BIG VAN VADER OFFICIAL PROFILE
HEIGHT – 6 ft 5 in
WEIGHT – 452 lbs
HAILING FROM – “The Rocky Mountains”
TRAINER – Brad Rheingans
RING NAMES – Baby Bull, Bull Power, Big Van Vader, Leon White, Super Vader, Vader
HISTORY – Vader, or Big Van Vader if you wish, was the complete package of size, athleticism, toughness, and entertainment to warrant being a major-level champion across the globe.
As a football player who won All-American championships, he also competed in a Superbowl with the LA Rams.
After a leg injury, Vader broke into wrestling in 1985 through the AWA under his real name, Leon White, and also the moniker, Baby Bull.
As Bull Power, he earned his first major championship accomplishment – the CWA World Championship, wrestling in Austria for Otto Wanz. Finding better opportunities abroad during the mid-to-late 1980’s, Big Van Vader was born in Japan, given the gimmick by the legendary Antonio Inoki. Vader would soon become synonymous with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as their top gaijin wrestler, eventually overthrowing Inoki’s multi-year winning streak – beating him for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship during this time as well. Fans were so angry, they lit their seat cushions on fire and threw them into the ring!
Vader would use this fame to also transition into becoming Mexico’s UWA Heavyweight Championship after beating El Caneck. In doing so, he was the first person to hold three major titles in three different promotions simultaneously at the same time.
Eventually, a famous match against Stan Hansen in Japan started to circulate in an underground tape form. On this tape, Vader literally had his eye knocked out of his head, and had to mash it back into his face to continue. Before viral videos on the net even existed, this tape eventually made it into the hands of Jim Ross, who soon hired him to work dates in WCW.
During this time, he became established around the world as being an all time great, who many agree is “the best big man of all time.” He was known for being incredibly powerful, incredibly tough, having a fantastically different offense and always displaying great athleticism. For a big man, Vader is amazingly agile. His finisher the “Moonsault” was developed in his WCW days and really put him on the map in America.
This paved the way for him to jump back and forth between Japan and the US, where he eventually reigned as WCW’s World Heavyweight Championship.
Vader eventually signed with the WWE by the mid-90s, and was an instant main-eventer. Unfortunately, his smashmouth style didn’t bode well for him there. He was never really afforded the same level of success due to political disagreements behind the scenes.
Upon his WWE release, Vader went back to Japan. This time around, he went to work for the legendary Giant Baba for All Japan Pro Wrestling AJPW. There, he picked up were he left off and won the coveted Triple Crown Championship. He was the first person to earn both All Japan and New Japan’s top prizes.
In recent years, Vader has made countless appearances in WWE, Japan, and TNA. Even today, many years later, Vader is the “John Wayne” of professional wrestling. Not letting a scary heart diagnosis bother him, and he continues to wrestles independently, doing what he loves and what he knows best – beating people up.
CHAMPIONSHIPS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
All Japan Pro Wrestling
Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Steve Williams
Champion Carnival (1999)
Catch Wrestling Association
CWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
CWA World Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
New Japan Pro Wrestling
IWGP Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
IWGP Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Bam Bam Bigelow
Super Grade Tag League (1991) – with Tatsumi Fujinami
IWGP Title Tournament (1989)
Pro Wrestling Illustrated
Wrestler of the Year (1993)
Ranked #2 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1993
Ranked #27 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the “PWI Years” in 2003
Ranked #36 of the top 100 tag teams of the “PWI Years” with Bam Bam Bigelow in 2003
Pro Wrestling Noah
GHC Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Scorpio
Best Tag Team Award (1998) with Stan Hansen
Universal Wrestling Association
UWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
World Championship Wrestling
WCW United States Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
WCW World Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
World Wrestling Federation
Slammy Award for Crime of the Century (1996) – Assault on WWF President Gorilla Monsoon
Wrestling Observer Newsletter
5 Star Match (1991) vs Keiji Mutoh at NJPW G1 Climax Day 3 on August 9
Best Heel (1993)
Best Wrestling Maneuver (1993) Moonsault
Most Improved Wrestler (1999)
Wrestler of the Year (1993)
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)