I don't think there was necessarily any doubt that Rob Van Dam would put forth a good performance tonight, but there were still some question marks. He looked unmotivated for much of his TNA run and he's 42 years old now. Even a good performance Sunday night might not have been the best gauge, because a multi-man ladder match makes it easy for someone to hide and pick their spots.
While I'm curious to see how he does in singles matches, I think he did a fine job Sunday. His goofy charisma, was, of course, out in spades. More importantly, he basically looks the same and doesn't wrestle like he's middle-aged. Hell, Hulk Hogan turned 42 in August 1995 in the middle of one of the worst runs of his career.
One thing I noticed is that while Van Dam has never been close to what a sane man would call "out of shape," he was the skinniest he's been in probably 17 years, going back to the very beginning of his run in the original ECW. He also doesn't have much of a wrestler tan, which is honestly a good thing.
In the ring, he moved like he hadn't missed a step. He did overshoot his target when he did Rolling Thunder, turning it into a somersault reverse headbutt, but otherwise I didn't notice any blown spots. And even though he was the lightest he's ever been since becoming a big star, his flying moves had their trademark weightiness, making it look like he killed dudes when he landed on them.
While the ladder match for the World heavyweight title shot was, overall, more spectacular than Van Dam's show-closing match, he still had some of the most memorable moments of the night. He teased a broad jump from a corner ladder, only to hit a (1.25-star) frog splash from the top rung. Later, he took one of Randy Orton's best RKOs ever, with Orton ankle-picking him off the ladder and RKOing him to the mat. It was spectacular enough that it was easy to buy as the finish, enabling Orton to grab the briefcase.
While I contemplated giving Van Dam an incomplete pending his first singles match back (Monday night on Raw?), he really did look great out there, so:
Return Grade: A-
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