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The House of Hardcore is coming
By TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling


It has been awhile since my last column. To no one's surprise, I have still been wrestling every weekend. In fact, I return to Toronto on Aug. 12 for the Heavy T.O. Heavyweight series, an event at which I look forward to seeing all my hardcore Canadian fans and my Kingston Whig-Standard supporters. Remember my exclusive newspaper deal: bring a copy of one of my columns to an event and I will give you a free autographed 8x10 and pose for a picture.

I also recently shot a cool horror film called Self Storage, starring Eric Roberts (Pope of Greenwich Village, Expendables, Batman Dark Knight), Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie's) and Michael Berryman (One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest, The Hills Have Eyes and my favourite Motley Crue video -- "Smokin' In The Boys Room").

It is my second film and I have others on the way. I really enjoy acting and I was honoured to have Roberts compliment me on my acting skills and believability. He went out of his way to help me. It amazes me how people believe wrestlers can't do other things. We do live theatre every week on TV, after all, with little to no margin for error. Acting is natural for us. I, for one, am glad that someone took the chance on me.

The bigger news is that I am finally throwing my name into the wrestling promoting business. I've always wanted to run my own show, so I figure there is no better time than the present. After all, I am not getting any younger and all the chips fell in the right places. It's not new territory for me, either. I ran hundreds of shows in Extreme Championship Wrestling, did a few for World Wrestling Entertainment and one in Total Nonstop Action. They were all successful, but in the end, were for someone else's benefit. Yes, it is a risk financially, just like starting any business, but one I have to take for many reasons.

It all begins on Oct. 6 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (which would be a roughly 500-kilometre drive from Kingston for my fans there).

This is how I see things, straight from the mission statement on my website (houseofhardcore.net).

All great things begin with two combustible elements -- passion and work ethic. With one, a competitor may make it far, but risks the chance of crashing and burning. With both, however, all great warriors are destined for greatness. That is the origin of the term hardcore and the very backbone of the House of Hardcore, when it debuts at the last historic wrestling venue still standing and unchanged, the Mid-Hudson Civic Center.

The term "hardcore" in professional wrestling has been perverted over time and has come to be synonymous with the more violent elements of the business. However, while that gritty aspect may be an element of hardcore, it's not what true hardcore wrestling is only about.

House of Hardcore is about work ethic. I have chosen the men and women who will compete in House of Hardcore to wrestle on this first show for that reason, work ethic. Hardcore isn't about blood, barbed wire and tables. It was always and will always be about a competitor giving everything they have physically, mentally, emotionally in their match. It is about the passion of what you do, what you give of yourself in the ring. Hardcore is about giving your heart and soul to the fans. That is the backbone of what House of Hardcore is about.

That mission statement has been the mantra of my professional wrestling career, both behind the scenes and in front of the eyes of the fans. I've fought the wars, won the world championships and suffered the agony of defeats. I've overcome injuries, faced desperation and trials and anguish. Through it all, with each fall, I've risen back to my feet, ready and willing to fight again, my spirit unbroken. Now, it's time for the broken spirit of professional wrestling to rise like a Phoenix out of the politics, the sideshow, the haze that has hindered its evolution, its honour and its passion. It's time for the House of Hardcore to rise. It's time for a place where wrestling fans can find the wrestling they desire, with no catches.

Without the fans, quite simply, there is no Tommy Dreamer. I am forever in debt to all of them for letting me live my dream. When I left WWE, I said the fans were my family and I mean that. They are my family and they've fed my family. Now, it's time to give back to them. We have the chance to entertain the fans the only way I know how, wrestling, in the last historic building left. The others are gone, gutted or renovated or destroyed. So, we make our stand in Poughkeepsie, for the fans. This is my money, my reputation and my quest to give my family, the fans, an event they will remember for a lifetime. I can remember being there for so many special moments as a fan and being part of so many as a wrestler. I want those moments to happen on Oct. 6. Via social media, my website and from speaking to fans at events and in airports, I've heard everyone's pleas for there to be something different. So, I am going to risk it all to show the world that change can be made. Pro wrestling can be great again -- and it should be great.

It has been a journey decades in the making, literally a lifetime, birthed out of the love of professional wrestling I have carried in my heart seemingly forever.

