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A WrestleMania dream comes true for an ECW innovator
WrestleMania 23 will be both a dream come true and a potential nightmare for Tommy Dreamer.
Dreamer will make his WrestleMania debut when he leads his fellow ECW Originals to war against the New Breed in their Eight-Man Tag Team Match. However, it could also be his last stand if the young upstarts -- Elijah Burke, Matt Striker, Kevin Thorn and Marcus Cor Von -- defeat veterans Dreamer, Sandman, Rob Van Dam and Sabu in this pivotal battle for supremacy and the future of ECW.
But Dreamer isn't fazed. The opportunity to perform in front of 70,000 screaming WWE fans at WrestleMania will be a career pinnacle for the 14-year ECW veteran.
"At this stage of my career, I kind of never thought I'd make it to WrestleMania," Dreamer told WWE.com. "For me, it kind of puts an exclamation point on a great career. And to go out on top would be an amazing feat. It's hitting a homerun during Game 7. It's [like Pittsburgh Steelers running back] Jerome Bettis retiring after the Super Bowl."
As a fan in New York City, Dreamer attended the first two WrestleManias. He eventually debuted in the original ECW in 1993, and became the promotion's spiritual leader, winning the respect of both fans and peers with his guts and willingness to spill his blood and sacrifice his body.
Though he became a star in ECW, Dreamer always wanted to compete on the grandest stage of them all. And no one is happier than his wife and former valet in ECW, Beulah.
"I'm just very happy for him to have this opportunity," Beulah told WWE.com. "It has also been a dream of his to compete at a WrestleMania. It's nice when you get to see somebody's dream come true."
Beulah says she will be in attendance among the thousands of WWE fans at Ford Field in Detroit on April 1. Though she is not at ringside for the ECW Originals' battles with the New Breed, Beulah still feels a special kinship with her friends from the first incarnation of the promotion.
"It makes me feel like I'm there," she said. "When you get that close and travel with people, they become part of your extended family. It's like rooting on a large extended family."
Dreamer and fellow ECW Originals Sandman and Sabu are all making their Wrestlemania debuts this year. (Rob Van Dam has competed at two previous WrestleManias.)
Dreamer and his teammates may not have had the chance to perform at WrestleMania without the rebirth of ECW. He can't wait to hear the roar of the crowd at WrestleMania, and vows to defend the original ECW's legacy until the very end.
"Have I ever been bullied out of my own house? No. I will defend ECW with every drop of blood in my body," Dreamer said. "I broke my neck and my back for the old ECW, and I would do the very exact same thing for the new ECW."