wrestling / News

Rob Van Dam on Returning to Impact Wrestling, His Feud With Moose, His Documentary Head Strong

September 8, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

– Rob Van Dam spoke with Wrestling Epicenter for a new interview discussing his latest Impact run, his feud with Moose and more. You can check out the full audio and some highlights below:

On choosing to return to Impact Wrestling in 2019: “What brought me back was business. On a personal side, yes, I am making a lot more money than I was in my last run… A LOT more, James! (laughs) I am in the position that Sting was in back in my first run. I am the veteran, the guy that everyone loves to see. They’re using my name Hopefully it will draw a little attention! But, unlike Sting, RVD is still out there kicking ass – Doing the 5 Star Frogsplash, the Rolling Thunder, the Van Daminator… I can still do all the moves! I just don’t claim to be as hungry as these other guys and they’re ready to show it, too!”

On the negative things he had to say about TNA upon leaving in 2013: “I was probably pretty vocal and feeling disrespected I had a 3 year contract and that contract was set to expire. I had a new contract and every aspect of the new contract was set except the starting date. That never materialized. After asking for several weeks and getting the run around, that is when we saw RVD pop up in WWE! It wasn’t super ugly. I was like, “Hey, man! You let me go!” I was feeling a little under-appreciated.”

On seeing so many of his moves done by others today: “Now that I’m back, I guess I’m pretty flattered. But, when I was home watching on TV or, before that, Seth Rollins would be doing my moves and I’d hear about it on social media, “What do you think of Seth doing your moves or this other guy doing your moves?” At first, I was like, “Eh, well, he’s not the OG. They can’t do it like me.” At first, my competitive spirit put a little defense up. The way it is now, a lot of the guys at Impact have come up to me and told me they’re wrestling because of me or they were a big fan of mine and they’re happy to be sharing a locker room with me. So, now, they’re a mutual respect thing. And, they’ve taken the RVD perspective of thinking outside of the box and they’ve taken it to a whole new level. It has become the style. When I broke in, it was a lot of big guys and a lot of times, I was the only guy that was a high flyer. I’d do a backflip off the guard rail and they thought I was crazy! (laughs) They were like, it didn’t have anything to do with wrestling. Stan Hansen, and all these big guys in Japan… Now it is pretty mcuh the style. The average wrestler is like 225, 230… Pretty much my size, not bigger. And now, everybody does everybody’s moves. My girlfriend Katie Forbes is up and coming. I went to a wrestling school with her in LA and I was shocked. Everybody in the wrestling school was doing everybody’s moves! It didn’t used to be like that. Not everybody could do everyone’s moves and that is why they didn’t. But, I saw guys trying to do 450 splashes onto a crash pad and they’ve not even learned to do a headlock yet. Everything is different now… Completely different. I realize everything has to evolve. But, it is evolving away from the old school mentality that is my structure. So, that is hard.”

On if the change to the more risky style is a good or bad thing: “For me, it is a bad thing. But, I’m not one of my peers that tries to stop it. There is no stopping it. I broke in back in ’89. People viewed it more as a fight back then. The number one rule was to protect the business. You had to get beat up and tested before a school would let you in. Back then, you couldn’t be snug enough. If you broke a nose, it was good for the business. Whereas now, you can pay $25, go to a school and never go back without any commitment. Since the curtain has been pulled back and the crowd thinks they’re smart to everything and know how it works, that is the crowd we cater to now. So now, the number one rule, instead of protecting the business, now, the number one rule is, “So, what could we do if we didn’t have to protect the business.” So sometimes, they do moves that are hard to swallow. Or, sometimes, they want me to do something and I’m like, “I can’t do that. It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t have to adapt because I’m RVD! (laughs) You go do that to each other.” But now, every town has its own promotion with a following so if a fan wants to cross over and thinks they can do it better, they can wrestle and maybe never even reach a level where they even meet someone who has an old school structure.”

