Animal Motifs: Vince McMahon wanted to rename him the Mastodon so that he could trademark the name. He has the ability to turn into one in the WWF In Your House Challenge video game.
Before going to Japan and becoming Vader he was Baby Bull, then Bull Power.
Ax-Crazy: At the start of his WWF run, which actually got him (kayfabe) fired. Jim Cornette was able to get him to settle down when he brought Vader back and acted as his manager.
Badass: A legit tough guy inside and outside the ring.
The Ace: He held three different world titles from three different promotions on three continents (North America, Asia and Europe) making him the closest thing professional wrestling has ever had to a true world champion.
Badass Beard: It was most noticeable during his spat with the less hairy Bret Hart.
In WWF, he attacked and injured acting WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. A few months later, he assaulted Yokozuna, broke his leg, and then kept on attacking him while medics tried to get him onto an ambulance.
Eye Scream: In 1990, during an All Japan Pro Wrestling/New Japan Pro Wrestling supercard show, Vader faced fellow brawler Stan Hansen in a match. During the match, Hansen, who, like Vader, is known for his incredibly stiff style of fighting, landed a punch which caused Vader's right eyeball to pop out of socket. Fortunately, the eyeball was contained by the swelling of his eyelid.
And then, later in that same fight, he pushed his eye back in the socket with his own fingers.
Something of an inversion, Vader was the one that threw Cactus Jack into the ropes, where Cactus Jack got tied up and ended up losing most of one of his ears. Early in Cactus Jack's/Mick Foley's run in the WWE as Mankind the injury was shown to both reveal to wrestling fans who he was and to establish him as one of the craziest/toughest men on the roster. (For what it's worth, the injury was a terrible accident and wasn't anybody's "fault" per se. It was a planned spot Foley often did, and he attributes the injury to the ropes being too tight in Have A Nice Day.)
Gentle Giant: Outside of the ring, anyway. Jim Cornette was once asked what the first thought to come to mind was when he thought of Vader. Jim's immediate response? "A big ol' teddy bear".
Hero Killer: His WCW run began with him squashing Sting and then beating him again for the world heavy weight championship but killing careers by retiring Nikita Koloff and breaking Joe Thurman's back is what really put him in this category.
Hope Spot: Vader would continue to beat Sting too but every match they had saw Sting get closer and closer to beating Vader. This went on for eight months. Due to injury Vader dropped the title to someone substituting for Sting's rematch, Ron Simmons, but he won the title back from Simmons after he was healthy again and no one else was able to beat Vader again until Sting finally got the job done.
Hired Guns: Hired by Jonathan Coachman along his former enemy Goldust to take out Stone Cold Steve Austin. Instead the two of them ended up fighting Dave Batista.
Stan Hansen broke his orbital bone and made his eye pop out, Vader popped it back in and kept fighting.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: As noted by Mick Foley in his first autobiography Have A Nice Day: A Tale Of Blood And Sweatsocks, despite being a sadistic, merciless monster heel in the ring, Vader was very sweet and friendly behind the scenes, and on one occasion cried inconsolably after he believed he'd accidentally paralysed a rookie with a Powerbomb when he couldn't feel his legs afterward. Luckily this was not the case; the rookie retired from pro wrestling, but regained the full use of his legs and became a police officer.
Megaton Punch: Delivers one to Ken Shamrock in their match at the WWF in Your house 15: A Cold Day in Hell PPV in May 1997. Shamrock was one of the only ones who could legitimately tolerate Vader's stiff style.note Although Shamrock was coming in from the UFC, he HAD wrestled professionally in the Carolinas-based independent promotion South Atlantic Pro Wrestling in the early 1990s under the name "Mr. Wrestling" Vince Torelli. It had just been a few years since he'd been in a worked competition. After several minutes of Shamrock kicking Vader as hard as he could around the legs and thighs, Vader winds up and throws a punch/clothesline that levels Shamrock.
Moment Killer: One of the biggest anticlimax promos in WWE history occurred on his time. When he did his "WHAT TIME IS IT?!" at the end, Sunny, the woman interviewing him, mentioned it was about 15 minutes until the PPV started. It deflated Vader.
Funny Background Event: But what everyone remembers about that promo is Road Warrior Hawk entering in the background, realizing he was walking in on the promo, gawking in surprise, and walking back out.
Another example for both came in 2005. Vader had been brought in by Jonathan Coachman (along with Goldust) for a beatdown on Batista (who was filling in for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin for a match at Taboo Tuesday.) Vader and Goldust laid Batista out (I know, right?) and then, as the villainous trio were making their exit, Vader jumped off the apron... only to lose his balance and promptly fall on his ass. Not that that match had much steam going into Taboo Tuesday as it stood, but that COULDN'T have helped.
Mythopoeia: In New Japan Pro Wrestling Big Van Vader was said to have been inspired by a legend in which a man fought to defend his village for seventy two hours straight, but no such story actually existed until Go Nagai (who is also behind Jushin Thunder Liger) came up with it.
Pro Wrestling Episode: Boy Meets World made use of Vader's wrestling for the episode Sixteen Candles and Four-Hundred-Pound Men. He showed up at least one more time in The thrilla in Philla and was known to be the father of a one of the show's bullies.
Red Baron: (in the AWA): "The Baby Bull"; (in WWE): "The Mastodon"
Signature Move: Vader attack (running body block), Vader Crush (standing splash, doing it from the ropes made it the Vader Bomb), Vader Hammer (forearms in the corner), Vader Slam (running power slam), face eraser (wheelbarrow face buster).
Smarmy Host: As asked by a Kuwaiti reporter if "wrestling was fake", which caused him to assault said reporter. Miscommunication lead to Gerry Bisco telling Vader it was a work, so he felt free to go crazy on the reporter but it was not, so he suffered a fine. Unfortunate since Vader was both passive otherwise and a stiff worker.
Still Got It: On his Raw appearance in June 2012, Vader went one on one with Heath Slater. Despite being a little slower on his feet and at getting back up than he used to be, Vader actually pulled out a pretty good match against Slater, and the crowd showered him with praise for his effort, popping enormously when he hit the Vader Bomb for the win.
Stout Strength: Vader was not just a big guy but he was strong enough to lift up guys just as large and larger than himself.
The Worf Effect: Was used to help Kane get over at a Pay Per View, and in order to build credibility for Kane as a monster heel, Kane had to annihilate Vader. Notably very controversial at the time, as Vader had built up a huge amount of credibility as a monster heel in WCW and Japan over the years. His career never truly recovered from such a devastating loss.
A few years prior, his career took another hit when in a match with Hulk Hogan, Hogan (who was at the height of his Boring Invincible Hero stage) no sold Vader's Power Bomb, a move that has legitimately caused concussions and broken backs.