Robert Alexander Szatkowski, better known by his ring name, “Rob Van Dam,” is an American professional wrestler. He is also known by other names, such as “Robbie V” and “Rob Szatkowski.” To date, he has won 21 championships and is the only person in the history of the sport to have won the ‘WWE Championship,’ the ‘TNA World Heavyweight Championship,’ and the ‘ECW World Heavyweight Championship.’ He is also the 15th wrestler to win the triple crown of wrestling. He topped the rankings of the magazine ‘Pro Wrestling Illustrated’ in 2002. He was named the “Most Popular Wrestler” by the reader of ‘Pro Wrestling Illustrated’ in 2001 and 2002. In 2014, the ‘WWE’ named him the greatest star in the history of ‘ECW.’
Childhood & Early Life
Rob Van Dam was born Robert Alexander Szatkowski, on December 18, 1970, in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S. He is of Belgian and Polish ancestry.
He was raised in Battle Creek and graduated from the ‘Pennfield Senior High School.’
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He was named Rob Van Dam by Ron Slinker in 1991, possibly because of his resemblance to actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and his martial arts experience.
Rob Van Dam started his wrestling career by participating in several independent promotions, such as the ‘United States Wrestling Association,’ the ‘South Atlantic Pro Wrestling,’ and the ‘All Japan Pro Wrestling.’
In July 1992, he won his first wrestling championship, the ‘SAPW Tag Team Championship,’ along with Chaz Rocco. The same year, he joined the ‘World Championship Wrestling’ (WCW) and was named “Robbie V,” again by Ron Slinker. He made his debut as a face on January 23, 1993, and defeated Pat Rose.
In mid-1996, he started competing in ‘Extreme Championship Wrestling’ (ECW). In his debut match at ‘House Party,’ he defeated “Axl Rotten.”
Rob Van Dam became a known face because of a series of contests with long-time rival Sabu. He lost the first match but later won the rematch. In both these matches, he turned heel. Many fights followed, but all of them ended in mixed results.
His next feud was with Doug Furnas, because after Rob’s victory, Doug beat him up, instead of shaking hands with him.
When Rob Van Dam was looking for a partner to form a tag team, he surprised everyone by aligning with his nemesis, Sabu. Together, they became one of the most successful tag teams in the history of ‘ECW.’
Rob Van Dam and Sabu feuded with ‘The Eliminators’ for the ‘ECW World Tag Team Championship.’ ‘The Eliminators’ won on both the times they clashed with Rob and Sabu in 1997.
After ‘ECW’s invasion of ‘Monday Night RAW’ of the ‘World Wrestling Federation’ (WWF) in May 1997 and the latter’s subsequent revenge on the former, Rob became known as “Mr. Monday Night.”
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On April 4, 1998, he won against “Bam Bam Bigelow” and earned the ‘World Television Championship’ title. He retained the title after winning against Furnas and later against Sabu.
On October 24, 1998, Rob and Sabu lost their tag team title to the ‘Dudley Boyz.’ However, within 2 months, they regained it from them at the ‘Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling ECW/FMW Supershow’ in Japan.
After remaining the ‘World Television Champion’ throughout 1998, he had an excellent start to 1999, by defending the title against challengers such as Spike Dudley, Lance Storm, Jerry Lynn, Balls Mahoney, and 2 Cold Scorpio.
On April 17, 1999, he played a singles match against D-Von Dudley. This was supposed to be a tag team match in which Rob and Sabu were supposed to defend their title. However, Sabu was suspended before the contest, resulting in the match turning into a singles game. Rob ended up losing the match and the title.
However, he remained the ‘World TV Champion’ for the whole of 1999 and won against whoever he feuded with. Due to an injury during one of his successful title defenses, against Rhino, on January 29, 2000, he had to vacate the title.
His attempts to regain the title failed. Eventually, he quit ‘ECW.’
After many months of ‘ECW’s closure, Rob joined the ‘WWF’ as a heel. He then defeated Jeff Hardy to become the ‘WWF Hardcore Champion’ at ‘The Invasion.’
On August 13, 2001, he lost the title. However, he regained it 6 days later. On November 18, after his team lost, its members, excluding him, were fired from the ‘WWF.’ However, he was allowed to stay, as he was the ‘Hardcore Champion.’ Before this event, he had challenged “The Rock” for the ‘WCW World Heavyweight Championship’ on several occasions, but had failed.
After he was made a face, he lost the ‘Hardcore’ title to “The Undertaker” on December 9, 2001. On March 17, 2002, he won the ‘Intercontinental Championship’ from Regal, after becoming the top contender for challenging the champion on February 25, 2002.
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In 2002, the ‘WWF’ was divided into two brands, ‘Raw’ and ‘SmackDown!’ Rob was drafted for the former.
His attempt to earn the ‘WWE Undisputed Championship’ title from “The Undertaker” was foiled after Ric Flair’s intervention.
