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   November 20, 2014



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COMMENT





The smell of the roses — and the stench of the mud
By TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling


The old saying that sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses rang very true this past weekend.

I have been wrestling, and on the road, since I was 18 years old. I have wrestled in 49 states (Alaska being the last to conquer). I have also wrestled on every continent and I can't even tell you how many different countries. I have been blessed to get paid to see the world.

But as a person who travels for a living, you really don't get to see a lot. I can tell you about airports, gyms, hotels and arenas. Even though I have travelled to countless amazing places, I haven't seen as many things as I would like to have. One of those was Niagara Falls.

I have been to Buffalo many times (it was an ECW mainstay stop). The Burt Flickenger Center in Buffalo always had a hardcore wrestling fan base. I was there with WWE as well and a few independent companies. I wrestled four times in Niagara Falls, literally three blocks from the Falls, but never had time to go. I have always said that I had to see it and I especially wanted to take my kids there. So I had my chance and I took it.

I took my family on a road trip recently. We started from our summer home in Michigan and drove to the falls, which produced nine hours of bonding time. It went very well except for the occasional "are we there yet?" from our twins. They enjoyed the same simple pleasures I did as a kid during family road trips, like sleeping in a hotel, riding the luggage cart and taking every pamphlet that is offered in the lobby. It reminded me of the same things me and my sister did on our family vacations with our parents.

Getting up early to go to the Falls was everything I hoped for. It was breathtaking; I was total tourist. We did the Maid of The Mist boat ride, which was awesome. We also hit the Cave of the Winds, which takes you into the falls, something no water park could ever duplicate. I spent the day with my family walking the park and listening to my daughters' excitement at all the wonders that they saw. I did get recognized a lot, but people are always cool with me and let's be honest, a bigger attraction was upon them. I was impressed with how inexpensive everything was and that there were no long lines. I ate hand-made ice cream at Perry's Ice Cream shop, which is right before the border, and, as I told my kids, the Perry's Ice Cream shop building was in the shape of an ice cream cone, so I knew it had to be good.

We attended a Buffalo Bisons game, which featured 11 Major League Baseball players, all for $11. That's $1 a player! It was disco night and fireworks night. It honestly was a great deal for the money. It was a great family vacation. Next time, I plan on doing the Canadian side, but we had a great family day and I was able to finally stop and smell the roses.

The next day, I had a show in Wadsworth N.Y., a town so small it doesn't register on a GPS. I got dropped off in the middle of a corn field that featured three baseball diamonds. The event featured a softball tournament, followed by a wrestling show. In true Field of Dreams fashion -- "if you build it they will come" -- I got there very early, hung out with everyone, then watched the ring show up. I thought it would be a disaster of a show, with clouds and rain in the forecast, not to mention it was in the middle of nowhere. But, organizers actually had to start getting more chairs because people kept on coming.

Myself, Shane Douglas and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, as well as a group of hard working men and women, put on a very good show. The only downside was that night time came. Thankfully the show ended just before the sun was completely down and the rest of the matches had to become "Lights Out" matches. Total darkness in the middle of nowhere is quite serene, especially after the mayhem that had just ensued.

The next morning, I had to be up at 8 a.m. and drive to Toronto for a show in conjunction with the Heavy TO metalfest. Two other wrestlers and I drove (I saw the Falls via the bridge a second time in two days; it was still awesome.) As always, we got stuck in Toronto traffic, and a two-hour trip turned into a four-and-a-half-hour trip.

By the time we got to the venue, I had about 30 minutes to get ready. It was at the huge Downsview Park. It had rained the night before and it looked worse than the second Woodstock. Mud was everywhere. I had a great match with my ECW buddy and friend Rhino. We performed at the same time as the bands were playing and I thought would be hard to guage the crowd response, but we took it to the extreme and were rewarded with the loud cheers and excitement of the fans. We took the bout to the floor, which felt more like ice due to the mud. My boots and gear got pretty dirty.

After the match, I was shuttled to the airport four hours before my flight, so, no time to stop and smell the roses. The mud made the smell quite bad, I should probably add. All that traveling, and sitting in a car, and sitting in the airport caused my back to lock up. I was bedridden for two days after I arrived home. But, even through the pain, I'm still happy because my kids are still talking about the trip.

I have taken on the venture of running a wrestling school and a huge show Oct. 6 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., so there's no time to be laid up.

But the smell of those Niagara Falls roses will last a lifetime for me.

Thanks for reading.

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.