Leon Allen White (born May 14, 1955) better known by his ring names Big Van Vader, is an American semi-retired professional wrestler. Best known for his time with New Japan Pro Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation and All Japan Pro Wrestling in the 1990s.A super-heavyweight wrestler capable of aerial maneuvers such as the moonsault and the dropkick, White was both a face and a heel in several professional wrestling promotions. During his career, he became an Multiple-time world champion, having won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship three times, the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, the CWA World Heavyweight Championship , the UWA World Heavyweight Championship and the UWFi World Heavyweight Championship.
In 1990 Vader became a two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Shortly after winning the title he traveled to Europe, using the name Bull Power he faced Otto Wanz for the CWA World Heavyweight Championship. He won the match and, as a result held the Heavyweight Championship in two separate organizations at the same time. He continued to travel between Japan and Europe, defending his titles. In November 1989, Vader traveled to Mexico to defeat El Canek in the Universal Wrestling Association for the UWA World Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first and only man to hold three world heavyweight titles in three continents simultaneously.
American Wrestling Association (1985–1987)
Trained by Brad Rheingans, White got his first national exposure in the American Wrestling Association (AWA). He went by the moniker Baby Bull, which was later changed to Bull Power. White honed his skills during this time, and his ring work improved significantly to the point that he was granted a title match against Stan Hansen for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1987–1992)
Although originally signed to All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), owner Giant Baba traded White's contract over to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in 1987. Upon joining NJPW, White was given the ring name Big Van Vader and began to wear a black wrestling mask. His new identity was based on a strong warrior of the same name from Japanese folklore. He was introduced as the crown jewel of the Takeshi Puroresu Gundan stable that was managed by Takeshi Kitano.
After a match where Riki Chōshū had challenged Antonio Inoki in a losing effort, Vader
demanded a match with the already worn down Inoki, and was victorious.
This led thepro-Inoki audience to riot, resulting in NJPW being banned from the Sumo Hall,
which was its home arena; the ban was rescinded in 1989, when NJPW did their first show
back in Sumo Hall February 22. After winning the final match of an eight-man tournament
Vader was declared the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He would be the first
Non-Japanese Wrestler to hold the title. On May 25, Vader lost the title to Russian suplex
master Salman Hashimikov who dropped the title to Riki Chōshū on July 12.
On August 10 Vader was given an opportunity and defeated Chōshū to become a two-time
IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Shortly after winning the title again, White traveled to
Europe using the name Bull Power to face Otto Wanz for the CWA World Heavyweight
Championship. He won the match and, as a result, held the Heavyweight Championship
in two separate organizations at the same time. He continued to travel between Japan and
Europe, defending his titles. In November 1989, Vader traveled to Mexico to defeat
El Canek in the Universal Wrestling Association for the UWA World Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first and only man to hold three world heavyweight titles in three continents simultaneously. He lost the UWA championship back to Canek on December 12, 1990. In February 1990, Vader faced Stan Hansen at an AJPW versus NJPW supercard show. Before Vader entered the ring, Hansen accidentally broke Vader's nose with the bullrope Hansen carried to the ring for his matches. During an exchange of stiff punches, Hansen unintentionally poked Vader's right eye with his thumb during their brawl, which caused the eye to pop out of its socket. After removing his mask, pushing the eye back into its socket and holding it in place with his eyelid, Vader continued wrestling Hansen until the match was rendered a no contest. As a result of the injury, Vader required a metal plate to be surgically placed under his eye. Vader's success garnered the attention of World Championship Wrestling, who convinced him to work for them while still the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and an active competitor in NJPW.
