RIP Vader
Just saw on another board that his twitter is reporting he passed away Monday night.  Even tho he's kinda lost his shit the past couple years, he's still gonna go down as one of the best big men ever.

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Don't be a cuck, be a sick fuck instead at
Aww man that's a bummer
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A Boy Meets World legend!

Win the Day!

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[+] 2 users Like Rob's post
Damn, Vader has been on death's door for awhile though. Sad to see a legend pass on though.
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[+] 1 user Likes Ceallach's post
RIP... Jim Duggan slammed Vader on the outside of the ring and he landed on my feet when I was like 8.
[+] 1 user Likes DangPlex's post
Guess those doctors weren't all that wrong.
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[+] 1 user Likes Chris's post
Is he in the Hall? I don’t recall him being in...
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Nope, sure isn't.
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One of my favs. Can't believe he got passed up in the HOF every year. He's still the only wrestler in history to hold a title on 3 continents at the same time. Sucks that his WWE run fell victim to HBK's ego so E fans never got to appreciate him the way he should have been recognized.

Sad day. RIP.
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[+] 2 users Like Obsidian's post
I just learned that Jim Hellwig was originally going to be Big Van Vader. I somehow never knew this. I wish the original Vader sketches with the mask and headpiece were somewhere with Hellwig drawn in instead of Leon White.
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[+] 1 user Likes Ceallach's post
Wrestling Observer obituary:

Leon White, who was the best and most versatile 400-pound pro wrestler in history, passed away on 6/18 at the age of 63.

Best known as Vader, or Big Van Vader, White was a college football star, a powerhouse who could bench press nearly 600 pounds, and shocked people in the early 1990s when he started doing moonsaults in his biggest matches. He worked very physical, but he was a major star in companies all over the world, a major drawing card on multiple continents and one of the major figures worldwide during the decade of the 90s.

White himself was most proud of the fact that he was the only wrestler to have held the most recognized world championships in as many major markets, being a top drawing superstar in the U.S., Japan, Mexico and in Europe.

During his career he held All Japan’s Triple Crown twice, at the time when it was still a major promotion and selling out Budokan Hall on a regular basis. He held the CWA world heavyweight title in Europe three times and is generally remembered as the greatest rival of that area’s legend, Otto Wanz, which is where he got his first superstar break. He held the IWGP heavyweight title three times, the most of any non-Japanese wrestler in history. He held the UWA world heavyweight championship once, which at the time was the leading heavyweight title in Mexico. He held the UWFI world heavyweight title once, in a shoot style organization, and once sold out Jingu Stadium in Tokyo with 46,148 fans for a match with Nobuhiko Takada. He held the WCW world title three times. He was also scheduled to win the WWF championship in 1996 and do a program with Shawn Michaels, but Michaels nixed the program and that program instead went to Sycho Sid, scheduled with Vader winning the title at the 1996 Survivor Series and losing to Michaels in his home town at the 1997 Royal Rumble in San Antonio at the Alamodome.

He was voted 1993 Wrestler of the Year and an easy pick for the Hall of Fame.

His son, Jesse, wrote, “It is with a heavy heart to inform everyone that my father, Leon White, passed away on Monday night (6/18/18) at approximately 7:25 p.m. Around a month ago, my father was diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time.”

White was told by doctors in November 2016 that he had congenital heart failure and only had about two years left to live. He didn’t last that long. He did have a better diagnosis that he believed gave him more time from another doctor months later. He had serious heart surgery on 3/12 which he said left him in the most pain of his life. He developed the pneumonia in May after a second surgery.

White came into pro wrestling when he wasn’t able to overcome knee injuries that plagued him during an NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams.

White was gigantic from birth, being 11 pounds. He was a football star at Bell High School in Los Angeles, was a two-time All-American center at the University of Colorado and made Denver his home after college.

