There is no one like RVD. Wrestler, Activist and Husband, Rob Van Dam is known for his unparalleled talent and outspoken nature. RVD took the time to sit down with me and discuss his career as a wrestler and his unapologetic stance on the War on Cannabis.
Afternoon Rob thanks for joining us!
Who were some of your favorite wrestlers to watch growing up?
I’d have to say The Ultimate Warrior stands out. That was when I knew I wanted to be pro wrestler. I liked his moves because they were different. His attack and angle inspired me to do same. I wanted to do the cartwheels and the flying head moves. Everyone else was big and slow.
Early in your career you worked in All Japan Pro Wrestling. The wrestling in Japan is different from the USA style of wrestling, a lot more high flying and submission and hardcore style wrestling there. Is that where you learned to mix high flying, submission and hardcore?
This is where I learned how to really bring it in Japan. I was already a high flyer. When I was younger I would show off on the diving boards. If people did a flip I had to do one more. I was the kid who had to do a back flip and a half you know? I was always looking for new ways to do things no one has done before. I brought that into the ring. I brought martial arts….elements I already had.
“I was the kid who had to do the back flip and a half”
The Sheik and Sabu are the ones who really taught me. These kids these days are missing that core mentality. I was balanced about getting that tight hold and squeezing it and knowing several reversals. I just had to combined all that and in Japan, I learned how much to really bring to the ring. Those in the business would tell me how stiff I was and I was hurting some people. These guys were telling me to “lighten up or else I’d have a real short career”, so I compromised for them against Sheik’s training and once I went to Japan, I found out that in fact those guys were just pussies and it was time to bring it.
I think you and Sabu had the best series of matches I’ve ever seen in wrestling. Your matches in USA and Japan with Sabu as both your opponent and partner are some of the best matches in history. Describe your feud and partnership with Sabu?
Since Sabu was the first guy that I was in the ring with professionally, we have the longest history in my career and also we were like minded. That doesn’t come from being trained by somebody. If you have a really big class of a bunch of wrestling students, they’re all going to be different. Most of them are going to be high flyers, some of them will be more prone to like the hard core style whatever…but Sabu and I have similar ideas for whats cool in a wrestling match. Same with anybody I’ve had really good high flying matches with like RVD vs Jeff Hardy same thing Jerry Lynn…just like Sabu we have a similar idea of what we think is really cool so we bring that out in a match and out of each other.
How was it like working in ECW and working with Paul Heyman?
That was the most fun I had out of my career. This was a very developmental time for me. I went from being considered a good wrester with potential, to being a superstar. That happened around ’98 and it was the ECW crowd that elevated me. Learning to wrestle in front the most opinionated crowd waiting for you to mess up so they could make fun of me, put the right amount of pressure on me. Paul Heyman has always been the only guy from the office that ever really had my best interest and really understood me. The other agents and promoters seemed confused why the fans liked me so much because I was so non-typical for there idea of a wrestler, so they just tried to capitalize on it without owning it. Paul understood and knew how to bring more out of me.
You were the longest reigning and best ECW World Television Champion and eventually became the ECW World Champion, were you happy that Paul Heyman had that much confidence in you to be a major star in the company that he had you hold the championship for that long?
Yes. and looking back at it that way, while I feel like I did deserve it, I feel like I did deliver in fact that even when it became something so extreme that never had been delivered before, I still lived up to that height because it was import to me and I had the artistic ability to facilitate having the best match on every single card no matter who was there and no matter how many people were in the crowd. It didn’t matter…I wanted to do my part to have the best match on the card and you know entertainment is subjective, some fans have different preferences, but I really felt like and I still do feel like I made the Television championship matches more than the heavy weight championships and that was a very proud moment in my career and I feel like I captured the ECW World Championship. Then, it was the newly created revival and even from the WWE prospective, it didn’t meant that much but from a different perspective, it meant much more because I was able to present the ECW art-form on a much bigger stage for a certain while before they destroyed it.
