Rob Van Dam, aka RVD, was recently interviewed by the Sporting News, in order to discuss a new deal that he had signed with Impact Wrestling. He discussed a number of topics, including the recent comments made by John Oliver towards WWE, as well as comments made by Bruce Prichard on his podcast.
Below are some questions, along with RVD’s answers:
SN: John Oliver came out with HBO show late Sunday night and discussed things like the unionization of wrestlers, wrestlers being independent contractors and wrestler deaths vs. other sports. You see how wrestlers are viewed as independent contractors, and that’s been the big topic of discussion. Do you think wrestlers, especially in WWE, should be considered employees?
RVD: I haven’t watched the whole thing. I saw like half of it before this phone call and will watch the rest. That is another subject where I have a different opinion than most of the others. I enjoy being an independent contractor because that gives me more control. It would help a lot of people; we all aren’t in the same position. You said especially WWE. When I have had this debate in the past, when people say wrestlers should be independent contractors, it is a general term. They say wrestlers should have insurance. Do you mean all wrestlers? Like the guy who runs one show, once a year at the county fair, should his wrestlers have insurance?
Where do you draw the lines at? Because if you are just talking about the WWE and their monotonous schedule, then you are only talking about one company. Wrestling isn’t general enough to have this conversation unless you are specifically talking about one company. It’s not like high school, and there is a career day, and you are filling out all this paperwork to know what profession you want to be in. They offer mechanics, being a teacher and a doctor. I don’t think pro wrestling is an option when you are in school because it’s a very niche, niche career that’s controlled by very few people on top that run it. You’re an independent contractor trying to get booked, trying to learn the school and the craft and trying to advance. I think that’s how it should be.
If you are talking about WWE, if you want health insurance, get it put into your contract. Do you think that Triple H doesn’t have health insurance? Of course he does. When you work out your deal, it’s your job as an independent contractor to get everything you want out of that deal. You want hotels, and car rentals paid off? Get it put into your contract. As an independent contractor, I have never had a problem with that. I think that it works well.
SN: Oliver also went into Vince McMahon (and) called him an a—hole. A lot of people have different views on him. What was your relationship from the time you went in there while you in ECW to the time you left?
RVD: Vince has always shown me nothing but respect. He’s always gone out of his way to make me feel that he likes me and appreciates me for being there. I didn’t have the kind of relationship that the top guys have where they know him and joke around with him and hang out in his office and banter around ideas. I’ve only had a couple of serious one-on-one conversations. One of them was to bring ECW back. That was my idea, and we talked about it. That made the relationship a little bit closer, as I would speak to him every day about ideas.
You have all these from ECW who are now under contract like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio and Chris Benoit. I told him to give us one night to let us do our style. Outside of that, I didn’t have those talks with him. We would pass each other and stop and say, (In a Vince McMahon voice) “Hey Rob, how are you doing?” He would always make an effort to talk. It would be a little bit awkward for him and me. It meant a lot because it would show that he’s going out of his way to let me know I had his ear even if I didn’t have too much to say.
SN: I don’t know if you listen to Bruce Prichard’s podcast, but he did an episode on you. The topic came up when he said Triple H didn’t view you as worthy of having the world title. You came right into the company and were put into a high profile position in title programs with Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and The Undertaker. From afar it seemed like Triple H had something against you in general. Do you feel that was always the case?
RVD: I do. But at this stage of my life, I don’t have the hatred that a lot of wrestlers have towards him. Like we would be sitting in the locker room getting ready, and my mind is in this competitive mind because it has to be that way. It’s hard to look at that big picture when you are inside of it all. It’s like, “Hey, f— that guy. I’ll kick his ass.” That is how it felt. Now, being it away from it all, I see things completely different. He definitely had a right to his opinion.
I certainly can’t fault the guy for not loving the way that anyone else did. The guy is now in charge. He maneuvered himself through life where he’s the guy that’s in charge of everything. He doesn’t have the same values as I do. None of us have the same values. The way I look at now is he never saw me as a top guy or worthy of the push. I look at it as it’s his right to say that and to feel that way. A lot of incidents proved him to be right because there was some resistance when I burned out and I’d avoid the office. When you look at it like that, I wouldn’t have been the person to build the company around. I’m not necessarily the person to make something around because of my values. I didn’t want to be a puppet to channel their values because I already had my own. A lot of my values don’t go along with theirs.
There would be days I was high on marijuana, as I’d be in the car smoking all day. If Hunter thought it was risky … I agree. When I was put in that main event position, I got busted for marijuana and proved that skepticism to be correct.
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