Rob Van Dam is one of the most creative, influential, engaging, and likable wrestlers from the past twenty years. With an endless highlight reel from his time in ECW, WWE, and Impact Wrestling, it’s no wonder why he ends up getting one of the biggest crowd reactions of the night whenever he’s competing. On top of that, he is the only wrestler in history to hold the ECW Championship, WWE Championship, and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
I had a one of a kind opportunity to speak to RVD about everything going on in his life. He will fill you in on his podcast, t-shirt company, and his TweetSecret. He will educate you in a very enlightening statement on marijuana. And of course, we talk about his incomparable wrestling career. This is a must read!
Alex Obert: Now that you have completed your most recent run with WWE, your podcast, RVD Live, will be reemerging, what are some discussion topics you are looking to bring up that listeners can expect?
Rob Van Dam: Unlike the other podcasts that people automatically think of when they hear the word podcast, I do something that’s completely different. It’s actually more like a TV show than an interview. I’ve had experience having guests on and spending the time talking about what’s going on with them, much like we’re doing here. I used to do that with RVD Radio on BlogTalkRadio, we did over a hundred episodes and had a good time with it. Now with RVD Live, the subjects that we talk about changes every few minutes because instead of thinking of a hot topic for the program, we review news clips, actual footage from what’s going on in the news that I find interesting. And we watch one minute clips and then for the next two, three, four minutes, depending on what there is to say about it, we all kick around our own ideas about what we just saw. I give the guests their time to plug what they want to plug and then the rest of the time, all of us are commenting on the ever-changing subject of what’s in front of us. The stuff that I show is stuff that will bring real-life qualities out of us and we get to explore real human thoughts, so we’re not there as celebrities pushing our own agendas.
My podcast is filmed live, it’s very visually oriented. Although if someone listened to it, they would get something out of it, I guess. It’s done locally here, so as far as calling people all over the country and having them on the phone, that’s not part of my podcast either. I’ve been on break from my podcast since my last WWE run. Now that that run is over, I’ll start the podcast back up. We might do a few twists, a few little tweaks to the show, we’ll find out next Wednesday when we start up again.
Alex Obert: You mentioned having interesting guests on, I feel that Val Venis would be a good fit for your show because of how outspoken he has been over the years on various issues.
Rob Van Dam: Val Venis is a good friend of mine, he’s very outspoken and someone that I enjoy sharing information with. Absolutely.
Alex Obert: What issues do you see with other podcasts where you’re looking to improve upon?
Rob Van Dam: Other podcasts are fine, I certainly enjoy taking part. I enjoy being interviewed and sharing what I have to share. I never tried to set standards for other people to follow, I’m a nonconformist in every sense of the word. I go my own path. I do my own thing. And in fact, I wouldn’t even want somebody to copy exactly what I’m doing. I’d be probably upset if they just totally ripped off my show. But what everyone else is doing is fine for them and I’m not trying to be anybody else. I’m just trying to be me.
Alex Obert: What did you think of your time on Talk Is Jericho?
Rob Van Dam: I enjoyed the interview. It was extensive and it was in-depth. I was mostly surprised at the feedback I got afterwards. Doing interviews is something that’s not that rare when you’re RVD, but this one seemed to reach an entirely different, much larger audience. We specifically talked a lot about marijuana and the legalization, the prohibition, and truths versus myths. And I have to say I was so impressed for several weeks after the interview, I had all walks of life coming up to me and telling me that for the first time, they understand why it should be legal and they said I put the best argument up that they’ve ever heard. They said it was an intelligent perspective. Some people said they didn’t know, they thought maybe I was just the stoner, they didn’t know that I knew all those facts. And so it was a good thing. It was a very positive piece for me that I’m glad so many people listened to. I was at the airport going through security and had the TSA agents tell me, “Hey man, I heard you on Jericho’s podcast. I gotta say, good job man. I believe everything you said.” So it was a good thing.
Alex Obert: Which celebrities do you feel have the same views as you that you admire?
