RVD comments on WWE release, Benoit, the future
MATT MACKINDER - SLAM! Wrestling
Rob Van Dam gave his first post-WWE interview Tuesday in Los Angeles and had lots to say regarding his WWE departure, the Chris Benoit saga and what's in store next for the ECW Original.
Appearing live on the Joe McDonnell Experience on AM 570 KLAC in the City of Angels, RVD said it's been a month since his last match (June 3 at One Night Stand when he beat Randy Orton in a Stretcher Match) and said "I want there to be a time when I can look at my wife and say 'Damn, when was the last time I was on an airplane?'"
The topic of the Benoit tragedy came up almost right away and RVD, like he always has, spoke his mind on the issue.
"Nobody saw it coming," said Van Dam. "He was the best of the guys and was a role model's role model and I respected him. He was a happy guy and had a lot of love for his family. I'm still in the position that I don't know what the hell happened. I still can't believe it. We all want closure on this because we're so damn confused by it.
"I had him at him at my store, Five Star Comics, when WrestleMania was here in Los Angeles, and made kids' dreams come true because they met the Crippler. It was great."
Van Dam added that there are stories all the time about gruesome killings, but now, being that Benoit was someone he knew "and not just some a-hole," he said it's hard to take.
McDonnell brought up the notion that people are quick to jump to the conclusion that Benoit was loaded up on steroids when he allegedly murdered his wife and son and then hanged himself.
"Using steroids, there's no problem with that, but abusing steroids is something that's ignored all too often and not paid attention to," Van Dam said. "Testosterone replacement, and doctor's will back their jobs with this, can prolong a lifespan. Steroids are banned in sports because some say it gives them an unfair advantage, but that's not the case in wrestling. It's all about abuse."
RVD said 'roid rage is nothing different than road rage or PMS rage and the fact that steroids were found in Benoit's house is just like finding a six-pack in the trunk of a car that was in a wreck.
McDonnell said that all who knew Benoit have said that what happened last week was a total 180 in terms of how they knew Benoit.
"What all the wrestlers and what all the people have said about Chris Benoit, I would hope those same people would say those same things about me," RVD said. "The more I speak my true feelings, the more I side with WWE on this argument, you can see that yeah, the schedule is horribly demanding year after year and it doesn't let up, but we don't all go and kill our families. What happened is something we can't understand at this point."
Van Dam commented on steroids in general and said it's only a program if you make it a problem. He said people do use them and it's a common thing among "big guys" and "guys that work out." He added that some say steroids killed Eddie Guerrero, but he's not sure that was the only factor. The WWE Wellness Policy was also mentioned and RVD said it has indeed helped wrestlers who "were on the wrong path."
"There's also an option to stay in the business and not touch the drugs," noted Van Dam after McDonnell said some people get depressed and can't handle the industry that is pro wrestling. "It's definitely an independent choice. I know some guys that haven't touched anything and won't even have a drink. C.M. Punk makes his whole name on that and makes people look at him."
The hosts (McDonnell and Tim Cates) of the show asked RVD what he would tell a parent of a child that used to look up to Benoit and wrestling and Van Dam said that's up to parental discretion and that murders can happen in football or postal workers, among other situations.
Van Dam commented on the state of wrestling right now and said it "depends on ratings and if you go buy merchandise. In the past few weeks, it's gotten a really bad image. Nobody can really understand sports entertainment unless they're in it and they've done it. They can say that they know it's all scripted, but really, it's not. Sometimes I don't know what I'm doing until I get in there."
And why did the ex-WWE and ECW champ decide to let his contract expire June 30 and not re-sign with WWE?
"It got so mundane for me," said Van Dam. "I was so burned out from the routine of going out there. Here I am in sunny Los Angeles and why would I want to go all the way to Boston to do a flip and a spin kick?
"I'm still working on touching home base and I feel like I'm home and spending time with my wife. Despite all the phone calls I'm getting for potential opportunities all over the entire world, travelling outside of Los Angeles is not that desirious for me at this point. I'm laying low and working on some stuff I'm incredibly excited about. I'll be releasing big news about what I'll be doing this summer on my website (www.robvandam.com). I'm very optimistic about the future and having already been out a month, it looks like I got out at the right time, as if I ever doubted that."
McDonnell ended the interview by calling RVD "The Whole F'n Show," to which Van Dam responded with "And that ain't gonna change, Joe."
To check out the full podcast of the RVD interview on KLAC, go here.
Rob Van Dam biography and story archive
Matt Mackinder has been with SLAM! Wrestling since January 2006. Email Matt Mackinder, also a Michigan native like RVD, at firstname.lastname@example.org.