Jim Cornette has told the story behind the backstage brawl between Big Van Vader and Paul Orndorff in WCW in 1995.
One of the most notorious incidents in WCW history, ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff was said to have knocked out the colossal Vader backstage with one punch before kicking him in the head with flip-flops after the pair disagreed about the promos they were required to cut.
The incident would lead to Vader’s dismissal from the company, despite many seeing Orndorff as washed-up in the mid-90’s and ‘The Mastodon’ as a much better prospect going forward.
Now, Jim Cornette has sat down on the most recent edition of his Drive-Thru Podcast to discuss the story behind the legend and what actually occurred to bring both men to blows:
“Well everyone’s told the story about him and Vader. And Killer Kyle told it to me because he was Mark Kyle, there that night doing jobs at Center Stage. Basically the deal was that Leon could sometimes get grumpy or hard to deal with or whatever when he was in a mood. Orndorff was one of the producers and agents at the time and he’s yelling at Leon, “Vader, promos!” So he’s got to go over and do promos, and Vader’s taking his time because he’s doing something more important at that point in time, and they came from two different generations also.
Leon got in the business when Paul was already up on that top run up there in the WWF so they never crossed paths. Then Paul had the problem with his shoulder and the nerve damage and then he had to retire for a couple of years and then he worked Smoky Mountain and Leon was in Japan and they both end up in Atlanta in 1994.
But anyway, Paul Orndorff is not used to being disrespected but neither is Leon – Vader – so anyway, a couple of times Paul Orndorff has to call this guy to do promos and finally I believe the phrase was, “Vader, get your fat f***ing ass in here and do the promos!” I full believe that Vader did not realise what he was doing or who he was confronting when he made an issue out of it but naturally the, ‘f*** you’s, f*** you’s’, started and Paul just bam, reached out and hit him with that left and dropped him. And Paul was wearing flip-flops, shower shoes, and he’s kicking Vader in the head with the flip-flops and Kyle said it sounded like someone beating two fish together.”
However, following the pull-apart brawl backstage, the pair weren’t done when Vader refused to leave the situation alone and the pair had to be pulled apart a second time:
“And they broke it up and later Leon was still mad and felt like he hadn’t had a fair shot – not knowing that Orndorff’s probably going to do the same thing again – and he went at him again and they got in between it. And that’s when they ended up letting Vader go.”
Though Vader was released from World Championship Wrestling following the incident, he wouldn’t be gone from the industry for long and made his WWF debut at the 1996 Royal Rumble under the guidance of Jim Cornette himself.
Despite never reaching the top of the mountain as designed at SummerSlam 1996 or Survivor Series 1996 – thanks to some Shawn Michaels politicking – Vader did have memorable feuds with Yokozuna, The Undertaker and Kane during his time with the company.
Credit for the interview: Jim Cornette’s Drive-Thru