Whether you know him as Bully Ray or Bubba Ray Dudley, there is no doubting that he has had an esteemed career in wrestling. He is one half of the most successful and most decorated tag team of all time, the Dudley Boyz/Team 3D. Bully Ray was able to completely reinvent himself as a singles wrestler in TNA with an incredible body transformation and becoming a two time World Heavyweight Champion.
I had a great interview with Bully Ray as we talked about the match in WWE that put he and D-Von on the map, his recent series with the Hardys and the Wolves, Brock Lesnar, NXT, Sting, KISS, Mötley Crüe, and the question on everyone’s mind: “What’s next?”.
Alex Obert: Now that you are no longer in TNA, how has life been for you with a more relaxed schedule and wrestling one-off events such as House of Hardcore?
Bully Ray: It’s life after the first twenty years of my career. This is the first time I really ever had any time off in the wrestling industry. And the time off is by my choice. I’ve decided to sit back right now and just take some time to step away from the business because I have never been away from it. Sometimes a little time away does do some good. So I’m thoroughly enjoying life right now. And when I say thoroughly enjoying life, I mean that. I’m doing everything that I wanted to do that I never got the opportunity to do when I was wrestling a full-time schedule. That opportunity is spending time with family and just taking time for myself.
Alex Obert: What is it like to now work a one-off wrestling event without major planning or television production or anything like that?
Bully Ray: Working these one-off events are great because they’re a lot of fun. I kind of equate them to rock and roll bands who played big arenas and then go back to the smaller clubs, playing the spots that they came up in. It’s about always reminding yourself where you came from. Working with Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore is absolutely awesome because not only do I get to help him out in the ring, I get to help him out behind the scenes. House of Hardcore is definitely a company that I believe in and I see a very bright future at the end of the tunnel. I think House of Hardcore is the wrestling company that the professional wrestling business needs right now. It gives you everything you could possibly want in pro wrestling and I really enjoy working with it.
Alex Obert: With your time off, have you been to any concerts lately?
Bully Ray: I went to go see Mötley Crüe at Madison Square Garden. I saw KISS in Atlantic City. I’m gonna probably go catch Jericho’s band, Fozzy. This time off is also me spending more time with family and just taking downtime. Just relaxing and not constantly having to think about wrestling twenty four hours a day.
Alex Obert: Right before you left TNA, you and D-Von had one final run with the Hardy Boyz. What was it like to have matches with them in a different company after all these years?
Bully Ray: It was great. A little behind the scenes story, I was actually the one that made that happen. I was at a wedding that Matt Hardy was also at and we started talking. I said to Matt, “Hey, if you’re interested, why don’t we put you and Jeff back together and do a Hardys/Dudleys nostalgic match?” And he loved the idea. Then I brought it to TNA and they really loved the idea. After he had come in for one shot, I went back to them and said, “This is going really well, why don’t we try to turn it into something even bigger?” The idea went from one Hardys/Dudleys nostalgic match to the tag team series, in which we brought the Wolves in. So not only am I proud about the fact that it was actually my idea, I’m proud of the fact that it really, really worked and we helped get another tag team over.
Alex Obert: Everyone always talks about the ladder match between Edge and Christian and the Hardys, but the match that got you and D-Von noticed in the WWE was the tag team tables match at the 2000 Royal Rumble. What was that like for you?
Bully Ray: That really is the match that put us on the map. It was the ladder match that Edge and Christian had with the Hardys that put them on the map. And it was the tables match that we had with the Hardys that put us on the map. Like you said, Royal Rumble 2000, Madison Square Garden. Lots of great memories. Standing up on the second balcony of Madison Square Garden and taking a chairshot from Jeff and falling through two tables in front of twenty thousand people, my home crowd. We tore the house down and had a great time. It was awesome and it’s a match today that people still go on Twitter and remind me of. They’re like, “Hey, just watched that match on the WWE Network. We really enjoyed it.”
