The idea of “hardcore” means different things to different people. On Sunday night, two different versions of hardcore will clash when self-proclaimed co-Hardcore Champions Edge & Mick Foley take on two of the forefathers of the hardcore ECW revolution, Terry Funk & Tommy Dreamer.
It is acknowledged that Foley himself is one of the forefathers of hardcore. Having spent time in ECW, Foley was notorious for his worldwide rivalry with Funk that saw them throw chairs, blow each other up and make each other bleed on numerous occasions. Whether it was in ECW, Japan or elsewhere, Foley and Funk were never afraid to destroy each other with anything they could get their hands on.
But Foley’s attitude has changed. After his Hardcore Match with Edge at WrestleMania 22, something snapped. On an early May edition of RAW, the two men formed an alliance at the expense of Dreamer. The following week, Funk was a victim of their hardcore alliance, and it wasn’t long before Paul Heyman goaded them into a match against the ECW pair at One Night Stand.
Heading into the battle, all four men understand the importance of winning the war. To Dreamer, however, it could be the most important match of his career. “It’s probably going to be viewed by the most amount of people that (have ever) watched ECW,” said the Innovator of Violence. Dreamer also said that one of his biggest problems is that Foley seems to have forgotten where he comes from. “I looked up to Mick Foley like a brother and a mentor. The thing that really gets me, and with a lot of athletes today, they forget their roots. Mick Foley crapped on every single thing that the fans supported him for. I’ve never forgotten my roots and the ECW fans have never forgotten their roots.”
Wednesday night at WWE vs. ECW Head to Head, the four men went at it when Edge took on Dreamer in an Extreme Rules Match. While the Rated-R Superstar won the match, Funk made Foley bleed on the outside of the ring; the Hardcore Legend later gave an impassioned speech in the ring, telling the fans exactly why he had “turned his back” on ECW.
“You think I loved ECW? I loved ECW, but they didn’t love me back,” Foley told the crowd. “She was like the girl I couldn’t let go of, but the one that makes me sick upon seeing her. She wanted too much blood, too much of my heart, too much of my life, so I left and I found fame and fortune in WWE.” In that same speech, Foley said he was ready for One Night Stand. “Edge and I are prepared to take the beatings of our lives, and I will do that to exercise the sick, twisted whore that is ECW. I want her out of my life. You’ve seen me thrown off cells, slammed into tacks, put through burning tables. It is nothing compared to the horrors I will unleash on Dreamer and Funk at ECW (One Night Stand). You stepped on my soul. You took everything I worked for and through it all away. When I walk into the Hammerstein Ballroom as a WWE Legend, you Terry Funk and you Tommy Dreamer will learn about loss.”
Foley later said that he wasn’t worried about heading into what will now be an extremely hostile environment on Sunday. “I think I will thrive on the hostile environment,” he said. “If I didn’t think that I would thrive on it I wouldn’t have help create it.”
But what happens if they don’t thrive, and Funk and Dreamer are victorious in front of their home crowd? “It would be a little bit embarrassing (if we lose), but a poor performance would be a lot worse,” Foley said. “I haven’t made my reputation on a stellar win-loss record, (I made it) by going out there and leaving everything that I have in front of that audience. Win, lose or draw, that’s what I plan to do.”
While the ECW team will definitely have the home-crowd advantage, Edge & Foley’s success may harbor on the presence of Lita at ringside. An extra hand outside the ring is always helpful, and Lita has never been shy about getting involved. Should that happen, however, Dreamer will be ready. “I pretty much helped find Lita; she came up through ECW, (but) a lot of people don’t know that,” he said. “She’s another person who crapped on everything. You never forget your roots; I’m one person who doesn’t, and on Sunday I’m going to make them remember their roots.”
At One Night Stand, someone will win in the name of hardcore. But will it be the old guard or the new guard?