May 26, 2012
Burritos and Starbucks and Doink — oh my
By TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling
If anyone wants to get an inside glimpse of what it is like to be a professional wrestler — and see the countless hours of travel it takes to entertain the fans — then please read on.
This past weekend, I performed at two shows — Friday in Amsterdam, N.Y., and Saturday in Middletown, Ohio. The Friday show was in conjunction with an actual professional wrestling Hall of Fame building, located in Amsterdam, which boasts a lot of cool memorabilia. Several former wrestling greats were being inducted on Saturday so organizers like to run a show on Friday so the fans get an entire weekend of pro wrestling. The town opens up for the fans and it really is a great weekend.
On to my own weekend festivities. I woke up Friday morning at 7 a.m. I took my girls to school for 8:30. Upon returning, I then did my standard, everyday, routine of one hour of cardio in my house. I showered and then headed to the gym. I worked out with weights for about 45 minutes. I got home, ate an egg white omelet, jumped in the shower again and started to pack.
I will let that settle with my readers. I know you are all amazed at my strict routine. I will settle the age-old question you are all thinking: Wow, Tommy trains that hard to look like that? Yes I do. I curse you, stupid genetics. Just imagine how much more out of shape I would be if I didn’t (haha).
My friend Brooke decided to come along with me to the show. We left at 1:30 p.m. We stopped at our usual New York State Thruway rest stop.
For all you Starbucks fans, I got my non-fat cold venti green tea latte, with no ice. As any Starbucks nut knows, it is key to order it correctly, but no matter where I do, the server always messes up my order. I am always guarding the line as I watch them make it. I have to say “no ice” several times, which usually puts the employees on a mental time lapse. Whenever I don’t stand guard over my order, I get it hot, or with lots of ice or, my favourite is when they add coffee to the tea. Talk about gross.
We drove on. I was very hungry at the two-and-a-half hour mark, but I refused to eat poorly on this trip. I had to stay strict to my diet. We finally arrived in the town at 5 p.m.
I stopped and ate at Moe’s, a Mexican burrito place, where ordering by name is crucial to your meal as well. I ordered a naked steak burrito, which is steak on top of salad, and two other burritos, one steak and one chicken. These burritos were fully clothed as I could only handle one food nudity at a time. I finished the steak burrito during the ride from the resturant to the venue.
Upon arrival, I saw my fellow wrestlers and exchanged pleasantries.
Now it was time to work. I drank a Monster Energy Drink and started my autograph session before the show. I participated in a meet and greet with the fans, posed for pictures and had an overall fun time with this. I saw many of my childhood heroes walking in or as they were setting up their own tables, selling pictures, doing the same thing I was doing.
To my left was WWE Hall of Famers Tony Atlas, Nikolai Volkoff and Jimmy Snuka, who was walking after a very serious ankle surgery. To my right was former wrestler and famed antagonist manager from Quebec Frenchie Martin, former TNA wrestler Shark Boy and former WWE Diva Jillian Hall. The show was about to begin, so we all made our way to the back. My match was last and I had the lovely Jillian Hall as my manager for the night. In the end, I had an enjoyable match.
I toweled off and headed to the hotel bar at 10:15 p.m. I am not a drinker, I just love the atmosphere of the wrestlers and the fans enjoying a good time together. The bar was a scene straight out of Star Wars. Bruno Sammartino was there, Dominick Denucci, The Super Intelligent Destroyer in mask, Wendi Richter, JJ Dillon, Smith Hart, Ray Apollo (who was the second Doink in WWE) my trainer and WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz (whom I specifically went to see and to say hello to; it was also his birthday a few days eariler), Fit Finlay and Val Venis, all of whom were wrestlers from the show.
Apparently there was another show running against the hall of fame show, which, to me, isn’t cool. You shouldn’t make the fans have to decide between them.
Let the hall of fame have a weekend to its own. But sadly, that is how the wrestling business is. After the bar, I went to the hotel so I could kill a few hours and just drive straight to the airport for my 6 a.m. flight to Ohio.
