Rob Van Dam
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Robert Alexander Szatkowski (born December 18, 1970) is an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler and actor better known by his ring name Rob Van Dam (frequently abbreviated to RVD). He is best known for his tenures in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and Impact Wrestling, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA)/Impact Wrestling. Van Dam gained mainstream popularity in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) during the latter half of the 1990s, where he became one of the most famous wrestlers in the industry. During his time in ECW, he was managed by Bill Alfonso and had feuds with Jerry Lynn and Sabu (wrestler), Sabu, also forming a Rob Van Dam and Sabu, tag team with the latter. They would win the ECW World Tag Team Championship twice. On April 4, 1998, Van Dam defeated Bam Bam Bigelow to win the ECW Television Championship, a title he held for 700 days until he vacated the championship due to an injury on March 4, 2000. When ECW closed in 2001, Van Dam signed a contract with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) and was involved in the The Invasion (professional wrestling), Invasion storyline, where several former World Championship Wrestling, WCW and ECW wrestlers joined forces against WWF wrestlers. After the Invasion ended, Van Dam wrestled the following years as singles and tag team wrestler, winning the Hardcore, WWE Intercontinental Championship, Intercontinental, WWE European Championship, European, WWE Raw Tag Team Championship, Tag Team and World Tag Team Championship (WWE), World Tag Team Championships. At WrestleMania 22, Rob Van Dam won the Money in the Bank ladder match. After this victory, he challenged WWE Champion John Cena to a title match at ECW One Night Stand (2006), One Night Stand, an ECW-themed PPV. At the event, Van Dam defeated Cena and won his first World heavyweight championship (professional wrestling), world championship. Two days later, Paul Heyman awarded Van Dam with the reactivated ECW World Heavyweight Championship making him the only man to hold both titles at the same time. After leaving WWE in 2007, Van Dam worked on the independent circuit until he signed a contract with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) in 2010. A few months after his debut, he defeated AJ Styles to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. He would also appear for Lucha Libre AAA World Wide, AAA and even challenged Dr. Wagner Jr. for the inaugural AAA Latin American Championship at Triplemania XIX, albeit in a losing effort. He remained under contract with TNA until 2013, leaving the company after a run with the Impact X Division Championship, X Division Championship. After departing TNA, he returned to WWE, where he worked for one year. Then, he would stay in the independent circuit, also wrestling from 2019 to 2020 with TNA, now known as Impact Wrestling. In WWE Hall of Fame (2021), 2021, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Van Dam is one of the only two wrestlers in history to have held the WWE Championship, WWE, ECW World Heavyweight Championship, ECW, and Impact World Championship, TNA world championships, alongside Bobby Lashley. In addition, he headlined many pay-per-view events throughout three decades between the 1990s and 2010s, including the November to Remember#1998, 1998 edition of November to Remember (ECW's flagship event) and the TripleMania XIX, 2011 edition of TripleMania (AAA's flagship event). In 2002, Van Dam was ranked the Pro Wrestling Illustrated#PWI 500, number one pro wrestler in the world by ''Pro Wrestling Illustrated''. He was voted "List of Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards#Most Popular Wrestler of the Year, Most Popular Wrestler" by readers of the magazine in 2001 and again in 2002. WWE named him the greatest star in ECW history in 2014. Outside of professional wrestling, Van Dam has performed as an actor in a number of TV shows, including an episode of ''The X-Files''. He also performed in the 2010 movie ''Wrong Side of Town'' and the 2015 movie ''3-Headed Shark Attack''.


Background

Szatkowski grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan, and graduated from Pennfield Senior High School. Szatkowski made his first appearance on WWF television in 1987 in a skit with Ted DiBiase, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. At the time, DiBiase was selecting Glossary of professional wrestling terms#P, plants from the audience and offering to pay them to perform degrading acts and offered the 16-year-old Szatkowski $100 to enter the ring and kiss his foot, which he did. This early appearance was later included as a bonus feature on WWE's ''Before They Were Superstars'' DVD and on WWE's ''Rob Van Dam: One of a Kind'' DVD. He was also in attendance at WrestleMania III as stated on The Hulk Hogan: The Ultimate Anthology DVD.


Professional wrestling career


Early career (1990–1995)

Szatkowski made his wrestling debut in 1990, defeating Dango Nguyen. He wrestled in many independent promotions across Michigan, including the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) and South Atlantic Pro Wrestling (SAPW). In SAPW, he won his first wrestling Championship (professional wrestling), championship, the SAPW Tag Team Championship, in July 1992 with Chaz Rocco. He also wrestled in several independent promotions across America, and in All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he challenged for the World Junior Heavyweight Championship (AJPW), World Junior Heavyweight Championship on several occasions. In WWE in 1992 he wrestled as an enhancement talent against Jacques Rougeau, The Mountie under the ring name Matt Burn.


World Championship Wrestling (1992–1993)

Szatkowski signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1992, and was dubbed Robbie V by Ron Slinker upon his arrival since Bill Watts did not like the name Rob Van Dam. Robbie V made his WCW debut on the January 23, 1993, episode of ''WCW Saturday Night, Saturday Night'' as a Face (professional wrestling), fan favorite, defeating Job (professional wrestling), enhancement talent Pat Rose. The following month, Robbie V entered a tournament for the vacant WCW World Television Championship, World Television Championship, defeating Henry O. Godwinn, Shanghai Pierce in the first round but lost to Kevin Nash, Vinnie Vegas in the second round, which aired on the March 20 episode of ''WCW WorldWide, WorldWide''. His last televised match was on the May 22 episode of ''Saturday Night'', a Professional wrestling tag team match types, tag team loss with Erik Watts against The Godwinns, Shanghai Pierce and Tex Slazenger.


Extreme Championship Wrestling


Feuding and teaming with Sabu (1996–1998)