Rob Van Dam: I don’t think anybody on this planet as the same views as me. And in fact, all of us are unique individuals. That’s one thing that I stick to as a constant belief. Not everybody celebrates their individuality as much as myself with the moniker of one of a kind. I’m always trying to get everybody to realize that they have their own strengths, their own weaknesses, their own personalities. And that if they’re fine, they’re fine. Peer pressure is something that, to me, seems like something that should be experienced in third grade. Past that, forget about it. If I wanna do an ice bucket challenge, that should be my choice. But to have so many people in society try to pressure me into doing it because it’s cool and because everyone else is doing it, to me it sounds just like when you’re a kid and everyone’s telling you you’re not wearing the right shoes and you need to Nikes, not Treks. It sounds like the same thing. Having said that, I share some common views with a lot of people and then that becomes the basis for our relationship, that common ground that we’re on for whatever limited time that that is. If you’re talking about marijuana in particular and what other celebrities share my views on that, I recommend that you go to mpp.org. That’s Marijuana Policy Project. Or NORML.org, the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws. And they actually have panels of celebrities that are on the front that are using their fame and exposure to help educate people on the truth.
Alex Obert: Can you tell me more about your particular views on marijuana?
Rob Van Dam: A lot of people don’t understand the situation with marijuana prohibition. And they may not want to, a lot of people are turned off by the subject matter, that’s fine. I have certain subjects I don’t wanna talk about. But having said that, I’ll spit out a couple of facts here because people ask me often when I think that marijuana’s gonna be completely legal. They don’t understand that every week, there’s changes being made. The websites I gave you, mpp.org and NORML.org, they will keep you up to date on everything that’s happening. People don’t know, but Colorado’s not the only state where it’s legal. Washington legalized it the same day, it just took them another year to come up with the dispenser systems because they didn’t have anything in place. Currently as of this day, we have twenty three states that have medical marijuana programs, plus the District of Columbia, Washington DC. We have two states where marijuana is legal like alcohol, Washington and Colorado. And Portland, a city in Maine with local jurisdiction, also. If you’re twenty one years or over, you can purchase, you can have, and you can consume marijuana, just like alcohol. And these numbers are moving progressively all the time. Two states with legal recreational usage right now, but there’s three more they have on the ballot. In 2015, it’s very likely that Alaska and Oregon will legalize. By 2016, the next election year, we’re looking at having at least seven states where marijuana is legal like alcohol. And then the next year, 2017, it looks like we’re gonna have at least twelve to fifteen states that have legalized marijuana like alcohol for adults twenty one years and over.
The part about this debate that I don’t get behind is President Obama made this remark that a lot of advocates thought was the greatest thing ever when he said, “Marijuana’s not worse for you than alcohol.” People thought that was the greatest thing ever. The reason I don’t like that is that it’s putting marijuana and alcohol on an even level. Saying pot is not worse for you than alcohol is not the same thing as saying alcohol is way, way worse for you than marijuana. All the facts show that alcohol kills people. Now I’m not just talking about violent crimes and driving drunk, I’m talking about having alcohol in your body, that causes death. It’s poison, it rots out your liver, it kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. Marijuana has killed zero. It’s not toxic enough to cause death. If you tried to smoke so much that you died, you would probably eventually fall asleep and you’d be fine. You have to smoke like twelve pounds in a couple minutes which nobody can do. This is just something I think people should know. But the government, with their prohibition agenda, has tried really hard to keep people from knowing this. You should know that it’s virtually non-toxic. There’s almost no toxicity level in cannabis. Sometimes the paper of the joint will give off something in the smoke that you don’t want. And if you wanna be really careful, you can eat it, you can vaporize it, people know about this now. But what they don’t know is that it’s not a dangerous drug.
Now the other thing that I would like known is that the federal guidelines say marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Schedule I is the most dangerous drug with zero medicinal value. So there’s the problem. Twenty three states that have medicinal marijuana programs and a federal government arresting people, taking their homes, throwing them in jail, killing them because they’re saying marijuana has absolutely zero medicinal benefit. It’s a part of Schedule I along with heroin and acid. And a Schedule II, meaning actually safer for you and even less harmful, that’s where the federal government has cocaine and meth. Who in their right minds thinks that meth is better for you and safer for you then weed? I don’t think anybody believes that, that is the bullshit that is the Controlled Substances Act that has needed to be changed since Richard Nixon put it together back in 1970. It was actually put there with the intention of changing it with further studies, but politics have kept it from changing. So we will see, I say within five years, we’ll see the federal guidelines make a change. And we’ll see the end of prohibition. Where we’re at now, people walk around everywhere with those little vaporizer pens, they don’t even hide it anymore. In the other states where it’s not legalized, it’s decriminalized in over twenty of those states. There, it’s the lowest priority, the cops don’t wanna waste their resources busting it.
