That would have been very different. Earlier this week, Big Van Vader passed away at age 63 due to complications from pneumonia. Vader was one of the best big man wrestlers of all time, showing off moonsaults while weighing over 400lbs. His gimmick was that of the Rocky Mountain Monster and had a huge helmet/shoulder pads combination that only he could have pulled off. However, apparently he wasn’t the first choice to play the character and it could have changed someone else’s career.

Here’s one of Vader’s best ever.

Sting vs. Vader: Starrcade 1992

On Thursday’s edition of the Steve Austin Show, Austin talked about his memories of Vader, including a story about seeing Vader putting his finger in Sid Vicious’ artery to keep him alive after Vicious was stabbed. During the opening of the show, Austin mentioned that there was actually someone else in mind to play the Vader character originally. The original choice was WWE Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior, who would have played the character in Japan. There was no word on if Warrior would have brought it to America in WCW in the early 1990s. Here are the comments, with transcription courtesy of

“I think, if memory serves me correct, I think they originally wanted to give that gimmick to the Ultimate Warrior who I think passed it up….That gimmick ended up with the right man at the right time, because I don’t think anybody else could have pulled that gimmick like Leon did with his work style, with his athleticism. It was a parallel along with the first time I saw the Road Warriors.”

You can listen to the discussion here. The Vader section runs from about 5:00 through 13:00.

Opinion: I’m not sure how well the character would work but I do agree with Austin that it was given to the right guy. Vader’s size and naturally monstrous look was the perfect combination with the helmet to make it look very intimidating. Austin’s stories about Vader are rather entertaining and the entire discussion is worth hearing, as are most of Austin’s shows. He and Vader seemed to be friends, which makes it a little more interesting perspective.

Would Warrior have worked for the character? What is your favorite Vader match? Let us know in the comments below.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at, or check out his Amazon author page with 27 wrestling books. His latest book is the NXT: The Full Sail Years Volume III: From Dallas To New Orleans.

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