Exclusive interview: Rob Van Dam discusses WWE return

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July 10, 2013

WWE.COM: How did you arrive in WWE back in 2001?

VAN DAM: When I left ECW, it was a sinking ship. There were only two shows after I left. At that last pay-per-view [Guilty as Charged], I wrestled Jerry Lynn and had already left. I had just told Paul I’d come back to do that one show. During that time, there wasn’t really anywhere else to work. WCW had folded and there was just WWE if I wanted to continue my career. But I wasn’t in a hurry to go to WWE.

WWE.COM: Why was that?

VAN DAM: At the time, I looked at it as selling out artistically. I went to Thailand and made a movie called “Black Mask 2.” When I was ready, I called Paul Heyman. He said I had to meet with [Jim Ross], who was going to be in LA at the Marriott by the airport. [J.R.] needed to feel me out, because I had a reputation of having a little bit of an attitude. It was a good meeting. He told me I would have to slow down my style and stop doing the high impact moves like moonsaults to the floor, because I wouldn’t be able to keep up doing that every night on the WWE schedule. Which turned out not to be true, as J.R. admitted later.

WWE.COM: Why did you have a reputation of having a bad attitude?

VAN DAM: A lot of it was a misunderstanding. My previous experience in WWE was when ECW invaded WWE’s television in 1997. That’s when Jerry Lawler introduced me as Mr. Monday Night. That time was awesome, but it all blew up after a few weeks. Paul had told the ECW wrestlers that we were just in WWE for a short time to get the exposure that we could and get out. He had us prepped to be on high alert that whenever WWE did something to [disparage] ECW, we would just go. We had a meeting with [Mr. McMahon] in his office. He told me that I was there to stay, which was a completely new thought for me. It just blew my mind, because it was the opposite of what Paul had told me. So I left and went back to ECW. Thereby, it led to some thoughts in the WWE office that I wasn’t easy to work with.

WWE.COM: Why did you return to WWE in 2001?

VAN DAM: I would give the credit to Paul. We were all surprised, after ECW folded, to see Paul on WWE television. He swore the whole time that WWE was the mortal enemy of ECW. Looking back at it now with a more educated view, that couldn’t have ever been true. But since he was in WWE, whenever I was ready, I knew I would talk to him.

WWE.COM: What was it like for you to win the WWE Championship from John Cena at ECW One Night Stand 2006?

VAN DAM: Winning the match at the Hammerstein Ballroom and bringing home that championship to ECW meant so much to me. Not because I always wanted to be WWE Champion. In fact, I didn’t think that was ever going to happen if I hadn’t changed the entire playing field. When we brought ECW back as a third brand, I couldn’t have been happier. That was the way I wanted to be seen. When I’m in the ring, I’m showing off. That’s what I get out of my matches. Just like this upcoming Money in the Bank Ladder Match. It’s the perfect way to bring RVD back, because the rules that normally confine us and make us harder to stand out are thrown out the window. For me, [reviving ECW] was a resurgence of motivation. Doing the ECW style on WWE’s platform was a dream come true that I had never thought possible before. I was the happiest that I could have been.

Watch Paul Heyman present Van Dam with the new ECW Championship

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