At 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, he was a third round draft choice of the Los Angeles Rams. He suffered a knee injury in training camp and was on injured reserve for the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Although the 1979 team only went 9-7, they won the Western Division of the NFC and went all the way to the 1980 Super Bowl, where they lost 31-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. White was technically on an NFC championship winning and Super Bowl team, but actually never played a down in an NFL regular season game.

He had gotten very heavy after his football career ended, but was a remarkable athlete for his size. He was put in contact with Brad Rheingans, the former Olympian who headed the training of wrestlers for the AWA. The AWA was on its downslide when White started, at the time called Leon “Baby Bull” White. While understandably green, because of his size and athletic ability, they tried to push him from the start. He debuted in October, 1985 in a Battle Royal in Schofield, WI. There is no record of him losing any matches cleanly in his AWA rookie run other than several AWA title matches with Stan Hansen, who would go on to become one of his most well-known rivals due to a match at the Tokyo Dome, and Bruiser Brody.

Otto Wanz, who weighed about 389 pounds himself, was the promoter and world champion of the Catch Wrestling Association, that promoted in Germany and Austria. He favored using big, thick, powerful opponents, and physically, White, fit the mark. Called “Bull Power,” Wanz found out about White from the AWA, and on March 22, 1987, in Denver, before 2,000 fans, the former University of Colorado football star beat Wanz for his championship.

Bull Power was brought to Europe as the man who defeated the unbeatable local hero, as Wanz had held the promotion’s world heavyweight title since beating Don Leo Jonathan on July 15, 1978, ending a nearly nine-year run.

Wanz himself had gained mainstream fame in Germany and Austria by going on television and tearing thick telephone books. White was brought in and local television stations were brought to the gym to watch the heavily steroided up White bench press close to 600 pounds. The storyline is that the old powerhouse now had a younger and more powerful rival. The two traded the championship back-and-forth over the next four years, including Wanz winning what was billed as his retirement match over Bull Power on June 30, 1990, in his home town of Graz. Borrowing from the Verne Gagne booking, when Wanz then retired, the CWA gave the title to the top contender, Bull Power. In 1981, when Gagne did his first retirement, as champion, it was announced that a tournament would take too much time and the title was given to the top contender, Nick Bockwinkel.

The idea is that the company’s new top local star, Rambo (Luc Poirier) would gain credibility as world champion by beating Wanz’s greatest rival, which took place on July 6, 1991 in Graz. But the promotion’s popularity declined greatly with a combination of Wanz no longer the top star, and with WWF television gaining more of a foothold and like everywhere, made the local promotion look secondary by comparison.

But while his first big break was in Germany and Austria, his biggest break came later in 1987 in Japan.

At first, White was scheduled to start with All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1987, and would likely have been given a decent push, but not a major one due to his not being a major U.S. star and being green at the time.

New Japan, however, offered him a top position.

New Japan in 1987 made a deal with Takeshi Kitano, who at the time was one of the country’s most famous comedians and considered the Johnny Carson of Japan. Kitano would become a heel manager on big shows and feud with Antonio Inoki, with the idea of him being the Lou Albano to Bruno Sammartino.

Kitano’s first protégé was to be a muscular masked foreigner, Big Van Vader, with headgear that blew steam out of it. Jim Hellwig was chosen for the role. They wanted a monster who would do short matches and blow through everyone. But in June, Hellwig signed with the WWF, and shortly after that, became the Ultimate Warrior, and pulled out of the gig. There are a number of original artist sketches of Big Van Vader, with the same outfit, but with the bodybuilder look as opposed to the 350 or so pound look. Sid Eudy, who became Sid Vicious, was also considered, but the decision was to go with White for the role.

In hindsight, it was a great decision, as while Warrior or Sid would have gotten over at first with their size in New Japan, they could have never had the lasting appeal that White had once it was time to do longer matches.

The debut of Big Van Vader, managed by Takeshi Kitano, was announced for a December 27, 1987, show at Sumo Hall. The main event on the show was scheduled as Inoki vs. Riki Choshu, a rare singles match between New Japan’s legend and its most popular wrestler to the younger crowd, drawing a sellout of 11,097 fans. The night was a disaster.

