We’ve covered quite a few SQUASHES over the last year plus, but we have yet to review one that led to a riot.
This isn’t hyperbole. The match we are covering today quite literally incited fans to RIOT to the point where the ring was nearly torn apart.
The match featured Antonio Inoki, who had just had a match against Riki Choshu, taking on none other than Leon White, aka Big Van Vader.
Ah yes, and this is Vader with the super crazy smoke-spewing mask. That thing was awesome, and when he came to the ring wearing it in the late 1980s, nobody had ever seen anything quite like it. Even today it looks somewhat insane, like something out of a kaiju battle.
And when he got into the ring, Inoki probably thought he was going up against Godzilla. Vader just pummels the guy fist after fist in a truly brutal manner.
This was super early Vader and he looks almost skinny here. I’m not saying he became a fat piece of crap later on (that would have been Vince McMahon, who had him go out and call himself that in front of a live crowd in a completely tasteless moment), just pointing out that he looked like an absolute world beater here.
Suplexes, elbow drops, giant clotheslines. And then he just barrels over poor Inoki and causes him to fall out of the ring. You’d think that might get him a break but no way – Vader goes out and wallops him right upside the head.
But what came next was by far the most shocking. Vader picks Inoki up and gives him a giant power slam…and gets the 1-2-3 as a result. This was absolutely unheard of – Inoki very rarely lost, and losing without ever getting in a single offensive maneuver seemed impossible to believe.
Others swarmed the ring to help Inoki, but Vader was having none of it and beat the crap out of all of them too. And the fans? The fans were FURIOUS. Just how angry were they?
A picture is worth 1,000 words, right?
This led of course to big business, and Vader was a made man. “The Big Van Vader character took off as a money-making gimmick from day one,” Leon noted prior to his death. With a debut like this, there’s no question about that!