In a recent episode of his "One Of A Kind" podcast, wrestling legend Rob Van Dam, fondly known as "The Whole F'n Show," opened up about his initial reservations and eventual pride in the now-defunct WWE Hardcore Title. RVD candidly admitted that he initially felt insulted by the title's existence, as it seemed to mock the legacy of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), a promotion he held in high regard for its innovative and ground-breaking contributions to the wrestling industry.
For Van Dam, ECW represented a superior art form, elevating wrestling to new heights and garnering recognition even from non-wrestling fans. The promotion's unique blend of athleticism, hardcore matches, and captivating storytelling made it a cultural phenomenon.
Hence, when WWE introduced the Hardcore Title, RVD perceived it as a mockery of the very essence that ECW had brought to the industry.
Rob Van Dam's Disheartenment with Hardcore Wrestling Treatment
The Hardcore Title matches on WWE programming seemed, to RVD, to reduce the significance of hardcore wrestling to mere slapstick entertainment, with absurd stunts and comedic elements that overshadowed the artistry and dedication he associated with the genre.
It left him disheartened, feeling that the legacy of ECW was being treated flippantly. He passionately made each title defense a show-stealer, pouring his heart and soul into every hardcore match. His performances captivated audiences and even earned him the privilege of occasional main-eventing shows.
By dedicating himself to restoring the honor and prestige of the Hardcore Title, RVD changed its image and proved that hardcore wrestling was a legitimate and exciting aspect of the sport. Yet, despite RVD's commendable efforts, WWE chose to retire the Hardcore Title short after his successful tenure as champion.
Ironically, his dedication and drive to elevate the title seemingly worked against its continuity within the company's vision. WWE's decision to remove the Hardcore Title marked the end of an era for many fans who had grown fond of hardcore matches' thrilling and unpredictable nature.
Rob Van Dam's journey with the WWE Hardcore Title reflects the transformative power of a dedicated champion determined to alter perceptions and elevate the status of a championship. His passionate efforts to showcase the artistry and thrill of hardcore wrestling, stemming from a deep respect for ECW's legacy, highlight the impact one individual can have on a title's reputation.
While the Hardcore Title may be a thing of the past, RVD's contribution to its history will forever be remembered by wrestling enthusiasts as a testament to the enduring passion and dedication of a true professional in sports entertainment.