The Phoenix New Times recently conducted an interview with Rob Van Dam. Below are the highlights.
How is TNA different from other wrestling companies, like the WWE?
"In Total Nonstop Action, individual wrestlers have a lot more freedom to artistically express themselves versus WWE. When we have our matches, they are known to be more athletic, more competitive in nature, and that's what wrestling fans really appreciate. And the fact there's more of a focus on wrestling in TNA over the other major company on TV. Whereas WWE has been known to feature more of the 400-pound giants that aren't necessarily going to [perform] quite as impressively. TNA focuses more on the wrestler's abilities and skills and gives them a chance to shine out there in front of the fans."
Are there other differences?
"It's also more of an up-close-and-personal experience where wrestlers are more accessible and there's a lot of times spent on meeting the fans. And Bound For Glory will be no different and we'll be there on October 14 with a big meet-and-greet. The day before that is also something called "TNA Fan InterAction," which all the top stars will be there as well. People can meet and talk to their wrestlers and get their photos taken with 'em."
What's it like being a professional wrestler and performing on nationwide TV?
"We're all in the ring to show off. That's what being in the spotlight is all about. You have your skills and you're there to show a bunch of people who paid to see them what you got."
Your big move is the Five-Star Frog Splash, where you leap from the top turnbuckle and land on your opponent. How much does it hurt when you land?
"Any time that you want to drop from 10 feet and then land on your ribs you're going to feel it (laughs). All you can do is be conditioned for it by training and being a pro wrestler and being able to take all those moves. Depending on when in the match a do the move also matters, as I feel it less at the beginning of a match when I'm fresh than at the end. It's all about calculating and hitting it at the right time. Obviously, it's nothing I can't handle."
You've wrestled for more than 20 years now. How long will you continue to perform?
"I don't know, I get asked that a lot. I've been wrestling for a long time and right now I'm in a unique position of balance where I have more experience than most other wrestlers that are still competing but I'm still peaking physically. I'm still able to do every move I've ever did when I was 18- or 25-years-old and I'm still making money. So right now wouldn't be the time to leave. Looking down the road, however, it's hard to say. I don't plan on being Ric Flair's age and hitting the Rolling Thunder."
Or being Hulk Hogan's age and hawking Rent-A-Center television?
"Yes (laughs). All the respect in the world for those guys and they obviously love the business to stay in it that long. I have a lot of interests outside of the business and a lot of projects that take my time and my energy. So, really, we'll see what life brings me, but I know I'll be in TNA at least for a while, so the question of me jumping over to wrestle on [WWE] Raw or something, I can tell you that's not going to happen."
Fans have been comparing WWE's Ryback to you because of your similar taste in wrestling tights. What do you think about that?
"Well, the truth is that Ryback reached out to me and asked for permission to use the same airbrush artist that I use, Joe Holland in Savannah, Georgia. The guy's been making me the same outfits since like 1995 and he doesn't do a lot work for wrestlers. And I'm all for anyone that can make more business off of things they do for me. Ryback has my blessing [and] I'm flattered that he's a fan of mine. He's been very respectful in reaching out to me. I haven't met the guy but have nothing but respect for him."