Rob Van Dam Found His Own Way Of Being ‘Extreme’, Says Pressure From ECW Fans Brought Out The Best In Him
Photo Credit: IMPACT Wrestling
Rob Van Dam was innovative before he even became well-known for inventing some ‘extreme’ wrestling moves.
RVD was a guest on the new episode of Out Of Character with Ryan Satin and talked about what made him stand out and what fans loved most about him. RVD explained the approach he took to being unique in ECW and said he used to dream up new moves even before he started wrestling, and it later translated to
“We all had to find our own way to be extreme, ya know? And there were guys that were extreme because they partied, there was The Gangstas, New Jack and Mustafa and threw these garbage cans filled with weapons into the ring and would just start beating their opponents with it, ya know? But I had the state of mind, back then, I was more like ‘screw that guy, screw that guy’. I was extreme, everything I knew was out of the box. That’s the way I think,” RVD explained, “and I think that just translated to wrestling like it would have anywhere else.”
“I think before I had my first match, I was thinking of moves I’d never seen before, so that was way back when I started wrestling but also true before my first ECW match. I had pen and paper to write down crazy hardcore moves, I was like, ‘maybe I should just throw a chair up and do a jumping spinning back kick it into somebody’s face…’ and I’d write that down. That’s what I entered ECW with, was trying to come up with these new moves. That crowd was so opinionated and would just wait for you to mess up, your foot to slip, for something so they could say ‘you f’d up, you f’d up!’ and it would just oh my God, just the pressure of that and them to bury you like that, really brought the best out of me.”
RVD said he paid attention to criticism of his work to make sure it wasn’t a regular issue, then explained that he started tapping into it more as he started to gain a reputation as being one of the most athletic wrestlers in the business.
“I think it was my mood, my punishment, my athleticism, which by the way, I didn’t even realize that was one of my gifts until ECW. Like, I knew I enjoyed doing flips showing them off and stuff but I had no idea that the industry would take me as one of the most athletically gifted wrestlers in the industry. I had no idea until other wrestlers started talking about that and of course, I tapped into that more.”
Van Dam also spoke about meeting Paul Heyman in ECW, rather than in WCW, where both spent time in 1993. Heyman had been a fixture in WCW as the leader of the Dangerous Alliance, but RVD (as Robbie V) was just starting there when Heyman left. As RVD explained it, Sabu was the one that kept vouching for him, and after enough time, RVD began what he called “a pretty effective part of my career.”
“Sabu had been telling me on a weekly basis that Paul was gonna call me to tell me about coming up, and it didn’t happen for a while, so I said ‘okay, whatever’. Sabu would say ‘did Paul call you, he said he was gonna call you, hold!’ and then he’d hang up and I was like ‘whatever’ and ya know, eventually it worked out. Paul called me and after a couple of talks, I went up there in I think it was January 1996,” RVD explained, “and started what would be a pretty decent path and a pretty effective part of my career.”
The full episode is available below: