Source: Del Rio News Herald
By Brian Argabright
Del Rio News-Herald
You take a week off, and the WWE goes and gets a new champion.
But that’s not the whole story.
The title changes on Raw and ECW were done out of the recent arrest of former WWE/ECW champion Robert Alex Szatowski, better known to wrestling fans as Rob Van Dam.
According to published reports, Szatowski, 35, and Terry Brunk, 42, better known as Sabu, were pulled over by an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer July 2 for speeding. During a search of the vehicle the two were in, prompted by an officer’s claim he smelled marijuana upon approaching the vehicle, approximately 18 grams of marijuana and five tablets of Vicodin, a prescription painkiller, were found on Szatowski.
Brunk was found to be in possession of a pipe used to smoke marijuana and nine prescription pills, which were later identified as being controlled substances.
According to Associated Press reports, both men were charged with drug abuse. Szatowski was also charged with possession of marijuana and Brunk was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to the Ironton Online, the two men were scheduled to appear in a Hanging Rock, Ohio court on July 6, but their attorneys asked for, and were granted, continuances. The court date has not been rescheduled.
This was really the WWE’s nightmare come true.
When Szatowski was brought into the WWE, his reputation for being a proponent of drug use followed him. Szatowski has never denied using “recreational drugs.” He has been a longtime advocate of marijuana use, utilizing the phrase “4:20”, which, according to one online dictionary is a euphemism for cannabis and its associated culture.
In fact, he used the numbers 4:20 as one of his wrestling catchphrases during his time in the original ECW. One of his t-shirts, in response to the popular “Stone Cold” Steve Austin 3:16 shirts, read “RVD 4:20 – I Just Smoked Your ***”.
Szatowski, along with Brunk and former manager Bill Alfonso, also took part in an interview with the marijuana-related magazine “High Times”, which was printed in its March 1999 edition. Though RVD is mentioned on the cover, it’s a photo of Ozzy Osbourne, not RVD, that graces the cover.
He also appeared in an ESPN “Outside the Lines” episode about the dangers of professional wrestling. His segment dealt with the use of painkillers by wrestlers, and how the abuse of those painkillers has led to the death of several wrestlers, including Brian Pillman and Szatowski’s friend Louis Mucciolo, who wrestled as Louie Spicolli.
There are many journalists who follow professional wrestling who point to his attitude regarding drug use as a reason that the talented RVD could never get a world title shot. While the WWE could look past the usage, it could not seriously justify promoting him to a world champion if he continued to be a drug user.
So when RVD won the strap at “ECW: One Night Stand” in June, the clock was ticking.
The arrest came on Sunday. Monday night, RVD wrestled in a triple threat match against Edge and John Cena. Edge got the win, and the belt, and RVD’s reign as the WWE champ was over.
The next night, RVD took on the Big Show for the ECW title. Show got the win, thanks to the interference of ECW head Paul Heyman, and there went RVD’s ECW title.
According to wwe.com, because he violated the WWE’s drug policy, Szatowski was suspended for 30 days without pay. Brunk was fined $1,000, but there was no word on whether or not he had been suspended.
I like Rob Van Dam. I think he’s an imaginative wrestler who probably could be one of the biggest names to come out of the wrestling boom of the late 90’s. His talent in the ring is undeniable, and his star power with the fans has never diminished. It’s just a shame that he’s unable to look past his own wants to see that that the WWE was taking a chance in making him a champ.
Is it a move the company will regret? We’ll have to wait and see.
Saturday Night’s Main Event returns this Saturday on NBC at 7 p.m. Featured matches include DX vs. The Spirit Squad in an elimination match, Cena vs. Edge for the WWE title, Rey Mysterio, Bobby Lashley and Batista vs. Mark Henry, King Booker and Fit Finlay; and a special appearance by Hulk Hogan and his daughter Brooke, obviously to respond to comments made by Randy Orton at last week’s Raw.