Former ECW World Champion Tommy Dreamer candidly spoke on his House of Hardcore Podcast this week about his personal struggles with depression. Dreamer revealed that his mental health has lead to multiple instances where he has contemplated suicide, even confessing that one such instance would have seen him murdering Paul Heyman at WrestleMania X-Seven in the process.
Dreamer's first brush with depression that he recounted seemed to be spawned by a sense of loneliness in his high school years. He recounted how hopeless it felt to have his heart broken by a girl and then feel like he was abandoned by a close friend.
"[I was] fifteen, knocking on sixteen, and a girl broke up with me," Dreamer began. "And, shockingly, I dated this girl for a while and never slept with her; I wanted to give her my flower and that's all I thought about. That's what most fourteen or fifteen-year-olds think about - doing it for the first time. I was obsessed with it. Then I started thinking, how could I ever be faithful to a girl if she left me to go off with a guy that had a car? [I thought] stuff like that, stupid stuff. And I remember being so upset and not wanting to get up, not wanting to get out of bed, and I didn't want to tell my parents.
"I had a perfect family; I had a perfect parental life," Dreamer explained. "I had a loving father, a loving mother, and I grew up like the Cunninghams from Happy Days. Yes, there were arguments, but not really. My father was as laid back as I am, and I had a great life. I really did. I didn't want to tell my parents [about her].
"I remember going to bed crying over a girl, and waking up sad, and having to go to school," Dreamer continued. "My best friend dated this [same] girl's sister, and he was my best friend from 1st Grade until all the way to high school - college - I still talk to him. I love him. And I remember calling him up and I was like, 'Hey man, can we get together?' Because we'd all do couple things and now I'm not part of the couple, and I'm fifteen-years-old. I'm like, 'Hey man, can we get together because I don't know what to do and I don't have anybody?' I really did feel lost. And I had other friends, but we all have people that get so wrapped up with their girl that they forget about everything else."
Despite the two friends making a plan to spend their Friday night together, once the day arrived, Dreamer unfortunately found himself without anyone to confide in. Dreamer admitted that this was the moment that he started physically harming himself. He first took a knife to his wrist and then hovered near his windowsill, considering leaping to his death.
"I begged and pleaded to my friend that, 'Can we just get together?,'" Dreamer imitated. "He's like, 'Yeah man, we'll hang out Friday night and play video games or whatever.' Then Friday night comes. There's no cell service [in these times], and I called his house and his mom's like, 'No, he's not home. I think he's out with said woman.' He no-showed me. I was devastated and I, truly, was like, 'I'm alone, my best friend in life isn't there for me.' I remember it was a Saturday and, normally, I love Saturdays.
"I remember first getting a knife and I was like, 'Man, maybe I'll just slit my wrists.' It was a big butcher knife, and I have the scar right here," Dreamer says while gesturing towards his wrist. "And when I cut myself, it hurt, and I didn't cut it deep. And you can see I have a scar right there. It's healed, but it's a reminder of how stupid I was because I was doing it over a girl... So now, I have this stupid little cut. And then I was like, 'Maybe I'll just jump out my window.' I had the window open and I was literally, like, hanging out of it. And when I tell you it was like a sign from God - I just pictured my mom, and what my mom would have to deal with, and how my mom would find me. And I remember crying like a baby even though I had never cried before; and again, it was over a a girl. I closed the window, hid my arm, and I moved forward."
Dreamer's second wave of struggling with mental illness came following the tumultuous ending of ECW. Throughout the process, Dreamer says he trusted and supported Paul Heyman, both emotionally and financially; nevertheless, Dreamer would ultimately feel betrayed by Heyman and his affiliation with WWE.
"[At the time], I'm an addict. A lot of people don't realize this, but when ECW went out of business, I was 29-years-old," Dreamer explained. "I had a lot of my money, my parents' money, trying to float the company. Paul Heyman, who I thought me and him were super tight, 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 was unemployed. I went from a $750,000 offer and Paul Heyman 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 yes, it was the worst time of my life..."
