Heath Slater revealed that Vader wanted to hit a moonsault on him as recently as 2012!
Vader is set to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022, and during his legendary wrestling career, he was known for doing moves that were unexpected for a man of his size. One of his most notable moves was a moonsault performed from the top rope, certainly a feat to witness from the 400+ pound athlete.
Speaking on the Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw podcast, Heath Slater revealed that Vader wanted to hit his signature moonsault as recently as 2012, when the soon-to-be Hall of Famer was in his mid-50’s. The spot would have taken place during Heath’s run-ins with various WWE Legends in the lead up to Raw 1000.
“It was one of those childhood dreams come true. That’s a 100 percent fact that I tell everyone. Just because I remember being that kid on the guardrail watching these guys, every one of them. Everyone that I worked with, I watched live as a kid. I still remember showing up at RAW and looking at the card, ‘Heath Slater vs. Vader.’
“At first, I was just confused, I was like, ‘are y’all just having someone dressed up to kick my ass, what’s going on?’ They were just like, ‘no, it’s really Vader, you’re working Vader.’ That’s when they explained to me that each week leading up to RAW 1000, they were going to have a legend come in. I was like, ‘well, am I going to get to face them all?’ They were like, ‘no, no. We’re going to have whoever else face this guy,’ and I am like, ‘no, no your not. This is my spot here. I want to be Mr. Anti-Legend.’”
Heath Slater continued, noting that he had to speak to Vince McMahon himself about the assignment to lose to various legends on the road to Raw 1000. He revealed that he didn’t know which legends he’d be facing week to week, so the appearances came as a surprise to him as well as to the audience.
“Ace was there, and Ace was like, ‘really? Let’s go to Vince, see what Vince would like.’ I go straight there and I tell him what I told them. And Vince was like, ‘you’re willing to do that?’ And I’m like, ‘hell yeah, I am willing to do that. Just give me a two-minute promo, put something over, have them come whoop my ass, I am good.’ So, he went with it. It was like, ‘holy crap, who am I going to face?’ But they never would tell me. So, each week was a surprise for me too.”
As the two men were preparing for their match, Heath Slater recalls Vader being very kind and deferring to the legend when it came to planning their spots. However, when Vader revealed to producer Mike Rotunda that he wanted to hit the moonsault, Slater wasn’t convinced it was a good idea.
“I remember being there with Vader, he was so kind, very nice gentleman, very nice to me. I don’t know about ‘91 Vader, but I know that he was more of a gentle soul when I got to face him. He was very nice,” Heath added. “But what really blew my mind, was we were talking about the match, and I’m like, ‘bro, whatever you want to do, I don’t care. Let’s just have fun.’
“But then at the end, Rotunda was like, ‘so the finish, do you just want to do your Vader Bomb or do you want to do your powerbomb?’ Vader literally looked at Rotunda and was like, ‘I think I can do the moonsault.’ Brother, I did one of these shaking of the heads, like, no. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know he nails it and he can do it, but this is 2014 [the match actually took place in 2012].”
Heath Slater also recalled what a privilege it was working with other legends and making memories with so many people that had influenced the wrestling business.
“It was a privilege for me working all of them. It was literally Vader, Sid Vicious, I had his first match after he broke his leg, what the hell. Rikishi, Animal, Cyndi Lauper busted the record over my head, and then she felt bad. Because the sugar glass cut me, so she signed the record for me and gave it to me.
“Piper, sweetheart, we all know him like that. He literally gave me about five hugs and kisses that night. He just thanked me, and I was like, ‘brother, this is the biggest pleasure for me, you don’t understand. Thank you for letting me do this.’”