When his wrestling home, ECW, officially went of business in March of 2001, the man known as the “heart and soul” of the company, Tommy Dreamer, found himself taking on the most formidable foe of his life: depression.
On this week’s episode of the House of Hardcore Podcast, the two-time ECW World Heavyweight Champion revealed not only the depression he suffered from at the time, but just how frighteningly deep it went for him.
“When ECW went out of business I was 29 years old,” Dreamer explained. “I had a lot of my money, my parents’ money, trying to float the company.
“Paul Heyman, who I thought me and him were super tight, he screwed me over big time. He was in the WWE, the whole time. I had turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to WCW. And now was unemployed. I went from a $750,000 offer, and Paul Heyman crying to me, that if I leave ECW, it will go out of business. Meanwhile, he was getting a paycheck from WWE.
“I don’t begrudge him, but then I did. I was depressed as depressed can be. I had women, I had fame, I had everything, and yet it was the worst time of my life. It really was. I was doing indies, making decent money on the indies. But I lived at home.”
It was shortly after the shuttering of ECW in 2001 that Dreamer was told by Heyman that he would be making his WWE debut at WrestleMania 17 at the Astrodome in Houston. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out and he was left even more depressed and considered doing the unthinkable.
“I remember I did a show there, and I saw a sign that said, ‘Guns Welcome,’ and I was in Houston,” Dreamer continued. “I did an indie show, and I said, ‘What is this?’ I’m from New York, what do you mean, ‘guns welcome?’ and they said, ‘Oh you are allowed to bring a firearm into the venue.’ I was across the street from the Astrodome. When I tell you it resonated in my head so, so much. That I’ll tell you what I wanted to do. It’s sick that I think this.
“At WrestleMania, I was gonna hop the rail, and I was gonna whack Paul E. in the back of the head right at the announce table, then I was gonna whack myself. The ultimate martyr, I was gonna hit my pose crack, boom, pull the trigger. Because I was that insane. Don’t know if I would have went through with it, but that’s what I was thinking about every day. I was like, ‘I will go down in history.’ Pop, boom. First, they’d think it as an angle until I shot him. I was so severely depressed and so mental with rage, I needed help.”
He went on to say that it was a random call from WWE’s legendary announcer and Executive Vice President of Talent Relations at the time, Jim Ross, that ended up getting him through the mental anguish he was feeling.
“Randomly I get a phone call from a number I didn’t know… I didn’t pick up, and I remember having these thoughts, and it was bad,” said Dreamer. “I had a gun… I was, pssh, man. Could you think about the horribleness that I would have done for my legacy? I would have ruined WrestleMania, which I love WrestleMania. For everybody. But these thoughts were so, so crazed in my head, because I was like, ‘How dare this person, he screwed my parents over. And I come from a different, kind of a mobster, mentality. I would become infamous, which is famous for the wrong reason.”
The message Ross ended up leaving Dreamer was, “Hey Tommy, it’s Jim Ross, just want to let you know, we are still thinking about you, we are gonna get it done, just got to hang tight. Thank you.”
“I am so happy I didn’t do it,” said Dreamer. “I am so happy that I did get that phone call, from someone who was a stranger, I barely knew the guy.”
Dreamer ended up making his WWE debut on the July 9, 2001 episode of Raw, ended up winning the ECW Championship for a second time and the WWE Hardcore Championship 14 times, during appearances for the company between 2001 and 2016. He now runs his own wrestling promotion, the House of Hardcore, and wrestles and serves as a producer for Major League Wrestling.
Listen to the entire interview below…
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