Home Japanese warriors Hulk Hogan’s WrestleMania rival turned down ‘Vader’ gimmick the late great Leon White made famous

Hulk Hogan’s WrestleMania rival turned down ‘Vader’ gimmick the late great Leon White made famous


Leon White will forever go down in pro wrestling history as a superstar with a vast and accomplished career. During his legendary in-ring career, he won 12 world championships, including the IWGP and WCW Heavyweight Championships.


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His accomplishments prompted WWE to induct him into its Hall of Fame. Vader will be posthumously inducted into the 2022 Hall of Fame class along with The Undertaker.


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Reflecting on his old friend White, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin explained how The Ultimate Warrior turned down the “Vader” gimmick.

The Big Van Vader: character and gimmick

‘The Mastodon’s in-ring gimmick was extremely intimidating. The Big Vader helmet, with smoke capable of fumigating the entire arena, was iconic. Plus, the 435-pound heavyweight champion’s moonsault skills were a beauty to watch.

According to his longtime friend Steve Austin, this intimidation factor served well to establish Vader’s in-ring persona.

“He [came] walking to the ring, and this guy was as big as a house initially. Just the intimidation factor. And then he would put this thing on the ground, on the ground, and he would start hissing and pointing at it, and of course it would blow up the steam, whatever they were coming out of there, it was amazing”, said Austin on The Steve Austin Show.

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Interestingly, not all of this gadget was originally built for Vader. The pitch was for the late WWE Hall of Famer, The Ultimate Warrior, who turned it down.

“I think they originally wanted to give this gadget to the Ultimate Warrior who I think passed it up… ended up with the right man at the right time, because I don’t think anyone ‘anyone else could have pulled that gimmick like Leon did with his work style, with his athleticism. It was a parallel to when I first saw the Road Warriors,recalled the Texan (H/T EWrestling).

“It’s time” for Hall of Famer Leon White


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Leon White is someone who left his legacy in several areas. He had a huge impact on New Japan Pro Wrestling in the 80s and became the first non-Japanese to win titles in Japan. He later signed with WCW and won the United States Championship three times.


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Therefore, by the time he started his WWE adventure, he was already a legend. While not grandiose like previous companies, Vader’s tenure in WWE was significant. His most memorable match was at SummerSlam ’96 against Shawn Michaels.


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“The Man They Call” died in 2018 due to long-standing heart issues. Legends like Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Booker T, Hulk Hogan shared their memories of the great man. Now, as he finally decorates a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame, his legacy will forever be glorious.