Tommy Dreamer discusses his drive to compete with Rich Christensen of 'Pinks'
On Speed Channel's Pinks, two proud car owners go head-to-head in a winner-takes-all drag racing competition. Adrenaline runs high as these competitors fuel their desires to compete on the Pinks drag strip, just as WWE Superstars feed their competitive spirit in the ring each week. ECW Original Tommy Dreamer talks all things competition and adrenaline -- from the good (wins), the bad (losses) and the ugly (injuries) -- with Rich Christensen, host and creator of Pinks.
Tommy Dreamer: Tell me more about Pinks. From what I understand, you guys drag race, and basically the winner takes all and gets the other person's car. Tell me about the emotions of that, as well as how it compares to what I do. Because in the sense of adrenaline, when it comes to a match, with adrenaline involved, I don't feel anything, injury-wise. I've had more injuries than probably most of the WWE Superstars, but I've broken my leg in the ring and just kept wrestling. I didn't even know I broke my leg.
Rich Christensen: What part of your leg?
Dreamer: I broke the front, by my calf. Someone had kicked me and just hairline fractured it. I broke my neck when I was wrestling and wrestled for another four months with a broken neck. I just always came out of the ring stiff until I broke my back because my neck was healing wrong. But adrenaline-wise, when you're out there, what it feels like to me is, I'm impervious to pain. I just keep on going. I think where I relate wrestling to Pinks is the adrenaline rush, what you're trying to achieve when you're doing your thing.
Christensen: That being said, do you have a high threshold for pain? Traditionally, when you were younger, did you have it?
Dreamer: Nope. I think it's funny, if I stub my toe at home, I'll jump around and cry like a little girl and my wife will be like, "I've seen you break your neck and get thrown and dropped on ladders and barbed wire and you don't even flinch. But when you're at home, somehow, it's like that." That's because when I am in the ring, I feel nothing. When there's the crowd out there, and there's all this energy and excitement, you don't feel anything when it's happening, but when I'm at home, I'm just a regular guy and I probably feel more pain when I wake up in the morning as opposed to the normal person. But you just carry on.
Christensen: I almost went to the emergency room on Saturday night. Pinks is the No. 1 show on Speed, 28,000 people came out to watch the taping of the show the last time I did it. I get to arm drop. When you're going to race somebody, instead of using the race tree, I use my arms, I arm drop 'em, right? Well, to make a long story short, I got in a motorcycle crash on my show. As I was going around to check on a racer, I dumped a bike, and it tore me up and it agitated my body up. I'm one of those guys who lifts seven days a week. And seriously, Tommy, nothing against it, I was a trainer back in L.A. while I was trying to get my start in television — I ran a gym out there. I've always been a fitness freak guy.
A year ago, I weighed 155 pounds, 155 to 160, and I never, I swear to you right here on the phone, no drugs. I've never seen a steroid in my life, literally. But I work out seven days a week, I never miss. I cranked two and a quarter for 33 in a row, weighing 160. The crazy thing is … I have the legs … seriously you could floss your teeth with my legs, the worst ever. I'm all upper body just like a gymnast. I've got the muscle structure of a swimmer. Just the worst genetics for it, but I've got that Dan Gable wrestling mentality, I'll work everybody.
So anyway, to get in shape for my show, I got to arm drop and it was my last workout, Tommy, my last workout before tomorrow's event, and I put an inch-and-a-half back on my legs since I started doing these arm drops. It's a whole body motion because I've got to stand perfectly still and drop my arms and my legs to operate the whole thing, so it's a big deal. Then I snapped my back on my third one. On my third one, I felt that pinch, you know how you pop your lower back? I did 445 more arm drops with my back snapped. The next night, seriously, I couldn't move. You ever blow your back out so bad you can't get out of bed?
Dreamer: Yes, I like to call it the twisted pretzel.
Christensen: So, I've got the twisted pretzel. I'm just crying in my bed, to my wife, "Don't touch me, but get me up." I mean it was jacked-up, man. The first time I thought the contraction wouldn't unlock, I was like "call the hospital!" It was pretty funny, man. But now I'm hoping the adrenaline works for me like it works for you, I'll tell you that. I'm walking like a 90-year-old man and I have to do a show tomorrow.
Dreamer: The largest crowd I ever worked in front of was last year at WrestleMania and it was something like 73,000 people, which is an amazing energy to feed off of. We normally wrestle in the big arenas, you know, 20 or 30,000 of our fans. Performing in front of them, that many people, is basically kind of why I do it -- the amazing adrenaline rush. I've never taken any drugs. There is no drug out there that can emulate the feel of the rush when I get out there. How does it feel to you when you're out there doing your thing?
Christensen: Look, I created a show because I know nothing about racing. I can't even open the hood of a car. Yet I created a show called Pinks where two guys have to race for the title of their car, the ultimate challenge. No bullcrap, for real, I don't cast you on the show unless I know you're willing to lose a car or take a car. When you watch my show, you're going to see that. One time an audio guy said, "Hey, Rich, can you say that line again?" I fired him on the spot. It's 100 percent real. Exactly what happens out there goes down in chronological order. Of course, it's edited up to be in pace, but nothing is manufactured. When you talk about absolute true television, real television, real reality, that's my show.