So this is the situation that we’re in now in 2014. A couple more years, 2016, 2017, it’s gonna be a complete different world. And all the people that wanted you to think that marijuana’s the same thing as heroin, well they’re gonna be outed, they’re gonna be exposed for the idiots that they are. And it will be a better world. There was actually a hemp bill that Obama approved for states to adapt their own policies on hemp. Hemp should never have been outlawed, hemp doesn’t even get you high . It does not have the THC levels and it and that’s the difference between marijuana and the hemp. It’s the same plant basically, grown without the psychoactive ingredients. And you can make over twenty five thousand products from hemp, including fuel. We could self-supply ourselves with the oil that comes from hemp seeds. They used to do that back in the day, Henry Ford actually made a car out of hemp that ran on hemp seed oil. He introduced it to the World Fair in 1941. Imagine how that would’ve changed our entire lives. It became all about destroying the planet for profit. So now, while we’re looking for ways to make our planet last a little bit longer, utilizing hemp is a necessity.
Alex Obert: You were telling me about nonconformity earlier. Regarding Platypi Productions, how did that start?
Rob Van Dam: That’s a good question. I’m not really sure how that started with the nonconformity line of t-shirts, but I had an office up in Hollywood that I shared with a guy that made t-shirts. And somewhere along the line, we came up with the idea for t-shirts expressing messages of nonconformity. It’s like you’re targeting the minority and getting them to say that they’re not part of the majority. So it’s not a good formula for success necessarily by traditional standards, yet that’s what’s important to me is that, “Hey, I’m proud to be myself. I’m not trying to be you.” And so making these T-shirts with the messages on them, platypus is my model because he’s nature’s nonconformist. Doesn’t try to be like anybody else, doesn’t fit any other category, doesn’t even try to. He’s just being himself. And he’s not even making a big deal about being himself because people just leave him alone. For me, I find that life’s struggle is that everybody wants to give me their unwanted advice, everybody wants to tell me how their choices would be different if they were in my shoes. And I detest that. It’s become such an annoyance to me, much larger than a pet peeve, it drains my energy to the point where I often don’t feel like being around a lot of people because they don’t understand the live and let live motto so much and they really think that their choices should be expressed to me as if my feelings aren’t valid enough and theirs are more valid. So anyone that can relate to that, they may hopefully appreciate what I’m doing at PlatypiProductions.org with this clothing line.
Alex Obert: Do you plan to release more shirts soon?
Rob Van Dam: Yeah, I do. It’s a starting business which is growing on a base of not just myself, but all the help that I have and the team that’s helping me move this along. I wish it was moving much faster. Just last week, we added new colors. We only had black shirts before, now we have different colors. We just added a women’s t-shirt, which I’ve been trying to do for a long time, but I gotta count on this guy and count on this guy, someone’s gotta get the images and someone’s gotta do the website. It takes a team. It’s been moving forward and it will continue to move, unless I someday really get it out there and then realize at that point that I am the only one that wants to stand up. All of my expressions on my t-shirts are ones that I came up with except for one, which is not an RVD original, and it says “Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken”. I love that. One that I came up with that I’ve been saying as long as I can remember is “Rules Made Before Me Weren’t Made For Me”. That’s how I live my life.
Alex Obert: You’re involved with TweetSecret and it’s really picking up with a lot of names starting their own account. Now that you’re not traveling with WWE, what can fans expect to see on your videos?