Inoki beat Choshu via a cheap DQ in just 6:06 of a nothing match, and fans were furious. Vader, Kitano and handler Masa Saito came to the ring to challenge Inoki, and Vader pinned Inoki with a powerslam in just 2:49 in a one-sided match. Inoki almost never lost in that era, and never in that type of squash match style. The idea was to create an instant larger-than-life monster. But the fans, unhappy with the show, rioted, doing so much damage that Sumo Hall refused to allow any more pro wrestling shows (the ban was rescinded in early 1989). Kitano didn’t like being involved in such a negative situation and immediately backed out of the gig. Saito accompanied Vader as his manager early on.

Vader and Inoki became the headline program in New Japan, with matches ending without a clean-cut winner. After Inoki suffered a broken foot, he vacated his IWGP championship.

On May 8, 1988, Vader, who had yet to be pinned, wrestled Tatsumi Fujinami for the vacant title, with Fujinami winning via DQ.

While not talked about as much as some of the others, it was the Fujinami program that was really the key to Vader’s long-term success in Japan. The green monster would have had a short shelf life at the top. But in 1988, Fujinami was the equal of any pro wrestler in the world. Fujinami was able to have great matches with Vader, and in doing those matches, Vader’s own work improved rapidly. There was a negative, in that in working that style and having those matches, Fujinami’s back gave out and by the end of the program, he was never the same as a wrestler. Vader, on the other hand, could add great worker to go along with his massive size and unique steamed headpiece gimmick.

Fujinami’s back injury flared up to the point he vacated the title. This led to an eight-man tournament for the title on New Japan’s biggest show in its history up to that point, an April 24, 1989, show at the recently-opened Tokyo Dome. It was the first pro wrestling event ever held in the new home of the Yomiuri Giants, and would go on to become most famous wrestling venue in Japan.

Vader scored wins over Masahiro Chono, Fujinami, and beat Shinya Hashimoto in the finals, in a match with Lou Thesz as referee, to become the first foreigner to hold the title in this form. Hulk Hogan was actually the first IWGP tournament winner in 1983, but at the time the title was something defended once a year, and Hogan lost it to Inoki in 1984. Inoki retained in 1985 and 1986, and then in 1987, after Inoki beat Saito in the IWGP tournament final, it was changed to being New Japan’s version of the world heavyweight title, replacing the International title which had been the lead championship.

When Vader defeated Canek in November, 1989, before a sold out crowd of 18,000 fans at El Toreo in Naucalpan, he became the first pro wrestler to hold major world titles (IWGP, CWA and UWA) simultaneously on three different continents at the same time. He was especially proud of being able to do this.

Perhaps Vader’s most famous match was on February 10, 1990, when he faced Stan Hansen at a sold out Tokyo Dome. The show was built around the first major match-ups of All Japan vs. New Japan, the traditional big two companies. There were two tag team matches that would be split in results, and then each company put its top foreigner against each other in the dream match.

Vader was in his second, and eventual record-breaking run as champion. The match was brutally stiff, with Vader suffering a broken nose, and then, with punches exchanged, it was believed that Hansen accidentally thumbed Vader in his eye which caused his eye to pop out of its socket. Vader unmasked himself and pushed his eye back in its socket and tried to hold it in place with his eyelid. The match continued to its planned double disqualification finish. The visual of Vader voluntarily unmaking and his eye popped out is one of the most memorable images of that era of Japanese wrestling. Vader needed eye surgery.

While news traveled slower in those days, the story of the Hansen vs. Vader match became well known. Vader had wrestled mostly in Japan, taking a few dates in Mexico and more in Europe in between tours.

While fans who watched Japanese tapes in particular were aware of Vader and talked him up from his match quality and the gimmicked headpiece, it was the Hansen match that led WCW to make a big play for him.

Jim Ross and Jim Cornette were on the WCW booking committee and pitched hard for Vader, especially after Ross saw the Hansen match. WCW offered him what at the time was a huge money guaranteed contract where he would split time between WCW and New Japan starting in the summer of 1990. The first-ever G-1 Climax tournament took place over three nights, August 8-10, 1990, at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, all nights sold out.

