On the latest edition of his Grillin JR podcast legendary commentator Jim Ross spoke about the 1996 SummerSlam matchup between Shawn Michaels and Vader, where the Heartbreak Kid lost his temper mid-bout and shoot stomped on Vader’s head. He later adds that Michaels was a key reason Vader lost his main event push in WWE. Highlights are below.
Recalls Shawn Michaels stompign Vader’s head during their SummerSlam matchup:
“Nothing good. You don’t lose your cool like that. Shawn had the license to lose his cool because of his influence with the office. Shawn knew Vince was gonna back him no matter what he did, and that’s what happened. But Shawn overplayed his hand, in my estimation. It was very unprofessional. He’s just lucky Vader beat the shit out of him because Leon could have. Leon was hungry and wanted the opportunity. He needed an American base, and now he’s in the main event of a major pay-per-view wrestling for the biggest title we had. Leon had traveled a lot of miles and lost a lot of weight and showed a better commitment to what he was doing. I just thought it was totally uncalled for, but Shawn had the deck stacked because he had Vince in his back pocket. Vince has often told me, ‘That goddamn Shawn Michaels reminds me of me when I was younger.’ He’s talking obviously about Shawn’s attitude, demeanor, and that type of thing. It could’ve been a 5-star match had some of that childish bullshit had not occurred.”
How Michaels told Vince McMahon he didn’t want to work with Vader anymore and halted his push:
“Shawn explained to Vince why he didn’t want to work with Leon. I remember one time I had to chew Leon’s ass out because he didn’t take it seriously that you’ve gotta wash your fucking gear. You can let your sweaty gear sit in your travel bag between bookings. When the loop is over, you go home and wash your stuff. Leon had a propensity to leave his stuff in his bag. I had a phone conversation about him with that one time, and I learned from it because he put me on the speakerphone. I chewed his ass out with his wife listening, and she ironically agreed with everything I said…..[Shawn] got in my face, so to speak, and said I’m not gonna work with him whether you book it not because he won’t wash his gear and it stinks and I get that stink all over me. All that shit was necessary. You’ve got an athletic monster heel with universal name identity, but because one guy got his feelings hurt or he was too stiff – I thought Leon was a good signing for us. Had he slowed down a little bit? Yeah but he had lost some weight and was trying to get in decent shape. Sometimes when your big like that and gassed, you can be a little stiff inadvertently. ‘I’m gonna talk to Vince.’ That was [Shawn’s] go-to. It was just so unfortunate. Childish, unprofessional, and should never have happened. I’m glad over the course of time, Shawn has changed and he’s not that overbearing guy that was always seemingly at the center of controversy. I’m glad he’s changed for the better. Leon missed out on the title, and Sid was seemingly, for Shawn anyway, less of an evil.”
(H/T and transcribed by 411 Mania)