Interview with the Hardcore Icon & Innovator of Violence: Tommy Dreamer

Today I get to check one off of my bucket list as I got a chance to have one of my wrestling idols answer a few questions. Tommy was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to answer many of my questions so a special thanks goes out to him. If you’re like me and grew up a wrestling fan in the 90’s and into the 2000’s then Tommy is no stranger. The Hardcore Icon got his start in ECW and would remain with the company until it shut down in 2001. He’s a two time ECW champion, the only man to hold the belt in both the original and the relaunched ECW, a three time ECW Tag champion and a FOURTEEN time WWE Hardcore Champion. The Innovator of Violence is a master of the DDT and a fierce brawler whether he was in or outside the ring. But I had a lot of questions to ask him and Tommy was glad to oblige. (Of course, he obliged after he looked at my site and told me he liked a lot of the TV shows I talked about.)

All wrestlers seem to have one thing in common in that they have been lifelong fans of wrestling. When did you start watching?

I started watching when I was a kid. Bob Backlund vs Bulldog Brower at Madison Square Garden was on Tv and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What wrestlers did you enjoy watching the most?

Bob Backlund was my favorite until he snubbed me for an autograph, then i hated him. My first wrestling magazine had Dusty Rhodes on the cover and I watched him and he was my favorite. I loved them all Hogan, Jimmy Snuka, Road Warriors, if you were a fan favorite I liked you. I had cable when I was a kid & got WWF, NWA, AWA, Georgia Championship Wrestling, Florida Championship Wrestling, Mid South, World Class Wrestling. I was a tape trader & got Memphis wrestling as well from a fan. I would send him WWF stuff and he would send me their stuff, I watched them all religiously

Dreamers' battles with Edge & Foley are some of the best out of the relaunched ECW.

How old were you decided to start wrestling? How did your family and friends react to your decision to wrestle?

I wanted to be a wrestler the moment I saw it so 8 or 9. My dad took me to shows and bought me magazines. I had subscriptions to The Wrestler Inside Wrestling & Pro Wrestling Illustrated, I still have every copy from 1979 until 1992. I guess they thought it was a stage until I wanted to go to wrestling school. They paid for my wrestling school, so they were very supportive of my entire career. I had to finish college though that was the deal. All my friends were understanding when you miss important events because you are wrestling.

As the industry has evolved fans have seen more “behind the scenes” in pro wrestling and shows like Tough Enough have given us a look at what it’s like to train to be a wrestler. What was it like being trained by WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz and how has training changed since when you were learning?

I drove to Brooklyn every Monday and Tuesday to train about forty five minutes to an hour. Johny was very hands on and you would be training for 5 to 6 hours having matches. We would also train in what would be a UFC or a shooting style so at times you would be fighting for your life, it was so hard. Then you would go out and do shows when he thought you were ready and perform in front of live crowds. I was also taught in a boxing ring at times which meant crappy ropes and a concrete like surface. The business has changed, a lot of people get into it without proper training and it is the blind leading the blind. I have been on many independent shows where the people in the ring are so bad. Plus training is alot easier today because alot of trainers dont want to lose their paying students.

Every fan of ECW knows you and your history with the company, but where did you debut and what was your first professional match like?

October 28,1989 Brooklyn, NY Gleasons Arena. It wasn’t bad, I had a good opponent 500lb Curly Man Moe. He helped me alot to get through it plus I had about 50 family and friends so I was very popular which made the match better.

It’s been said many times there would be no ECW without Terry Funk and the Legend himself seemed to take you under his wing. What was it like for you to have Terry do that?

Terry Funk was the recognizable veteran that helped ECW alot when it first started. He took me under his wing and helped me change my style and with promos. He taught me how to be myself. He is a great mentor. I owe him alot.

Where did the name Innovator of Violence come from?

I came up with it. I’ve always had a creative mind for doing cool things in matches. Plus many wrestlers have nicknames so it worked.

