I recently had the opportunity to interview Johnny Impact ahead of this weekend’s IMPACT Wrestling TV tapings at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Johnny spoke about the ‘extreme’ reputation of the city, as it was home to ECW for many years.
I asked Johnny his thoughts on getting a chance to work for ECW under the WWE banner, which he said provided a number of fond memories. He cited corporate sponsorships as part of the reason the ‘new’ ECW couldn’t really get as extreme as its predecessor, but enjoyed working with the talent on the brand, notably Tommy Dreamer, and said those matches felt like they were in the same spirit of the original company.
“It is true that because WWE had so many big corporate sponsors that there was a limit of how far they could push things with ECW, more so than with the original ECW. A lot of really proud moments that I had as ECW Champion; having a long feud with CM Punk in 2007-08 meant a lot to me. A couple of the matches—maybe not just a couple, I had several matches televised and dozens of matches live—against Tommy Dreamer, and a lot of the stuff that I did with Tommy felt like ECW.
Tommy is one of those rare guys that came from ECW with the hardcore and he’s still around now. He’s with IMPACT [today]; I’ve known him since the beginning of my career as he was the head of WWE Talent Relations for a little while, he was an active wrestler before that, he was an active wrestler after that. We wrestled constantly and he’s been a friend and a mentor to me. It’s also funny to have a mentor that’s not afraid to kick himself in the head with Doritos on a bus to entertain everybody. [laughs] Those matches with Tommy that I had during the WWECW times meant a lot to me and felt authentic to the spirit of ECW.”
Johnny continued, saying Tommy Dreamer’s passion for the wrestling business is unmatched, and added Dreamer gives his all and continues to try and make each show he’s involved with a better experience:
“There are special people in the business of pro wrestling. Tommy is one of those people. He’s such a funny blend of—he’s got this deadpan, no-nonsense aura about him constantly, but behind that lies this unrivaled passion for professional wrestling that hasn’t gone away or waned since the day that we met. I think that’s the key to the reaction that he gets. That passion—if you don’t have that, if you don’t care about pro wrestling, why should the fans care about you? But Tommy comes out there and the fans go nuts, and it’s obvious that the passion he has for the business is higher than ever. Part of that is he’s always pushing himself, he’s always creating and using his ideas about wrestling to enhance the show, and he’s always giving back. When he’s on a show, he’s going to do the best match to his ability, but he’s also going to help anyone that asks him… and give advice to people that didn’t ask him [laughs] about how to improve themselves and put on a better show.”