As a 30-year veteran of the squared circle and a former member of ECW, Rob Van Dam is very familiar with extreme spots and hardcore matches. He knows that all of the chair shots to the head of yesteryear could catch up with him, but he also admits he's not sure where to draw the line between entertainment and safety.
RVD joined the X-Pac 1,2,360 podcast to discuss wrestlers taking chair shots and bumps to the head.
"So I have mixed feelings about that, cause one, it's an art form. And for me I've always appreciated being able to express myself as an artist," said RVD. "I feel that they should know - young guys getting in the business - if they know that hitting their heads is dangerous and could lead to stuff and they choose to do it anyway, I wouldn't necessarily agree with their choices but at the same time I don't think that I would necessarily hate them for it or try to ban them if they want to take shots to the head.
"It seems unnecessary now, but I mean, I don't wanna stop... I mean I don't even want to wrestle [laughs]. But when I do, I better give it all I've got, you know, because that's the worker that I am. The moves that I am gonna do are still gonna be dangerous, they are still gonna be moves that people in the crowd wouldn't be able to survive. Otherwise what's the point? But I do believe it's smart to learn to protect the health and I don't know exactly where the lines are drawn on responsibility."
Van Dam has always taken pride in being one of the toughest guys in the business and taking chair shots straight to the head without his hands lessening the impact. However, he says that Vince McMahon convinced him to do otherwise while in WWE.
"By the way I just wanna say this you know, in the movie, in my documentary Headstrong, it's important for me to get some points out. That I don't blame any wrestling promotion, nobody ever made me do anything that I wasn't stupid enough to wanna do on my own," said RVD. "But I do want to say that when I first came to WWE, one time I was walking up the ramp, to go through gorilla, and Vince was standing there after my match and he said to me, 'Rob, when you're taking those chair shots, you put your hands up' and I was like, 'Nah Vince, that's for the other guys, I am a lot tougher than the other guys.'
"'He said 'No you listen to me, you put your hands up' and I said, 'Yeah, but that's the way I do it. I mean I've been doing it this way for years.' He said 'Rob, listen I am your father telling you, put your hands up.' And then it really got through to me, I was like well this is the boss, he's the guy that's paying me, why else am I here? And he's telling me he's paying me to put my hands up. So I was like, alright."
"Don't try this at home" was a WWE saying for years and it's to further the point that pro wrestlers aren't like most other people. Van Dam further explained the differences between wrestlers and everyday people.
"It's gonna happen sometime when you take a bump, I think the thing is to be educated, and be aware of it. Honestly, I am not for nurturing the world up, and making it super soft and taking it away from what it is: I think pro wrestlers should be the toughest guys in society that are out there taking that abuse," said Waltman.
"Normal people; you bump into somebody's bumper in the parking lot, they get whiplash, they're out of work for six weeks, they got a neck brace. How many car crashes do we go through in one night? You know what I mean? I don't think pro wrestlers should be treated like normal people because we're not and that's the whole draw of watching wrestling. We're a bunch of freaks that are in there. Some guys are 300 pounds of muscle, other guys are doing four flips, whatever, but that's the entertainment part of it. They're not just normal people, although they look more and more normal as the smaller guys are overpopulating the business [laughs]."