In the summer of 1996, Van Dam signed with promoter Paul Heyman's Philadelphia-based promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), defeating Axl Rotten in his debut match at House Party (1996), House Party. Van Dam's mannerisms were those of a Drug subculture, stoner, and he became a Face (professional wrestling), face due to his laid-back attitude and unorthodox style. On March 30, he faced 2 Cold Scorpio in a match for the ECW World Television Championship, World Television Championship. The match ended in a draw with 2 Cold Scorpio retaining the title. Van Dam gained attention following a series of matches with long-time rival Sabu (wrestler), Sabu, which began with a match at Hostile City Showdown#1996, Hostile City Showdown, won by Sabu. After the match, Van Dam declined to show proper respect for his opponent, leading to a rematch at ECW A Matter of Respect#1996, A Matter of Respect, which was won by Van Dam. Per the pre-match stipulation, Sabu then offered Van Dam a handshake, but was again ignored. Instead, Van Dam left the ring and List of professional wrestling terms#Turn, turned Heel (professional wrestling), heel under the management of Bill Alfonso. At Hardcore Heaven#1996, Hardcore Heaven, Van Dam faced his rival Sabu once again, in a match to prove who was the better man, but Sabu won the match. The two faced each other yet again in a Professional wrestling match types#Container-based variations, stretcher match at ECW The Doctor Is In, The Doctor Is In. Van Dam lost the match after missing a Professional wrestling aerial techniques#Plancha, Plancha to the outside, hitting the railing and falling onto the stretcher. He was quickly rolled out. At ECW Natural Born Killaz, Natural Born Killaz, Van Dam defeated Doug Furnas in a match. Post-match, Van Dam offered Furnas a handshake, but Furnas instead hit Van Dam with a short-arm clothesline, starting a rivalry between the two. After his rivalry with Furnas expanded to also include Philip Lafond, Dan Kroffat, Van Dam wanted a tag team partner of his own. After losing to long-time rival Sabu once again at Unlucky Lottery, the two united and formed what was to become one of the most successful tag teams in ECW history. They feuded with Furnas and Kroffat defeating them at When Worlds Collide II and High Incident. Van Dam and Sabu next feuded with The Eliminators, John Kronus and Perry Saturn. On November 1, the two teams fought to a draw. Van Dam then feuded with Tazz, Taz, to whom he lost at Holiday Hell#1995, Holiday Hell via knockout. Sabu and Van Dam continued to feud with The Eliminators for the ECW World Tag Team Championship, World Tag Team Championship into 1997. At Crossing the Line Again and ECW CyberSlam#1997, Cyberslam, the teams faced off for the ECW World Tag Team Championship in a pair of matches, both of which were won by The Eliminators. At CyberSlam, the two teams faced each other for the title in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match, in which The Eliminators again retained their title. At ECW's first pay-per-view event ECW Barely Legal, Barely Legal, Van Dam defeated Lance Storm as a last-minute replacement for the injured Chris Candido. Immediately following the match, Van Dam expressed his distaste for being chosen as a back-up for "some guy who couldn't even lace his boots." Van Dam delivered a speech directed towards Paul Heyman, and not being originally booked on the show was a point of contention between Van Dam and Heyman for a time. In May 1997, ECW "invaded" the WWE, World Wrestling Federation's (WWF) ''WWE Raw, Monday Night Raw'' television show, drawing the ire of color commentator Jerry Lawler. Lawler then promised he would show up at an ECW show in order to gain revenge, and when he did show up, he had ECW mainstays Van Dam (who turned heel) and Sabu with him. Van Dam made List of professional wrestling terms#P, speeches about how he was too good for ECW and deserved to be in one of the "Big Two" (WWF or World Championship Wrestling, WCW) on one of their Monday Night programs (''Monday Night Raw'' or ''WCW Monday Nitro, Monday Nitro''). Lawler began to call Van Dam Mr. Monday Night on an episode of ''Raw'' which became a moniker that would stay with Van Dam, changing to suit the day of the week of whichever program was being broadcast. Despite his arrogance and "betrayal" of ECW, over time Van Dam became applauded by fans recognizing his athleticism and unique maneuvers. Van Dam continued to team up with Sabu upon his return to ECW on June 13. Tazz, Taz's manager Bill Alfonso betrayed Taz and joined Sabu and Van Dam. Van Dam started a new rivalry with Tommy Dreamer, who wanted to gain revenge on Van Dam for his betrayal of ECW. On June 21, Van Dam and Sabu earned a victory over Dreamer and The Sandman (wrestler), The Sandman. Van Dam and Sabu emerged victorious against Dreamer and Sandman again at Orgy of Violence. At ECW Heat Wave#1997, Heat Wave, Van Dam, Sabu, and WWF's Jerry "The King" Lawler fought Dreamer, Sandman, and Rick Rude to a no contest. Van Dam and Dreamer faced each other in a hardcore match at Born to Be Wired, won by Van Dam after he performed a leg drop on Dreamer with a trashcan. Van Dam and Sabu became partners while Dreamer teamed up with Taz. At Fright Fight, Van Dam lost to Dreamer in a Professional wrestling match types#Flag match, flag match. At Ultimate Jeopardy#1997, Ultimate Jeopardy, Van Dam and Sabu faced Dreamer and Taz, a match won by Taz and Dreamer after Dreamer pinned Van Dam. At November to Remember#1997, November to Remember, Van Dam faced Dreamer in another flag match which went to a no contest. At ECW Better Than Ever, Better Than Ever, Van Dam and Sabu faced Dreamer and Taz in a rematch. This time, Van Dam pinned Dreamer to give the victory to his team and to settle their rivalry. Van Dam's final encounter with Dreamer came on January 5, when Dreamer teamed up with Taz, Al Snow, and Sandman to take on Van Dam, Sabu, Doug Furnas, and Phil Lafon. Van Dam's team lost the match. In 1998, Van Dam turned Face (wrestling), face and started a feud with The Triple Threat, Triple Threat (Shane Douglas, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Chris Candido). At House Party (1998), House Party, Van Dam defeated Bam Bam Bigelow. At Hostile City Showdown (1998), Hostile City Showdown, Van Dam and Sabu defeated Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney by disqualification. The two went on to win a Professional wrestling tag team match types#Elimination tag team matches, fatal four-way elimination tag team match later that night. At ECW CyberSlam#1998, CyberSlam, Van Dam and Sabu lost to ECW World Heavyweight Championship, World Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas and Bam Bam Bigelow. Van Dam's popularity increased when he got his first taste of ECW gold, on April 4 when he defeated Bam Bam Bigelow to win the World Television Championship. Van Dam retained the belt in his first title defense on April 10 against Doug Furnas. Sabu also expressed interest in Van Dam's championship, leading to a title match between the two at Wrestlepalooza#1998, Wrestlepalooza. Van Dam retained the title as the match ended in a time limit draw. At A Matter of Respect, Van Dam and Sabu were forced to face each other in a tag team match as they both teamed up with World Tag Team Champions. Van Dam teamed with the one half of the champions, Lance Storm, while Sabu teamed with the other half, Chris Candido. Van Dam and Sabu reconciled and instead took out Storm and Candido making it a no contest. Van Dam and Sabu started a feud with Storm and Candido in the next month for the tag team title. On June 29, Van Dam and Sabu beat Storm and Candido to win the World Tag Team Championship, which made Van Dam a double champion. On October 24, Sabu and Van Dam lost the title to the Dudley Boyz (Mark LoMonaco, Buh Buh Ray and Devon Hughes, D-Von) after interference from Triple Threat. Van Dam sought revenge and at ECW November to Remember#1998, November to Remember, Van Dam and Sabu teamed with Taz to defeat Triple Threat. On December 13, Van Dam and Sabu won the World Tag Team Championship for a second time by beating the Dudley Boyz in Japan at a Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling ECW/FMW Supershow#II, ECW/FMW Supershow.


World Television Champion (1998–2001)

Van Dam remained the World Television Champion for the rest of 1998, and he started 1999 by making successful title defenses against the likes of Spike Dudley, Lance Storm at Guilty as Charged (1999), Guilty as Charged, Jerry Lynn at Crossing the Line '99, Balls Mahoney at Anarchy Rulz (1999), Anarchy Rulz, and 2 Cold Scorpio at ECW CyberSlam#1999, CyberSlam. Van Dam and Sabu were scheduled to make a title defense on April 17, but Sabu was suspended by ECW before the match occurred. Instead, Van Dam faced D-Von Dudley in a singles match and as a result of losing the match, Van Dam also lost the ECW World Tag Team Championship to the Dudleyz. After losing the tag team titles, Van Dam focused on defending the Television title. He entered into a rivalry with Jerry Lynn against whom he defended the Television title at Hardcore Heaven (1999), Hardcore Heaven in a "no time limit" match. Van Dam retained the title, and the match was deemed so good that Paul Heyman aired it on ECW on TNN, ECW's debut on Spike (TV channel), TNN in place of a Shoot (professional wrestling), shoot promo about TNN that he was planning, but was not allowed to air. Van Dam continued to defend the ECW World Television Championship for the remainder of the year. Van Dam began a feud with Rhyno, Rhino in the beginning of 2000. Van Dam successfully defended the ECW World Television Championship against Rhino on January 7. Van Dam got a victory during a title defense against Sabu at Guilty as Charged (2000), Guilty as Charged which was Sabu's last match in the promotion. Van Dam was scheduled to perform in a "champion vs. champion" pay-per-view main event against the ECW World Heavyweight Champion Mike Awesome. This match potentially could have been ECW's most lucrative pay-per-view main event, and Heyman was depending on it to bring an influx of badly needed finances, but the match never occurred because Van Dam suffered a broken ankle during a successful title defense against Rhino on January 29. The injury also forced Van Dam to vacate the ECW World Television Championship. He returned to ECW at Hardcore Heaven (2000), Hardcore Heaven and faced long-time rival Jerry Lynn. Van Dam was supported by his Legit (professional wrestling), real-life friend Scotty Riggs, Scotty Anton who eventually Glossary of professional wrestling terms#T, turned on him when Van Dam was going to perform a Professional wrestling aerial techniques#Frog splash, Five-Star Frog Splash on Lynn. Anton pushed him from the top rope, which helped Lynn win the match. Van Dam feuded with Anton and took his revenge at Heat Wave (2000), Heat Wave by defeating Anton after debuting his new finisher called the "Dropkick#Corner-to-corner missile dropkick, Van Terminator". Van Dam then attempted to exact revenge on Rhino for forcing his injury. He received many opportunities to win the ECW World Television Championship back from Rhino, but Rhino's allies usually attacked Van Dam, causing disqualifications and allowing Rhino to retain the title. At Anarchy Rulz (2000), Anarchy Rulz, Van Dam faced Rhino for the ECW World Television Championship but was List of professional wrestling terms#S, screwed when a heel referee made a fast count during a pinfall attempt made by Rhino. Van Dam was not advertised and did not show for a large number of ECW events due to the large sum of money owed to him. He appeared at ECW's final pay-per-view event Guilty as Charged (2001), Guilty as Charged, where he defeated Jerry Lynn. This was Van Dam's last appearance in ECW, as ECW only held two more shows after the pay-per-view.