Vader's first match in WCW took place on July 7, 1990 at The Great American Bash, where he defeated Tom Zenk in a little over two minutes. Around this time, Vader began a feud with Stan Hansen in All Japan Pro Wrestling. Two weeks later, Vader went to Europe and won a tournament to become a three-time CWA World Heavyweight Champion. In January 1991, Vader defeated Tatsumi Fujinami to earn himself a third IWGP Heavyweight Title reign. Vader went on to defeat Fujinami for the CWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship but, upon his signing of a WCW contract in 1992, the title was declared vacant. At this point, WCW and NJPW were reaching a tentative working agreement.
On March 1, 1992, he and Bam Bam Bigelow began teaming and won the IWGP Tag Team Championship, Vader faced Mutoh, now known as The Great Muta, one on one and suffered a legitimate knee injury. This injury was a factor in he and Bigelow losing the title to WCW World Tag Team Champions, The Steiner Brothers, after a near four-month reign. This also marked a decrease in his NJPW appearances, as Vader began to focus almost entirely on WCW and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
World Championship Wrestling (1990–1995)
Vader was originally signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1990, but was only used sparingly until 1992 when Vader was paired with Harley Race for a shot at Sting's World Heavyweight
Championship on April 12 and was disqualified. Sting suffered a pair of cracked
ribs and a ruptured spleen in the match after taking a Vader Bomb from Vader.
Vader was placed in a feud with Nikita Koloff shortly afterward while Sting
recuperated until finally receiving a rematch with Sting on July 12 at The Great
American Bash, which he won to become the new WCW World Heavyweight
Champion.His reign was short-lived, as he re-injured his knee, forcing him to
lose the title three weeks later to Ron Simmons. Vader was out of action after
Clash of the Champions in September as he underwent knee surgery.
Upon his return at Halloween Havoc, Vader sent Nikita Koloff into retirement
and legitimately broke the back of jobber Joe Thurman, paralyzing him for a few
hours. At Starrcade, Vader lost to Sting in the finals of the King of Cable
tournament. Two days later, Vader defeated Simmons to regain the World
Heavyweight Championship. during a UK tour in March 1993, Vader lost then
regained the title and in subsequent weeks successfully defended the title
against Davey Boy Smith, Sting, and Dustin Rhodes. In late February 1993,
White signed an eight-date agreement with the Union of Wrestling Force
International (UWFi), His greatest triumph was a victory in the Best of the World
Tournament, which ran April 3 ended August 18, 1994 Vader won the tournament and the UWFi World Title. Upon returning to WCW, Vader defeated Cactus Jack via countout on the April 17 episode of Saturday Night. During the match, Jack suffered a broken nose and needed 27 stitches for wounds on his face. The match was heavily edited for broadcast, as WCW did not wish to show the severe bleeding. In a rematch on April 24, Vader powerbombed Jack onto the concrete floor outside the ring resulting in Jack suffering a concussion and temporary loss of feeling in his left hand and leg. In the meantime, Vader began to feud with a new arrival to WCW, Davey Boy Smith. They met at Slamboree in May for the World Heavyweight Title. Vader and Sid Vicious then formed a partnership and called themselves The Masters of the Powerbomb. They faced off with Smith and his new partner, Sting, at Beach Blast. Following this the Cactus Jack feud was restarted as Jack was cleared to return for Halloween Havoc to face Vader in a Texas Death match. Jack stood up to a series of devastating moves near the end of the match, though Vader won when Harley Race stunned Jack with a cattle prod. On March 16, 1994, Foley lost his right ear in a match with Vader in Munich, Germany; Foley's head became trapped in the ropes, which were under excessive tension, causing his ear to be torn off.
Vader was scheduled to face Ric Flair in Flair's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. In the storyline, Vader did not take Flair
seriously until he agreed to put his career on the line against Vader's title. Vader dominated the match, but Flair capitalized
on failed interference and Vader's weakened knees to win the match with a rollup and end Vader's third World Heavyweight
Championship reign. Vader continued to feud with Flair until SuperBrawl IV, when Flair once again defeated Vader,
this time in a "Thundercage" match. Vader then feuded with The Boss, defeating him at Spring Stampede.
