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Интервю с Tommy Dreamer


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Tommy Dreamer knows Poughkeepsie well and he is glad to be back.

Dreamer, who has wrestled in the Mid-Hudson Civic Center for ECW and WWE, will take on Jerry "The King" Lawler on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Northeast Wrestling's WrestleFest XIV. Earlier in the day, he and Lawler will appear at Collector's Realm on Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie for an autograph signing from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information on the NEW show, click here. For more information on the Collector's Realm signing, click here.

Dreamer, a native of Yonkers who now lives in Eastchester, stopped by the studios of Cumulus Broadcasting in Poughkeepsie to appear on the "Coop and Tobin Show" on WPDH (101.5 FM) and also made an appearance on The Wolf (WKXP 94.3). I caught up with Tommy after his radio appearances for an interview.

Phil Strum: Welcome back to the area, first of all.

Tommy Dreamer: Oh yeah!

PS: The first question is you're facing Jerry Lawler on Saturday. You guys had a lot of history with ECW. Have you ever actually wrestled him one-on-one before?

TD: Yes, I have. I wrestled him in his hometown of Memphis, Tennesee, where he is, legit, the King of Memphis. I also grew up, I was a tape trader, which meant, this was the era of cable. I was a huge wrestling fan. Through wrestling magazines, basically, I would send somebody who lived in Memphis like WWF stuff at the time and he would send me all Memphis wrestling. They were crazy and hardcore stuff back in the day and Jerry Lawler was The King there. So, I kind of grew up on Jerry Lawler. Then, he had a profound hatred for Extreme Championship Wrestling, the original ECW, and we kind of — I was the King of Extreme and he was the King of Memphis. We had a one-on-one, pay-per-view battle in 1997 at ECW's second-ever pay-per-view (Hardcore Heaven in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). This is probably the fifth time we're ever actually facing off. This is more on my home turf.

PS: What does this town (Poughkeepsie) mean to you?

TD: This town means a lot to me. I was saying before, on the radio, I broke my back in this very-same building. I was wrestling for three months with a broken neck and didn't know I had a broken neck. On pay-per-view, on my mother's birthday, in the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, I was wrestling Lance Storm at Hardcore Heaven (May 16,1999). He pinned me and I couldn't get up. I found out I broke my back.

This building was one of the closer venues to my home, living in Yonkers. I had to come up here when I was a kid. Watching Monday Night Raws. To me, it's a great venue for wrestling. Not just because of the people who are always very, very into it. The setup and the stage area. Those high bleachers. I love that building.

PS: This will be the third different promotion you've worked for in this building.

TD: Yeah. ECW, WWE and now NEW.

PS: You got your release from WWE in the last few months.

TD: Yes, I quit WWE.

PS: What's it been like getting on some of these shows now, specifically NEW.

TD: I've known the owner, Michael O'Brien for a while. His shows are very professionally run. I pretty much gave him an exclusive. Any show you want me, he has first priority for it. We just did a show last week in Derby (Conn.) He does a lot of fundraisers and the shows are family-orientated. They're really, really good shows. You even look at the lineup — it's myself, Jerry Lawler and Roddy Piper, Booker T., Mr. Kennedy, the TNA Knockouts, Angelina Love and Velvet Sky. It's not just some local little indie. He does a lot of promotions and he does a lot of work to make the show successful. Every show I've worked for him has pretty much been close to a sellout.

PS: What do you think about Poughkeepsie makes it such a good wrestling town? It's been for so long. WWF was coming there in the 80s, early 80s and maybe even before that. You were coming here as a kid too. How important was it for ECW to get into the building?

TD: It was huge. Especially, for ECW, it was the whole expansion. Even though it wasn't that far, this was one of our first buildings in New York to ever run. We would do Queens, but this was one of the first bigger buildings that would also have us. We got thrown out of a lot of buildings too. We always had great crowds. They were just rowdy people. I don't know. I think it's just: people want to be entertained. The ticket prices aren't that expensive. It's just, hey, let's forget about the troubles of the world for three hours. From the original ECW, they saw some crazy things in this building. They saw some classic matches with Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn. I remember sitting back and I was in the show, and I was like' This is a great match.' You want to see this stuff live. It's a great wrestling town. There's not a lot of places like that anymore. Chicago's a great wrestling town. There's not a lot of places that just embrace wrestling like it does. It's really, really cool.

PS: You had stopped wrestling for WWE for a while and then you came back when they relaunched ECW. You had a great run. Did you expect to get that second run with WWE where you started wrestling again?

TD: After ECW went to WWE, I was there. Then they wanted me to work behind the scenes, which I did in the original ECW too. Me, personally, I did not want to do that, but I really had no options in the sense that: Stick in the business that I love or get a real job. I was able to hire a lot of men and women that have made it in the business today. When the "Rise and Fall of ECW" DVD hit and they saw how much money they made off of that and the pay-per-view, I was hoping it would pick up. It did. I'm very, very happy. I had a great time in WWE. I did my 10 years, but I couldn't take it anymore. I walked away from a five-year deal when I had five months into a five-year deal.

PS: I guess you re-signed when you did the thing where you were going to retire if you didn't win the belt.

