Top 5 Vader Matches
The wrestling world mourns the passing of the iconic Vader, who died on 18th June at the age of 63. Vader, a former NFL linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams, will best be known for his athletic prowess and superhuman strength.
He was arguably one of the greatest wrestling big men of all time. Weighing in at more than 450 pounds, Vader was legendary for performing a top rope moonsault with the ease and grace of wrestlers half his size.
A former WCW World Champion, Vader also excelled in the AWA, NJPW, and the WWE. He also had a taste of television stardom with his 1990s appearances on the hit television show Boy Meets World.
Vader had struggled with heart ailments in recent years, even to the extent of collapsing in the ring after a match in Japan. He endured open heart surgery and although his struggles with heart disease left the massive man vulnerable, he continued wrestling professionally up until the very end. After a month-long battle with pneumonia, his heart simply stopped beating and the wrestling world lost one of its true all-time greats.
Despite Vader's failing health being public knowledge and a push from former rival Mick Foley, the WWE failed to enshrine Big Van Vader into its Hall of Fame during his lifetime. As it often happens, the late legend will never live to see his own enshrinement.
This doesn't mean Vader isn't Hall of Fame worthy. His career accomplishments speak for themselves and he was involved in some of the most memorable and legendary pro wrestling matches of all time. We take a walk down memory lane and look back at Vader's legacy in professional wrestling, as we break down Vader's Top 5 Matches of All Time.
5. Vader vs Shawn Michaels - SummerSlam 1996
Vader's WWE tenure can only be described as somewhat disappointing. The WWE was reluctant to give the behemoth former WCW star a legitimate push. Vader, after all, was seen more as an NJPW/WCW creation than a Vince McMahon creation and that caused the WWE to pull back the reigns on Vader's usual dominant ways.
There were still some memorable bouts from Vader's WWE run. The Mastodon soon saw himself embroiled in a feud with WWE Champion Shawn Michaels, whom Vader was never going to beat, due to Michaels being a homegrown WWE Superstar. Still, that didn't prevent Vader from putting forth an outstanding effort in a feud that culminated at SummerSlam 1996. The two wrestlers actually had good in-ring chemistry, despite rumours of the men never having exactly gotten off on the right foot in the WWE.
Ultimately, the history books will show that Vader lost to Michaels at SummerSlam; but, that's not quite accurate. Vader actually beat Michaels by disqualification when Michaels began an assault on Vader with manager Jim Cornette's infamous tennis racket. Michaels was caught red-handed and as Vader's theme music hit, Cornette took to the mic coaxing Michaels in restarting the bout, "Michaels you got yourself disqualified on purpose just to try to save that stinking title of yours. Your a gutless no good coward. You knew you couldn't beat him. If you had any guts if you had any courage you'd get this thing started again." As the crowd cheered for the continuation of the match, Michaels obliged and then ultimately hit a fatigued Vader with a moonsault for the win.