This was filmed on New Years Day in 1999, very shortly after Vader left the WWF.
The interview starts with Rob Feinstein on location in Colorado. The interview is actually conducted from Vader’s home. They show close-ups of all Vader’s memorabilia. The camera work is awful by the way. Speaking of awful, Vader is wearing a hat that says “Vader Time,” which looks ridiculous.
He is asked about is football career. He said that junior and senior year in high school, he was All-American and recruited by about 50 schools. He grew up in inner city Los Angeles and was attracted to Colorado for college due to the spacious setting. He was a four-year starter and drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 3rd round but ended rupturing his patella tendon in training camp. The Rams made the playoff that year and he was activated when the starting center got hurt and played a few snaps against the Steelers in the Super Bowl, said he has the ring.
Vader got into wrestling when his football career finished and he came back to Colorado and got his license to be a broker in Colorado. He talks about how he built and sold houses and while making good money, was getting bored and out of shape and felt that he had a lot left in his body to use.
When asked if he was a wrestling fan growing up, Vader said that he followed it a little bit. He then said that he watched Hogan as a kid, which makes no sense seeing as Vader was 28 years old when Hogan went back to the WWF in 1984.
Vader said he was up to about 380 lbs when he went back to the gym. He went with a few friends to an AWA show and left midway through, saying the match quality was poor, and went to the hotel across the street. He saw the wrestlers hanging out there and was recognized by Gene Reed as a football player, who then introduced him to Greg Gagne. Reed told Vader to come back in a few weeks and he met Brad Rheingans, who was running a wrestling camp for Verne. Vader adds that Brad was the one who created stars from that camp, not Verne.
Vader says that his real height is 6’4 ½ and in wrestling, got at low as 340 lbs and high as 440 lbs.
He remembers his first match and it was against Bruiser Brody. He says it was one of the most painful things that ever happened to him. He did say that Brody tried to teach him. He then went on to wrestle with Jerry Blackwell then Stan Hansen. He said after working with those guys, who were very stiff in the ring, went to work with other guys and hit someone so hard in a match that they rolled out of the ring and complained to one of the Gagne’s. Vader said he thought you were supposed to hit that hard, because those guys hit him like that.
Vader is asked if Brody actually broke his leg. He said it was just an angle done because he was leaving the territory and going to Europe.
He was asked about Verne Gagne. Vader said they made no money but thought Verne saw potential in him as he could do stuff like moonsaults. He said that he was fine to him.
When asked about why he left the AWA, Vader talks about the relationship between Verne Gagne and Otto Wanz. They had a partnership at the time. Vader goes off topic for a bit and forgot the question before saying that Verne told him to go over as he would learn a lot and get a lot of dates.
Vader said he started in a tent in Austria that held about 5,000 people. Vader said they made a lot as the ticket prices were high and Otto would hire vendors, probably making more selling beer and brauts.
He said that he wound up in New Japan after spending two seasons in Europe. One of the referee’s in New Japan approached him and said that Masa Saito remembered a six-man tag they had and was impressed by his power moves and wanted him to tour New Japan after finishing up with Otto in Europe. Vader said that he already had dates with Giant Baba and All Japan after he contacted Stan Hansen so he could wrestle between the tours of Europe. He said that New Japan offered a lot more than Baba. He said after speaking with his wife and just starting off in the business, he took the original offer. After that, Antonio Inoki paid a fee to Baba to get Vader for New Japan. In his first tour, he beat Inoki in four minutes.
He compares the psychology between Japan and America at the time, saying the faces in America sold a lot more than they did in Japan. He compares guys like The Rock and Stone Cold today (this was filmed in 2001) and how they have done a 180 and they are selling like the Japanese did back then and Japan faces are selling like the American’s did at that time.
He is asked if there were any problems between the top guys in Japan at the time, like Inoki, Riki Choshu, and Tatsumi Fujinami. Vader said that while guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were open with their problems, those in Japan kept it in house.
Vader said that he was blowing up guys in Japan, despite his size. He also said he was study tapes of the guys he faced and would look for things that they did well and incorporate that in the match. He is asked if that helped and he said it did.
They talk about his match against The Great Muta in the Sumo Hall. He said that this was the first time in a pro wrestling match in Japan that they threw the rose pedals on the floor after the match.
He was asked if he traveled or bonded with any of the talents. He said in WCW, he traveled with Harley Race but mostly did things by himself.
Up next is his infamous match against Stan Hansen in which his eye wound up on his cheek. Vader said that he turned right into a punch by Stan and felt his eye on his cheek, half popped out. He remembered swearing at Stan then turned his back and popped it back in place before putting him in an armbar. He said he took his mask off and the crowd popped. The camera zoomed into his eye and it showed on the screen.
