Vader Passes Away At Age 63; Peers React

Moments ago, the family of Leon White – best known to fans as the legendary big man Vader in WCW, WWE and Japan – passed away this past Monday night. Vader was 63 years old. The family stated that his death was due to complications from a recent bout of pneumonia, following heart surgery earlier this year.

Vader got his start in wrestling in 1985, when he joined American Wrestling Association (AWA) as “Baby Bull” Leon White. A former NFL player with the Los Angeles Rams and standout college footballer, White worked in the AWA for two years before making the move to head to Japan. He originally signed with All Japan in 1987, but Giant Baba ended up trading his contract to NJPW. It was there that Vader became the monster we all knew and loved.

Photo: NJPW

Repackaged as Big Van Vader (named after a character from Japanese folklore), he was pushed as a gaijin monster and soon became a crowd favourite due to his size and athleticism (although his initial beat down on Antonio Inoki maked him a marked man and villain early on). He became an absolute force of power in NJPW, becoming a 3x IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

In 1992, he began to work with WCW full time, after sporadically appearing via a NJPW alliance, and when he arrived for good in 1992, he continued his dominance. He would go on to become a 3x WCW World Heavyweight Champion, feuding with the likes of Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair and others.

In 1996, he jumped to the WWF, just prior to the Attitude Era starting, as a member of Jim Cornette’s camp. He would spent two years with WWF, but his time was most forgettable and after an early push with feuds against the likes of Shawn Michaels and Sid Vicious, he soon found himself being used to put over new “monsters” in the WWF like Kane and Mankind instead. He left the WWF in 1998.

Photo: WWE

He returned to Japan, the land of his greatest success and began to work with both Pro Wrestling NOAH and All Japan. Over the next few years, he would win the All Japan Triple Crown Championship twice, and the GHC Tag Team titles in NOAH with 2 Cold Scorpio.

He would go back to the independents for the remainder of his career, working Japan, the UK and North America. In 2012, he was brought back to WWE for one night only as one of the many legends that returned to beat up Heath Slater.

Two years ago, he famously got into a spat with high flyers Will Ospreay and Ricochet, which lead to a generational match up with Ospreay in RevPro in 2016.

Photo: RevPro

The entire staff of LWOPW offers it’s condolences to the family and friends of Leon White during this hard time.