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8 reasons why Rob Van Dam's return is the biggest story of the summer
At WWE Money in the Bank in Philadelphia, one of the ECW Originals will finally come home.
As revealed Sunday night at WWE Payback, Rob Van Dam is returning to WWE, and he’ll do so in the birthplace of hardcore where he’ll have a city — and, most likely, the entire WWE Universe — cheering every split-legged moonsault and Five-Star Frog Splash. Expectations couldn’t be higher for the former ECW Champion’s reemergence, and the entire WWE Universe has been buzzing since the announcement was made.
Since WWE.com is just as fired up about RVD once again taking to the WWE skies, here are the eight biggest reasons why Van Dam’s return is the biggest story of the summer.
Because he's money
Fans know it, his friends know it, his opponents know it, even RVD himself knows it: Van Dam is so money.
Nearly instantly when he joined WWE in 2001, RVD took the title scene by storm by nabbing the Intercontinental Championship, unifying it with the European and Hardcore Championships, and picking up a series of tag team titles. Any way you slice it, Van Dam was loaded with gold. But the best was yet to come.
At WrestleMania 22, The Whole Dam Show lit up The Grandest Stage of Them All by becoming Mr. Money in the Bank. He then took advantage of that privilege like none had before or have since by cashing it in an “Extreme”-ly friendly environment at ECW One Night Stand. Van Dam knows how to handle himself on a ladder or while holding a briefcase. If there’s one pay-per-view that Mr. Pay-Per-View himself is comfortable in, it’s the one that will happen on July 14.
And you can take that to the bank.
Because Chicago knows best
If you watched WWE Payback on pay-per-view, you may have noticed that the legendarily vocal Chicago crowd was fired up — and not just for the return of The Second City Savior, CM Punk. When the announcement that Rob Van Dam is en route back to WWE hit the speaker system at the Allstate Arena, the place went absolutely bonkers.
Then, at various points throughout the night, Chicagoans let the rest of the WWE Universe know exactly how they felt about the ECW Original coming back, chanting “RVD! RVD! RVD!” during some of the biggest matches of the evening.
Because he's a tag team specialist
Widely regarded as one of the most dynamic singles competitors to ever step inside a ring, Van Dam is also a highly underrated tag team specialist. Before joining WWE, RVD revolutionized tag team wrestling by joining forces with Sabu to become one of the most innovative duos of all time.
Once he joined WWE, RVD enjoyed three reigns as a tag team champion, and all three of his partners remain a part of WWE. Van Dam clearly still has an affinity for longtime friend Booker T, as seen by his surprise appearance at the recent WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Will Booker look to secure a spot for his former World Tag Team Championship partner on SmackDown? Or, with Team Hell No seemingly at odds, will Van Dam look to rekindle his successful World Tag Team Championship run with Kane instead? Or will Rey Mysterio seek a return to the ring to recapture the WWE Tag Team Titles with his former partner? Or will Van Dam look to create magic with a newer star like Daniel Bryan or Kofi Kingston? The possibilities are endless for the versatile highflier.
Because high impact returns fuel the Universe
Just look at Brock Lesnar’s shocking reemergence after WrestleMania XXVIII when The Anomaly decimated Cena in an unforgettable moment on Raw. Or when The Rock came home to WWE with a vow to reclaim championship gold — a promise that eventually culminated in a WWE Title reign. Both returns signaled a distinct change to the landscape of WWE, and RVD’s comeback will be no different.
Van Dam’s return fires up a different contingent of the WWE Universe, and everyone who’s hardcore at heart has reason to believe that things are about to get extreme — and at precisely the right time. With Money in the Bank and SummerSlam on the horizon, what will Van Dam’s return mean for the current pecking order in WWE?
Well, we don’t rightly know, but it’s always fun to wonder about the exciting potential matchups on the horizon for The Whole Dam Show.
On his road back through WWE, we’d love to see RVD go head-to-head with fellow kick-happy Superstars like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, or get hardcore against the likes of Ryback and Dean Ambrose.
Because there's no place like Philly
On a cold January night in 1996, a 25-year-old with a ponytail and a dream wandered into a bingo hall on the corner of Swanson and Ritner in South Philadelphia. On that night, the young rookie won over a pack of bloodthirsty, hardcore fans by performing an eye-catching showcase of maneuvers against his tough opponent, Axl Rotten. From that moment on, Van Dam was an ECW Arena cornerstone.
Over the following five years in Philly, RVD defeated ECW icons including Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman and Tazz. Before The Whole Dam Show dazzled crowds in Madison Square Garden, it was the raucous bingo hall faithful that were the first cult to embrace the talents of Van Dam. He might hail from Battle Creek, Mich., but when Mr. Pay-Per-View returns at Money in the Bank in Philadelphia, he won’t just be coming back to WWE, he’ll be coming home.
Because he's an original "Paul Heyman Guy"
Long before CM Punk sat on a stage in Las Vegas and declared himself a “Paul Heyman Guy,” Van Dam was an original recruit of Heyman’s. He was a “Heyman Guy” before being a “Heyman Guy” was trendy. For years in ECW, the mad scientist of professional wrestling nurtured RVD’s talents and propelled him to massive success, including an impressive 700-day Television Championship reign, which made the title nearly as revered as the ECW World Championship.
“While [other organizations] saw an unorthodox athlete whose style could not be defined,” Heyman has said,“I saw an unparalleled performer in Rob Van Dam. I knew the key to developing RVD was to simply let Rob Van Dam be Rob Van Dam.”
RVD never won the ECW World Title in its original incarnation, something that Heyman has said was an inevitability. But in 2006, the brash New York native positioned his former star as the new centerpiece of the relaunched ECW. When RVD returns to WWE, will he once again align himself with his former boss, or does he no longer consider himself a “Heyman Guy”?
Because he's defeated John Cena
At One Night Stand 2006, RVD defeated Cena to capture the WWE Title in an Extreme Rules Match. With a red-hot New York City crowd behind him, Van Dam lit up the Hammerstein Ballroom and dropped the one Superstar who, perhaps more than any other, represents everything that the spirit of ECW does not.
In doing so, Van Dam not only scored a massive personal victory, but he also brought prestige to a long line of his fellow hardcore competitors. Establishing himself as an unquestioned main-event performer, RVD’s trailblazing win over The Champ went a long way in legitimizing ECW and its band of misfits and proving that they can hang with — and beat — the very best in the business.
Van Dam’s return is even more intriguing when you consider the fact that Cena is the reigning WWE Champion. Will RVD once again set his sights on the Cenation leader? And if he does, can Cena stop him?
Because he's one of a kind
Simply put, Van Dam is unlike any other Superstar on the roster today, and he brings with him a skill set that no one else in WWE possesses. A dangerous combination of unique striking moves, an aerial game unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed and a hardcore mentality alien to many of his opponents make RVD a truly singular performer in WWE history.
Just the thought of the highflier coming back to the WWE fold is enough to get the blood pumping, as the legendary risk-taker will inject pure adrenaline to a roster already brimming with main eventers. Just thinking about adding Van Dam into that mix gives us the chills.
RVD’s matches have proven to be a mix of stunning athletic ability and throw-caution-to-the-wind hardcore antics, and the ECW icon has made a career of doing things that nobody else can do. Such as an across-the-ring Van Terminator with a steel chair in hand, for example.
RVD will likely live up to the aforementioned hype because he’s simply one of a kind.