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Thomas James "Tom" Laughlin[1] (born February 13, 1971)[2][1] is an American professional wrestler better known by his ring name Tommy Dreamer. He is best known for his time spent with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Among other accolades, he is a two-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion (once in ECW, once in WWE), and a fourteen-time WWF/E Hardcore Champion.[3]

In addition to his most recent role, Dreamer is known for the time he spent in the Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) promotion, of which he has been called the "heart and soul".[4] Though he only held the ECW World Heavyweight Championship once in his time with the company – for a total of about 30 minutes[5] – he was regularly embroiled in the company's most visible angles on-screen and involved in the booking, some of the business decisions, and, like a number of other ECW wrestlers, was part of the day to day operations of the company off-screen.[6][7]

DebutEdit

Laughlin was trained in professional wrestling by Johnny Rodz.[2] His first notable foray into the business came when he worked in International World Class Championship Wrestling (IWCCW) under the name T.D. Madison.[8] While there he and his storyline brother, G.Q., held the IWCCW Tag Team Championship three times in 1991.[9] He changed his name to Tommy Dreamer, reportedly after taking his given first name and adding "Dreamer" in tribute to Dusty Rhodes, in 1992 while working in the New England based Century Wrestling Alliance (CWA). While in the CWA, he became its first Heavyweight Champion by defeating "Mr. USA" Tony Atlas in a tournament final held in Wallingford, Connecticut on November 5, 1992. He held the title for over four months before losing it to The Iron Sheik in Burlington, Vermont.[10]

Extreme Championship Wrestling (1992–2001)Edit

Dreamer joined Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 1992, just before its name change to Extreme Championship Wrestling. His first major gimmick in the company had him wrestling in matches in garish green suspenders and acting as something of a "pretty boy" – at least in relation to the rest of the ECW roster. This gimmick got him soundly booed by crowds, even when he became the first person in wrestling history to kick out of the pin that follows the Superfly Splash of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.[11]

After Michael Fay was arrested in Singapore and sentenced to a caning, ECW head booker Paul Heyman decided to capitalize on the publicity by holding a Singapore Cane match between Dreamer and The Sandman – with the loser having to take 10 lashes. After losing the match Dreamer took his lashes, then asked the Sandman for another, causing the crowd to feel sympathy for him as he took the extra, and another. This was a launching point to an angle that ended up blurring the divide between fan faces" and heels in wrestling, as well as start a new way of working the fans, especially the "smarks" – fans with some amount of inside information. In a later match, Dreamer kayfabe accidentally blinded the Sandman, first by knocking a lit cigarette into his eye, then hitting in the other with a Singapore cane. Immediately after, Dreamer seemed to break kayfabe and started aiding the Sandman. He professed that he "didn't mean to do it" and that it was "an accident" as other wrestlers – fan face and heel – swarmed out to help. The feud eventually ended with Sandman planning to announce his retirement at an ECW show, only to attack Dreamer and reveal he was never actually blind.[12]

Though the blind Sandman angle was his first "major" feud in ECW, his later, years long feud against Raven that started in April 1995 is arguably his most memorable. The two were portrayed as childhood friends who had been competing in different ways their entire lives. Raven's entrance into ECW had him accompanied by Beulah McGillicutty, an overweight girl from their kayfabe childhood who had a crush on Dreamer and was now a Penthouse Pet. Dreamer and Raven (and Raven's Nest) feuded for two years with Dreamer never getting a win over Raven until Raven's last match in ECW, a Loser Leaves Town match. By the end of the feud, Beulah had left Raven and was Tommy's valet.

Throughout 1996, during the feud with Raven, Dreamer was also involved in an additional feud with "Prime Time" Brian Lee, who was brought in as Raven's bodyguard. The two had several encounters that ended with Dreamer being chokeslammed through tables. During other fights, the pair brawled outdoors onto the street and into traffic. The feud culminated in a scaffold match at the October 1996 High Incident event, where Dreamer sent Lee off the scaffolding through several tables in the ring below.

