After five years in business, House of Hardcore will be crowning its first champion with a 16-person tournament starting this Friday in Philadelphia.

There will be eight first-round matches taking place at House of Hardcore 37 at the 2300 Arena featuring a variety of rising stars, veterans and familiar faces competing for the Twitch TV Championship. In the main event, Tommy Dreamer and Billy Gunn seek revenge against NWA World Champion Nick Aldis, Joey Mercury and their corner man, “The Franchise” Shane Douglas. After Dreamer was left a bloody mess at HOH 35 in Philly, causing a riot to nearly break out, the HOH owner has promised to bring a mystery person to even the score against the dastardly trio.

If you can’t make it to the 2300 Arena, House of Hardcore 37 will be available on Twitch starting at 8 p.m. EST. House of Hardcore’s weekly show airs on Twitch every Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST, right after NXT.

For tickets and more information on HOH 37, visit www.houseofhardcore.net.

Watch HOH on Twitch at go.twitch.tv/houseofhardcore.

Dreamer spoke with The Wrestling Estate last week ahead of HOH 37, RAW 25 and the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

How did you decide who is facing who in the tournament?

Dreamer: “I guess that’s the fun part of me being the promoter/being the fan because WrestleMania IV is one of my favorite WrestleManias. The reason why I waited so long is I really didn’t have a format to show the fans weekly stories and stuff. Now that I have my deal with Twitch, people can watch and a lot of the men are talking about being in the tournament and what it means to be the champion.”

Not only men, though, as you have Lisa Marie Varon, better known as Victoria in WWE, in the tournament. Why did you add her?

Dreamer: “I’ve seen her in bars outdrink half the guys, so I know she can outwrestle them. (laughs) You know, Lisa is a very, very determined woman. She’s very, very tough. She trained with all the guys and she was trained as a wrestler, not just as a female wrestler. She asked would I mind putting her in the tournament, and I was like, you know what, that’s a great idea. So we’re kind of setting that precedent and I’m happy that she’s in it.”

The three favorites in this tournament are Alex Reynolds, Austin Aries and Brian Cage. Would you agree?

Dreamer: “Yes, and to be honest, at this point, I have no clue who is winning. Alex Reynolds is a great athlete, he’s really stepping up. I’ve been beyond impressed if you watch the weekly TV show with Kevin Kross and his promos. Anyone actually can be the champion. If you look at Austin Aries, lately he’s collecting a lot of titles. He currently holds four titles and I know he’s coming for this one as well.”

A guy that I thought had a really impressive outing at the last House of Hardcore in Philly was Ace Romero. How did you think he did?

Dreamer: “Ace impressed me so much for such a big guy. That’s why I put him in the tournament. If you’re an independent wrestling fan, you’re no stranger to Dan Maff. Now that this show will be aired live all over the world, the world is going to be very, very impressed with Dan Maff. He’s a machine, he’s been in this business a long time and I’m glad to give him an opportunity.

I’m telling people’s stories. Crazzy Steve wrestled in TNA for three or four years, and no one ever told the story that he’s blind. No one ever knew that – I did. I was able to tell his story. He’s a modern day Daredevil. He sees shapes, but he’s legally blind. He’s blind 100% in one eye, and legally blind in the other. I have no clue how he wrestles because I see people who have their full sight and are horrible wrestlers. Yet he has no sight and he’s great. I asked him how he does it, and he says sometimes I have to time it off of footsteps and the size of the ring, and noise, which is sometimes hard.”

That’s incredible. If you didn’t know him, would you be scared to get in the ring with him?

Dreamer: “No. I’ve actually wrestled someone who is deaf, and someone who is mute. I’d have no problem wrestling a blind guy. It’s just amazing that he has achieved the levels he has being blind.”

I’ve been following the Twitch show every week and it’s so cool that there’s no set format, and you can actually talk with other viewers in a chat room. Now that you’ve been a few months into it, how do you feel the show has been?

