Rob Van Dam, otherwise known as RVD, was given that name because someone once thought he looked like famous actor and martial artist Jean Claude Van Damme. Wrestling fans have often wondered… have the two ever met? And does Jean Claude even know there’s a famous pro wrestler out there using his name? The answer is Yes, they’ve met. And based on how it went, the answer is No, Jean Claude has no idea a famous wrestler uses his name.
Date: 2010 – 2015 (exact date unknown)
Location: Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA
Source: Afterbuzz X-Pac 1-2-360
Prior to their official face to face meeting, RVD had something of an interaction with Jean Claude that wasn’t exactly pleasant.
It happened around 2000, when both men were booked for autograph signings at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. If that year is correct, it would’ve been when RVD was still running strong as one of ECW’s top stars. He was booked to do a signing from 1-3pm, while Jean Claude was booked for 4-6pm.
After his signing, RVD walked around the building. While RVD isn’t the one who gave himself that name, he did keep it and he’s definitely a big fan of Jean Claude. He asked his manager to approach Jean Claude’s entourage and inquire about a photo-op of the two of them, thinking it would be good for the ECW website. But RVD’s manager was told Jean Claude wouldn’t have the time. Rob didn’t seem bothered by this, but was so interested in meeting him that he tried to do it the old fashioned way.
Jean Claude was later doing a Q&A session with fans, taking pictures with them one at a time. RVD simply got in line like everyone else. What he didn’t expect was that the fans in line would create a lot of commotion, which they of course would because he was a celebrity to them and in their world, Van Dam meeting Van Damme was the coolest thing ever.
Not surprisingly, fans pushed RVD to the front of the line. They were as anxious to see them meet as RVD was. Unfortunately Jean Claude noticed the commotion, and as he was answering a fan’s question, he completely lost his train of thought. To make matters worse, fans started chanting, “RVD! RVD!” He looked over and saw what was happening, and RVD said Jean Claude was not happy at all. Whether he knew who RVD was or not is unknown, but whatever the case, he said something to his handler.
The handler then came over to the line and informed fans that Jean Claude would not be taking anymore pictures with fans. He dispersed the line, and the fans who had been waiting, including RVD, all had to leave.
While the fans were disappointed they didn’t get a picture with Jean Claude, they were likely thrilled they at least got to be in line with RVD for that dream moment that never was. For the fans in line who didn’t know who RVD was, they lost out through no fault of their own.
Sean Waltman joked, “Maybe he (Jean Claude) knew that you know Chuck Zito.” That line is of course referencing the infamous story of Zito knocking out Jean Claude in a bar fight, which is partly how Zito gained most of his fame.
The official face to face meeting took place many years later, although we don’t know the exact time frame. RVD, who lives in Southern California, was training at Gold’s Gym in Venice. Working out at the machine next to him was none other than Jean Claude Van Damme.
Unfortunately Jean Claude was on the run and everyone was trying to get close to him. RVD shook his hand and introduced himself as “RVD,” using those initials and not using either his full wrestling name or his full real name. The conversation was described as having gone nowhere. RVD simply mentioned the name of a movie guy they both knew, and Jean Claude basically lied and said, “Yeah, I remember your face!” and walked away.
You’d think that if Jean Claude had spent years getting questions like, “Are you related to RVD?” that he would immediately know who RVD was. The fact he didn’t shows that he probably really doesn’t know. It seems hard to believe, but celebrities live in a bubble and an entirely different world than you and I do.
One cool thing is that RVD’s friend was standing nearby and got a picture of the two of them shaking hands. The photo, to our knowledge, has never been released. But it exists somewhere.
So there you have it. The long awaited meeting of Van Dam and Van Damme has been built up in wrestling fans’ minds for years, and we figured it to be a grand occasion with hordes of media and paparazzi. Instead it was some anticlimactic meeting in a gym with same awkward banter that would occur if any of us nervously met Jean Claude in a similar situation. Ho hum.