The sixth edition of “Timeline: The History of ECW” from Kayfabe Commentaries sees “The Whole F’N Show” – Rob Van Dam take a spot in chronicling the story of Extreme Championship Wrestling. If you’re not familiar with the Timeline series, it sees host Sean Oliver sit down with a famous superstar to chronicle and share stories of the milestones of the year in question; both inside and outside that promotion’s squared circle.
1999 was a big year for both Rob Van Dam and ECW. As the calendar turned to 1999, RVD was in the middle of his epic 23 month ECW World Television Championship reign and en-route to becoming quite possibly the most popular superstar in the promotion! RVD’s TV Title reign raised the prestige of the Championship, so much so that Van Dam would headline and close shows on a regular basis ahead of the World Heavyweight Champion (even on PPV!).
Just like 1999 was a huge year for RVD, it was an even bigger year for the promotion. 1999 was the first steps towards the edge of the cliff for ECW – brought about by the company’s rapid growth. 1999 saw ECW gain a national TV presence on TNN (later renamed Spike TV). The year also saw ECW add a series of action figures, a video game and even a magazine (remember those?). 1999 was also a big year in regard to talent departures (The Dudley’s, Shane Douglas and Taz), debuts (Super Crazy, Tajiri and Rhino) and returns (The Sandman, Raven, Mikey Whipwreck and The Public Enemy). Over the course of the interview many of these superstars were discussed and their impact on the promotion.
The interview clocks in at just less than 2 ½ hours and unique to the ECW Timeline series is the addition of classic footage; the footage comes courtesy of RF Video and is used to highlight the moments. I felt that this particular release utilized a little less classic footage than some of the earlier ECW Timelines, with only a handful of clips appearing. Rather than a traditional open, the ECW Timeline series always opens up with the first milestone discussion, forgoing a traditional introduction as with other the Timeline series. Honestly, I much prefer the more traditional introductions, like those on the WWE Timeline series.
While this interview does look at a number of big topics, there was a few which I was disappointed weren’t looked at. While I understand not everything can be covered, it would have been nice to hear some alternate discussion of Heatwave ’99 – especially the controversial conclusion to the Taz vs. Tajiri match, which almost saw Heatwave ’99 thrown off PPV when Taz applied a choke hold on Tajiri with a piece of barbed wire. Instead of this we were given discussion of the Jason Knight vs. Jazz inter-gender match. That said, a great number of the topics I expected to be covered were indeed given plenty of discussion.
One of the most interesting parts of the interview involved drug use within ECW. The discussion was brought about by the death of Rick Rude. The question is posed to Van Dam as to why Rude (and Louie Spicolli’s) deaths didn’t serve as cautionary tales to the locker room. Here RVD openly discussed his own drug use and how Louie’s death affected him and brought about a change in his drug use, yet for others (even close friends of Rob) it didn’t. Rob quipped at one point that ECW wrestlers had to fail a drug test in order to be welcomed into the locker room.
Other funny stories from the set included: RVD recalling himself and Tajiri discussing the differences in working for ECW vs. WWE, and a story about missing a call for a match while ‘smoking’ in the parking lot with his entrance music playing over and over for the fans.
It was also nice to hear RVD’s version of (then World Champion) Taz’s involvement in bringing in a new ‘silver’ TV title belt. This story was one originally shared by New Jack (“Timeline: The History of ECW 1998”), so it was cool to hear RVD’s side of the story (they matched up pretty well actually). RVD also had some comments to make about New Jack, his in-ring style and even the processes of blading; we learned that RVD actually only bladed twice because of the concerns which he had over blood-borne diseases. Rob also reveals that every time he bled in ECW; it was the hard way as he never bladed during this run in ECW.
Rob Van Dam provided us with one of the most honest interviews which we have seen, no subject seemed off limits and he had a very good recall of the events of the year, which was also quite refreshing. Actually, I don’t recall even one instance where Rob didn’t have memories and stories to go along with the milestones. RVD’s openness and recall both result in a really great interview, which I have no reservations in providing my highest recommendation to. Rob Van Dam may have just earned himself a new moniker: “Mr. ECW Timeline” because this was THE WHOLE F’N TIMELINE!
“Timeline: The History of ECW – 1999” is available now at KayfabeCommentaries.com.
You can purchase a physical DVD copy or stream instantly On Demand.