Alex Obert: Something big recently happened on the WWE Network that has everybody talking. Sting, a wrestler that you have worked closely with over the past couple of years, finally appeared in a WWE ring for the first time. What are your thoughts on that?
Bully Ray: If he’s happy, then I’m happy for him. It’s the one and only thing that he never did in his career. Lots of people wanted to see it. I also think there’s some people out there that didn’t want to see it because Sting was the last guy in wrestling who was really a household name who never needed the WWE or the WWE machine to be at the top of his game. But I think him going there and finishing out his career there with a couple more matches, maybe a shot at Wrestlemania, maybe that match against the Undertaker, I think people are gonna enjoy it. I know he’s gonna enjoy it. It was a pleasure being in the ring with him and I wish him all the best.
Alex Obert: Do you see an opportunity for the younger wrestlers of TNA to one day step foot in WWE or do you feel that it isn’t necessary now with the Performance Center and NXT?
Bully Ray: As far as younger TNA guys ever going to WWE, I’m not gonna say absolutely not, but the window of opportunity is very, very small. WWE has created their developmental program, which has always been something that Hunter wanted to do. I remember him talking back in the day about wanting to reestablish territories. Even though that didn’t happen, the developmental and having NXT is like having a territory. So they’re going to create all of their own stars in-house the way they want to. And then they’re gonna bring them up for the roster. I don’t think WWE needs to pluck younger talent from any place else in the world, unless they want to. They plucked Steen and Kenta, so they have the luxury of sitting back and saying who they’ll take a chance on. But most of the younger talent you see is gonna come from developmental.
Alex Obert: Have you watched NXT?
Bully Ray: I’ve only seen about one or two episodes. It’s probably the only product I don’t get to watch as frequently as I would like to. But I hear nothing but good things coming out of there. I hear it’s very wrestling-heavy, they’re concentrating on the in-ring product, they’re doing a good job of getting over young characters with good storylines. It’s good for younger guys because it always helps them invest into their characters.
Alex Obert: I’ve heard people compare NXT to the original ECW shows because of the intimate setting and the crowd interaction.
Bully Ray: If people say it’s like ECW because of the intimacy and because of the crowd interaction, I don’t think that has anything to do with NXT trying to be like ECW. They’re definitely not. Intimate setting, yes, those two things are similar. A lot of crowd interaction, yes, those two things are similar. But as far as product is concerned, they couldn’t be two more opposite things. I think NXT is carving out their own niche and their own identity. I don’t think anybody else should even try to be what ECW was.
Alex Obert: Something else that’s getting talked about a lot in wrestling lately is the rise of podcasts. I know you were on Talk is Jericho, so I’d love to get your thoughts on what it means to you as a wrestler. It’s becoming increasingly popular as an outlet to candidly discuss wrestling.
Bully Ray: I’ve done Jericho’s podcast, I did JR’s podcast, and I did Piper’s podcast. I’m thankful that all three of those guys called me up and asked to have me on. I think the podcasts are great for fans because they get to hear more in-depth stories and behind the scenes stories with things that really went on. Wrestlers talking to other wrestlers, it’s good for the fans. At the end of the day, if it is good for the fans, that’s all that should really matter. The fans are the people that spend their money. The fans are the people that wanna know the information. The fans are the people who wanna hear and see all this stuff. So it works for everybody.
Alex Obert: Would you consider doing one or do you feel that there are so many out there right now that another wrestler podcast wouldn’t be necessary?
Bully Ray: I have actually been approached to do a podcast. It’s not really something I have my heart set in doing right now. Lot of other guys are doing it. I know Taz’s podcast is gonna drop in January. If I did a podcast, I would probably take more of a Morton Downey Jr. approach to it. A very in your face, hard-edged podcast where I really grill the guys on issues and questions that fans truly want to know about.
Alex Obert: During your last couple years in TNA, you had a very notable singles run and you even won the world title twice. But I recall you had a brief singles run in the WWE after the split from the draft.
