“My greatest memories in life are going with my dad to see wrestling. My father took me to so many events. He was a highly educated man, and back in the ’80s when we’d see Ricky Steamboat or Ric Flair, he’d say, ‘I don’t know about the rest of those guys, but what these two guys did, that was real.'”
Those words kicked off the interview with Thomas Laughlin, the fan. Eventually, the world would come to know him as Tommy Dreamer. Among many things, he is a revered champion wrestler who is also the founder and owner of House of Hardcore. This Friday, August 11, Tommy is bringing his star-studded wrestling event to New Jersey family’s favorite entertainment center, iPlay America!
“My father is no longer with me,” Tommy continued, “but whenever I see Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat, I go right back to being a child without a care in the world and having one of the greatest nights in my life. I want other kids to have those memories, too. House of Hardcore is for the next generation of wrestling fans. It’s a family friendly event, I have no cursing at my shows — it’s like being a comic, if you can perform clean, you can perform anywhere.”
House of Hardcore 32 will begin at 6 p.m. with a meet-and-greet.
“You’re going to get to meet and talk with all of these people,” Tommy promised. “You’re not going to be standing on the other side of a table and be forced to take diagonal pictures. I do understand why WWE does that, but this is more of an intimate way to appreciate professional wrestling. Fans will be able to meet their favorite wrestlers and take pictures with them.”
“Then, the bell will ring at 8 p.m. and you’ll get to see some of the best wrestling you’ve ever seen in your life! I’m really excited for this event.”
This is Tommy’s second time at the venue. His first happened at the beginning of 2017 when he was asked to host a WWE Monday Night Raw event for New Jersey fans.
“I was blown away with how cool the place was,” he recalled. “Besides the great food, it was a family atmosphere, and it had all those rides. There were so many things to do. That night, I was also taking pictures and doing a Q&A, and the biggest question asked was, ‘When are you going to bring House of Hardcore to New Jersey?’ iPlay delivered, so here I am.”
The ticket for August 11 boasts an incredible night of nonstop action featuring “Hardcore Three Way Dance” with MVP vs. Jake Hager (formerly known as Jack Swagger) vs. Tommy Dreamer, The Rock N Roll Express vs. The Squad, “Anything Goes” with Bully Ray vs. Sami Callihan, and Bobby Fish vs. Rhett Titus. Confirmed superstars include Nick Aldis (Magnus), Bull James, Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, and more.
“In an intimate setting like we’ll have this Friday at iPlay America, you’ll be able to hear the contact. Those ropes are steel cables. The floor isn’t a trampoline. There is no wizard behind the curtain. You don’t realize how much a chop hurts or how much it takes the breath out of you. If you have a wife or a girlfriend, the next day they might ask, ‘Is that a hickey?!’ And you’d reply, ‘No that’s a man’s hand print embedded in me. Those are broken blood vessels on my neck and chest.’ When you have an intimate setting like this, you’ll be able to hear it and know, ‘Wow, they really are hitting each other. They’re not pulling any punches!'”
“There is always a risk of real injury,” Tommy acknowledged. “I remember when my trainer, WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz, was wrestling Tony Garea and it was hot. He was sweaty and he picked him up for a simple body slam and he dropped him on his head. He lost the feeling in both arms and legs and thought he was a quadriplegic. What he got back then would be known as a stinger.”
WWE has changed over the years. It has a great wellness program and there is concussion protocol in place. Tommy will never allow a steel chair to the head, but he pointed out, “It’s just like football, just because it has changed to a safer way to protect the athlete, it doesn’t mean the guys are hitting any less harder.”
With an in-ring career that began over 25 years ago coupled with the physical abuse he puts his body through night after night — last year Tommy performed 180 shows — how does this 46 year old do it again and again and again?
“Adrenaline,” he responded. “When my music hits and I go out through that curtain, I am Tommy Dreamer. I have a full set of hair, my belly isn’t as big, and I am 27 years old again. When I wake up some mornings, shuffle along, stub my toe, and start screaming in pain, or I trip over the dog? That’s Tom Laughlin because Tommy Dreamer feels no pain.”
Professional wrestling is pure, raw entertainment. You could go to the movies and watch a film like Dunkirk or Kidnap and maybe get a little tingle from an adrenaline spurt. But, as Tommy likes to tell people, “You can’t yell at a movie screen. Well, you could, but they’d ask you to leave. And even if you did, the screen wouldn’t yell back at you like they do at wrestling. It’s a great night out. These shows are the only place you can see somebody like Bobby Fish, who just signed to WWE — these are going to be his last independent shows — myself; WWE Hall of Famer The Rock N Roll Express; Bully Ray; MVP; and former Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger. This is an all-star card that’s coming to your town!”
In closing, Entertaining Options asked, “What do you consider yourself, an athlete, an entertainer, or a fighter?”
Without hesitation, Tommy replied, “I am an entertaining athlete… who likes to fight!”
Tickets are on sale now for House of Hardcore 32 [Click here to purchase.]. The event begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 11 at iPlay America’s Warehouse 100.