AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
So, now the fallout from Van Dam and Sabu’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in rural Ohio….
World Wrestling Entertainment announced last Wednesday that Rob Van Dam has been suspended without pay for 30 days and Sabu has been fined $1,000. According to WWE.com, these actions were “consistent with the Wellness Policy at WWE”. Needless to say, that explains why Van Dam had both belts taken off him in a 24 hour period, finally losing the WWECW title to The Big Show after Heyman refused to count the pinfall, and turned on Van Dam, followed by TBS pinning Van Dam.
WWE should count its lucky stars that the wild post-match scene that occurred at last Tuesday night’s show didn’t take place at the ECW Arena. If the show HAD taken place at the ECW Arena, the building might not have stood up well to the inevitable chair-throwing that would have resulted. While every kind of food and drink was flying at the ring, including direct hits on the camera operator, Paul Heyman, Big Show and many people at ringside, it was nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up. The scene live was far wilder looking than WWE cameras showed the TV audience, given that the cameras were kept tight to the workers.
Much of the Philadelphia crowd knew what Rob Van Dam and Sabu had done, and simply didn’t seem to give a damn. There were crowd chants of “mari…juana” which Van Dam acknowledged with a gesture that left little doubt what he most enjoys doing (apparently more than wrestling). There were numerous signs (and these are the ones that made it past the sign police) with “Van Dam and Sabu: Innocent”, drawings of…California herbal medicine, and 4:20 references. Van Dam got as big a pop as ever, if not more than usual, in Philadelphia.
Now Van Dam gets to sit home for 30 days without pay, loses the biggest push of his career, all because he couldn’t be bothered to wait until getting to a hotel room before firing one up.
Some of the reasons that Sabu received only a fine, a much lesser penalty than Van Dam, was that it was found that the pills Sabu had were legally obtained prescription pills, and are not considered painkillers. Further, the pot pipe that Sabu had in his possession hadn’t been used, thus having no incriminating residue showing he’d been smoking.
While Sabu didn’t show as much intelligence as he should have in being involved such a situation, he apparently showed loyalty by essentially offering to lose his job by saying everything was his, and not Rob Van Dam’s. That much, out of all this, is admirable.
Van Dam’s attitude was somewhat less than apologetic, as the following appeared on his website on July 6:
“Well, it’s going to be difficult to think of reasons not to clean out the garage now. Looks like I have a little more time on my hands.
Hmm…you think this website’s getting a lot of hits?
Fans and friends in Battle Creek, sorry once again. I’ve never wrestled in front of my hometown my whole career, and it looks like that will remain the case for now. Back in what I believe was 2000, ECW ran the Kellogg Arena while I was filming Black Mask 2 in Thailand. I was on the outs with ECW because of non-payment issues, and flying from Bangkok to BC to get off the plane and wrestle for free wasn’t a good option for me.
This show coming up in July seemed like it would finally be my day but alas, I share the disappointment with you. One thing’s for sure, it’ll be a lot easier to come back if all you Biggest-Breakfast-Table-in-the-World-Having Michiganders sell that Kellogg Arena out! Otherwise you might have to wait until I book that show after I retire, and who knows when that could be?
Hey, it looks like I’ll have time to go see that Superman movie!
C U in 30
Yep, sure seems upset about screwing over the company that’s giving him the biggest push of his life. Not to mention the fans of WWECW. Van Dam’s coming off like a bigger jerk in this than Sabu, who was willing to show loyalty to Van Dam at the price of his job. Wonder what Sabu feels like now?
Your thoughts on the events of July 2-4:
From Johnathon Bishop:
“I agree with you 100%. I am frankly ashamed at RVD and Sabu. But my disdain is mostly towards Rob. He was on top of the world, and he had the company in the palm of his hand, and he threw it away to get high.”
And he did it in a public environment, in a town that apparently is notorious among locals for being a speed trap. Sandman and 2 ECW referees were also pulled over that night for speeding, but were let off with warnings. Presumably, they weren’t carrying…or at least caught at it.
From Michael Gannaway:
“It seems Van Dam is being punished according to policy, which is the right decision. And when he comes back in 30 days, the fans will be as hot for him as they were before this mess happened.”
I’ve very little doubt of that, if the reaction of Philadelphia fans was any indication of fans in general. WWE had no choice but to take the belts off of Van Dam. I just wonder if they could have waited a week, because the response from the Philadelphia fans wasn’t one of playing along with the angle, as some might have thought. When the throwing trash at the ring is followed by a “$#@k you, Vince” chant (not the first, but certainly the loudest), it’s not just playing along, but is instead a pissed off crowd.
