Rob Van Dam
Rob Szatkowski better known by his ring name Rob Van Dam (RVD), is an American professional wrestler and actor. Throughout his career, he has worked for multiple organizations including Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment, and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Van Dam has won 21 total championships, and is the only wrestler in history to have held the WWE Championship, the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship (once holding the WWE and ECW titles simultaneously within WWE).
Van Dam gained mainstream popularity in ECW before also having success in WWE and TNA. Between ECW, WWF/E, and TNA, Van Dam headlined many pay-per-view events throughout three decades between the 1990s and 2010s. WWE named him the greatest star in ECW history in 2014.
The name "Rob Van Dam" was given to him in 1991 by Ron Slinker, a promoter in Florida, possibly because of his martial arts experience and his resemblance to actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. He wrestled in many independent promotions across Michigan, including the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) and South Atlantic Pro Wrestling (SAPW). In SAPW, he won his first wrestling championship, the SAPW Tag Team Championship, in July 1992 with Chaz Rocco. He also wrestled in several independent promotions across America, and in All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he challenged for the World Junior Heavyweight Championship on several occasions.
Szatkowski is a trained kickboxer and martial artist. Growing up in Battle Creek, Michigan, Szatkowski studied martial arts at two local dojos. He received instruction in Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Kendo, and Kickboxing. In 1990, he placed second in the Kalamazoo Heavyweight Toughman Contest. Szatkowski is also an outspoken advocate of vitamins and bodybuilding supplements and attributes this to his mother's influence.
He is the inventor of the Van Dam Lift, a weightlifting technique that involves performing a split (which he took up in his early teens) between two benches and lifting a dumbbell from the floor to the waist. The lift was approved by IAWA, the International All-Around Weightlifting Association, in 1998. It was also entered in the rulebooks of USAWA, the United States All-Round Weightlifting Association.
Van Dam has appeared on numerous television shows and in films. In 1995, he was in Superfights as "The Mercenary", and in 1997 he appeared in Bloodmoon as "Dutch Scholtz". On October 23, 1999, he appeared in City Guys, in the episode "El-Trainmania IV" as himself. In 2000 he appeared in 18 Wheels of Justice, on August 2 as "Robert Laramie", and in The X-Files on May 7 as "Burt's opponent" in the episode "Fight Club". He also appeared on V.I.P. in the episode "Survi-Val" as "Major Ving Talbot" that year. On July 26, 2001, he appeared as himself on Spy TV, and again later that year he appeared as himself in Ultimate Revenge on December 2. In 2002, he was featured in the music video for Breaking Point's "One of a Kind" along with starring in two films, Black Mask 2: City of Masks as "Claw", and a cameo appearance in The Backyard as himself. In 2005, the Rob Van Dam: One of a Kind DVD was released. He also appeared on Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling in 2008 teaching finishing moves to the celebrities. In 2011 he worked alongside WWE wrestlers Dave Batista and Nelson Frazier Jr. in a movie titled Wrong Side of Town which was released the following year.