I can vividly recall getting a phone call from Japan on the second night from Brian Pillman, who told me that the match that had just ended a few hours earlier where Keiji Muto pinned Vader was the greatest match he had ever seen. Worse, he noted, it was not taped for television. A few months later, a handheld tape of the match did appear, and the match was incredible for its time. In those days, because of the box seats at Sumo Hall being uncomfortable, they would sell pillows to sit on. The euphoric feeling that enveloped Sumo Hall when Muto pinned Vader, a result nobody would have thought possible, led to what was called pillow-mania, with fans throwing their pillows, thousands of them in the air in celebration. The next night, when Chono beat Muto to win the first G-1 tournament, fans also threw pillows, but Pillman noted that the Muto-Vader match it was a spontaneous insane reaction, while for Muto-Chono, they were just trying to do what was done, similar to copying certain chants that meant something the first time and then just became routine reactions.

Until 1992, Vader worked primarily New Japan, but WCW upped its offer and got more dates on Vader, and put Harley Race with him as manager. Vader’s biggest U.S. program came at that time with Sting, battling over the WCW title.

While Sting, like almost everyone, had great matches with Ric Flair, he was never able to consistently reach that match level after Flair left the promotion. Vader was a completely different style of opponent, but Vader, after all the years working with top guys in Japan, had turned into the best worker for his size of anyone in pro wrestling history. He and Sting meshed well and this would generally be remembered alongside the Flair matches as the best of Sting’s career. Business wasn’t good, as this was a down period for the industry in general.

But like with Fujinami, Vader’s style hurt Sting. He broke some of Sting’s ribs and fractured his spleen early in their 1992 program. Vader beat Sting on July 12, 1992, to become the WCW champion for the first time, which was part of a Bill Watts plan to get the title on Ron Simmons as the “first black world champion,” a few weeks later.

While Vader was tremendous as far as making matches, his stuff style caused numerous casualties. He injured Nikita Koloff, who then retired with his Lloyd’s of London insurance policy. The Simmons experiment as champion didn’t work, so they went back to Vader, who went back to feuding with Sting over the top spot.

He broke the back of Joe Thurman with a stiff power bomb. Mick Foley suffered a concussion from a sick power bomb on the floor from Vader which led to the infamous Mick Foley amnesia angle, which was one of the worst angles of its time. Foley also suffered a broken nose and bled heavily in a television match that ended up heavily edited before it aired due to the amount of blood. But Foley was actually asking for Vader to hit him in the face with almost full force in those matches to bring out the realism. The matches were some of the best bouts of the time period and were keys to Foley being perceived as a likable mid-carder to being a serious star who could work on top. Although this had nothing to do with Vader, Foley also lost his right ear in a match with Vader in 1994in Munich, Germany when his head was tied up in the ropes.

20 years to the day, Foley wanted to do something to commemorate it. He found out White was booked in Lexington, KY, that day at a convention, so he got himself booked there so they could spent the day together.

“I got myself booked on the show just so we could do a panel together and take some photos together,” said Foley. “I was hoping we could do something similar to that for the 25th anniversary in 2019.”

“Leon played a big role in my career,” said Foley. “At the time of our Halloween Havoc match, I absolutely believed that my career had reached its peak. So I approached every match with Leon like it was going to be the greatest match I’d ever had. A few months ago, a fan from the U.K. told me he was front row for a match with me and Leon in either Birmingham or Manchester, I can’t remember which one. He said he couldn’t believe the intensity of the match, given that it was not televised,. It would not mean much in the bigger scheme of things, but I was so glad he mentioned it, because we went all out every time we were in there together. I specifically remember that match a being one of my favorites. It was nice to get that kind of feedback from a fan.”

Vader also debuted his moonsault during this period. The moonsault, which was probably first used as a body block by Chavo Guerrero Sr., was popularized by Muto in the U.S. and became even bigger when Muto became a true national superstar in Japan.

