Tommy Dreamer planned to kill Paul Heyman live on pay per view at WrestleMania X7, deciding to shoot Heyman in front of nearly 70,000 fans at the Houston Astrodome in a move that could have killed wrestling in the United States. Dreamer planned to shoot Heyman, who was on commentary with Jim Ross, before killing himself in the ring during a dark time in his life.
He worked tirelessly in the ring in various hardcore matches, as well as working in the office for ECW. Dreamer did everything he could to keep the company alive, even turning down deals from the WWF and WCW to stay with Paul Heyman‘s company.
Under Heyman’s tutelage, Tommy Dreamer developed into one of the best characters in wrestling. He started out as a “pretty boy” babyface that the fans thoroughly rejected, wrestling as a much more traditional wrestling character. However, he soon established an edge to himself, during a feud with The Sandman.
After losing a match against The Sandman, Dreamer was forced to take ten lashings from his Singapore Cane (now known as a Kendo Stick). With each lashing, Dreamer gained the respect of the fans, and even asked for more shots from The Sandman. Fans wept in the crowd, and eventually began to cheer for Dreamer, changing his character forever.
Paul Heyman was the genius behind the angle and the character, claiming he was inspired by John McClane from Die Hard for Tommy Dreamer’s new character in ECW.
“I always explained to Tommy the inspiration for his character was Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard,” Paul Heyman explained in an interview with Bleacher Report. “An ordinary man pushed to extraordinary circumstances who has no option left but to resort to extreme means just to survive. The formula worked.”
Dreamer had become one of the most popular wrestlers in the company, turning down hundreds of thousands of dollars to join WWE and WCW at his peak. While these was clearly the wrong choice by Dreamer, he was too involved in ECW to leave, and wanted to see the promotion succeed as a true number three company in the United States.
However, when the company went under in 2001 and Paul Heyman walked out on WWE TV, something snapped for Tommy Dreamer. After ECW went bankrupt, leaving multiple wrestlers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and owed even more by Paul Heyman, the former ECW owner sauntered onto WWE TV as the new commentary partner of Jim Ross, which many saw as a slap in the face to the memory of ECW.
Tommy Dreamer was one of the wrestlers who could not believe what he had seen. Despite serving in the trenches of ECW with Paul Heyman, he had been blindsided by Heyman’s WWE debut. Dreamer was owed thousands of dollars by the former ECW owner, and was left with nothing following the company’s closure. Seeign Heyman’s big payday from Vince McMahon was a huge disrespect to him, and decided to take measures into his own hands.
Tommy Dreamer revealed on an episode of Busted Open Radio that, in his darkest days, he planned to shoot Paul Heyman and then himself, live at WrestleMania 17. He had lost thousands on ECW, and felt like Paul Heyman had screwed him out of everything when he signed for the WWF in 2001.
Dreamer revealed Heyman convinced him to reject a $750,000 contract from the WWE, when it turned out he had been paid by the company while working for ECW. The former ECW Champion spoke on Busted Open about how Heyman convinced him to reject the WWE, while he himself was being paid by the company the entire time.
“When ECW went out of business, I was 29 years old. I had a lot of my money, my parents’ money, trying to float the company. I thought me and [Paul Heyman] were super tight, [but he] screwed me over big time.”
“He was in the WWE the whole time. I had turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to WCW. And now, I was unemployed. It was impossible not to feel a sense of betrayal. But even more so, Dreamer had financially compromised his career and his family for Heyman.”
“I went from a $750,000 offer and Paul crying to me that if I leave ECW, it will go out of business. Meanwhile, he was getting a paycheck from WWE. I don’t begrudge him, but then I did. I was depressed as depressed can be. I had women, I had fame, I had everything, and yet it was the worst time of my life. It really was. I was making decent money on the Indies. But, I lived at home.”
