Good friends, better enemies
It's a little after 8:00 p.m. on a Thursday night and ECW on Syfy has just ended. The ring is being dismantled, the fans are filing out of the arena and ECW Champion Tommy Dreamer and Christian are climbing into a rental car. Moments ago, Christian defeated Vladimir Kozlov, earning himself a title match against Dreamer at Night of Champions. The two Superstars are well aware they will be facing each other in the ring on July 26, but, for the moment, they are friends.
The rivalry between these two men is unique, to say the least. While Triple H's beef with WWE Champion Randy Orton has been fueled by rage and retribution, the differences between the ECW Original and Captain Charisma are based solely on the desire to be the top dog on ECW on Syfy. Sure, things may get out of hand, like when Christian slammed Dreamer through the table upon which the champion had just signed his new ECW contract, but there is no ill will here. Each Superstar is just trying to be the ECW Champion and has been striving for this very goal since childhood.
Dreamer grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., dreaming of WWE stardom. As a teenager, he often rode the subway into Manhattan to watch Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and Don Muraco battle in Madison Square Garden. Five hundred miles away in Toronto, Christian's life was much the same. A devoted WWE fan, the youngster witnessed the epic battle between WWE Champion Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior in person at WrestleMania VI in the Toronto Skydome.
While both would go on to achieve their childhood dreams of becoming WWE Superstars, their paths would not cross until Christian entered ECW in early 2009. With similar backgrounds and a mutual respect, the men became fast friends — and then the ECW Championship came in-between them.
The rivalry began earlier this year when Dreamer announced that he would win Christian's ECW Championship by June or he would retire. His quest for Captain Charisma's gold resulted in many physical altercations, including an infamous, pull-apart backstage brawl, which saw Finlay get seriously injured. At June's Extreme Rules, Dreamer made good on his promise when he pinned Jack Swagger in a Triple Threat Match to claim Christian's ECW Championship and save his career. Since then, Captain Charisma has been focused on reclaiming the title, but has come up short in his attempts, including a near-miss in the Championship Scramble Match at The Bash.
While these two Superstars waged wars in and out of the ECW ring, they have attempted to maintain their friendship. Still, the brutality they've inflicted upon one another has taken its toll. Car trips that were once filled with road stories and big laughs are now overcome with a palpable tension, only the sound of the highway and the FM radio breaking the silence. This disconnect has made itself clear as the two have been unable to cooperate in tag team action, losing to Mark Henry & Jack Swagger and Vladimir Kozlov & William Regal on separate occasions. Christian accidentally knocking Dreamer out while attempting to hit Kozlov has only made things worse.
Whether or not these men can maintain camaraderie won't matter at Night of Champions. Because when ECW Champion Tommy Dreamer and Christian step in the ring on July 26, friendship and respect won't matter — the championship will.