Vader, whose weight probably ranged from 350 to 430, practiced the move in his swimming pool. At first it was used when he was going to lose, with the idea he’d miss a moonsault and then lose, but that nobody would be talking about his loss, and everyone would be talking about the idea that he did a moonsault, which at the time was move almost nobody did, and certainly nobody within 100 pounds of him. It worked. Of course such a move done by a guy of that size can give significant wear-and-tear on the knees. Vader did limit his usage of the move to major events. In time, the sight of Vader at his size doing a moonsault became one of people’s most vivid memories of him.

In 1993, Vader signed what was at the time a landmark deal with UWFI in Japan. He would get $200,000 for eight dates plus a $50,000 bonus. Those kind of numbers were unheard of in pro wrestling at the time for anyone not named Hulk Hogan.

It was a major coup. Vader was not only WCW champion, meaning he was the champion of the No. 2 promotion in North America, but had been New Japan’s top foreign star.

UWFI was proclaiming itself as real, and with the backing of Thesz, who UWFI had signed as a face of the company, he went back to the 1920s and said that their champion, Nobuhiko Takada, was the real world champion. Thesz used his world title belt from the 1950s when he was as close to an undisputed world champion as there was, and was even bigger in Japan because it was the belt Thesz and Rikidozan battled over in a series of outdoor stadium shows in 1957, including one that nearly everyone who had a television set in Japan watched.

Thesz in particular has singled out New Japan, and their top stars like Masahiro Chono, who at the time was IWGP champion, to face Takada. New Japan of course ignored it as best they could (New Japan later got revenge when UWFI ran into financial problems and needed help and New Japan set business records with the feud but also squashed UWFI in the end). But suddenly Vader, the star they felt they made, had signed with UWFI, for the obvious reason of putting over Takada.

There were legal issues, but Vader was able to make the contract, but had to change his name to Super Vader. Much to the consternation of WCW officials who looked at their world title as what older promoters did, Vader, as WCW champion, did the match with Takada at Jingu Stadium, and submitted to an armbar in a champion vs. champion match. As part of the deal, Vader did get to beat Takada in a rematch and get the UWFI title, only to lose the third match with Takada. The relationship fell apart when UWFI started having serious money issues.

Vader was proud of the physical style in these matches which he said were the closest thing to a real fight without being real, and his being able to pull the matches off in a convincing style, labeling the action as 70 percent fight with a predetermined finish.

Business in 1993 was terrible for WCW. They were building for a big showdown where Sid Vicious would beat Vader at Starrcade and become the promotion’s champion and face of the company. But Vicious got into a hotel hallway brawl with Arn Anderson in England, and was fired. It ended up for the best for the promotion.

Having to redo the top match in Starrcade, which was scheduled for Charlotte, the promotion went to the Ric Flair card, where Flair, as a babyface, would put his career on the line for one last shot at the title that he dominated. Flair won the match, which did WCW’s biggest attendance (8,200 of which 5,500 were paid) and gate ($62,000) and PPV number of the year, which was more of just how bad a year it was.

Vader continued as a top star with WCW, but the big matches were mostly Flair, who went back heel, against the debuting Hogan. But everyone knew that after that ran its course, the natural match-up was Hogan vs. Vader, a match between two of the biggest worldwide stairs of the era that had never taken place.

Still, this was not good for Vader. Hogan wasn’t going to put Vader over at the time as his mentality was still about running through new opponents rather than long programs. The Hogan vs. Vader feud did big PPV numbers by WCW standards, along the lines of what Hogan vs. Flair did. In the first meeting, which Vader lost via DQ due to interference by Flair (who had lost a retirement match to Hogan a few months earlier), Vader kicked out of the leg drop at one. Then, in a strap match, Hogan won, but he was declared the winner by dragging Flair, who was dressed up in drag, around all four corners. The idea was Hogan still hadn’t beaten Vader. Finally this led to a cage match at the Bash at the Beach show in Los Angeles, which Hogan won by escaping the cage.

