In the last days of ECW arguably one rivalry kept the show extremely exciting. Rob Van Dam has been WWE Champion, multiple-time Intercontinental Champion, ECW Champion (WWE Era), and multiple-time Tag Team Champion and 2020 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee. Jerry Lynn in his own right was ECW Champion, ROH World Champion, WWE Light Heavyweight Champion, and TNA X Division champion. RVD’s almost 2-year reign as ECW Television Champion sparked a rivalry that extremists talk about for years. RVD vs Jerry Lynn was a technical, high-flying, and hardcore masterpiece.
Rob Van Dam: The Whole F’n Show
Three Letters R-V-D. That’s all anyone has to say to know you are talking about Mr. Monday Night. His athleticism and flexibility were a sight to behold. Time seems to stand still when he leaps off the top rope for his frog splash finisher. Rob Van Dam was also very adept at using a chair in very creative ways. The Van Terminator promises to an immediate light out to any opponent.
On April 4th, 1998, Rob Van Dam won the ECW Television Championship from Bam Bam Bigelow. What was interesting about this match was RVD was supposed to soften up the big man for Sabu to take the title. The wrestling gods intervened and RVD won the belt. He defended the title on every episode of Hardcore TV. A total of 221 title defenses in that almost 2-year span. 1998 was a crazy year for Van Dam. However one could argue that none of those title defenses were as important as his rivalry with Jerry Lynn.
Jerry Lynn: The New F’n Show
Jerry Lynn was an accomplished, in-ring technician. He was the last challenger for the AWA World title. Jerry Lynn wrestled all over the world. He wrestled in Japan for Michinoku Pro Wrestling. He also donned a mask in Mexico as a Luchadore. In WCW he went by the name of Mr. JL and wrestled their greatest cruiserweights including Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, and the late great Eddie Guerrero.
In 1997 he acquired an injury. JL was one of the victims of WCW’s injury non-compete clause and was fired. Jerry Lynn made his way to ECW instead.
Start of an Extreme Rivalry
Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn both started their careers around the same time, but this was the first time wrestling fans got to witness this chemistry between two phenomenal athletes. At ECW Living Dangerously on March 21st, 1999, Mr. JL Challenged RVD for the ECW TV title. This match is a must-see. These two were made to wrestle each other. Counter after counter it was a sight to behold.
At one point Lynn did a Moonsault on RVD in the crowd. Van Dam came back with that leg drop on the apron, a van dam kick, and a painful surfboard submission. It wasn’t long before things got hardcore with the introduction of a steel chair. In a phenomenal spot, JL grabbed the chair. RVD went for a kick but missed the chair landed on the floor and Jerry Lynn drove RVD headfirst into it.
Lynn then went to the top with the chair to finish off Van Dam. RVD met him at the top and shoved him into a table at ringside. The two extremists went back to wrestling including a few picture-perfect northern light suplexes by Jerry Lynn. Lynn was out to prove a point. He was the real f’n show. He gave RVD a vicious piledriver. Everyone thought the champion was finished.
Unfortunately, the time limit had expired. It went to a 20-minute time limit draw. That’s how good both of these legends are. The referee was going to award the bout to Jerry Lynn, however, Lynn refused to win that way. The match restarted. Jerry Lynn went back to the chair but was stopped by a spinning kick. As the time limit was drawing to a close RVD hit his frog splash. RVD retained the ECW tv title.
However, Jerry Lynn elevated his game to a whole another level. The respect he earned that night from the ECW faithful was off the charts. He also earned the respect of RVD. After that match, RVD cut a promo. In that promo, he called himself ” Mr. Pay Per View.” However, he also said that Jerry Lynn pushed him to his limit. In the process giving him his best match as ECW tv Champion.
RVD vs Jerry Lynn
Stealing The Whole Dam Show for the Second Time
Jerry Lynn now believed that he was the uncrowned ECW Tv Champion. He mocked RVD calling himself the ” New F’n show”. A rematch was set for Hardcore Heaven on May 19, 1999, in a match with no time limit. Living up to its name, Wrestling fans felt like they literally died and went to Hardcore Heaven. Once again the two built the story of this match. Starting with the catch as can wrestling and taking the fans on a ride.
