Big Van Vader was one of WCW's top heels during the early-to-mid 1990s and engaged in memorable feuds with the likes of Sting and Ric Flair. He was expected to play a big part in the Monday Night Wars on WCW's side, but he ended up getting fired days before the debut of Nitro, and he eventually made his way to WWE and Raw.
Eric Bischoff discussed how a fight with a WWE Hall of Famer led to Vader's WCW termination on the latest edition of his 83 Weeks podcast.
"Vader could be difficult to work with, and I understood it. Center Stage [where WCW Saturday Night was taped] was a small tiny, stinky little building with no air conditioning and there wasn't enough room for everybody," said Bischoff. "Vader was a big guy. Traveling was a pain in the a** for a big guy like Vader, just felt the grind. I get it. I get a guy losing his temper so that I am not holding against him.
"But I had also seen Vader bully people when he was in a bad mood, so the whole f*** you I am not in the mood to do what you want me to do, and saying that to Paul Orndorff, who I also knew and trusted I could see how that went bad. I wasn't there so I can't validate or discredit the blow-by-blow that Vader gave, I will just let it sit where it sits and allow people that were there to describe it. But I made the decision to let him go because I believe Paul Orndorff, I knew Vader so I can see how it went down."
Orndorff was working as an agent and producer at the time that he and Vader got into a physical altercation backstage. Vader's volatile nature combined with most people siding with Orndorff made Bischoff's decision to release Vader all the easier.
"I decided to let him go because there was a pattern there," revealed Bischoff. "I saw it too often. He could be a big teddy bear and he can be the kindest, sweetest guy you ever met, or he can be a bully. So, I had to make a decision, and it boils down to who am I going to believe, and I talked to enough people who were there that saw it and basically said the same thing and that was when I made the decision that I made."
Just four months after being released by WWE, Big Van Vader showed up in WWE as simply "Vader." He never reached the same main event status that he had in WCW and spent less than three years with the WWE.
Vader suffered many health problems later in his life including undergoing heart surgery in March 2018 and having another operation two months later. He died on June 18 at the age of 63 after a month-long battle with pneumonia.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.