Former WWE Superstar and ECW Legend Tommy Dreamer recently discussed how he first met late WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk and why he hated him before they even met. It has been just over two weeks since the world lost wrestling legend Terry Funk. Funk had a career that spanned over 50 years. In a career that lasted that long, Funk played his role as a heel (a bad guy in wrestling terminology) that some fans grew up hating them.
One of the young fans who would become a wrestler later in life was ECW legend Tommy Dreamer. On a recent episode of Under the Ring, Dreamer talked about why he hated Funk before the two men had even met, and it was due to Funk doing his job as a heel so well throughout his career. Dreamer stated the following on Funk:
“First time I saw Terry Funk was on my television and I hated Terry Funk. Ihated, hated, hated Terry Funk growing up. Why? Because he did his job so well. Because he beat up my hero ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes. I never realized how great he was until I got into the wrestling industry because, again, he broke Dusty Rhodes’ arm, and I was the biggest Dusty Rhodes guy. He was my hero and the reason I got into wrestling.”H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
TERRY FUNK WAS THE KING OF THE DOUBLE-CROSS
During his career, the late Terry Funk was known as the king of the double-cross, and he wasn’t shy about double-crossing or tricking his opponents. One of those opponents was the biggest babyface of the era, the late WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes.
Dreamer wanted to be a wrestler and kayfabe was just starting to break when he got into the business in 1989. At that time, what was real and what was fake was a very blurry line. Some of those old hatreds from Dreamer’s childhood were still very much present in Dreamer’s heart when he started his in-ring wrestling career.
Dreamer spoke about meeting Funk in ECW and how Funk mentored him as a young wrestler trying to break into the business. Dreamer continued:
“When I first met him in original ECW, I wanna say ’92, and he just took a liking to me. He really helped me and then he became my real mentor, took me under his wing, and I was struggling trying to learn how to get over. And struggling to cut my teeth in this industry and trying so, so hard. He just sat me down and gave me so much great advice. Then when I was at his funeral and wake, it was that same thing that he saw in me, he saw in so many other people.”H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
DREAMER ON FUNK MENTORING YOUNG WRESTLERS
Dreamer wasn’t the only wrestler who Funk took a liking to. He took some other well-known and successful wrestlers under his wing whom Dreamer spoke to at Funk’s recent funeral. Dreamer heard from Hall of Famers Ted DiBiase, Tully Blanchard, and Bret Hart on how Funk also showed them what they needed to be successful. Dreamer revealed the piece of advice Funk gave him and many others was “how to be true to yourself and your character will become exactly who you are in that sense.”
Dreamer praised Funk’s ability to get over and talked about how he changed the Japanese wrestling culture and how they see Americans. The former WWE Hardcore Champion continued:
“If you think about Terry Funk and I told him this, back in the day, the Americans were always the bad guy in Japan. Why? Because we dropped a bomb on their country. The United States wrestlers were always the bad guys until Terry Funk. He changed the culture of people. I told him this and he just didn’t really think about what he did. But you think about now all the Americans that are cheered there. Who’s the first that they were like, ‘Oh, wait, we actually love this person.’ Because he broke down barriers. That’s a cultural statement.”H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
FUNK WAS HARDCORE BEFORE HARDCORE WAS COOL
Funk was known for his hardcore wrestling style, especially in his later years. The quote about Funk when hardcore wrestling really took off in the mid to late ‘90s was “Terry Funk was hardcore before hardcore was cool.” Wrestlers like Mick Foley owe Funk for helping to make the style acceptable to the general wrestling audience.
Without his contribution, who knows what wrestling would look like now? We may not have Jon Moxley bleeding every match and taking wooden skewers to the head.
What do you think Funk’s biggest contribution to pro wrestling was? When you hear his name what is the first image which comes to mind? Is there a match that you think is a must-watch Terry Funk match? Let us know if you think wrestling would be different without Funk’s impact.