The Whole F'n Show? Jabcuga reviews The Best of RVD TV Vol. 1, a 2-disc DVD set produced and directed by former ECW/WWE star Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam was a phenomenal highlight reel of a performer, making a name for himself in the original Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) before catapulting himself into the mainstream when he joined Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Bearing a resemblance to Jean Claude Van Damme in BLOODSPORT, Rob Van Dam had the flexibility of a gymnast who loved to load up his matches with acrobatic highspots. And then he just vanished into a puff of smoke.
Stepping away from Vince McMahon's monopoly world of wrestling where RVD was making big bucks (anything but monopoly money) took a big leap of faith. But why? For starters, there was the highly publicized roadside drug bust for weed while holding claim to two of McMahon's top wrestling championship titles. Pro wrestling has a long and storied history of keeping secrets and sweeping the skeletal remains of road-weary performers into the closet. So it's a major no-no for a wrestler who is one of your company's top attractions to lose a fall to the five-oh, especially in the day and age of YouTube, when such news can spread like wildfire. Granted, there are far worse things to get nailed for, but for RVD, it couldn't have happened at a more inopportune time. In the grand scheme of things, it's really quite silly, because in some fashion, RVD's love affair with cannabis was always well known. And well, it was just pot. As a matter of fact, he'd appeared in HIGH TIMES Magazine. Just as Stone Cold Steve Austin had his tagline of "Austin 3:16 just said I whooped your ass," in the Heyman-days of ECW Van Dam had his own t-shirt marketed that proclaimed "RVD 4:20 -- I just smoked your ass." Regardless, it was a boneheaded move, and there were consequences, because as much as Vince McMahon loves publicity, the last thing he wants is that kind of attention directed towards him, his company, or his employees.
At the top of his game, RVD's run in WWE was pretty much over. In an environment where the banged-up and battered Hulk Hogans and Undertakers limp their ways past their primes, unable to turn down that last money match, a very healthy RVD has all but vanished from the radar of fans.
RVD's hiatus at this point is most likely 99.9% self-imposed. Now that, cough, the smoke has cleared, the WWE would gladly take him back, and they've invited him several times. But RVD follows the beat of his own drum, something that becomes crystal clear after watching THE BEST OF RVD TV Vol.1. Stepping away from the WWE was probably more akin to stepping back and reflecting inwards for RVD. Getting away from the grind of traveling with the WWE was also necessary for RVD to be there for his wife as she courageously fought cancer.
Appropriately, RVD is all about finding the balance in his life and the universe. The yin and the yang isn't some B.S. gimmick for RVD. He's not one of these wrestlers "living his gimmick." Simply put, the RVD you see on TV is not too far removed from the RVD you might run into in the real world. He's a unique blend of street warrior and stoner, closer to Robert Carradine's character in KUNG FU than JCVD's character in BLOODSPORT. And no matter what, he's always in a positive state of mind.
THE BEST OF RVD TV Vol.1 collects 10 of Rob Van Dam's personal favorite 5 STAR episodes, which originally appeared at www.RobVanDam.com. Watching the 10 episodes will give fans of RVD a unique perspective into the life and mind of "Mr. Monday Night" Rob Van Dam. It's billed as a reality series, but none of it feels "put on" or scripted. It's more like an autobiographical documentary, sliced into episodes with their own loose agendas. It places an emphasis on the here and the now, and what RVD has been up to since placing the WWE behind him.
Some of the two-disc set is unintentionally hilarious. There are episodes called "Friends in High Places," where RVD and a small panel discuss and debate random topics. Former WWE performer Chris "the Masterpiece" Masters makes an appearance and tackles the issue of gun control with RVD. After watching the piece, I'm thinking Rob's friends took the "high places" portion of the segment literally, and I hate to stereotype anyone here, least of all RVD, who is one of the most genuinely friendly celebrities I've ever met, but this episode felt like a group of stoned jocks discussing, well, gun control. Another odd segment that bordered on tedious was RVD, his agent, and Taboo from the BLACK EYED PEAS examining language censorship. Let's just say that RVD has a long way to go before his skills as a moderator equal those he puts on display in the ring. Still, it's an earnest effort, and at the very least, I give RVD credit for trying something creative and going out on a limb as opposed to being just another former pro wrestling who does the now standard tell-all "shoot" interview exposing the ugly side of the business before begging to be taken back into the 'roided up arms of the industry.
Believe it or not, there was one very poignant moment where RVD and a writer discuss soul mates in an episode called "Book of Love." Many wrestlers are known for living the rock and roll lifestyle on the road, but here fans will get to see a man who has his priorities in the right place: his wife is number one in his book, and it's no act. My favorite episode was watching RVD discuss the "power of mind" with Harvard grad and former WWE performer Chris Nowinski, whose own career was cut short due to head injuries, along with the Ultimate Warrior (known just as "Warrior" these days). They talk about their belief in the laws of attraction, how the mind and old-fashioned hard work can help you in achieving your dreams and why, in Warrior's eyes, RVD would make a great father. (Yep, it's a bit surreal and nearly worth the price of admission to see the Ultimate Warrior try to convince RVD to have kids.)
Warrior came across as a very opinionated individual with some rather unique conspiracy theories. He suspects that there are people in the world who can use their minds to achieve physical flight like supermen. Of course, if more people knew the secret behind this superhuman physical feat, everyone would be flying around, so it's a secret that these individuals would rather keep to themselves. Follow that? Yeah, it left me wanting to watch a Warrior reality show. Producers Eric Bischoff and Jason Hervey, are you listening? I want a subscription to Warrior TV!
Other highlights of THE BEST OF RVD TV Vol.1 include TNA star Samoa Joe, UFC fighter Justin McCully, and RVD grappling in the "L A Boxing" school. You can be your own judge, but for me it seemed like RVD was actually getting the better of the "Samoan Submission Machine" Samoa Joe. RVD also shows off some of his training techniques in "5 Star Cardio." The disc concludes with Jay Mohr introducing RVD as he's about to perform stand-up comedy. If you walk away with one thing from THE BEST OF RVD TV Vol.1, it's that RVD has an open mind, and maybe you should too. RVD isn't afraid to take chances and try different things, and jumping up on stage to try his hand at stand-up is just another example of that love for life.
THE BEST OF RVD TV Vol. 1 will give you an in-depth look at "The Whole F'n Show" Rob Van Dam. It may even lift your spirits, as Van Dam's positive attitude is infectious. Van Dam has a life outside of wrestling, and it's on display here. RVD is all about life's journey, without allowing the road to own him. One can only hope that these are only temporary detours and outside attractions until RVD gets back to doing what he's known best for: being the "Whole F'n Show" INSIDE the ring.
Josh Jabcuga may not be the "Whole F'n Show," but he likes to think he can put on a pretty good one for his friends. He's called Comics101.com his home for several years now, and has written two comic book miniseries for IDW Comics: SCARFACE: THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE, and THE MUMMY: THE RISE AND FALL OF XANGO'S AX. He's not sure what's around the corner for him on life's road, but he thinks the tolls are becoming a real pain in the ass.