He is asked about his team with Bam Bam Bigelow. Rob tells him that in Bam Bam’s shoot, he mentioned that they had a bit of a rivalry. Vader puts over Bam Bam for his agility but didn’t think they had a rivalry. He also calls Bam Bam a great partner and that they both knew the Japanese style well. He said that they wrestled the Steiner Brothers, who were nervous as they were unfamiliar with the style, and helped them through the beginning of the match and it turned out great. He also says that he wants to work with him and has talked to Paul Heyman about coming to ECW. Rob breaks to Vader that a 90% confirmed rumor has Bam Bam not being at the PPV and signing with WCW.
He said that there was no interest in them as a team in WWF or WCW as Bam Bam had heat with Vince McMahon and that Flair wouldn’t want a good act to come to WCW and overshadow him. He recalls another situation in WCW, when he was champ, he suggested that he team with Steve Austin against Flair and Arn Anderson. Vader said that Steve looked great but it was too good and Flair buried that. The other interviewer brings up how they just did a shoot with Terry Funk, who never had a bad thing to say about anyone, and even he said that it is poetic justice as now he has Hogan vetoing his stuff in WCW.
On how he wound up in WCW, he got hurt in Japan and tore his cartilage, which had also flipped and wedged itself. He wrote a letter to the promoter saying he would be able to compete in the tournament as he needed surgery. Japan pressured him to hold off and wrestle but Vader did not want to risk his career and elected to have the surgery. His contract was also up at that time and said that Jim Ross was a huge supporter of his and called him up, telling him to speak with Dusty Rhodes who was the booker and got hired.
Vader said that Dusty was the booker for all of the Executive Vice President’s until Bischoff took over. He said that he was booked to lose against Flair at the 1993 Starrcade 1993 by Bischoff to give Flair a bit rub and that Dusty told him not to job as Flair was getting old. He then said that he would put Flair over, with the interviewers calling it a great match, and that afterwards, Dusty told him he would get the belt back in a cage match before Hogan came to the company. Flair wound up getting Dusty’s job a few days later and he did not get the belt. Vader then said that as a result, Flair ended up having to job to Hogan when he came to the company.
He is asked about why he stopped using the mask in WCW. Vader there was no problem with Japan for using it in America but only for UWFI. He said that Dusty told him that it was cumbersome and to ditch it because he looked better without it.
Vader said that he had his best matches with Sting. He said that was the best point of his career as he didn’t have to deal with the political manipulation from guys like Hogan and Flair. He is then asked if there was any added pressure for working with Sting. He said they had a strong respect for each other and does not recall ever having a bad match together.
He is asked about his matches with the British Bulldog and the vignettes for Bash at the Beach. He said that filming was hot and he was on the verge of blistering and demanded to stop.
When asked about Harley in WCW, Vader said that he was still trying to wrestle then became Luger’s manager but he left and went to the WWF. He claims that Harley got hurt in a car accident and if not, would have been by his side when he worked with Flair and Hogan, helping him deal through all the politics.
Vader was asked about working with Cactus Jack when his ear got ripped off. He said that match, Jack choked himself in the ropes and was turning purple and couldnt get out so Vader had to rip him out and when that happened, Jack’s ear was partially torn. Vader said he saw blood and thought it was a perfect time to get heat and go home so he punched him and his ear fell off. The ref gave the ear to the ring announcer and they brought it backstage. He said that they all tried to talk him out of the crazy moves and at one point, he told him to shoot on him in a match. Vader said that he earned his spot in history.
Next, he is asked about Halloween Havoc against Sting. The interviewer brings up a rumor that Funk did a moonsault earlier in the card and that Vader was pissed. Vader said that he went to Dusty and was told that Terry did not plan that and Vader asked if they could avoid that in the future. His reasoning was that he was the number one guy in the company at the time and had planned that spot. He then said if Funk planned the spot, he would not have done it in his match.
He is asked about the incident between Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious in Europe. Vader blames WCW saying that they had a poorly timed schedule that had them land, wrestle, travel, the wrestle. After all that, everyone was frazzled and they were drinking beers at a table and he left. After that, Sid and Arn squared off. Vader then heard screaming in the lobby and left his room in his underwear and saw Sid walk over to him and blood was pouring out of his belly and stopped the flow by sticking his thumb in the wound. He screamed for towels and a chair and held the towel until the ambulance came. He never saw Arn though. When asked about how the rest of the boys felt, he said the net night they had a meeting and Turner had apparently thought about shutting down the tour and Dusty gave them a meeting about what happened and they moved on.
