Greatness awaits once Rob Van Dam returns to WWE, and the level of that greatness depends on who the company puts in the ring with him.
When Van Dam is back in action, in the midst of WrestleMania season, a villainous stable, a bearer of bad news and another Superstar fans haven't seen in months offer the best possible rivalries. Intriguing storylines and great matches are promised to fans should "Mr. Monday Night" be pitted against these men.
Per PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com, "current plans call for Van Dam to return to the company for WrestleMania XXX season at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view."
Who would most benefit from Van Dam's electric in-ring style? Who would present the most compelling contrast with the fan favorite?
Let's begin with a man who has been stuck behind a podium as of late.
Bad News Barrett
Wade Barrett has been reinvented as a gavel-swinging pessimist who finds a way to fill any moment, no matter how positive, with dread. It's the most interesting thing he's done since leading the Nexus, but where does he go from here?
He is going to need to eventually move from the podium to the ring.
Van Dam's experience and athleticism will lead to Barrett having some of his best bouts. The two met last July and delivered a preview of what they could accomplish together.
The mostly one-sided bout showed that Barrett can handle Van Dam's unorthodox style. The Englishman also delivered a kick as thunderous as the one that bloodied his mouth.
Should WWE pit these two together again and allow Barrett more offense, there is a great brawl-infused battle waiting to happen. Both Superstars employ a hard-hitting style, and there is an appealing balance of power and speed between them.
Barrett has made great efforts to irritate fans lately. The audience is in need of someone trying to shut him up. Someone as universally popular as Van Dam is the ideal candidate for that job.
It gives the former ECW standout an instant story to be a part of and allows him to play the crowd-pleasing cavalry. Barrett's potential opponent is a former world champ, one who offers him a shot at greatly improving his resume.
The Wyatt Family
The possibility of a few Daniel Bryan vs. Van Dam matches is reason enough to create this feud, but there's also an engaging narrative to be had here.
Bryan, like Van Dam, has a reputation for having a great match with a variety of opponents. In 2013, Van Dam worked against Darren Young, Fandango, Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio and had memorable performances again and again. Bryan could seemingly make a Great Khali vs. David Otunga vs. Bryan Triple Threat match a four-star affair.
Putting those two excellent workers in the same ring is guaranteeing magic. Speed and passion would power the battle of kicks and dives that these two would have together.
Besides, having Bryan and his new "brothers" pound on the popular Van Dam is a surefire way to create heat for the heels.
Fans are still cheering for Bryan despite his shift in allegiance. Having him ambush Van Dam alongside the rest of The Wyatt Family will help establish him as a villain.
Van Dam, in his battles against them, can serve as gutsy hero unwilling to give in. He could say that he's seen all the damage they've caused and that he's ready to take them all down. That drama would be a momentous way to start off Van Dam's most recent run.
Surviving against Bray Wyatt and company would have Van Dam properly prepped for his WrestleMania opponent, offering WWE a number of match options along the way from Luke Harper vs. Van Dam to RVD teaming with The Usos to take on the entire clan.
Once he returns from injury, Sheamus may be a changed man. Long absences are perfect chances for character shifts, and for "The Celtic Warrior," that could mean a return to the dark side.
A heel Sheamus vs. Van Dam is a fresh and compelling matchup.
Think back to Sheamus' feud with John Morrison. It produced some of the Irishman's most exciting ring work, including a great ladder match at Extreme Rules and a standout bout at the 2010 King of the Ring tournament.
Van Dam's style would mesh similarly well with Sheamus', providing a juxtaposition of speed and power. Like with Barrett, Van Dam and Sheamus' matches could be hard-hitting, intense affairs.
Add the fact that these two Superstars' clashes at Money in the Bank 2013 led to Sheamus taking some nasty spills, and it seems clear how electric this rivalry could be. Have Sheamus blame Van Dam for costing him months of his career and an easy-to-start story begins.
The powerhouse needs a memorable opponent to begin the latest leg of his WWE journey, and Van Dam more than qualifies.
Van Dam's impending arrival affords WWE a number of interesting choices. The WrestleMania XXX card and the events he's a part of before that will be bettered by his presence.
The only question is what direction the company sends him, what gladiator he is asked to combat. Bryan, Wyatt, Barrett and Sheamus are all options that will lead to Van Dam's latest run being just as fun as his last.