After Raven went to World Championship Wrestling, Dreamer began a feud with the World Wrestling Federation's Jerry "The King" Lawler. The feud was largely symbolic, with Dreamer representing Extreme Championship Wrestling's "new school" style of wrestling as a concept and Lawler (with James E. Cornette) representing the World Wrestling Federation and United States Wrestling Association's more "old school" way of doing things.[13]

In 1998, Dreamer had a short feud with the Dudley Boyz (Buh Buh Ray and D-Von), during which they (kayfabe) broke Beulah's neck.[14] In 1999, on their last night in the company, they cited this incident to get Dreamer to accept a challenge for the ECW Tag Team Championship they had won earlier in the night. He did accept, and got the title, but was paired with the unexpected partner Raven, who slid into the ring at the last second and made the pin. The team only lasted a short time before it dissolved, with Raven taking the title and choosing Mike Awesome as his new partner.[15] He also, begrudgingly, became World Heavyweight Champion in 2000[5] by beating Tazz at CyberSlam, only to lose it to Justin Credible just 30 minutes later.[16]

When speaking of his title reigns on The Rise and Fall of ECW documentary produced by WWE Home Video, Dreamer is quoted as saying:[17] Template:Cquote

Dreamer stayed with ECW until it folded in 2001, defeating C.W. Anderson in an "I Quit" match at Guilty as Charged[18] – the final pay-per-view – and teaming with Danny Doring in a win over Julio Dinero and EZ Money in the final independent ECW show.[19]

World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment (2001–2010)Edit

After ECW closed its doors, Dreamer spent time in various independent leagues throughout the country, such as Jersey All Pro Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling before he signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). He was introduced to WWF audiences on the July 9, 2001 episode of Raw as a member of the WCW/ECW Alliance during the Invasion angle.[20] When the angle ended in November, Dreamer was sent to the WWF's "farm territory" Heartland Wrestling Association.[21]

RawEdit

He was brought back to the main roster of the now renamed World Wrestling Entertainment in April and placed on the Raw "brand". There, he turned face and was given a gimmick that saw him proclaim that he was "Just a Regular Guy", for which he was featured in vignettes and backstage segments showing him in normal situations that were then augmented by "disgusting" antics such as brushing his teeth and his dogs teeth with the same brush[22] and eating food from the floor.[23] However, this angle was short lived. He soon reverted back to his "Innovator Of Violence" gimmick and amassed fourteen reigns as Hardcore Champion.[24] During this time, he was the final person to hold it before it became unified with the Intercontinental Championship in a match with Rob Van Dam.[25] After losing the Hardcore Championship, Dreamer renewed his feud with Raven, defeating him in a Loser Leaves Raw match on June 24 to send him to Raw's sister show, Heat.[26]

As 2003 and 2004 went on, Dreamer was used less and less on WWE television,[8] and they began allowing him to take independent bookings and work as color commentator for their developmental territories, Ohio Valley Wrestling and Deep South Wrestling. When his performers contract expired, he took a succession of "office jobs" inside World Wrestling Entertainment.[27]

Launching of the ECW brandEdit

File:Tommydreamerwithfan.jpg

In 2005, Dreamer was a major part of the ECW One Night Stand "reunion show" pay-per-view held under the World Wrestling Entertainment banner. He, along with a number of former ECW stars, took part in promotional hype for the event on episodes of Raw and, with the Sandman, he wrestled the Dudley Boyz in the main event.[28] For the 2006 event, he was placed into an angle that had him and Terry Funk – who had been his "mentor" in the early days of the original ECW – at odds with then-heels, Mick Foley and Edge over the meanings of "extreme".[29][30][31] The angle ended with a six-person-intergender-tag team match at the pay-per-view where Dreamer, Funk, and Beulah McGillicutty lost to Edge, Foley, and the heel gimmick of Lita.[32]

When the ECW brand officially launched on the Sci Fi channel, Dreamer and the Sandman were put into one of the brands first feuds, an "old school versus new school" feud, against Test and Mike Knox.[33][34] In November and December he engaged in a short feud with Daivari and the heel gimmick of The Great Khali, but Khali was sent to the Raw brand before it could come to a conclusion.[35][36] Not long after Khali left ECW, The New Breed stable was established, consisting of wrestlers new to ECW such as the leaders of the New Breed: Elijah Burke, Marcus Cor Von, the heel gimmick of Matt Striker and Kevin Thorn. In response, a stable of ECW Originals was created, and the teams continued to clash in singles and tag matches, trading wins on the weekly ECW show throughout the spring of 2007. The Originals won a standard-rules four-on-four match at WrestleMania 23, but lost an extreme-rules rematch on the next Tuesday's show. The feud continued until a number of roster moves left the Originals nearly barren.