Next, he is asked about Hogan coming into WCW. Vader talks about how Hogan pinned Flair four straight times. After that, Vader said Hogan chose his friend, Brutus Beefcake as his next opponent but the matches and buyrate were horrible so he chose Vader as his next opponent. Bischoff told him that Flair was going to be his manager. Vader said that he had to go over the first time over Hogan, anyway possible to get heat. He said that he was getting cheered and Hogan was getting booed and needed to either turn heel or quit. Vader said he told Bischoff to do what was right for the company. Vader brings up how Hogan kicked out of his finisher, despite being told that would not happen. Vader said he was making about a million a year but had to give a lot of thought about sticking with the company. He said that was when he considered talking to McMahon about going to the WWF. The interviewer brings up the dirt sheet rumors of Vader supposedly going to shoot on Hogan due to being pissed. Vader said that he has accidentally hurt people but is a professional and would never do that purposely. He says that he and Hogan could have sold out football stadiums if he had beaten Hogan the first time.
He is asked about their second match, with Bruno Sammartino presenting an award in the locker room prior. He said that it was a three minute match due to Hogan’s creative control. Vader then says that he does not remember a lot about that though.
Next, he is asked about his cage match when Hogan was supposed to be left laying by him and Flair. Vader said that Hogan was known for agreeing to things then going back on that an hour before the match.
Vader is asked if the locker room was happy about Hogan coming in to WCW. He said they were about the prospect of making more money but they were all under guaranteed contracts anyway.
When asked about the prospects of WCW Nitro, Vader said that he thought they could not compete with the WWF. He did not think they could match the production. He then puts over WCW for being able to produce a good show now.
He is asked about the first show, when Lex Luger came back. He said that he was supposed to be involved in that angle. He said that he got in an altercation with Orndorff prior. He was flown to Minnesota, thinking that he would be a part of the show. After a meeting, one of the referee’s told him that Bischoff did not want him there so he hung out in Minnesota for a day then went to film a few scenes for “Baywatch.” He closes by saying that if Luger hadn’t walked out on Vince, he would have gotten that spot and he was the backup plan.
Now, he is asked about his altercation with Paul Orndorff. Vader said that he will not elaborate a lot on the situation but said that TV tapings are long and hectic. He then said that after missing a few photograph sessions, Bischoff told him that he would be fined. He was also supposed to do some pre-tapes but did not want to be fined so he went to the sessions. He said that Orndorff was not a booker but acted like that in the sessions when he was only a assistant. After a long photo session, he was in the locker room talking to Meng when Orndorff yelled at him, saying he was late and held up the crew. Vader said not to yell at him and that he was told to be at a photo shoot but Orndorff became abusive and there was no reason for that as Orndorff was not his superior and after some words he walked away. Terry Taylor walked up to him and Vader told him what happened and Taylor said he did not know that and asked him to prepare for the tapings. He said sure then Orndorff confronted him again and called him out. Vader said he was disrespectful to Orndorff after he yelled at him. Orndorff told him to hit him and Vader said he slapped him then realized it was wrong and his job was in jeopardy. He said at that time, he froze, thinking of his family and future, and Orndorff came down head-first in the hallway, nearly hitting a corner of a box. Vader then states he went over to see if he was okay and Orndorff slapped his hand away. He then said that he made the decision not to throw another punch but Orndorff came up and hit him a few times, claiming that his hands were down at the time. After that, Vader said that he grabbed him in a front facelock and claims that if he wanted to hurt him, he easily could have. He then said Orndorff was in the locker room telling people that Vader gave him a cheap shot. Vader then said that he kicked open the door of the executives office and asked Orndorff if he wanted to finish the fight, with Schiavone and Bischoff in the room. Vader said he called him out and when he finally came out he grabbed him but Meng walked by and stopped him. He claims that if Meng had known what went down, he would not have grabbed him.
He also said that before the Orndorff altercation, Bischoff told him to work “Bash at the Bach,” despite tearing his rotator cuff. He told him to get someone else as he could not do the match. He said that he would do TV for the angles but couldn’t do any matches with his injuries. He said after that, he started to drink and take pain pills more to deal with the discomfort, taking 6-8 Percocets a day and was in a wrong frame of mind to deal with things. He believes that Flair and Hogan saw this as a way to get rid of him. He ends by saying that he takes full responsibility for putting his hands on Paul but he should not have yelled at him.
Vader is then asked about the rumors of him being a locker room bully. He claims that gene Okerlund hated him and that he never got along with him at all but he saw that as an opportunity to make him look bad.
They go back to the “Rampage Tour” when he was doing some shows with the USWA that included the Undertaker. He said that it was Bischoff’s idea and thought it was good. He said hello to the Undertaker and Paul Bearer ran in and beat a few guys then left the arena and went into the car driven by Terry Taylor and left.