Rob Van Dam: I shoot videos like every day. It could be looked at almost like a journal or like an ongoing documentary, as far as checking in with the TweetSecret phone app and making sure it records some of what’s going on. It’s been interesting being able to film from on the road with WWE because I get to show the fans, “Here I am in Tokyo. Here I am in Melbourne, Australia. Here I am in Cleveland, Ohio.” That’s been awesome. Now that I’m not on their schedule, I’m in California a lot more. My goal is to not travel as much during my off time. As far as the videos go, it could be filming me working out in my own private gym or riding my bike at Venice Beach or meeting up in Hollywood with producers. I also am doing some traveling. I’ll have an autograph signing out here in California next weekend, I will be bringing the TweetSecret video camera with me, which is my phone. It’s everywhere with me. I’ll be going to New York, New Jersey, and Miami to do some autograph signings and take part in some wrestling fan fests. When there’s an opportunity, I like to get a cameo from another wrestler or another celebrity. I always feel like that’s gonna be offering even more for my TweetSecret followers for what they want to see.
It’s interesting, I also even answer questions one on one. I have a list of questions that I already know I’m gonna get around to that are on my agenda such as “What is your favorite video game?”, “Who was your favorite wrestler growing up?” The videos are ninety second videos, no more, sometimes a little less. So what I do is I answer the question and make that a whole episode. It could be super easy, but since I’m the director, producer, camera guy, editor, everything, it’s important to me that these videos have a certain amount of, I don’t want to call it perfection, but that part of me comes out. It adds more effort into these videos than needs be. For instance, I don’t want to just tell you what my favorite video game is, I wanna stand in front of the video game and show you me playing these games. It’s things like that. You wanna ask me who my favorite wrestler was growing up, I could just tell you, but it’s gonna be much more interesting to watch and to film adding clips of these wrestlers and me with these wrestlers when I was a kid. And so all these little ninety second videos, to me, they’re all like masterpieces. Each one is like its own separate movie. And to add onto everything that I’ve mentioned, proceeds from my TweetSecret are donated to Make-A-Wish.
Alex Obert: Which person, dead or alive, would you want to have a TweetSecret?
Rob Van Dam: Could you imagine if someone that’s larger than life like say Bruce Lee, if he had filmed ninety second videos and we got to see not just the famous footage that has been played to death on YouTube, but actually is uncensored comments about that? Can you imagine before he goes and films something else, he gives a little shout out to his special group of followers and just says, “Hey, this is what I’m about to do. This is how I feel about it. Afterwards, we’re gonna go do this.” And it’s like you’re actually with him on all of his adventures. That would be awesome. I would love to see someone like Marilyn Monroe having her phone. I’ve been at autograph signings where there’s four other people waiting to get RVD’s autograph and I film ’em. I turn the camera around for TweetSecret and get to see all these people, whether they’re in Japan or Australia or anywhere, all these fans screaming, “RVD! RVD!” But guess what, if you’re watching the video, you’re not on the other side of the barricade, you’re up on stage and you get to see what that looks like. I would love to see something like that from Marilyn Monroe’s perspective with like a thousand military personnel going crazy that she’s there waving at them. It really brings you backstage and gives you the inside feel. And by the way, I travel alone almost always. I’ve done that for most of my career, I’m a loner. I rent a car and I’ll just see you at the arena. I drive by myself, I hang out by myself. So having the TweetSecret camera and app with me has been very useful to me, something to do throughout the day when I’m traveling or not traveling. And at the same time, I really feel like all of my followers are there with me. My TweetSecret has become my best friend on the road or even when I’m home and out doing stuff. When I go to start my podcast next Wednesday, I’ll be shooting some backstage footage with B-Real from Cypress Hill. B-Real, gotta get you on TweetSecret, man. You gotta say hi to my fans.
Alex Obert: During your time in ECW, what was it like regularly having popular music that was on the radio be used for entrance themes? A lot of these songs were fairly new back then and they are now considered classics in the world of music.
