Tommy Dreamer has wrestled all over the world. Saturday night, he’s coming home to Philadelphia.
Tommy Dreamer has taken his baby all over the world.
Dreamer’s baby is his professional wrestling promotion, House of Hardcore, and it’s drawn big crowds everywhere.
He’s had sellouts in New York. He’s had packed houses in Cleveland, Texas, California and Canada. Earlier this summer, his troops went on a five-city tour of Australia, and every night the outfit drew an arena full of rabid fans.
They’ve been just about everywhere.
And on Saturday night, they’re coming home.
On Saturday night, Dreamer, whose birth name is Thomas Laughlin, will present House of Hardcore 33 at the 2300 Arena, formerly known as the ECW Arena at Swanson and Ritner streets.
“Thomas Laughlin was born in New York, but Tommy Dreamer was born in Philadelphia,” Dreamer said referring to his days as arguably the most beloved wrestler in the Philadelphia-based promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling. “A lot of people think I’m from Philadelphia and I never say I’m not because Tommy Dreamer is.
“We don’t come to Philadelphia every month because every time we come there, I want it to be a special event. We go there as much as four times a year. That keeps it special.”
The last time Dreamer and his boys were in Philadelphia, it wasn’t just special. It was one of those events that had wrestling fans all over the world talking.
In April, Dreamer teamed with fellow former ECW wrestler Bubba Ray Dudley to meet the Hardy Boyz. This was particularly special because two weeks before the event, Matt and Jeff Hardy signed with World Wrestling Entertainment and won the promotion’s tag team championship at Wrestlemania.
Since then, the Hardys have wrestled on national television on Monday Night Raw, and their match in Philly gave fans a chance to give them a huge sendoff from House of Hardcore.
It also marked the end of a fun storyline between Dreamer and Matt Hardy, one that lasted nearly a year.
“Me and Matt Hardy were doing episodic television without television,” Dreamer said. “We knew the whole time that we wanted it to end with me and Bubba against Matt and Jeff. It had a lot of twists and turns, Matt started out as a (bad guy) persona and as things went on, it changed.
“I didn’t want House of Hardcore to be an ECW revival, but it had the same atmosphere. I want the fans to always have a memorable experience and that’s what happened.”
This time, the Hardys won’t be there. That means other wrestlers will get a chance to shine in their place.
Slated to appear on the show are Dreamer, Bubba (who goes by the name of Bully Ray), Sami Callihan and Jake Hager, who wrestled as Jack Swagger in WWE. Also on the card is Bobby Fish, who recently signed with WWE, and former NWA stars the Rock N’ Roll Express, who were put in the WWE Hall of Fame in April.
On the night before, Dreamer will bring HOH to Freehold, New Jersey, at iPlay America, 110 Schanck Road.
That will be headlined by former WWE star MVP vs. Hager vs. Dreamer, the Rock N’ Roll Express against former WWE stars the Spirit Squad and Bully Ray against Callihan.
“I want to have something for everyone, and if you’re going to see the Rock N’ Roll Express, you’re going to see them as the Rock N’ Roll Express,” Dreamer said. “We don’t put them in a position where they’re not the team that everyone remembers. We had Ricky ‘the Dragon’ Steamboat in Philly last time, and we didn’t put him in position where he wasn’t exactly what the fans remember.”
Watching stars of yesterday makes the fan in Dreamer happy.
Watching the stars of tomorrow makes him even happier.
Since starting House of Hardcore in 2002, Dreamer has watched 36 of his wrestlers go to WWE. For wrestlers, that’s the holy grail.
“You never want to lose them, but I’m not at the point where I have TV or I can offer these guys full-time work, and you love seeing people realize their dream,” said Dreamer, who has spent more than a decade in WWE. “At our last show, you had Tommy Dreamer, Bubba, Jeff and Matt Hardy and Christian watching the matches. The feedback these guys get, either right after they come to the back or two weeks later by a text, they’re learning. As a wrestler, that’s how you get better.”
Dreamer loves to see improvement in his wrestlers.
He also loves to see the fans having fun.
For the Philly show, Dreamer isn’t going to announce any matches before the event, but he does promise to give fans a fun night.
“The fans trust me and I wouldn’t betray that,” Dreamer said. “I would never lie to the fans. That’s the biggest thing I never want to do. I won’t do it. We did announce matches for the New Jersey show because it’s our first time in the market. But for the Arena show, I can tell you that the last time with me and Matt, it was the final chapter. This will be the first chapter in what’s next.”
On the morning of the show, the 2300 Arena will host “Icons of Wrestling,” which essentially is Comic Con for wrestling fans. Appearing at the convention will be Jerry “the King” Lawler, Jim Ross, King Kong Bundy and many others, including many stars from House of Hardcore.
The convention begins at 9 a.m. The House of Hardcore show begins at 8 p.m. ••
For tickets, visit Houseofhardore.net.