June 11th, 2006, what a crazy night it was. It also happens to be one of the biggest nights in Rob Van Dam's wrestling career. It's in his house, the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, a venue that goes hand-in-hand with the letters ECW. It’s been over 5 years since the Heyman ran ECW has closed its doors, but with the “never say die” attitude of the ECW faithful the WWE decided to give the hardcore company one final sendoff. What a sendoff it was.
The main eventCena’s track record against Money in the Bank cash-ins is a bit spotty. With Edge cashing in on New Years Evolution and spearing him twice to become the new champ, Cena would have to win the Royal Rumble and his 3rd straight Mania match against HHH to regain what was once his. saw "The whole fucking show" RVD, a staple in ECW lore, take on John Cena, the current WWE champion. But before we jump into the action, let's look at how these two, with such different paths, got to this point.
One of ECW's biggest stars, RVD was the ECW TV champ for over 700 days, only to relinquish it due to injury.
He was the ECW television champion for 700 days, only to relinquish because of an injury. After ECW closed, RVD joined the WWE roster and the once underground hero became a star. As one of the biggest names leading the poorly booked “Alliance”, RVD was thrusted into main event status squaring off against the likes of Kurt Angle and Steve Austin.
As poorly as the “Invasion” angle was handled, RVD benefitted from the screen time. The next year he'd win the Intercontinental title and performed in his first Wrestlemania against William Regal. RVD looked to be heading to the top soon yet he stayed in the mid card up to this point. He'd win the Tag titles and unify the IC and European championship. Though RVD had star potential, the company never fully pushed RVD despite having some stellar matches against Kane, Chris Jericho, Christian and Booker T, etc.
Wrestlemania 22 is when his fate would change. Winner of the “Money in the Bank”, Rob Van Dam now had his foot in the door and had climbed the proverbial ladder in more ways than one.
John Cena’s rise to prominence was a much different story. Coming up through the WWE’s developmental program OVW, Cena made his debut in 2002. A failed first stint forced Cena to rebrand, enter the “Doctor of Thuganomics”. He'd win his first WWE title against the Big show at WM 20, taking home the US championship, and was fast tracked to stardom winning the WWE title the very next year.
Cena’s track record with Money in the Bank cash-ins is a bit spotty having lost to Edge previously, it forced Cena to go down a long road to regain his title against HHH at WM 22. So when RVD announced he'd be cashing in his prize at ECW's "One Night Stand' the stakes were as high as they possibly could be.
On to the main event!
RVD came out to a hero's welcome as chants of “RVD” echoed throughout the Hammerstein Ballroom. Cena on the other hand came out to a chorus of boos, the “Chain Gang” leader was in enemy territory to say the least. We can't forget that this is the first time the WWE Championship would be on the line during a ECW event, this was a historic moment.
A hostile environment, the camera pans to a sign that famously says "If Cena Wins, We Riot", every time Cena threw his shirt in the crowd, the fans would throw It back. The crowd would then chant "Fuck you Cena" over and over. There has never been a crowd so one sided, maybe SummerSlam 92’ in England as the British Bulldog wins the IC belt comes close, but certainly nothing this hostile.
As the match ensues both men would pull out all of their tricks, unfortunately for Cena the crowd was having none of his usual crowd pleasing antics as they chanted "you can't wrestle" over and over. It was really this match that gave many hope that Cena could one day turn heel, he certainly embraced being hated throughout this one, and to be honest, he was good at being the bad guy.
Heading into the climax, a masked man enters the fold spearing Cena, only to reveal himself as Edge. With the crowd going nuts, chanting "thank you Edge", RVD was going in for the kill. With Cena in position, the "Whole Fucking Show" hits his patented Five Star Frog Splash. With the ref out, Paul Heyman would count the three to an explosion of cheers. Rob Van Dam was now the WWE Champion.
A long journey for RVD, but finally he climbed to the top. A moment that John Cena, ECW fans and RVD would never forget. RVD's win over Cena at One Night Stand in 2006, is no question, not even an argument, one of the most memorable moments in the 2000's and in the 21st century of wrestling. 14 years later, it still holds up. You feel the crowd, you feel the intensity, not many matches grab your attention like this did. Mr. Monday Night became Mr. WWE champion!