The Real-Life Backstage Fight Between Paul Orndorff and Vader That Got Messy

Off-Camera Fight Between Paul Orndorff And Vader

Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Stories.

According to Vader, he had been at a photoshoot earlier in the day that ran long. When he arrived at the venue for the matches, he was met by an irate Paul Orndorff.

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Witnesses Describe Messy Backstage Fight That Led To Departure Of Vader From WCW

Photo Credit: WWE.

Bullet Bob Armstrong describes the Paul Orndorff and Vader fight:

"They got into the darndest fight you ever saw. He beat him ’til he was bleeding- it was a mess!"

The WCW Backstage Brawl Between Paul Orndorff And Vader

Image result for vader wcw
Photo Credit: WWE.

VADER (in an interview with Hannibal TV):

"It was pretty much just a misunderstanding. I wasn’t who I am today. I was drinking a lot.

Paul had thought I showed up late, and he was one of the agents, and he was kind of dressing me down for it. I responded in kind, saying, ‘Excuse me? Mr. Bischoff has said that I had to take a photo session.’ So Paul didn’t know that I was on an assignment from the boss…"

TERRY TAYLOR (witness):

"After a match, Vader was asked to do an interview, and he said, ‘Sure, just wait until I’ve changed.’ Around this time, Paul Orndorff started talking **** to Vader. Paul walked away, Vader slow-burned, and Vader ended up getting into Paul’s face shortly thereafter…"

Vader VS Paul Orndorff – Dueling Perspectives on the Legendary Backstage Brawl

Big Van Vader.
Photo Credit: WWE.


"[Bischoff] had sent me over to the CNN Towers where the offices were.

It was right at traffic time. So, I took my photos, got dressed, and came directly over, and I was an hour and a half late, but – again, Eric said, ‘I know you’re going to be late.’

Eric told me that he would let everyone know I would be late as I was taking a photo session that I had to do.

Apparently, I had been asked to do this a few times, and I had put it off and put it off, and he said, ‘Now, you have to do it.’ Again, he told me that he would let everyone know that I was coming, but I would be late. Paul took exception to that, and we squared off…"

Orndorff and Vader Give Their Takes

"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff.
Photo Credit: WWE.

PAUL ORNDORFF (in an interview with Camel Clutch Blog):

"[Vader] had to do an interview. Dave Penzer and Kevin Sullivan asked him to do an interview because we had fifteen minutes to do the interview, and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to do it for a week. I just said, ‘Leon, could you please do this interview, it’ll take you five minutes, and you’re done…’

I was doing my job. One thing led to another – we had words. It was like David and Goliath."


"Paul was threatening me four or five inches from my face, and I slapped him."


"He sucker-punched me.

He made a bad mistake because I got up…"

Terry Taylor Witnesses The Paul Orndorff And Vader Backstage Fight

WWE Performance Center trainer, Terry Taylor.
Photo Credit: WWE.

TERRY TAYLOR (witness):

"Vader hit Paul first, and it turned into a brawl from there once Orndorff miraculously got Vader onto the ground."

Clash of Titans: Paul Orndorff Versus Vader – A Tale of Dueling Perspectives Continues

Photo Credit: WWE.


"Everyone said I sucker-punched him. You know, when a man is four inches from your face, calling you a fat bleepity-bleepin’-bleep saying he’s going to bleepin’ bleep you – that’s threatening in nature.

So, I felt I was defending myself, so I just slapped him, and his feet literally came off the ground.

There was this steel shed that they had these big, giant steel tools in [that were used] to put the ring together, and his head must have missed that by three inches. My God, if the back of his head would have hit that, he could have been hurt and killed, and I would have been in jail.

You know, I was 400 pounds, and I could bench 600, and Paul had one arm. Again, Paul’s a tough guy but certainly at that point – 225 or 230 pounds. Really, one of his arms had nerve damage, which really crippled him.

[So] I backed up against the wall, and Sting was to my right, and I crossed my hands in front of me, and I was just not going to fight, thinking that I could end up in jail very easily. Paul hit me three or four times directly in the face, and I let it happen. I didn’t move, I had my hands crossed in front of me, and he puffed my eyes and bloodied my lip. Again, I didn’t fight back, and finally, as he was going for a fifth hit, I grabbed him. I grabbed him, and front-face locked him, and we went to the ground.

He got up first and kicked me a few times in the face."

More From The Backstage Brawl Between Paul Orndorff And Vader

Photo Credit: WWE.


"I hurt my foot. I kicked him so many times in the head; it hurt my foot. I had flip-flops on…"


"They got into the darndest fight you ever saw. Paul just beat his big fat- I mean, he beat him ’til he was bleeding. It was a mess…"


"Before I could get up, [Paul] had been ushered into the agent’s room."


"They had a lot of people there [to pull me off of him]. It was one of those unfortunate things that happened. The only thing that I am thankful for is that if my body wasn’t hurt and I didn’t have all of that nerve damage on my right. God knows I might be in jail for killing him…"

Vader’s Final Perspective On The Paul Orndorff Fight

Photo Credit: WWE.


"Now, I was very upset, and I was ready to fight. I got myself together and went after him – and I’m not saying that Paul was running from me because that’s certainly not the case.

Paul’s a big, tough guy. But I think that some powers-that-be said, ‘Paul, you’re an agent. What the hell are you doing fighting one of the wrestlers?’

They had gotten him in that room, and I went in after him, and they said, ‘Leon, you cannot fight in here. Get out.’ So, I told Paul, ‘Let’s go out in the parking lot and finish this…’

Now, I’m not saying that Paul wouldn’t have gone out to the parking lot with me, but he wasn’t allowed to, and that’s pretty much the way it ended.

