Last time House of Hardcore came to Philly, its owner was lit up by fireworks, DDT’ed by his archnemesis and Twist of Fated through a chair.
This time, Tommy Dreamer seeks revenge inside a steel cage.
HOH22 takes place Friday, December 16 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia. In addition to Dreamer and Broken Matt Hardy’s rematch, Sami Callihan takes on Brian Cage, John Hennigan (aka Junny Mundo in Lucha Underground) faces Fenix, Tony Nese battles Lio Rush and Dan Barry & 2 Mystery Partner go up against Vik Dalishus, Eddie Kingston & TJ Marconi. If Team Dan Barry loses, they are all banned from HOH. Plus, there will be appearances by Brooklyn Brawler, Alex Reynolds, Taya Valkyrie, Kikutaro and more.
Dreamer stopped by Wrestledelphia Radio to discuss the highly anticipated HOH event. For the full interview, listen to Wrestledelphia Radio.
Below are excerpts from our conversation.
How did the deal with FloSlam come about?
Dreamer: “They contacted me. It’s more so about getting eyes on your product. I would always say my eventual goal is television, but in 2016, 2017, I know for myself, I watch more Netflix or stuff online than I do regular television. FloSlam is just like the WWE Network where you can watch past stuff or live wrestling.
Prior to House of Hardcore 21: Blizzard Brawl, you posted on Facebook about the $65,000 investment you’ve made to prepare for the FloSlam live stream. That’s an incredible sum of money for an indy promotion.
Dreamer: “It’s an investment in House of Hardcore’s future. You’ve got to spend money to make money. I said it jokingly, but it wasn’t a joke: I didn’t tell my wife Beulah about it. And then literally, the next day, I found out both my kids need braces. It was like twelve grand, and I was like, oh my God.”
Jesus. Did Beulah ever see your Facebook post?
Dreamer: “Yeah, I don’t really keep stuff from her like that, just then I did. Blizzard Brawl was a success and I will hopefully recoup all of my money and this will lead to a bigger and better deal with FloSlam. It’s a risk, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Like you just said, your brother would rather come to one of our shows, I get that a lot. Every day is a fight, but I’m used to it from my days at ECW.”
Let’s talk about HOH 18, the last time House of Hardcore came to Philly. There was a lot of speculation regarding Terry Funk’s health after he made a teary-eyed goodbye speech. Have you talked to him since? How’s he feeling?
Dreamer: “He’s actually feeling better. I had speculation, too. (laughs) He was supposed to get something done with his heart, then it turned to something with his stomach. He wasn’t allowed to stand to take pictures with the fans. I really just wanted him to say goodbye to the fans because it’s getting harder for him to travel. He’s had a million retirements, but I told you this before, it’s important for me as well as to the fans for closure. If he does feel better, he has an open invitation to come to any of my shows but it’s a lot of travel for him and he’s getting older.
He also has pride and in true Terry Funk fashion, he wasn’t even supposed to get in the ring, but he pulled himself in. If you go back and watch it, I put my hands on my hip like ‘what the f are you doing, Terry?’ His words really, really hit home with me. He said ‘Thank you. I don’t want to say goodbye and get out of this ring because I don’t think I’m ever coming back.’ Those were heavy, heavy words. Of course I cried. He’s like my wrestling father.”
As soon as you heard “Desperado” on the speakers, it really hit home for a lot of fans. Let me ask you about Brian Myers, aka Curt Hawkins. That was his last match before going back to WWE, where he really hasn’t been on TV much. Do you think he should have stayed with HOH?
Dreamer: “Yeah, but like I’ve told a lot of people, until I’m able to pay people enough money or give them a salary, they have to do what they have to do. I lived through that in ECW. He was getting married. Eventually he wants to have children. He needed to go back. Until you have the financial security as a business owner to provide people with jobs, you can’t hold that against them. If he left WWE tomorrow, I’d use him the next day. It’s ok.”
Let’s move on to Friday night at House of Hardcore 22. You’ll be facing Broken Matt Hardy in a rematch from HO18, except this time it’s inside a steel cage – a first in HOH history. Why the cage?
Dreamer: “We had all that interference last time. For me, that’s what a steel cage is all about. I love wrestling Matt Hardy. We have a great chemistry together and it’s a good seller. If we’re going to do a first, I prefer doing it in that arena and with a great opponent like Matt.
But let me tell you, people always ask me the difference between being a promoter and a wrestler. Well, the steel cage has been one son of a bitch to get, as well as its cost. I don’t have WWE’s 18-wheelers. I go and get a Budget rental truck, and now I need two of them because one isn’t big enough. I can’t get an 18-wheeler because everything costs money. It’s okay because like I said, these are all investments. We had one steel cage that was actually too big for the arena. These are all things you don’t realize when you’re just Tommy Dreamer, pro wrestler. But it’s a learning experience.”
Also scheduled for HOH22 is Brian Cage versus Sami Callihan, a guy who was underutilized in NXT but has become an exciting staple of your shows.
Dreamer: “Sami Callihan is all that I love about professional wrestling. I can’t even say as a bad guy, but that’s the character he portrays. He’s aggressive, he has this hunger and desire and this chip on his shoulder. The business evolves—Terry Funk was the one who taught me that, and you have to evolve with it. So yes, it’s like hey NXT or WWE, you did nothing with me and this is what you missed out on. I’ll capitalize on that, next level. There was a guy named Steve Austin, before he was Stone Cold, who came to ECW and Paul handed him a mic and let him cut promos. Before that, there was a guy pissed off at the system named Shane Douglas. He did revolutionary stuff. Sami Callihan is one of those guys.”
I’m also looking forward to Tony Nese taking on Lio Rush.
Dreamer: “Just like what we were saying in the beginning about saying goodbye, I’ve used Tony Nese on every one of my shows except Australia. Now that he’s signed with WWE, I’m his last independent show. I thought the world and still do of Tony Nese. If I had my choice, Tony Nese and Sami Callihan would have been the two people I’d sign to a contract. If I ever get a title, which I’m planning on, they would be my guys to have wars over that title. My slogan is no politics, no B.S., just wrestling, and they know how to wrestle.”
Speaking of no politics, I haven’t seen you comment on the Joey Styles situation. How do you feel about everything that went down?
Dreamer: “I thought it was complete and utter BS. You can’t fire somebody from an independent company unless you’re giving them full-time salary. It did not have to be made public. It could have just been ‘hey, after the show I’m not going to use you anymore, thank you, and goodbye.’ But that wasn’t the case. If there was ever a person who is a great human being, an amazing husband, an amazing father, an all-around great person, it’s Joey Styles.
There was people then calling him racist, homophobic. If there was ever a miscast upon somebody, where it got him to be so, I want to say upset, not even mad about the business, where he just stopped being on social media because he was heartbroken as an individual. It was all BS, could have been avoided, should have been avoided, but it’s ok because he moved forward.”
If Joey felt like coming back to the business, would he be welcome at House of Hardcore?
Dreamer: “Absolutely. He may happen to be a surprise Friday or Saturday, you never know what’s going to happen.”