Rob Van Dam will return to the WWE at Money in the Bank, and despite his rather lackluster run in TNA, RVD’s return to the top wrestling promotion in the world is much more than just a minor development.
RVD, of course, was one of the biggest “free agents” available on the market before the WWE scooped him up.
Don’t let his underwhelming stint in TNA fool you. He’s still someone who is synonymous with ECW, is a former WWE champion and is one of the last remaining stars from the 1990s who can still lace up his boots and put on a show.
Whether or not Van Dam is in his prime (obviously, he’s well past it now), his return to the WWE is a major move more because of what it symbolizes for the company than because of the impact RVD will have.
RVD will certainly make his presence felt. He’s likely going to make a sizeable splash in the upcoming MITB ladder match, and he’s probably going to hover around the upper midcard and borderline of the main event scene.
But what’s more important about RVD’s return than the return itself is this: His deal with the WWE will continue a trend that could change the pro wrestling business forever.
RVD won’t be returning to the company on a full-time schedule. He’s going to be back as a part-time performer who works a limited schedule that isn’t quite as grueling.
Following in the footsteps of fellow legends like The Rock, Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho, RVD is going to work significantly less often than your average WWE superstar. In fact, Van Dam himself has said that his deal will be similar to Jericho’s, which is a nice deal that keeps Y2J around while also letting him pursue other projects.
That’s the key here: RVD’s contract won’t tie him down the way a full-time superstar’s does.
For years upon years, Vince McMahon was of the mindset that he didn’t want to bring in any part-time performers. His logic—which many still agree with—was that he didn’t want anybody to work for his company if that person wasn't going to totally commit to it.
That mold was broken several years ago when Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker transitioned from being full-timers to part-timers, and the trend has grown considerably since The Rock, Lesnar and Y2J have been brought back to the company.
RVD is the latest major superstar to come back to the WWE and do so on terms that will not make him an everyday performer like everyone else. In essence, he just opened the already opening floodgates a little bit more—which could continue to change the WWE in a major way.
Now that McMahon has backed off his stance that all of his talent must be full-time, he’s opened the door for a number of major stars to return under part-time deals and make a major impact in the company down the road.
The Rock wouldn’t have returned to the WWE if he had to do it full-time. Ditto for Lesnar and Y2J. Hell, The Undertaker would probably be retired by now if it weren’t for his part-time schedule.
Now, RVD is back in the WWE, and he himself has even admitted that he hasn’t been with the company since 2007 because he didn’t want to have to commit to a full-time contract, which is what the company wanted him to do.
Over the last several years, however, the WWE’s mindset has changed, and it’s been great for business.
The Rock returned to main-event two WrestleManias, and he’s done huge business for the WWE. Lesnar came back to wrestle occasionally, and he’s been a huge attraction for the company as well. Meanwhile, Y2J has returned in a lesser role, but is still doing great things for the company by working with and putting over rising talent.
So, just what will RVD do for the WWE?
That, of course, remains to be seen. But after seeing all of the success that previous part-timers have had and are continuing to have, it’s safe to assume that RVD will continue that trend.
If and when he does, that will only make McMahon more open to bringing back part-timers who can spike business and improve the WWE product—which should ultimately be his main goal.
While RVD may not be back to win World titles or rack up other accomplishments, Lesnar and Jericho didn’t return for those reasons either, and their returns have certainly helped the company, haven’t they?
This is a day and age where the fans want that nostalgic feeling. They want to see names from the past return and add some much needed entertainment to the WWE.
It won’t matter what he does or doesn’t accomplish when he comes back. RVD will do just that, and other past legends will follow him back to the WWE.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!