In the ring, Tommy Dreamer commits violence that could shock hardened criminals. Outside the ring, however, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. SLAM! Wrestling recently had the chance to talk to the “Innovator of Violence” to discuss this apparent inconsistency, and other aspects of his life in pro wrestling.

The difference, he says, results from knowing which of his many hats to wear — and rest assured, he wears a lot of them.

“My official position with WWE,” he explained, “is Head of Developmental Systems. But, really, I do whatever they want me to do. Whatever they need me to do, I do it.”

One of those hats is as a talent scout/manager. In this hat, Dreamer attends a variety of independent shows — for example, a recent Blood, Sweat, and Ears show in Mississauga where this interview was conducted, as well as an upcoming show for the International Anarchy Wrestling promotion in Hamilton — to seek out potential candidates for a WWE job. Having the chance to discover people who might be the company’s next huge star can be very rewarding, Dreamer says.

Tommy Dreamer at the BSE show March 19th Photo by Dawn Weaver

“It’s been good,” he said proudly. “I’ve been able to look at a lot of people and help give them their first break. There are a lot of guys and girls out there who have some sort of potential in the sense that I think they’ll be able to draw money for WWE and vice versa.”

An example of this is southern Ontario sensation Shantelle Taylor, for whom Dreamer has nothing but praise.

“I don’t make the final decision of hiring or firing, but I think she deserves a job in WWE. I look for guys and girls who can wrestle, and I look for the ‘it factor,’ and she’s got it. She can go in the ring, she’s attractive, and she has the ‘it factor,’ She has all the tools of someone who can make it in this business. I’m a big Shantelle fan.”

Of the criteria mentioned, Dreamer is adamant that the primary one he looks for is whether the person can wrestle.

“I wish that the ability to wrestle was the underlying requirement of being in the business,” he said. “But I know that’s not always going to happen. There’s people who don’t know how to wrestle and are purely about their gimmick, but they get over and they can draw money and a company feels they have something to offer, and (both parties will) exploit it to the best of their ability. We do that in WWE, we did that in ECW, too.”

In mentioning ECW, another one of Dreamer’s hats is revealed — writer of the next ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view. It can’t be easy knowing that, after last year’s successful show, fans will expect this year’s to be even better. But Dreamer takes it in stride.

“I take a lot of pride in (last year’s) One Night Stand, and how it was received publicly. I had a lot of fun last time — those damn Dudleys tried to set me on fire!” he laughed. “I hope I can get as many (former ECW stars to attend) as I did last year.” Though he wouldn’t divulge any of the names he’s signed to date, one name that’s sure to perform at the next one is Tommy himself.

Which brings us to the hat that Tommy loves to wear the most: wrestler. It’s also the one that he hasn’t had the chance to wear as of late in WWE, much to his dismay.

“I miss (being in the ring) every single second of every single day,” he said emphatically. “I miss the rush from the fans — I don’t care if it’s 200 or 20,000 — that’s what I’ve worked hard for. To make sure I get a reaction, whether I’ve made them happy, sad, glad, or mad.”

Dreamer’s desire to get back in the ring isn’t something that everyone can understand, particularly when you look back on some of the abuse that his body has gone through — but for him, there’s no place he’d rather be.

“I have been unable to feel my feet because of the pain from when I broke my neck. But as soon as I heard that music hit and the roar of the crowd, I straighten my body up, head out there, and feel no pain until I get back to the dressing room. Wrestling is worse than heroin and I’m the biggest addict there is in terms of how much I love performing for the fans.”

But even if he doesn’t get the chance to experience that feeling on a regular basis, it’s a safe bet that Tommy won’t be hanging up his boots — or his many hats — any time soon. Simply put, he loves the wrestling business way too much to think about leaving.

“I cannot see myself outside of the wrestling industry,” he said without hesitation. “I can’t see myself without the business, I love everything about it. I’m very happy to have been given the opportunity to contribute to a business that I love.”