The Whole F’N Show
Rob Van Dam was born Robert Alex Szatkowski on December 18th, 1970 in Battle Creek, Michigan. He graduated from Pennfield Senior High School. When he was sixteen, back before he was Mr. Main Event, Rob made his first appearance on WWE Television. Ted DiBiase was picking plants from out of the audience to come into the ring and do degrading things for money. He offered the future master of the extreme a clean, crisp one hundred dollar bill. All Rob had to do was kiss his foot, which he happily accepted. RVD was in ECW. The only way you survived Extreme Championship Wrestling was if you had a long standing love for Professional Wrestling. The kind of love that would motivate you to be totally cool with kissing the Million Dollar Man’s foot on National Television.
Since I brought it up already, we might as well jump to RVD’s time in ECW. He helped make the company everything it was. He had a much more mainstream wrestling appeal than the rest of the locker room. Guys like Sandman, Raven, and Tommy Dreamer were never going to go on and win the WWE Championship, but Van Dam did exactly that. Rob’s time in Philly began in January of 1996. He faced Axl Rotten in his first match. The RVD character was presented as a stoner, which was an immediate hit with fans. People dug seeing him go from laid back and cool one minute; to kicking chairs into people’s faces and dropping stellar Five-Star Frog Splashes.
During his initial time in ECW, from 1996 to 2001, RVD won the Tag Team Championship twice with Sabu, and the World Television Championship once. He held the latter for a record seven hundred days. Then Extreme Championship Wrestling folded. Thankfully, Vince McMahon thought better of letting that locker room go to waste. He gave everyone in both the ECW and WCW locker rooms a chance to shine during the Invasion storyline. It was during this time that Van Dam and Booker T of all people, proved themselves the cream of the crop.
We’ll get into Booker another time. We’re here for RVD.
Oddly enough, the run that I most closely associate Rob Van Dam with is when he tagged with Kane. I don’t know what it is about it, but that always stood out to me. This was after Kane had a face turn or two. He was an easy character to get cheers from back then. All Kane had to do was drop one, “suck it,” and the crowd exploded. So when he worked with Rob, for some reason, it worked.
Then ECW made its return, and I got to see RVD in his element. I was in and out of WWE by the time 2005 rolled around, but I was still watching every Pay-per-view. The first ECW One Night Stand in 2006 was great for nostalgia, but it was the following year that would blow my mind. ECW One Night Stand 2006 is one of the best PPV’s I’ve ever seen, and RVD is a huge part of that. His work with John Cena during that event was flawless.
Then he had to go and get fired, forcing the WWE to have him drop his title. Why did he get fired, you ask? Well, let’s call it art imitating life. Rob Van Dam and Terry Brunk (Sabu) got arrested, and RVD was found to be in possession of eighteen grams of marijuana and five Vicodin pills. That’s all it took for the Whole F–king Show to become the guy who gets to watch it from his couch.
He travelled the Independent Circuits from 2007 to 2010, eventually settling into TNA for a few years. Then in 2013, RVD made his triumphant return in the WWE Championship Money in the Bank Ladder match, facing Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Randy Orton, Christian, and Sheamus. That’s how well RVD’s popularity had maintained. He was brought back in and put right into a match with some of the best names the WWE had to offer. It was great to see him there, too. He hasn’t missed a step. He gets a lot of, “you still got it,” chants, but honestly, the dude never lost it.
He has always been good. Throughout his career, he’s won a long list of titles, including three WWE Tag Team Championships, once with Kane, Booker T, and Rey Mysterio, six WWE Intercontinental Championships, four WWE Hardcore Championships, and one TNA World Heavyweight Championship. He was the sixteenth Triple Crown Champion and the seventh Grand Slam Champion in the history of WWE. He leaves behind a long and lasting legacy.