Rob Van Dam Believed Post-9/11 WWE SmackDown Was “A Horrible Idea”

In an interview with Inside the Ropes, WWE Hall of Famer Rob Van Dam talked about his memories of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Van Dam talked about traveling to Houston for Smackdown following the attacks, and then be stranded in the city for two days while WWE figured out what to do.

"Mike Awesome and myself were traveling together," Rob Van Dam recalled. "We woke up in San Antonio on 9/11. I had a hookup with a really nice Marriott hotel, they had great food. Mike woke me up in the morning and said, 'Rob, turn on the TV, we are under attack!' I'm trying to figure out what's going on and then saw the second tower going down. We knew it was crazy, but we didn't comprehend how much the world had just been changed.

"We thought we were still going to have to wrestle that night, we didn't know. This was in New York City and we're in Texas. We drove to Houston, and then of course we got stranded there for several days. I would rather have been stuck in San Antonio because I had the hookup with the nice king sized suite and all that stuff. But we didn't know, we were just on hold. When we finally did go forward, it wasn't a lot of notice."

Days later, WWE would air Smackdown on September 13 from Houston, a move that Van Dam believed to be a bad idea due to fear that it would leave the event prone to another terrorist attack. He also shared how paranoid many in the WWE locker room were of something else happening.

"I think WWE was anxious to get on with it. I remember thinking that it was a horrible idea," Van Dam revealed. "These terrorists really want to strike America in its heart, what better way than a stadium full of people on live TV watching pro wrestling, which is as American as it gets? I was thinking it's quite likely that we are not going to be the safest out in front of people. I thought that also when we flew home. Teddy Long was the first one to fly home. I thought he was crazy. I couldn't believe that he did it.

"I've told this story several times, but I remember Lance Storm telling us that he would kiss his kids goodbye every day when he would leave the house, and not know if he was going to make it home or not. We would eyeball anyone who had a towel on their head, or whatever, it was just paranoia hyped and not a comfortable feeling at all. We take it for granted how comfortable stuff is when the problems are on the other sides of the world and we are able to ignore it in our little bubble here."