Van Dam was cool and confident. Lynn didn’t care, He was about to steal the whole f’n show. At one point Lynn tagged Rvd with an elbow that busted Mr.PPV open. Van Dam repaid the favor by shooting Lynn into the barricade. Now JL was also bleeding. Van Dam rolled Lynn back in the ring and sat him on the top turnbuckle. On instinct, Lynn reversed it into a sunset flip.
He rolled out to the ringside and pulled out a table. Van Dam met him on the outside. The two brawled in the crowd until finally made their way back to the ring apron. Jerry Lynn set up RVD for a suplex through the table but Van Dam shoved him off into the railing. With Lynn draped across the railing RVD connected with a corkscrew kick from the apron. RVD grabbed Lynn and set him on the turnbuckle again.
Blood was pouring out of JL’s forehead but with his last ounce of energy he set up to ddt RVD. RVD countered the move into a clothesline. Sensing victory Rvd hit Lynn with a guillotine leg drop. To everyone’s surprise, Lynn was kicked out. Rvd shot Lynn into a corner but Lynn moved and sunset flipped RVD into the table. Bill Alphonso was concerned as he kept asking if the champion was ok.
Lynn rolled Mr. PPV in the ring but only got a two count. Van Dam fought back knocking JL out. RVD ascended the top rope and hit a frog splash but Lynn rolled him up in a small package for a two count. Van dam hits another frog splash for the win. RVD retained his title again. At the end of the match RVD, Bill Alphonso, and Jerry Lynn gave each other high fives knowing they just wrestled possibly the greatest match in their career. The crowd went nuts chanting “ECW, ECW, ECW.”
The Best in ECW
That year ECW got their first network contract on TNN. Instead of a long promo like the “other companies,” ECW decided to showcase the best they had, RVD vs Jerry Lynn. They replayed the match at Hardcore Heaven. After the replay, Lynn challenged RVD once again for the ECW TV Championship.
“Tonight I want to bring you the best match in wrestling today. Rob Van Dam why don’t you bring the Television title down here right now and defend right here in the House of Hardcore.”
Bill Alphonso walked to the ring and slapped Lynn. JL attacked Alphonso. This bought out RVD who went after Lynn. The two had to be pulled apart by ECW officials. They had several return matches. Once again the real f’n show retained. The beauty of these matches is that not only was RVD and Lynn the Whole F’n show, but the ECW TV Title was the Whole F’n show. At many arenas it main event over the ECW Championship. In The WWE DVD release, RVD One of a Kind, Rob Van Dam praised Jerry Lynn
“I was the tv champion for 23 months, undefeated and untouchable really. Jerry Lynn was maybe one of two guys that actually gave me a run for my money. Most of our matches lasted at least 20 minutes sometimes 30 maybe 40. We both really drew a lot out of each other that nobody else did. I always looked forward to those matches.”
ECW’s Bad Luck Continues
Over time Jerry Lynn and RVD s rivalry turned into mutual respect. The two formed a tag team. A lot of this was attributed to Sabu’s betrayal of RVD. At Heatwave 1999 on July 18th, 1999. RVD and Jerry Lynn teamed up together to defeat the Impact Players Lance Storm and Justin Credible. RVD and Lynn had a few more matches in 1999, however, nothing compares to those two mat classics at Living Dangerously and Hardcore Heaven.
Van Dam went on to have the longest reign of any ECW titleholder. Unfortunately on Jan 29th, 2000, Rob Van Dam broke his leg at a house show. On March 4th, 2000, RVD relinquished the ECW Tv title.
Jerry Lynn Sells Out
When RVD returned in 2000 from the injury he immediately challenged Lynn at Hardcore Heaven 2000. The two were hoping to repeat the previous two years’ performance. Lynn won the match. However, it was mostly to set up RVD vs Scotty Anton. After Van Dam finished with Anton, RVD left ECW. He knew then it was a sinking ship. For some time now ECW was hemorrhaging money.
