Friday night’s card at the 2300 Arena serves as the opener to five straight nights of pro wrestling in South Philly
By Joe Mason
Tommy Dreamer learned a lot from his role models.
The biggest thing he learned is how to help those who need it.
Dreamer’s father was a principal and superintendent of a high school, and when a kid needed an extra bump in the right direction, he was always ready to provide it.
His professional wrestling mentor, Terry Funk, might not have been working hard to keep kids on the right path, but he was known for making sure his fellow wrestlers were taken care of.
Now, Dreamer is following in both of their footsteps.
“I remember my dad helping kids so they wouldn’t go to jail, he really cared about them,” Dreamer said. “And Terry Funk was the same way with wrestlers. Whether it was him telling Hulk Hogan to give Vince (McMahon) a call, or him helping Dusty Rhodes or Stan Hansen, Terry always tried to help people.”
Dreamer is doing the same thing, and through his company House of Hardcore, he’s able to make a huge difference.
Dreamer’s promotion now has a weekly show on Twitch.tv. The show airs Wednesday nights on the app, and is available on demand. It’s your typical wrestling show where guys settle their differences in the ring, but where it’s different is Dreamer tells wrestlers’ real stories.
Whether it’s his referee, known as Ryan T, who battled cancer, “Crazy” Steve, who is blind, or Vic Delicious, who broke his leg at another wrestling show, Dreamer uses his forum to not only let the stars form a bond with the viewers, but he lets them further their cause if help is needed.
“It felt really good to allow them to share their stories, I always tell Steve he’s a modern-day daredevil because he’s a great wrestler who is blind,” Dreamer said. “Vic Delicious broke his leg, he can’t wrestle for nine months and can’t move his leg for three. He’s a father of four. I was very happy to be able to share his (fundraiser) because that helps.
“It means a lot that I’m able to help, because I had great people show me how to help. I’m happy I can do that,” Dreamer said.
He’s also putting on critically acclaimed wrestling shows.
This weekend, South Philadelphia becomes the hotspot of the professional wrestling world, and it begins Friday night when House of Hardcore returns to the 2300 Arena, 2300 S. Swanson St., with a tournament to crown the first TV champion. On Saturday, the same venue will hold a professional wrestling convention with autograph signings by wrestlers including Ric Flair and Sting.
This is the appetizer before WWE brings the Royal Rumble to Philadelphia, which includes the main show on Sunday, an NXT show Saturday night, then live airings of “Monday Night Raw” and “SmackdownLive” on Tuesday night.
WWE brings many great things to the city, but House of Hardcore is Philly’s hometown promotion.
“I love wrestling, and bringing House of Hardcore is giving fans an alternative to people who want to watch something different,” Dreamer, who became a star in the old ECW before going on to wrestle for WWE, said. “There are Eagle fans, there are Viking fans. People love the way their team calls the plays, runs the team, but at the end of the day, it’s all football. We are all wrestling, we just do things differently than they do it.”
And in doing it Dreamer’s way, House of Hardcore continues to grow.
The promotion ran its first show in 2012, and for the first few years Dreamer would run three or four shows a year.
Last year, Dreamer signed a deal with Twitch to produce weekly episodes and, once a month, to produce a show that will air live on the app. This week’s live show on Friday will feature a main event of Dreamer and Billy Gunn with a mystery person in their corner taking on Joey Mercury and Nick Aldis, with longtime ECW star Shane Douglas in their corner.
The feud has brought much emotion back to the former ECW Arena.
“I wanted to create moments, I didn’t want to relive my ECW glory but I wanted to have memories,” Dreamer said. “When I met Taz, we didn’t like each other, but we were both wrestling fans and we met on a common ground that we both remember Larry Zbyszko turning on Bruno Sammartino. That was a memorable moment we both remember from when we were kids.
“I’ve enjoyed this, except when they took a cheesegrater to my head. That wasn’t too much fun. But last time, when the Franchise Shane Douglas turned on me, the fans were so passionate. It was hairy for a while,” he said “(The fans) threw everything they could at us. I actually had to break character a little bit and tell the fans, I’ll be OK.”
He’ll be even better if the promotion continues to thrive.
Friday night marks the first show of 2018 for House of Hardcore, and Dreamer hopes the promotion continues to gain momentum.
“Twitch has been great, our first show had five times more people who watched than we were projected to have,” Dreamer said. “A lot of people don’t know what Twitch is, they don’t know it’s free, and when you tell them, they say, ‘I heard of that.’
“From day one, we’ve wanted to grow and it’s been a snowball effect. Twitch is a great platform, and we’re making strides.”
For tickets to the show, visit houseofhardcore.net. To download twitch, visit twitch.tv. And for tickets to the convention on Saturday, visit thecollectorfest.com.