World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment


The Invasion (2001)

Several months after the closure of ECW, Van Dam was signed to a short-term contract by the WWE, World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Along with fellow ECW alumnus Tommy Dreamer, Van Dam returned to WWF television on the July 9, 2001, episode of ''Raw'' in Atlanta, Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia as a Heel (wrestling), heel, and attacking WWF wrestlers Glenn Jacobs, Kane and Chris Jericho. Later that night, five wrestlers from WWF and five wrestlers from WCW took on ten ECW wrestlers, including Van Dam. The match never took place as instead the WCW wrestlers aligned themselves with the ECW wrestlers. Despite being a heel, Van Dam was popular with the WWF fans, who were aware of his reputation in ECW. After defeating Jeff Hardy for the WWE Hardcore Championship, WWF Hardcore Championship at WWF Invasion, Invasion, Van Dam lost the Hardcore Championship to Hardy on the August 13 episode of ''Raw'', but regained it at SummerSlam (2001), SummerSlam in a ladder match. During this time Van Dam had defeated wrestlers such as Kane, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Dwayne Johnson, The Rock and even Alliance leader Stone Cold Steve Austin in singles and tag team matches. Van Dam became one of the most popular members of The Alliance (professional wrestling), the Alliance who faced The Rock for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, WCW Championship on multiple occasions, and even challenged Alliance leader Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE World Championship, WWF Championship including a Professional wrestling match types#Basic non-elimination matches, triple threat match at No Mercy (2001), No Mercy also involving Kurt Angle, but did not win. At Survivor Series (2001), Survivor Series on November 18, Van Dam and four other Alliance members faced five WWF wrestlers in a ''Winner Take All'' match. Team WWF won, and the members of the Alliance were fired; however, as he held the WWE Hardcore Championship, Hardcore Championship, Van Dam was able to retain his job.


Intercontinental Champion (2001–2002)

Van Dam became a face, but lost the Hardcore Championship to The Undertaker at Vengeance (2001), Vengeance. He then entered into a rivalry with Darren Matthews, William Regal over Regal's WWE Intercontinental Championship, Intercontinental Championship. On the February 25 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam defeated Lance Storm and Paul Wight, Big Show in a triple threat match to become the #1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship. At WrestleMania X8, Van Dam faced Regal for the Intercontinental Championship and won the match after he hit Regal with a Five-Star Frog Splash. When the WWF was divided into two "WWE Brand Extension, brands", Raw (WWE brand), Raw and SmackDown (WWE brand), SmackDown! in 2002, Van Dam was WWE Brand Extension#Superstar selections, drafted to the Raw brand as the fourth pick. On the April 1 episode of ''Raw'', after Van Dam defended his title successfully against Booker T (wrestler), Booker T, Eddie Guerrero returned to the WWF and attacked Van Dam. He started a feud with Guerrero over the Intercontinental title. At Backlash (2002), Backlash, Van Dam lost the Intercontinental Championship to Guerrero. At Insurrextion (2002), Insurrextion, Van Dam and Guerrero had a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship. Guerrero was disqualified after hitting the referee with the Intercontinental Championship; as a result, Van Dam won the match but not the title because a title cannot change hands by disqualification. At Judgment Day (2002), Judgment Day, Van Dam failed to win the Intercontinental title in another rematch. The following night he defeated The Undertaker for the WWE Undisputed Championship but Raw owner Ric Flair restarted the match (due to The Undertaker's foot being on the bottom rope), which Van Dam then lost negating the title win. On the May 27 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam defeated Guerrero in a ladder match for his second Intercontinental Championship. After facing each other in the final round of the King of the Ring (2002), 2002 King of the Ring tournament (which he lost), Van Dam and Brock Lesnar began feuding with each other. Van Dam defended his Intercontinental Championship against Lesnar twice and retained his title both times by disqualification on the June 24 episode of ''Raw'' and at Vengeance (2002), Vengeance. On the July 22 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam Championship unification, unified the WWE European Championship into the WWE Intercontinental Championship after he defeated Jeff Hardy in a title unification ladder match. As a result, the European title was abandoned. On the July 29 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam lost the Intercontinental Championship to Chris Benoit. At SummerSlam (2002), SummerSlam, Van Dam won his third WWE Intercontinental Championship by defeating Benoit in a rematch for the title. As Benoit brought the title to ''SmackDown!'' when he switched brands shortly after winning it, Van Dam brought the title back to ''Raw''. On the August 26 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam also unified the WWE Hardcore Championship into the WWE Intercontinental Championship by defeating Hardcore Champion Tommy Dreamer in a hardcore title unification match. As a result, the WWE Hardcore Championship was abandoned. On the September 9 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam became the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship (WWE), World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Chris Jericho, Jeff Hardy, and Big Show in a Professional wrestling match types#Basic elimination matches, fatal four-way elimination match. Van Dam started feuding with the World Heavyweight Championship (WWE), World Heavyweight Champion Triple H. On the September 16 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam lost the Intercontinental Championship to Chris Jericho after interference by Triple H. At Unforgiven (2002), Unforgiven, Van Dam faced Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. Due to Ric Flair's interference, Van Dam lost the match. At No Mercy (2002), No Mercy, Van Dam got his revenge on Flair by defeating him. At Survivor Series (2002), Survivor Series, Van Dam participated in the first-ever Elimination Chamber match for Triple H's World Heavyweight Championship, but it was won by Shawn Michaels. During the match, Van Dam performed a Five-Star Frog Splash off of one of the pods/chambers onto Triple H accidentally landing with his knee onto Triple H's throat.


Teaming and feuding with Kane (2002–2003)

Van Dam appeared on the World Heavyweight Championship scene and also formed a tag team with Kane in October 2002. Van Dam defeated Jericho and Booker T in a Professional wrestling match types#Basic non-elimination matches, Triple Threat match to become the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. On the November 25 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam faced Michaels for the World Heavyweight Championship. Michaels was disqualified after Triple H hit Van Dam with a Facebuster#Double underhook facebuster, Pedigree. On the December 2 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam lost to Triple H in a #1 contender's match with World Heavyweight Champion Shawn Michaels acting as the Professional wrestling match types#Special referee, special guest referee. In 2003, Van Dam continued to team up with Kane. Van Dam participated in the Royal Rumble (2003), Royal Rumble, and was one of the final five participants before being tricked and eliminated by Kane. The two faced Lance Storm and William Regal at No Way Out (2003), No Way Out for the World Tag Team Championship (WWE), World Tag Team Championship but failed to win the titles when Kane mistakenly chokeslammed Van Dam. On the March 31 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam and Kane defeated World Tag Team Champions Lance Storm and Sean Morley, Chief Morley and The Dudley Boyz in a Professional wrestling tag team match types#Elimination tag team matches, 3-way elimination tag team match to win the World Tag Team Championship. At Backlash (2003), Backlash, Van Dam and Kane retained the titles against The Dudley Boyz with Morley as the special guest referee. At Insurrextion (2003), Insurrextion, Van Dam and Kane defended the World Tag Team Championship successfully against La Résistance, before losing the titles to La Résistance at Bad Blood (2003), Bad Blood. After Kane was forced to take his mask off when he lost a World Heavyweight Championship match to Triple H on the June 23 episode of ''Raw'', he List of professional wrestling terms#T, turned heel by chokeslamming Van Dam, and the team dissolved. The two then started feuding with each other. On the August 18 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam faced the Intercontinental Champion Christian Cage, Christian for the title, but Kane interfered in the match and knocked Van Dam out after hitting him with a chair. Kane then took Van Dam to the backstage where he was restrained and was about to be set on fire. Kane changed his mind at the last minute, however, and said that he wasn't going to do what "they" want. Their rivalry led to a Professional wrestling match types#No Disqualification match, No Holds Barred match at SummerSlam (2003), SummerSlam, which Kane won. On the September 8 episode of ''Raw'', the rivalry ended when Kane defeated Van Dam in a Professional wrestling match types#Cages, steel cage match. Kane threw Van Dam through the steel cage by mistake (causing Van Dam to win), but Eric Bischoff came out and restarted the match, saying Van Dam did not escape through the door or climb out of the cage and ordered the referees to put Van Dam back inside the cage where Kane eventually hit a chokeslam from the side of the cage to pick up the victory.


