When Rob Van Dam joined WWE in 2001 as part of the Alliance, a group of former WCW and ECW wrestlers who battled with WWE for control of the company in an angle known as “The Invasion,” he was supposed to be a heel, but was so popular among the fans that he was cheered.
Van Dam, who made waves as ECW’s longest-reigning World Television Champion, holding the belt for 700 days between April 1998 and March 2000, had gained the respect of not only those who watched the hardcore wrestling federation, but fans of professional wrestling in general.
Over the next several years, the Battle Creek, MI native was one of the most exciting grapplers around, putting on great matches against the likes of John Cena, Jeff Hardy, Edge, Christian and Chris Jericho. Utilizing moves as the split-legged moonsault, Rolling Thunder, the Van Terminator, the Van Daminator and the Five Star Frog Splash, Van Dam enjoyed reigns with many of WWE’s top titles, including the ECW World Heavyweight Championship — which returned to WWE when it brought back its own version of ECW in 2006 — and the WWE Championship.
Although the final year of Van Dam’s WWE stint saw a 30-day suspension due to drug possession which resulted in him losing both of the aforementioned titles, injury problems and him leaving the company due to his wife’s battle with cancer, he reappeared in TNA in 2010 and went on to experience success there, the highlight being when he captured the World Heavyweight Championship against A.J. Styles on Apr. 19, 2010.
Throughout his time with TNA, which ended when his contract expired earlier this year, Van Dam was criticized for being lazy and going through the motions. With a moveset that hadn’t changed in years, many of his supporters grew indifferent towards him.
Yet when it was announced that the 42-year-old will return to WWE on July 14 at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, there was a buzz of excitement. People want to see RVD back in the world’s biggest wrestling company.
I don’t understand why. Maybe a return to WWE will rejuvenate Van Dam, but I certainly can’t see him setting the world on fire. And with WWE’s drug policy, which wasn’t around until close to the end of his previous run, coupled with his constant support of the legalization of marijuana, he could find himself being suspended once again.
There are worse wrestlers on the roster — cough cough, The Great Khali — but Van Dam isn’t a future world champion or anything. He has already proven he can’t be trusted to carry the ball, so he’ll likely just take up a roster spot that could’ve been occupied by someone who truly deserves it.
But if WWE decides to bring back the Hardcore Championship, I just might change my tune.