I have prepared for this day most of my life. Since I saw my first match as a child, I have loved professional wrestling. Some wrestlers will distance themselves from this, but I am proud to say I am still a fan. I can recall my entire journey with great vivid detail. Taking red marker to my Star Wars toys while imagining they were Tommy Rich and Mr. Wrestling 2 in the heat of battle. Going to the wrestling matches with my dad. Buying every wrestling magazine and merchandise I could fine. Slapping hands with Bob Backlund -- my favourite at the time -- before he wrestled. The excitement of my first autograph, Arnold Skaaland. Buying the first 8x10 photo of my hero, a bloody Dusty Rhodes. Wearing my first wrestling T-shirt "Barry Windham's The Kid is Hot Tonight" until it fell off. The joy of Hulkamania. The sadness of waking up Christmas morning and not getting tickets to the Omni's Christmas Day spectacular. The joy of riding the escalator into the first WrestleMania. Getting up the courage to meeting Ricky Santana in a gym and telling him I would be a professional wrestler. My first day of training. The welts under my arm pits and across my back. My body hurting so bad from the first bump. Setting up the ring. Carrying jackets to the back. The joy of my first match. My first trip on the road. Signing my first autograph. Wrestling my first big star, Tony Atlas. Being flown to a show the first time by a promoter. Finding the ECW Arena. Making the business my life 24/7. My first WWF tryout. My first WCW contract offer. Living and dying by ECW -- in the ring, in the studio, in life. Being a part of something so groundbreaking. Designing shirts. Running locker rooms. Winning the ECW World title. Booking shows and angles. My first action figure. My first video game. The lowest part of my life when ECW went under. Getting hired by WWE. Being on the opening of Monday Night Raw. Wrestling in Madison Square Garden that first time against Perry Saturn. Working in the WWE office. Helping others achieve their dream. Writing a WWE pay-per-view. Getting to see ECW return to life and be recognized for what it was. Wrestling at WrestleMania. Receiving another shot as a talent in the ring when I was written off. Winning the ECW title again. The sadness of choosing to leave WWE. My farewell night. Going to TNA. Writing a successful PPV there. Leaving TNA. Returning to the indies. Preparing for life after wrestling. There have been so many memories. All of them, good and bad, happy and angry, have prepared me for this.

But why now? Why the House of Hardcore?

I have done it all. It's cliche, but it's so true. I've seen it all -- so much of it great and sadly, so much of it bad. I see the state of wrestling and it kills me, as someone who loves it. I needed to do something about it. I needed to prove to the world, and especially myself, that pro wrestling isn't based on politics and that the person in charge shouldn't determine your career path. The paying customer should decide who they like and want to see. Talent should be the reason a competitor rises to stardom. Fans want to come to a wrestling show to cheer, to boo, to hold up signs and scream and basically, to be entertained. They don't want BS. They don't want politics. They just want great wrestling. On Oct. 6, my journey takes me to a place where we can give fans that great wrestling.

I don't want people to think this show is about Tommy Dreamer. It's about me giving back to the fans and everyone who made Tommy Dreamer so that a new crop of wrestlers can live the dream that I lived. This is my way to thank my parents for supporting me with my wrestling habit. To thank Dusty Rhodes for being my hero. To thank Johnny Rodz for training me. To thank Paul Heyman for believing in me and mentoring me. To thank Terry Funk and Mick Foley for making me Hardcore. To thank Joey Styles for making me legit. To thank Jim Ross for hiring me and never, ever lying to me. To thank John Laurinaitis for supporting me and helping get ECW off the ground in WWE, growing from a pay-per-view to a new show. To thank Shane McMahon for fighting battles for me in the corporate world. To thank Vince Russo for letting me have creative freedom. To thank Dixie Carter for making me have passion again about wrestling and to thank Vince McMahon for being the most influential man in my life beyond my father. Vince's life journey and decisions have really made my career and life path. Every person who worked in pro wrestling has to admit that.

Most of all, this is a thank you to every wrestler, both male and female, with whom I have worked, travelled, bled, sweated, laughed, cried and shared so many amazing moments. I am blessed to have met you all. You have all made my life better knowing you. But, above all else, this is my thank you to the wrestling fans, my family. I was lucky enough to cross over the guard rail, but I never forgot my roots. I never will.

On Oct. 6, professional wrestling returns to its roots as the sport of kings, where men fought for glory, for vengeance, for gold and for honour.

The House of Hardcore is coming.

TOMMY DREAMER LINKS

  • Tommy Dreamer bio and story archive
  • Tommy Dreamer column archive
  • thetommydreamer.com

    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. Check out his new, custom-designed T-shirts and merchandise on his website as well.