Championship reigns (2003–2005)

In September 2003, Van Dam started feuding with both Christian and Chris Jericho over Christian's Intercontinental Championship. On the September 15 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam faced Jericho in a number one contender's match for the title. The match ended in a double disqualification when Intercontinental Champion Christian interfered and hit both men with the title belt. At Unforgiven (2003), Unforgiven in a triple threat match between Jericho, Christian, and Van Dam, Christian retained his title. Van Dam, however, defeated Christian in a ladder match on the September 29 episode of ''Raw'' to win the Intercontinental Championship for a fourth time. Van Dam entered into a rivalry with Chris Jericho in October 2003, and the two faced each other in several tag team matches. On the October 27 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam lost the Intercontinental Championship to Jericho. Van Dam reached the ropes when the challenger had him in the Boston crab#Elevated Boston crab, Walls of Jericho, but Raw Co-General Manager Eric Bischoff distracted the referee while Jericho dragged Van Dam back into the middle of the ring. Van Dam submitted and Jericho became the new champion. Raw Co-General Manager Stone Cold Steve Austin came out and immediately ordered Jericho to face Van Dam in a rematch inside the Steel Cage for the title. Van Dam won the rematch and his fifth Intercontinental Championship. At Survivor Series (2003), Survivor Series, Van Dam was pinned by Randy Orton during the traditional elimination match between Team Austin and Team Bischoff that Van Dam's team would lose. As a result, Orton and Van Dam started feuding with each other over Van Dam's Intercontinental title. Van Dam lost the Intercontinental Championship to Orton at Armageddon (2003), Armageddon after interference from Ric Flair. Van Dam went on to feud with both Orton and Evolution. On the January 12, 2004, episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam faced Orton in a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship but lost the match. Van Dam formed a tag team with Booker T (wrestler), Booker T. The two teamed for the first time on the January 19 episode of ''Raw'' when they defeated Christian and Matt Hardy to qualify for a battle royal where the winner of the Battle Royal would get the #30 spot in the Royal Rumble (2004), 2004 Royal Rumble match. On the February 16 episode of ''Raw'', Booker T and Van Dam defeated Evolution (professional wrestling), Evolution members Ric Flair and Dave Bautista, Batista to win the World Tag Team Championship. At WrestleMania XX, Booker and Van Dam defended the World Tag Team Championship in a fatal four-way elimination tag team match against the Dudley Boyz, La Résistance, and the team of Mark Jindrak and Lance Cade, Garrison Cade. On the March 22 episode of ''Raw'', Booker T and Van Dam lost the World Tag Team Championship back to Evolution (professional wrestling), Evolution. On March 22, Van Dam was 2004 WWE Draft Lottery, drafted to the SmackDown! brand. He made his ''SmackDown!'' debut on March 25 defeating Charlie Haas. Van Dam and Rey Mysterio, Jr., Rey Mysterio began a feud with the Dudley Boyz, defeating them at Judgment Day (2004), Judgment Day. In June, Van Dam left the tag team division and began a pursuit for the WWE United States Championship, United States Championship. At The Great American Bash (2004), The Great American Bash, John Cena defended the title against Van Dam, Booker T, and René Goguen, René Duprée in a Fatal Four-Way match and retained his championship. On the July 1 episode of ''SmackDown!'', Van Dam and Duprée lost to Booker in a number one contender's Triple Threat match. Four weeks later, Van Dam participated in an Professional wrestling match types#Basic elimination matches, 8-way elimination match for the vacant United States Championship, and was the last man to be eliminated by eventual winner Booker. Van Dam began teaming up with Mysterio again in the summer and feuded with René Duprée and Kenzo Suzuki. At No Mercy (2004), No Mercy, Van Dam and Mysterio failed to win the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship from Dupree and Suzuki. On the December 9 episode of ''SmackDown!'', Van Dam and Mysterio defeated Duprée and Suzuki to win the WWE Tag Team Championship, and retained the title in a rematch at Armageddon (2004), Armageddon. In January 2005, Van Dam suffered a knee injury. To explain his absence, the Basham Brothers (Doug Basham, Doug and Daniel Hollie, Danny) defeated Mysterio and Van Dam for the WWE Tag Team Championship, in a Fatal Four-Way elimination tag team match on the January 13 episode of ''SmackDown!'', "injuring" Van Dam in the process. On January 27, Van Dam underwent reconstructive knee surgery under Dr. James Andrews to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and Meniscus (anatomy), meniscus.


WWE Champion and ECW Champion (2005–2006)

While recuperating, Van Dam made an appearance at the ECW reunion pay-per-view ECW One Night Stand (2005), ECW One Night Stand. Accompanied by his former manager Bill Alfonso and sporting a knee brace, Van Dam delivered a Shoot (professional wrestling)#Worked shoots, worked shoot List of professional wrestling terms#P, promo, standing up for ECW and criticizing the way he had been List of professional wrestling terms#B, booked in WWE, until he was attacked by Terry Gerin, Rhyno. He was saved by Sabu, who defeated Rhyno in an impromptu match. Despite his injury, Van Dam got physically involved in the match, hitting Rhyno with a chairshot and giving him a #In wrestling, Chair Surf. On the June 27 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam, while still healing, was drafted to the Raw brand in the 2005 WWE draft lottery, 2005 draft lottery. He was introduced to ''Raw'' by Carly Colón, Carlito, who insulted Van Dam before attacking him and assaulting his knee. Van Dam made his return to the ring over seven months later at the Royal Rumble (2006), Royal Rumble. He gained revenge on Carlito by eliminating him, but was in turn inadvertently eliminated by Rey Mysterio in the final moments. On the February 6 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam defeated Carlito in the first round of the 2006 Road to WrestleMania Tournament, but lost in the final round to Triple H, in a triple threat match, which also featured Big Show. Later, Van Dam defeated Trevor Murdoch to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match. Van Dam went on to win the match, thus earning himself a guaranteed shot at either the WWE Championship or World Heavyweight Championship at any time within the subsequent year. Following the ladder match, Shelton Benjamin challenged Van Dam to put his Money in the Bank opportunity on the line in a match. Van Dam countered by requesting a match for Benjamin's Intercontinental Championship. One week later, both Van Dam and Benjamin picked mystery opponents for one another, with the loser placing their respective prize on the line in a bout at Backlash (2006), Backlash on April 30. Benjamin lost to the returning Charlie Haas, while Van Dam was defeated by all five members of the Spirit Squad. As a result, both the Intercontinental Championship and the Money in the Bank title shot were contested at Backlash (2006), Backlash. Van Dam went on to win the former, before dropping the Intercontinental Championship back to Benjamin on the May 15 episode of ''Raw''. On May 29, Van Dam was selected by Paul Heyman to be 2006 WWE brand extension draft, drafted to WWE's new ECW (WWE brand), ECW brand. At ECW One Night Stand (2006), ECW One Night Stand, Van Dam cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and defeated John Cena to win the WWE Championship. After two referees were knocked out, Adam Copeland, Edge appeared from underneath the ring to attack Cena, Professional wrestling attacks#Spear, spearing him through a table. Van Dam then hit a Professional wrestling aerial techniques#Frog splash, Five Star Frog Splash and the pinfall was counted by Paul Heyman, who suddenly ran down the aisle. On the following episode of ''Raw'', Vince McMahon confirmed that the title change was official due to the match being held under "extreme rules". For the past few weeks, Heyman had hinted that the WWE Championship would be "rechristened" the ECW World Heavyweight Championship when Van Dam won. On the debut of ''WWE ECW, ECW'', Van Dam was awarded the reinstated ECW World Heavyweight Championship by Heyman and decided to defend the WWE Championship separately and simultaneously, joking that "this one spins", becoming the first wrestler in history to hold both the WWE Championship and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship as well as the only one to hold them at the same time, making him a double world champion. He would become the fifteenth WWE Triple Crown (professional wrestling)#WWE, Triple Crown Champion as a result of his WWE Championship win. At Vengeance (2006), Vengeance, Van Dam defeated Edge to retain the WWE Championship. Two nights later on ''ECW'', Van Dam defeated Kurt Angle to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. On the July 3 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam lost the WWE Championship to Edge in a triple threat match that also featured John Cena. The next night on the July 4 episode of ''ECW'', he lost the ECW World Heavyweight Championship to Big Show after Heyman List of professional wrestling terms#T, turned on him. Later on WWE.com, Heyman suspended Van Dam for 30 days without giving a reason (Legit (professional wrestling), in reality, WWE suspended Van Dam for 30 days as a result of #2006 arrest, his recent drug possession arrest). He returned to television on the August 8 episode of ''ECW'', attacking both Sabu and Kurt Angle during a match. His return to the ring came a week later, in a losing effort to Sabu in a ladder match for number one contendership to the now renamed ECW World Championship. Van Dam slowly worked his way back into the championship picture. In October, Van Dam defeated Big Show in a non-title match to regain the number one contendership. Having the option to pick a date, Van Dam announced the title match would occur at December to Dismember (2006), December to Dismember. However, Heyman had the option of picking the match type and announced that the main event would be a six-man Elimination Chamber#Variations, Extreme Elimination Chamber match. At December to Dismember, Van Dam was the third participant eliminated. Later in December, Van Dam once again earned the number one contendership to the ECW World Championship, but this time by a fan poll. Van Dam got three matches against ECW World Champion Bobby Lashley, coming up short each time.


