B/R Exclusive: Vader to Be Inducted into 2022 WWE Hall of Fame Class

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2022

Professional Wrestling: WWE Hall of Fame Induction: Closeup of Big Van Vader during ceremony at SAP Center. 
San Jose, CA 3/28/2015
CREDIT: Jed Jacobsohn (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
(Set Number: X159444 TK1 )
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

WWE has confirmed to Bleacher Report that Leon White, also known as Big Van Vader, will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

The late wrestling legend will be inducted posthumously during this year's ceremony on April 1 alongside The Undertaker. The festivities will begin immediately after that week's episode of SmackDown.

Vader's career spanned nearly three decades from his debut in 1985 until his retirement in 2012. During that time, he worked for most of the major promotions around the globe.

After a short career in the NFL, White's first success in pro wrestling was in The American Wrestling Association, where he was known by the named Baby Bull and Bull Power. It was there where he honed his craft against other legends like Stan Hansen.

Moving to Europe, White caught the eye of Otto Wanz and worked for his Catch Wrestling Association promotion, eventually winning the CWA World Championship and making his first major mark in the business.

The name Big Van Vader was created during his time in Japan when he worked for All Japan Pro Wrestling and New-Japan Pro Wrestling.

Over the years, Vader would work stints in different parts of the world. He became a big name in Japanese pro wrestling, especially after he became the first non-Japanese wrestler to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in 1989.

His time in Japan also included a run as the IWGP tag team champions alongside Bam Bam Bigelow before both men made their way back to The United States.

He began working for WCW in 1991 and feuded with some of the promotion's biggest stars. At The Great American Bash in 1992, he defeated Sting to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. He went on to hold the title three times in addition to one reign as the United States champion.

In 1996, The Man They Call Vader made his way to WWE, debuting in the 1996 Royal Rumble match. He made an impact by eliminating several Superstars before he was sent over the top rope by the eventual winner of the match, Shawn Michaels.

He worked for the company for just under two years, but in that time he faced big stars such as Michaels, Bret Hart, Kane, Mark Henry and The Undertaker.

Following his time in WWE, Vader worked for several promotions for a year or two at a time. He returned to AJPW, made some stops in Pro Wrestling NOAH and TNA and even returned to WWE for a handful of appearances between 2005 and 2016.

His final appearance in WWE was fitting as he inducted Hansen into the WWE Hall of Fame. This was the same man who gave Vader his first shot at a world title, so it was a full-circle moment for the two former world champions.

During his long career in pro wrestling, Vader also became known to children as the father of Ethan Suplee's character on the hit show, Boy Meets World.

Danielle Fishel Karp @daniellefishel

Vader was larger than life and could be intimidating upon first glance. But he was kind, warm, and funny. It was nice to relive our time in Anaheim together by reading this article from 2016. Thanks for the memories, V. #RIPVader https://t.co/nU79bMSlE9

Vader died on Jun 18, 2018, at the age of 63, after dealing with heart problems for years and enduring a month-long stay in a hospital for pneumonia.

The super-heavyweight who could hit a moonsault was a beloved figure around the world for his ability to put on convincing matches and for his overall presence as a performer.

There's no word yet on who will induct Vader into the HOF, but it will likely be somebody who played a role in his legendary career.

The 2022 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony will stream live on Peacock directly after SmackDown on April 1. Fans in attendance at the American Airlines Center get a 2-for-1 special with SmackDown and the Hall of Fame ceremony.ย 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.