Rob Van Dam On His Current Relationship With WWE, If He’d Consider An Authority Figure Role, More

(Photo Credit: WWE)

WWE Hall of Famer Rob Van Dam recently spoke on his podcast, “1 Of A Kind With RVD,” about a variety of professional wrestling topics including WWE wanting to “strap a rocket to him” in 2001:

“That’s exactly what Steve Austin said to me. Yeah, that’s exactly the way you put it too. He’s like, ‘Oh, kid, they’re fixing to strap a rocket to your back.’

“I was in Pittsburgh at the Mellon Arena. I’m in the bathroom, standing at the urinal. Pat Patterson’s in there and me. We’re the only ones in the bathroom. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I was like trying to roll a doobie or something and I’m like, ‘Oh shit.’

“But I’m new at this point. And anyway, he says, ‘Hey kid, you’re going to make a lot of money here in this business.’ And I, and I said to him, ‘If you say so.’ And he didn’t like the response. I said, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘No, if you say so, sounds good. I’ll believe it when I see it.’

“He goes, ‘I don’t like that answer,’ he said, ‘You’re telling me you don’t believe in yourself?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I believe in me, but I don’t know if that’s going to equate to making a lot of money, you know, based on what I’ve been making here so far, I got paid a lot more before I came here.’ And that conversation, now having the bigger picture, I can tie all these events together and see where the office might’ve thought that I was just like, ‘Ehhh,’ where I should have said, ‘A rocket ship!? On my back? Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Oh, I’m getting a rocket ship! Oh, I’m going to prove to you this isn’t a mistake!You’re never going to regret doing this! I’m going to be the best rocket ship flyer you’ve ever had,’ You know? But it’s not me. Cause I’m like, ‘Uhhh, like that means more money, right?’

On if he was close to playing “pick a hand” with Vince McMahon:

“It wasn’t that big of a situation to where he would even have a clue that it almost happened. It wasn’t like there was like a half altercation or anything like that. It’s just that the wrestlers were going to be going overseas to visit the troops and I didn’t want to go and it wasn’t political or anything. It was like, ‘Dude, I’m so burnt out from traveling. I’ve been working four or five days a week, every week,’ except for international trips where there was worth seven days a week.”

On wrestlers’ reactions to him opting not to go overseas for Tribute To The Troops.

“I was stewing about it. And other wrestlers are coming up to me saying, ‘Man, Rob, I respect you for saying no. Like I don’t want to go either, but I can’t say no. I’m not RVD.’ Dude. Why do I always hear that? Like there’s nothing in my contract that says I can get no heat.

“You know what I mean? I just have principles and I’m not a puppet and, you know, that works for and against me, but here I’m saying that Christmas break, I will be in California or wherever the hell I lived at the time. I guess that was it. Anyway, it was the subject, like ‘Are they gonna let you not go?’

“And I was getting mad. What do you mean ‘Let me not go?’ Like, am I a prisoner?

On trying to meet Vince McMahon about it:

“And so I sat there and I was waiting to meet him. I’m glad I didn’t because I was so hot and I was just sitting there in my own head, getting myself hotter.

“And I think that’s why they left me out there. I think they knew that because they left me out there. It seems like at least an hour and I’m just like, every time somebody would come out with Michael Hayes, I’d be like, it’s ready yet, you know? And, and in my mind I was thinking, okay, I need to show him that he doesn’t have control over me.

“That’s what I really thought. Yeah. Yeah. I had myself worked up into this state of mind where I was going to go in there. And I was going to say, ‘Vince, pick a hand,’ smack him on his face and see what happens then! I figured there’s no way I’m going to get fired for it. He might respect me for it.

“I kept seeing Paul like every 15, 20 minutes. And I say, ‘Does he know that I’m here waiting to talk to him?’

“And I told Paul, ‘I’m gonna ask him to pick a hand,’ and Paul’s like, ‘Don’t do that. That is not a good idea.’ I was like, no. What do you know?”

