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Monday, February 18, 2008

Rob Van Dam: Thecheappop.com Interview

Courtesy of Jon Chattman:


RVD making a splash on the web

Some people go through their entire lives without being given a moniker. Like Brian Boitano, Lou Diamond Phillips, and me for instance. Wrestling innovator Rob Van Dam, however, has more names than he knows what to do with. He’s been “Mr. Monday Night,” “Mr. Tuesday Night,” and “The Whole F’N Show” to name a few, and now the man who goes by the name of RVD is adding another name or two or eleven to that already stellar list: reality star and - wait for it- stand-up comedian.

Yes, there’s much more to the wrestling innovator than back flips, spins, kicks, and frog splashes. That’s why he let his WWE contract expire like seven-week old milk back in June. While he really enjoyed his time at that wrestling federation, the bendable grappler openly admits it wasn’t exactly who he really was. “It’s not that far off from the normal me, but it’s one dimensional,” he said during a recent interview with thecheappop.com. “It’s not intellectual, it’s not inspirational, and it’s not spiritually motivating.”

In essence, his WWE persona was (or is because you “never say never” in the wrestling business) everything the real RVD is not. In reality, he spends his days chilling in California, writing fiction, developing his own graphic novels, and even dabbles, as mentioned, with stand-up. The latter comes as quite a shock when you consider the dude uttered like four words in his wrestling career – give or take a shoot or two.

“It came very natural for me. The crowd has responded well,” he said of the comedy circuit.

Legions of RVD fans will see this all unfold on RVD TV, which the grappler recently launched on his official website RobVanDam.com.

The weekly reality show takes fans literally inside his Los Angeles home, follows his exercise routine, chronicles his latest business ventures, and shows him shooting the breeze with famous friends like wrestler Samoa Joe and Black Eyed Pea’s Taboo. Most importantly, it’s 100 percent unscripted. “You see a lot of different sides of me. You see the real me,” he said.

We had the opportunity to interview the real - say with me now - R….V….D… last week, and got the skinny on the show, why he’s doing it now, and whether he’ll ever return to the ring. We also asked Mr. Monday Night if he’s easy like Sunday morning. Let the crickets chirp on that last sentence…now.

Why’d you decide to launch RVD TV?
It’s a very close personal project. Basically the inspiration behind it is more of my personal inspiration and the path I’m on right now, which is taking a turn off [being] a wrestler. I chose not to resign with WWE in favor of taking a break. There was a lot of other stuff that I am interested in doing. I’m always homesick when I’m on the road. I’m always thinking about being in California and being home.

Is RVD TV really “reality TV” or is it, for the lack of a better comparison, a little like Hogan Knows Best in that you play to the camera a bit?
Not at all. You see the honest interaction between myself and some of my friends. - other celebrities that live in Los Angeles. I have a lot of friends whether they’re other wrestlers like Samoa Joe or Chris Masters or some of the Mixed Martial Arts guys like Kendell Groves or Rude Boy. Whether it’s actors like Nikki Cox, artists like Cypress Hill, I’ve got a lot of people lined up for the future. They’ll be a new episode released every Friday.

How’d you get them all involved?
People are going to be like “Wow, RVD hangs out with these people?” but it’s LA. I have a lot of friends, and I meet a lot of them when I do signings at conventions. That’s always going to be part of it, and the thing about it is you get to see the real honest people. We discuss topics that are really ballsy and give our honest spontaneous feelings on it. Like Justin McCully and Samoa Joe were on camera and I said, “OK let’s do this ‘friends in high places’ episode, and said “guys I want to talk about the fact that wrestlers die so young.” Now you get to her our unrehearsed, unscripted feelings as we explore them. With Chris Masters, I said “let’s talk about gun control.” On the forum board on robvandam.com someone put after an episode, “Holy cow…Chris Masters was really cool.” They don’t expect that because WWE feeds them this character.

I got to be honest man, it’s just good actually hearing you talk. On WWE, you rarely spoke out that much…
And you know I honestly never wanted to talk about that stuff anyway. There were two times that I really wanted to speak from the heart where they gave me the time, they didn’t ask what I was going to say - nobody knew - and I went out there and spoke from the heart. The first time was at One Night Stand when we brought ECW back the first time. The other time was when I inducted the Sheik into the Hall of Fame.

Everyone knows you were trained by the original Sheik. How would your career have been different if you were trained by The Iron Sheik?
[Laughs] Nice. The original Sheik was original. That’s what being one of kind is: they’re irreplaceable. The Iron Sheik ended up taking the look, the curly-toed boots, and some of the things from the original Sheik and [used] that toward his character. What the original Sheik taught me was don’t try be like somebody else - “there’s already one of those, be yourself.” [He told me to] stand out and obviously Sabu and I both understood exactly what he was talking about.

If you could jump back in time and had to choose to appear on one show which would it be The Barber Shop or The Flower Shop?
[Laughs] I guess it’d have to be The Flower Shop because I wouldn’t want to get my haircut from Beefcake. The consequences of being on that show was a pretty big price.

You’ve wrestled different styles in ECW, WWE, WCW, and arguably the “new” ECW, would you ever return to the ring?
Well, part of being on an indefinite break is it truly is indefinite. There’s no boundaries that I can see – no end to the bridge that I’m crossing that’s in sight right now. So until life tells me that that’s whats next for me, I’m honestly not thinking about it. I don’t watch wrestling on TV. Part of being away from it is aside of all these interviews, it’s not really a big part of my current life.