He also faced Sting at Slamboree for the vacant International World
Heavyweight Championship. Sting requested the match rather than
be awarded the title after an injury to his original opponent,
Rick Rude, and defeated Vader. At Clash of the Champions XXIX,
Vader defeated Dustin Rhodes and earned the opportunity to face
the United States Heavyweight Champion Jim Duggan. In the
Starrcade title match, Vader defeated Duggan with the aid of
Duggan's 2x4 to win the United States Heavyweight Title.
In January 1995, Vader had to end his alliance with Harley Race,
because in real life, Race was involved in an automobile crash and
Race left WCW. Vader confronted the World Heavyweight Champion
Hulk Hogan, and informed him that he could not avoid the monster.
The two met at SuperBrawl V, with Vader managing to kick out of
Hogan's leg drop after a count of one. The referee was knocked out
before Vader hit the Vader Bomb on Hogan. Ric Flair ran to the ring,
made the three count, and attacked Hogan, resulting in Vader's
disqualification. A rematch was signed, a strap match for the
inaugural Uncensored pay-per-view. Flair once again intervened (this time in drag to avoid revealing his presence) and managed to cost Vader the match by getting himself carried by Hogan as he touched all four turnbuckle pads. Vader was stripped of the United States Heavyweight Championship on April 23, 1995 for multiple violent offenses. However, Vader gained another opportunity to win the World Heavyweight Title from Hogan at Bash at the Beach in a Steel Cage match. He conspired with Kevin Sullivan and the Dungeon of Doom to gain a psychological edge before the encounter, which Vader lost when Hogan escaped the cage. He then restarted his feud with Flair, based on his frustration at Flair's constant interference in his title matches and Flair's annoyance at his inability to defeat Hogan. At Clash of the Champions XXXI, Vader defeated Flair and Arn Anderson in a 2-on-1 handicap match.
World Wrestling Federation - Camp Cornette (1996)
In the weeks leading up to the Royal Rumble, Vader's debut was heavily hyped on television as he was billed as "The Man They Call Vader" (though Vince McMahon had originally wanted to rename him "The Mastodon"). He made his first WWF appearance as a participant in the Rumble match. He entered at number 13 and eliminated 4 people. Vader was eliminated by Shawn Michaels before he reentered the ring and started assaulting everyone, including Michaels. Vader defeated Savio Vega on the following Monday Night Raw, before assaulting WWF officials. Eventually, WWF President Gorilla Monsoon demanded that Vader cease his attacks, and received a Vader Bomb for his efforts. As a result, Vader was suspended for his actions, though in reality he needed time off for shoulder surgery.
Jim Cornette campaigned for
Vader's reinstatement, and by
the time Vader returned,
Yokozuna had left Cornette's
management. At February's In
Your House 6, Vader appeared
during Yokozuna's match against
The British Bulldog. Yokozuna
was about to pin The Bulldog,
when Vader attacked him,
handcuffed him, and delivered a
severe beating. This led to what
was supposed to be a one-on-one
encounter between Vader and
Yokozuna at WrestleMania XII.
However, the match became a six-man tag team match pitting Vader, Owen Hart, and The British Bulldog against Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson, and Jake Roberts. The stipulation was that if Yokozuna's team won the match, he would have five minutes alone with Cornette in the ring; this never occurred as Vader's team won the match when Vader pinned Roberts.
Feud with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker (1996–1997)
Vader then attacked WWF Champion Shawn Michaels after one of Michaels's matches. Vader's attack on Michaels earned him a spot in a six-man tag team match at In Your House 9: International
Incident. Vader, Owen Hart, and The British Bulldog teamed up
against Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, and Sycho Sid. Vader pinned
Michaels to win the match. Vader faced Michaels again at
SummerSlam and won by count-out. Cornette, however, realized
that the title could not change hands through a count-out and got
the match restarted. This time, Michaels used Cornette's tennis
racket and was disqualified. Again, Cornette managed to get the
match started over. Finally, Michaels scored a pinfall over Vader.