On the legacy of Vince McMahon in wrestling:

“He’s the man and I think he’s going to go down as the man that single handedly took professional wrestling from a regional sports entertainment bracket to a worldwide phenomenon worth over a billion dollars an set the standards and He’s created careers and made superstars for decades.

“I can’t see another Vince McMahon coming along. I’m not saying they won’t. I’m just saying I can’t see it.”

“And anytime I watch any of the interviews of him being challenged or provoked or whatever, I almost always agree with his point, you know, and it goes back to that basic thinking. Like people, there’ll be like wrestlers that wrestled for a ‘cup of coffee,’ as they say in WWE, spent the rest of their career on the indie scene doing drugs and now they want to come out, come back and blame Vince for it. How does that even make sense? And because if they did work for that cup of coffee, Vince, WWE volunteered (I don’t know if they volunteered or if they were told to but anyway) they took the responsibility either way of putting wrestlers through rehab and paying for it if they spent any time in WWE. So you got to imagine a lot of the guys spent most of their career outside of WWE and they were probably worse on their destructive habits outside of WWE anyway. Whatever I watch interviews and I and I see everyone try to stick it all on Vince when it’s stuff that I personally don’t think he should be held responsible for, um, he sounds smart to me when he, when he states that, you know?

If the money was right, would RVD entertain an authority figure role in wrestling?

“I would consider it. My first thought is that like, ‘I’m really not comfortable in a suit, so I would hope that they didn’t want me in a suit.’

[Co-host DeAngelo] “No suit is involved. You dress as RVD wants to dress. “

“I’d be interested in hearing the idea and how that would work, you know, why not?

On how his status with WWE is much like his current status with the company:

“I wanted them to get ahold of me, I guess, you know what I mean? Like and they did it and like a whole year went by and then and I went to the show cause they were in town where I lived, I guess, LA or Anaheim.

And I said to [Mark] Carrano, ‘What, you lose my number or something?’ And that’s weird. It’s just like now. Like people ask how come I’m not there. I’m like, ‘They’re not calling me,’ you know? It’s the same. It really is. You know, that’s why it’s good to articulate feelings, thoughts on these shows.

On Bruce Prichard and other telling him he needs to build a relationship with Vince McMahon:

“They were coming up to me and telling me I need to build this relationship with Vince and I didn’t know how to take it. And It was everybody. I mean, it was Shane-O, it was Michael Hayes, it was Stephanie. It might have been Trips. I didn’t know how to take it. I was offended by it because Bruce Pritchard, I remember him telling me one time the same thing.”

“Bruce Pritchard comes up to me and he says, ‘Hey Rob, you’re doing really good here and they’re really happy with you.’

‘Oh, cool. That’s awesome. I’m enjoying it.’ He says, ‘Yeah,John Cena is going to be leaving in October. He’s going to be working on “The Marin”e and doing this movie. So it’s going to be gone for a while. And I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’

“And he realized I didn’t get what he was saying. And he said, ‘Yeah, so this is a good chance for you to fill that spot, on that next level, put you in that position.’ And I was like, ‘Cool,’ you know? And he was like, ‘Yeah. So it’s a good time for you to really do what it takes to get up there and I got offended and I was like ‘Are you telling me that I don’t work hard enough?…Do you not see me work my ass off in the ring? What else do I have to do?’

And he was like, ‘You need to build a relationship with Vince. Vince needs to know that he can trust you, that you’re the guy that he can invest in, that he can put the belt on and that can lead his company. You need to know he needs to know that. I’m like, ‘Are you saying I have to kiss his ass? Like I I’m out there having great matches, the crowd’s going nuts. I don’t understand what else you want from me?’ That’s one of the things that held me back as well. Oh, interesting. Same conversation happened with Shane and with Stephanie.

“I didn’t get it. You know? I didn’t get it. I thought they were telling me that I had to politic and maybe they were, maybe it was the right thing to do, but I didn’t get it.”

You can check out the complete podcast below:

(h/t to Dominic DeAngelo for the transcription)