Monday Night Raw – May 12, 1997
Lately I’ve been on a bit of a shoot interview binge. Like so many things in life those kinda came and went, evolving into nonstop podcasts where the hosts tell the same stories 37 times under different click baity titles. Still, this recent dive has brought me a lot of laughs, sometimes from unexpected sources. And over the last week, I’ve gotten a whole new appreciation for the humor of Rob Van Dam.
If you never saw RVD in his prime…in his real prime, in the latter stages of ECW and early days in WWE…you really missed out. Dude was insanely athletic, and brought a style to the business that was mostly never seen before, at least not in the US. So for giggles, let’s go back to his first ever match on Monday Night Raw where he took on this man…
…yep, Jeff Hardy! Man, that guy took a pounding around this time; he was already featured once as the victim in SQUASH of the Week, getting avalanched into oblivion by King Kong Bundy (which you can check out here). I mean, he can’t be killed any worse by RVD, right?
We start off with some really fast-paced moves, with Hardy nearly landing on his head courtesy of…well…Rob laying on his back with his feet straight up in the air. Sorry, I don’t know the technical term for that one.
And don’t ask me what this is called either, where Van Dam flips Hardy up in something kinda sorta resembling a Pedigree and winds up dropping him right on his forehead. Let’s just call that the Concusionator. Wait, my bad, let’s go with Van Concusionator. Fits his gimmick better.
A spectacular flip dive over the top rope follows. You may see 20 of those on Dynamite tonight, but this was something you simply never saw in the mid 90’s WWF. RVD was so far ahead of everyone else in wrestling at this point it was crazy.
A spinning double leg drop follows. No idea what the spin does to make it more devastating, but what the heck, it looks cool right?
A body slam follows and Rob heads to the top rope with a gorgeous frog splash. You may be screaming “That’s a FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH!” but I’d counter that’s not the case, as he doesn’t sell his ribs for 20 seconds after delivering it, instead just hopping right up and going back to work. So weird to see that after years of seeing him nearly keel over after hitting it in future matches.
With the frog splash not being the finisher yet, we instead get the split leg moonsault. It may not have been as devastating but I gotta say that looks really freaking cool.
RVD and Hardy would of course have countless matches against each other throughout the rest of their careers. But it all started here…in a SQUASH of the Week!