When you made your debut in WWE, it was part of a ECW Invasion angle. How did you feel about that angle and how WWE handled the history of ECW?
Well a lot of people think that there are plans written in stone we’re all privy to. I didn’t know till that day I was there to represent ECW. In my mind, I had sold out. I was coming to the WWE to further my career because there were no other options. It was that day that I saw Tommy Dreamer and he gave me an ECW shirt and he told me this invasion was happening. And so I was very excited because the alternative was I was basically dropping my legacy. I mean forget about the history I built up to now because that was often what wrestlers coming into the WWE did do…so I was very happy.
How did it feel to become WWE Champion and Mr. Money in the Bank?
It was good. I had many championships. You know I had more titles than any other former champion . I was the first to take the briefcase and paint it and now every year it looks like Mr. RVD. It was a standard that I set. I take pride in setting standards. Winning meant a lot because I go down in history, but would not have happened if I didn’t bring the ECW back. Winning meant so much because I was doing it for the spirit of ECW. I put so passion into every match. It was like if I won, we all won.
“It was like if I won,
we all won”
Was WWE and John Cena a little scared of that hostile New York crowd when you faced him for the championship for a WWE ECW Pay Per View?
I cant speak for their feelings. They’re professionals. And you know, Cena doesn’t get enough credit. He knew that crowd was all for RVD and what he stood for. He might not have known how overwhelming it would be till we were live. I’ve seen Cena turn crowds in Euorope and Wales. I watched Cena get on the mic and he said “as long your having a good time reacting we doing our job.” He’s the kind of man that can turn crowds and I gotta hand it to him.
Now, I know you been very outspoken about marijuana. How do you feel that alot of states are finally legalizing it now?
I feel it’s the right thing. Im not surprised about the legalization, I’ve been telling people about it for years. We now have four states that treat marijuana like alcohol and 23, plus the District of Columbia have medic programs. Plus Portland, Maine where weed is legal for adults.
I’ve been studying marijuana for years. In the end, morality will win. People think the government will make money off the taxation when in reality the Government makes money off the prohibition. Prisions will loose all money, pharmaceuticals, alcohol distributors and The DEA all have something to lose. The States are doing the right thing.
Makes you think? You remind me of a short youtube video called “The Flower”. You’ll have to check it out, it does a superb job of detailing the effects of Marijuana Prohibition.
I’ll have to check it out for sure. See…I like to educate people. Two things are worth mentioning. Weed has been a Schedule I drug since the 70s. Schedule I drugs include Heroine and Acid. That’s where the government put it while at the same time they give Marinol, which uses 100 percent THC. The NFL also uses weed for players with concussions and other injuries.
There are also zero cases of weed overdose. Weed is not toxic enough. The claims are bullshit. Give me one case and Ill give anyone a 1000 with name of one person that smoked so much pot, the pot killed them. Whereas with Cigarettes, 1 out of 2 die. Alcohol kills 10s of 1000 and pot….no one.
I heard you are trying to do a Farewell Tour for WWE, has anything came about this on WWE’s end?
That’s mostly just talk. I did a Q&A at Legend Fan Fest and expressed that I have an Open Door policy with WWE. You wont see me with TNA Global or any other organization. It will breach our deal. I have a merchandise deal with the WWE and right now, I’m too on the go. I have no reason to do a run right now. Honestly, it’s better not to. I e xplained during the Q&A that I don’t see that changing in the future. Physically, I feel great. I’ve always said, I’m unique in that way. People say wrestling wears you down, but no one thinks I just don’t want to. I can do the same as I did 20 years ago. Who knows, maybe someone threw it out there for reaction and the internet has had its fun with it.
Anything you want to promote?
Yeah. Everyone can check out robvandam.com. Its my hub for everything including my clothing line. I will say the site is being revamped so stay tuned. You can also check me out on Twitter @realrvd and on facebook!
Thank you so much Rob for chatting with us at Talesfromtheturnbuckle.com!
Stay tuned for more exciting wresting interviews and news and as always,