Rob Van Dam on Working with WWE’s Younger Talents, Possibly Turning Heel, Heyman, More
– Rob Van Dam recently spoke with Donald Wood and the folks at Ring Rust Radio. Below are some highlights:
Mike Chiari: Since returning to WWE for your latest stint you’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the company’s fastest rising stars, specifically Cesaro and Bad News Barrett. As a veteran performer do you take pride in helping some of these younger stars get over and reach their fullest potential?
Rob Van Dam: Yes and no. I place no focus on that. If somebody is willing to take some advice, then I have some, and that’s just life in general. A lot of people don’t want to hear anything. These guys, and everybody at WWE right now, is so good that the standard of the pro wrestler compared to maybe 10 years ago: night and day difference. I came back last year and I was so impressed. Guys that come up now through NXT, a lot of them, maybe most of them, seem to be growing up in the business and with only four or five years’ experience. They’re already 10-12 year veterans. I’m more happy, with the caliber rising, that I can still get in there with my style and ability and still be relevant with the new age of wrestlers coming up just like it was back then.
So, are they getting a rub from wrestling with me? Probably so, but these guys, I don’t feel like they need me. These guys have a great future and are heading to the top with or without wrestling Rob Van Dam, they just might have a few more bruises after wrestling me.
Mike Chiari: You obviously have a long history with Paul Heyman dating back to ECW, and you’ve once again had an opportunity to work with him during your feud with Cesaro. If a situation were to arise at some point that would allow you to join forces with Heyman again is that something you might be interested in?
Rob Van Dam: Possibly, you know, there’s a lot of factors to consider. Of course, whenever I’m working with him to any degree, I have to consider the possibility that some writers may be thinking of that idea just like you are. I would be open to considering anything, but I really do enjoy being a fan favorite, someone that gets the positive energy from the fans and all the love from those who are wrestling fans: guys my age, kids, women, whatever. I like that I have that appeal, and I like the love. That would be something, even within the parameters of entertainment, switching to bad guy, that those guys would put up with. All the negative energy that would occur if I were to switch. That would be something that has value to me, but besides that, of course I’d love to work with Paul.
Brandon Galvin: You’ve always been one of the most exciting and unique wrestlers in and out of the ring, which makes it difficult for fans to ever boo you. However, have you ever thought about playing the role of a villain again or do you think your in-ring style would make it too difficult for fans to turn on you?
Rob Van Dam: I don’t know. I actually started as a bad guy in the original ECW, back in ’96, because I was wrestling Sabu, who all the fans loved and treated like a god. With the thumbs pointing at myself, that was done in an arrogant manner to draw heat from the crowd and they seemed to love it, they seemed to love my moves.
I don’t know if my style makes it hard to get fans to not appreciate me, but I do think that the traditional hero is something that is old fashioned in somewhere like the Deep South. I remember wrestling in Georgia, and as a good guy—to get the audience behind me—you just walk out and clap your hands, you get the fans to clap with you and you smile. When I first went up to Philadelphia, if I tried that stuff up there, they would boo me out the door. So that kind of anti-hero or that more adult approach has taken over.
The Attitude Era, ECW, everything together has come to make wrestling not so old fashioned, which I could say was cheesy by my standards and had to evolve, so now the fans tend to be drawn more toward what they find entertaining, which is subjective.
Mike Chiari: You’ve faced most of the top stars in the business over the past two decades, but who is someone who you either haven’t wrestled at all or have only wrestled sparingly that you’d like to work an extended program against in WWE?
Rob Van Dam: Hulk Hogan. Bring Hulk Hogan back, I want to work with him.
I don’t really worry about those things. When people ask me about guys I don’t say yes or no, but I go where the money is. Any chance I have to be a main event at a pay-per view, like main eventing WrestleMania, is that important to me? At this point, it’s something that would be really nice.