Thanks to Adam Samons for sending along the following report of Rob Van Dam’s interview from last week’s Between The Ropes radio show…
Between The Ropes
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team
Simulcast online at BetweenTheRopes.com
On Wednesday night, September 12, Rob Van Dam joined hosts Brian Fritz and Vito DeNucci live on Between The Ropes on Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team for an in depth discussion on the reasons for his departure from WWE, his feelings on the revived ECW, possibly working for TNA, and much more.
Rob started out the interview by saying his life is great and he wants “everyone to know I feel fine. Though it does suck getting written out with a concussion because I’ve always been out to prove I’m tougher than anybody else. That’s why I do my style, because I’m tough enough to take it. So it sucks going out with an injury, but I wanted out so bad when they suggested it I said ‘There’s my exit, I’m out of here.”
Next Rob confirmed that he left on good terms with the WWE. “There are a lot of things I’m interested in, but right now wrestling isn’t one of them. If I was interested of course I would consider WWE.”
Rob then discussed how the WWE’s full time schedule “doesn’t have any appeal to me right now. I hated the traveling for years and it got worse toward the end. The more burned out I got, and the less heart I had for it, the more challenging it got. I had pains in my chest when I had to leave my house.” Rob also said that as soon as he got home he would start panicing as he started to count down the hours until the next time he had to board an airplane for a WWE event.
Rob admitted that he got to the point where he would have to talk himself onto getting on the plane. “If you’re young, or really stoked to be there you can do it and put a smile on your face. But, if you start to lose a little bit of your passion for it, if it’s not as much fun, or if it just becomes business for you it makes it so much more challenging.”
Rob then went into detail about the chaotic travel schedule he faces by living on the west coast. Rob noted that there are two nights a week that he doesn’t sleep at all and that “when I told them that I was burned out and I needed time off it seemed like I was getting booked more It got to be offensive to me when nobody was listening to me. I still don’t think anybody knew I was leaving until the last day. I was telling them, I just don’t think they were hearing it.”
When asked how long he had been burned out Rob replied that during his career he has gone through a lot of cycles where he was burned out. “The first time I got burned out was before I left ECW. Up to that point my whole career was on a constant rise there was a point when I was leaving ECW where I knew they were sinking, I knew the longer I stayed the more in debt they would be to me I couldn’t continue to keep going to work and not have the amount that was owed to me come back to me.” Despite this Rob said he didn’t want to come to WWE at the time and that he often questioned whether he should stay there.
Rob then noted a positive turning point when he “talked to Vince about that first ECW One Night Stand. Vince was listening to me and I got to be seen, at least for that one night, the way I want to be seen. I though ‘Now I’m motivated.’ Then after that it was back down hill. The next year it comes back around and this time we’re talking about brining ECW back. I was super stoked and energized Everyone was saying to me ‘Rob, we could tell you were so happy out there’ and I loved it. Then, with the return of ECW I started seeing the way it was going and that really started to frustrate me. When I talked to the office about that and saw that their vision for ECW was noting like my vision for it that was pretty much the last passion I had. It got stomped out and after that it was all pretty much downhill for me.
Asked if he regrets suggesting to Vince to bring back ECW, Rob said he doesn’t and then gave two reasons why. First, Rob said that at the first ECW One Night Stand he actually got to speak what was on his mind for only the second time in WWE. Secondly, Rob described winning the title from John Cena at the second ECW One Night Stand as the highlight of his career and an irreplaceable moment.
Rob then went further into WWE’s vision of what the new ECW should be. He said “it was never the office’s plan to cater to the original ECW crowd, but rather to show this new ECW to a new crowd. That’s what was said to me straight from the top. That was always the view and they never had any desire or any plans to make it anything goes. Even thought when it first came back they were like ‘It’s ECW, anything goes’ when they started the regular TV show they were like, ‘no, that was never the plan.’
“I’ve always felt that the reason (the original) ECW was so different was because it stood for ‘anti-McMahon’ as far as his ways, his ideas, and his business. I think that has a lot to do with why it was brought back and destroyed.”
Asked if the WWE front office thought that they could convert old ECW fans into liking the new product by tapping into the old ECW wrestlers and venues Rob said “No, they didn’t. I was told, from the man, ‘Rob, for all I know those 2,500 fans at the Manhattan Ball Room are the last of the old ECW fans.’ That’s the kind of ego we’re dealing with. I asked him why the crowd chants ‘ECW’ when they see something extreme?’ and he replied ‘because I spent the last five years training them to do that.”
Talk then turned to Paul Heyman. Rob said “I don’t think the higher ups respected him for the most part. I think they acknowledged that he accomplished something that bewildered them.” Rob went on to say that the front office didn’t really think that Heyman had achieved any measurable standard of success with the original ECW. Rob then credited Paul for the respect he gained from the wrestlers themselves even as he was bouncing checks to them at times.
On the topic of his title run, Rob said he did not really think it was possible until it actually happened. He described his run with the title as a fun time and said that it was one time where Vince was actually listening to him, at least early on. However, after a while nobody was listening to him anymore so he eventually stopped talking because it wasn’t doing any good.
Asked about how he felt about dropping the titles after his run in with the police on marijuana charges Rob said he was sorry that the situation happened at that time, but he never got to a point where he felt he should issue a public apology. He said that his only major regret was that he had disappointed Vince and interfered with his plans for the business, but “everything happens for a reason.”
As to his treatment after retuning from his marijuana suspension, Rob said that he was never disrespected, but the climb back up to the top of the card was long and frustrating. He then said “when I did get back up there they had the elimination chamber match, which to me was the first official death of the original ECW. When I got beat and Bobby Lashley was the new front guy for the promotion that’s when my heart checked out.
On the possibility of going to TNA Rob said “it would definitely be worth considering, definitely as far as the schedule goes If I was coming back I would look at everything. I would look at WWE and TNA and compare them, weighing the lighter schedule against prestige, exposure, and possibly money.
The interview concluded with Rob being asked what he has been doing since he finished with WWE. Rob said he has been working on a lot of projects which he can’t speak about just yet. He then said he will come back on the show sometime in the next few weeks to announce and talk about these new projects.
To listen to the entire Rob Van Dam interview, including Rob’s opinion on the WWE now testing for marijuana, whether he watches wrestling now, as well as the entire September 12 edition of Between The Ropes in streaming audio, visit the show online at http://www.BetweenTheRopes.com. Join us for Between The Ropes for two hours every Wednesday night at 10:00pm ET on Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team and worldwide on BetweenTheRopes.com.