Throwback, Rob Van Dam in Japan

As a 22 year old, Rob Van Dam’s career began with a wrestling contract in the All-Japan Professional Wrestling league (AJPW). Being young and impressionable, Rob leaned heavily into Japanese culture with a great deal of respect and reverence. Yin-Yang energy, alternative healthcare views, and the holistic health approach have influenced his marijuana use and the manufacturing of his current RVDCBD products; the overarching principle is developing a healthy body, mind, and soul balance. Rob Van Dam in Japan molded the MR. 420 we all know and love.


“Everything was a step along the way.”

~Rob Van Dam

Eastern Philosophies

While many people attribute his laid-back, easy-going attitude to his marijuana use, it stems from the Zen outlook he adopted while in Japan. “I learned so much working with them at the time and being in the middle of their culture.”

Rob said, “Even before I went to Japan, I loved Eastern philosophy.” Being immersed in their culture only refined his dedicated mindset. “Discipline is a part of their culture.” In the world of the squared circle, he watched with respect as Japanese beginner professionals washed bathrooms, locker rooms, and took care of the ring. Though, he had no desire to do those jobs, he learned the respect for the sport and all it entailed. To this day, RVD will always be known for his discipline toward health and wellness. Looking back on the young man before Japan and the seasoned Hall of Fame World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion of today, it’s clear, his time in Japan shaped who he is inside and out.

RVD meditating in a garden

“You’re only at your best when your mind, body and spirit are in balance.”

~Rob Van Dam

No Cannabis in Japan

Although, hemp and marijuana plants were farmed and used for cloth for centuries in Japan, after World War II (1948), hemp, marijuana, and any product with THC was deemed illegal. Only through loopholes, as of 2021, have CBD products with Zero THC been allowed.  RVD could not use hemp or marijuana during his time in Japan, but the whole-body influence of Eastern medicine made sense.

What is the difference between Eastern and Western medicine? According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), Western medicine separates the health from the disease, and Eastern medicine looks at the whole balanced state. RVD adopted this Yin-Yang approach and to this day advocates for the balance or your mind, body, and spirit, as well as the daily benefits from CBD. As we all know, RVD came head to head with legal marijuana troubles, and he doesn’t want that for you; that’s why RVD created a zero THC line of Tinctures, Gummies, and Topicals.

Fresh Off the Plane, Rob Van Dam in Japan

Even though he’s adopted many Japanese ideas, not everything appealed to him. At first, like anyone in a new culture, RVD had culture shock. “In the Airport in Japan was scary. I didn’t understand anything. I felt like I’d get lost if I didn’t hold on to someone’s coattail.” Everything was foreign. “It was a lot of work to enjoy being there. I didn’t like the food; I wasn’t into experimenting with [it], and I was homesick.”

Extreme Training for the Extreme Athlete

Near the beginning of his career, RVD wasn’t experienced in life, but he was pumped, and he was ready to push the envelope. Despite a bit of culture shock, even in Japan he found home in the ring. RVD started wrestling in Japan in February of 1993. At 22 years-old, but Japan influenced his wrestling style tremendously. It was his acrobats and athleticism that created this opportunity in the first place, though.

How did a kid from Battle Creek, Michigan end up in Japan? A wrestler named Brady Boone went out of his way to help RVD out. He introduced RVD to Lord Blears, a UK wrestling legend from Hawaii. RVD sent him a demo tape doing flips and kicks. Lord Blears agreed with Brady Boone, RVD would be perfect for Japan. When RVD got over there and in the ring, he wasn’t matching a style, but he pushed his boundaries in a unique way, and Japanese people loved him for it. Even though, a lot of the other wrestlers were huge, around 260- 300 lbs., he was the only one to flip and high fly off the guard rail.

Japanese No-frills Wrestling is an Art

RVD has never been a run with the crowd kind of guy, and being in Japan surrounded by giants, he didn’t have other wrestlers willing to do his style. He had to learn how to fit his acrobats in and stand out. That was a huge take away for RVD. “Everything had to be compatible with these big guys and their style of wrestling. That’s something that is lacking with a lot of these younger wrestlers today.” Now wrestling seems less competitive like they’re only interested in following the script with no desire to best the other. Get in, get out, check the box, be done. What happened to the magic of wowing the crowd? The awe-inspiring competition of trying to outdo the other and wow the crowd. That type of wrestling is a lost and dying art.


“I loved the Japanese wrestling style!”


Wrestling Style, From Rob Van Dam in Japan

Once RVD got in that squared circle, however, he was at home, even on the other side of the world. Being in the ring and getting their reaction was amazing. RVD awed at the respect and honor the Japanese people held for their wrestling athletes, and rightly so. Japan’s wrestling style was athletic based. United States wrestling (during the 90’s), was heavily based on characters and story line drama and is so today. RVD shared how in Japan there were no interviews, and back in the 90’s there was only one person and his partner who painted their faces. The competition was stiff, and in RVD’s words, “I learned to enjoy [the competition] and the respect the fans have [for the athletes] over there. [It’s] so much better over there; it’s ingrained in their culture.”  

Sabu’s training prepared him for this style, “It was very tough, and you had to be prepared to take a solid shot to be able to last.” RVD certainly came home with the mental and physical toughness necessary for EXTREME wrestling. RVD always was a competitor and fan’s man, but no other wrestler in the States, arguably, elevated and pushed the professional wrestling platform to be better like he did.

RVD’s Favorite Wrestling Moment In Japan

RVD’s favorite match was back in 95 against Danny Kroffat. It was his first singles match. Rob said, “He taught me how to tell the story, how to place my moves in the match accordingly to get the best response from the crowd.” And every pro wrestling tour ended at the Tokyo Budokan no matter the length of the tour.

RVD’s Takeaways

Rob Van Dam wearing a black button up shirt, jeans and shoes, sitting on an orange couch outdoors
  1. RVD incorporated the discipline of the Japanese culture
  2. He learned the art of Entertaining in the ring thanks to Kroffat
  3. Gleaned a fearless respect for competition
  4. Raised US ECW Wrestling (during his career) to the extreme wrestling worthy of honor
  5. Understands the body is a machine as a whole and must be treated medically as such started RVDCBD
  6. Focuses on balance in mind, body, and spirit and exemplifies a peaceful layer back balanced way of life

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