Rob Van Dam was backstage at Monday's Raw, apparently to inquire about his future in the company. The show took place in Los Angeles, where he resides.
As Dave Meltzer notes in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required), the situation between the parties is slightly strained right now due to the circumstances surrounding his departure back in October:
Van Dam was at the 2/10 Raw show backstage. He came for a meeting with HHH. He wrote on twitter that he’s interested in coming back. Not sure how WWE views it. We know they weren’t happy about him leaving, even though his deal he signed over the summer was a 90-day contract, he fulfilled it, didn’t complain about being buried at the end, but WWE wasn’t happy that he wouldn’t sign a new deal at the time.
So, when will the former WWE champion be back on our screens? Or perhaps the better question will be, is he even coming back?
It seems rather petty if WWE is holding his refusal to sign an extension against him. As Meltzer mentions, he was wholly professional and fulfilled the terms of his contract.
However, I could forgive the company if its reluctance to bring back Van Dam had more to do with his lackluster performances in the summer and autumn of last year.
While Van Dam was hugely over in his first night back with the company at July's Money in the Bank pay-per-view and continued getting decent reactions from the crowd throughout his run, it's hard to say that his promos and in-ring work were all that great.
Did anyone in the world care about his program with Alberto Del Rio?
Oh, he wasn't embarrassingly bad, but it was obvious that the dynamic, super-athletic young man who thrilled audiences in the early 2000s was long gone.
Though aging undoubtedly played its part, it's possible that his lengthy—and wholly unremarkable—TNA run played its role too.
No matter how hard people work in wrestling’s troubled No. 2 promotion, it rarely makes a difference to the bigger picture. Van Dam, who started out well enough but just looked like a man phoning it in for a paycheck by the end, seemed to have figured this out too.
Is Van Dam now a wrestler who struggles to get motivated?
Even taking out the issues with his contract, in-ring work and interviews, WWE is probably not in any rush to bring back the former ECW wrestler.
As the company heads into WrestleMania, it has more than enough stars: Batista is back. So is Brock Lesnar. The Undertaker will be returning soon. Daniel Bryan is as beloved as ever.
Even if WWE does want to use Van Dam at WrestleMania, what would it have him do? All the top spots are locked up anyway.
Of course, come April 7—the night after WrestleMania—the company may feel differently. At that point, the bigger names will be gone and Vince McMahon may realize he’ll need newer guys like Van Dam to help carry the promotion in its post-WrestleMania lull.
Or maybe McMahon will continue to feel he’s not important to the company. It just depends on the state of the roster.
It’s hard to see WWE keeping the 43-year-old out in the cold forever. Management will surely come around and “forgive” his reluctance to sign an extension last year.
Whether or not that—and thus his return—happens any time soon is another matter entirely.