On his feud with Moose: “I like Moose. I think he’s a good wrestler. A lot of wrestlers make the transition from other sports and don’t do too good. I think he’s doing very well. But, I also think he’s got a lot to learn. I wouldn’t mind being the guy to teach him a thing or two. But, I’m glad Ken Shamrock is going to this week.”

On Ken Shamrock returning to Impact: “I’m excited to see Ken. Maybe I’ve seen him once or twice in the past 10, 15 years. But, he’s someone I respect a lot. He’s a bad dude, too! I met him in ’91. He had just won like 5 Tough Man competitions. He was the guy that everyone in the locker room said you didn’t want to mess with. He was wrestling under the name of Vince Torelli back then. Man, what an athlete. I was watching him do standing jumps. Great body. It is cool to see him titled “World’s Most Dangerous Man.” (laughs) It is going to be cool to see him in an Impact ring to teach Moose a thing or two.”

On inter-gender wrestling becoming popular: “I think it is fun to watch and that it is interesting. At the same time, I, personally, don’t want to wrestle a female. (laughs) Chyna did it, right? It was impressive. She was a big strong woman and she was wrestling dudes! As long as it feels true to the story of a woman fighting a man. But, when it gets really silly, then it is too much for me. I, personally, from a competitive spirit never liked when celebrities came in to wrestling and made it look easy… Jeremy Pivens doing a cross-body off the top rope. Jay Leno, the wrestler. Things like that have always hurt my competitive side. I saw a girl, a gif on social media, she grabbed two young dudes and they were buds, she grabbed both of them by the crotch and suplexed them like the Joey Ryan spot. That is the kind of thing that is the new age, “Lets see what we can do if it isn’t about protecting the business.” I know it is over. I know the crowd is reacting. But, it is for them… It is not for me. In other words, I’d wrestle a bitch as long as I could beat the hell out of her! (laughs)”

On his documentary Head Strong: “I am extremely proud of the movie because I know it turned out well and it was extremely personal to me as all documentaries like that should be so you come away like you really know the guy. I think I caught all of that. What surprised me is how much inspiration people got from it. When I have people tell me that it helped them get through tough things in their life and stay cool, it really opened up a new perspective for me and how to help people. I’ve done interviews where all I talk about is being in the state of deep depression. People can’t imagine that. They just think of RVD being positive all the time. People don’t want to talk about depression. People don’t want to talk about concussions. I do! I want to find a way to help it. A lot of my friends get these concussions, they get depressed, and they end their lives… I mean, a lot. Some you know and you don’t know how they went out of respect to the family. If you outlive me, I want you to tell everybody exactly how I went. What I want to do now is talk about concussions and talk about depression so we can keep the conversation going until we have something.”

On what to expect from RVD and Impact in Las Vegas on the 5th and 6th: “Everybody knows what to expect from Rob Van Dam. So, there’s no selling that unless I’ve got something like a new move like the Van Terminator… I don’t. But, I wouldn’t tell you even if I did. (laughs) I’m the local boy which is why I’m doing all the press trying to get attention to the shows.”

On returning to Vegas where he first was nationally pushed with the NWC: “It is funny you mention NWC. The promoter of the NWC was the first guy to bring me to Vegas. This was ’95. I fell in love with this city and I’ve always wanted to come here since ’95. I just moved here this year! TC Martin, do you know who that is? No? He was the promoter and he did commentary for those matches back then. He has 2 radio shows and I’m going to go and do his show in 2 hours. I can picture seeing the letters and hearing the techno music or disco music as Sabu called it. (laughs) He had all the WWF guys. Junkyard Dog, Virgil, I know he had Terry Funk, Jim Neidhart… I wrestled the Powers of Pain! Warlord and barbarian with Bobby B… Those were good times! Mick Foley… So, for me, being the young guy, it was cool for me to share the locker room with some of the guys I watched growing up. Thanks for bringing me back!”