Following his feud with Michaels, Vader faced off against
The Undertaker in a singles match at the Royal Rumble.
During the match, The Undertaker's former manager, Paul Bearer,
attacked him and helped Vader win; Bearer then became Vader's
manager. Both Vader and Undertaker went on to compete in the
Royal Rumble match, during which Steve Austin was eliminated
by Bret Hart. However the referees did not see this, as they were
attending to Terry Funk and Mankind on the floor, allowing Austin
to sneak back into the ring and eliminate both Vader and Undertaker,
then Bret Hart, who was busy eliminating Fake Diesel, and win the Rumble. As a result of this, Vader and the other men eliminated by Austin, Bret Hart and The Undertaker, were put into the four-way main event of February's In Your House 13: Final Four for the WWF Championship. Vader, after bleeding profusely, was eliminated by The Undertaker. Bearer then persuaded his two proteges, Vader and Mankind, to go after the Tag Team Championship, despite the fact that the two men often brawled between themselves. They failed in their bid to win the tag team gold at WrestleMania 13.
Last feuds and departure (1997–1998)
In September 1997 Vader again received an opportunity to face The Undertaker (this time for the WWF Championship) at In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede. On the following night's Raw is War, Vader wrestled The Patriot. The Patriot won the match and then went after Bret Hart, who came to ringside during the match. Vader attacked The Patriot, and then brought him back into the ring, where he went for the Vader Bomb. Hart came into the ring and laid the Canadian flag over The Patriot. Vader got down, picked up the Canadian flag, broke it, and started a brawl with Hart. This turned Vader face and served to bring Vader into the USA vs. Canada feud.
At Survivor Series, Team USA lost the match after The Bulldog pinned Vader after hitting him with the ring bell. Goldust and Vader feuded throughout the fall and finally faced off at the Royal Rumble, in a match which Vader won. Following his feud with Goldust, Vader began feuding with Kane, and both faced off for the first time at No Way Out of Texas. Vader lost after a chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver before Kane subsequently attacked him with a large steel wrench, resulting in Vader being taken away on a stretcher and was kept off of television for a while. A few months later at Unforgiven, Vader returned during Kane's Inferno match against The Undertaker. Kane was attempting to leave the match when Vader appeared and fought him back to the ring to continue the match, which Kane lost. Vader and Kane had a rematch at Over the Edge in a Mask vs. Mask match. Vader attempted to use a wrench on Kane like the one used on him months before, but Kane managed to recover and defeat Vader, costing him his mask in the process. After considering retirement, Vader instead negotiated his own release from the WWF so he could once again wrestle in Japan.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2003)
On February 19, 2003, Vader appeared in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) to defend Dusty Rhodes, who was fighting with The Harris Brothers. He won a tag team match the next week against the Harris Brothers via disqualification. He then began a feud with Nikita Koloff, whose career Vader ended long ago. However, TNA and Vader soon parted ways.
Vader returned to World Wrestling Entertainment
on the October 31, 2005 episode of Raw, where
Jonathan Coachman announced that Vader and
Goldust would be in his corner for his street fight
against Stone Cold Steve Austin the next night at
Taboo Tuesday. When Austin decided not to
participate, he was replaced by Batista. Vader
and Goldust interfered in the match on Coachman's
behalf and received spinebusters for their efforts.
Batista pinned Coachman with the Batista Bomb to
win the match. Vader left the company soon after
and returned to compete in Japan.
Raw 1000th Legends Return
On the June 11, 2012 episode of Raw,
Vader made his first WWE appearance in
nearly seven years, where he defeated
Heath Slater in a singles match.
On July 23 on the 1000th episode of Raw,
Vader and several other legends
prevented Slater from leaving in his
match against Lita, which she won.