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At last week's Payback PPV, the WWE announced the return of one of their most popular wrestlers from the early-2000s: Rob Van Dam. RVD had recently left TNA, leaving unceremoniously back in March. At the Money in the Bank ppv in July, RVD will most likely return to the ring in the Money in the Bank ladder match, a match he certainly helped make famous.
A few months ago I wrote about how the WWE was currently being oversaturated with part-time wrestlers. While I am certainly not against seeing guys like Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker perform, I do think that in the long-run, they are hurting the WWE. One of the main reasons some of the new talent the WWE is pushing has yet to really get over is because the spots to feud with established stars on the big stages are often taken up by part-time wrestlers, in an attempt to boost the floundering buy rates and television ratings of the WWE.
RVD is most likely signed to a one-year, part-time contract to the WWE. Going by his recent interviews, I would assume that his contract would work similar to Chris Jericho's and less like Brock Lesnar's. We should see RVD appear on 6-10 ppvs a year, and on quite an amount of Raws.
The main issue I have with RVD coming back to the WWE is two-fold. The first problem is that the last time we saw RVD was in TNA and he didn't look good. Hey, nobody can blame him, the man is 42 years old, of course he is going to lose a step or two. But the overall fact remains that RVD came across as being a lazy, out-of-shape, and selfish worker in TNA, which are all traits the WWE (or any company) would like to avoid in their talent. The people who are very excited about RVD's return most likely didn't see him in TNA.
Unlike Chris Jericho, RVD's run in TNA showed that he wasn't necessarily interested in jobbing to younger talent and putting them over. He has one of the all-time highest winning percentages in TNA history, and during his time there, he only really "lost" one feud, the one against Robert Roode for the TNA World Championship. He lost to Kenny King, but that was because RVD was leaving the company. Watching Van Dam go over promising young talent in the WWE is something that I don't think will benefit anybody, so hopefully things will be different up north.
RVD himself is in my opinion, one of the more overrated talents of the last decade. His innovative and unorthodox style in the ring has made him stand out, but I would hesitate to call him anything above average when it comes to in-ring ability. For instance, what is RVD's best match of his career? The one that sticks out is his match One Night Stand against John Cena, where he captured the WWE Title. But that is more of a moment then a great match. Honestly, I can't remember a great RVD match in particular.
RVD also performed one of the most selfish acts in wrestling history that didn't have the words "Hulk Hogan" involved. After One Night Stand, RVD was given the opportunity to be the biggest wrestling star in the world. He was over more than anybody else, he was the WWE and ECW Champion, and he had turned away his biggest foe in John Cena. What happened? RVD got arrested along with Sabu for possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia, lost both of his titles and was suspended for violating the WWE's Wellness Policy. And just like, RVD's chance at being the biggest star in the world was gone. He understood the consequences of being arrested, but elected to continue to use drugs anyways. He gave a big middle finger to all the fans that supported him throughout his entire career, saying he preferred the pot over their admiration. I will never understand how RVD did this and still maintained even a smidgen of his popularity.
What is next for RVD in the WWE? The best case scenario would for him to work out, get himself in great shape, and supply good upper mid-card feuds with guys like Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow, Curtis Axel etc. RVD could supply a steadying influence for an always fluctuating mid-card, a good veteran hand to put some guys over. Judging by his past performances, I think that may be just too much to ask from Rob Van Dam.