Rob Van Dam has aged and greyed since his first run with the WWE nearly a decade ago. He's slowed in the ring and doesn't quite have the same crispness to his moves that once captured the attention of the wrestling world.
Despite the thinning hair and signs of wear, RVD can still pop a crowd and generate excitement in any arena in the country. Yet WWE has managed to squander the momentum of his return and seems intent on wasting his potential to draw.
It hurts to say this as a fan of both Christian and Fandango, but they are in the wrong programs heading to SummerSlam. Christian, one of the most talented ring generals in the company, doesn't belong in the World Heavyweight title match. Fandango, despite having defeated Chris Jericho at WrestleMania, shouldn't be Rob Van Dam's foe at the second-biggest show of the year.
As WWE likes to remind us, SummerSlam is indeed the second-biggest show of the year. With a double main event of John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk, the show will draw a big buy rate. WWE also likes to tell us, though we know it's not true, that the World Heavyweight title is equal to the WWE belt. If this were the case, the matches for the belts should be close to equal. At SummerSlam, this is hardly the case.
Alberto Del Rio has to be one of the most uninspiring "main event" performers we've seen in years. That list also happens to include Sheamus. Del Rio has the ability to wrestle great matches, but he has been booked so inconsistently that it's hard to get excited about any storyline he's in.
With Dolph Ziggler wrapped up in a hot feud against Big E Langston and AJ, Del Rio needed a short-term rival—one that would generate interest and put him over as a compelling champion.
Rob Van Dam presented a unique opportunity to inject excitement into the World Heavyweight title scene. With a three- or four-week feud, RVD could have made people care about Alberto Del Rio. A few promos, a backstage sneak attack, a guest color commentator appearance followed by a post-match ambush, and suddenly fans are excited to see the World Heavyweight title match.
The fan interest in seeing RVD face Del Rio extends beyond simply witnessing a great match. Del Rio and Christian are perfectly capable of having a great, and perhaps better, in-ring encounter at SummerSlam. The problem is, though, the bloom is already off the rose on Christian. He's been back for a couple years and demonstrated his value as a veteran midcarder.
RVD is still fresh. WWE fans, especially the younger audience that just joined the fanbase since John Cena began his reign of terror, haven't seen RVD get an opportunity at the World Heavyweight title. Older fans would mark out at the thought of the ECW original getting another chance to carry the big gold belt.
RVD is not currently advertised to appear at Night of Champions in September. This would have been a great opportunity to see a savage, vicious Del Rio injure RVD and write him off for a month—adding heat to his title reign and character. Instead, we'll see him likely cheat and scratch out a victory at SummerSlam and the crowd will shrug it off.
There were fans legitimately curious to see if RVD would win the Money in the Bank briefcase. It wouldn't be unreasonable to envision a former MITB winner and WWE champ win the ladder match. The pipe dream of RVD facing John Cena for the title once again or anyone for the WWE title for that matter is enough to bring fans to their TVs and buy a pay-per-view.
Seeing RVD face Fandango doesn't have that same drawing power. Fandango has the talent and potential, but he's not at that level yet. Considering the apparent matches being set up for SummerSlam, I don't know if Fandango belongs on the card. Yet, for some reason, we'll see him face RVD on the big show in a lose-lose situation.
Either RVD will win, burying an up-and-coming young talent, or RVD will lose, cutting off his momentum and legitimacy while putting over a guy we aren't convinced is being primed for any major push.
Rob Van Dam remains a favorite of all fans, including the Internet Wrestling Community. He has the ability to help make Del Rio a compelling champion. Instead, he is tied up in a middling feud with Fandango. This is a giant waste of RVD's talent and drawing potential.