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WRITTEN PODCAST RECAP: Something to Wrestle on Rob Van Dam – how Paul Heyman may have manipulated RVD, why the ECW/WWF relationship fell apart, who Van Dam refused to job to in ’97, why he didn’t get along with Chris Jericho (Ep. 97)

Something to Wrestle

Release Date: April 20, 2018

Recap By: Pradeep Kachala

Intro & their debut in the network

  • Bruce Prichard used to open for Mick Foley when he first started doing his one man show
  • BP and Conrad Thompson talked about their debut show on the network and that their swearing had to be edited out 
  • They are looking to curb their language overall but the swearing may be eased in going forward on the show 
  • The network show was rushed and they hope it will improve 
  • Reiterated that the WWE aren’t trying to change or control the network show 
  • BP won’t talk about any former stars with legal issues on the network show 
  • Vince and Kevin Dunn’s are very supportive of the show and WWE is committed to making the show work

RVD fun facts

  • RVD and Steve Austin share the same birthday 
  • RVD attended WM 3 and was a big Jake Roberts fan.
  • RVD got paid for kissing Ted DiBiase’s feet in 1987 in a skit.  

Early Days and WCW

  • RVD was trained by the original Sheik from a shoot perspective initially, however, the Sheik only taught him the fundamentals.
  • Mideon’s stepfather also trained him and gave RVD his name because of his resemblance to Jean Claude Van Damme.
  • In WCW Bill Watts didn’t like him using the name Van Damme as it sounded like he was imitating which BP agreed with.
  • Ole Anderson didn’t keep him on once he took over from Watts and RVD joined the indies – he never had a WCW contract.

  • BP thought Ole and Bill were similar in terms of their style, they liked heat and then build up to the big babyface win.
  • BP thought Bill was more akin to promoting youth rather than cater to the old school fans which Ole did.
  • BP believed that RVD  who had limited mic skills improved in Japan due to his in ring style and improve his work.
  • BP on Kenny Omega – his earlier work showed a lot of personality and he would do very well in the US, but his work in Japan has now got him over.
  • RVD learned how to adapt work the Japan stiffer style, BP doesn’t get this style given wrestling is a work, but the competition with UFC has meant that the style in the US may need to evolve.
  • RVD came to ECW via Sabu who RVD met in Japan.
  • BP pointed out the unique ECW crowd that Paul Heyman played upon as part of the ECW style.
  • RVD’s double thumb gesture was compared to Daniel Bryans “yes” signal that has caught on.
  • BP hated the Vandamintor the first time he saw it but came to like it in time although it worked in ECW better
  • BP first saw RVD with Dory Funk Jr. before he joined WCW, BP saw the Van Damme spilt and was very impressed by his abilities and his unique look, BP thought back then that RVD could have a niche following.

1997 and RVD’s stint in WWE

  • During the ECW/WWE crossover – BP said that RVD was their key interest which worried Paul Heyman and actually lead him into noticing that RVD could be a star.
  • BP agreed with CT that Paul Heyman tried to manipulate RVD into thinking that he wasn’t welcome in the WWE in order to make him loyal to ECW.
  • RVD teamed with Lawler (who was anti ECW) was to show that RVD was better than ECW and Lawler could mould him into the WWE style.
  • RVD looked up to Owen Hart but Hart was equally enamoured by RVD’s move set, BP agreed that Owen was an innovator even back in 1989 and was looked up to by younger talent.
  • Vince wanted RVD to stay in WWE when Paul Heyman told him to leave to avoid doing jobs such as against Jeff Hardy.
  • BP debunks that at Summerslam 1997, RVD and Sabu was supposed to go against Tommy Dreamer and the Sandman.
  • The ECW/WWE relationship fell apart because Paul Heyman did not agree with the booking.

RVD/ECW

  • RVD had a long run with the TV title but realized the bonus and merchandise payments were not coming in so he wanted to leave.
  • RVD wanted cash upfront for his final performance with Jerry Lynn – this was never delivered.
  • BP wanted to sign RVD as far back as 2000 and they spoke about this.
  • Paul Heyman’s reappearance on WWE TV as a commentator was seen as a contradiction to his message to ECW talent.

2001 to WWE

  • RVD was not seen in a positive light given his refusal to job to Jeff Hardy in 1997, seen as difficult to deal with.

