As soon as Rob Van Dam showed up at the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, speculation began about whether he would be returning to the company.
The WWE has made a habit of bringing former big-name stars back lately, and even though RVD isn’t on the same level as someone like The Rock or Brock Lesnar, there’s probably at least minimal interest in bringing him back on the company’s part.
RVD—who hasn’t wrestled for the WWE since 2007 and has spent most of the last few years in TNA—has made it quite clear that he would return to the WWE, even remaining noncommittal to TNA while he was still under contract with the company.
Naturally, there are plenty of wrestling fans who would love to see RVD back on the bigger stage of the WWE. Others, however, aren’t so sure if the WWE should bring him back at all.
No matter what side of the fence you’re on, though, the question still remains: Would RVD even have any value to the WWE if he did return to the company?
Of course, RVD is going to have some value to the company. He’s a veteran who’s been around the block a few times, and as someone who’s accomplished a lot in the business, he can certainly help in some ways.
Perhaps the better question is exactly how much value he’d have in the WWE these days.
The answer: hardly any.
If you’ve watched TNA at all over the last couple of years, you’ve seen that the RVD many of us know and love just isn’t there anymore. This has resulted from a combination of things, some of which are in his control and some of which are not.
Van Dam is in his early 40s now, and, aside from the rare genetic freak who gets better with age (The Undertaker comes to mind), most wrestlers start slowing down around the time they turn 40. Needless to say, that’s exactly what has happened with RVD.
He has slowed down considerably over the last few years as Father Time has caught up with him. Part of the problem is that he’s simply getting up there in age, but the other part of the issue is that he’s put on a little weight, which seems to be having a substantial effect on his abilities in the ring.
It’s not uncommon for this to happen to guys when they get in their 40s. But on the flip side, stars like The Rock and Triple H still have bodybuilder-like physiques despite being in their 40s too. It makes you wonder if RVD simply isn’t putting the same effort into staying in shape that he was just four or five years ago.
After all, Van Dam did develop a reputation as somewhat of a lazy performer while in TNA over the last two or three years. That was evident by both his physique and subpar performances in the ring, which far outweighed the memorable bouts he participated in.
In true Randy Orton-like fashion, RVD seemed to perform pretty well whenever he was motivated in TNA. But perhaps because of the company’s more relaxed atmosphere and frequent poor booking of RVD, he simply didn’t seem to care as much about his storylines or his wrestling as perhaps he should have, especially toward the end of his run with the company.
That, of course, isn’t the type of reputation anyone wants to build up, particularly if that wrestler is interested in going to the WWE—which it appears that RVD is.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues with RVD wanting to return to the WWE, though, is his love of marijuana. Although that may sound crazy to some, the WWE has a much stricter drug-testing policy than TNA does, and that was likely a major factor in RVD deciding to sign with TNA in the first place
It’s no secret that Van Dam is a big fan of smoking weed, which is something he wouldn’t be able to get away with—well, at least avoiding fines—in the WWE. The WWE has a $2,500 fine for each failed drug test, and suffice it to say that RVD probably isn’t going to stop smoking anytime soon, which means the fines would add up pretty quickly.
That makes you wonder if it’s even worth bringing RVD into the WWE when his love of marijuana will likely triumph over anything and everything else. That might very well be the case, which could make RVD a lot less valuable to the WWE.
How valuable would RVD be to the WWE if he returned to the company?
Of course, you could argue that—weed or not—he isn’t all that valuable to the WWE anyway.
Whereas Lesnar, The Rock and other part-timers such as Chris Jericho are proven draws who are among the biggest names in the history of the industry, RVD isn’t on quite the same level. While he accomplished quite a bit in ECW, the WWE and even TNA, he hasn’t made as big of an impact on pro wrestling as most of the other big-name veterans who have returned to the company.
In that sense, is he really worth bringing back? It would be well worth if it RVD were a blockbuster draw, but he’s a guy who is coming off a lackluster run as a midcard champion in TNA—a run that often left him off of Impact altogether.
He’s not going to generate the WWE a whole lot of money, he’s not going to main event pay-per-views, and he’s not going to put on must-see matches or be the spectacle that a Rock or Lesnar is.
When you consider those factors, you have to wonder why the WWE would even bother bringing RVD back.
Even though RVD probably still has some gas left in the tank, his value is lower now than it has been at any point over the last 10 years. That’s not what you want out of a guy who won’t come cheap and may only work on a part-time basis.
If the WWE was in desperate need of star power, then taking a chance on Van Damn might be worth it.
But with a slew of established names, up-and-comers and part-time stars, the WWE doesn’t “need” RVD—not right now and not at all.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!