It was just a matter of time before the land of the extreme became the land of debt. During RVD’s absence, Jerry Lynn became ECW World Heavyweight Champion defeating Justin Credible. He only held the title for one month. Jerry Lynn blamed the fans. Lynn had sold out to an entity called the Network run by Cyrus otherwise known as Don Callus or Jackyl. Jerry Lynn cut a promo on RVD at Guilty as Charged 2001.
He kept insisting that the only way he will compete tonight was in the main event. The fans were shouting for RVD, but Lynn fired back “he’s not here.”
Rob Van Dam Returns
Paul Heyman convinced Rob Van Dam to return for the final PPV. RVD agreed, in his words “it was the right thing to do.” On ECW Hardcore TV, The ECW Champion Rhyno who was also part of the network challenged anyone that thinks they can beat the man-beast to step up. RVD answered the call. RVD came within seconds of taking the ECW Title away from the Network. Jerry Lynn jumped RVD. This set up for the final ECW PPV. Had ECW continued who knows if we would have gotten this rivalry for the ECW Heavyweight Championship.
Saying Goodbye to ECW
At the final ECW PPV RVD faced Jerry Lynn in the Main Event. The two tore the house down. They both wanted to make sure people remembered ECW. The match began the usual way. Started as a technical match, each superstar trying to outdo one another. That proceeded to high flying with Van Dam connecting with several spin kicks. As Cyrus yelled for Lynn to get up, RVD gained momentum.
The whole damn show went for the 5-star frog splash but missed and jerry Lynn rolled him up for a two count. Lynn grabbed a steel chair swung it at RVD but missed. Van dam hit JL with a Van Daminator kick so hard you could see Lynn’s eyes roll into the back of his head. RVD pulled Lynn to the corner. Joel Gertner held a chair in front of Lynn as RVD flew across the ring for his greatest Van Terminator.
It was academic after that, RVD defeated Jerry Lynn and ended their rivalry. ECW was over, but the legacy that the company built will be remembered in every ECW chant that still echoes through arenas.
Both Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn made their way to the WWF. Lynn was there before Van Dam. JL made an instant impact on WWF’s Light Heavyweight Division. Immediately he defeated Crash Holly for the WWE Light Heavyweight Championship on April 29, 2001, in Chicago Illinois on Sunday Night Heat. Arguably that title change could have been a part of the Backlash PPV. He also defended the title several times against Dean Malenko and Lance Storm.
RVD was a tremendous success in the WWE. As mentioned previously he was WWE Champion by defeating John Cena at Extreme Rules. RVD and the WWF Intercontinental title also became best of friends. Van Dam made his debut as part of the Invasion storyline but quickly became a WWE mainstay. RVD was also the poster boy for WWE’s version of ECW. It wasn’t long before RVD and Lynn met in a WWE ring.
Even though it didn’t get the praise their ECW rivalry did it was still one hell of a match. Appropriately enough RVD was the WWF Hardcore Champion at the time. It felt like a little taste of the land of the extreme. Al Snow provided commentary praising Jerry Lynns’ work ethic. Jerry Lynn leveled RVD with a sweet kick over the guard rail. In the Hardcore title matches, pins counted anywhere.
Lynn knew a win over RVD would mean a lot in WWE. Lynn picked up a steel chair. Surprisingly, the two went back to wrestling Van dam eventually got the upper hand with a few rolling thunders. Lynn hit those picture-perfect northern lights suplexes. It was obvious Jerry Lynn was a very underrated threat. The steel chair was still laying in the ring.
Van Dam set the chair over Lynn and attempted a split-legged splash but Lynn used the chair to jab RVD in the gut. Finally, Van Dam caught Lynn with a spinning kick and a frog splash. Jerry Lynn exited the WWF shortly after that. McMahon and company failed to see what an asset Lynn was. RVD and Jerry Lynn could have easily been the whole f-n show in WWE too.
