After weeks of hype, and various video highlight packages, the wait for the WWE Universe finally ended at Money in the Bank.
Rob Van Dam has returned.
Fans everywhere waited with anticipation as Mr. Monday Night made his triumphant return, nearly succeeding in capturing the elusive briefcase. It stood to reason that Van Dam could re-climb the mountain he had once ascended, having won the match in 2006.
But he did not complete his task, and will not receive his guaranteed match against the WWE champion.
And despite his upcoming match with World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio on Smackdown, Van Dam will likely never be a legitimate title contender again.
With world title wins in various promotions, including being the only competitor to win them in ECW, WWE and TNA, Van Dam almost always seems as if he is a threat to any champion at any given time.
But since RVD is yet another aging part-time competitor, the WWE Universe needs to face the fact that he is no longer the “Whole F’n Show.”
At 42 years old, Van Dam is another in a long line of competitors that the company continues to bring in for limited runs with the company. Like the Rock and Undertaker before him, Van Dam is nothing but a temporary attraction to drum up excitement for fans that missed out on him the first time around, and to quench the thirst of older fans who salivated over his work in his first run with the company, which ended in 2007.
But like Chris Jericho before him, Van Dam is still very capable of pulling off a competitive encounter, and then able to go right out the next night and do the same. This separates the two from the pack of former champions (the Rock, Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar) who work very limited dates, attain whatever it is that they are working toward (winning the WWE title, The Streak, eliminating Triple H) and falling right back off of the radar.
And while Van Dam is still capable of having a decent match, the current influx of talent that the company has makes it very difficult to find an actual spot for him.
On the most recent edition of Raw, the company nixed the promised return of the Big Show, almost completely neglected to showcase Divas champion AJ Lee, failed to mention the now must-see Wyatt Family save for a quick vignette, and did very little in the way of even mentioning Money in the Bank briefcase holder Randy Orton.
Instead, there was a forced, and somewhat rushed in-ring segment promoting the new E! series Total Divas and match between Christian and Titus O’Neil that seemed to serve little purpose. Van Dam’s match with Wade Barrett was nice to see, but it was also not essential to the show.
And while it was incredibly exciting to see him back in a WWE ring, Van Dam simply cannot carry the load of a company on his shoulders anymore.
Sure, it is exciting to see him flip around the ring, and throw kicks that would make most people crumple into a heap. And it is awe-inspiring watching Van Dam deliver a frog splash.
But the time for Van Dam to be the flagship performer in a company is over.
As TNA World Heavyweight champion, he got lost in the shuffle in a company that struggles to succeed. And as X-Division champion in more recent times, Van Dam at times looked lost against younger and more athletic competitors, finally losing the title to Kenny King in February.
Van Dam has won a mountain of championships in various promotions over the years. He has won every title that ECW had to offer (though he did not win the ECW Heavyweight title until the company was owned by WWE). He has won the WWE, Intercontinental, Hardcore, and European championships, and had three reigns with some incarnation of the tag team titles.
But due to his age, and the current logjam of talent in WWE, that list will likely never grow any longer.