Tommy Dreamer has competed in his share of wrestling matches in Nassau and Suffolk, including as part of the WWE. But his most lasting Long Island memory came may have come as a 15-year-old fan attending WrestleMania 2 at the Nassau Coliseum.
The main event of the New York portion of the show, which also featured matches in Chicago and Los Angeles, was television and movie star Mr. T taking on “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in a boxing match. Dreamer remembers the match as a “debacle.”
“The fans started chanting ‘BS!’ And I was a firm believer that you cheer the good guy and you boo the bad guys,” Dreamer recalled. “You could say it was the first intelligent crowd, before there was social media, that I ever saw.”
That first taste of wrestling rebellion may have fueled the career of the “Innovator of Violence,” who returns to the area this Friday not only as a wrestler, but also as a promoter. His company, House of Hardcore, will hold its first Long Island show on Friday at 8 p.m. at the The Sports Arena on Middle Country Road in St. James.
Dreamer will take on fellow Extreme Championship Wrestling alumnus and WWE title holder Rhino on the card, which also features Matt Hardy, Ricochet and a special appearance by Terry Funk. Tickets are available at houseofhardcore.net.
Despite his match being billed as a “New York Street Fight,” Dreamer insists the House of Hardcore is not the latest attempt to revive ECW.
“I don’t do blood and guts. I don’t think I’ve even had cursing on the microphone. What ECW was was amazing, and I’m not trying to relive that. I’m trying to create new memories,” Dreamer said. “To me ‘hardcore’ is work ethic. It’s going out there and giving it your all every single night you perform.”
Since Dreamer launched House of Hardcore four years ago, the company has gone on to hold shows all over the Northeast, as well as California, Ontario, Canada and even Melbourne, Australia.
Dreamer, 45, said coming to Long Island is a “natural progression,” especially given that the temporary closure of the Nassau Coliseum has kept WWE off Long Island for more than a year.
“WWE left Long Island. The Islanders have left Long Island. But I haven’t,” joked Dreamer, from Yonkers. “I’m a New York guy. And bringing my brand to Long Island, for me, is the next step.”