I enjoyed my naked burrito as I talked mainly to Johnny Rodz and to Ray Apollo. Ray and I spoke about Bam Bam Bigelow, whose son he is a godfather to and whose flamed head he has tattooed on his forearm. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the stories, as well as talking to the fans. Getting people’s opinions and sharing their moments is why I got into this business. I am still a fan and will be until I die. I left at 1 a.m. I drove through the night. I ate my last burrito and had another Red Bull energy drink. I got home at 4:05 a.m., took a shower, changed clothes and set out for JFK Airport.
I attempted to leave at 4:20 a.m., but as I was loading the car, my one daughter came running out of the house yelling “daddy don’t go, you didn’t say goodbye.” I love that she cares so much about me, but as a parent, it destroys me. It’s so hard to leave your kid at home. I tucked her into my bed and left. Now I was late. Thankfully I made my flight, but there was a slight problem: I was going to Charlotte, N.C., then on to Akron, Ohio. I was too sleep deprived to wonder why, but I carried onward.
I don’t remember my flight in the least. I was crammed next to some guy, and I was probably snoring and drooling all over myself and him the entire time. I arrived in Charlotte at 7:30 a.m. and discovered that I had a 3.5-hour layover. I walked like a zombie to Starbucks, placed my usual order and, surprisingly — not— had to send it back because they gave me iced coffee. I was walking to my gate when I spotted current WWE producer Road Dogg. We sat in rocking chairs and told stories for three hours, until we were interrupted by WWE Superstar Kane. Thankfully, nobody was chokeslammed. They were connecting planes to go to a WWE show.
I had 20 minutes until my flight and I was hungry. What, pray tell, do you think was the only food near my gate? Mexican burritos. I ordered another chicken (a fully clothed one), and I ate it as I boarded my plane.
I slept during my 30-minute flight and then hello Akron.
The sad thing was I was still 3.5 hours from Middletown.
The promoter, a former wrestler, picked me up and we drove. We eventually stopped at Wendy’s, where I had a chicken pecan salad.
We stopped for gas, even though I had enough gas from the beans in me to fuel the car from there to California. I got two more energy drinks and we drove on.
I got to the show, where I saw WWE Hall Of Famer, the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. Repeat the cycle, except my wife calls and says she was in a car accident. Everyone was OK, but she started crying.
My dog has been having health issues and had some seizures. Yes, I know this is the kind of stuff that happens in the real world, except I was hundreds of miles away. That kills me inside, but as long as they were OK, that’s all I could ask for.
After the show, I made an appearance at the restaurant belonging to the local sponsors of the show, where I had a burger.
From there, I drove with two of that wrestling promotion’s students and my new friend, Jesse. Jesse was burnt as a child. He is 23 and covered in scars over 90% of his body. He jokingly calls himself Freddy Krueger.
I saw how people looked at him, but I realized he has found a home among all of us freaks in professional wrestling. Nobody treats him differently in this industry, he fits right in. I shared many laughs and look forward to hanging out with him again.
He drove an hour past where he lives and a total of 3.5 hours through the night and made sure I got there safe. I slept during my 40-minute flight to Washington, DC. I had a layover and was hungry so, you guessed it, I had another burrito. I landed in New York and I wanted to cry when saw how much damage was done to my truck.
I realized all the money I just made will go toward that, but I also realized how blessed I am when I opened the door and I heard my girls call out “Daddy” upon my arrival. It makes it all worth it.
If I had to change one thing over the course of the two travel days, maybe it would have been the two green tea lattes, mixed with five energy drinks, two salads, four burritos, caffeine, lettuce and beans. What a combo, but that was a problem for Sunday (haha).
Seriously I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else with my life. I still love every aspect of professional wrestling. I love the lifestyle, the hustle and all the things that happen along the way. I am so happy I am still on this amazing journey and I that get to share it with so many people.
Thanks for reading.
TOMMY DREAMER LINKS
Tommy Dreamer is a legendary and influential pro wrestler and a father and husband who has worked for World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action. His column appears in the Kingston Whig-Standard and on SLAM! Wrestling. Follow him on Twitter @THETOMMYDREAMER and check out his website at thetommydreamer.com. He can be booked for live appearances through his website.