For over two decades, Rob Van Dam has been a household name in the pro wrestling industry. After his last stint in WWE, RVD worked the independent scene for multiple years, before returning to Impact Wrestling last year. The Whole F’n Show worked with the former TNA for two years, before wrapping up his run there
Now that he is once again a free agent, Van Dam’s future is once again in question. Speaking to Thibaud Choplin, RVD emphasized that he has not had talks with anyone in AEW, and at the end of the day, it all comes down to the paycheck for him.
“I’m not in talk with Chris Jericho or anyone in AEW. I’m all about the money,” Van Dam said. “You know, people don’t understand. Some fans are ignorant. They don’t understand it’s a business. Some people think that when I had the WWE belt and the ECW belt, I was in my prime, and they probably think that I wish I was still there. But now I make 20 to 30 times in one match what WWE was paying me at the lowest.
“I could make that much more money in one match than in 20 matches. Why would you want to work 30 matches to make the same money that you can work one match and make money? That’s something fans can’t understand cause they think we just love to be in the ring 24/7.”
As someone who arguably shattered his glass ceiling, RVD was asked about why some guys are seemingly unable to grab their respective brass rings. According to Van Dam, he says it all comes down to putting people in seats.
“It’s all about selling tickets,” Van Dam. “I’ve always looked at it this way. If people aren’t buying tickets to watch you and support you specifically, then you’re just a spot on the card. You’re just a spot, a spot killer. I never was that guy. Maybe when I started out. But a lot of people that are just good hands, you know, they feel like they have more coming to them because they paid a lot of dues. But sometimes they’re not as marketable. Cesaro, I think he’s one of the best guys there and Dolph Ziggler is very good.
“I have to think that their push, or lack of push, have a lot to do with how some specific people feel about them personally, and that’s always an issue in the WWE. The guys that make the actual decisions often seem to have different opinions than a lot of the fans people, about what’s worth money and what should be pushed or showcased.”
Frustration within pro wrestlers extends far beyond the WWE locker room. Many independent stars work for decades before getting noticed by major promotions. Speaking on this, RVD says his best advice for the young stars is to embrace their independence.
“I think the best somebody could do is to lower their expectations. I’ve seen so many guys frustrated, always comparing themselves to other wrestlers. People compare themselves so much. How about just looking at it like, okay, this is my life. This is my path. Wherever my path takes me, I’m going to be there, and I will make the most of it. I don’t think anybody should get into any profession saying to themselves that the chances are really great that they’re going to be a superstar.
“If you want to be a superstar, that means you’re among the very, very small percentage that really stand up. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it, you know, go for it. But to assume that all of that is just coming to you, to have that entitlement to think you deserve to be in the top spot because you think you are better than this person and this person, I just think that’s the wrong way to go about your life, you know what I mean? That’s my advice: you can make your own path, so make the best of it.
“And don’t hate other people because their craft is where you want to be. You know that. Yeah, that’s one way to do it. You know, hold other people down so that you can stay up above. But that’s not the way I do it.”
As someone who has been in the business since the Attitude Era, RVD has seen the in-ring style evolve over time. According to Van Dam, he says the most significant shift he’s seen revolves around protecting the business.
“It used to be about protecting the business. That was the number one rule,” Van Dam said. “Always. So I had to get my stuff and be quick enough to flip or spin around the guy. And now, nowadays, this is not about protecting business. You know, these guys do moves, and when they do moves, I can’t tell who’s doing the move on who. It looks like the guys help the other guy, so much. The guy just wrapped his own legs around the guy, and they are helping each other. I don’t get it. It’s just, you know, I could have done the [Canadian] Destroyer, I hate the Destroyer, with Bam Bam Bigelow! But who’s doing the move [to who]?”
Seeing that he’s entering the twilight of his career, RVD was asked to reflect on his storied career. The former ECW Champion says he is proud of pioneering a high-flying style inside the ring, but is most honored to have pushed for safer partying methods outside the ring.
“You know, I used to be the only one doing flips and now everybody’s doing it,” Van Dam said. “I know that I can take credit, not just me, about changing the style back in the day.
“You know, when I got in, wrestlers were 270 pounds and they would party a lot more. They drink a lot, you know. And now wrestlers are like 175 pounds everybody’s really athletic. You have to be a legitimate athlete now. The guy that was interviewing me said because I have helped change the style to make it, you know, more legitimate, athletically and also that I’ve helped educate everybody on cannabis. A lot of the wrestlers are now smoking instead of doing dangerous pills and drugs. I think it’s the current generation that is going to live longer, have a higher life expectancy than mine. A lot of my peers already died off, and the guy said, how I feel about maybe being responsible for this generation, living longer. That’s pretty awesome to look at it like that.”
With his in-ring days winding down, Van Dam was asked about potentially making the transition to training or commentating. While RVD stressed to never say never, he doesn’t see either of those particular roles in his future.
“I am an opportunist, you know, but I really don’t think that it’s likely,” Van Dam said. “I don’t have a passion for any of what you mentioned. But if everything just fell into place, who knows? And if it was the right choice to make at the time. I would say don’t bet or anything like that right now.
“Right now, it really looks like RVD CBD is going to take over more and more of my time. There’s so many different deals and contracts that are being materialized, between the distribution, manufacturing like there’s so many people I’m dealing with right now. It really looks like this is going to continue to keep me busier and busier and be here. And, you know, one of the best parts is the reviews that I get from people. They love the product and they’re just saying, ‘Thank you so much. You help the quality of my life!’ And that’s amazing. You know, I made my CBD pain cream different than everybody else’s and it’s paying off because people tell me they haven’t been able to get results from anything. They tried mine and now the pain is gone and that hits me straight in the heart. That’s almost as good as me getting a check.”