Leon "Vader" White to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2022/03/07/leon-vader-white-to-be-inducted-into-the-wwe-hall-of-fame/

Leon “Vader” White will be part of this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class.

The announcement was made by WWE through Bleacher Report with Vader joining The Undertaker in the class of 2022.

White passed away in June 2018 at the age of 63 due to heart-related issues and had been battling pneumonia.

After being drafted by the L.A. Rams in 1978, injuries curtailed his football career and he made the move to professional wrestling under the guidance of Brad Rheingans.

White adopted the persona of ‘The Baby Bull’ and later ‘Bull Power’ in the AWA and would venture to Europe wrestling for Otto Wanz’s Catch Wrestling Association in 1987 and winning their world championship.

His largest break occurred when he was recruited by New Japan Pro Wrestling where the birth of ‘Big Van Vader’ occurred. It was a character designed for Jim Hellwig, who signed with the WWF, and led to White assuming the role he would forever be tied to.

It was a star-making debut for White, who pinned Antonio Inoki in three minutes at Sumo Hall in December 1987 where a riot broke out and the company was temporarily banned from the building.

White became IWGP heavyweight champion in April 1989 on the first professional wrestling card to take place at the Tokyo Dome where he won a one-night tournament.

In 1990, he had a memorable yet gruesome match with Stan Hansen at the Tokyo Dome where White’s eye came out of the socket and he continued to wrestle. The horrifying video made its way to WCW where Jim Ross and Jim Cornette made a big push for the company to bring White in.

After balancing WCW and New Japan, Vader would eventually go full-time with World Championship Wrestling and was the dominant heel for the company from 1992-95.

He won the WCW title for the first time in July 1992 beating Sting at the Great American Bash and trading the belt with Ron Simmons that year.

In an all-time classic, Vader dropped the title to Ric Flair at Starrcade 1993 in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a case of resorting to a backup plan after Sid Vicious was scheduled to challenge Vader but was fired from the company after the incident in England where he and Arn Anderson got into a violent fight that included scissors and garnered negative publicity for the company.

Vader remained a major player throughout his WCW run, although the company shifted when Hulk Hogan arrived in the summer of 1994. The two had several pay-per-view matches together in 1995.

After a backstage fight with agent Paul Orndorff, where Orndorff struck the talent over an argument, Vader left the company. It was a widely circulated story with Orndorff kicking away at Vader wearing flip flops and led to Vader joining the World Wrestling Federation and debuting in January 1996 where he attacked figurehead president Gorilla Monsoon.

His time in the WWF was less memorable and peaked with a program with Shawn Michaels where the two headlined that year’s SummerSlam with Michaels winning.

His weight was an issue and led to the talent being sent to a weight loss clinic at Duke University in North Carolina.

He exited the WWF in 1998 and had a resurgence in All Japan Pro Wrestling, winning the Triple Crown in March 1999 and was among the foreigners that would migrate to Pro Wrestling NOAH, although Vader didn’t start there until 2002.

Over the remaining years, he worked many independent dates and maintained a presence in Japan. He did several guest appearances in WWE including the Taboo Tuesday event in November 2005 and the Raw 1000 event in July 2012.

In 2016, a Twitter back-and-forth led to Vader having a match with Will Ospreay after the veteran was critical of Ospreay and Ricochet’s Best of the Super Juniors match that year.

White underwent a pair of open-heart procedures in 2018 prior to his passing in June that year.

The WWE Hall of Fame ceremony takes place on April 1st at the American Airlines Center following Friday Night SmackDown and will air at 10:30 p.m. ET on Peacock/WWE Network.

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Cool to hear, but sad that he won’t be able to be there to accept the induction. If I remember correctly, this did matter to him.

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Thanks for sharing the POST profile on Vader. I must have overlooked it initially.

Well deserved induction. Wish it could have happened earlier. My picks to induct him are Stan Hansen (as Vader did for him) or Mick Foley. Sting would be a great choice, but I’m not sure if he’d be available for it.


This is bittersweet, he’s finally getting the praise he deserves after his failed run in the company.

Why do you say it was a “failed run”? It wasn’t the WCW run, but I though ‘96 specifically was a great year. I always felt he was more so a victim of an 80’s gimmick failing to connect once the attitude era began. Prior to that though, I thought he was used very well. Really enjoyed his SS match vs Shawn at the time. I admit I haven’t rewatched so hopefully it holds up lol.

The story has always been that he WAS supposed to get the title at SumerSlam, but Shawn complained that Vader was too stiff to Vince and thus the change never occurred, as well (per Jim Ross) Vader was dealing with wear and tear and having health issues do to his increasing weight was was sent to basically “fat camp” to lose the weight which he never did.

Fair points, but I still wouldn’t call it a failed run. To me a failed run is someone like tiger Ali Singh or Buff Bagwell.

I’m going by the reality that Inoki, Baba, Pre Hogan WCW, and others knew how to utilize this man in his proper role. His gimmick as the unstoppable monster could plug in anywhere or any era. Just another instance of how overrated Vince is as a creative genius.

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In terms on the strong push leading to Vader’s debut on WWF. From his 96’ Rumble appearance, taking out then on screen WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, pinning The Undertaker at the 97’ Royal Rumble and was the top heel within that year, to lose in a Mask vs Mask match against Kane at Over the Edge 98’ (the famous “I’m a fat piece of shit” line was uttered at that show).

I’d say with all the hype and strong push he got and how it ended only in his two year run in the WWF, I’d consider that a failed run.

Again, I’m not going to argue that he was used better in WWF then any of the examples that you cited. However, to call his run “a failure” IMO isn’t giving Vader the credit he deserves for what he did accomplish in WWE. You want to say they could have used him better, sure I wont argue. You want to say he let himself go a bit near the end of his run, ok. But it wasn’t a complete failure.

I feel you almost have to break his run into two categories. Pre attitude era Vader, and attitude era Vader. He didn’t fit in the attitude era, I wont defend any of that. I admit that wasn’t good. I actually forgot about the “I’m a fat piece of shit” line, ya that was awful.

Pre attitude era Vader was a pretty damn cool character. I didn’t know much of him pre WWF, I remember reading about him in PWI, but outside of that I didn’t know too much about him. That initial run he had leading up to the SS match with Shawn, I thought the guy was a complete badass and completely bought in.

I’m a still little infuriated because I’ve seen his work outside of WWE and knew what he could’ve provided for the promotion.