TD: I was all just because I was fed up. I was the highest-rated guy on that network. Main event every year. The networks were talking about the ratings, but they would never come to me. When they wanted ratings, I produced them because I have a great connection with my fanbase. They want to do their thing and say, we're going to go with younger. Alright, I'm 38 years old. o problem. They didn't want me to leave. They wanted me to stay on board and help teach the other guys, but I didn't want to do that. I still feel I have something to offer. Financially, I could walk away. I'm just happy. I have no ill feelings. I really, really miss a lot of the men and women. I just had to something for me and my family.

PS: What was this version of ECW like because obviously it was completely different?

TD: Very, very watered down. To the point of: I've related it to what happened to Conan O'Brien — without support from your network and all the other stuff. There was a lot of behind the scenes where I felt they were self-destructing the ECW product. I know, for a fact, there were people that didn't want it to happen and I was them fire all my friends. They did a lot of things so it wouldn't be successful, which, to me, wasn't the greatest move in the world. That's kind of why I left.

PS: For me, it was funny because I grew up watching ECW. I grew up on Long Island. Watching that show, it was nothing like ECW. I just thought it was unfortunate it had the name. For the most part, when I sat down to watch that show every week, it was just an hour of pretty good wrestling.

TD: Yeah. Again, the original ECW was a great place for men and women to get noticed. Stone Cold Steve Austin was first handed a microphone in ECW and became that character. Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, myself, Taz, the Dudley Boyz. A lot of men...Chris Jericho. A lot of men and women started in ECW and moved on to bigger and better things. With that formula, that was a great formula. CM Punk, Kofi Kingston, guys like that, all started in the new brand of ECW, and it should have been a good place — a springboard for peoples' careers. But they weren't even doing that with it. To me, they didn't create it, so whatever. Everything happens for a reason. They've got their new show. They were talking about all these great ratings and that show hasn't produced new ratings at all.

PS: Have you seen the new show (NXT) at all?

TD: Of course.

PS: What do you think of the concept?

TD: It's OK. It's confusing. You have guys wrestling. In wrestling, we have to know who you are. Why do people like you? Why do people hate you? They'll have a good guy paired with a bad guy. People don't know these wrestlers from a hole in the wall. I think the production behind it, everyon'e dream and all the footage, that's cool. But, it's not like a Tough Enough challenge. I think they're just doing it on the fly because I don't think THEY know what they're doing. Ok, what's the winner get?

PS: Raw, I guess?

TD: Winner gets a Raw contract, so that makes the SmackDown brand secondary. I think Pepsi owns Mountain Dew and 7-Up, that would be like just drink Pepsi, don't drink the other ones. That makes no sense.

PS: It seems like a good way to introduce some of the guys, who might not get the exposure otherwise. Maybe even a little bit better than just throwing them on ECW and letting everybody forget about them.

TD: I feel this business should be all about giving back and endorsing. I can't wrestle forever. There's a lot of guys that can't wrestle forever, even though a lot of guys cling to that. The talent should be brought up as well. There's a better way to do it than what was represented. We shall see.

PS: You feel you're still going to be doing this for a while?

TD: Yes sir. I have been contacted by TNA. May go there. If not, I'm very, very happy and content. I'm seriously working every weekend up until right now to September straight. I did two movies, I've been writing two films that I'm hoping to get sold. It wasn't just a spur-of-the-moment thing. I've been working on this for quite some time.

PS: As a fan, what did you think of the relaunch of Monday nights?

TD: Not the smartest move on TNA's behalf. I learned with the original ECW: The WWE machine cannot be destroyed. Nor should it be. There's enough piece of the pie. To go head to head wasn't the smartest move for a lot of different reasons. Everyone makes their mistakes. The ratings the first week were not good and favorable. Hopefully, they will continue. I think they had their niche on Thursday nights. They should have stayed and maybe just done specials on Monday nights. The first show that they did, that was awesome. You can't go to war because you're overmatched. I'm not talking talent-wise because TNA has some amazing wrestlers and so does WWE. I'm just talking — the WWE machine with marketing. They're pulling some crazy numbers. It's like saying trying to say, hey, I'm going to go up against Monday Night Football on Monday. If NBC had Thursday Night Football and wanted to move it to Mondays. Why? If we're all wrestling fans, we want to watch wrestling any day of the week. Just like, if I'm a football fan, I want to watch it Monday, Thursday, Sunday.

PS: I thought one thing about their show, which was good in ECW too and I said this to Jeff Jarrett when he was here a month ago doing promotions for TNA at the Civic Center, I think TNA's live event — I've been to a couple of them, Webster Hall — I think you were there. If there were able to take some of their live event and make it look so exciting on TV. They're in the studio now. I know it would cost a little more.

TD: I agree. Again, everyone wants something different. Let WWE be WWE. Let TNA be TNA. Don't try to be WWE-lite. Don't try to compete like that because you just can't. Why should you? Why would you want to destroy something else. Even Vince McMahon has admitted that buying up everything wasn't the best thing to do because he bought up all his competition and competition drives bigger business.

PS: What can the fans that come on Saturday night expect from your match and the show?

TD: As they can always expect, whenever they see I'm wrestling, I live by the motto, "I wrestle every match like it's going to be my last because I know one day it will be." I broke my back in that building, working my tail off. If I have to break my back again, I would still go out and do that. It doesn't matter if there's TV cameras there. I just go out there and I give it 100 percent all I can. That's the only way. If not, I wouldn't do it anymore. That's kind of the way I always go about it.

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