He’s back! The WWE Universe continues to buzz in anticipation for the return of Rob Van Dam. Here is a look back at 15 of Rob Van Dam’s WWE best to get you pumped for the return of Mr. Monday Night at Money in the Bank.
The buzz for RVD’s return is hype I haven’t seen since Brock Lesnar returned last year at Extreme Rules. Fans that remember Rob know they are going to get an exciting, unique, high-flying, brutal, and intense match every time he steps through the WWE ropes. Don’t believe me? Take a look back at these top 15 matches from Rob’s first run and see for yourself.
Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Intercontinental championship in a Ladder Match (RAW 2002) – This match was a classic! These two guys just went all out in one of the craziest ladder matches on RAW. Like several matches on this list, the match is often forgotten when people talk about great RAW matches in history. Some may remember this as a rare moment a fan running into the ring was actually caught live on camera during RAW. This one was more brutal than spectacular.
Rob Van Dam vs. Edge for the WWE Championship (Vengeance 2006) – Like several matches on this list this one is a forgotten gem and right at the top of Rob’s first WWE run. This match had it all from high flying moves to brutal punishment to high drama. At one point Rob is sunset-flipped with his back hitting the floor by the challenger. Rob gets the win with his splash but an absolutely great match here and if there is any match on this list you haven’t seen that you need to go out of your way to see it is this one.
Rob Van Dam vs. Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle (No Mercy 2001) – In terms of star power this was probably Rob’s biggest match during his first WWE run. Rob really raised his stock to another level coming out of this match. Rob was incredibly over with the crowd and it created an electric atmosphere whenever he’d go for a pin. Unfortunately it didn’t end well for Rob but the match is regarded by me and many others as one of the best of the bunch from the Invasion angle.
Team Bischoff (Chris Jericho, Christian, Randy Orton, Scott Steiner and Mark Henry) vs Team Austin (Shawn Michaels, RVD, The Dudley Boyz and Booker T) (Survivor Series 2001) – I hesitated on this one because RVD only had a small part in it but the match was great, it certainly had drama in it, RVD was a part of it, so it made the list. RVD and Scott Steiner ironically had some good moments in the match but Jericho and RVD seemed to click every time they were in the ring together. Unfortunately an RKO ended Rob’s participation in the match but overall it was certainly a highlight for the former WWE and ECW champion.
Rob Van Dam vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Matt Hardy vs. Ric Flair, Finlay vs. Benjamin in a Money in the Bank match (WrestleMania 22) – This one didn’t make my top five MITB matches but in a list of top 10 RVD matches, it has to be included. Rob was a star here and did a lot of really cool spots to follow up the original Money in the Bank match. Rob put through his body, specifically his back through hell here. Rob was the workhorse here and some would argue broke out in this match to reach the elite level of WWE superstardom.
Rob Van Dam vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Booker T vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane for the WWE championship in an Elimination Chamber Match (Survivor Series 2002) – This is another one of these often forgotten classics that you really need to watch again to appreciate. RVD is not only in the match but really goes out of his way to become the star of the match. Rob at one point did his signature splash at the top of the Chamber pod which was very cool but also resulted in some injuries to Mr. Monday Night. This is a great match and arguably the most brutal in Rob’s first tenure with the WWE.
Rob Van Dam vs. Edge vs. John Cena (07/03/2006) for the WWE championship (RAW 2006) – The bad news is that RVD just got busted and had to drop the WWE championship. The great news is that WWE fans got a match for free that they normally would have had to pay to see on pay per view. Even better news was that the match was tremendous!
Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho for the hardcore championship (Unforgiven 2001) – While this was wrestled for the hardcore championship it was not your typical hardcore title match. This match was more about the wrestling with some hardcore sprinkled in. I went back and forth between Jericho and RVD’s match at King of the Ring and this one but this one made the list by an edge. A ladder made a special appearance here and Jericho and RVD did some really cool stuff on the ladder. Some really great drama here!
Rob Van Dam vs. Christian for the WWE intercontinental championship in a ladder match (RAW 2003) – This one didn’t make my RAW top 50 but again in a list of top RVD matches, this one makes the cut. It wasn’t as long as I would have liked but they were able to put together some really cool spots including Christian using the ladder as a shield on an oncoming RVD outside of the ring.
Rob Van Dam vs Jeff Hardy for the Hardcore Championship in a Ladder Match (SummerSlam 2001) – Without a doubt the best match of their series and the one that finally lived up to the hype. In hindsight the slight letdown of their first match makes sense since this was a series and the boys were obviously saving their best for last. The match was intense and contained a sick spot as Van Dam hit a Rolling Thunder on Hardy as he was sprawled out on a ladder. The match was the show stealer on a show with Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle which says a lot.
Rob Van Damn vs. Kurt Angle non-title match (ECW 2006) – This was a really fun television match that was used to set up RVD’s match with Edge at Vengeance in regards to the post-match angle. Back and forth match featuring a lot of counters saw Rob win the match by countering an Olympic/Angle Slam with a tornado DDT and the Five Star to win the match. Edge speared RVD after the match to further their angle.
Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy (Invasion) – Going into the match there was almost no way that this was going to live up the hype. Did it live up to all of the hype? It depends upon how realistic you were about match expectations. RVD was super over and the match had some really sick spots. This was the match that featured the legendary Jim Ross call, “How do you learn how to fall off a twenty foot ladder?” A Five Star Frog Splash earned RVD the win and his first WWE title.
Rob Van Dam vs. Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (Unforgiven 2002) – If styles make great matches well then this one broke the mold because you couldn’t find two more different styles than these guys yet somehow they had a terrific match. Interesting trivia note here is that one of the writers later wrote that Van Dam was the original choice to become the world heavyweight champion and not Triple H or Brock at the time. It was definitely a weird dynamic here and while I certainly wouldn’t put it in the top 10, it edges in at the fifteenth spot.
Honorable Mentions: RVD vs. William Regal WrestleMania X-8, RVD vs. Chris Jericho King of the Ring 2002, RVD & Jeff Hardy vs. Christian & Chris Jericho vs. Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley vs. Kane. TLC Match (RAW 2002)
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