Bubba Ray Dudley pulled off the rare double surprise with the WWE in 2015. First, he was a surprise entrant in the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble in front of a Philadelphia crowd that met him with a memorable reaction. Bubba disappeared again until August of that year when he and D-Von reformed The Dudley Boyz tag team the night after WWE SummerSlam. The pair had a steady run with the WWE until the night after the 2016 SummerSlam when they announced their departure from the company.
The Dudleys didn’t make their names in the WWE, of course. They earned their reputation from their years spent with ECW before bringing their act to wrestling’s mainstream in 1999. But a six-year run with the WWE put them in the conversation for one of the greatest tag teams of all time. However, their careers certainly did not end when they departed the WWE for the first time in 2005.
The duo signed with TNA after separating from the WWE and performed under a variety of character names. The character that received the most praise in their near 10-year run with TNA was Mark LoMonaco’s Bully Ray. Widely regarded as the top heel in TNA from roughly 2012-14, the Bully Ray persona nearly showed up in WWE last summer. Bubba revealed that nugget during an interview with Sports Illustrated recently.
“We came one day away in August from debuting Bully Ray in WWE. At the last second, the decision was made to not go forward with it. Bully Ray was ready to go, but that’s all I can tell you. We were one day away, and they had to pull the plug on it.”
That timeline coincides with the Dudley Boyz departing from the WWE as noted previously. There were rumors at the time that Bubba was going to go out on his own and have a singles run in WWE, and a lot of them centered around the idea of him bringing the Bully Ray character back to life. As he mentioned, however, it was not to be.
The Dudleyz and WWE parted ways on amicable terms and D-Von even returned as a backstage producer. The Bully Ray character was eventually resurrected, but not in WWE. He showed up in Ring of Honor last week on the same show that The Hardy Boyz made their ROH debuts. This past Friday night, Bully Ray teamed with The Briscoes to defeat War Machine and Davey Boy Smith, Jr. at the company’s 15th Anniversary pay-per-view.
It’s since been revealed that Bubba/Bully Ray signed a six-month contract with ROH, but another top company did make a last-second pitch to retain his services. However, that company was not WWE, but instead, Impact Wrestling. Ray explained his decision to ultimately spurn TNA.
“At the last minute, TNA came in hard and heavy and made me a significant offer. But the way I look at it is this: If I can’t go back some place and top what I did before, then it’s kind of pointless. I’m not blowing smoke up my own ass here, Bully Ray was the top heel in TNA. I generated ratings—me and Jeff Hardy drew TNA’s biggest house of all time at Lockdown, and I had my run with Hulk and with Sting. If you take a look at the landscape of TNA and their locker room, I don’t have anybody to top what I did before.”
Bubba/Bully never had the opportunity to lead a faction in WWE the way he did with the Aces & Eights in TNA. That was when Bully Ray was at the top, but it doesn’t appear he has any intentions of bringing the stable to ROH, despite rumblings that The Bullet Club needs a group to represent competition. Bully Ray has different plans instead.
“I’m hoping to do for Ring of Honor what Terry Funk in 1995 for ECW. By no means am I saying I am as great as Terry Funk, but Funk helped ECW take the next step. Hopefully, Bully Ray can do the same for Ring of Honor.”
[Featured Image by TNA/Impact Wrestling]