Rob Van Dam: I realized that it was important to the fans and the wrestlers and to the whole industry. When I first went to ECW, I had this really lame music that I used to bring on a cassette tape by Joe Satriani. And I’m really not musically inclined whatsoever, I’m really not. And that would surprise a lot of fans, but that’s the thing about knowing the real person or being able to fill in all the empty spots and create your own celebrity image. We’re all just basically characters, nobody knows the real us. Anyway, shortly after I went to ECW, I realized my music sucked. Someone gave me that music when I was with IWF way back at Universal Studios in like ’91. I knew that music had been selected for me, so I thought, “Okay, I’ll bring that.” And I noticed right away it didn’t fit in with ECW and the grunge music and the fans. I heard a commercial on the radio when I was living in Savannah, Georgia that White Zombie was gonna be playing and Pantera was opening for them. And I heard this music, it just stuck to me. And it was that riff of Walk. They were singing, “RE! SPECT! WALK! WHAT DID YOU SAY?” It stuck out to me because at the time, I was doing this angle with Sabu where we were building up a respect match that involved the shaking or non-shaking of the hand and I just thought that fit perfect. I said, “Hey Paul, can I change my music?” I had no idea that the music would get over so strong with the fans and that some of the fans’ favorite part about my whole coming out to the ring and wrestling and everything was just my music. And I’ll have to admit, when I hear that song now, it brings back some damn good memories.
Alex Obert: With ECW One Night Stand, what was the process like for getting Enter Sandman as Sandman’s entrance theme?
Rob Van Dam: Well I wasn’t a part of the process of getting the music for the pay-per-view. It was my idea actually to do the ECW pay-per-view. And that process involved me going back and forth to Vince every day for a while with different ideas. “Look, you’ve got all these wrestlers on your payroll, but they used to be in ECW. Let us do a reunion show, it’d be awesome! You’ve got Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Spike Dudley, I give him this big list. And he goes, “I didn’t realize that!” I said, “You don’t have to bring anybody in, just let us do what we wanna do one night, the way we wanna do it.” And he went for it, it happened obviously. We didn’t like, when I say we this was mostly me and Paul, we didn’t like the changes. And one of those changes was the music. When you watch the DVD, a lot of fans are gonna be upset that you hear music that’s been dubbed in over the original music or different music from what the original ECW used to play. Of course that all has to do with securing the publishing rights and that’s all politics. It is what it is, everything’s a compromise.
Alex Obert: What’s the story behind getting One of a Kind as your entrance theme in WWE? You had the instrumental for a little while prior to that.
Rob Van Dam: While I was with ECW, Paul had brought in a band called Kilgore to redo Walk so that we could use that without fearing any repercussions from whoever owned Pantera’s publishing rights. Again, more politics. But, I thought Kilgore did a great job and for much of my ECW career, I would come out to Kilgore’s version and it sounded very, very much like the original. So I went to Shane McMahon in WWE because they had the instrumental music they’d come up with which I didn’t care for. And I said, “Hey, I’ve got my own song we paid someone to do. What about using this?”And he put it in the music truck when we were at the arena during the daytime. And we were listening to Kilgore’s Walk playing over the speakers, Shane-O nodded his head and seemed like he liked it. I asked, “What do you think?” He goes, “Yeah, that could work.” Next thing I know, they had hired this band, Breaking Point, to come up with a complete different song for me. The next time when I was at work the following week, I was expecting Walk, but instead I got, “What do you think about this?” And for whatever reason, they wanted to go with that. And the rest is history. I like the song and I know a lot of the fans like One of a Kind also.
Alex Obert: You were recently on NXT in a match against Adrian Neville. What you take out of that experience?
Rob Van Dam: It was a good experience to see WWE’s farming territory. There was a lot of talent there, lot of students. I was impressed with how many students they have and I was impressed with the production down there in Orlando for NXT. They have so many Divas, so many up and coming wrestlers, and they’re all at a level where they need to learn and get the experience. And they all have hopes of wrestling in WWE. And I also knew that most of the wrestlers in WWE have come through NXT. It’s a good thing, these guys are wrestling four years and it comes across like they’ve been wrestling for ten years. It must be a combination of things, one of them being that NXT must be a damn good training center. Also, a lot of the wrestlers are second generation wrestlers, they grew up in the business. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. I counted seventeen families off the top of my head and I used to work with their parents. That has a lot to do with what makes the caliber of a good wrestler. It’s come such a long way from my first run in WWE years ago.
Alex Obert: Does Adrian Neville remind you of a younger up and coming version of yourself?
