After Vader’s passing Monday night following a hard-fought battle with pneumonia, WWE posted this tribute video honoring the memory of “The Mastodon.”
From the NFL to the AWA, from WCW to WWE, relive the earth-shattering career of the incredibly agile Mastodon that was Big Van Vader. WWE extends its condolences to his family, friends and fans.
Vader — real name Leon Allen White — began his professional wrestling career in the mid-1980s after retiring from the NFL due to injury. He rose to national prominence in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association before joining New Japan Pro Wrestling as the masked Big Van Vader. He went on to become one of the promotion’s biggest stars and most feared competitors.
Vader then transitioned to World Championship Wrestling, where he would make the biggest mark of his career. He engaged in memorable rivalries with the likes of Sting and Ron Simmons, becoming a dominant, three-time WCW World Champion in the process.
In 1996, Vader joined the WWE roster, where he squared off against Superstars such as Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. He also found success on the small screen with a recurring guest role on the popular 1990s television program, Boy Meets World.