  • Due to his reputation, JR sat down in LA with RVD in a face to face meeting before signing him to make sure he was a team player.
  • RVD’s timing into WWE was right due to the Invasion angle and his name recognition.
  • BP highlighted some of the differences backstage in WWE vs ECW such as structure and being on time 7 hours before the show along with the toilet facilities.
  • Wrestlers needed to be on time up to 7 hours before a show because of pre-production and preparation required
  • RVD was given a big push when he came in 2001, Vince was a fan and wanted to build him.
  • BP on the hardcore title – the WWE wanted to make hardcore matches mean something.
  • BP was a big fan of RVD and Jerry Lynn matches.
  • BP thinks Jerry Lynn is a great teacher and could be useful at the WWE performance center.
  • RVDs reputation for being reckless – BP insisted that he expected his competitors to be just as stiff too.
  • Paul and JR pulled RVD in 2 different directions – BP compared this to a devil and angel on each shoulder
  • RVD and Jeff Hardy is a TLC match – BP wasn’t a fan of these matches due to how dangerous they were, even though the match was “incredible.”
  • RVD believed that Jericho was very political – he found him condescending and critical.
  • BP claimed that RVD was generally frustrated during his WWE.
  • The Alliance feud with SCSA and RVD was where BP really thought RVD came into his own – RVD and SCSA had a chemistry in the vignettes – RVD had a good ability to freestyle during these segments.
  • BP and CT would like to cover the WWE show in Houston directly after 9/11. When 9/11 happened, BP was on the phone with Bush Jr.’s handler and asked whether the President would appear on the show – BP will give more detail on this in a future episode.
  • Stephanie and RVD storyline relationship came from Vince attempting to get more character from RVD.

  • RVD was married at the time and even though he informed BP of his wife’s concerns with BP the storyline continued.
  • BP spoke to Vince about RVD concerns, Vince didn’t think it mattered, it was a storyline and a work – i.e. acting 
  • RVD wanted to smack BP over the storyline!
  • RVD played a game “pick a hand” where he would slap you – he did this with Tazz in ECW.
  • Eventually Vince got to RVD and calmed him down.
  • The angle faded eventually but it was supposed to be a Love triangle with RVD, Jericho and Steph.
  • BP likes John Cena because he looks clumsy in the ring – RVD is similar or according to BP or he’s different.  
  • Paul Heyman tried too hard to push RVD backstage and this hurt his chances.
  • SCSA told RVD that “they are going to strap a rocket ship to your back” but BP thought that HHH and Vince weren’t completely sold.
  • HHH wasn’t an RVD fan.
  • RVDs promos were a chore to get done when they were written for him by writers – similar to Punk they should have just “let him go.”
  • Undertaker wanted to work with RVD due to the contrasting styles.
  • Vince wanted RVD to show more “babyface fire” BP had the same conversations with RVD but he didn’t really cooperate.

2002

  • RVD went very quickly from working with the main guys like the Rock and SCSA to feuding with Goldust, BP said there wasn’t anything else for either man at the time.
  • Eddie Guerro vs RVD – BP thought it was magic, disagreed with Wade Keller’s 3* rating of it!
  • RVD vs Taker – RVD’s Dusty finish and the false WWE title win – BP said it was one night only swerve booking, there was very little push with RVD after this, CT suspected that he was being held down…..
  • There was a fan run in on an RVD/Eddie Guerro ladder match, the fan moved the ladder and Eddie punched him. BP said in the old days people like Bill Watts would have made sure the fan was beaten up for interfering
  • RVD vs Brock at KOTR finals – BP felt it was a styles clash and a bit awkward.
  • RVD was deceptively heavy given his frame and was surprised that Brock had no difficulty in throwing him around.
  • At Summerslam RVD beat Benoit. Benoit wanted RVD to kick him as hard as he could. RVD kicked Benoit so hard his eyes crossed, but Benoit enjoyed it. BP said some guys liked this stiff style.
  • RVD was the last Hardcore and European champion when he unified and then retired both of these with the IC title. Vince thought there were too many titles.
  • RVD felt HHH was holding him down but there were some agents that were also not sold on RVD.
  • BP refutes that Tommy Dreamer was in creative when he heard HHH refuse to go against RVD at WM19.
  • RVD injured HHH throat at Elimination Chamber – there was no heat on RVD and it was seen as an accident.
  • RVE felt pressure to deliver in his match vs HBK – Jericho and Stephanie played the match up backstage to him.
  • CT felt HBK vs RVD was a dream match. BP felt the program wasn’t booked in more detail because HBK was on a short term contract initially.
  • CT continually made the point that HHH made RVD job to him and put him down. BP denied this.