Dreamer: “I love it. It’s just getting more and more people to watch it. Most people can’t believe that I’m actually in the message room and I actually answer people’s questions. It’s social media meets television. I truly enjoy it just to tell people’s stories.

My referee Ryan was told he had leukemia. I met him on an indie show and he told me he’s basically alive because of me. He was told to fight, and he loved wrestling. He told the doctor he loves the good guys, he loves Hulk Hogan and Tommy Dreamer. The doctor said well you have a bad guy in you and you have to fight that person. He’s cancer-free and alive today and he’s my referee. For me to be able to tell history and so people could donate to The Valerie Fund, which is a fund that saved his life, it’s another walking miracle.

Hornswoggle is going to be in the tournament. He calls me his wrestling father. I don’t view him as a midget wrestler – I view him as a wrestler. He could be my champion. Telling his story, which will air this Wednesday, you know, I hired him in WWE and never knew all this stuff that he went through, and still goes through.

For me, it gives hope to people that when you’re faced with adversity, you can overcome anything. Life is hard but you have to keep on fighting. In my own circle of people from House of Hardcore, Vik Dalishus injured himself, he broke his leg and his ankle in two places on another independent wrestling show. He is out nine months, and he was immobilized for four months. Meaning he’s not able to move for four months. He’s still going through this – he lost his real job and had to set up a GoFundMe. For me to be able to put that up on the show, it’s making people aware that we are real people. A valet that I use, Monique Dupree, she has a gigantic mass in her stomach that has to be removed. The hospital keeps pushing it back. She has ten children. She’ll be laid up for a long time.

As you know, I want to always give back to the business and to people who have helped me. The TV show is about real stuff.”

For the Twitch show, is there any rhyme or reason for when you air the past HOH matches? It’s my favorite part.

Dreamer: “Absolutely no. I have no format. My first show was 14 minutes long and everyone was like, what? My second one was 17 minutes long. It’s hard to get people’s attention so the fact that they wanted more was good. Originally, I wasn’t going to air any wrestling. I just wanted to tell people’s stories. But the beauty of this is I give the fans what they want. They asked where’s the matches, so I gave them matches. I don’t want to give my entire library because I can air those on Twitch at another time.

Originally, we did 180,000 live views for the first show at the Arena, which was five times the projections they were thinking. The second show we did in December blew that number out of the water, so people are watching and we’re definitely onto something. The title costs $2,000 and it takes two to three months to get made which is perfect for when we crown the champion. I want the fans to be there for the first round to the finals.”

At the last Philly show, when Shane Douglas turned on you, there was nearly a riot. Were you expecting that kind of reaction?

Dreamer: “Not since the Dudley Boyz or when Justin Credible disrespected my grandfather’s 10-bell salute did I think there would be a real riot. This got scary fast and I almost broke, getting on the microphone to say the fact that you guys got so mad and wanted to fight for me is why I do this. After that, the Briscoe Brothers attacked and left me and Sandman laying. In 2017-2018, for fans to care that much about somebody to, they were blocking the Briscoes from leaving. Even in Philly, throwing their beers in the ring, c’mon now. That’s why I have such a special bond here and that’s why I work so hard for them.”

Before the show, you invited then-NWA Champion Tim Storm in the ring for some nice cross-promotion. Did you ever think the NWA would be relevant again?

Dreamer: “I’m really, really happy that I was kind of like the jumping point for it. You know me, I love wrestling and I will support any wrestling company that is legit. I’ve been friends with Billy Corgan since the ECW days. They still haven’t run one show, but people are watching it and they’re piggybacking off other companies. They’ve made something relevant that hasn’t been relevant in a long time. Nick Aldis I’ve known for a long time. He’s an incredible athlete. He pissed off Billy Gunn and me at my last show, so that’s why this match is coming together. As you said, I’ve always got surprises and I’ve got a nice surprise for this one as well.”

We’ll definitely be looking forward to it. HOH 37 is kicking off Royal Rumble weekend in Philly. Will you be an entrant?