After seeing all the matches planned for WrestleMania X7 (which Heyman told Dreamer were planned for him), he snapped. He made the decision, after working an indie show that allowed guns in the arena, to kill Paul Heyman live at WrestleMania X7 before turning the gun on himself.
According to Paul Heyman, Tommy Dreamer was set to debut at WrestleMania X7, debuting as part of the iconic TLC match involving The Hardy Boyz, the Dudley Boyz and Edge & Christian. Other ECW alumni, like Rhyno and Spike Dudley appeared in the match, but Dreamer’s appearance was cancelled before the show (if Heyman was telling the truth at all).
Tommy Dreamer wanted to make his mark, get his revenge on Paul Heyman and create a moment that would live forever in infamy. His plan to murder Paul Heyman with a gun, live on pay per view, would have certainly been the most infamous moment in wrestling history, and could have killed pro wrestling in the United States for good.
Luckily, his rage and depression subsided, and he went on to work for the WWE over the next decade.
“WrestleMania [X7] in Houston [was where] Paul Heyman told me I was going to debut,” Dreamer explained. They had TLC, and Spike Dudley came in, Rhyno came in, and Lita came in. That was supposed to be my spot. Then, it got ixnayed [Pig Latin for “Nixed”].”
“There was gonna be a hardcore 24/7 thing that would be ‘all about you.’ I remember I did a show and saw a sign that said [‘Firearms Welcome’]. I was in Houston. I did an indie show. ‘What is this? I’m from New York; what do you mean [that’s welcome]?’ ‘Oh, you are allowed to bring those into the venue,’ was the response. I was across the street from the Astrodome. It resonated in my head so, so much.”
“I’ll tell you what I wanted to do; it’s sick that I think this. At WrestleMania, I was gonna hop the rail and whack Paul E. in the back of the head right at the announce table; then I was gonna whack myself. “
“The ultimate martyr, I was going to hit my pose crack, boom, pull the trigger. Because I was that insane, that’s what I was thinking about every day. I was like, ‘I will go down in history. Pop, boom.’ First, they’d think it was an angle until I shot him,” Dreamer described on his podcast.
“I was so severely depressed and so mental with rage I needed help. Randomly, I get a phone call from a number I didn’t know. I didn’t pick up; I remember having these thoughts, which was bad. Think about the horribleness that I would have done to my legacy.”
“I would have ruined WrestleMania. I love WrestleMania,” Dreamer later admitted. “These thoughts were so so crazed in my head. ‘How dare that person? He screwed my parents over,’ and I come from a mobster mentality. I was like, ‘I would become infamous.’ Which is famous for the wrong reason. I’m glad I didn’t do it. Think of how stupid I would have been if they had come to fruition.”
Thankfully, Tommy Dreamer soon saw the light and did not go through with his plan to shoot Paul Heyman at WrestleMania. He cited a phone call from Jim Ross (then the WWE Head of Talent Relations), notifying Dreamer that the WWE had interest in signing him, as the reason that snapped him out of his rage, and stopped him from committing one of the worst crimes in the history of live television.
The ECW legend signed for the WWE in July 2001, joining the ECW/WCW Alliance alongside Paul Heyman, working as a wrestler and backstage for the WWE until his release in 2010. Dreamer was a key part of the ECW Revival in 2006, and was put in charge of hiring all the former ECW talent for ECW One Night Stand 2005.
Tommy Dreamer wrestled his last WWE match in 2010, and now works for Impact wrestling as a backstage producer and occasional wrestler. He recently won championship gold in Impact Wrestling, and has appeared in All Elite Wrestling on occasion also.
However, this is not the only time Tommy Dreamer wanted to use a gun at a wrestling show. Dreamer planned to have a sniper shoot him during an ECW show, to promote a “who shot Dreamer?” angle. This plan would have led to a huge grudge match between him and his attempted murderer, although an ECW legend had to convince him not to go through with it.
Learn more about the Tommy Dreamer sniper shot plan in ECW.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.