After RVD left WWE he ended up in TNA Impact Wrestling. Like Everywhere he went he made an impact. He defeated AJ Styles and became the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. He also had several encounters with the monster Abyss, Mr. Anderson, Matt, and Jeff Hardy, and the Icon Sting. He also reunited with several ECW originals. At Hardcore Justice Van Dam fought his former ECW tag team partner Sabu.
Once again Jerry Lynn made his mark before RVD. Jerry Lynn captured the TNA X Division Championship twice. He also became an NWA tag team champion. He waged war with AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, The Motor City Machine Guns, and Chris Sabin just to name a few. Lynn left TNA for a few years for Ring of Honor but returned just in time to renew his rivalry with Rob Van Dam.
The two finally met at Destination X. RVD picked up the win. Shortly after that, it appeared Lynn had given up on his quest to defeat RVD and accompanied him at ringside On August 7 RVD was ranked number two in TNA Bound for Glory series. RVD was disqualified when JL entered the ring to break up a pin.
In a match against AJ Styles, Lynn cost RVD the win again. This became a pattern. Was Jerry Lynn still jealous of RVD? In RVDS next match that question was answered with a resounding yes. Jerry Lynn turned on RVD. On IMPACT, he explained his motives.
Bound for Glory
The Last Time
In reality, Jerry Lynn’s injuries were creeping upon him. In 2013, Jerry Lynn decided it was time to hang up the boots. TNA claimed that Lynn was on a “Retirement Tour.” His last match was with none other than RVD on January 12, 2013, at TNA One Night Only X-Travaganza in a no DQ match. Once again in this match, the chair made its appearance. It didn’t matter where RVD and Jerry Lynn fought, a chair was always a part of that match.
Neither superstar forgot how to use that to their advantage. Furniture was the deciding factor in this match. Earlier on Jerry Lynn set up a table on the outside of the ring. As Lynn grabbed the chair and started to crawl to the top rope he was hit with a spin kick. The kick caused Lynn to fall through the table. Van Dam finished off Jerry Lynn with a 5-star Frog splash. The rivalry was over.
After the match, RVD and Jerry Lynn hugged like brothers after a war. Not only that, but the Impact Zone locker room also paid their respect to these one-of-a-kind athletes. Truly they have been in a war with each other for the last 25 yrs. The extreme rivalry turned into an extreme friendship.
On March 23, 2013, Jerry Lynn wrestled his last match in front of a hometown crowd in Minneapolis Minnesota. It was the 25th Anniversary of his first match. He won a 4-way match. After the match, everyone from the Locker room paid their respects to him. Currently, Jerry Lynn is a coach and producer for All Elite Wrestling.
What can you say about Rob Van Dam? Just like the song says he’s truly one of a kind. After he ended his feud with Jerry Lynn. Van Dam became X Division Champion. He held the X Division title for 173 days. In 2013 RVD returned to the WWE at the Money In The Bank PPV. RVD came within seconds of reliving his 2003 victory.
Oddly enough in 2019, he returned to TNA Impact at United We Stand. One of RVD’s highlights was his extreme rules match with Sammi Callihan. RVD turned heel for the first time in Impact wrestling when he turned on ECW alumni Rhyno. Rob Van Dam left Impact again. Here made an appearance at WWE Raw Reunion on July 22, 2019. On April 7 2021 RVD was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn’s rivalry ran through three wrestling companies. Recently at AEW Double or Nothing press conference RVD and Jerry Lynn discussed what the difference was working for each company.
Jerry Lynn elaborated on WWF
“On Sunday Night heat, we had a lot of time constraints. They only gave us 6 minutes. Actually, Paul E got us 3 more, but when it aired they cut the three minutes out. We had the freedom to go do what we wanted but not the freedom for the amount of time we needed.”
RVD chimed in about IMPACT
“In IMPACT, we had a lot of time and freedom to do what we wanted, but it’s not the same when you’re not in front of an ECW crowd. The crowd is the experience so to recreate the experience in front of any other crowd was impossible.”