Rob Van Dam on IMPACT Wrestling coming to Las Vegas, IMPACT's roster depth, comedy, music & more (Exclusive)
IMPACT Wrestling Superstar Rob Van Dam – simply known around the world as "RVD" – re-signed with the promotion earlier this spring. A former IMPACT World Champion and X-Division Champion, RVD's high-energy career dates back to 1990 with championship reigns all around the world; he is notably the only wrestler in history to have held the WWE Championship, the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, and also the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
The legendary wrestler calls Las Vegas his hometown these days. Luckily for him, the IMPACT Wrestling crew is currently in Vegas for back-to-back nights of shows on September 5th and 6th at Sam’s Town Live; the in-ring action is scheduled to begin on both nights at 6:00 PM local time.
For those needing some catch-up on IMPACT, RVD is far from the only major talent on its current roster. After all, his IMPACT Wrestling roster-mates include World Champion Brian Cage, Rhyno, TJP, former NFL player Moose, Rich Swann, reigning X-Division Champion Jake Crist, current Knockouts champion Taya Valkyrie, Madison Rayne, Tenille Dashwood, and Rosemary. It was also just announced that Ken Shamrock will be at those tapings this month in Las Vegas.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Rob Van Dam himself by phone on the eve of IMPACT's September 2019 shows at Sam's Town Live. RVD not only spoke about his work with IMPACT, but also his stand-up comedy career, his love of non-fiction mafia history, his martial arts studies, why he enjoys living in Las Vegas, and how great life is these days as Katie Forbes' better-half. He was every bit as gracious, insightful, fun and honest as an interviewer could have hoped for.
The full interview with Rob Van Dam, who can be visited online at www.robvandam.com, can be streamed below. For your reading pleasure, a few minutes from my phone chat with the IMPACT star -- which will appear on a future edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast -- have been transcribed below.
On throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game the day before
Rob Van Dam: The night before I was thinking, "Damn it's probably been since high school since I've thrown a ball. (laughs) So at the dog park, I picked up a tennis ball and said, "Maybe I should practice a couple of times." I threw it three or four times, each throw got better. Then I thought, "I'm good to go."
On if he was good at any sports growing up besides martial arts
Rob Van Dam: No, not really. The sport of kickboxing is what I did, then I studied different martial arts to supplement and train for that. Once I knew that I wanted to be a pro-wrestler, which was probably around 16 years old, I lost interest in even being a kid. I couldn't wait to grow up and get on with my life. I started hating the kids' social rules and the pressure of even being a student. (laughs)
I didn't want to stay in school any longer to be in sports and I got into martial arts to supplement that because I wanted to be a wrestler. I didn't even realize that I was athletically-gifted until I was wrestling for 6 or 7 years. I knew that I was athletic enough to do it, but I didn't know that other wrestlers looked at me as an athletic stand-out until I read an interview where Taz mentioned me as the most athletically-gifted athlete as his opinion. That was '96 and it made me look at my myself differently and put more energy into the athleticism.
On if music inspired his anti-authoritative attitude and overall individualism
Rob Van Dam: I think I'm probably the most non-musical person that you'll meet. I could go all day with silence, and sometimes even listen to talk-radio over music. I don't know many other people that are like that. It's not that I don't like music, I put it on when Katie's in the car, whatever makes her happy, and that makes me happy. But I think that my dad always encouraged me to have my own individual thoughts.
As long as I can remember, being a little kid, I was always asking my dad, "Why? But why?" He'd always have the answer and I'd want to say, "But why are things like that?" I grew up in the seventies and the world was different then. I would say, "But how do people know they're going to go to heaven afterwards?" "Because it says that in the Bible." "Well, how do you know the Bible's right?"... I think that he encouraged my individualism.
Then I think as an adult, just looking at how dumb it is to be a kid and have other people judge you by the shoes you wear or the clothes you wear. Or to have other kids tell you that you can't hang out with a different kid because he's unpopular, because it'll make you unpopular, that whole mentality is so dumb. To be honest, that just becomes the same thing in the [wrestling] dressing room. (laughs) If you subscribe to the social laws of the dressing room, which I do not...
In ECW, where I was particularly discovering myself, learning everyone was talking about how unorthodox I was. JR called me unorthodox, everyone was saying how different my moves are, and my laid-attitude... At one point I just started saying, "I really like being different." Especially when I look at the majority of "sheeple" and I see qualities I don't want. I see lives that have things in them that I don't want for mine, and I think, "You know what? We all have our own values." So instead of judging anybody else, I'm going to get what makes me happy to my values, even if they're completely different to the values of anybody else that I may run into.
On making his long-awaited in-ring return to Las Vegas
Rob Van Dam: If you're in the Vegas area, as we've been talking about, Thursday and Friday at Sam's Town, IMPACT TV tapings. Not only can you see RVD for the first time wrestling in Sam's Town -... I guess the last time I wrestled in Vegas was with WWE? That was a long time ago. Sam's Town, RVD's first time wrestling [there]. You also get to see yourself on TV!
On IMPACT Wrestling and its current roster
Rob Van Dam: If you miss seeing me in the ring, dude, you can see it. You've just gotta watch IMPACT. It's really good, by the way. Rich Swann, Willie Mack, Tessa Blanchard, Tommy Dreamer, the Rascalz... A lot more people should be talking about it. Everyone's talking about AEW and how they're on the rise. IMPACT doesn't tend to be in the conversation, but I'm talking about IMPACT and I know they can at least afford RVD -- and that says a lot!