Yes, I know that they’ll come back with Survivor Series, and WWE will have no trouble selling out the Wachovia Center. But I wonder how quickly some of those fans will pay for a PPV anytime soon.
From Roland Gilbert Matanza:
“I definitely agree with what you have written… The two have practically placed the new ECW brand in jeopardy and their careers as well. And no matter how much amount of masking or damage control Vince McMahon would come up with, it won’t easily remove the damage that this incident has created.
As a result, fans might think differently of the brand, or in some cases, the general stereotypical thoughts towards the wrestlers/superstars. Tough luck for RVD because as far as I can remember, this is the biggest push he ever had in his whole professional career, and he blew it in just one night!”
It isn’t tough luck, it’s called the result of his own actions. But as far as fans are concerned, the odds are it’ll be forgotten in six months, if not less by many fans. As I said above, Philadelphia fans didn’t seems to care one bit. Sad thing is, it seems Van Dam doesn’t either.
From Corey Chadwick:
“I will admit, I’m an ECW fan, yes I know its not the same one years ago (Nothing can ever replace that ECW) but I dont care, its still ECW.
However as of last Sunday, I’m worried about it. How in the world can Rob Van Dam, basically throw away the biggest push of his career, complete with not one BUT TWO WORLD TITLES AT THE SAME TIME…and smoke it all away? Was he thinking the name Rob Van Dam was old and wanted to start a new gimmick of Hemp Van Dam with his partner Sabud?
Now personally I don’t think smoking pot is all that bad (even though I have never tried it), but even I have to wonder about the shear and utter stupidity of Sabu and Van Dam of not only smoking a joint while being in a company with a Drug Policy where they can get fired for smoking it but also for smoking it while THEY WERE DRIVING. Wrestling’s had it’s share of moronic ideas, but this takes the cake!
For once I feel sorry for Vince McMahon, he either fires two big stars on his third brand and risk losing them to NWA-DoubleJ/TNA or he can keep them all and make his drug policy look like a joke. As you said it either way he’s screwed.
You were also right that the ones to do the most damage to ECW isn’t the McMahons but RVD and Sabu, who have not only damaged it… in a haze of Maui Wowie with Cheech and Chong movies on the TV.”
WWE enacted a punishment that showed their Wellness Policy has at least some teeth in it, but hasn’t fired either Van Dam or Sabu, and won’t… largely because it would be bad for business.
But I’d love to be a caller on the next WWE Conference Call, and ask why the Wellness Policy doesn’t appear to be similarly enforced for growth-enhancing substances (with the exception of Chris Masters). Additionally, we’ll see if the report this week in the Wrestling Observer that Kurt Angle’s “taking time off” is actually a suspension is acknowledged or refuted by WWE.
From Werner Swart of South Africa:
“Just a quick line to say I agree wholeheartedly with your view that Rob and Sabu have only themselves to blame for the predicament they’re in. I am a regular reader of the Wrestleview website and know that most columnists, most of the time, blame Vince for almost everything, including the sun setting in the west!
Being in the media industry myself (I watch wrestling to escape reality) I have actually dealt with a few stories where top sportsmen have been caught with illegal substances and, must say, most of them have made triumphant returns. I don’t think this should end one’s career, rather act as a final message to clean up their act, realise the responsibility that comes with being a celebrity and re-shift one’s focus to what matters most – a career both Rob and Sabu have been working hard at and are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Keep it up, hope both of them read it.”
Given Van Dam’s statement on his webpage, don’t hold your breath.
“There’s one aspect of this whole situation that everyone seems to be missing. Like you put it, both guys are in major violation of the wellness policy and should be fired. Vince can’t afford to fire them, but he also can’t make his policy a joke.
Yes the ECW brand would suffer if both guys get canned, but the bigger problem [for McMahon]…there is an up and coming wrestling company who has been doing the same thing WCW did but with younger guys. Not one person has mentioned the threat of TNA. TNA would love to get their hands on both RVD and Sabu. Christian, the Dudleys, Jeff Hardy, Christy Hemme, Jackie, Gail Kim all taken from WWE’s trash heap and they are running strong. RVD and Sabu on TNA….X division, or the NWA Title…c’mon…might as well just hand TNA the ratings.
Pick your poison Vince….”
The problem is that on the very same show, Andrew Martin debuted, looking as big as ever. He’s hardly the only example of WWE-employed wrestlers whose physiques haven’t changed one bit since the Wellness Policy. People dying like Eddie Guerrero doesn’t seem to have made a difference. It’ll take an unannounced police or DEA raid on a WWE locker room one night for things to change.
Until next time…
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