Rob Van Dam: Yeah, I could see that. The things that he does are things that we haven’t seen before and things that I did back in the day, the same could be said about them. I’ve known Adrian Neville for several years, I actually wrestled him in Europe for some European promotions when I left WWE in 2007. There was a three-year period before I went to TNA. During the amount of time, I was wrestling overseas exclusively. And often, Adrian Neville was on those shows. I was always impressed with him. Now, he’s at a level he’s never been at before. He’s at the right place to secure himself a great future.
Alex Obert: A moment that sticks out to me during your original WWE run, how did your tag team with Kane develop?
Rob Van Dam: I’m not sure specifically, but quite often, especially back in that day, you show up to work, you put your boots on and stretch, and they tell you what you’re doing that night. A lot of times, it’ll be a couple hours before the show, I’ll either see the paper that has the agenda written down on it or an agent will come up to me and say, “Hey, it’s you and Kane tagging against Gene Snitsky and Scotty 2 Hotty tonight.” (laughs) That’s how that happens. You just say, “Okay.” And you go with it. In sometimes it lasts for a while. One time I’m tagging with Kevin Nash, and for all I know, it could be a one night only kind of thing that could never happen again or it can be a few weeks. We look at each other and say, “Hey, I guess we’re a tag team now. We’ve been working together every night for a while.”
Alex Obert: So before we wrap up, aside from your match against John Cena at One Night Stand, what is your favorite WWE exclusive match of yours?
Rob Van Dam: This match that you mention with Cena was obviously my crowning moment for several reasons. Leading up to that, we had the Smackdown vs. ECW match, and I wrestled Rey Mysterio. And I just remember I was in such a good mood. This was the first chance for me to show ECW RVD on WWE’s television. And to be on their stage, but to bring a chair in and do a skateboard kick. I was so elated. And we were bringing ECW back this time as a third brand, and this was leading into it. It was such a good time for me and for my career because of all the work and effort that I had done to try and revive the ECW spirit, this was the payoff. So I wrestled Rey Mysterio and I felt like I had the freedom, artistically, to be what I wanted to be. And it’s not always like that. People don’t understand a lot of times the lack of control that you have that you have just by the situation at hand. In other words, if you’re wrestling against, say it’s you against Khali and say you got a two minute match, well how much are you really gonna get in? Is there any chance you’re gonna get a Van Terminator in there? Hell no, it doesn’t even fit. In fact, nothing fits that you wanna put into that kind of match. But it’s always about the time and it didn’t used to be like that years and years ago. That’s the biggest difference. When I was with ECW the first time around, Paul never gave me time cues, whether it was TV or pay-per-view, he told me to go out there and steal the show. So I totally vibrated in a different speed, I had a different kind of buzz about me back then. I could relax and really take in the moment. I could absorb the fans’ feedback and interact and respond to that. And later on in my career, it’s all about time, time, time, you’ve got boom, boom, boom. “We’ve got four minutes until the next commercial break. We’ve gotta throw two matches on. Go! Go! Go!” In that, I lose my artistic drive and freedom. When I think about that match I had that I was talking about, I was able to put my ECW boots on again, so to speak. I just remember I was so happy, I felt like I won the lottery. And that was RVD versus Rey Mysterio, ECW versus Smackdown.
Alex Obert: Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to fill readers in on?
Rob Van Dam: I guess just follow me on Twitter, @TheRealRVD. And go to RobVanDam.com, that’s my hub. Everything that I do goes there. The specifics that I have coming up, the 13th and 14th of September, I’m at the Ventura Comic Con. I guess it’s called the Central Coast Comic Con formally, so it’s got two names. That’s right up the road here from LA. Then the weekend of September 19-21, I’m going to be in New York/New Jersey area and you’ll see some mention of that floating around the social network. I don’t have all the specific details, but I’m at three or four events there. Then on September 27th, I’ll be in Miami. There’s a wrestling organization there, they’re having a fan fest. I’ll be part of that. Doing autograph signings, I’m not looking to take wrestling bookings, though my phone is ringing off the hook.
Alex Obert: I’d love to thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it!
Rob Van Dam: Okay, cool. Thanks Alex!