Big Van Vader was one of WCW's dominant heels and held the World Title on three different occasions. It would seem that as WCW's top heel he would engage in a lengthy feud with WCW's top babyface in Hulk Hogan.
However, Hogan wasn't too keen on working with Vader due to the big man's stiff style in the ring. Eric Bischoff went into more detail regarding Hogan's mindset when it came to Vader in his 83 Weeks podcast.
"Hulk Hogan wanted to work with people that he knew were professional. He wanted to work with people who would make him look good. He was well aware of his strengths and his weaknesses and he wanted to work with people that would camouflage his weaknesses and amplify his strengths," stated Bischoff. "That is just being a pro. It is what it is. He didn't want to work with Ric Flair because they were friends, he wanted to work with Ric Flair because he knew Flair would do what I just prescribed.
"That is the reputation Hogan has and that is why I still kind of harbor a lot of resentment because of the way the dirt sheets back in the day would frame this news where 'Hulk Hogan doesn't want to drop the strap,' well, the inference is he is a greedy f***er who doesn't want to share. That is the inference. Or, Hulk Hogan didn't want to work with Vader because Vader was stiff. Well, are we talking about the guy who broke someone's back or ruptured Sting's ear drum? Come on; Vader did work stiff. Hulk Hogan wasn't interested in working that way so it's not that Hogan didn't want to work with Vader, he did, and they did, but Hogan wanted to make sure that Vader was going to have his head on straight and not try to over-impress anybody with physicality because that was not what Hogan did."
Vader had earned a reputation as being a stiff worker from several notable incidents throughout his career. He ruptured Sting's ear drum as Bischoff stated, and he also broke the back of jobber Joe Thurman by powerbombing him on the back of his neck. There's also the time Vader ended Nikita Koloff's career with a stiff clothesline to the head as well as all of the things Vader did due Mick Foley when he was Cactus Jack.
Hogan wanted nothing to do with that side of Vader.
"Hulk Hogan was a character. He wasn't Mick Foley that wanted to go jump off of balconies or throw himself off of thumbtacks and end up with 65 stiches in his head. That wasn't the kind of match he wanted to have. He wanted to make sure that when he got into the ring with people that they were people that would complement the kind of match he can do best," said Bischoff.
Hogan and Vader did have a short feud in 1995 which culminated in Hogan retaining the World Title in a steel cage match at Bash at the Beach. Shortly thereafter, with The Dungeon of Doom coming after Hogan, he asked for Vader's assistance at WarGames. Vader agreed to team with Hogan, Randy Savage and Sting, but just weeks before the event Vader was fired for getting into a backstage fight with Paul Orndorff.
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.