Rob lost the ‘Intercontinental’ title to Eddie Guerrero on April 21, 2002. After many failed attempts to regain the title, he clinched it back from Guerrero on May 27, 2002.
He unified the ‘WWE European Championship’ with the ‘WWE Intercontinental Championship’ after winning against Jeff Hardy, the then-‘European Champion,’ on July 22, 2002.
On July 29, 2002, he lost he ‘Intercontinental’ title to Chris Benoit. However, Rob regained it from Benoit on August 25, 2002. The following day, he unified the ‘Hardcore Championship’ title with the ‘Intercontinental Championship’ title after defeating Tommy Dreamer.
After defeating a lot of contenders, Rob qualified to challenge the ‘WWE World Heavyweight Champion,’ “Triple H.”
Rob lost the ‘Intercontinental Championship’ to Chris Jericho on September 16, 2002. He also lost his challenge to “Triple H” for the ‘WWE World Heavyweight Championship’ on September 22, 2002.
In early 2003, he formed a tag team with Kane. However, their attempt to win the ‘World Tag Team Championship’ on February 23, 2003, failed. Two months later, they won the title and defended it, until they lost to ‘La Resistance’ on June 15, 2003, although they had defended the title against the latter in an earlier match. Later, Rob and Kane feuded with each other.
On September 29, 2003, he won against the ‘Intercontinental Champion,’ Christian, and earned the title. Within a month, he lost the title to Jericho. However, he won it back after a rematch with Jericho. On December 14, 2003, he lost the title to Randy Orton. He ended up losing a rematch on January 12, 2004.
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On January 19, 2004, Rob formed a tag team with Booker T. They won the ‘World Tag Team Championship’ on February 16, 2004, after defeating the team ‘Evolution.’ On March 22, 2004, they lost the title to ‘Evolution.’ The same day, Rob was drafted to ‘SmackDown!,’ from ‘Raw.’ He debuted for them 3 days later.
In June 2004, he geared up to win the ‘WWE United States Championship,’ but multiple attempts to win the title failed.
Later, he joined hands with Mysterio to create a tag team. On December 9, 2004, he won the ‘WWE Tag Team Championship.’ However, they lost the title the following month.
On January 13, 2005, he was injured in a ‘Fatal Four-Way’ elimination tag-team match. Two weeks later, he underwent surgery. The year 2005 was not too eventful for him.
On April 30, 2006, Rob won the ‘Intercontinental Championship’ and the ‘Money in the Bank Ladder’ match. However, he lost the former within a fortnight.
On May 29, he was chosen for ‘WWE’s new promotion, ‘ECW.’
On June 11, 2006, he won the ‘WWE Championship’ after defeating John Cena.
During the ‘ECW on Sci Fi’ debut, Rob was awarded the reinstated title of the ‘ECW World Heavyweight Championship.’ Thus, he became the first wrestler to hold the ‘WWE Championship’ and the ‘ECW World Heavyweight Championship’ titles at the same time. He also became the 15th ‘WWE Triple Crown Champion.’
On July 3, 2004, he lost the ‘WWE Championship.’ The following day, he lost the ‘ECW World Heavyweight Championship.’
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Later, he was suspended from ‘WWE’ due to charges of illegally possessing drugs.
After the suspension, he returned to the circuit on August 8, 2006, and proved that he was still a force to reckon with. He became the number-one contender for the rechristened ‘ECW World Championship’ but lost it on December 3, 2006. In late December, his fans voted him as the number-one contender for the championship again, but he lost the championship this time, too.
He then became part of the stable ‘ECW Originals,’ along with Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, and “The Sandman.”
Rob took a sabbatical from ‘WWE’ after suffering a concussion during a game with Randy Orton.
Between 2007 and 2010, he was active in the independent circuits. He won, lost, and regained the ‘No Limits Wrestling Championship,’ which was later renamed the ‘AWR World Heavyweight Championship.’
Later, in 2010, he started working with ‘Total Nonstop Action Wrestling,’ now called ‘Impact Wrestling,’ and became its ‘World Heavyweight Champion.’ He continued to defend the title until he received severe injuries on August 10, 2010, and had to vacate the title. His attempts to regain the title were futile until early 2013, when he was with ‘TNA.’ However, during this time, he earned other titles, such as the ‘TNA X Division Championship.’
Between June 2013 and mid-2015, he was back with ‘WWE.’ However, he was unable to create much of an impression. In June 2015, he returned to independent circuits, and in 2019, he joined ‘Impact Wrestling.’ He continues to perform in both the arenas.
On July 22, 2019, he made a cameo appearance for ‘WWE.’
Family & Personal Life
On September 6, 1998, he married Sonia Delbeck. They separated in December 2015. Seven months later, in July 2016, Sonia filed for divorce from Rob. The divorce was finalized in 2018.
In 2016, he started dating professional wrestler Katie Forbes.
He has been part of many documentaries, docuseries, and movies.