The first time Rob Van Dam earned "wrestling money," he was only 16 years old.
The newest episode of WWE Icons chronicles the life and career of Rob Van Dam. In it, he shares that he first started watching wrestling at his friends' behest, originally scoffing at the outlandish names of some of the performers. After seeing his first live match, however, he was hooked.
"My friends would watch professional wrestling," RVD explained. "I just remember them talking about some of the names and I was laughing, like, 'That sounds ridiculous! Brutus Beefcake. Big John Studd.' They were like, 'No, no it's cool, you should come and watch it.' I saw Corporal Kirchner being attacked by The Iron Sheik and I was hooked. It was the very first live match that the thought got put into my head that I wanted to be a pro wrestler."
On June 28, 1987, RVD attended a live event at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Michigan. At that show, The Million Dollar Man would be filming a vignette for TV. As fate would have it, Van Dam was chosen from the audience to participate in the segment which would require him to kiss Ted DiBiase's sweaty, stinky, bare feet for cash. According to RVD, here is what happened:
"During this time when I'm going to these live matches that were shown at The Kellogg Center, they were going to be filming a vignette for TV to promote Ted DiBiase, The Million Dollar Man. He came down to the ring and the cameras were on him and he said he'd take a volunteer from the crowd. We were just screaming. My friend Dango, he'll always say that he pointed at him and that I just jumped the guardrail, but I got in the ring. I was so excited. We saw the vignettes. We saw what he was doing, proving that everybody's got a price, and you can only say no so many times before the offer changes your mind. I knew all about that but I wasn't thinking straight. I was the worst negotiator ever. I could have made $500. It was my first wrestling money that I ever made. It was real money. $100."
The docu-special shows the clip of RVD in the ring with DiBiase and seemingly accepting the very first offer. After having his foot kissed, The Million Dollar Man crumpled up a one hundred dollar bill and threw it at 16-year-old Van Dam.
RVD was recently inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Ted DiBiase has been appearing on NXT as of late, proving himself to be a thorn in the side of the recently wealthy Cameron Grimes.
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