WWE and WCW legend Big Van Vader apparently announced his retirement from professional wrestling over the weekend on Twitter. In the post, Vader expressed sadness of leaving his “greatest love of all” for a chance to see his grandchildren some day.
If this is indeed a retirement announcement, we have Vader last working in a six-man tag team match with Keiji Muto & AKIRA against Fujinami, Riki Choshu & Shiro Koshinaka at Korakuen Hall in Japan back in April. Vader passed out after the match due to an apparent head injury he suffered during the bout.
Vader announced on Twitter last November he only had two years to live due to suffering from congestive heart failure. He later expressed regret for making the tweets.
Vader’s career began in the American Wrestling Association in the mid-1980s and he won the IWGP Heavyweight title at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s first Tokyo Dome show on April 24, 1989. Vader came to WCW in 1990 but was used sparingly as he was still working on Japan. He first won the WCW Heavyweight Championship in 1992 when he beat Sting at the Great American Bash.
Vader debuted with WWE (then WWF) at Royal Rumble 1996, where he worked until 1998. He was rejuvenated in Japan with All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah until 2002. Since then, he’s made sporadic appearances including with TNA in 2003 and 2015 and with WWE in 2005, 2012 and 2016.
If Vader’s career is over, his resume includes being a two-time Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion (All Japan Pro Wrestling), three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion (New Japan Pro Wrestling), three-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, among many other titles and accolades. In 1993, Pro Wrestling Illustrated named him “Wrestler of the Year.”