On the most recent edition of Impact! Press Pass, wrestling journalists were joined by two big names in the industry, Tommy Dreamer and D’Lo Brown.
Combined, these two performers have approximately 60 years experience in professional wrestling, so sitting in on these two was a real treat.
D’Lo Brown acted as host for this virtual press event, replacing Josh Matthews following the recent announcement that Brown would be joining the Impact! Wrestling commentary team.
Just days before Dreamer officially responds to Rich Swann’s birthday offer of a World Championship match at No Surrender, Tommy took questions ranging from his debut in the industry, his eventual retirement and Undertaker’s recent comments.
(To Dreamer) On February 13th at No Surrender, you have your POTENTIAL first opportunity at the Impact! World Championship; a 50th birthday gift from Rich Swann. How does that feel?
It’s an amazing opportunity…and gift. I always think that life comes full circle. A long, long time ago in the land of ‘extreme’, a 26-year old kid, who was the real no. 1 contender, gave up his title shot for a 53-year old man, Terry Funk. That was for ECW’s first ever PPV. In hindsight, I’m now that guy who’s been given that gift, by Swann. I have yet to give my answer… It’s one hell of a birthday gift. But there are so many others in the back who deserve it more. But, Rich asked for it and he’s already defeated everyone else.
Back in the day, I thought 50 was an old age. I never thought I’d still be doing this by now. But I don’t feel old… I know I look old, but I’ve been doing this 31 years. I’m living my dream. IF I accepted Swann’s challenge, that’s something I will cherish and something that will be a benchmark in my career.
(To Dreamer) Have you been doing anything differently, in terms of preparing, for IF you accept this match with Rich Swann?
It was not expected at all. When Swann called me out, I was just in the back getting ready to produce the next match. My first thought is always ‘oh god… how long do I have to lose weight?’
In all seriousness… I’ve stepped it up. I’m training, dieting, doing cardio. I’ve actually been going to Curt Hawkins’ Create-A-Pro, out in Long Island and training hard. It’s been a long time since I’ve trained for a match. Your wind is so important in a match. When having crazy brawls or in a feud, I find I can usually get through on the adrenaline. But going in there against Rich, he’s my friend. There’s no angst, or hatred, nothing to motivate me. Except the championship. This is going to be a wrestling match.
(To Dreamer) At 50 years old, and on your birthday no less, what would it mean to Tommy Dreamer to win the World Championship?
Anything and everything. I was never a guy who fought or wanted titles, but we now live in a world that completely changed within weeks. This opportunity means hope to me, hope that things can change no matter how old you are. Some people use wrestling like I do, as a glimmer of hope and as escapism from the crap that’s always going on in the world. Being champion, or even just the no.1 contender, it comes with a lot of weight, being the face of a company. Everytime you step out of your house, you represent the company; the men and women that work there, the wrestlers, production team, managers. It’s something I take with pride.
(To D’Lo) When you were coming through the business, was commentary something you always wanted to do?
It’s always something in the back of your mind. See, when you’re in this business, you think of all the different ways you could manage to stay in the business for as long as you can. There’s only so long you can be in the ring… Unless you’re Tommy Dreamer… but you go out there sometimes and realise you are limited in terms of how long you can go and that’s when you start to look at agenting and commentary.
(To D’Lo) Over the course of your career, was there anybody you learned the most from, on commentary or wrestling?
When I did commentary for Sunday Night Heat, many many years ago, Paul Heyman came up to me and gave me some great advice that I still use to this day. He said ‘when you’re on the mic at the table, be authentic. Don’t talk down to them, be truthful and speak what you see.’ That’s stuck with me, probably because he’s done something of a good job when he’s been on the mic too.
(To Dreamer) Regarding Swann’s challenge, do you think it is a genuine birthday gift or do you think there’s a possibility he isn’t taking you as seriously as he should?
I think the stars aligned, and that it is definitely a gift. As I said earlier, he’s defeated everybody put to him up to this point by Impact Wrestling. As champion, you do get some special considerations, and my understanding is that Swann approached Scott D’Amore and said ‘hey man, I’ve done everything you asked… can I choose my next opponent?’
I’ve known Rich a long time. I first met him whilst both working for a company called CZW and I was blown away by what he could do. I always tried helping him when we crossed paths on the indies, and he grew up watching me too. A match involving two different generations is something relatively exclusive to professional wrestling, in sports. It’s something he wanted to do and I would hope that Rich wouldn’t ever not take me seriously.
(To Dreamer) Would you say there are more similarities or differences between ECW in its glory days and Impact Wrestling today, if so what would they be?
There are a lot of similarities between the two. The biggest similarity is the locker room. Impact’s locker room is probably the ‘coolest’ locker room I have ever been a part of. In ECW it was very competitive, but it was competitive because we’re all trying to make it, but it was a team effort. In both locker rooms, we all have or had a chip on our shoulder, and we’re going out on television to compete.
People have tried writing Impact Wrestling off so many times and yet it’s been around forever. It’s interesting from the perspective of this; I was in my 20’s during ECW. Coming back through the curtain at 26, I was greeted by Mick Foley, Paul Heyman and Terry Funk. All these veterans were there to try and help me. In Impact, these young guys in their 20s now can come to the back and they have guys like Tommy Dreamer, Don Callis, D’Lo Brown, Rhyno; so many people around them to help and offer advice.
(To both) Do you have any thoughts on when you might retire?
