Rob Van Dam Was Always The Megastar ECW Needed
Towards the end of Extreme Championship Wrestling‘s run, we got a glimpse of what could’ve been its future. Starting with Rob Van Dam’s Television title reign in 1998, we saw a number of new talents file into the company. Out of those wrestlers, a few would go on to become World Champion. Of course, the guy who should’ve taken the company through the 2000s would never get the opportunity as ECW folded in 2001.
Rob Van Dam: ECW’s First True Superstar
While ECW had many stars, Rob Van Dam was the first one who looked as though he wouldn’t be out of place in a bigger promotion near or at the top. He had the look, he had the skill, a ton of athletic ability, and natural charisma. The one thing missing for RVD was the microphone ability required in the big leagues.
Main event wrestlers in WWE and WCW during the 1990s and early 2000s needed the mic skills to carry the main show’s opening 20 minutes. They didn’t have to do the opening every week but there was going to be an extended promo every week. These guys also had to have some acting chops to warrant being in the main and getting so much TV time.
Looking at his time in ECW, Rob Van Dam didn’t develop these at the time. ECW was a different beast and while these were both used to push storylines the nature of shows and making full use of an hour slot meant some guys probably wouldn’t develop these skills there.
A Slow Burn That Didn’t Materialize
In short, your main eventers have to be national TV-ready all-around. RVD’s skill set was perfect for major matches. He could hold his own very well in a short interview and wrestle all night if needed. That’s why his matches against Jerry Lynn are some of the company’s epics.
Another thing that delayed RVD’s ascent was his January 2000 ankle injury. Paul Heyman had faith in Rob Van Dam and he was slated for a big match against Mike Awesome. Considering Awesome was also putting on dope matches that ECW fans were eating up, this bout could’ve instantly made him a consistent threat to the belt and eventually champion.
When he came back, he was on a different path and still pretty much in TV title waters while ECW moved towards Justin Credible, Jerry Lynn, Steve Corino, and later Rhino at the top. The rest is history. RVD would eventually become the ECW World champion but it would be years after the company closed and under the WWE banner.
An ECW With RVD At The Top
There’s no telling how ECW would’ve turned out had it remained open. It seems mandatory that RVD would be World champion but there were payment issues and he could’ve very well headed to WWE anyway. Had he stayed, he would definitely be the ace since the company was moving in a direction that Ring of Honor would continue in its first few years.
Then again that’s getting into fantasy booking territory with the career of “The Whole F’N Show.”
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