"Tommy Dreamer fell down a lot, but because of each and every one of you and the millions watching, you made me get up. I thought about life. Life is hard and I know, we try, and it's so hard, but we gotta keep trying and fighting, because that's what life is all about. Be good to others and I will miss each and every one of you. Thank you so much. I love you so much." - Tommy Dreamer
On December 29, 2009, Tommy Dreamer exited ECW for the final time. Like many other moments in Dreamer's storied career, that exit was an emotional one. Literally kissing Extreme Championship Wrestling - the company that defined his career in countless ways - goodbye, Tommy gently kissed his wife Beulah McGuillicuty before carrying their twin girls, Kimberly and Brianna off into the distance, waving as the sun set on Dreamer's WWE career.
While some may have erroneously believed that wave goodbye on television was the end of Dreamer's wrestling career, nothing could be farther from the truth. Tommy Dreamer is still doing what he loves more than anything else in the world - taking his fans on a special ride inside the ring, performing from the heart and fighting the good fight.
A Westchester, New York native who lived and died by professional wrestling - Tommy dreamed of wrestling in Madison Square Garden. Originally trained by WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz in a class that also included former ECW champion Taz, Dreamer broke into the world of professional wrestling the old fashioned way, working everywhere and anywhere possible for every independent promotion in the Northeast and beyond, usually for little money.
The money wasn't as important as the respect or the love of the game. With every match, Dreamer continued his slow but steady rise to fame. Initially dismissed by detractors of as yet another "dime-a-dozen, hiptoss and armdrag" pretty boy, Tommy Dreamer soon shed that image, turning the green suspenders in for a black t-shirt, emerging from the chaotic, riotous Fight Clubs promoted by the original (and real) Extreme Championship Wrestling as the "Innovator of Violence."
Although considered one with the ECW audience today, Tommy Dreamer's journey to that distinction didn't happen overnight. Like everything else in life, it was a slow and hard journey. Dreamer worked his way from opening matches in tiny Pennsylvania towns before unforgiving crowds to Pay-Per-View main events where he led fans in chanting "ECW." Bloody, violent, dramatic matches and feuds with Raven, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley, Sabu, Brian Lee, Louie Spicoli, Taz, and many, many others left Dreamer's name eternally carved in the memories of hardcore professional wrestling fans, while his short reign as ECW World champion left him permanently etched in the history books.
As Extreme Championship Wrestling grew, so did Dreamer's responsibilities, as he truly was the "heart and soul" of the company, helping to maintain order in the roster's locker room, helping to maintain creative direction, overseeing the company's merchandising arm and providing an outlet for new, untapped talent to find their niche in the business via ECW.
When ECW shut down in early 2001, it was only fitting that Dreamer was the final man standing. More so than anyone else, he epitomized the fanaticism both the performers and the fans had for Extreme Championship Wrestling.
After the demise of ECW, Tommy soon debuted for World Wrestling Entertainment, finally getting the chance to achieve a new set of goals - wrestling in arenas he grew up watching his heroes in, like Madison Square Garden and the Meadowlands, debuting at Wrestlemania, and helping to produce the original ECW One Night Stand PPV, where the spirit of Extreme Championship Wrestling rose like a Phoenix from the ashes. Fittingly, that night ended with Dreamer losing, yet still being the last man standing. Art had now imitated life.
Behind the scenes in WWE, Dreamer continued to carry many different hats beyond professional wrestler, taking part at different times in production and creative affairs. He held a Talent Relations position, overseeing WWE's developmental process and helping numerous talents stars get their initial foot in the door of the world's largest wrestling organization. Still, Dreamer's first love remained competing and entertaining in the ring.
When WWE made the decision to revive Extreme Championship Wrestling in their own vision, Dreamer immediately resigned his office duties to return as a full-time competitor. Dreamer fans - who never stopped chanting "ECW" whenever he emerged from the locker room - found the "Innovator" back home. As the WWE's ECW brand evolved, newer faces replaced the old guard, leaving Tommy Dreamer - once again - the last man standing to fight the good fight. Whether he was battling to prove he "still had it" or achieving his dream of once again holding the ECW championship, Dreamer continued to take an international audience on a very unique, emotional ride.
In December 2009, Tommy Dreamer made the decision to depart World Wrestling Entertainment to see what the future would hold for him and his family - both inside the squared circle and in ventures beyond that world Dreamer grew up loving.
The first of those ventures saw Dreamer enter Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Bridging his past and his future, Dreamer was assigned creative control of the Hardcore Justice PPV, celebrating the extreme heritage of the past while providing TNA one of its most successful PPVs of 2010. Tommy found himself against old foes like Brother Ray and new foes like AJ Styles, but one thing remained constant - Dreamer fought the good fight, and always will.
They always say the night is darkest right before dawn. That dawn has risen, so thank you for continuing to take the ride of a lifetime with Tommy. You aren't his fans. You are indeed, truly, his family.
"If you have passion for what you do, you can make it anywhere." - Tommy Dreamer