The Dreamer DDT is, in my opinion, one of the best DDT’s in the business. When did you start using it as a finisher?

Thanks. I guess in ’95 when I fueded with Raven. We both were big Jake “The Snake” Roberts fans so it was a homage to him.

One of the best DDT's in the business. Though I also think no one took it better than Matt Stryker at Wrestlemania 23.

You have said before you wanted to go your entire time in ECW without winning the Heavyweight title. What made you want to avoid the title and how did you feel when you became champ?

I didn’t need it. In my opinion titles are needed to help get guys to the next level. ECW was different, I didn’t need it. I feel it still holds true. This years Wrestlemania Rock or John Cena aren’t the champion and it is the most talked about match in a long time. It was great when I won the title in OG ECW but what we did after it was even better. Once someone wins a title the bigger thing is where do you go once you lose it.

Having spent much of your career in ECW working under Paul Heyman, what was it like coming to the WWE?

Going from ECW to WWE was night and day. Total change.

I had the chance to see you wrestle the Big Show live at a house show in West Palm Beach, FL. What’s it like adjusting your style of wrestling to your opponent? Obviously, wrestling a guy as big as the Big Show would be completely different from wrestling a guy the size of Raven.

In ECW, I was one of the bigger guys at six foot 2 and two hundred and fifty pounds. In WWE there are a lot of big men. I adapt my style to any opponent, that is part of being a professional.

After the ECW brand was relaunched there was a pretty fast change in the style from the original ECW. How do you feel about the new ECW now that it’s all over?

I was happy. A lot of guys got a chance to work and be seen on a national stage like WWE. It was supposed to be different but it wasn’t, the fans realized it and tuned out. A big reason why I left.

When the ECW brand was brought to an end, you spent some time on the independent circuit again before joining TNA for another ECW reunion storyline with Extreme Version 2.0. Do you think the extreme/hardcore style of wrestling will make a comeback or is it best left for occasional usage like big Pay Per View matches?

The best part of wrestling is it is always changing. I dont think it will change currently due to the people in charge.

What can you tell us about Tommy Dreamer TV? Who came up with the idea?

I did. I wanted to still entertain fans and also remind them that a lot of men and women are still out there wrestling and they shouldn’t be forgotten. Just because they aren’t on TV they still helped pave the way for the current people on TV and they supplied the fans with entertainment for so many years.

In the end of season 1 of Dreamer TV, you dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, become a dentist, do the JOB to your daughters, and interview yourself. Among other things you also say Tommy Dreamer TV may not be returning for a second season. What are the reasons behind that decision?

It takes a long time to produce and I also got in an argument with youtube and then my producer/editor has college. I get asked a lot to bring it back, I might so that’s why I left it as a cliff hanger so I can do seasons like regular TV.

Recently your wife Trisa, who wrestling fans will best know as Beaulah McGuillicutty, wrote a children’s book called Gertrude the Great with artwork by comic book artist Jill Thompson. What can you tell us about the book?

It is a great childrens book available on www.getgertrude.com or the E Book on www.barnesandnoble.com under Gertrude The Great. Jill is an amazing illustrator and wrestling fan. She has done books for Mick Foley and artwork for Daniel Bryan. Trisa has a few more books. She can rhyme stories and they have a importat message for children, I hope she becomes the next Dr.Seuss. She is very talented.

A lot of wrestlers end up opening their own schools or become producers for WWE or IMPACT. What does the future hold for the Innovator of Violence? 

I started my own production company and I shot 2 pilots trying to sell them. I have a few movies I acted in, I wrestle on weekends, being a dad and enjoying semi-retirement. I am the type of person that takes on any opportunity that comes my way.

Thanks again to Tommy for taking the time out to answer my questions! You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TheTommyDreamer as well as his website www.TheTommyDreamer.com

I’ll leave you with the last episode of season 1 of Tommy Dreamer TV, where Tommy dances, JOBS to his daughters and becomes a dentist like Issac Yankem, DDS.

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