In his unstable state, Dreamer would discover that firearms were completely legal to carry on your person into the Astrodome. This further encouraged his thoughts about creating an infamous moment at WrestleMania X-Seven that would have potentially seen two lives ending on live pay-per-view.
"This is crazy for me to admit it but I am doing this for a reason, just like I admitted to other things previously," Dreamer said. "Wrestlemania [X-Seven] in Houston, Paul Heyman told me I was going to debut - all this stuff when they had TLC, and Spike Dudley came in, and Rhyno came in, and Lita came in. That was supposed to be my spot and then that got ixnayed. Then they're going to do this whole hardcore, 24/7 thing that is, 'Gonna be all about you.' That was when I was supposed to debut.
"I remember I did a show there, and I saw a sign [in the arena] that said 'Guns Welcome' and I was in Houston," Dreamer recounted. "I did an indie show, and I said, 'What is this? I'm from New York, what do you mean, 'Guns Welcome?'' And they said, 'Oh you are allowed to bring a firearm into the venue.' And I was right across the street from the Astrodome. When I tell you 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 I was gonna whack Paul E. [Heyman] in the back of the head right at the announce table. Then, I was going to whack myself. [I would] be an ultimate martyr - hit my pose, crack, boom, pull the trigger. Because I was that insane in thought. Don't know if I would have went through with it, but that's what I was thinking about every day leading up to this. I was like, 'I will go down in history.' Hit my pose, pop, boom. First they'd think it as an angle, until I shot him."
Some much needed help came in the unsuspecting form of a phone call from "Good 'Ol" J.R., Jim Ross. Ross didn't say much to Dreamer, however, he created a glimmer of hope for a man that was otherwise doomed for tragedy. Dreamer remains grateful for how the situation ultimately turned out.
"I was so, so severely depressed and so, so mental with rage. I needed help," Dreamer confessed. "That help came from a phone call from Jim Ross. Randomly, I get a phone call from a number I didn't know… I didn't pick up. And I remember having these thoughts, and it was bad - I had a gun - could you think about the horribleness that I would have done for my legacy? I would have ruined WrestleMania, which I love WrestleMania, for everybody. 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. In my head, I was like, 'I would become infamous.' Which is famous for the wrong reason. I'm glad I didn't do it.
"But when that phone call came from Jim Ross - again, he just left a message," Dreamer continued. "It said, 'Hey Tommy, it's Jim Ross. Just want to let you know we are still thinking about you, we are gonna get the deal done. Just got to hang tight. Thank you.' And I never revealed that to anybody; I never revealed that to Jim Ross. I always tell Jim Ross that he's the only boss that never lied to me, which is important and why I don't lie to people. Think of how stupid I would have been, how dumb and how messed up my thoughts would have been, if they would have come to fruition. I am so happy I didn't do it. I am so happy that I did get that phone call from someone who was a stranger. I barely knew the guy. There was another day, there has been a lot of other days."
One former WWE star that didn't ultimately receive a second chance was Ashley Massaro. Dreamer acknowledged this untimely, tragic loss, revealing that he had a close friend that spoke to Ashley just the night before she took her own life. Dreamer believes that even though the fundraisers for Alexa Massaro's (Ashley's daughter) continued education are a positive outcome from this, they can't heal the emotional wounds that are bound to linger for Alexa.
"With one person, Ashley Massaro, she was talking to my friend the night before she passed away and took her own life," Dreamer said. "She reached out and he was talking to her, talking to her, and talking to her, and she said things weren't that good, and things hadn't been going well, but she said, 'Tomorrow will get better'. But it didn't because later that night, she took her own life. And that really, really resonated with me and stuck with me. And yes, they've raised a lot of money for her daughter so she goes to college. And Mick Foley has done a lot and all the other ex-Divas have done a lot, but that's not going to heal anything for her daughter and for her family."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit House of Hardcore Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Stephen Rodriguez and Conor contributed to this article.