He was asked about returning to WCW. He said that Bischoff gave him a six month fine for slapping a guy that would have cost him around $300,000, just for slapping a guy. Vader then said he needed shoulder surgery and could not work in Japan as Bischoff suggested. At the time, he thought it was a horrible offer but looking back, didn’t think it was that bad. He brings up again how much pain he was in at the time and that it changed his personality. He also believes that if Sting, Hogan, or Flair had the same injuries as him at that time, he would be allowed to take time off and recuperate.
He was then asked how he wound up in the WWF. At the time, Vader said he was planning on building a shopping center (which he tells the guys that they passed it on the way here) and going to New Japan.
He signed for one match in Japan, against Inoki in the Tokyo Dome. Vader is then asked about people saying he tries harder in Japan. He said is correct in terms of the last three years as he was allowed to turn it up a notch over there. He then wants to say on record that Vince McMahon has treated him and his family with courtesy. When Ken Shamrock broke his nose in a match, the WWF offered to pay for it to get fixed and give him time off.
When he asked for his release, saying that he couldn’t do his style that got him over, he mentions a certain superstar, who after a sold out show in Nassau after tearing the house down, told him if he was ever that stiff again, he would be gone from the WWF the next day.
He talks about how they gave him a great angle to start in the WWF but that he was scheduled for shoulder surgery the next day but they went to do it anyway.
Vader then said at the time, he and Shawn Michaels were drawing good money. He said that he was getting pinned by him on the house show’s cleanly then wondered why the buyrate was bad at SummerSlam. He then said that he was blamed for that.
Vader is asked about the match and if Shawn through a tantrum during the match. Vader said that he was temperamental and if things didn’t go according to plan, he was unable to handle the situation.
Vader then adds that he was originally scheduled to beat Shawn at SummerSlam for the belt, then lose it to Bret, regain the belt from Bret then lose it to Shawn. After the buyrate tanked, they switched him out for Sid.
He then says that he got out of shape and went to a fitness center and lost 45 lbs then had a good showing at the “Final Four” match, with Vince calling him the MVP of the match.
Next, Vader is asked about assaulting the TV host in Kuwait. Originally, Vader said he was told that he was going to get the IC Title after they returned. Vader said that there was an American director and English producer, who wanted the highest rating possible. He claims that he was told to act crazy at the end and grab the host’s tie. He found out that no one told the host about this happening and after that happened, the host walked out and the next day he filed charges. That was on a Friday but there was a religious holiday that was two week long and he had to wait it out. A day and a half after the holiday, he returned home. He then admits that he was not in jail but rather a $600 a day resort that had all sorts of amenities. He believes that the WWF tried to build something up by telling the story to the press. After that happened, they made alternate plans for the belt.
He was asked about Shamrock spitting up blood during their cage match. He said he was scared and after getting powerbombed, blood was pouring out of his mouth then shoots down the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter” that it was a work.
Next, he is asked about the situation between Shawn and Bret. Vader said he tried to distance himself from that, saying they were both friends of his. He was asked what he would do if he was the booker then said he has no idea.
Vader is now asked if he was supposed to be involved in the series with Kane and the Undertaker. He said he was never told.
He said that the WWF wanted him to lose weight, and get to around 320 lbs.
When asked his thoughts on ECW, he gives credit to Paul Heyman and calls him a friend. He then says his company is making money going against WWF and WCW and looks forward to work with him but doesn’t want to be a full-time performer.
Vader is asked if there is a possible chance of him returning to WCW. He said probably not as Bischoff dislikes him. He then said that he left the WWF in good terms and could come back at some point within the year.
He then says that Rocky will be a big star as he has all the tools and cares for himself. He also puts over Ken Shamrock, Kane and Steve Austin. He also puts over guys like Edge, HHH, and Road Dogg. He closes by wishing the WWF well.
Final Thoughts: I thought this was a solid interview. If you were a fan of Vader’s work in Japan, then I would highly recommend this to you. I have seen dozens of shoot interviews though and those who talk about Vader either call him a baby and a bully. I did think that this interview did nothing to dispel those rumors. Sure, he was soft-spoken here but in regards to almost being fined $300,000 just for slapping Orndorff, I believe that he was downplaying the incident and minimizing his faults throughout the shoot. There wasn’t a whole lot about the WWF discussed here but his WCW run was interesting, especially the politics played by Hogan and Flair. It would be nice if Vader did a follow up shoot, especially after hinting that he was going to wrestle for ECW, but he never really did anything again in America wrestling after this besides a few appearances here and there.