Chants of “This is awesome!” rained down from the stands at the Lennox and Addington Agricultural Society arena on Friday as ECW legend Tommy Dreamer took on Pepper Parks in a hardcore match.
The bout was the headliner of House of Hardcore’s debut in Napanee, which based on the crowd size and reaction, was a huge hit.
Dreamer closed out the show by defeating Parks in what quickly turned into a hardcore match. It opened with Parks, in kayfabe, protesting about having a hardcore match and only agreeing to have a one fall match. The match spilled out into the crowd and involved chairs, two referees as the first was ‘knocked out’, ariel attacks from the top rope and almost a table.
“We had a good house, as a promoter I didn’t lose money,” Dreamer said following the show. Along with the headliner he also runs many behind the scenes aspects of House of Hardcore. It’s that experience both in the ring and outside the ring that prevented him from power bombing his opponent through a wooden table, which he did countless times in his WWE and ECW career. He did however tease the audience by propping the table up against the turnbuckle outside of the ring. Much to the dismay of the fans, the dazed Pepper recovered in time to prevent Dreamer from performing one of his signatures.
“They were chanting for tables,” said Dreamer. “If I break one it’s $185. It’s like ripping up $200 right there. That’s the difference between being a promoter and a wrestler. As a wrestler I’ll break everybody’s table. When we were brawling through the crowd, back in the day I’d wipe out a bunch of chairs. Now I rent those chairs. If I break then I have to pay seven bucks a chair.”
Despite clobbering his opponent with a chair and running him into the boards of the old arena with a hard hit not seen since the early days of the Napanee Raiders, Dreamer says it was all in the name of family entertainment.
“Hardcore has been bastardized by WWE as violence and blood,” said Dreamer. “Hardcore is a work ethic. A kid had his first match tonight. He drove seven hours, he’s from Team 3D Academy. He had his first match and I thought it went really well, how the people accepted him, I had a flashback to my first wrestling match watching him. I was so happy and proud of him, I was almost like a dad.”
The three hour show contained a bit of everything, from tag team matches, a championship title defense and even a bit of slapstick comedy. From the promotional side of things, Dreamer said he made money from the event and plans to return to Napanee within a year.
“I was happy with the turnout,” said Dreamer. “The fans were awesome, they really were. I’ve been (in the Napanee region) since Tuesday and this is a really cool little town. I love when communities come together.”
Prior to the show, Dreamer was welcomed to town by Greater Napanee deputy mayor Marg Isbester, councillor Max Kaiser and town staff. Isbester says she hopes to continue to draw entertainment like House of Hardcore in an effort to provide an outlet for residents both young and old.
Dreamer was fortunate in more ways than one to receive the invite to town hall.
“If we didn’t go to city hall, I was going to go to the bank so I could pick up money,” said Dreamer. “There was an armed robbery right down the block (at the Royal Bank of Canada). I would have either been shot or been a hero.”
He offered a bit of a wink and a smile following the last part.
The rest of his visit in Napanee was less eventful, through he says he did enjoy his stay. Dreamer made an appearance at Deadleaf Distinguished Gentleman on Thursday, raising $400 for the Garret Mills scholarship. He says he’s always happy to give back because wrestling has given so much to him.
“Wrestling has supplied me with the greatest moments of my life, memories of my father when he was still alive,” said Dreamer. “I hope I created new memories for people tonight.”
As for returning within 10 months to a year, he says he is quite serious.
“I’m a man of my word, I’m definitely coming back,” he said.