Initially, Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion was based in and around the spiritual home of ECW, Philadelphia. As time went by, like a growing tree, the brand has been branching out, from Wisconsin to Australia, from Texas to Ontario. Dreamer explained that Friday’s show in Napanee, Ont., is a great example of finding a partner and trying a new location.

Officially, it’s the Kingston-based Chinlock Wrestling that is teaming up with HOH, but in reality it’s Jan Murphy, known on these SLAM! Wrestling pages as Postmedia’s main wrestling writer, who Dreamer made the hot tag to.

Dreamer said that Murphy is willing to do the hustle that is next to impossible to do if one doesn’t know the market (which happens to be Murphy’s hometown).

“Jan has been nothing but good to me. He does a lot of legwork for me, and not just because I’m not there,” said Dreamer. “My company is popular, but it’s not to the popularity, I don’t have local television, so I need to rely on people like that. Same with my friend is Australia. It’s literally people that I’ve worked for before. Jan is just one of those trustworthy guys that I’ve met along my way in life. We became friends first, and I was just like, ‘Oh, this guy’s not a scumbag, and he’s not looking to screw people over. He runs a charity show where all proceeds go to his charity.’ He’s a good dude.”

Murphy had been on Dreamer to run a show up in Ontario again; the company ran a show in Toronto in July 2015, roughly two and a half hours from Napanee.

“Jan was always like, ‘You should run a show up here.’ I was like, ‘Dude, I’d love to.’ When I was on The Fight Network, we had a Toronto [show],” said Dreamer. “It was a lot of legwork, but it was also on The Fight Network. Yes, I’m on Twitch now, but a lot of people still don’t know what Twitch is. He was like, ‘What if I did this, this and this?’ I was like, ‘Well, then we’re going to do it.’ Seriously, it’s a risk, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take with good people.”

House of Hardcore 44 is on Friday, June 1, in Napanee, at the Lennox Agricultural Memorial Community Centre. Talent on the show includes Dreamer, Little Guido, Billy Gunn, Angelina Love, Willie Mack, RJ City, Bull James, Braxton Sutter and more. Then the following night, HOH crosses back into the U.S. for a show at Massena, NY, for a show at the Massena Arena. It’s a HOH debut in both towns.

The U.S.-Canada border is a complication, Dreamer admitted.

“I so wish it would change, especially for Canadian wrestlers,” began Dreamer. “It is nothing for us to get into Canada and go and wrestle. I just wrestled there … Gatineau, Quebec. The guy at customs, ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘Oh, I’m wrestling.’ ‘Have fun.’ And that’s it, you just come right in. Unfortunately, Canadians have such a harder time coming into the States and wrestling, and it really needs to change because there is an actual clause that says wrestlers are performers in a unique task that allows people to cross the border.”

There have been wrestlers who have been denied entry into the U.S., trying to work without a permit; sometimes that results in an outright ban.

Dreamer likes to dream. “I remember when I worked in the WWE office, it was a lot harder to hire Canadians as opposed to hiring Americans. It’s a lot to do with government stuff. It’s stupid, because, we’re neighbours, with a shared border. I also wish we had your health care, but that’s a whole other thing.”

In Wisconsin, it was Dave Herro stepping away from his regularly-promoted big annual show, and Dreamer asking if it was okay to jump in. The Australia gig went from a single show in June 2016 with Outback Championship Wrestling, to a series of shows in June 2017 with Aussie All Pro; one thing led to another, said Dreamer. “That worked out and then the next year, he’s like, ‘What if we did five cities?’ We did it and it was beyond successful.” (For Australia, Dreamer said it’s “a lot of a paperwork” for the temporary visa, but at least it’s predictable, unlike the U.S.-Canada border.)

It’s not all about House of Hardcore for Dreamer, though. He’s still in demand himself as a performer.

He’s feeling his 47 years for sure, and that travel grind is part of his decision-making process. Dreamer shared a specific example.

“Somebody’s offering me to go to Russia and to Turkey, and for the amount of money that they offered, it’s okay. But then I also said, I can’t take, the one thing at my age now, I can’t take as much is the travel. For the amount of money, if they wanted to keep increasing the money, I would go, but I physically can’t do that travel any more,” he admitted. If it wasn’t for me doing House of Hardcore, I probably couldn’t do Australia more, because I’m in so much pain after those flights. But the benefits outweigh the negatives going over there and just seeing how the company grew over there, and now how Australia has been booming, I enjoy that. That’s the only time I really say no.”

He gives it a little more thought, and thinks further on his schedule. “I’m reminded that, ‘Hey, you left WWE to take a lesser schedule.’ ‘Oh, by the way, you have three days off this month.'”