Bully Ray: The singles run in WWE is not something that me and D-Von agreed with at all. I remember the day that Vince McMahon had come to us and said, “I wanna split you guys up.” And we told him that we thought it was a horrible idea. He said, “Why do you think that?” I said, “Well with all due respect, nobody ever wanted to see Hawk and Animal wrestle as singles. The Dudleys are an entity and the Dudleys are an act. The Dudleys are an act that people pay to see.” Nobody wanted to see Bubba or D-Von on their own at that time. That split really didn’t work. I don’t think me and D-Von were ready for it and I don’t think the fans were ready for it. Shortly after that, Vince put us back together in Madison Square Garden. But during that run, one of my favorite singles matches was against Brock Lesnar. The night that Steve Austin decided that he wanted to split for a little while and needed some time off, they turned to me that night and said, “Hey, we need you to have a really great match with Brock.” We had some really solid TV matches and some really great matches on the house shows. I saw Brock from day one when he first started. I also enjoyed working as a singles wrestler with Kurt. And I got a couple matches with Hunter, which I really enjoyed also.
Alex Obert: When Brock first came in, what was the discussion like between you and Paul Heyman?
Bully Ray: We knew that Brock had it. And I knew that they were really about to strap the rocket to his back and run with it. I remember having a talk with him one day and I said, “Brock, be prepared because they’re about to make you the guy in this company.” I’ve always liked Brock. He was a great dude from day one, man’s man, totally stand up, and I really enjoyed being in the ring with him.
Alex Obert: When you and D-Von reunited in 2002, how was it arranged that you used Bombshell by Powerman 5000 as your entrance theme?
Bully Ray: I found it. I knew that we needed some different music. I believe that a wrestler’s entrance music really sets the tone for the entire match, night, segment, whatever it is. When you hear Triple H’s music, you know something’s about to go down. When you hear that glass break and Austin’s about to come out, you know something’s about to go down. So I wanted music that was really recognizable and Powerman 5000 had this song called Bombshell. I presented it to the higher-ups in WWE and they really liked it. It was great to have that song play before we went out there because it just got us so pumped up.
Alex Obert: It was in ECW that using licensed songs was a big thing. What were some of your favorite entrance themes then?
Bully Ray: There was nothing like standing in the middle of the ring and hearing Enter Sandman play. All of the music that ECW used was great. Whether it was Thunder Kiss ’65 to open up the show, whether it was Enter Sandman, if it was New Jack’s music continuously playing throughout the match, using the real music always brought great life to the product.
Alex Obert: I know that you’re a huge KISS fan, what is your opinion on the situation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year?
Bully Ray: I have mixed feelings about it. At the end of the day, I’m a fan. As a fan, I know what I would’ve liked to have seen. I think the four original members should’ve gotten on stage and played one song. Then the other two guys should have, not in makeup, and played one song. I think that would have satisfied everybody. Most importantly, the fans. It just seems like there was a lot of ego going on with that situation. I’ll never know the true stories. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to know what really, really, really went on, but it’ll never happen.
Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer dressing up as the characters that Ace and Peter made famous?
Bully Ray: I really don’t have too strong of a feeling on Tommy Thayer or Eric Singer playing the part of the Ace or Peter. They’re both great musicians. KISS is gonna be an over entity and a popular act for the next hundred years. You come to see the entire show, the entire package. I don’t necessarily think you need to have different personalities. What other KISS personality were people into? Were they really into The Fox? Were they really into whatever Vinnie Vincent was? No, they’re always gonna be into The Spaceman and The Catman. I don’t really have a problem with Tommy Thayer or Eric Singer being those guys.
Alex Obert: It’s well known that Eddie Trunk is passionate about both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the KISS lineup. What are your thoughts on That Metal Show?
Bully Ray: I’m a big fan of That Metal Show. I actually spoke to Eddie Trunk the other day. I’m trying to set up to be on his show on Q104.3 in the near future. I’ve known Jim Florentine for over twenty years. I know Don Jamieson. I think it’s great that there is a show out there for hard rock and heavy metal since it has such a loyal following. Huge, huge fan of the show and of those three guys doing it. Would love to be on the show. Nothing but positive things to say.