The ECW Originals (2006–2007)

Rob Van Dam later joined the ECW Originals along with Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, and The Sandman (wrestler), The Sandman. The ECW Originals began a feud with the New Breed (ECW), New Breed (Elijah Burke, Kevin Thorn, Monty Brown, Marcus Cor Von, and Matthew Kaye, Matt Striker). The two teams faced off at WrestleMania 23 in a match which the ECW Originals won. After Vince McMahon won the ECW World Championship at Backlash (2007), Backlash, Van Dam and the other ECW Originals made statements on WWE.com about McMahon killing ECW. On the May 1 episode of ''ECW'', the ECW Originals all competed in a fatal four-way match to decide who would take on McMahon the next week in a title match, which Van Dam won after a five-star frog splash on Sandman. Van Dam, however, had to face McMahon, Shane McMahon, and Eddie Fatu, Umaga in a 3-on-1 handicap match, which Van Dam was unable to win. Van Dam received a concussion during a match with Randy Orton on the May 28 episode of ''Raw''. Orton further attacked Van Dam after the match due to the comments Van Dam made on WWE.com about the lack of respect Orton displayed towards Shawn Michaels, who also suffered a concussion at the hands of Orton. Van Dam once again faced Orton at One Night Stand (2007), One Night Stand, this time in a Professional wrestling match types#Container-based variations, Stretcher match. Although it looked as if Orton was going to win again, Van Dam gave him a roundhouse kick to the head and was able to push the stretcher across the line for the win. Despite winning the match, Orton continued to attack Van Dam, ending with an DDT (professional wrestling)#Elevated DDT, elevated DDT off the barricade and onto the concrete floor, in which Van Dam was carried out on a stretcher. After the match, Van Dam left WWE due to being burnt out and needing time away.


Return to the independent circuit (2007–2010)

The day after Van Dam's WWE contract expired, he was in the United Kingdom on a promotional tour and to record scenes for the wrestling documentary, ''Bloodstained Memoirs''. He also took part in interviews for the BBC. Van Dam defeated Booker T (wrestler), Booker T at Pro Wrestling Alliance Christmas Chaos on December 28, 2007, in Pasadena, Texas. In an interview with the ''Baltimore Sun'', Van Dam stated that while WWE would be the first choice and that he would definitely talk to them, he would definitely consider Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) if he returned full-time to pro wrestling. While not under contract, Van Dam made an unannounced return on WWE's ''WWE Raw#Special episodes, 15th Anniversary Raw'' in December 2007, List of professional wrestling terms#squash, squashing Santino Marella with a Five-Star Frog Splash. He made a similarly unannounced appearance as a participant in the Royal Rumble (2009), 2009 Royal Rumble, which he failed to win as he was eliminated by Chris Jericho. He returned to the independent circuit by competing for Associação Portuguesa de Wrestling (APW) in February 2008. He then also appeared for Nu-Wrestling Evolution (NWE) throughout countries such as Spain. On August 14, 2008, he won a triple threat match at the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) in Japan after defeating Kendo Kashin and Necro Butcher. On March 9, 2009, it was announced that Van Dam would be competing in American Wrestling Rampage (AWR) on their European Tour, during which he won the promotion's No Limits Wrestling (NLW) Championship in a three way bout versus Sabu and former champion Shawn Maxer. He lost the title to René Goguen, René Duprée after three successful defenses. In November he regained the title, renamed the AWR World Heavyweight Championship at this point, from Duprée on November 29 winning two decisions in a Two Out of Three Falls match. On September 11, 2009, in the World Stars of Wrestling (WSW) European Championship events in Portimão, Portimão, Portugal, Van Dam won the WSW World Championship, by defeating Joe Hitchen, Joe E. Legend. On the following night he defended his newly won title against Lance Cade. On January 30, 2010, Van Dam made his debut for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) as part of WrestleReunion#WrestleReunion 4, WrestleReunion 4, defeating Chris Hero and Roderick Strong in a "Sky High" three-way match.


Total Nonstop Action Wrestling


TNA World Heavyweight Champion and EV 2.0 (2010–2011)

On March 8, 2010, Van Dam made his debut for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) at the promotion's TNA Impact!'s move to Monday nights, Monday night episode of ''Impact! (TV series), Impact!'', defeating Sting (wrestler), Sting. Then just seconds after his debut victory Sting attacked him and later Hulk Hogan with his signature baseball bat. Van Dam got his revenge on Sting the following week by attacking him during his entrance. Van Dam teamed with Jeff Hardy in a tag team match, where they defeated Beer Money, Inc. (Bobby Roode, Robert Roode and James Storm) on the March 22 episode of ''Impact!''. The following week the two of them teamed with Eric Young (wrestler), Eric Young and defeated New World Order (professional wrestling), The Band (Kevin Nash, Scott Hall (wrestler), Scott Hall and Sean Waltman, Syxx-Pac) in a six-man tag team steel cage match. Both Van Dam and Hardy became members of Team Hogan (joining Abyss (wrestler), Abyss and Jeff Jarrett) for the annual Lethal Lockdown match, where they defeated Team Flair (Sting, Nigel McGuinness, Desmond Wolfe, Robert Roode and James Storm). The night after Lockdown he first defeated Jeff Hardy in a number one contender's match and then, in the main event of the evening, A.J. Styles to become the new TNA World Heavyweight Championship, TNA World Heavyweight Champion. After succeeding in his first televised title defense against Desmond Wolfe, Styles attacked Van Dam, announcing the invocation of the rematch clause for Sacrifice (2010), Sacrifice. At Sacrifice Van Dam defeated Styles in a rematch. The following month at Slammiversary VIII Van Dam retained his title against Sting in a rematch of his TNA debut. Van Dam defeated Abyss, Jeff Hardy and Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Anderson in a four-way match to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Victory Road (2010), Victory Road. On the following episode of ''Impact!'' Van Dam aligned himself with fellow ECW alumni Tommy Dreamer, Raven (wrestler), Raven, Stevie Richards, Terry Gerin, Rhino, Devon Hughes, Brother Devon, Pat Kenney, Al Snow and Mick Foley, who saved him from a beating at the hands of Abyss. The following week, TNA president Dixie Carter (wrestling), Dixie Carter agreed to give the ECW alumni their own reunion pay–per–view event, Hardcore Justice (2010), Hardcore Justice. At Hardcore Justice on August 8 Van Dam defeated former tag team partner and rival Sabu in a non-title Hardcore Rules match, after his originally planned match with Jerry Lynn was scrapped due to Lynn suffering a back injury. After successfully defending the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Abyss in a Professional wrestling match types#Weapon-based variations, Stairway to Janice match on the following special edition of ''Impact!'', named ''The Whole F'n Show'', Van Dam and the other former ECW wrestlers were assaulted by Abyss and . In the attack Van Dam suffered multiple serious Kayfabe, storyline injuries at the hands of Abyss including the need for stitches, spinal trauma and possible acute brain damage, which would force him to vacate the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on August 10 at the taping of the August 19 episode of ''Impact!''. In reality, Van Dam was running out of dates per year on his contract and was therefore taken off television. Van Dam returned via telephone interview on the September 16 episode of ''Impact!'' and announced that he would return to the Impact! Zone the following week, against his doctor's orders. Van Dam returned the following week, confronting Abyss and demanding a match against him at Bound for Glory (2010), Bound for Glory, which Eric Bischoff agreed to give him. At Bound for Glory (2010), Bound for Glory Van Dam defeated Abyss in a Monster's Ball match. At the end of Bound for Glory it was revealed that Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff had sent Abyss after Van Dam in order to get the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on their own representative, Jeff Hardy. Van Dam confronted the group, later named Immortal (professional wrestling), Immortal, after Hardy had won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, only to get hit with the title belt. On the October 21 episode of ''Impact!'' Bischoff claimed that someone from EV 2.0 had been calling him, trying to get to be a part of Immortal, which led to Van Dam getting paranoid about his stablemates, first accusing Raven of being the traitor. Later, he and Sabu were defeated in a tag team match by Beer Money, Inc., after Sabu accidentally hit him with a chair. After the match Van Dam and Sabu began shoving each other and had to be separated from each other by the rest of EV 2.0. After two more weeks of dissension between Van Dam and the rest of EV 2.0, Tommy Dreamer challenged him to a match at Turning Point (2010 wrestling), Turning Point. At Turning Point Van Dam defeated Dreamer and afterwards made peace with him. On the following episode of ''Impact!'' Rhino turned heel by attacking Van Dam and Dreamer, revealing himself as the traitor Van Dam had been looking for. At Final Resolution (2010), Final Resolution Van Dam defeated Rhino in a Professional wrestling match types#First Blood match, First Blood match.


