– Alfonso Castillo of Newsday.com has a new interview up with Rob Van Dam. Here are some of the highlights:
AC: The one thing I’m sure you’ve been asked a lot about is TNA. Obviously, they’ve just re-launched their whole product. There’s been a lot of speculation and expectation that you’d be part of it and would maybe be the big mystery announcement at last week’s pay per view. Can you talk a bit about what your relationship has been with TNA. Have you talked with them and is it something that you’re interested in?
RVD: I think everybody knows that I was at the pay per view they did out here in Los Angeles. It was right after I got back from the American Wrestling Rampage tour that I was just talking about in Europe. And that started a lot of rumors – as if there wasn’t enough of them out there already. And they let me know that they were interested on their end. And at the time I was like, “Yeah, you know I’m really not looking to do this.” And it’s not just, you know, I wrestle overseas so why not wrestle for TNA? It’s also closing the door on WWE, which I have open. But I’m not ready to walk through that door either. And I’m not even thinking about going back to a fulltime crazy, non-ending schedule, like I couldn’t wait to get away from before.
Things are kind of changing now in the respect that it’s a little more exciting since Hogan and Bischoff took over TNA. People are talking about it – whether they’re putting it over or they’re critiquing it. Either way, they’re talking about it. They’re getting their highest ratings. I don’t think WWE is afraid of them. I thought maybe there might be a little competition and both groups might have to raise the stakes a little bit, which wouldn’t be bad for RVD. But it doesn’t look like WWE is even sweating them. And who knows what it would take to tip the scales and change that? Maybe it’ll keep progressing in that manner.
There’s some interest now. Before I was like, “I don’t see it. No thanks.” And now I’m getting a little wrapped up in all the hype. All day, whenever I leave my house, all day long fans are always like, “Rob, go to TNA!” Sometimes WWE. Sometimes they even say Ring of Honor. But they all want to see me go back. And I feel a little obligated to them. But the highest on my priority list is still time with my wife at home. If it’s possible to do both, then maybe things will work out.
I’m also very protective of sharing control of my image. That’s something a lot of people don’t consider. It’s not just wrestling. It’s letting somebody else control your image and put you in situations that you don’t want to be in or that you wouldn’t be in. And when you’re someone that’s really genuine like RVD, then that’s important. Because I’m not a character. And I think that’s really, hopefully one of the qualities that my fans admire about me. What you see is what you get. I’m the real deal. That’s why I can step into the ring after having many months off and not have any rust. I’m still working out, stretching. I’m a real life action hero.
AC: You mentioned also wanting to keep the door open with WWE. Why is that important? Is it just a money thing? It’s more than a thousand people you perform in front of every time you go to WWE, right?
RVD: With WWE I’ve wanted to keep the door open up until this point because they are the top of the business. In any business that you pursue, if you belong at the top and you’re perceived as having that caliber and you do qualify, then it’s something that you want to hold on to. It’s like, even though I’m not in the picture right now, everyone knows that I’m WWE main event material. I’ve proven it and I’m holding that.
And, really, when you close the door on that then that could possibly also change as well. When you close the door on that, you’re making a statement and you’re really turning your back on it and you’re disconnecting from it. And you’ve got to make sure that’s what you want to do, which could possibly be the right thing. Or maybe it could be a big mistake.
AC: What did you think of your last couple of surprise appearances in WWE – the Rumble and before that I think you popped up for the 15th anniversary or some kind of anniversary of Raw?
RVD: They were awesome. There was nothing but positive energy there. Lots of hugs from the wrestlers. Lots of love from the fans. And it’s showing everybody, in case they’re wondering, what kind of condition I was in. I answered that question. Everybody saw it. It’s the same RVD that left. And he definitely has a place here, and we want him. So both of those times they checked with me to find out if I was ready to come back full time, and I was not.
AC: Can you foresee a day when you might be? It’s such a tough schedule. Can you ever again foresee the day when you’d be up for that again?
RVD: You never know what life is going to throw at you. But sitting right here on January 25, 2010, I can’t see it, because as many benefits as there are being that person on TV and reaching those heights and carving my notch that much deeper into history, I still at the same time would be miserable hauling my bags from town to town to town. And I can’t see putting myself through that. So it would take a major change in what my life is right now.
AC: Did you find that, for that lifestyle, the WWE lifestyle, the isolation, the long hours, the pain – that marijuana was really beneficial?
RVD: No question about it. And it wouldn’t be for everybody. And I always say that kids shouldn’t smoke it. They shouldn’t do anything to stray from sobriety. But they should be educated honestly and not scared away from it. Because if you scare them, it doesn’t work. They’re going to find out you were lying. They’re going to get into it. And now you’ve told them it’s the same as heroin and acid, so they might as well try that too. I believe in honesty, all the way through. And definitely, for pain, for focus, for stress, for helping to acclimate to different time zones when your body and your mind is like on warp 9, cannabis can be useful in helping with all of that. And I’ve found that to be the experience.
AC: Do you know Vince Russo at all? Was that the first you talked to him or have you had any relationship with him in the past?
RVD: Negative. I didn’t know him. He called and introduced himself on the phone. And when I was out there for the pay per view in California I met him for the first time in person.
AC: Any impression of him? Obviously he’s a very controversial figure. I’ve heard the term, “The worst booker in the history of pro wrestling.” Yet, he has a job today.
RVD: Yeah, it’s amazing, huh? I don’t have any personal experience with him, but I do associate him with a lot of stories I heard the boys talking about when WCW was crashing. And I know that I personally have a lot of resentment for the time period with David Arquette was a wrestling champion ad Jay Leno was in the ring and Rodman. At that time we were cracking our heads open with chairs in ECW doing a complete, complete different sport than they were doing.