However, Vader was always mad because Hogan insisted on popping up and no selling his power bomb that had been used as a killer move in WCW, hurting people both legit and in storyline. There was always the feeling that Hogan should have put Vader over at one point, and also that Vader should have put Hogan over via pinfall after that.

Vader ended up being fired from his lucrative WCW contract after a backstage brawl with Paul Orndorff, acting as an agent. There are numerous versions of the story, as Vader always claimed he was not beaten up in the fight while almost every onlooker told a different version.

Orndorff told Vader to come in to do an interview, and Vader ignored him. The two started yelling it started getting physical. Orndorff dropped Vader with a punch and started kicking him with his feet, wearing sandals. Vader got up and wanted to go after Orndorff but was held back. But due to Vader’s behavior in precipitating the fight, even as big a star as he still was, he was let go.

While Vader was largely respected for his ability to have great matches and his agility for a man his size, he had a mixed reputation. He drank a lot. He was often looking for sympathy or a sympathetic ear to the point some labeled him as a big baby. While nobody denied his standing as one of pro wrestling’s biggest stars and that he drew well everywhere he went on top except for the disaster that was WCW until 1996, in a WWE-centric world, to many fans he’s no longer viewed at the level of stars who were not even considered at his level in his prime because his lone WWF run was not a success.

Vader did some acting, including playing Goliath in the 1995 movie “Fist of the North Star,” and playing himself in an episode of “Baywatch,” but was most known for recurring appearances in the 1995 and 1996 season of the TV show “Boy Meets World,” playing the pro wrestler father, doing his Vader character, of one of the friends of the lead cast members.

On January 4, 1996, Vader lost to 52-year-old Antonio Inoki at the Tokyo Dome in what most remember as Inoki’s last truly great match.

Vader had avoided WWF for his entire career because between his high-end WCW contract and his various deals in Japan and other countries, he was one of the highest money earners in the sport and his deals were guaranteed.

But WCW was done, and New Japan would use him, but not at the level he had been at the past, so 1996 was the right time to go to WWF, which was in a business slump. Ross, by this point the head of talent relations in WWE, was the conduit to the new deal.

Vader, called The Man They Call Vader, did a major angle where he gave Gorilla Monsoon, the figurehead president of the WWF, a Vader bomb. Vader was suspended, giving him time off for shoulder surgery. It was also the last physical angle Monsoon was ever in.

Vader returned, being managed by Jim Cornette. The plan was for him to go through a newly-turned face Yokozuna, form a tag team with Foley and then split up, and build to a WWF title program with Shawn Michaels.

The Foley program was teased, with the idea that the demented babyface Mankind was going after the man who caused him to lose his ear. Foley and Vader wanted to do the program in WCW, since Foley knew that Killer Kowalski and Yukon Eric had one of the biggest feuds of the 50s that went all over North America, coming off Eric losing his ear in Montreal.

They teased in commentary a secret that would be revealed, which was going to be revealed as the ear, and started teasing a split between the two, and then Vince McMahon nixed the idea.

“I don’t really know,” Foley said. “It was talked about at one point, and I don’t know what happened.”

But Michaels wanted out of the program quickly, and Vader’s run was not a success. In WWF, he was labeled as a crybaby, knocked for having smelly ring gear and with the mentality by some in the company that WWF was the big leagues and nothing else counted, and that he was both washed up and overrated.

At one point his weight was high and WWE was afraid that his blood pressure would cause one of the athletic commissions that still regulated pro wrestling to give him a medical suspension. Ross sent both Vader and Yokozuna to the Duke Weight Loss Clinic in North Carolina. It wasn’t a success. Ross noted that after the first week both were there, each had gained weight because they were sneaking out at night to eat more food.

By the end, after he lost a mask vs. mask match to Kane, they were using him as a big name jobber, losing cleanly to the likes of Mark Henry, Edge and Bradshaw (John Layfield), especially when he gave his notice as Giant Baba felt he could resurrect his career.