Dreamer: “I will do anything for any wrestling company. I just went to Impact because Scott D’Amore and Don Callis called me up and said Sonjay Dutt is hurt. He can’t fly, and I need your help. That’s all he had to say. We didn’t even talk money, we didn’t talk anything. He was a friend that needed help. I said cool, just give me a plane ticket. We discussed everything after.

Same thing for WWE. If WWE ever needs my help, I’ll help them out. They’ve had so many guys from House of Hardcore. If they think it will be a great surprise for Philadelphia, then I’ll be there. If not, then I’ll be very, very happy just being me.”

How do you feel about Scott and Don taking over Impact?

Dreamer: “They have a big cast at hand. I enjoyed my time there and I will help out again if they need me.”

Did you see Jericho vs. Omega?

Dreamer: “I did, it was awesome.”

Agreed. What did you think of the buildup?

Dreamer: “I think Chris Jericho is pure genius. It’s one of the best matches Kenny Omega has ever had. I thought it was better than Omega-Okada, and I thought that was one of the best matches I’ve ever seen. I put that match against Ricky Steamboat-Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat-Ric Flair. For Jericho and Omega to top it, because it had emotion, I thought that was great.”

With Raw’s 25th anniversary coming up, do you have a favorite Raw memory?

Dreamer: “I remember when me and Rob Van Dam unified the Hardcore Title and the Intercontinental Title. That was actually the main event that night on Raw. It was followed up by a Triple H-Undertaker promo or something like that. That was also in Madison Square Garden so that meant a lot to me. Me and Stevie Richards had a Singapore cane match at the old Meadowlands which was the main event of Raw because right after that they brought back Eric Bischoff. I was very, very proud of that.

I was on the Raw brand my entire first time there until we came back from ECW so that was like eight years. I got to see a lot of cool stuff and was actually thinking how I’ve never missed an episode of Monday Night Raw. I would really want to factor out how many hours I’ve watched of Monday Night Raw.”

(laughs) Wait, so you’ve never missed one ever?

Dreamer: “No.”

Since 93?

Dreamer: “No, and I was wrestling. Me and Bully used to watch Raw in the studio. I would tape them on something called a VCR and then we’d go back and watch them.”

Damn. That blows my mind.

Dreamer: “I think if you think hard enough, well, you’re younger, but you probably haven’t missed many either. For a lot of wrestling fans it becomes your norm. In some ways, Monday Night Raw has become bigger than Monday Night Football. It’s something to do on Mondays.”

Last question: Who do you have for the Super Bowl? I saw you tweeting about the Eagles. You don’t have them going all the way, right?

Dreamer: “Oof, you’re killing me in Philly. As you know, I look at everything as wrestling. I could not believe they won the last game. They’ve gone from such a high-powered defense to thankfully, their defense stepped up. I love and so want Philly to have a Super Bowl, but I think they have their built-in excuse with no Carson Wentz. That’s sadly Philly in the sense that we come so close and something happens. From Donovan McNabb throwing up, Randall Cunningham, we’ve come so close and we’ve never made it. There’s always these little backstories like we’re cursed. I would love for it to happen, but if you look at it from a wrestling standpoint, they have their out because Foles isn’t the guy and man, if we would have had Wentz, we would have went all the way. You always root for the underdog because the Eagles have been the underdog forever.”

So you’ve got Vikings and the Patriots?

Dreamer: “I definitely have the Patriots on the one side. Everyone is talking about the Jaguars’ defense, and they are great, but somehow the Patriots always find a way. You know, Ben Roethlisberger also threw for 500 yards on them and they still wound up losing the game on bad coaching decisions. I don’t think Belichick will make those decisions, though I don’t think Tom Brady is the quarterback that he was. They’ll still eek in. I would love an Eagles-Patriots, but I would have loved it Wentz versus Brady. The Vikings have an amazing story as well. I call these games semi-main events, and these two semi-main events are great.”