Full disclosure. I have been a Vader fan for as long as I have been a fan of Pro Wrestling. Which is practically my entire life. He and Undertaker hold some of my earliest memories of Pro Wrestling and both larger than life men drew me into this colorful world. So I am not the most objective person when it comes to the subject of Big Van Vader and the WWE Hall of Fame. Hell yes he should be in the Hall of Fame. It should have already happened.
The biggest knock on “the mastodon from the rockies,” is that his WWE career was not stellar. Especially considering the standard that was set in Japan and WCW before his fed run. But to say that Vader isn’t one of the best big men of all time is asinine.
A legit athlete, Vader was a former College and Professional Football player. Having played for the University of Colorado and the Los Angeles Rams respectively. Vader brought a lethal combination of agility, aggression, and brutality that had rarely been seen before.
Vader’s battles against Stan Hansen, Sting, Cactus Jack, and Ric Flair are legendary and stand the test of time. I implore anyone to seek out those matches and witness a masterclass in big man wrestling. Actually, just wrestling in general.
The move-set of a typical big man was usually a lumbering, stumbling one. Where most of the time the opponent did the movement or moves. Often times a big man was on defense more than offense and once in a while hit a big move to shut their smaller opponent down. Vader however was a barrage of offense. His impressive strikes and quick feet made him an impressive sight to behold. Add on the Vader Bomb and Vadersault, (top rope moonsault), and you had a truly one of a kind performer.
One can use the argument that Vader didn’t have a stellar WWE run against him. Despite the various reasons and what you choose to believe, it is true. Vader’s WWE run was a disappointment. Especially coming off championship runs in both NJPW and WCW. But if you disregard his WWE run he was already a Hall of Famer before ever stepping foot in a WWE ring. But we shouldn’t discredit that WWE run.
Yes, questionable booking and other circumstances hindered his WWE stint, but that isn’t to say there wasn’t memorable moments. Vader destroying Gorilla Monsoon early on is a memorable highlight, as well as his matches against Shawn Michaels and Undertaker. He also had the greatest entrance theme of all time.
Vader is a 3x WCW Champion. 1x WCW US Champion. 3x IWGP Heavyweight Champion. 1x IWGP Tag Team Champion. 2x All Japan Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion. 1x All Japan World Tag Team Champion.
He revolutionized what a “big man” could do and what was expected of them.
He is a Hall of Famer in my book, and many others. Let’s make it official, sooner rather than later.