I would never dis the wrestling fans, and I hope that they continue to enjoy it, but for me it wasn’t enjoyable anymore. You asked about all the different styles I wrestled – I never wanted to go to WWE back in 2001, because I already knew it wasn’t my favorite style. From wrestling for many years in Japan, for the hardcore style of ECW, and even the indie scenes have their own different styles if you’re down south or up in the northeast, [I knew] WWE, being storyline driven and strong on characters, for me, was a bit cheesy. But, it was definitely the best move for me. There was nothing else left and it is the top. If you want to be at the top of the business that means you’re there. By 2001, it became all about business for me. So definitely if I was to think of [coming back] I’m afraid I wouldn’t be speaking out of passion and a hunger to be artistic again. I’d be speaking from a business perspective.

Anything you regret not doing in WWE?
No nothing comes to mind.

You’re so deep into comics. Have you ever been approached to write your own or craft a storyline for one?
I actually enjoy doing a lot of writing myself. I have a lot of projects – it’s a little early for promoting – but one in particular being drawn I’m really excited about. It’s a story I’ve had for a longtime, but I wrote recently this particular part of the story which I really can’t wait to share it. It’s really deep and close to me. This character lives inside of me, and I sometimes fantasize through this character as an outlet in order to just deal with certain things. The artist is one of the best in the world. He’s currently drawing it up and it’s going to be a four-book set. I also have some nonfiction projects as well.

And we’ll see all of this unfold on RVD TV, right?
Absolutely. This will be a way to keep up with me all the time with what I’m doing. We’re doing it every week – The Matt Hardy show – is the only other site like this that I’m aware of – do a show every two weeks and I thought that’d just take too long to go through the footage. I really want the footage to be current.

You mentioned to me that you opened for Jay Mohr at a stand-up gig. What was that like and where are you going with this side career?
I have two dates coming up. It’s not something that I’m really trying to get into. It’s not like I want to live out of a suitcase again and not have action figures of me. The opportunity presented itself to me. A promoter who does a comedy show asked me if I ‘d come to a show, and one thing led to another. It’s a lot of fun, and of course, I killed because life’s funny. I’m just pointing stuff out.

You once kissed The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase’s feet for $100. Any regrets?
That was the first $100 I ever made. Yeah, it was worth it. At the time, being such a big fan. If I could back, I wish I would’ve held out for some money.

Would you have kissed Virgil’s feet for 25 cents?
We will never know.

So, moving on, have you ever hit a four or even three-star frogsplash?
That was one part of me getting out of the ring. I was burned out and saw myself going downhill. When your spirit [leaves] everything else follows. It’s always been important to me that I left before my five-star frogsplash ever became a three-star frog splash. However there has been a couple times. The worst frogsplash I can remember doing was in a match against Test where just seconds before going for the frogsplash, Test picked up his big boot and it actually caught me right in the eye.

It was so hard, it felt like it jammed my eye into the back of my head, and it gave me what I now know was a concussion. What happened was I completely lost my equilibrium and I’m trying to get to my feet and I’m sure it looks like I’m really overselling – like I’m almost dancing in the ring – but I really couldn’t find up from down. I was trying real hard and somehow after the second attempt, I actually hit him with a spinkick in the face.

The first one I think caught him in the foot I think. He went down and when I went up for the frogsplash, I couldn’t believe that I jumped up and that I landed on the turnbuckle because it took everything I had to not miss that or overrotate and fall over. So I’m in the squattered position up there and it felt like when you’re in amusement park and you go through the tunnel that’s like spinning with the lights around you– and I can feel my body leaning, and I jumped up with everything I had to do the frogsplash and I came down and I think my hands hit Test in the balls. The rest of me just landed flat on the mat – bam. There was nothing I could do but I got the “1-2-3? anyway so it must’ve been a pretty impressive ballshot.

So you hit Test in the testicles.

Wow, I remember that gimmick. Anyway, so you’ve been “Mr. Monday Night,” “Mr. Tuesday Night…” but are you easy like Sunday morning?
Hmm. I’d like to not be thought of like that because I think that song’s a little romantic and it kind of feels a little gay being applied to me.

I’m just glad you knew that song. It would’ve been awkward if you didn’t get that reference.
[Laughs] Even more awkward.

Wrapping up, thecheappop.com is sponsoring a wrestling show in New Rochelle, NY in April that pits a boxer (Larry Barnes) versus a wrestler (Larry Sweeney). What do you think of that match and cross-sports entertainment matches in general?
It’s all about the individual. It depends on that particular boxer and that particular wrestler, but you bring up a good point. I’d like to remind everybody when UFC first came out it truly was “what if a sumo wrestler fights a kendo karate guy? What if a judo guy fights a boxer?” That’s really what it was. It wasn’t until [years later] when the hybrid sport of MMA took over, and everybody was learning from everybody elses’ style. Now MMA is taught in a lot of dojos across the country and it’s a combination of like 20-some different martial arts put together.

You can watch the old UFC fights and pick out stuff that they’re not doing like “go for the arm…go for the arm!” and they just didn’t know because there wasn’t that hybrid knowledge. If your show is really progressive maybe the boxer and wrestler can learn from each other in one match and come out at the end being equals. I’ve always been a big proponent of individuality. Different is always good.