After nearly a week of rumour and speculation, the WWE have finally confirmed that “The Whole Dam Show” Rob Van Dam is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021.
One of the “ECW Originals”, Van Dam made a name for himself with his high flying, fast-paced offense which included making the “Five Star Frog Splash” a household finisher with his ability to launch himself halfway across the ring with sheer ease. RVD has held many a championship throughout his tenure in ECW and WWF/E as a former ECW World Heavyweight Champion and WWE Champion, as well as a six-time WWE Intercontinental Champion and four-time WWE Hardcore Champion.
“Mr. Monday Night” has had many stellar moments over his excellent career, so let’s look specifically at his five best moments in ECW and WWE.
1. If Cena Wins, We Riot
In the early 2000s, Vince McMahon bought both World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling, a move which would see an insanely lacklustre “Invasion” angle but would also lead to two of the best WWE branded ECW Pay-Per-Views; One Night Stand 2005 and 2006.
Held as a reunion show for the original ECW brand, One Night Stand had that classic ECW atmosphere. Emanating from the Hammerstein Ballroom, the typically ecstatic and passionate ECW crowd were inches from their heroes, chanting and shouting — it’s what makes wrestling great.
At WrestleMania 22, RVD won the second ever Money in the Bank ladder match, winning a contract for the WWE Championship, a title then held by John Cena whom he would use his contract to challenge “Big Match John” for a match in the main event of One Night Stand 2006.
One Night Stand rolls around and the WWE talent are feeling the heat from the feverish ECW crowd, and with good reason. Unlike One Night Stand 2005, the match card was very WWE talent heavy with huge names such as Sandman, Mike Awesome, and even the Dudley Boyz being absent from the show, and most matches ending with a WWE talent winning. So, by the time the main event came, the fans were unglued.
One fan held a sign that would become iconic from the balcony ,which read “If Cena Wins, We Riot” and I’m sure they would have, however the powers that be saw sense and after a twenty minute match, RVD defeated Cena to become WWE Champion. While it would be his only WWE Championship win, it’s the circumstances and passion of the crowd that makes this an absolutely classic moment in RVD’s career.
2. Elimination Chamber Frog Splash
If there’s one thing that Van Dam is most known for, it’s his penchant for hitting his Five Star Frog Splash from long distances and from high places, and likely no higher splash was made than from the top of one of the Elimination Chamber pods at Survivor Series 2002.
This was the first ever Elimination Chamber match, and it set the standard for the matches that followed as the match is now considered one of the greatest Elimination Chamber matches of all time. The match saw Van Dam face off against then champion Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Booker T to see who would come out as champion.
To cut straight to the moment at hand, Van Dam and Triple H faced off with RVD getting the upper hand. Van Dam would go for his finishing splash from the top rope before looking behind him and climbing up to the top of one of the chamber pods. One quick taunt later and Van Dam flew from the pod onto the prone Helmsley laying below.
While an incredible spectacle made for the, to quote Edge and Christian, “benefit of people with flash photography”, the move proved slightly detrimental as the way Van Dam landed with the move made his leg connect hard with The Game’s throat.
Thankfully, the injury would prove not to be damaging to either Triple H or the match itself, and so the match would go from possible flop to one of the greatest Elimination Chamber matches in history.
3. WWE Return
Van Dam left the WWE in 2007 for the independent circuit and eventually make his way over to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in 2010 where he would spend three years. In that time, RVD became TNA World Heavyweight Champion almost immediately after debuting. However, Van Dam vacated the title later that year thanks to a kayfabe injury and after RVD’s run fizzled out. In 2012, he became X Division Champion, but would never reach the heights of the world title again in the company.
Feeling unmotivated, “Mr. Monday Night” made his WWE return and be thrust straight into the championship picture in the main event of 2013’s Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View. The main event would also feature Christian, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, and eventual winner Randy Orton as they fought tooth and claw over the WWE Championship match contract.
What makes this match stand out in Rob Van Dam’s WWE career is the fact that the then 42 year old showed up after a disappointing TNA run and began tearing the house down like he did in his ECW days. The fans chanted his name the entire match as Van Dam would pull out all the old hits, even laying out Christian with a Five Star Frog Splash from the top of a ladder and taking an RKO from halfway up the ladder, the move that allowed Orton to clinch the win.
The match proved that Van Dam could still go the distance, and since leaving WWE in 2014, fans have been clamouring for “The Human Highlight Reel” to make another return.
4. Ladder Match with Jeff Hardy
If it’s not evident by now, if you give Van Dam a ladder, magic is made. No match is clearer proof of that than his Intercontinental and European Championship title unification ladder match against Jeff Hardy on RAW back in 2002.
Hardy vs. Van Dam is a feud that is now iconic of the Ruthless Aggression era. Both men are incredibly agile athletes who just love performing leaps of faith to the shock and awe of everyone in the crowd and at home. Both men are icons of the extreme style of wrestling and this match is no exception; Swanton Bombs onto ladders, moonsaults from the ring apron, a Van Daminator to a ladder being held by Hardy, and a sunset flip powerbomb from the top of a ladder. This match is an excellent showcase of the extreme style of wrestling and both wrestlers’ high flying ability.
This match should not only be appreciated for its spectacle, but for how much wrestlers such as Hardy and Van Dam put their bodies on the line for the sake of entertainment, an absolute classic that’s worthy of viewing at the next opportunity.
5. The Whole Dam Show & The Big Red Machine
Among the best moments in Van Dam’s WWE career, his tag team with Kane stands out as a highlight. The mix of a powerful monster and an speedy partner is a perfect dichotomy for a tag team, and the charisma of Van Dam and monstrous presence of Kane just added to their partnership.
Their biggest moment came in a fantastic Tag Team Title match against ECW alumni The Dudley Boyz, and Lance Storm & Chief Morley in 2002 on RAW. This match saw the duo finally getting their hands on the tag team gold and cementing their legacy as a great tag team. Of course, all things must come to an end, and Van Dam would be privy to one of the biggest moments in Kane’s career: his unmasking.
Kane was forced to unmask in front of the live RAW crowd, which would see him go on a maniacal tirade, turning heel on Van Dam and destroying their tag team with a single chokeslam, a feud which came to a head at SummerSlam 2003.
Kane was a huge part of RVD’s WWE career so it’s incredibly fitting that the two will be being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the Class of 2021.
Van Dam goes down in history as an icon of both ECW and WWE. His incredible ring work and charismatic persona have solidified him as a huge star worldwide, and it goes without saying that “Mr. Monday Night” is truly one of a kind.
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