Rob Van Dam didn’t exactly have a memorable return to WWE when he came back to the company in 2013. Though it wasn’t exactly a bad run for a then-42-year-old former WWE Champion, it wasn’t like his storylines were anything to get excited about. And after his last WWE run had ended in August 2014, he was never to be seen again on the company’s programming, except as a presenter at the 2014 Slammy Awards and as a guest on the WWE Network’s Table for Three earlier this year. So why did RVD choose not to re-sign with WWE, and why did he refuse an offer to return to the company in late 2015?
Those questions may have just been answered, as Rob Van Dam appeared on a recent episode of The Steve Austin Show. The veteran wrestler sat down with WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and talked about his multiple stints in WWE, including his 2013-14 run. And while Van Dam did enjoy his time with the company, he told Austin that he wasn’t a fan of the backstage politics and the schedule he had to work. Wrestling Inc was able to quote RVD on some of the more interesting statements he made on Austin’s show.
“(Wrestling in) ECW was the most fun for me, artistically,” said Van Dam. “And then, (moving to WWE) was also very fun, but that was part of it. It was also (a) very stressful, monotonous schedule, there was a lot of politics (and) adjusting to that, and I am not a politician, and I don’t play those games. So that was very frustrating for me as well.”
If you're not at Super Mega Fest this weekend, look at what you're missing ! pic.twitter.com/A15BI5D6O5
— Rob Van Dam (@TherealRVD) October 22, 2016
Delving deeper into the political aspect of being a wrestler, Rob Van Dam admitted that a lot of the “boys,” or fellow wrestlers, tried to look better in matches at his expense, effectively treating him like an “idiot.” He explained that as someone who does “special moves” in the ring, he expected to have more of a say in how matches played out but didn’t look as good as he had hoped due to his opponents’ tendency to ignore his suggestions. And when it came to his most recent WWE run, Van Dam said that he simply wasn’t made to look like a former world champion.
“The last run I did with WWE, it seems like they had me put everybody over but Nattie Neidhart, and I waited until the end before I had that talk and explained my feelings on it. And I kind of felt, I should’ve probably, maybe (talked to management earlier). I don’t know. I don’t regret it. Definitely, a different approach to business would have been, talk earlier, and I would have had a different run there.”
Aside from airing some grievances about backstage politics and his 2013-14 stint, Rob Van Dam also told Austin about why his first exposure in WWE (then known as WWF) didn’t go as planned. According to Van Dam, he had “walked out” on WWF during the “ECW Invasion” storyline of 1997 because he thought he would be there to help push ECW as an up-and-coming promotion, but ended up being asked to lose to mid-card talent Brian Armstrong, a.k.a. “Road Dogg” Jesse James.
— Mega Manik (@Maniac2008) October 21, 2016
The walkout put a kibosh on what Van Dam claims was a potential push as an “aggressive” babyface, as WWF/WWE head Vince McMahon allowed him to appear on WWF programming with the belief he’d stay with the company for a long time. Then-ECW head Paul Heyman allegedly knew of McMahon’s plans, but didn’t tell Van Dam, and asked him and fellow ECW wrestler Sabu to “get heat” from, or provoke WWF fans in order to prevent the sports entertainment leader from pirating them.
Be that as it may, Rob Van Dam’s last WWE run may have ultimately turned out better than the underwhelming 2015-16 return of fellow ECW mainstays The Dudley Boyz. But as someone who had once held WWE’s most prestigious belt, it can be argued that more credible booking could have helped keep him interested in subsequent returns to the company.
[Featured Image by John Sciulli/Getty Images]