As first reported by Bleacher Report, Vader will be posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. The Mastodon will be enshrined in the hallowed hall during the 2022 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony as part of WrestleMania Week.
Hailing from The Rocky Mountains, the intense 450-pound Vader first made a splash in the rings of Japan, where he destroyed WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki in a wildly controversial match. The Japanese fans were so distraught over seeing their hero dismantled by the gigantic Vader that a riot broke out in Tokyo’s Sumo Hall. This pandemonium only further fueled Vader’s aggression, and a long line of competitors fell to his devastating manoeuvres — particularly the bone-crushing Vadersault.
The Mastodon continued to assert his dominance in Japan and eventually stomped his way through competitors all over Europe and Mexico. This path of destruction brought the giant to World Championship Wrestling in the early ’90s where he would eventually become one of their biggest stars. With WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race in his corner, Vader battered WCW legends like Sting, Ric Flair and Cactus Jack and captured three World Heavyweight Championships during his time with the company.
In 1996, the powerhouse made his way to WWE, where he debuted in that year’s Royal Rumble Match. Immediately impactful, Vader teamed up with manager Jim Cornette and battled Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam that year. The Mastodon then linked up with Paul Bearer and locked horns with Undertaker, scoring a huge victory over The Deadman at Royal Rumble in 1997.
The WWE Hall of Fame ceremony will take place Friday, April 1, at American Airlines Center in Dallas as part of WrestleMania Week. The event will stream live exclusively on Peacock in the U.S. and WWE Network everywhere else. In addition, for the first time in history, WWE will present both Friday Night SmackDown and the 2022 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony live on the same night at American Airlines Center, giving all fans in attendance an unprecedented opportunity to witness both events.
It’s finally time, Vader’s time, to enter the WWE Hall of Fame, something that should have happened a long time ago yet. Leon White, a former football player, is widely regarded as one of the greatest super-heavyweight professional wrestlers of all time.
White performed as a monstrous wrestler, and he was capable of aerial manoeuvres, like the diving moonsault. He is a 12-time professional wrestling World Heavyweight Champion in the USA, Europe, Mexico and Japan. In many ways, he pathed the way for a new generation of wrestlers able not to limit their careers to one country or one promotion.
In a 20-plus year career, Vader only spent 2 years in WWE. After a short career in the NFL, Baby Bull or Bull Power honed his craft in The American Wrestling Association against other legends like Stan Hansen. Moving to Europe, White worked for the Catch Wrestling Association promotion, eventually winning the CWA World Championship and making his first major mark in the business.
The name Big Van Vader was created during his time in Japan when he worked for All Japan Pro Wrestling and New-Japan Pro Wrestling. He became a big name in Japanese pro wrestling, especially after he became the first non-Japanese wrestler to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in 1989. He also had a run as the IWGP tag team championship alongside Bam Bam Bigelow.
He began working for WCW in 1991 and feuded with some of the promotion’s biggest stars. At The Great American Bash in 1992, he defeated Sting to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. He held the title 3 times, in addition to one reign as the United States champion.
He made his WWE debut in 1996, debuting in the 1996 Royal Rumble match. He made an impact by eliminating several Superstars before he was sent over the top rope by the eventual winner of the match, Shawn Michaels. He then faced big stars such as Michaels, Bret Hart, Kane, Mark Henry and The Undertaker. He left in 1998.
Vader worked for several promotions for a year or two at a time. He returned to AJPW, made some stops in Pro Wrestling NOAH and TNA and even returned to WWE for a handful of appearances between 2005 and 2016. His final appearance in WWE was fitting as he inducted Hansen into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
He had the chance to wrestle a few matches with his unique son Jesse, known as Jack Carter. The final match of his career took place on August 26, 2017, for Top Rope Promotions with Vader coming out victorious. He also appeared in a few movies, TV series and documentaries about wrestling.
Vader died on June 18, 2018, at the age of 63, after dealing with heart problems for years and enduring a month-long stay in a hospital for pneumonia. Vader left an indelible mark on the business, proving to the world that big men can fly high. We can find his Vader Bomb in the repertoire of many wrestlers now, men and women. Because of that, Vader will never die in the heart of the fans and his fellow wrestlers.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE