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Star-studded and barbed wired
In a year filled with firsts, ECW can add its first-ever appearance at Royal Rumble as eight Extremists head to the SBC Center in San Antonio, Texas.
At the annual Rumble event, viewers will have the chance to watch six Extremists, including four ECW Originals, participate in the Rumble Match along with a title contest between ECW World Champion Lashley and Test.
Tommy Dreamer sees Sunday's pay-per-view as the doorway to achieving a lifelong dream.
"It's a chance for me to go to WrestleMania, which is something I've never been able to do," Dreamer explained. "I will do whatever it takes to get in there. [Years from now] I would like to at least say, as an exclamation point to my career, that I was at WrestleMania in the main event."
Rob Van Dam called Royal Rumble an event that adds more life to ECW. While he knows it is a great opportunity for the brand, he also knows that the event is all about fighting for yourself.
"Individually, WrestleMania is awesome and I would love to be at it," he said. "That's all of our career goals and it doesn't get any higher than that."
With the chance to obtain a championship at WrestleMania dangling in front of the 30 Rumble Match participants, everyone will be putting themselves first. So far, RVD has been able to do that, winning the Over-the-Top-Rope Challenge against Sabu, Dreamer, Sandman and Kevin Thorn on ECW on Sci Fi. All of Van Dam's opponents, in addition to CM Punk, are set to battle in the Rumble Match on Sunday.
"We're used to fighting each other, and it's all business when it comes down to that," RVD said.
This isn't the first Royal Rumble for Dreamer, an ECW Original. He made his Rumble debut in 2003 and in the process had a major impact.
"I gave Chris Jericho four stitches, I broke Bill DeMott's hand and I injured Christian," Dreamer said. "I was the first person to introduce weapons into the Royal Rumble, and I was only in there for two minutes. I did a lot of damage in those two minutes."
RVD wouldn't mind seeing the Rumble Match brought into Extreme territory. Despite being a part of many of the most extreme matches in sports-entertainment history, Royal Rumble brings something completely different to the table.
"It's hard to stand out, and that's what I'm all about," RVD said. "I prefer an environment where anything goes and I can be showcased in a hardcore setting -- maybe if we were allowed weapons and no rules. I think that's what the fans have come to appreciate and that's my strength."
It will be especially challenging for RVD to keep his feet on the ground. As a result of the match's nature, he will be forced to refrain from many of the high-flying moves he incorporates into his contests.
While Royal Rumble creates an atmosphere of every man working for himself, there will be a sense of camaraderie among the ECW Originals who lead the brand into another event that proves how far ECW has come.
"If it's not going to be me, I would like to see someone else from ECW earn that [title opportunity]," Dreamer said. "Especially an ECW Original like Rob Van Dam, Sabu or Sandman. They're my boys. They've been my friends for years and I'd love to see any of them make it."
Dreamer will certainly be rooting for his friends, but he can't forget the most important Extremist in the ring if he wants to achieve his dream.
"I would stick with them, though I know Sandman would punch me in the face and Rob Van Dam would kick me real hard. That's what we like to do because that's what we've been doing for so many years."