In the 90s, as the Hulkamania phenomenon started to slow down, the demand for monster heels started to slow down too. Ironically though, that’s when most of the wrestling world would be introduced to arguably the greatest monster heel ever, Vader. Vader dominated Japan and WCW in the late 80s and early 90s like no man had before.
Unfortunately, Vader’s WWE career didn’t pan out as many had hoped. Regardless, Vader had a legendary career overall. During parts of his career, Vader found himself in dominant tag teams. Other times though, the powerhouse would be left to compensate for a weak partner.
10 Best: Owen Hart
Despite how Vader’s WWE career ultimately played out, he arrived in the promotion with a bang. Vader debuted as part of the 1996 Royal Rumble Match and was presented as a monster early on after he destroyed Gorilla Monsoon. Eventually, Vader would become a client of Jim Cornette’s and be part of his stable, Camp Cornette.
As a member of Cornette’s group, Vader occasionally found himself teaming with Owen Hart. The tandem was never a serious contender for championship gold but that’s mostly because they didn’t team up often enough. When they did, they were a great combination of speed, agility, and brute strength.
9 Worst: The Patriot
During the 90s, the patriotic gimmick in pro wrestling was starting to lose its magic. In past eras, throwing U.S. colors on a guy and having him fight for the honor of America was enough to get them over. That was starting to no longer be the case by 1997. Still, at the time, The Patriot was a semi-important character in WWE.
At one point in 1997, The Patriot and Vader found themselves teaming together on a couple of occasions. Their most memorable teaming came at Badd Blood 1997 when they defended America’s honor against Bret “The Hitman” Hart and The British Bulldog in a Flag Match. Vader and The Patriot would lose that match and never team again.
8 Best: The Undertaker
Sometimes in pro wrestling, the win/loss record isn’t the determining factor on whether a team was good or not. Vader and The Undertaker are great examples of that. When Vader arrived in WWE, he and The Undertaker were initially rivals. In fact, Vader’s biggest WWE victory came at Royal Rumble 1997 against ‘Taker.
Eventually in 1997 though, Vader and The Undertaker team on a couple of occasions. The most memorable was their 6/23/1997 Monday Night Raw bout against Farooq and D-Lo Brown. Surprisingly, as visually imposing as Vader and The Undertaker looked as a unit, they never won a match while on the same team. Wins and losses don’t always matter though.
7 Worst: Mr. Hughes
Throughout wrestling history, there have been several performers who seemingly had the chops to be big-time players in the sport but ultimately ended up flopping. While Mr. Hughes wasn’t necessarily a flop, he never accomplished what many thought he could have in the wrestling business. During the 90s, Hughes was arguably one of the top heaters in the game.
In late 1991, Vader and Mr. Huges began teaming together occasionally. Their most memorable match took place at Clash Of The Champions 28 against The Steiner Brothers. Vader and Hughes would come up short that night and would have one more losing effort as part of a team before never teaming again.
6 Best: Mankind
Much like The Undertaker and Vader, Mankind and Vader started as great rivals. Not in WWE however. Vader and Mankind’s rivalry went back to the pair’s time in WCW when Mankind was still performing as Cactus Jack. Vader and Cactus had great chemistry as opponents in WCW and that eventually blossomed into a partnership in both WCW and WWE.
In WWE, Vader and Mankind were quite dominant. The only thing they didn’t accomplish as a team was winning the WWE Tag Team Championships. Although, they did challenge Owen Hart and The British Bulldog for the straps at WrestleMania 13 but came up just short.
5 Worst: Super Invader
When Vince McMahon purchased his father’s promotion, he wanted to rebuild it with his vision in mind. McMahon was always an admirer of great physiques so when he started calling the shots in his promotion, he started bringing in more impressive specimens. One of them was Hercules Hernandez.
Despite his impressive physique, Hercules was never able to climb too far up the WWE card. In 1992, Hercules found himself in WCW wrestling under a mask as Super Invader. The character was rather weak but did a team with Vader and others for a high-profile match at Clash Of The Champions 20. He’d be gone from WCW by the end of 1992.
4 Best: Sid Vicious
Individually, both Vader and Sid Vicious were imposing figures. Together though, they were one of the most menacing duos in WCW history as “The Masters Of The Powerbomb.” They got their team name because, at the time, both men used devastating Powerbombs as their primary finishers.
Vader and Sid’s alliance wouldn’t last but a few months. However, while they were a unit, they had a high-profile feud with Sting and The Britsh Bulldog. Their most memorable match came in a losing effort against Sting and Bulldog at Beach Blast 1993. It would’ve been interesting to see where this monstrous team could’ve gone had they stayed together longer.
3 Worst: Fake Razor Ramon & Fake Diesel
Getting more invested in a storyline or angle, requires fans to be able to suspend disbelief. When WWE introduced fake versions of the recently departed Razor Ramon and Diesel, in 1996, it seriously hindered fans’ ability to do that. Unfortunately, fans weren’t the only ones who had the endure the imposter performers.
By Survivor Series 1996, the bloom had come off of Vader’s rose in terms of being a main event star in WWE. Vader’s previously planned WWE Championship reign was being given to Sycho Sid that very night. To make matters worse, Vader was relegated to working an Elimination Tag Team Match alongside Fake Razor and Fake Diesel. Definitely not a career highlight for Vader.
2 Best: Bam Bam Bigelow
The word “dream” gets thrown around a lot in pro wrestling today. The internet wrestling community is quick to label things as a “dream match” or a “dream team.” In reality, true dream scenarios are few and far between. In 1989 however, a true “dream team” was formed in NJPW when Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow linked up.
The two would be dominant and even have a brief run as IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions in 1992. Their reign would be ended by The Steiner Brothers in June 1992. After that, the team would disband as Bigelow geared up for a WWE run and Vader focused more on his WCW bookings.
1 Worst: Jim Cornette
For some monster heels, having a great manager is like having a cheat code. The right heel manager can build up their client while also generating heat. Jim Cornette could do both of those things extremely well. When Vader arrived in WWE in 1996, he was quickly given Cornette as a mouthpiece.
Cornette would be by Vader’s side as “The Mastodon” entered a WWE Championship feud with Shawn Michaels. Unfortunately, Cornette would be taken out of his element when he was booked to team with Vader to face Shawn Michaels and Jose Lothario on the 9/30/1996 Monday Night Raw. Needless to say, the match was far from a technical masterpiece and was bogged down by the inclusion of Cornette and Lothario.