"Little men" prove triumphant

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June 23, 2006

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Over the years, the reference of David vs. Goliath has been applied to sports-entertainment many times. Any time a big man takes on a much smaller opponent, you hear reference to the Biblical battle between big and small. The bigger man is usually the odds-on favorite in those encounters based on sheer size alone; but sometimes, the David surprises everyone by coming through to slay the Goliath. Here are five classic instances where the little man came out on top:

WCW Starrcade 1993 - Ric Flair vs. Vader

In 1993, WCW Champion Vader was running rampant through the promotion. No one was able to stop the 400-pound monster, but one man was determined to give it his best shot: Ric Flair. At BattleBowl in November, Flair was destroyed by Vader during a Battle Royal and was taken out on a stretcher. To get his revenge, Flair had to put his career on the line at Starrcade against Vader’s WCW Championship.

Vader beat on Flair for the majority of the match; at one point, Flair’s eye was nearly swollen shut and he was bleeding from the mouth. Finally, the “Nature Boy” resorted to using a chair, solidifying his reputation as the “dirtiest player in the game.” Flair worked the knee and managed to get the Figure-Four Leglock on Vader, but the champion wouldn’t give up. In the end, it was more chicanery that gave Flair his revenge; he clipped Vader’s bad knee, and with his feet on the ropes, the “Nature Boy” cradled Vader for the three count and the WCW Championship.

In addition to saving Flair’s career, the victory earned him an impressive eleventh reign as World Champion.

WrestleMania X - Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna

In 1993, Yokozuna won the Royal Rumble to earn an opportunity at Bret Hart’s WWE Championship at WrestleMania IX. When Hart applied the Sharpshooter, it looked like he would leave WrestleMania with the gold; however, Mr. Fuji threw salt in his eyes, allowing Yokozuna to get the win and the championship.

One year later, the roles were reversed. Hart won the 1994 Royal Rumble, and at WrestleMania X he took on the 700-pounder with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as the guest referee. Bret was at a disadvantage going into the match, but not just because of the size difference. Earlier in the night, the “Hitman” had to take on his brother Owen; not only did he lose the match, but he also suffered a knee injury that was still bothering him heading into the main event.

Somehow, the “Hitman” found a way to survive the injury and the massive champion and walk out with the gold. Yokozuna was dominant, but as he went for his patented Banzai Splash he slipped and fell off the second rope. The champion landed hard, and Hart rolled the stunned Yokozuna up for the three count to win his second WWE Championship. After the match, several Superstars emerged from the locker room to celebrate with the new champion.

SummerSlam 1996 - Shawn Michaels vs. Vader

During his first WWE Championship reign in 1996, Shawn Michaels spent most of the summer engaged in a rivalry with Jim Cornette and his stable of protégés. After defeating both Owen Hart and British Bulldog, HBK had to face off against a much bigger foe at SummerSlam: the 400-pound plus Vader.

Many thought that Michaels would get slaughtered by the monster; for the most part, they were right. In fact, Vader actually had the match won twice. After Vader destroyed him on the floor, Michaels was actually counted out; however, Cornette didn’t want Vader to win that way (as the gold couldn’t change hands on a countout) so the match was restarted. Later, HBK was disqualified for using Cornette’s tennis racket; once again, the manager had the match restarted because the championship couldn’t change hands on a DQ either.

Unfortunately, Vader should’ve taken either of those victories while he had the chance. Somehow, Michaels found a way to shake off all the punishment, eventually nailing Vader with a moonsault press to pick up the victory and retain the WWE Championship.

Armageddon 2002 - Kurt Angle vs. Big Show

At the 2002 Survivor Series, Big Show won the WWE Championship when Paul Heyman shocked everyone by turning on Brock Lesnar. His first challenger was another man who was no stranger to the gold, Kurt Angle…and it was Lesnar getting revenge on Big Show that catapulted Angle back to the championship that night.

Late in the match the referee was knocked out, and Big Show introduced a steel chair into the match. Angle managed to use it against him, but A-Train came out to help the champion and destroy the Olympic Gold Medalist. He somehow survived that attack, and even managed to nail the 500-pound champion with an Angle Slam.

At the end, Big Show was ready to deliver a chokeslam to Angle when Lesnar made his way out. With the referee still out of commission, Lesnar ran in and gave Show his signature F-5. Angle then rolled on top of the champion to gain the pinfall and the WWE Championship.

Judgment Day 2006 - Rey Mysterio vs. JBL 

In the weeks leading up to Judgment Day, World Champion Rey Mysterio told JBL that he would take on anyone at anytime. Never one to miss an opportunity, JBL goaded the champion into matches against Mark Henry, The Great Khali and Kane. Each match saw Rey get slaughtered by his massive opponent, and heading into Judgment Day no one thought that Mysterio had any chance to walk out with the gold.

Indeed, JBL dominated the smaller champion for the majority of the match. To add insult to injury, he even used several of the late Eddie Guerrero’s signature moves against Rey (one of Eddie’s best friends). However, nothing the challenger threw at Mysterio could put him away.

Late in the match, JBL grabbed a chair; unfortunately, that would prove to be his undoing. When he tried to use it, the champion kicked it back into his face. Rey then hit a 619, and with JBL prone, he went to the top to use Eddie’s signature Frog Splash. That was enough to put away JBL, allowing Mysterio to escape with his championship yet again.

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