Source: The Steve Austin Show
On episode 368 of The Steve Austin Show, the legendary Rob Van Dam talked about being "cocky" early in his ECW run, how he saw signing with WWE in 2001 was "selling out" creatively, and have a difficult time working with other performers during his stint with TNA.
"I don't know if it's the self-perfectionist in me or what, but if I look way back, to like me, the me that the ECW guys knew and stuff, '96, '97 RVD, I think that kid was an asshole. I was cocky. Yeah, my values were different." Van Dam added, "back in the day, I really did carry around that ego, that like, 'f--k yeah, man. I'm the whole f'n show. I'm the best.' And I had the freedom to back it up every single night!"
According to RVD, he has lost some of his ambition for professional wrestling success the more he has matured.
"I have way different values and the more I came in touch with that in recent years, the less passion or ambition I have for wrestling because that is part of it. I mean, back in ECW, let me just explain, so back in ECW, we were talking about when I was on top of that company, I was at a point where I think a lot of people, like [Austin], to be the top guy and be able to deliver those kinds of promos that you really think that, you're saying, 'I am the best. Is there anyone who can touch me?' I think you have to, like [Austin says], believe in yourself, but also you need to be a little crazy to really believe that you are the f--king best." Van Dam explained, "if I do a promo, to be the best professional wrestler, you have to be good at delivering someone else's message. But, that RVD they are living through, 'they' meaning the audience, well, that's my brand. That's what I live off of, so it's not the same as just acting. Like, my personal values, I can tell you that next Monday, when I'm in whatever f--king Poughkeepsie [New York], the TV title championship match means more than anything to me, but, f--k no, it doesn't. I don't give a f--k about that."
Interestingly, Van Dam said that he went to WWE after ECW folded because it was the only American professional wrestling promotion with a television deal.
"With WWE, I mean, I felt like, when I went there, first, there was nothing else left, right? And I hadn't gone anywhere between ECW and WWE. I hadn't. Some indy shots, very few, I do them very selectively, and I did a movie, whatever," Van Dam recalled. "There was no other option if I wanted to continue being a professional wrestler on TV in the United States, WWE was all there was. Paul E. [Heyman] was already there."
Also, Van Dam stated that he felt that going to WWE was "selling out" and that WWE's work style was an "insult" to him. Moreover, 'Mr. Monday Night' claimed that he feared WWE would not acknowledge his past or may even saddle him with a corny gimmick.
"When I went there, I looked at it at the time as artistically selling out because my perception of what WWE was. It seemed like the Disney-fied version of wrestling because here we were in ECW nobody ever asked us, 'hey, do you guys really hit each other?' because we beat the f--k out of each other [in ECW]."
Van Dam elaborared, "I did look at it like 'okay, basically, I was doing this for the business, for the money, not for the art, because they're probably going to call me Robot Van Dam and have me, like, go out like, they're going to recreate my character, erase my past' because that is what I thought about them. And plus, while we were beating the s--t out of each other [in ECW], I would see the WWE guys, like, tap each other on the back with a chair and go down and it was insulting to me!"
On the subject of his time with TNA, the former TNA World Heavyweight Champion shared that a lot of TNA performers were not well-rounded or able to understand in-ring storytelling. Van Dam suggested that the unwillingness of the talents to learn made dealing with them difficult.
"When I was with TNA there [were] a lot of guys that really felt like they had it and they didn't need to get better. They were fine with where they were at in their career and they were in whatever. And then, working with them was a little frustrating because there [were] a lot of the times when they would want to do something, and they would actually put up, I don't want to say argument or debate."
Van Dam continued, "and then 100% of the time, D'Lo Brown would come over [and say], 'no, Rob's right' and he would have to explain it and after a while, I was like, 'you know what? I'm going to be in my car. Just let me know when it's match time. I just want to go out there and show off.' And I didn't enjoy a part of it, having to deal with people I feel, I don't want to say it was a lack of respect. But I'm just more comfortable with where I've come and where I'm at and appreciating that than some of them seem to be."
Check out the podcast here. If you use any of the quotes that appear in this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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