Well, I want to take it to the next level, and so I did a show called Pinks. And if you know anything about drag racing, Tommy, which I didn't, but now I do, this guy sandbagged, kind of like guys trying to cheat their way into winning, and smashed his car, and I don't like that. So I said, I'm going to do a television show called All Out where I'm going to reward someone for racing their car a lot. That's what I'm doing here in San Antonio. Tomorrow we're going to do an All Out with 500 cars, and when I say 500 cars, that's the limit that we have to put on it. When we first started doing a show called All Out, we were going to take 500 cars and dwindle it down, kind of like run your car all out. We pair these cars up, and in the end, I end up giving $10,000 or actually $18,000 in cash and prizes, to the ultimate grand champion winner, and it's all through heads-up racing competition.
When I did that, when we first started this thing, I thought we would have a couple hundred people in the stands and about a hundred cars. As of last year we had 500, or most recently I found out over the Internet sign up we had, 500 cars signed up in less than 60 seconds, and 2,200 went on a waiting list. And when we thought a couple of hundred would show up, we've had 20,000 show up. So after a while beyond it being a test, I think the fans, just like you when you perform in front of that many people when you're out there, it's not about you anymore. Tommy where are you from?
Dreamer: New York.
Christensen: Do you know the work ethic, or I call it the Midwest work ethic, that I have? I made a deal. If I make this TV show and you watch or you come to a live event as a fan, my deal is I'm going to give you 100 percent. I'll leave nothing … nothing … that day. I don't leave it in a locker room. It's going to be on the field. I'm going to bring my A-game; I'm going to give everything that I got. Now I'll stand on a track that's 140 degrees for 14 hours and I rarely leave to go take a break in my trailer, and I get back out there. If they're going to sit in the stands and boil, or they're going to sit in the stands and freeze, I'm going to do the same thing because I've got to get through those 500 cars and get it down to one. So I pride myself on working hopefully as hard as you guys work. That's because of the fans and not wanting to disappoint them, and my own personal drive to perform well. I think I can almost manufacture a little bit of adrenaline to get me through that day because I'm telling you, Tommy, the day after, I'm feeling like I got hit by a truck.
Dreamer: I have my own personal motto. It's that I go out there and I wrestle pretty much my hardest and I give it my all. I wrestle like it's going to be my last match because I know one day it will be, and that's kind of my motto, and I've stuck by it since I first started wrestling. I wrestled under Extreme Championship Wrestling, and we were a lot crazier than regular wrestling, and now we're a part of WWE, but originally ECW was my company and I remember watching it grow. I wrestled in front of 30 people under the ECW banner. Now with WWE, I wrestle in front of 73,000 people who see your life's work kind of come to fruition, and that hard work ethic is kind of what I'm all about. I have a lot of respect for you, and I wish you nothing but more success, and I will definitely tune in to see the show because of your enthusiasm telling me as a total stranger.
Christensen: You're not a total stranger! I've been watching you a long time. You don't know me, but I know you. …
Listen, I can sit here for hours and ask you every question about what you do, how you do what you do. You know, it still blows me away, and the fact is, I'm one of those guys that's in awe. Physically what you go through, the timing, the effort, the energy to travel that schedule, I've got a cushy life compared to you. And the danger -- you could break your freaking neck literally every time you go out there -- let alone all the energy. You can have life-threatening injuries. Me, I could get hit by a car. I could get killed, too. Both of us are in, believe it or not, I'm in a very dangerous job. You'll see when you watch my show. If the back end of a car comes loose, Tommy, I'm done. I could get killed or I'm getting hurt.
Dreamer: Your passion of how you tell me about your show, I would watch it just by listening to you from your passion. That's the same passion that I have for wrestling, and I think that's great.
Christensen: How old are you now?
Dreamer: I just turned 37.
Christensen: I just turned 44 in January. I watch Ric Flair. Do you know Ric Flair?
Dreamer: Of course!
Christensen: Is he a pretty cool cat? Because I sit there and just want to bow down when I see that guy for what he's doing out there. What you guys do is just amazing to me.
Dreamer: Ric's basically putting his career on the line at WrestleMania and that could be the one last great match that Flair has, and he's going against Shawn Michaels, and they're doing it on The Grandest Stage of Them All. That's just another one that I'm going to sit back and watch as a fan, and just be like, wow, these are two of the greatest performers of all-time going at it and it could be Ric Flair's last match. That's also what I love about being a wrestling fan. I will never forget that I was the little kid who paid for tickets to go see these Superstars go out there and work when I was a kid. That's why I always go out there and bust my ass for them, because people pay to see it, and you just want to give it your all.
Christensen: Well, Tommy, we have more in common than you think. You started with ECW with 30 people in the stands, I started with literally three people, a track worker and two drivers, and that's how Pinks started; with no promotion and very little audience. It's turned into the No. 1 show on Speed, and I'm damn proud of that.
Dreamer: And you should be.
Christensen: Thank you, sir.
Dreamer: Alrighty, I will definitely tune into your show. Thank you for being a fan, and watching WWE. I will return it with mutual respect.
Christensen: Thank you!