Return to Raw was a dream come true
TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling
|From Tommy's Twitter feed: "Luv this pic of me & @natbynature looks like sun is shining on 2 stars. Great seeing @wwe family last night"
This past Monday, I made my surprise WWE return on the companyís flagship show Monday Night Raw.
What appeared, on the surface at least, to be a long-planned return for The Extreme Original Tommy Dreamer to his Philadelphia faithful was anything but, actually.
Here, exclusively for my faithful readers, is a behind-the-scenes look into my return.
Iíll start with last weekend, when I did my usual independent wrestling shows. I worked in Pittsburgh on Saturday for IWC (on Twitter @IWCwrestling), a group of very talented wrestlers who could all easily be on the WWE roster.
I flew home Sunday, watched TV, had some friends over for the holidays, ate pizza, cookies and cake. Yes, I cheated on my diet, but it was a good day of being a couch potato. I was actually kind of sad because WWE had a its TLC pay-per-view in Brooklyn, N.Y., at its new Barclay Arena. I would have loved to have been on that show, being that I trained in Brooklyn and my first match took place there. As I followed the show through tweets on Twitter, I could see it was a rocking show and that only added to my desire to contribute to it. I mean, who can use a table, ladder or chair in a wrestling match better than me? Haha!
Monday, I woke up feeling the guilt of eating all of the fatty food I had consumed the previous day. I restarted my diet goals (which I break daily), did my morning cardio, showered, paid some bills, went grocery shopping and went to the gym; an otherwise normal day.
Later, as I was preparing to go to my wrestling school to train my students, my phone rang. I didnít recognize the number, so I send it to voicemail. Another call comes through, same thing. Then I received a text message from a high-ranking WWE official asking me if I was around. Hearing from people in the WWE isnít out of the ordinary, given that I worked for them in numerous capacities for close to nine years, so I didnít think much of it.
Then my house phone rang, which is unusual since I only have a land line for fax purposes and nobody calls that number. Everyone calls my cell. I picked up, and was asked if I could go to Philadelphia to be apart of the WWEís annual Slammy Awards show.
I agreed and asked if I needed to bring a tuxedo or a suit, as I was guessing I would used as an award presenter. This person said they didnít know and would call me back.
I asked them to please do that on my cell, that the land line is just a fax and emergency line. (Though I would consider this a wrestler emergency, there is a show in Philadelphia and it needs some Tommy Dreamer!
That original call came in at 3:30 p.m. and Monday Night RAW was taking place 100 miles (160 km) away from my house. Thatís challenging without even considering traffic. The fun was just beginning. I jumped in the shower to get ready. As I finished, my cellphone rang. I answered it and was told to bring my wrestling gear, and that I would be wrestling but not to tell anyone. This had to be a surprise. The packing part wasnít a problem, as I hadnít even unpacked my gear bag from Saturdayís show. I shaved, threw on some fake tanner, made a protein shake and headed out the door at 3:50 p.m.
When that phone rings and I have to be somewhere, this wrestler gets the job done. I hit some traffic on the George Washington Bridge, and, at the New Jersey Turnpike it started raining. The show goes on the air live at 8 p.m. My phone started ringing again. It was the WWE contact, wanting an ETA. He called me every half hour to see how I was making out.
To be honest, this was my favourite part. I love the rush. It was my life for so long in the original ECW; everything happening last minute, or surprises coming into the company, to the elation of the crowd. These days, with social media, keeping a surprise is very hard to do. To keep a secret, it is very easy to do, donít tell anyone. I have to admit, though, I did tell my mom. She isnít on Twitter, though, and my grandmother may think Facebook is a new way to read. So, no worries there.
I donít know how many more moments I will get in my career and I know my mom, and grandmother are proud. I also told my wife because I wanted my kids to see me on TV. I was recently asked in an interview if I have any regrets? I told them that my only regret is that my kids didnít see me in the prime of my career. They are at that perfect age, eight, where their friends in school love the WWE and I would be the coolest dad in the world.
I began wondering what was in store for me on that evening. What would I be doing? Will the fans remember me? I havenít been on WWE TV in three years. Who would I be wrestling?
And my god, did I have to pee, between the protein drink and all the rain, but I didnít have time to stop. So, in a moment of shame, I peed in my blender, and then threw it out the window, only to have it splash back on my arm. (Awesome).
It was close to 7 p.m. and I was almost there, but traffic was brutal. I finally arrived, met my contact and went to hide on a bus with the other surprise for the night, The Nature Boy Ric Flair ó and when I found out Flair would be on the bus with me, internally I say ďWOOO!Ē but act I cool when I see my friend and fellow wrestling legend. WWE then has me take a physical, sign a bunch of forms, releases and contracts.
Then I was briefed on what as in store for the night. I was to be a mystery partner in a six-man tag team match with The Miz and Alberto Del Rio against the Three Man Band (3MB).
At this stage, even my partners had no clue what was going on. Eventually, I was allowed into the building, once the show started live. I was told to tell the other wrestlers I was just visiting. I saw so many people with whom I have shared great moments, or actually hired into WWE. I had a great time catching up with a lot of people. At about 9 p.m., I met with my partners to discuss strategy. I felt something I havenít felt in a long time. Nerves. A thought went through my mind: what if I donít get a reaction? WWE is, after all, watched by a lot of younger children, a whole new audience. Some wouldnít be old enough to remember when I was wrestling.
I shook off my doubt and was determined I was going to do my best no matter what happened. Behind the curtain was tense, like it always is. I love that feeling; the calm before the storm. Then The Miz (who did a great job announcing me as his partner) said my name, the fans exploded.
As I walked out from behind the curtain, I saw a sea of people rising to their feet. Words canít describe how elated and happy I felt inside, hearing more than 15,000 people chant my name. It was euphoric.
The match itself was good, the fans were surprised and most of all, they were happy.
In times of trouble in society, I always say wrestling is a great escape from reality. If you take it from its inner core, itís good vs. evil, a roller coaster of emotions and one hell of a show. I put smiles on peopleís faces and was given an opportunity and created a moment for myself. That really is what it is all about.
When I returned to my dressing area and picked up my phone, I had 117 text messages from friends, family, celebrities and sports figures, with nothing but positive comments and congratulations on my WWE return.
I couldnít believe the amount of tweets I received, or possibly find time to respond to all of them. I trended worldwide on Twitter, which means, at one point in time, I was one of the most-talked about things happening on Twitter in the world. I drove the two hours home and recapped the perfect evening in my head over and over again.
The greatest part of all was the next day, my kids told me they saw me on TV and all the kids in school saw me and I won for them. They are so proud and love me. So I guess I have no regrets in my career now that Iím the coolest dad ever.
Thanks for reading.
House of Hardcore website
Tommy Dreamer bio and story archive
Tommy Dreamer column archive
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. Check out his new, custom-designed T-shirts and merchandise on his website as well.