The Innovator of Violence, the last ECW original. There’s no doubt that Tommy Dreamer is one of the first names that comes to mind when the topic of extreme hardcore wrestling is brought up.
Dreamer (real name Thomas James Laughlin) first broke onto the wrestling scene in the IWCCW under the name T.D. Madison where he became a three-time International World Class Championship Wrestling Tag Team Champion (mouthful, isn’t it?).
While working for the Central Wrestling Alliance (CWA), he changed his name to Tommy Dreamer, with rumour being that the name Dreamer was a tribute to “the American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
In 1992, Dreamer made the most important move of his career and joined ECW (which was called Eastern Championship Wrestling at the time before Extreme came into it) and soon became the first person in wrestling history to kick out of a pin following Jimmy Snuka’s Superfly Splash.
The following years saw Dreamer rise through the ranks of the roster after feuds with the Sandman, Raven, Cactus Jack and many more. He became ECW World Heavyweight Champion in 2000, however, he wasn’t pleased about it.
In the DVD The Rise and Fall of WCW, he says: “I was actually pissed off. I wanted to go my entire ECW career without winning titles. The only reason I won titles is because guys left.” He lost the title later that night, half an hour after winning it.
In 2001, ECW was finished. Dreamer had worked on the independent circuit for a while before arriving on Raw as part of the WCW/ECW Invasion angle and afterwards stayed on Raw until WWE decided to resurrect ECW in 2005 where he stayed for the rest of his WWE career.
Dreamer first talked about leaving a year before it actually happened, claiming that if he didn’t win the ECW championship by the time his contract expired, then he would retire.
He won it from Christian in a triple threat match by pinning Jack Swagger. This made Dreamer the only person to win the ECW title before and after WWE’s acquisition of the company.
On the Dec. 29, 2009, Tommy Dreamer put his career on the line in a match against Zack Ryder who went on to win. After the match, Dreamer gave a heartfelt speech before lifting his wife and two daughters over the barrier and walking back to the WWE locker room for the last time.
This was also the last time Zack Ryder won a match. Nah, I’m just joking. Zack Ryder has won a match since 2009, hasn’t he?
Dreamer gave an interview with Slam Wrestling as to why he left WWE. His excuse was that he felt he couldn’t contribute to the company anymore.
WWE announced the release of Dreamer in January 2010 and was the first in a long list of people that were to be booted out of the company that year.