Over the last three weeks, leading up to and including SummerSlam, it appeared that the WWE was setting up an angle to split up the legendary Dudley Boyz tag team. In matches against the teams of Neville and Sin Cara, The New Day, and then Neville and Sami Zayn on the SummerSlam Kickoff Show, a storyline miscommunication between the Dudleys led to their downfall in the match, losing all three encounters.
Last week, we noted that Dave Meltzer reported on his Wrestling Observer Radio show that the Dudleys were in fact, headed for a split, and there was a plan in place as recently as last week to have Bubba Ray Dudley turn on D-Von and have a singles run as a heel on RAW.
Many people thought that by teasing their retirement for half of the day Monday, and throughout the episode of RAW, it was just a way to further the storyline of an inevitable Dudley Boyz separation. Further cementing the idea that the departure angle was all an act were recent reports that the Dudley Boyz agreed to a new contract extension that ran through the summer of 2017.
The key phrase in that last sentence is “agreed to.” According to Daily Wrestling News, while the Dudleys and the WWE agreed to terms on a new contract, nothing was made official or signed, and some time in the last seven days, a decision was made by both parties to mutually part ways before the contracts could be executed. It was said that it was an amicable parting, and both the Dudleys and the WWE would be open to doing business again in the future. But in summary, Monday night’s farewell segment was legitimate and not a work.
The Dudleys then agreed to the angle to get heat on both The Shining Stars and Gallows & Anderson on their way out the door. With The Club being the more established tag team, the goal was for them to garner more vitriol from the crowd as they continue their quest for the tag team championships, but to also plant a seed in the event the Dudley Boyz decide to return to the company down the line, and they want to revisit a program between the teams. The Shining Stars got instant heat for interrupting the segment, but it’s unclear if it will lead to anything significant for them.
After the segment had wrapped up, the Dudley Boyz bid farewell to the Brooklyn crowd and walked through the curtain where the entire WWE locker room was waiting for them, including Triple H and Vince McMahon. The roster gave the tag team a standing ovation, similar to the one Daniel Bryan received upon his retirement, but more reminiscent of when Edge retired and cameras followed him backstage.
The Dudleys returned with a bang the night after last year’s SummerSlam and fittingly said their good-byes in the same arena exactly a year later. Their returning feud with The New Day was certainly memorable, and a program with the Wyatt Family accomplished what it was set out to do. However, a heel turn in early 2016 (their first heel run with the WWE since 2004) didn’t quite get the desired reception as they were soon relegated to an enhancement team with pay-per-view matches primarily on the pre-shows.
As noted, there were initial plans in place to split the Dudleys up and give Bubba Ray a significant heel run. Some WWE officials were working hard to have that move made much earlier, but Triple H wanted to wait until the fans forgot about his memorable heel run as Bully Ray in TNA. That was arguably Bubba’s finest work as a singles competitor in his entire career, and many had hoped that he could have succeeded on the big stage of the WWE.
Alas, they admitted their return to the company was designed to help the younger teams get over, and in large part, they accomplished that. While no one is ruling out a return to the full-time roster in the future, the Dudley Boyz are certainly destined for a seat at the head table in a Hall of Fame ceremony one day soon.
— Bubba Ray Dudley (@BubbaRayDudley) August 23, 2016
[Image via WWE]