It is the day after a three-hour WWE Monday Night RAW and a few days before No Way Out yet there is only one name on the minds of pro wrestling fans…Vader! Leon White returned and has the wrestling world buzzing about his name for the first time in over a decade.
[adinserter block=”2″]Vader returned on Monday night to wrestle Heath Slater as a poorly kept surprise. Vader was billed as a surprise legend to promote the 1,000th episode of Monday Night RAW. Yet several pro wrestling news websites reported earlier in the day that Vader was seen around town, prompting the social media world to get prepared for his return hours before he stepped foot in the ring.
Seeing Vader was great! I was always a big Vader fan going back to his early days in New Japan. His style was so hard hitting that it was impossible not to enjoy his matches. His reign of terror in WCW was highly underrated in my opinion. His series of matches against Sting, Ric Flair, and Mick Foley remain some of the best in WCW history. I could argue that his rivalry with Sting was the best rivalry inside of the ring in WCW in the 1990s.
Vader looked real good. He had a bit of a mishap and looked old getting into the ring. Once in the ring it was like a Vader squash match right out of an old Monday Night RAW. Vader hit most of his usual moves and looked a lot like his old self. I won’t kid anyone and tell you he looked as good as he did in his prime. The man is 57 years old so that is highly unlikely. He looked a bit heavier than his past WWE run, but overall he looked damned good.
I always felt that Vader got something of a raw deal during his WWE run. When Vader signed with the WWE, I expected him to come in and set the world on fire. I expected big things out of him and a potential series with Bret Hart. That never happened and other than a few great matches with Shawn Michaels, he never shined like he did in WCW. Unfortunately what most remember him for is the match against Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam in which Michaels lost his temper and threw a fit in the middle of the match. Some say that it was Michaels who buried Vader to the boss and cost him a money run.
I had the pleasure of doing a shoot interview with Vader at his home in 1998. I flew out to Boulder, Colorado and had the privilege of being hosted by Leon White and his family for the interview. The experience remains one of my most favorite when it comes to shoot interviews and Vader couldn’t have been a nicer guy. The interview was great and after we piled into the back of his SUV with his family, went to a local sports bar, and watched the NFC title game. Again, the man couldn’t have been nicer and more engaging to talk to.
[adinserter block=”1″]So welcome back to the WWE old friend. While the fans loved him, I hope that this doesn’t turn into a full time gig. Watching him get up those stairs was a reminder of how old he is and how bad those knees are. I’d much rather remember Vader as the brutal, monster who helped bring strong style wrestling to the United States before it was “cool.”
On the other hand, I can’t say that I wouldn’t mind seeing a Vader Bomb one more time…just once.
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