Alex Obert: How was it seeing Mötley Crüe on their final tour at Madison Square Garden?
Bully Ray: Mötley Crüe was probably my all-time favorite band growing up as a kid. Always was a diehard Crüe fan. I’ve seen them over a hundred times. I heard they got off to a little bit of a shaky start on this tour whether it was production value or pyro going off at the wrong time or them just not being on the same page. When I got to see them at Madison Square Garden, they absolutely tore the house down. They did a great job, they were on point, Vince was singing his balls off. It was just a phenomenal show and I’m glad I got to see them go out on a high note.
Alex Obert: I recall you taking Jeremy Borash to meet Steel Panther.
Bully Ray: Steel Panther is such a great band. They’re so much fun to see. If people out there have never seen a Steel Panther show, I encourage them to do so. Great music. Extremely entertaining. I’ve had a lot of fun with those guys backstage. They are as big of fans as Bully Ray as I am of them.
Alex Obert: When you were going through your body transformation, what were some of your favorite workouts?
Bully Ray: I really didn’t have a particular favorite workout. I just knew that when me and D-Von split up, I needed to do something different to make people sit up and take notice. And I said if I could transform my body and get into better shape, that people would be like “Holy shit! Look at what Bubba did!” So really no particular tricks, didn’t use any gimmicks, just did it the old school way. Drank a lot of water, did a lot of cardio, lifted a lot of heavy weights, and just tried to eat right.
Alex Obert: Did you work out with any other wrestlers during this time?
Bully Ray: When I was on the road, it’d be me and Bobby Roode in the gym together and anybody that’d drive with us. But most of the time when I was on the road, it was me and Bobby. Sometimes Eric Young. We used to do a lot of heavy deadlifts, used a lot of chalk. We did old school training including lifting up the socks higher than the knees, weight belts, the whole nine yards.
Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, I wanted to discuss something you’ve done that has gotten people talking. You have been been posting tweets that have led to speculation regarding the future. I have to ask, what’s next for you?
Bully Ray: What’s next or who’s next? (laughs) I don’t know what’s next, I’m just gonna let it happen. I am so happy with my career and what I have accomplished that if my career ended tomorrow, I could walk off into the sunset with a huge smile on my face. However, because of the success of the Bully Ray character, I’m hearing a lot of people clamoring for me to go back to the WWE to try to see if Bully Ray could do something over there. Personally, I think I could. I think it’d be a lot of fun. If I were to go back to WWE either as Bully Ray by myself or to finish out my career with D-Von as Team 3D, I think both things could work. I think the fans, first and foremost, want to see it. They have been very active on Twitter and social media saying “We want Bully Ray in WWE” or “We want Team 3D back in WWE”. Like I said, if it’s right, maybe it’ll happen. But if it didn’t, I still go out with a huge smile on my face. I tweeted last week that “I’m the 1 who can defeat the 1 who put the 1 in 21-1.” I’m confident in my ability in the ring and I’m confident in my ability on the mic. So from a physical standpoint, Bully versus Brock would be very interesting. And a verbal battle on the microphone, could you imagine Bully Ray and Paul Heyman?
Alex Obert: Do you have any plugs for readers?
Bully Ray: Check out @REALBully5150 on Twitter. And if you like my gear, check out Hardcore5150.com.
Alex Obert: And I’d love to get information on your wrestling school.
Bully Ray: Our school is the Team 3D Academy and it’s located in Kissimmee, Florida. We’ve been open now for about seven years. We have students from over thirty countries all over the world. We’ve had people relocate from as far as New Zealand and Australia to train at our school. It’s a one year school. It’s extremely comprehensive. Our motto is “Old School Rules. New School Tools.” And if you’re serious about becoming a professional wrestler, it’s definitely a place that you wanna be.
Alex Obert: I look forward to big things in your future! I’d love to thank you so much for your time.
Bully Ray: Thanks a lot, man! Appreciate it.