Now the most decorated tag team in pro-wrestling history is looking for another championship challenge in the New Day at Hell in a Cell, Sunday, Oct. 25 at 0/7CT on Pay-Per-View and WWE Network.
Bubba Ray remembers the phone call that put the wheels in motion for his and D-Von’s eventual reemergence.
“The very first person I spoke to was Road Dogg,” he said. “He was the one who reached out. saying, ‘Hey Bubba, would you be interested in coming to the Royal Rumble? I told him yes. I always had a great working relationship with him in the ring and a good working relationship outside of the ring. Me and D-Von won our first WWE tag team championship from the New Age Outlaws. He got in touch with me. That’s how it all started.
“It was pretty funny,” Dudley continues, “because I think a lot of people within WWE were shocked by the reaction. I think they all thought, ‘Oh, it’s Philly, so he’ll get a nice little reaction.’ I didn’t think they were expecting anything like that.”
Bubba, 44, has enjoyed the experience.
“It has been great and the locker room has been great — but the locker room was great back in the day, too,” he said. “The only difference now, really, is the guys are much younger than me and D-Von. They’ve come up different ways in the business.
“Back in the Attitude Era, you had guys that came up more the old school way, who were able to go out there and do what they wanted to get themselves over. This is as opposed to now where, creatively, WWE has much more of a presence and wants their wrestlers to do their job a certain way. As far as the way the locker room operates and the chemistry within the locker room, it’s phenomenal. It has been nothing but positive.”
During the veteran team’s absence WWE has transitioned into more PG-related programming. For Bubba, it doesn’t make a difference.
“Whether we are in a PG era or a rated-X era or Attitude Era, it’s all good,” he said. “You play the hand you are dealt in wrestling — that’s one of the things myself and D-Von pride ourselves on. Whatever hands we are dealt we are going to play it to the best of our abilities. So if we are going out there and being ‘PG’ is what we need to do, that’s fine. We don’t own the company. Vince [McMahon] owns the company, and if he wants the company to be PG, that’s fine. We’ll be PG. It’s pretty simple.”
Tables have been the trademark everywhere the Dudley Boyz has gone throughout much of their careers. The New Day’s Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods began an onscreen #SaveTheTables campaign as a result. Looking back, it’s hard for Bubba to name a favorite table spot, but he does have two that stick out in his mind.
“The most memorable table bump for me was Mae Young,” he said.“I powerbombed this 80-year-old woman off the top of the Raw set through tables. Then I also remember the one we did in Madison Square Garden where we turned on the Right to Censor and the whole Garden went crazy for that. There have been a lot of good ones.”
When they’re not on the road, the Dudley Boyz are teach at their Team 3D Wrestling Academy in Central Florida, lending knowledge on fundamentals in the ring, but outside of it, as well. They have a few success stories already.
“I teach my students from day one that they have to remember that this is the wrestling business, not wrestling friends,” Bubba said. “It’s the wrestling business. They have to treat it like a business. You have to climb the ladder to success. You always have to try to make more money in this industry, especially with what you are going to put your body through. The longevity can be short. You can do this for a year or 30 years. You just have to realize that and do the right thing with your money. From a performing point of view, I tell them to keep their ears and eyes open and their mouth shut to learn as much as you can.”
When it comes to breaking in, Bubba isn’t keen on upstarts starting a GoFundMe campaign. “I think a wrestler that goes out there and asks people for money so they can chase their dream is pathetic,” he said.
“There is something within the wrestling industry called ‘paying your dues.’ Paying your dues doesn’t just mean financially with money. It’s about living in the back of your car, eating bologna sandwiches. You have to learn how to lose before you learn how to win. You have to have it rough in this industry first. Then you can appreciate it more when you make it.
If somebody were to put out a GoFundMe account saying, ‘Hey, can you lend me this money while I’m chasing my dream? I would be happy to pay each and every one of you back, then I don’t have a problem with it. Someone technically asking for help because they don’t have a family member they can get money from — or a bank. So they are asking the wrestling fans to lend them x amount of dollars, but they’ll pay them back. I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is an up-and-coming wrestler or wrestlers who are taking from the fans just so they can chase their dream.”
Bubba has been in the business for more than 20 years, but he remains driven to succeed. The native New Yorker is always looking to improve and better himself. This includes his physical appearance.
“When me and D-Von were in TNA, we realized there wasn’t anything left for us to do in the world of tag-team wrestling,” Bubba said. “We conquered tag-team wrestling in ECW, WCW, WWE, Japan and TNA. We just figured we would go our separate ways and see how this goes on our own. The very first thing I was going to do to get people to take notice was get in better shape. It worked. I started eating the right way and hitting the gym a lot harder. I just got myself in good shape. That got people to notice me a little more.”
Bubba is having a good time with D-Von in WWE, but tag teams do tend to go their separate ways eventually. There was a time where each Dudley tried their hand in the singles ranks. Bubba doesn’t know if it will ever happen again, and he’s more than happy with that.
“It didn’t work back then,” he said. “We all know that. But if WWE wants to do it and they want to give it a shot with me by myself one day, I would listen. Do I think WWE would get the version they got in the past? Probably not. But you never know. We’ll see what happens.”
In the past the Dudley Boyz also had the beautiful Stacy Keibler reign as the “Duchess of Dudleyville.” So would we ever see another female member of the family?
“It’s no secret that me and Velvet Sky are together,” Bubba said. “If you go on Twitter, I think the entire Twitter-verse would like to see that. She is probably the most over female wrestler out there that has never been in WWE. She looks phenomenal. I think the fans and the WWE Universe would love to see her in a WWE ring. Who knows? Maybe it will happen one day.”
It’s apparent from watching them work with teams like the New Day that the Dudley Boyz hasn’t lost a step. Bubba likes working with the entertaining trio.
“I think New Day is an extremely entertaining act in WWE,” he said. “They are a good team. Kofi and Big E have been around for a while. Xavier definitely brings an entertaining quality to the table, so to speak. They have been doing well. I think New Day needed a team like the Dudleyz to help them get to the next level. You always need that one team that you can work with that is going to elevate you. I think it’s definitely working for the New Day. I think the most important thing is the fans are being entertained because the Dudleyz versus the New Day storyline is one the WWE Universe is interested in right now.”
- Watch Hell in a Cell Sunday, Oct. 25, at 8/7CT on Pay-Per-View and WWE Network.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
Photos Courtesy: WWE