Dreamer: I’m just gonna keep on going until I can’t anymore. As I said earlier, when I was 18, starting out, I did not think I’d be doing this at 50, 50 seemed so old. But here I am. When it does eventually happen, I gotta have at least 2 or 3 fake retirements like Terry Funk and Ric Flair. I’ve actually yet to have a surgery too. So I think until I’m absolutely falling apart and needing surgery, I’m good to go and will keep going until I can’t.
Brown: I only ever wanted to go until my skills had diminished. We all take pride in this business, pride on how we look in the ring, going to the ring, how we move. When I felt that slipping below my standards, I started to wind back a bit. I never set a certain age or time limit, my body tells me when it’s time. I wish I was still going out there like Tommy, and who knows… maybe I do have one more run left in me.
(To Dreamer) Recently, Undertaker made some comments on the Joe Rogan podcast, saying how the product has gone ‘soft’. Being a hardcore wrestling legend, what is your opinion on this comment?
I haven’t actually heard the podcast, so I couldn’t make a full fair statement on it. But I will tell you that Vince McMahon received $1,000,000,000 for his product… on one day. So whatever he’s doing, he’s doing better than everybody on this call. I can’t knock anybody who’s getting a billion dollars for their product. There are times I watch WWE and go ‘urgh’, but there are times I watch AEW and go ‘urgh’, times I watch Impact and go ‘urgh’. We’re all different. Me and D’Lo could watch the same match, and D’Lo could love it and I could think it sucked, opinions differ.
I watch a lot of wrestling, I watch IWA from the 1970s and I see a lot of their ‘main eventers’ and I’m like ‘these guys couldn’t main event today’. The business changes, generation to generation, and that’s okay.
(To D’Lo) In preparation for starting to do commentary with Matt Striker, did you guys do anything together beforehand, or has it been more spontaneous?
A combination of both. We watched a lot of football together to gauge what their play-by-play is like. We both wanted to do something different with our play-by-play for Impact Wrestling, something a little more ESPN analyst-style breakdown of the sport. That’s where our inspiration came from behind the desk.
(To Dreamer) You’ve been vocal to Scott D’Amore on your thoughts regarding the Impact Wrestling- AEW crossover. If you were to accept Swann’s challenge and win the World Championship, how would you approach the collaboration with AEW going forward?
This collaboration is set. I could clearly beat Rich Swann. That’d be on a Saturday, so then Wednesday I’ll head over to AEW and take on Kenny Omega, and beat him too.
Look, up until the week commencing Jan 31st, the Royal Rumble, one of the main events was Adam Pearce vs. Roman Reigns. It’s how you make compelling television and how you keep people tuned in. On Tuesday, I will make my announcement. But say I do accept, and say I do win, I will do whatever I have to to represent Impact Wrestling. I’m very loyal to the business. I don’t forget people who helped me. If I had to go to AEW to beat the crap out of Don Callis, I would love that. To go out on that bigger platform and show Impact off would mean a lot. We’re wrestling’s best kept secret.
(To Dreamer) Have you received much negative feedback regarding you being in a World Championship match, because of your age?
Some people have definitely been angry. A lot of it is stuff like ‘why are you wrestling when there’s so much youth on the roster?’ and that’s a weird question. Like, do you dislike me because I’m going to be 50 on my birthday? Because I’m getting a World title shot? There shouldn’t be this mindset towards anything. This is a gift, something that Rich wanted to do, so how do you begrudge someone for accepting?
Someone once said to David Arquette ‘hey, you’re a big fan. Do you want to wrestle for the World title?’ and that was met with such hatred and is considered such a dark day in professional wrestling. But hey, if somebody said to me ‘there’s a football game on Sunday, called the SuperBowl. Would you like to play one down?’ I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t agree to that. That’s where I am.
(D’Lo to Dreamer) Why do you think it is that in wrestling you get slandered for being 50 years old, but then outside of wrestling it’s okay for Tom Brady to be playing football at his age? People should marvel that athletes can still compete or play at an older age.
I think it’s a sign of the times. I can Tweet out a picture of a sunset over Lake Michigan, and receive a lot of positive comments… then suddenly I get people like ‘Lake Michigan is eroding Ohio’, then ‘do you know what the lake is doing in terms of pollution?’ and it’s just like… I was just trying to put out a nice picture. You’re gonna have anything you say met with criticism, because that’s the world we live in now, with social media.
Look at Edge winning the Rumble. He’s two years younger than me, and what a great story for him to win the Royal Rumble. The moment he won, so many people were saying ‘I hate it, he’s too old’, but they loved it before he did win?!
(To Dreamer) Having never been championship orientated, why does being no. 1 contender to the Impact World Championship appeal to you now?
During ECW, I didn’t feel I needed the title. I feel that championships are supposed to ‘make’ guys, and back then I was already made, I didn’t need it. When I did win it, I lost it straight away. I also didn’t want people thinking my relationship with Paul Heyman was why I was the champion.
In WWE, my matches were always the highest-rated segment on their ECW. My contract was really coming to an end, so I told McMahon what I wanted to do and showed him why it was ‘best for business’. I remember walking out that night, Extreme Rules 2009, and there were as many Tommy Dreamer signs as there were John Cena signs. Now, in Impact, the opportunity just means so much; the stage I’m at, the state of the world. I just want to go out there and have a good match. I want to give people hope; ‘if old man Dreamer can do something, then I can do something.’
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