Championship pursuits (2011–2012)

On January 4, 2011, Van Dam traveled to Japan with other TNA wrestlers to take part New Japan Pro-Wrestling's (NJPW) fifth annual ''January 4 Dome Show#Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome, Wrestle Kingdom in Tokyo Dome'', where he defeated Toru Yano in a hardcore match. At Genesis (2011), Genesis Van Dam was defeated by Immortal's surprise opponent, the debuting Matt Hardy, when referee Garett Bischoff, Jackson James missed Van Dam's foot under the ropes, thus failing to earn a shot at his brother Jeff's TNA World Heavyweight Championship. During the main event Van Dam prevented Matt from interfering in Jeff's match with Mr. Anderson, which led to Jeff losing the title. The following month at Against All Odds (2011), Against All Odds, Van Dam defeated Matt Hardy in a rematch. On the following episode of ''Impact!'', Van Dam finally received his shot at Jeff Hardy and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but was unable to regain the title. On March 13 at Victory Road (2011), Victory Road, Van Dam wrestled Mr. Anderson to a double countout in a TNA World Heavyweight Championship number one contender's match. On April 17 at Lockdown (2011), Lockdown, Van Dam failed in his attempt to regain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship from Sting in a three–way steel cage match, which also included Anderson. The following month at Sacrifice (2011), Sacrifice, Van Dam again failed to regain the title, this time in a singles match with Sting. Van Dam represented TNA at Mexican promotion Lucha Libre AAA World Wide, AAA's Triplemanía XIX pay-per-view on June 18, 2011. In the main event of the show, Van Dam was defeated by Dr. Wagner, Jr. in a match to determine the first ever AAA Latin American Championship, AAA Latin American Champion. At Destination X (2011), Destination X on July 10, Van Dam defeated longtime rival Jerry Lynn in a singles match. On August 7 at Hardcore Justice (2011), Hardcore Justice, Van Dam, at the time ranked number two in the Bound for Glory Series#2011, Bound for Glory Series, faced Tommy Mercer, Crimson, ranked number one, in a tournament match. Van Dam lost the match via disqualification, when Jerry Lynn entered the ring, costing him not only the match, but also several places in the tournament's standings. Lynn cost Van Dam another Bound for Glory Series match against A.J. Styles in similar fashion on the August 18 ''Impact Wrestling''. Lynn turned on Van Dam on the September 1 ''Impact Wrestling'', costing him his match with Gunner (wrestler), Gunner and, in the process, eliminating him from the finals of the Bound for Glory Series. The following week Lynn explained his turn by claiming that he was tired of being in Van Dam's shadow. Van Dam defeated Lynn in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match#Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Full Metal Mayhem match at Bound for Glory (2011), Bound for Glory. On the October 27 episode of ''Impact Wrestling'', Van Dam defeated Christopher Daniels by disqualification after Daniels hit him with a toolbox. Two weeks later, Van Dam prevented Daniels from using a screwdriver to illegally defeat A.J. Styles in a singles match which would cost Daniels the match. At Turning Point (2011 wrestling), Turning Point, Van Dam defeated Daniels in a No Disqualification match. In retaliation, Daniels cost him his match for the TNA Television Championship against Rob Strauss, Robbie E on the December 1 episode of ''Impact Wrestling''. Van Dam defeated Daniels at Final Resolution (2011), Final Resolution on December 11 again to end their feud. After wrestling to a double countout on the January 5, 2012, edition of ''Impact Wrestling'', Gunner made a failed attempt to piledrive Van Dam into the concrete floor after Van Dam back body dropped him onto it. Three days later at Genesis (2012), Genesis, Van Dam was defeated by Gunner and was afterwards stretchered backstage, after taking a DDT onto the concrete floor. After a near three-month absence Van Dam resumed working live events in late March. Van Dam returned to ''Impact Wrestling'' on April 12, being revealed as the fifth member of Garett Bischoff's team at Lockdown (2012), Lockdown. At Lockdown, Team Garett defeated a team led by Eric Bischoff. On the following episode of ''Impact Wrestling'', Van Dam defeated Jeff Hardy and Mr. Anderson in a three-way match to become the number one contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Van Dam received his title opportunity in a ladder match on May 13 at Sacrifice (2012), Sacrifice, but was defeated by the defending champion, Bobby Roode. At Slammiversary (2012), Slammiversary on June 10, Van Dam was defeated by Mr. Anderson in a three-way number one contender's match, also involving Jeff Hardy. Later that week on ''Impact Wrestling'', Van Dam entered the Bound for Glory Series#2012, 2012 Bound for Glory Series. At Hardcore Justice (2012), Hardcore Justice, Van Dam defeated Magnus (wrestler), Magnus and Ken Anderson (wrestler), Mr. Anderson in a Falls Count Anywhere match. He wrestled his final match in the tournament on the September 6 ''Impact Wrestling'', losing to Mark LoMonaco, Bully Ray, thus finishing fifth and narrowly missing the semifinals of the tournament. On the October 4 episode of ''Impact Wrestling'', Van Dam unsuccessfully challenged Samoa Joe for the TNA Television Championship.


X Division Champion (2012–2013)

The following week, Van Dam was allowed to pick his opponent for Bound for Glory (2012), Bound for Glory and opted to challenge Zema Ion for the TNA X Division Championship. Van Dam defeated Ion to win the X Division Championship for the first time at Bound for Glory. On the October 25 ''Impact Wrestling'', Van Dam made his first successful title defense, defeating Ion in a rematch. Following the win, he would be attacked by Matt Morgan (wrestler), Matt Morgan and Joey Ryan (wrestler), Joey Ryan. The following week, Van Dam was defeated by Ryan in a non-title match after an interference from Matt Morgan. Afterwards, he would again be attacked by Morgan. On November 11 at Turning Point (2012 wrestling), Turning Point, Van Dam defeated Ryan to retain the X Division Championship, after which, he would be attacked by Matt Morgan for the third consecutive time. Four days later on ''Impact Wrestling'', he successfully defended the title against Kid Kash. Van Dam retained the X Division Championship against Austin Aries on November 29 after losing to him via disqualification, following interference from Bully Ray. Van Dam made another successful title defense on December 9 at Final Resolution (2012), Final Resolution, defeating Kenny King (wrestler), Kenny King. On the following episode of ''Impact Wrestling'', Van Dam lost a non-title match to King, when King pinned him with his feet on the ropes. On January 13, 2013, at Genesis (2013), Genesis, Van Dam defeated Christian York to retain the X Division Championship. On the February 7 episode of ''Impact Wrestling'', Van Dam successfully defended the X Division Championship against Kenny King and Zema Ion in a three-way match. Two weeks later, Van Dam defeated King again to retain his title. Van Dam lost the X Division Championship to King on the February 28 ''Impact Wrestling'', ending Van Dam's reign at 137 days. In March 2013, Van Dam's TNA contract expired and he did an interview about his future with TNA, stating that he would return to television in WWE or TNA, saying that he was negotiating with both companies. According to Van Dam, he lost his passion for professional wrestling during his work in TNA due to the attitude of his coworkers.


Return to WWE (2013−2014)

