While many members of the creative team, like Ed Koskey and David Lagana, actually grew into wrestling fanatics cheering in the bleacher section of the ECW Arena during the 1990s, Vince McMahon just didn't understand the character.
"Paul," the Chairman of the entire industry would say, "what exactly IS a Tommy Dreamer? I don't get it!"
This was never more apparent than a few weeks into the re-birth of ECW as a television property in 2006, when Vince had an epiphany.
Kill off the originals. All of 'em. Well, we'll keep Sabu and Rob Van Dam, but the first week after Big Show won the ECW title, Vince wanted the newly-minted "Heel Heyman" to come out on television and publicly fire Sandman, Balls Mahoney, Little Guido, Francine, Al Snow and especially Tommy Dreamer.
Vince declared: "Time to let people know that concept is dead, and so are those guys, one and all."
With help from Talent Exec John Laurinaitis, and even a surprisingly impassioned endorsement from Stephanie McMahon-LeVesque, I was able to persuade Vince to keep the originals on board, and not because the brand needed the Bingo Hall alumnae, but because there was actual value in those talented performers.
While the firings, which were going to include the real life behind the scenes "best wishes in all you future endeavors" notice given to Dreamer and company were averted, Vince's lack of belief in Dreamer continued.
I always explained to Tommy the inspiration for his character was Bruce Willis as John McClane in the John McTiernan movie Die Hard. An ordinary man, pushed to extraordinary circumstances, who has no option left but to resort to extreme means just to survive. The formula worked.
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