In this business, you take the road more travelled
TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling
As a professional wrestler, you spend most of your days travelling to different cities to entertain the fans. When I was with World Wrestling Entertainment, a typical work week would start on Friday, which included flying from your home to wherever the first show was.
This flight is usually the first one available that day, in case of delays. Once you land, you are responsible for renting a car.
Normally, you eat, go to the local gym, eat, go to arena, wrestle, eat and drive to the next town. If you are too tired to drive, you get a hotel room in the first town, sleep, wake up, go to the gym, eat, drive and repeat the cycle. The venues are typically anywhere between 200 to 300 miles apart (some 300 to 500 kilometres for my Canadian friends).
Anything more than that and the company will usually fly you to the next town. These non-televised, live events are a lot of fun because the matches are longer as there are no TV commercial restraints. They are a much different event than your typical televised affair, and usually a completely different experience for the fan.
Your work week ends on Tuesday night, once you finish filming televised events. You fly home on Wednesday morning, giving you essentially enough time to do your laundry, say hello to your family and get ready to go back out on Friday.
If you think that is a bad schedule, it really isn't. I have heard many stories from veteran wrestlers of the 1980s, who say they would spend 27 days on the road, return home for two and then go back out for another 27 days.
They also would do shows in New York on Saturday, Los Angeles on Sunday, Boston on Monday, Florida on Tuesday, Denver on Wednesday, so on and so forth.
At least today's schedule has become more travel-friendly to the talent as opposed to the old school, "dart-board" style of choosing venues to run.
The schedule a pro wrestler keeps certainly makes one a road warrior, but it also makes you bond with the people you are travelling with.
I have been the wheel man since I started in wrestling, meaning I do most of the driving. I don't get tired. I am responsible and enjoy the overall experience.
You need to pick the right travelling partner, because basically, they are forced to do the same thing you want to do. I have been blessed with having so many great people to ride with.
My first partner was Taz, who, when we first started wrestling, called me up and told me we were driving together. We travelled everywhere until we were broken up by the constant tardiness shown by Mr. Paul Heyman. Taz was a little high strung and didn't like Paul always being late to get ready, so he decided to leave the car.
From there, a career that would see me travel with many different people began. Without further adieu, here is the biggest name-dropping list in the history of name-dropping in the history of pro wrestling:
-- In Extreme Championship Wrestling, it was Paul Heyman, Beulah McGillicutty, Little Guido, Devon Dudley, Sign Guy Dudley, Danny Doring, Francine and Chris Chetti.
-- In WWE, I rode with Bubba Ray, Devon and Spike Dudley, Christian, Edge, Shane McMahon, Rhyno, Sandman, Balls Mahoney, Stevie Richards, Test, Kelly Kelly, John Cena, Candice Michelle, Victoria, Kevin Thorn, Hornswoggle, Great Khali, Scott Armstrong, Justin Roberts, Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk and Zack Ryder.
-- In Total Nonstop Action, it was Bully Ray, Rhino, Bobby Roode, Robbie E, Tara and Angelina Love.
I have travelled with others, but all the aforementioned people were my usual riding partners. It all depended on the schedule. I am still friends with all — hell one I married and had twin daughters with.
The car is where you learn about the people with whom you are travelling. You can make fun of that night's matches or comfort each other when things are going bad, among other things.
Those who complain about the road are in the wrong business, because when you aren't doing it as much, you really miss it — the hectic lifestyle, the stupid things that make you laugh so hard you cry for miles upon miles.
I just completed my annual drive from my home in New York to my home in Michigan, 14 hours in the car with Beulah McGillicutty, our girls and two bulldogs. We played games, I learned my one daughter wants to be 31 different things when she grows up, they watched TV and Beulah told me things I had forgotten. I savoured the car ride as my family bonding time. It conjured up memories of my childhood when my mom, dad and sister and I would drive to Florida every summer.
I also remembered my dad dancing while driving to the disco song Car Wash; all the South of the Border signs; playing with my Star Wars figures and performing wrestling matches with them; and fighting with my sister about her leg touching mine.
I guess I was destined to do what I do for a living. I am a true road warrior, after all. I have the largest extended family ever. A lifetime of memories — all because of car trips.
Thanks for reading.
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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.