On June 16, 2013, at Payback (2013), Payback, it was announced that Van Dam would be returning at Money in the Bank (2013), Money in the Bank as one of the participants in the Money in the Bank ladder match, WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match along with Christian, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and Sheamus, however, the match was ultimately won by Orton on July 14. In his first singles match for the company since 2007, Van Dam defeated Chris Jericho the following night on ''Raw''. He would then go on a short winning streak defeating the likes of Darren Young, Fandango (wrestler), Fandango and Wade Barrett which would lead to a United States Championship opportunity against Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam (2013), SummerSlam which Van Dam would win via disqualification which meant Ambrose retained the title. Van Dam was then put in a feud with the then-World Heavyweight Championship (WWE), World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, including Del Rio's personal announcer Ricardo Rodriguez becoming Van Dam's announcer, facing Del Rio at Night of Champions (2013), Night of Champions (winning via disqualification) and Battleground (2013), Battleground, but he couldn't win the title. After this match, Van Dam took a sabbatical from television. Van Dam returned to WWE on the April 7, 2014, episode of ''Raw'', defeating Damien Sandow and would later defeat him once more in a rematch on the following ''SmackDown''. Shortly after, he entered into an List of WWE tournaments#WWE Intercontinental Championship #1 Contender's Tournament (2014), WWE Intercontinental Championship tournament, defeating Alberto Del Rio in the first round and Antonio Cesaro, Cesaro in the semifinals but lost in the final round to Wade Barrett, Bad News Barrett. Following this he entered into a feud with Cesaro and Jack Swagger, having gained pinfall victories over both men in the lead up to Extreme Rules (2014), Extreme Rules, Van Dam would go on to lose to Cesaro and Jack Swagger in a Professional wrestling match types#Triple Threat match, Triple Threat Elimination match, which was won by Cesaro after pinning Van Dam last, who had pinned Swagger first. Following Extreme Rules, Van Dam would once more go on to defeat Cesaro and Jack Swagger on separate occasions in rematches on both ''Raw'' and ''SmackDown''. On the May 19 edition of ''Raw'', Van Dam won a Professional wrestling match types#Beat the Clock challenge, Beat the Clock challenge match by defeating Alberto Del Rio in the fastest time, to become the top contender for the Intercontinental Championship at Payback (2014), Payback, although he lost to Barrett at the event. On the June 16 episode of ''Raw'', Van Dam competed in a Battle Royal with the winner gaining a WWE World Heavyweight Championship opportunity, the match was won by Roman Reigns. At Money in the Bank (2014), Money in the Bank, Van Dam took part in the Money in the Bank Ladder match for the briefcase, but was won by Seth Rollins. At SummerSlam (2014), SummerSlam, Van Dam defeated Cesaro during the pre-show. Following SummerSlam, Van Dam would go on to team with Roman Reigns and Sheamus in a six-man tag team match in a winning effort against Randy Orton, Ryback and Curtis Axel on the August 18 episode of ''Raw''. After defeating Seth Rollins by countout on the August 26 edition of ''Main Event'', Van Dam's final match with WWE was on the August 29 episode of ''SmackDown'', where he faced Rollins in a losing effort. He made an appearance at the Slammy Award#2014 Slammy Awards, 2014 Slammy Awards to present the Slammy Award for Extreme Moment of the Year.


Second return to the independent circuit (2015–2019)

In 2015, Van Dam appeared at many circuit shows including one night appearances at House of Hardcore. On June 7, 2015, Van Dam performed at Citi Field for the Legends of Wrestling and defeated Scott Steiner by pinfall. During a post match attacked by Steiner and Doc Gallows, Bill Goldberg, Goldberg would come to his aid and spear Steiner. Van Dam faced John Morrison (wrestler), John Morrison at Pro Wrestling Syndicate in Rahway, New Jersey, on October 24, 2015, in a losing effort. After the match, Morrison shook hands with Van Dam and led the crowd in an "RVD" chant. Van Dam would compete for Pro Wrestling Pride (PWP) in June 2016, defeating then PWP Catch Division Championship, PWP Catch Division Champion Scotty Essex in Taunton, England. Van Dam faced Pentagón Jr. for PCW Heavyweight Championship at PCW Ultra in Torrance, California, on November 11, 2016, in a winning effort, it was his first championship after he left WWE in 2014. Van Dam was scheduled to compete in a 128-man tournament starting from June 10, 2017, hosted by 5 Star Wrestling, which was later postponed to February 2018. On July 30, Van Dam was announced to compete at Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) Fear & Loathing X against Lionheart (UK wrestler), Lionheart.


Return to Impact Wrestling (2019–2020)

On February 8, 2019, it was revealed that Van Dam would return to TNA, now named Impact Wrestling at their WrestleMania 35-weekend show, United We Stand (2019), United We Stand. At United We Stand on April 4, 2019, he teamed with Sabu and faced Lucha Brothers, Lucha Bros (Pentagón Jr. and Fénix (wrestler), Fénix) in a hardcore match. After indicating in interviews that he would be working with the company more, on April 3, Van Dam announced that he had signed a short-term deal with Impact and would be appearing on their programming following United We Stand. His contract initially ran through Bound for Glory (2019), Bound for Glory in October. His return to Impact television occurred in late-April, where he defeated Ethan Page. Van Dam then formed an alliance with ECW alumni Tommy Dreamer and Sabu (wrestler), Sabu to feud with Page, Josh Alexander (wrestler), Josh Alexander and Moose (wrestler), Moose. The trio would defeat Moose, Page and Alexander in a six-man tag. At Bash at the Brewery in July, Van Dam defeated Sami Callihan in an Extreme Rules match. A few days later, the storyline between Moose and Van Dam came to a close, as Moose defeated Van Dam at Slammiversary XVII. On October 20, 2019, on Bound for Glory (2019), Bound for Glory, Van Dam teamed with Rhyno (wrestler), Rhino where they challenged for the Impact World Tag Team Championship. At the climax of the match, Van Dam turned heel for the first time in his Impact Wrestling career, as well as his first heel turn since being a member of the Alliance during his WWF/E career, by attacking Rhino, Willie Mack (wrestler), Willie Mack, and Rich Swann, losing the match in the process. During early 2020, Van Dam was part of a censorious heel stable called "Cancel Culture" along with Joey Ryan (wrestler), Joey Ryan and Jake Crist. However, this story abruptly ended when Ryan's contract was terminated amid over a dozen allegations of sexual assault. His last storyline with Impact Wrestling was with Sami Callihan, whom Van Dam defeated in his final match for the promotion which aired on September 22, 2020 edition of ''Impact!'' before leaving the promotion in September 2020.


WWE appearances (2019−2021)

Despite his association with Impact Wrestling, Van Dam made a one-night return to WWE for the special List of WWE Raw special episodes, Raw Reunion episode of ''Raw'' on July 22, 2019. Following heavy speculation, it was announced by WWE and Fox Sports (United States), Fox Sports on March 29 that Van Dam would be an inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame (2021), 2021 WWE Hall of Fame class.


Professional wrestling style, persona and reception

The name "Rob Van Dam" was given to him in 1992 by Ron Slinker, a promoter in Florida, possibly because of his martial arts experience and his resemblance to actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. During the early years of his career, he used a "Moonsault Split" as finisher, until he adopted the Frog Splash (named Five Star Frog Splash) as finisher. During WWE Hall of Fame ceremony in 2021, WWE's Chairman Vince McMahon and Triple H said that he changed the style of wrestling.


Other media

Van Dam has appeared on numerous television shows and in films. In 1995, he was in ''Superfights'' as "The Mercenary", and in 1997 he appeared in ''Bloodmoon'' as "Dutch Scholtz". On October 23, 1999, he appeared in ''City Guys'', in the episode "El-Trainmania IV" as himself. In 2000 he appeared in ''18 Wheels of Justice'', on August 2 as "Robert Laramie", and in ''The X-Files'' on May 7 as "Burt's opponent" in the episode "Fight Club". He also appeared on ''V.I.P. (American TV series), V.I.P.'' in the episode "Survi-Val" as "Major Ving Talbot" that year. On July 26, 2001, he appeared as himself on ''Spy TV'', and again later that year he appeared as himself in ''Ultimate Revenge'' on December 2. In 2002, he was featured in the music video for Breaking Point (band), Breaking Point's "Coming of Age (Breaking Point album)#Track listing, One of a Kind" along with starring in two films, ''Black Mask 2: City of Masks'' as "Claw", and a cameo appearance in ''The Backyard (2002 film), The Backyard'' as himself. In 2005, the ''Rob Van Dam: One of a Kind'' DVD was released. He also appeared on ''Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling'' in 2008 teaching finishing moves to the celebrities. In 2011 he worked alongside WWE wrestlers Dave Bautista and Nelson Frazier Jr. in a movie titled ''Wrong Side of Town'' which was released the following year. Van Dam started up RVD Radio on October 8, 2008, with the help of Brett Cohen, a producer for BlogTalkRadio. The episodes have changed between an hour and two-hour-long, initially held weekly but now sporadically held at www.blogtalkradio.com/rvdradio. In November 2010 he was a contestant on an all TNA week of ''Family Feud'', teaming with Jay Lethal, Matt Morgan (wrestler), Matt Morgan, Mick Foley and Ken Anderson (wrestler), Mr. Anderson in a winning effort against Angelina Love, Christy Hemme, Lacey Von Erich, Lisa Marie Varon, Tara and Velvet Sky. He also provides the voice for a character Bobby, whom served as a commentator for the Professor Genki side-quests, in the video games ''Saints Row: The Third'' and ''Saints Row IV''. Rob Van Dam had appeared in many WWE video games including ''WWE 2K15'', and is a Pre-Order bonus alongside Dave Bautista, Batista and Kurt Angle in the video game ''WWE 2K18''.


