No matter how many times it is replayed on TV, the terrifying sight of Jack's skull and shoulders bouncing off the cement never fails to have a chilling effect. It is like watching the shower scene from Phycho.
Jack suffered a severe concussion and periodic spells of amnesia and was hospitalized for several weeks. Doctors say he is lucky to be alive; one inch either way and he might have been paralyzed ... or worse.
A lesser man would have quit wrestling. A saner man would have stayed at least 100 miles away from Vader and manager Harley Race. But nobody ever accused Cactus Jack of thinking rationally. As soon as doctors gave him the go-ahead, Cactus began training for his comeback.
He has always been a wrestler who is at his best when the rules are thrown aside. He specializes in falls-count-anywhere matches. Cactus already had reason for revenge when Vader, Paul Orndorff, Barry Windham, and Harley Race attacked him in January. The Center Stage incident only intensified his desire. Cactus has the fan's support, and he plans on using his momentum to do unto Vader what Vader did unto him.
At press time, Cactus Jack was preparing to wrestle Vader in a "Spin the Wheel Make the Deal" match at Halloween Havoc '93 on October 24 at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. PWI sent Senior Writers Dave Rosenbaum and Chris Bernucca, and Senior Editor Bill Apter to speak with the unpredictable Jack about his unlikely comeback.
Apter: Cactus. I've known you a long time...
Cactus: So we're buddies?
Apter: Right, I knew you when you wrestled for peanuts in high school gyms.
Cactus: I'd still do it if I had to.
Apter: I know you would. The thing is, you're a long way from high school gyms. This is the big time and Vader has his mind on destroying you.
Cactus: Where's Vader?
Apter: I don't know, but he's coming after you.
Cactus: No way. I'm coming after him.
Rosenbaum: That's a good attitude, but he's perfectly healthy and you're not.
Cactus: He won't be feelin' real great for long, and I'm good as new.
Brenucca: But your doctors say a similar injury to a similar spot, like the time Vader power-bombed you, could cause permanent injury.
Cactus: So what?
Bernucca: What do you mean, so what? We're talking about permanent injury.
Cactus: A ship in its harbor is safe. But ships were not meant to stay in their harbors.
Rosenbaum: I don't believe this. Cactus Jack is quoting bad pop poster poetry.
Cactus: I got a lot of fan mail in the hospital.
Bernucca: I'm sure. But did you have to memorize it?
Cactus: It kept my mind off killing Vader and Race.
Rosenbaum: Here we go. That's the Cactus we know and love, but don't entirely trust. C'mon, Cactus, tell us how much you want to get them.
Cactus: They're dead. I'm going to tear Race's head from his body and I'm going to twist Vader's legs into a million shapes. Anybody who watches Halloween Havoc better not be easily spooked.
Apter: You're not easily spooked, are you?
Cactus: Better believe I'm not easily spooked. Vader's the one who has to worry. There are 12 spots on that wheel and 10 of them mean trouble for him.
Rosenbaum: And the other two?
Cactus: Big trouble for him.
Apter: Let's say you control the wheel. Where'd you like to see it end up? Cactus: Barbed wire, steel cage, first blood, spinner's choice...
Apter: You love the spinner's choice spot, don't you? What would you choose?
Cactus: You know that, Billy.
Apter: Falls count anywhere?
Rosenbaum: That's your game.
Cactus: The problem with wrestling is that there are too many rules. I don't have any argument with what Vader and Race did to me. I would've done the same thing to both Vader and Race. I just wish I had thought of it sooner.
Bernucca: Kind of like, do unto others...
Cactus: As they would do unto you. You got it. If Vader wants to do the same thing again, he can come and try. I'm inviting him, but he better be ready to have the same thing done to him. I'm wrestling on the payback plan.
Rosembaum: What other way is there?
Cactus: None for me. Everybody knows how I wrestle. It ain't pretty, but it's effective. Vader got the first knockdown, but the rest are all mine.
Apter: And if he hospitalizes you again?
Cactus: Vader'll have to kill me first. I'm not going back to no hospital, not in one piece.
Bernucca: I'm sure Vader would agree with you. But you must have a plan.
Cactus: Plan? I don't need no plan. What do I need with no plan?
Rosenbaum: I'm sure Vader has one.
Cactus: Good. Then I'll figure it out and he'll be done. When you got no plan, nobody can read your mind.
Bernucca: I don't think anybody could read your mind.
Cactus: Thank you.
Bernucca: I'm not sure I meant it as a compliment. Let's face it: What Vader did to you could only have knocked everything back where it belonged.
Apter: You're in trouble, Chris.
Apter: Maybe you're not?
Cactus: Nobody's in trouble. Only Vader and Race.
Rosenbaum: Have you thought about who you hate more, Vader or Race?
Cactus: What does it matter? I hate 'em both.
Bernucca: Have you seen the replay of what Vader did to you?
Cactus: Saw it. Felt it. Don't remember it, so it's a good thing there are tapes.
Apter: What was your first reaction when you saw it?
Cactus: I said, "So that's who did it to me."
Rosenbaum: You didn't know?
Cactus: I didn't remember. My melon was knocked around pretty good, you know.
Rosenbaum: Didn't the doctor tell you to retire?
Cactus: They didn't waste their breath. Look, Rosenbaum, I'm built for one of two things: kicking butt or robbing banks. I'm no robber, so I'm left with one choice, and the wrestling ring's the only place I can do it legally.
Rosenbaum: So retirement isn't in the plans.
Cactus: It is. For Vader.
Apter: Wasn't there any time when you thought Race was a pretty good manager?
Cactus: Never. He's a leech and that's all he is. A has-been. Never liked him, never will.
Apter: And Paul Orndorff?
Cactus: What about him?
Apter: Like him or hate him?
Cactus: I don't like anyone, Bill. Put it this way, you're a good soul, but if I never saw you again, it wouldn't bother me at all.
Bernucca: Bill, I think he loves you.
Cactus: I don't have time for love. I only have time for revenge.
Rosenbaum: So I guess our time is up. Thanks for your time, and good luck against Vader.
Cactus: I don't need luck. Vader does.