashimoto to other Japanese stars like the Great Muta and Masahiro Chono
- Wrestling nearly an hour in three seperate matches during this tournament for the IWGP championship
- How the Vader character got over in Japan
- How his headpiece was controlled
- What he thinks of his stiff working style compared to Hashimoto's stiff working style

Big Van Vader vs. Stan Hansen
Tokyo Dome, February 1990

- Thoughts of having his nose broken before he even got in the ring
- Memories of shoving his eye back in the socket during the match
- His friendship with Hansen and how that was somewhat strained during and after the match
- The surgeries he underwent after the match

Big Van Vader vs. Sting
WCW Great American Bash 92

- How he was brought into WCW
- Thoughts on his first match with Sting and their in-ring chemistry
- How he compares Sting to other wrestlers he's worked against
- Comparing the southern wrestling crowd to that of Japan and the AWA
- Road stories with Harley Race and how Race helped him behind the scenes

Big Van Vader & Joe Thurman & TA McCoy (handicap match)
WCW Worldwide, November 1992

- His memories of the night he broke Thurman's back
- What he thinks of the incident now
- Visiting Thurman in the hospital that night with Race
- What Thurman is doing now

Vader vs. Cactus Jack
Munich, Germany March 1994

- Memories of the night Cactus lost his ear
- Working for WCW during the European tours
- First-hand account of the night Sid Vicious and Arn Anderson got into the scissors fight
- His thoughts on Cactus' wrestling style and the two men's relationship

Big Van Vader vs. Shawn Michaels
WWF Summer Slam 96

- His account of the backstage incident with Paul Orndorff that led to him leaving WCW
- How he was brought into the WWF and his health at that time
- Thoughts on the Clique
- Shawn Michaels attitude at the time
- Whether he was or wasn't supposed to get the belt
- What led to him leaving the WWF and who made the decision

Big Van Vader vs. Nobuhiko Takada
Budokan Hall, August 1994

- How he was approached for the fight while working for WCW
- Working a shoot style match
- His take on Takada's career
- Whether he could have been a good shootfighter

Those are just some of the highlights of what is a very entertaining and enlightening release. But with Kayfabe Commentaries, should we expect anything less?

For more information or to get your own copy check out www.kayfabecommentaries.com.

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