Filmography

* 1995 ''Superfights'' as Mercenary * 1997 ''Blood Moon'' as "Dutch" * 1999 ''City Guys'' as Himself (1 episode, "El Trainmania IV") * 2000 ''18 Wheels of Justice'' as Robert Laramie (1 episode, "Outside Chance") * 2000 ''The X-Files'' as Burt's Opponent (1 episode, "Fight Club (The X-Files), Fight Club") * 2000 ''V.I.P. (American TV series), V.I.P.'' as Major Talbot (1 episode, "Survi-Val") * 2001 ''Spy TV'' as Various (1 episode) * 2001 ''Ultimate Revenge'' as Himself (2 episodes) * 2002 ''Black Mask 2, Black Mask 2: City of Masks'' as "Claw" * 2002 ''The Backyard (2002 film), The Backyard'' as Himself (cameo) * 2005 ''One of a Kind'' as Himself * 2008 ''Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling'' as Himself (1 episode, "Train with the Pros") * 2009 ''Sketch of Life'' as Himself * 2009 ''Bloodstained Memoirs'' as Himself * 2010 ''Wrong Side of Town'' as Bobby Kalinowsky * 2010 ''Family Feud'' as Himself (5 episodes) * 2012 ''Olympic Trials with Kurt Angle'' as Himself (Funny or Die short) * 2015 ''3-Headed Shark Attack'' * 2016 ''Nine Legends'' * 2016 ''Sniper: Special Ops'' as Vasquez * 2016 ''Traveling the Stars: Action Bronson and Friends Watch Ancient Aliens'' as Himself (1 episode, "Alien Devastation")


Voice acting

* 2011 ''Saints Row: The Third'' as Bobby * 2013 ''Saints Row IV'' as Bobby


Personal life

Szatkowski is of Belgians, Belgian and Poles, Polish ancestry. Szatkowski married Sonia Delbeck on September 6, 1998, the couple separated in December 2015. In July 2016, Delbeck filed for divorce from Szatkowski, The divorce was finalized two years later. In 2016, Szatkowski began dating fellow professional wrestler Katie Forbes. In 2021 Forbes and Szatkowski had gotten married. Currently, he is the chairman of the Board of United American Petroleum Corp, a shell company which is merging into his CBD brand, RVDCBD. Szatkowski is an advocate for the Legalization of non-medical cannabis in the United States, legalization of cannabis. He has discussed the topic in various media, including on MSNBC where he debated former drug czar Barry McCaffrey. Szatkowski is also a consumer of cannabis, believing it to be an athletic enhancer. His personal affinity for cannabis has been reflected in his wrestling persona, including his use of the phrase "RVD 420 (cannabis culture), 420 means I just smoked your ass." In 2020, Szatkowski established and licensed his name to RVDCBD, a cannabinoids company specializing in CBD and cannabis paraphernalia.


Training

Szatkowski is a trained Kickboxing, kickboxer and Martial arts, martial artist. Growing up in Battle Creek, Michigan, Szatkowski studied martial arts at two local dojos. He received instruction in Karate, Taekwondo, Aikido, Kickboxing and Kajukenbo. In 1990, he placed second in the Kalamazoo Heavyweight Toughman Contest. Szatkowski is also an outspoken advocate of vitamins and bodybuilding supplements and attributes this to his mother's influence. He is the inventor of the ''Van Dam Lift'', a Powerlifting, weightlifting technique that involves performing a split (which he took up in his early teens) between two benches and lifting a dumbbell from the floor to the waist. The lift was approved by IAWA, the International All-Around Weightlifting Association, in 1998. It was also entered in the rulebooks of USAWA, the United States All-Round Weightlifting Association.


2006 arrest

On July 3, 2006, ''The Ironton Tribune'' reported that Szatkowski and Terry Brunk (known as Sabu) had been arrested on the previous evening on U.S. Route 52 in Hanging Rock, Ohio. Szatkowski had been stopped for speeding by an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper, who discovered that he was in possession of 18 grams of marijuana and five Vicodin pills, while Brunk was in possession of drug paraphernalia and nine tablets of Testolactone. Both Szatkowski and Brunk were released after posting bail, and were scheduled to appear in Ironton, Ohio, Ironton Municipal Court on July 6. On July 6, ''The Ironton Tribune'' reported that the court date for Szatkowski and Brunk were in limbo, as their attorneys had asked for and were granted continuances. On August 31, Szatkowski pleaded guilty to speeding and possession of marijuana but the charge of Vicodin possession was dropped when he produced a prescription. He was fined $140 and additional court costs. According to the WWE#Wellness Program, WWE's wellness policy, a drug-related arrest can lead to that talent's immediate dismissal from the company. Then-WWE Vice President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis released a statement on WWE.com reporting that Szatkowski and Brunk were still eligible to compete on the ''WWE Raw, Raw'' and ''ECW on Sci Fi, ECW'' tapings in the following days while an investigation conducted by WWE was being undertaken. This resulted in Szatkowski dropping the WWE Championship at the live ''Raw'' one night and the ECW Championship the next night at the ''ECW'' taping. Van Dam was subsequently suspended without pay for 30 days, and an on-air segment on ''ECW'' was scripted to relay this suspension to the fans. The arrest footage itself and a recounting from Szatkowski is seen in the film ''Nine Legends''.


Championships and accomplishments

*All Action Wrestling ** Perth Classic Tournament (2017) * Cauliflower Alley Club ** Lou Thesz Award (2020) * Over the Top Wrestling ** OTT No Limits Championship (1 time) * All Star Wrestling ** ASW North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time) * American Wrestling Rampage ** AWR Heavyweight Championship (1 time) ** AWR No Limits Championship (1 time) * Battle Championship Wrestling **BCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time) * Extreme Championship Wrestling ** ECW World Television Championship (List of ECW World Television Champions, 1 time) ** ECW World Tag Team Championship (List of ECW World Tag Team Champions, 2 times) – with Sabu (wrestler), Sabu * International Wrestling Federation ** IWF Television Championship (1 time) * National Wrestling Council ** NWC Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Bobby Bradley *No Limits Wrestling **NLW Heavyweight Championship (1 time) *Pacific Coast Wrestling **PCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time) * Peach State Wrestling ** PSW Cordele City Heavyweight Championship (2 times) * ''Pro Wrestling Illustrated'' ** List of Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards#Comeback of the Year, Comeback of the Year (2001, 2010) ** List of Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards#Most Popular Wrestler of the Year, Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (2001, 2002) ** Ranked No. 1 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated#PWI 500, PWI 500 in 2002 ** Ranked No. 152 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI Years in 2003 * South Atlantic Pro Wrestling ** SAPW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Chaz Rocco * Impact Wrestling, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling ** TNA World Heavyweight Championship (List of TNA World Heavyweight Champions, 1 time) ** TNA X Division Championship (List of TNA X Division Champions, 1 time) * World Stars of Wrestling ** WSW World Heavyweight Championship (1 time) * WWE, World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment/WWE ** WWE Championship (List of WWE Champions, 1 time) ** ECW World Heavyweight Championship, ECW World Championship (List of ECW World Heavyweight Champions, 1 time) ** WWE Intercontinental Championship, WWF/E Intercontinental Championship (List of WWE Intercontinental Champions, 6 times) ** WWE European Championship (List of WWE European Champions, 1 time) ** WWE Hardcore Championship, WWF/E Hardcore Championship (List of WWE Hardcore Champions, 4 times) ** WWE Raw Tag Team Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship (List of WWE Tag Team Champions, 1 time) – with Rey Mysterio ** World Tag Team Championship (WWE), World Tag Team Championship (List of World Tag Team Champions (WWE), 2 times) – with Kane (wrestler), Kane (1) and Booker T (wrestler), Booker T (1) ** Money in the Bank ladder match, Money in the Bank (Money in the Bank ladder match#2006, 2006) ** Grand Slam (professional wrestling)#List of WWE Grand Slam winners, Seventh Grand Slam Champion ** Triple Crown (professional wrestling)#List of WWE Men's Triple Crown winners, Fifteenth Triple Crown Champion **WWE Hall of Fame (Class of WWE Hall of Fame (2021), 2021) ** ''Raw Tenth Anniversary, Raw X Anniversary'' - Raw Greatest Matches Award for Tables, Ladders and Chairs 4 from 2002


Notes


References


External links

* * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Van Dam, Rob 1970 births 20th-century American male actors 21st-century American male actors American agnostics American cannabis activists American male film actors American male professional wrestlers American male television actors American male weightlifters American people convicted of drug offenses American people of Belgian descent American people of Polish descent ECW champions ECW Heavyweight Champions/ECW World Heavyweight Champions ECW World Tag Team Champions ECW World Television Champions Living people Male actors from Los Angeles Professional wrestlers from Michigan Sportspeople from Battle Creek, Michigan The ECW Originals members TNA World Heavyweight/Impact World Champions WWE Champions WWE Grand Slam champions WWE Hall of Fame inductees WWF European Champions WWF/WWE Intercontinental Champions WWF/WWE Hardcore Champions