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The Reverend

RIP BIG VAN VADER

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An absolute legend no doubt, his japanese stuff in particular is must-watch viewing for any wrestling fan and/or aspiring big-man wrestler.

 

RIP

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Vader was fucking awesome. When I started watching WCW on ITV as a warm up for Gladiators, it was a poor show in a ropey little studio that reeked of "2nd Division" with a roster split between wrestlers the WWF didn't want any more and that looked fucking woeful, I.e. the WWF couldn't possibly think them good enough, ever. There were two men that fell into neither category and they were Sting and Big Van Vader. There were lots of heels in my childhood that I hated, but Vader was the only one I feared. He made Yokozuna look awful in comparison ; I knew he was a threat because he was fat and the commentators said he was sending lads to hospital, but with Vader I only had to look at him.

He was big, he was strong, he threw punches that looked real (because they usually were), and he seemed unhinged. Not like a cartoon, Sid Vicious manner, but in a genuinely unpredictable manner like he could just pop off at anyone for the hell of it. I never believed Harley had any control over him. I looked at him coming out with the belt and thought "Who the fuck's gonna beat HIM?" then listen to the commentators talk about him wrestling Sting or Bulldog then tune in next week and see.... nah, course they didn't beat him! It's Vader, for fuck's sake! I'm not sure there's been a top heel in WCW, the WWF/WWE, ECW or TNA (lol) since Vader that made me sit up and go "Yeah, that guy is the champ. That's your mountain to climb" in quite the same way since, discounting Lesnar. It wasn't just his wrestling, his matches, it was the aura the guy carried. Which was remarkable, juxtaposed to the mild mannered bloke with a degree in business that we met in Wrestling With Shadows.

My favourite Vader chapter, however, was his run in All Japan right up to the Noah split. As a WWF diehard I'd watched him transform from the monster I'd seen on Worldwide to a bloke who long after being overcome by the biggest heroes - Shawn, Taker - was getting hammered by losers like Bradshaw and Mizark, and whom the company was almost trying to underline as "past it." I read up on his success upon arrival in All Japan through Power Slam and when I finally branched out and picked up some 99 All Japan from simania, I was delighted to get to see Vader hanging with Mitsy and Kobashi, looking every bit worthy of sitting at the top of a main event scene Fin Martin told me was the best in the world. Only so many repeats of Musawa, Kawada, Kobashi and Taue could have been churned out before we'd seen it all, and fiery as he was, Akiyama wasn't quite ready. At a time Budokan was starting to need some fresh blood, Leon slotted in like he belonged there.

Rest easy, big man.

Edited by air_raid

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Gutted about this. Any chance to remember this though - his original ring gear from NJPW. Not seen the match this is from, sadly, but it's up there in the top ranking (oh!) ring gear. Man looks like a fucking God 

 

45WDFoX.jpg

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As a 13-year-old, this was pretty much the coolest thing I'd ever seen.

image.thumb.png.39584cc6e46bb3ddc0c1a807f0d84f21.png

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1 minute ago, Supremo said:

As a 13-year-old, this was pretty much the coolest thing I'd ever seen.

As a 15-year-old, I felt the same way about that Sable shoot.

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26 minutes ago, Snitsky's back acne said:

That picture was from the Final Four match wasn't it?

Yep. Incredible match. Probably the peak of Vader’s WWF career. 

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Gutting news. So much of air_raid's post echoes my memories of Vader.

We never got Sky until later on so when I first got into wrestling it, ITV's WCW Worldwide coverage was my favourite thing. Colourful Sting was fantastic when I was 7/8 years old. I loved the Steiners, Flyin' Brian and the Barry Windham/Dustin Rhodes team.  Loved to hate Rick Rude, Stunning Steve Austin, Arn Anderson etc. But there was only one wrestler that legitimately scared the hell out of me back then and that was Vader. He was terrifying. Just killing jobbers week in and week out and bashing top babyface Sting about on a pretty regular basis. My dad wasn't into wrestling but I vividly remember even he used to comment on Vader destroying the poor weekend warriors on Worldwide. 

I still remember how excited I was when he was announced as coming to the WWF and being in the Royal Rumble. All those dream matches with Bret, Shawn, Undertaker, Diesel etc. We got most of them but none of them were what they could've been. Such a shame how that WWF stint played out. There was definitely a better run to be had out of that and more they could've got out of it. But there were some highlights. The Final Four match being the main one but he also had a belting match with Owen Hart at One Night Only and I liked the Shamrock match as well. By the end it was sad though. The standout low point for me was when I saw him teaming with Bradshaw and losing to the fucking Harris twins on the SummerSlam 98 pre-show Heat. He was better than that. I didn't see much or his work in Japan post-WWF but what I did see, he showed he had plenty left in the tank. 

Definitely of the best big man wrestlers ever. 

This shoot interview with that HannibalTV (whatever his name is) bloke is well worth a watch. He talks a lot about his health problems on this and obviously covers his career as well. Think it's from last year...

RIP big man. 

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Always thought his WCW run from around 92 to Hogan coming in was incredible. At the time I wished he would sign for the WWF one day, when he arrived at Royal Rumble 96 I was over the moon but eventually his WWF just ended up being a let down. Really always felt they missed a big opportunity with Vader. Does anyone remember the rumors of him going to ECW after he left? Or why he never returned to WCW?

 

RIP Big Van Vader

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Rip big man I enjoyed his wwf run when I was a teenager I marked out when the first time I saw him and he has to have the best big man moonsalt ever amazing wrestler 

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Sad that his "less than 2 years" actually came true. 

Incredible worker, utterly believable, looked like a monster. 

Guy was doing stuff you just didn't see 400lbers do.

From a wrestling perspective he had it all! 

 

 

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Ugh.  

 

One of that rare breed who made wrestling look real.  Loved his matches with Hogan and Sting in WCW.  Downloaded a DVD of his later stuff from Japan, and old man Vader was even more terrifying.  

 

An extraordinary career and a HoF worthy superstar.  

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Ahhh man. Super sad news. I really hoped that he was trying to leverage a hall of fame spot with the 'I've only got two years' thing.

He was a joy to watch. A proper monster heel. Probably Lesnars the only guy that touches him in the monster stakes for me and to be honest I'd much rather bung on an old Vader match than an old Lesnar match.

Saw him at Rev Pro against Will Ospreay a couple of summers back and it was an utter joy to boo the shit out of a proper heel. Considering his mobility limitations he was really good in that match too.

R.I.P

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10 hours ago, jazzygeofferz said:

 

Some angle looking back on it. Got him a ton of heat that should have lead him to the WWF Championship. What a dick Shawn and Bret were about him. RIP Big Man.

I loved that "White Castle of Fear" stuff. Just something different. It's grappling. Not to be taken seriously.

Edited by bAzTNM#1

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