2003

  • Kane and RVD’s tag team championship run. BP said he thought it worked because opposites attract.
  • BP mentioned 3 Minute warning and how nice Rosey and Jamal were backstage.
  • BP thought Rene Dupree came into the business too young and never realized his potential.
  • Kane’s unmasking and choke slamming RVD. Vince felt the mask needed to come off and have a change. BP wanted portions of Kane’s hair to be pulled out. Eventually Glenn Jacobs wasn’t happy with the look and they agreed to change the look and shave Kane’s head.
  • Kane tombstoning Linda McMahon. Vince was irate as they screwed up the shot; BP said his outburst was monumental.
  • BP told RVD that his acting was terrible when Kane poured gasoline over him.
  • RVD believed Christian was very creative at putting matches together, BO felt he was a big unsung hero who gets very little credit.
  • Randy Orton got heat for breaking kayfabe on Myspace when he thanked RVD for looking after him when he knocked himself out during a match.
  • Social media in 2003, WWE didn’t know how to use it to his advantage.
  • RVD and Goldberg got on well together.
  • In late 2003, BP felt Randy Orton was the future and a natural in the ring.

2004/05

  • Booker T and RVD – they were teamed because they were friends out of the ring and had chemistry. Booker suggested it.
  • WM20 – BP felt putting 4 tag teams together in 1 match was awful.
  • RVD draft to Smackdown – BP said it was because Heyman was writing and he felt he understood him well
  • Vince was a big fan of Kenzo Suzuki, but BP felt it just didn’t work.
  • RVD declining to do Tribute to the Troops (TTTT) as was his right. Vince and the office didn’t accept this. RVD was so angry he was contemplating playing “pick a hand” with Vince. Eventually the location to TTTT was moved to a less secure location and RVD’s option to not attend was accepted.
  • BP said TTTT was not a luxurious trip. BP wanted to go every year and he wasn’t allowed to go.
  • Jonny Ace (JA) kicked RVD out of a meeting for making a smart comment. BPthought his comment was funny and felt JA was having a bad day.
  • When Rey and RVD invented a move called “420” they managed to convince Vince it wasn’t a drug reference. They claimed it was their number of legs (4) and their combined shoe size and he allowed it to be mentioned.
  • RVD injured his ACL and missed 2005 – he claimed this was his favorite year because he did nothing and got paid. BP felt this was a much needed break from RVD.
  • ECW One Night Stand was an idea originally from RVD to Vince. BO felt his excellent promo on this PPV was good because he spoke it from the heart and was being himself.

2006

  • WM22 – RVD MITB win – BP felt all entrants in the match made it compelling. It was a debate up to the weekend of WM before Vince decided.
  • ECW reformation – Angle to ECW in the draft – Vince felt ECW needed credibility.
  • One Night Stand – RVD beating Cena for the title, BP wasn’t there but appreciated the loyal an passionate fan base.
  • BP said that RVD needed to build up a relationship with Vince to make him a top guy. RVD felt this was interpreted as kissing his ass.
  • BP said that Vince will not go out of his way to build relationships to those that try and avoid him. If wrestlers don’t build the relationship then Vince only learns second hand of what they are really like i.e. through agents.
  • BP on RVD & Sabu getting caught with drugs by Ohio Patrol – it was an avoidable situation and it was disappointing and frustrating. RVD had to drop the title and was suspended for 30 days.
  • RVD wanted more time off after his suspension, Heyman refused to do this.
  • BP doesn’t recall the plans had RVD not been suspended.
  • BP agreed that Vince got a national audience to chant ECW.
  • BP felt as soon as ECW left the bingo hall it didn’t work. Heyman was good at protecting negatives of the performers which was exposed when they had to work standard matches.

2007

  • WM23 – New Breed vs ECW originals – BP agreed with CT that the wheels had come off ECW. The New Breed and Originals felt like the failed concept from WCW.
  • On RVD leaving and not recommitting to returning – BP felt he just needed a break and some rest.
  • He came back as a one off in December – WWE didn’t convince him to re-sign and eventually returned in 2013.
  • BP felt he has had a HOF worthy career.
  • BP on his legacy – a hardcore performer and the top ECW guy.

Answers to listener Questions – Main highlights

  • There were no plans other than his 2006 to win the WWE title.
  • Vince’s overall opinion on RVD was positive once he established himself.
  • RVD and BP used to “chill” at Blunt Brothers café in Vancouver.
  • BP preferred Eddie Guerro’s frog splash.
  • Vince wanted to cut RVD’s hair because he thought it would look better shorter.
  • BP felt RVD could have broken out into acting and been the top guy.
  • BP’s favorite RVD partner was Kane, CT liked Rey.
  • RVD never got caught out on a WWE drug test.
  • Heyman was always a supporter of RVD winning the WWE Title.

 

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