He was battling depression at the time due to his lack of success and once on television referred to himself as a fat piece of shit. After the Kane loss, in an interview he did, whether scripted or not, he buried himself further saying, “Maybe Vader time is over. I’m a fat piece of shit. A big fat piece of shit.”

Away from the WWF structure, Vader, tabbed as washed up, since he was 43 years old, debuted with All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1998 for the final big run of his career.

While past its peak of a few years earlier, All Japan was still very successful and its main events were still arguably the best in the world, with a roster that included Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, Stan Hansen, Toshiaki Kawada and Jun Akiyama.

Vader & Hansen were pushed as the unbeatable foreign tag team, something of a recreation of the Hansen & Bruiser Brody team. They dominated everyone in the 1998 World Tag League, but lost almost by a fluke in the finals to Kobashi & Akiyama, with Hansen as the one being pinned because even though Hansen was their historical top foreigner, Vader was the money for 1999 and Baba knew it.

He was clearly wrestling’s comeback story of 1999, beating Akira Taue for the Triple Crown, winning the Champion Carnival tournament with a win over Kobashi, trading the title with Misawa before losing to Kobashi.

From December 1998 to February 2000, Vader headlined five sold out Budokan Hall shows with the tag team tournament finals and singles matches with Misawa and Kobashi twice and one with Taue. He also headlined the Tokyo Dome on May 2, 1989, with Misawa, on a show that drew 50,000 fans and $5 million.

He left All Japan with almost all the crew in 2000 to join Pro Wrestling NOAH. But it was clear that 1999 was his last big run. He had a major altercation with the Yakuza while in Japan as well where he was stabbed all over his body, which was the beginning of the end of his stay with NOAH. He was with the promotion full-time through 2002, mostly as a tag team with Too Cold Scorpio, a wrestler he started the career of years earlier, which was the last full-time major promotion run of his career.

Vader bounced around the U.S. and Japan on indies and nostalgia comebacks to All Japan, New Japan, WWE, TNA and other places after that point but it was clear he was no longer the same.

He had a number of health problems stemming from injuries from such a hard bumping style, years of heavy drinking, being so heavy and usage of steroids. He was divorced in 2007, had both knees replaced and was bedridden for six months after an infection from surgery. Later he was in a coma for 33 days. He was in a terrible auto accident in 2016 which left his face badly contorted although it went back to its usual shape.

In 2016, he got into a Twitter war when he knocked a match with Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet from Tokyo, saying it wasn’t wrestling. Revolution Pro tried to turn that into an angle, and the August 12, 2016, match at York Hall in London between Vader and Ospreay had unreal heat. However, when Vader got to London, he reneged on his agreement to put Ospreay over. For the good of the show, Ospreay put him over, but it left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Wrestling had changed had Vader didn’t understand the idea of a guy the size of Ospreay beating Vader, even though it was the only finish that made sense. Vader had then said he’d put him over in a tag team match that was set up, but they couldn’t trust Vader after that.

In November of 2016, he was told by his doctors that he had congenital heart failure and that he probably was only going to live about two more years. He released that information, but later regretted doing so. He had one health issue after another in recent years, but still went to Japan in April of last year for the Dradition promotion to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the debut of Fujinami. In a match on April 20, 2017, at Korakuen Hall, with Fujinami & Riki Choshu & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Vader & Muto & AKIRA, Vader collapsed right after the match ended. He claimed on Twitter that he was dropped on his head during the match which caused a momentary blackout after the match was over, and that it had nothing to do with his heart. He wrestled the next two nights of his tour.

His final career match was three days later in Osaka, teaming with Fujinami & Choshu to beat Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Koshinaka & Takuma Sano.

He had been really hopeful of being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Foley in particular had both publicly and privately pushed for it.

