As I sat around the house thinking up an article completely unrelated to wrestling, about life lessons learned from one of my favorite shows growing up, I suddenly found wrestling in the mix again. I’m a massive Undertaker fan, and have been for ages, but when I look back on my past there’s one name that jumps out as the main reason I got hooked and even wanted to become a wrestler as a kid. The man was larger than life, he was a hell of a character, and he could move amazingly for a guy his size. The man in question is the one and only Mastodon, the man they call Vader.
Growing up as a kid who was large for his age fairly often, and being a bit on the “chunky” side, I gravitated to Vader (no pun intended there) due to the fact that he wasn’t the stereotypical bodybuilder in wrestling. This was a man at, or above at times, 400 pounds who could flat out move in the ring. How often do you get a guy that big who can do a moonsault, and actually do it pretty well at the same time? When I saw this monster I thought, even a hefty kid like me could do that. I knew, even though he didn’t look cut out of stone, that he was still in good shape so I decided to start doing something to improve my cardio; at that point I decided that I would play football once I got to high school.
While still in middle school I watched a lot of television, as I’m sure we all did at that time. This is what leads me back to what I mentioned at the beginning of this article, my favorite show back in the day. I followed the show Boy Meets World on a weekly basis, once again, as many of my generation did as well. Watching Cory, Shawn, Topanga, Eric, and all their extended friends and family helped shape some of my mentality as I developed. One day I’m watching the show and noticed the father of one of the “bullies” on the show and couldn’t look away. Suddenly Vader had infiltrated into the show I watched the most often, at that point I knew that my attention to him had been warranted so many years back in WCW and that I had found someone who would keep me connected to the world of wrestling for years to come.
Once I started football, I started paying closer attention to Vader and his history outside of the ring. Until that time I didn’t know he had been an offensive and defensive lineman for the University of Colorado Buffaloes. Coincidentally, I had been positioned as an offensive/defensive lineman on the football field as well, giving me a bit more of a connection to this monster. While the people I watched for on field prowess were still on the football field (Reggie White, Bruce Matthews, Kyle Turley, etc.) one thing that you don’t pick up from NFL players is personality and showmanship, this was something I adopted from Vader and carried onto the field. While I never did standout as a superstar player, I used the things I learned from wrestling to help on the field, mainly getting inside another player’s head. The football field and wrestling have one major thing in common, psychology, if you can get in the opposition’s head, you’ve won.
Very seldom do you hear the words “Vader is one of my all-time favorite workers,” but this is completely true in my case. If not for this beast in black and red, I may have given up on the sport before I got to know who Undertaker, Raven, and so many others were. Interestingly enough, just as my favorite show is poised for a next generation run with the upcoming “Girl Meets World,” Vader’s son is climbing up the ladder and will soon be a mainstay in WWE, I have no doubt this young man will make a big impact and be around for many years. Maybe Jake Carter will have the same impact for some impressionable young person that his father did for me, only time will tell.