This match and crowd has gone down in wrestling history (Photo: WWE)
Now a Hollywood superstar, at the time he was the face of Vince McMahon’s company and tasked with defending his WWE Championship against Rob Van Dam in front of thousands of passionate Extreme Championship Wrestling fans baying for blood.
There was something in the air – from the early moments of the match where they returned Cena’s t-shirt back to him every time he tried to lob it into the crowd, to the final three-count carried out by Heyman to give RVD the world title.
Reflecting on his feelings that night, Heyman exclusively told Metro.co.uk: ‘Welcome, Mr. Cena, to Extreme Championship Wrestling.
‘John Cena feeds off of the interaction with a live audience like very few people on the face of the planet in history ever have, ever could, ever would, or ever have the ability to generate that level of passion from a live crowd.
‘I think John Cena, to this day, loved every single micro moment of it.’
Heyman counted the pin for RVD that night (Photo: WWE)
The crowd that night – best summed up by an infamous banner hanging from the balcony warning ‘If Cena wins we riot’ – were firmly against the champ, but Heyman is convinced he would have been a great fit for ECW in another life.
‘Anybody that says that they wouldn’t cherish the opportunity to work with John Cena on any level is a fool,’ he pointed out.
However, for all the talk of both 2006’s One Night Stand and the original reunion show the previous year, Heyman was keen to point out that such an enthralling reception was a regular occurrence back in the day.
‘Everybody talks about the atmosphere of Rob Van Dam versus John Cena at the 2006 show, or The Sandman’s entrance at the 2005 show, or the atmosphere of the entire night at the 2005 show,’ he pondered.
‘I’m happy the memories of those two shows are so vivid to so many people – and I will use the word “and” instead of “but”. And I would add to that statement – we did this every night in ECW. That was the atmosphere every night in ECW.’
Heyman – who can now be seen every week alongside Universal Champion Roman Reigns on SmackDown – explained that as grateful as he is for the outpouring of love for those shows even now, it felt just like old times for him.
‘Rob Van Dam tore the house down with whatever opponent was in the ring with him on a nightly basis for five years in ECW,’ he said.
‘So, while many people are so enthralled with the memories of ECW One Night Stand 2005 and especially the Rob Van Dam, John Cena title match from 2006, this was every night of our lives for seven years.
‘This was what we did, this was the product that we presented. This was truly ECW.’
*WWE SmackDown airs Fridays at 1am on BT Sport.
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