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5 dream opponents for Rob Van Dam

The days are dwindling until Rob Van Dam makes his return at WWE Money in the Bank, in the very same city where the former WWE Champion cut his teeth in the grit and grime of South Philly’s ECW Arena. What Mr. Pay-Per-View’s future holds now that he's back under the WWE banner is pure speculation at this point; aside from an opportunity to win the Money in the Bank All-Stars Ladder Match, RVD’s goals remain a mystery. And that’s where it gets so exciting.

Playlist:  RVD's greatest feats |  RVD in ECW

With the landscape of WWE having changed considerably since he last nailed a Five-Star Frog Splash, the playing field is wide open for potential opponents that will challenge RVD – and the WWE Universe – in ways never before seen. So, before the curtain rises once more on The Whole Dam Show, WWE.com takes a look at five potential players set to take the stage as its foil.

John Cena

Rob Van Dam cashes in his Money in the Bank Contract against John Cena at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom in one of the most emotional matches of all time.

This is something of an obvious choice in hindsight. RVD’s most famous victory in WWE came against the Cenation leader at ECW One Night Stand 2006, where he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract in front of a riotous New York City crowd to claim Cena’s WWE Title. The victory was not only symbolic of ECW's resilience (Paul Heyman himself counted the pinfall), but it later led to a direct revival of the coveted ECW Championship and the resurrection of ECW itself. But with both Superstars having evolved beyond their skills of seven years ago (and without Edge around to potentially swing the bout), it’d be interesting to see if Van Dam can recreate his most momentous feat.

Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan goes one-on-one with Seth Rollins on Raw.

One part powerhouse and one part highflier, RVD was a Superstar who combined the best of both worlds during his tenure in WWE. As another hybrid competitor, Daniel Bryan is arguably the heir apparent to Mr. Monday Night’s legacy, and the former World Champion sees big things in a potential matchup between the two.

“Oh, I’m excited,” said Bryan of Van Dam’s big comeback. “Rob Van Dam was an innovator. The matches that he and Jerry Lynn had, that he and Sabu had, changed the way people viewed wrestling. I’m excited for him to come back because our styles match very interestingly.”

Full Matches: Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn |  RVD and Sabu clash

With the submission specialist currently fighting to prove his worth, there are few bigger fish than a former WWE Champion looking to re-establish his dominance. It says something about RVD’s caliber that even the famously egotistical Bryan somewhat defers to Van Dam’s mastery … except, of course, when it comes to one facet of the game.

“I’d love to see where my kicks stand next to his and where my flying stands next to his,” Bryan told WWE.com. “The only thing I think I’ve got him on is submissions.”

Ryback

Ryback displays his enormous strength when he steps into the ring with WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Battle of the Airbrushed Singlets! Despite the fact that RVD and Ryback are rocking similar singlets, this is an intriguing match for a number of reasons. Ryback lives to pound opponents into defeat, but Van Dam could ground the behemoth from the air. All it takes is a concentrated effort and a willingness to absorb pain and Ryback suddenly becomes human as a result. RVD has battled many monsters in his heyday; veteran instinct vs. youthful power could well be a marquee match in the months to come. Not that Ryback is exactly sweating a confrontation with Mr. Monday Night …

“Who is RVD?” sneered the “Human Wrecking Ball” when reached for comment. “He used to be an ECW legend, he had a great run in WWE before, [but] he’s walking into a whole new generation, a generation I’m the leader of. If he wants to get in the ring with Ryback, I’ll eat him up, spit him out and eat him back up again.”

Challenge issued.

CM Punk

With the hometown crowd behind him, CM Punk faces Chris Jericho in a vicious Chicago Street Fight for the WWE Championship.

When Rob Van Dam last set foot in WWE, CM Punk was the buzzy ECW rookie who was competing for his job every night. Van Dam himself was the World Champion-contending “Paul Heyman Guy” who used the machinations of the mad scientist as a means to achieve glory. Now, of course, the tables have turned and Punk is the Heyman Guy (though possibly not for much longer) with a legend that casts a long shadow across the WWE roster, and RVD is the wild card returning to a landscape that some are wondering may have left him behind.

Punk debuts in ECW |  The Second City Saint's 15 greatest moments

But when it comes to a pair of Heyman disciples who have more or less broken beyond the master’s influence, this could be a must-see match to see who the mad scientist’s greatest pet project turned out to be. But although Punk is the first Heyman Guy on this list, he certainly isn’t the last …

Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar defeats the Intercontinental Champion, Rob Van Dam, to become the 2002 King of the Ring.

At first glance, the bout seems like a gross mismatch given Lesnar’s size. But “The Beast Incarnate” and RVD have tussled before, during Lesnar’s meteoric ascent to the WWE Championship a decade ago. In fact, this very contest concluded the 2002 King of the Ring tournament. And while The Anomaly ultimately captured the crown in that tilt, the victory was still a full four years before RVD became WWE Champion and longer still before Lesnar took the world of mixed-martial arts by storm. Now that Lesnar has re-emerged as a hybrid powerhouse and RVD is set to make his return after years of honing his craft, perhaps the two Heyman protégés can have it out once again. 

Lesnar invades WWE's offices |  Full King of the Ring final

Who do YOU think Rob Van Dam should face? Tell us in the comments below!

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