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Clouds of doubt surround ECW defender
He remembered standing on crutches in the ring at One Night Stand two years ago, telling the crowd how he helped to bring about this show devoted to the fans of the popular hardcore promotion. In a heartfelt address, he swore to keep the ECW spirit alive forever.
Last year at One Night Stand, Van Dam won the WWE Championship amongst a throng of rabid ECW fans. Two days later, as ECW was reborn, RVD became the only Superstar to wear both WWE and ECW Championships at the same time.
Tonight, Van Dam comes to One Night Stand again, defending the spirit of ECW against a brash, young Superstar that wants to put that spirit to rest for good. But he comes in at less than 100 percent, suffering post-concussion symptoms from attacks by the Legend Killer Randy Orton.
Can RVD do what's needed to beat Orton in one of WWE's most-brutal matches -- a Stretcher Match -- in his current condition?
In an interview with WWE.com, Van Dam believes he can stay focused, despite his mental faculties being a bit scrambled.
"It's not my first Stretcher Match … I know what I bring to the table," RVD said. "Going into this, I feel fine about challenging [Orton] with what he's got, and me with what I got."
WWE trainers and medical staff are not so sure. A WWE official, on condition of anonymity, told WWE.com that Van Dam has been "strongly urged" not to compete at One Night Stand repeatedly this week.
The Battle Creek, Mich., Superstar has refused to withdraw from the event, determined to seek revenge on Orton for the attacks on him, on Tommy Dreamer and on ECW pride.
"I'm proud to represent the spirit of ECW," Van Dam said. "At the same time, that does make me a target, especially since the face of ECW is in danger of changing entirely."
Along with his hyper-competitive mentality, carrying the ECW mantle might be clouding RVD's judgment. "When my knee was injured, I couldn't believe how many people felt like ‘Now I can take you RVD.' I was like, ‘Tie my leg behind my back and I'll still kick your ass,'" he said.
But, as Orton has already put one WWE legend out of action in past weeks, injuring Shawn Michaels with repeated head blows, Van Dam is willing to sacrifice his personal well-being for the benefit of the brand he lives and breathes.
Even if that means being rolled out on a stretcher after putting Orton on one at One Night Stand.
"If I'm representative of the entire spirit of ECW and Orton wins, then it would be a major blow to the original ECW and the ECW fans," RVD said.