“I have no idea what happened with the Hall of Fame,” said Foley. “I’m sure he is someone who is considered every year. I asked Vince to consider him sooner rather than later, considering his health. I talked to Leon on a fairly regular basis, probably every other month since his diagnosis. The Hall of Fame meant so much to him. My last conversation with him was about a month ago, and he was wondering if he might get in following the open heart surgery. He really wanted to return to the ring. He wanted to be a feel good story that could inspire people.”

Because he traveled to so many parts of the world and his career hit every major promotion in the world at one time or another, and almost always as a top star, probably nobody of his era faced more of the biggest names of different eras in headline matches.

A list of Hall of Fame or major star level opponents he worked with would include Choshu, Sting, Fujinami, Taue, Misawa, Simmons, Akiyama, Kobashi, Saito, Michaels, Undertaker, Goldust, Sid Vicious, Chono, Hashimoto, Muto, Kane, Yoshihiro Takayama, Takada, Davey Boy Smith, Inoki, Foley, Big Bossman, The Rock, Nikita Koloff, Takeshi Morishima, Hansen, Takashi Sugiura, Bret Hart, Seiji Sakaguchi, Jim Duggan, Hiroshi Hase, Shiro Koshinaka, Flair, Larry Zbyszko, Brody, Ultimate Warrior, HHH, Yokozuna, Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, The Steiner Brothers, Gary Albright, Michael Hayes, Kensuke Sasaki, Owen Hart, Wanz, Bam Bam Bigelow, Jushin Liger, William Regal, Nick Bockwinkel, Jake Roberts, Scott Norton, Greg Gagne, Hogan, The Road Warriors, Curt Hennig, Arn Anderson, Kazuo Yamazaki, Jeff Jarrett, Larry Hennig, Jerry Blackwell, Tiger Jeet Singh, The Mongolian Stomper, Iron Sheik, Bob Orton Jr., Jimmy Snuka, Salman Hashimikov, Barry Windham, Rick Rude, The Head Hunters, Terry Funk, Steve Williams, Jerry Lawler, Ray Stevens, Jose Lothario, Paul Orndorff, Sgt. Slaughter, Baron Von Raschke, Masato Tanaka, Don Frye, Dick Murdoch, Samoa Joe, Ospreay, Tony Atlas, El Satanico, Canek, Lizmark, Kiyoshi Tamura, Shuji Ishikawa, Sabu, Kevin Nash Ricky Morton, Lex Luger and Layfield.
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[+] 3 users Like Ceallach's post
That's almost too perfect of a script for a WWE Network special. I don't believe they have ever done one on Vader before.

Here is also a nice tribute to him that Wrestling Superstars put together
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thats what het gets for hitting people for real rite
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(09-02-2011, 05:38 AM)RawrBabyRawr Wrote:
it's funny because sal really does have muscles and those pictures he posted up really are of him. seriously.

[+] 1 user Likes Sal Undy's post
Quick Vader story I heard over the weekend.

I met Madusa at the Convention that I was at (absolutely awesome in person and very friendly). Apparently while Vader was known to fans for his shoulder pads/mask, he was well known backstage for it because he never washed it. Anyone who has ever been an athlete knows that when you go a while without washing equipment knows that it just reeks out a locker room. Well one day they went missing and Vader was storming around to find it. Turns out that as a prank, someone hid them in Madusa's luggage. Pissed both of them off but they laughed about it down the road.
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[+] 1 user Likes Obsidian's post
Speaking of Vader, I missed the first hour of Raw last night, did they do anything on the show for him?
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Just showed his pic at the beginning. put up a 2 minute video of him. Guess you have to have a Legend's contract to get the 10 ring salute.
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His E montage would be nothing but him having his head stomped by HBK over and over again for 2 minutes and then end with him crying about being a fat piece of shit. That's about all that's remembered of his E run unfortunately.

He should have had a package of some sort though. Dude was a beast.

Win the Day!

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Actually the Network is airing a special now called "The Man they call Vader". I'll have to check it out.
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[Image: 34s2o15.jpg]
(09-02-2011, 05:38 AM)RawrBabyRawr Wrote:
it's funny because sal really does have muscles and those pictures he posted up really are of him. seriously.


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