You know what? Paul Orndorff’s a big, big, tough man. I’m sure he would agree to fight me ten out of ten times.

At that given moment, after I had slapped him, I’m backed against the wall. I’m not going to lose my job. I’m not going to jail.

Then, when I was ready to fight, he was [the one trying to save his job]. I don’t know what was said to him when he got in that agent’s room.

You know, it’s just unfortunate.

We had a lot of things in common. He was a [former] football player; I was a football player before.

Heck, I had given him a red Labrador. I had actually shipped it from Denver when my male and female Labrador had puppies. He wanted to train it and teach it to be a hunting dog. So, it was just unfortunate as he was a friend of mine before.

I have no hard feelings. Quite frankly, you get tired of telling the story and rehashing it. [But] that’s exactly what happened. Period."

The Real Reason Vader Left WCW After His Fight With Paul Orndorff

Photo Credit: WWE.

Over the years, it was reported that Vader was fired as a result of this fight, but in an interview with Hannibal TV (H/T: Wrestling Inc), Vader revealed that wasn’t the case and opened up about the real reason why he left WCW for WWE after this incident.

"[After the fight], Bischoff said, ‘We want you to take a six-month pay cut.’ That’s a lot of money," Vader explained.

"I said, ‘Eric, for this? I can’t see a six month’s pay cut; that’s half my salary.’ It was close to a $400,000 fine. ‘How about 150? 200?’ He wouldn’t come off that, so I told Eric if that was his decision, then I was gonna go elsewhere."

Vader on Why He Left WCW

Big Van Vader ferociously attacks the face of Cactus Jack in their first encounter on April 17, 1993.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Vader continued, "I didn’t want to take the fine. They said, ‘You take the six-month suspension, and this fine, and then you can come back.’ I said, ‘Come back with my full contract?’ [Bischoff] responded, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that for you.’ Then there were the six months that wasn’t gonna be deducted, which was very fair on Eric’s part, but that didn’t stick in my mind."

As for what made him make the big jump over to WWE, Vader said, "I got a settlement [from WCW]. We settled out of my contract because it was substantial.

“I think I had six years left. If you multiply those six years with what I would’ve made, it was a bad mistake on my part. I don’t know. I think [it was] pride. Pride and business don’t work, so that was a big big mistake."

Behind The Mic: WCW’s Main Announcer Reveals the Untold Story Of Paul Orndorff And Vader’s Explosive Confrontation

Photo Credit: Impact Wrestling.

David Penzer reached out to us to share his thoughts. He was the main ring announcer for WCW at the time and witnessed the above-described altercation between Paul Orndorff and Vader.

"As someone who was directly involved and liked both guys," Penzer began, "I can tell you that Orndorff’s is the most accurate description of what happened. It had nothing to do with Vader getting there late, and nobody telling anyone he was at a photoshoot."

When researching stories like these, it’s always fascinating to see how much one person’s account vastly differs from another. This is why it’s important to include as many different first-hand accounts as possible, as the truth always lies somewhere in between! We thank David for taking the time to shed further light on this story.

Greg Valentine’s Defiant Act Behind The WWE Intercontinental Championship Belt

Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title
Photo Credit: WWE.

When Greg Valentine and Tito Santana met on July 6, 1985, in a steel cage in Baltimore, Maryland, Santana got the victory to reclaim the title. Valentine responded by retrieving the championship and destroying the belt, beating it repeatedly against the cage and tearing the gold away from the leather.

"I had to give the belt back to Tito after that angle," Valentine said. "And one day, when I saw him a few years ago, I asked whatever became of that belt, because Tito kept it after that angle. What he responded with broke my heart.”

Read: Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title

Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There

RIP Owen Hart (1965-1999).

VINCE McMAHON: “Earlier that day, I was shocked and surprised by what Owen said.”

On May 23rd, 1999, the wrestling world mourned the loss of Owen Hart. People behind the scenes on this unthinkable day reflect on the tragedy, answering the all-important questions.

Learn more in Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There

Mr Perfect Curt Hennig – A Great Life with an Unfortunate End

On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story. Here is the story of an extraordinary life with an unfortunate end.

On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story.

Learn the story of an extraordinary life with an unfortunate end.

Katie Vick – Behind WWE’s Most Shameful TV Segment

The Legend of Katie Vick, featuring Kane and Triple H.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Bruce Prichard: "Vince McMahon was like, ‘I love it! That’s perfect!’ I lost a couple of crew members because of this shoot that were highly offended at the subject matter."

In 2002, Katie Vick was introduced to the WWE audience. Many consider what followed one of the most tasteless segments in television history!

Learn more: Katie Vick: Behind WWE’s Most Shameful Storyline

The Andre the Giant Fight That Turned REAL in Japan!

When Andre the Giant and Akira Maeda met in the ring in May of '86, things did not go to plan!
When Andre the Giant and Akira Maeda met in the ring in May of ’86, things did not go to plan!

Andre the Giant showed up at the Japanese venue more inebriated than usual in May ’86. He was to face Akira Maeda, a wrestler building a reputation as someone hard to do business with. Together, there was a possibility for volatility, and much like a forest fire, it only took a spark!

Read: Andre the Giant and Akira Maeda Fight That Turned REAL in Japan

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Matt Pender is an old-school wrestling fan who currently lives in New Zealand. He is also a musical performer with his band OdESSA who can be investigated at the link above.