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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

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EOTR Retrospective: What If RVD Signed To WWF In 1997?

By @BMDontCheat (Alex)

Hey everyone, it's Alex back again to give you some more  food for thought regarding rasslin! The topic today is a "What If" scenario regarding what would've happened if RVD really became "Mr. Monday Night" in WWF during the Monday Night Wars in 1997, approximately 4 years earlier than he originally did.

In this article, I will be covering how this decision would affect ECW afterwards, the impact of RVD on WWF and their ratings, possible feuds/interactions with other superstars, and overall would it have been a good career move.....or fatal. Now let's get started...

First off, in reality, RVD was thinking of moving ship to the struggling WWF who had that time were in such a losing battle they were forced to collaborate with....E...C....W! RVD revealed this in the first ECW PPV Barely Legal in which fans felt he was a sellout and booed him. Van Dam would indeed make an appearance on Raw, but as it turned out the rumors were in actuality false, as RVD teased this as part of an angle with Sabu and Jerry Lawler. They would feud with ECW for an angle, but RVD would still be in ECW afterwards.

Now let's get hypothetical and wonder if this wasnt a storyline and he decided he actually wanted to go to Raw. This would change the wrestling world a bit, let's start off with ECW.

Now we know ECW was already struggling and eventually went out of business in 2001 with Van Dam. Now RVD was a big star, but apparently not big enough to win the big prize in ECW, though he was still extremely over wit the fans. Without Van Dam, I believe it wouldnt do any damage, but also no favors. I mean ECW were accustomed with having to reshape their roster due to their talent leaving or be lured away by WCW, so I dont think RVD would be a huge loss to hurt the business. However we would be robbed of future classic feuds like Van Dam vs Jerry Lynn and more.

Now if RVD came to WWF, depending on how the writers book his character, it should be a successful run. A lot of superstars from ECW would jump ship to WCW or WWF and get repackaged with a ugly gimmick, for example:

However WWF seemed to like Van Dam, at least more than other wrestlers from ECW, which is why they never truly buried him. They killed his hype several times yes, but never did they bury him. So I can assume that they likely would allow him to keep his hippy laidback yet cocky gimmick like in 2001. Good choice by WWF!

Now let's discuss some possible directions. He likely would be a midcarder or upper midcarder like he was in WWF, which actually would be fine considering the lack of great midcarders in the WWF. RVD would make an excellent edition as he is very flexible and could work with pretty much any opponent including guys like Vader, Mabel, Mero, Johnson, etc.

I can see him put on fantastic matches with midcard wrestlers, whether he is feuding with Davey Boy for the European title or Hunter Hearst for the IC title. He could make noteworthy feuds with Goldust, Faarooq, and especially Owen Hart (RIP). Imagine Owen and RVD putting on classics for the IC title or Bulldog with his power going against the quick RVD. These are classics we missed out on.

It's also likely Van Dam could be stuck in the tag team division. I'm fine with that cause RVD should propel in that area too if given the right partner. WWF usually matched people with anyone, but if you ask me his best partners would be wrestlers that were in ECW like him. For instance:

A. Dude Love/Mankind

-I mean he was already a tag team champion with Stone Cold so why not. Their outfits and personality would compliment each other. Maybe WWF would get creative and give them a name that fits well. Regardless, it should make a great tag team.

B. Stone Cold Steve Austin 

-Now despite being tag team champ, Steve was already being pushed to the sky, so he might be above RVD as a candidate for tag team partner. But if they paired up it would show how serious WWF is taking RVD, which would be great. Stone Cold gets paired with this cocky kid from Michigan and they kick ass on the Hart Foundation and the Road Warriors.

C. Brian Pillman

-This is my favorite one because they're both extreme and highflyers. Pillman's over the top personality with RVD's laidback cocky attitude would be great, and these dudes would be really over. I mean hopefully this would affect Pillman life and career, though it might not, but I hope it could have cause this is a crazy ass tag team! RIP Pillman.

Now let's discuss the possibility of some main event feuds.

-I highly doubt RVD would face Taker for the title so early, and either way I doubt he would win. It should be a good match as Taker would want to show the extremely arrogant rookie who runs the yard.

Bret Hart
-To think Bret already lost his cool with one arrogant S.O.B in WWF (HBK), but with Van Dam as well? This would likely make a great tag team match with HBK with RVD vs Hart Foundation and maybe RVD becomes the new member of DX. Either way, I think Van Dam vs Bret would be perfect for TV as Bret was already out the door, so it might not have time to build as a great feud. But an exhibition match on TV would sure as hell boost some ratings, no doubt about it.

Shawn Michaels
-Maybe the WWF would be too small for more than one cocky bastard as HBK would come face to face with RVD. This would have been a better match for the DX PPV than HBK vs Shamrock. If booked properly with NO INTERFERENCE, this match should work as a perfect 5 star match as these two are the most phenomenal performers in WWF.

Mick Foley 
-Picking off where these two were "tag partners" eventually they come face to face at King of the Ring with RVD beating Dude Love. Later, Mankind costs RVD his match with HHH and his shot at being KOTR. The next night, Mankind would cost him the tag titles via a no show, causing him to fight the Hart Foundation by himself! So these two feud and fight at Canadian Stampede instead of HHH vs Mankind. Great match, but Mankind wins via mandible claw. These two continue at Summerslam in a steel cage match like HHH vs Mankind, except RVD would win this match. Essentially, RVD would take the place of HHH in his feud with Foley in WWF during 1997. Then... At Ground Zero, Foley costs Van Dam his match against HHH or Owen for the IC title, except this time he is.......... CACTUS JACK!

Yeah that's right, Cactus Jack vs Van Dam at One Night Only ends in a double DQ as these guys brawl!!!!!! Then at Badd Blood before the classic HIAC match between HBK and Taker, we get a Texas Deathmatch between Cactus Jack and Van Dam! A hard fought battle, but Van Dam takes it of course. Looking back at what could have happened if this really went down, that might have been one of the best feuds we'd see in WWF.

As far as interactions go, backstage I doubt RVD would get in much trouble now that most of the Kliq is gone, which killed Chris Candido and Shane Douglas' careers in WWF. He could possibly get into trouble with Taker as RVD is cocky so he might get sent into wrestlers court a couple times. Another problem might be HBK, who was known as an asshole at the time. Van Dam wouldn't back down either, so this could result in RVD getting depushed due to HBK telling the boss. However, I assure you that if RVD gets booked in a wrong direction or treated bad, then he can always go back to ECW and just like Douglas would accept him back with open arms. Except he would be a bigger star and Heyman would have no choice but to push him to ECW champion like he should've done.

Either way I view it as a win-win situation cause even if Van Dam is dissatisfied, he would with much pride go back to ECW and become the star he was destined to be. As far as ratings go, I believe if any the possible feuds occur Van Dam could be a mega star like Rock and Austin as he was over with every crowd he entertained.

If RVD had come to WWF in 1997, we might have seen a different legacy for him. That could have went good or bad, but regardless, it didn't happen. If it had happened, I think the Attitude Era would have looked a little different. Who knows?



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