In late 2007, Dreamer took part in the ECW brand's elimination chase to name a number one contender to the ECW Championship. During the series of matches, also involving Stevie Richards, Elijah Burke, and Kevin Thorn he added a bandana, worn on his head, to his ring gear. He received the original one from a young boy with a brain tumor, and from then on began wearing one as a sign of solidarity and strength to anyone going through that struggle.[37][38] Dreamer emerged victorious in the final match against Burke, only to be surprised by ECW's General Manager Armando Estrada forcing him to face Big Daddy V, who promptly beat him for the number one contendership.[39]

In the beginning of 2008, Dreamer was paired with ECW brand enhancement talent then-babyface, Colin Delaney as a sort of mentor after Delaney was consistently and easily defeated on the weekly ECW television show. They challenged the Miz and then-heel, John Morrison for the WWE Tag Team Championships, after they defeated them in a non-title match, but they lost the title match in an Extreme rules match. The next week, Dreamer was defeated by Chavo Guerrero (who was the ECW Champion at the time). At WrestleMania, he participated in a 24 man battle royal to earn an opportunity for the ECW Championship later in the event, but failed to win. At the 100th episode of ECW, Dreamer was defeated in an Extreme rules match by Mike Knox. He participated in a Singapore cane match at One Night Stand, but failed to win. At The Great American Bash on July 20, 2008, Delaney turned on Dreamer, costing him his ECW Championship match against then-heel, Mark Henry. He defeated Colin Delaney in an Extreme rules match. After that, Dreamer started a feud with the new superstar Jack Swagger. They faced in a classic wrestling match, but Dreamer lost the match after he used his DDT on Swagger. Then Swagger defeated Dreamer in an Extreme rules match, ending the feud.[40][41][42]

ECW Champion and departureEdit

On the January 13, 2009 episode of ECW, Dreamer announced that if he failed to win the ECW Championship by June 6, when his WWE contract was to expire, he would no longer wrestle for ECW. The storyline saw Dreamer start a losing streak that ended when he defeated Paul Burchill on the February 24 edition of ECW. On the April 28 edition, Dreamer received a match for the ECW Championship against then-champion Christian, which went to a no-contest when Jack Swagger interfered. Dreamer was granted a one-day extension on his contract, allowing him one last chance at the ECW Championship, challenging the champion Christian and Jack Swagger in a triple threat match at Extreme Rules. At Extreme Rules, Dreamer pinned Jack Swagger in a hardcore triple threat match, capturing his second ECW Championship almost a decade after he claimed the title in the original ECW.

After successful title defenses, one against Christian and also a Championship Scramble match at The Bash, Dreamer eventually lost the championship back to Christian at Night of Champions. On the July 28 episode of ECW, Dreamer announced he would exercise his rematch clause against Christian the following week. The two faced off in an Extreme Rules match, in which Christian retained the championship.

After his championship pursuit had ceased, Dreamer began teaming up with Christian, Yoshi Tatsu and Goldust on various occasions to take on William Regal and his allies Vladimir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson, exchanging victories and losses. On the December 29 episode of ECW, Dreamer wrestled Zack Ryder and lost. If Dreamer was to lose the match then he would be (kayfabe) forced to retire from in-ring competition. After the match, Dreamer made a farewell speech in which he thanked the fans before exiting the ring with his two daughters. A few days later on January 4, 2010, Dreamer was officially released by WWE and added to the alumni column.[43]

Independent circuit (2010)Edit

Tommy Dreamer appeared at the inaugural event of EVOLVE Wrestling on January 17, 2010, in a non-wrestling role, getting involved in a match which lead to him brawling with Jimmy Jacobs. The independent promotion Universal Championship Wrestling has added Tommy Dreamer to their roster.[44]Tommy Dreamer had his first independent wrestling match since leaving the WWE for American Championship Entertainment on February 13, 2010 in Union City, NJ going up against Mo Sexton in a championship match.[45]Tommy Dreamer would defeat fellow former ECW Champion Shane Douglas to become the UCW Universal Heavyweight Championship on Feb 20th.

Other mediaEdit

Dreamer made a cameo in the adult film Whack Attack 5 by Extreme Associates.[46] He also appeared, along with fellow ECW wrestler New Jack in the "Mel Schwartz, Bounty Hunter" episode of the TV series Early Edition as a biker.[47] Dreamer participated in wrestling documentary, Bloodstained Memoirs. The footage was filmed at an American Wrestling Association UK show.[48]

Personal lifeEdit

Dreamer married Trisa Hayes, better known by her ring name Beulah McGillicutty, on October 12, 2002,[2] with whom he has twin daughters – Kimberly and Briana.[49] Kimberly and Briana appeared in a sixth season episode, "The Ride", of the HBO drama The Sopranos playing Domenica Baccalieri, Tony Soprano's baby niece.

In wrestlingEdit

  • Nicknames
    • "The Innovator of Violence"[2]
    • "The Heart and Soul of ECW"[50]
    • "The Last ECW Original"

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

  • KYDA Pro Wrestling
    • KYDA Pro Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[56]

1Dreamer's first reign occurred while in Extreme Championship Wrestling, while his second occurred in WWE on the ECW brand. He is a two time ECW World Heavyweight Champion overall.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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