Rob Van Dam has always had the amazing ability to connect with the people he’s trying to entertain.
When he was first starting to become a household name in professional wrestling, Van Dam was wrestling in the Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling, where he came in and quickly worked his way into one of the top attractions in front of packed houses that included about 1,500 fans.
He then went to WWE, and once again he became one of the most popular wrestlers. But there he was often wrestling in front of packed arenas and even stadiums. But no matter how many people were in attendance, the “RVD” chants would be among the loudest ones because fans loved him.
It truly didn’t matter what he was doing, whom he was wrestling and what the promotions tried to accomplish with his part of the show. Fans refused to do anything but cheer Van Dam, and he always attributed that to his connection with the people.
“For me, I have a legitimate connection (with fans), I feed off their energy,” Van Dam said. “I’m on Twitter and I heard from a guy who said, “Hey, I met you two years ago in Oklahoma and you slapped my hand twice.’ I love hearing things like that.
“I’ve always gotten my connection with my fans. That’s what I enjoy, that real moment when I see the fans … showing their signs with all the colors. I’m still flattered by the fans spending their time. It’s our connection.”
On Feb. 19, people will be able to strengthen that connection by watching Headstrong, a documentary about Van Dam’s life these days.
The film, which will be available on iTunes, Google Play and VUDU, has something for every RVD fan.
In a way, it’s an action film. Van Dam is best known for being one of the best wrestlers in the world for the past two decades, so wrestling fans will enjoy seeing clips of his old matches, as well as seeing how he interacts with his fellow wrestlers away from the ring.
In other ways, it’s a comedy, as much of the documentary is watching Van Dam during his stand-up comedy tour. You’ll hear where he gets his inspiration for his routine, hear how he got started and watch as he gets great reactions from his jokes.
It could also be considered a love story, as Van Dam introduces nonwrestling fans to his girlfriend, Katie Forbes, who is also a professional wrestling star. But their relationship isn’t sports entertainment, it’s 100 percent real.
But more than anything, the documentary is a drama.
Anyone who has seen Van Dam wrestle in any promotion he’s ever competed in knows that his daredevil style had risk. Whether he was flying from one end of the ring to the other or doing somersault flips on his opponent into the crowd, RVD would go all out to give opponents something they’ve never seen before.
Doing that comes with risks, and Van Dam, who rarely got injured during his days in ECW and WWE, suffered a concussion that caused him a great deal of problems.
The documentary shows how he deals with the issues. Concussions have become a huge problem for all athletes of all types. Football players, hockey players, wrestlers at every level know how dangerous brain injuries can be. One knock on the head can change a person’s life in a hurry. Van Dam deals with that problem, and shows how he adjusts to the side effects of the concussion in his everyday life.
It’s likely pro wrestling fans will be the biggest fans of the film, but it would be inaccurate to call it a pro wrestling documentary. It’s the story of an entertainer who does everything on his own terms and enjoys life.
And while Van Dam is a worldwide star, he will always have a special place in his heart for Philadelphia.
“Philadelphia is where I cut my teeth,” Van Dam said. “It’s where I learned to put everything together, not only to become a superstar in this business, but in Philadelphia, I had to live up to the standards and demands of the ECW fans.
“In the original ECW, I’d go out without restraints. I’d go out and (owner) Paul Heyman said give it what you got. Even on pay per view, he’d say go out and feel it. I’m not sure if it was unprecedented, but it allowed me the freedom to make connection. Fans counted on Rob Van Dam, and as a wrestler and an artist, it was exactly what you’d want.”
And that’s exactly what fans got in the documentary.
The movie will be released on Feb. 19, and will be available on iTunes, Google Play and VUDU and is available for preorder on iTunes.