Bully Ray Dudley Reflects on His Wrestling Legacy

The Ring of Honor star talks longevity in the ring, his renowned wrestling academy and more before 'Death Before Dishonor XV' on September 22

Bully Ray. Courtesy of Ring of Honor

The wrestler currently known as Bully Ray is a master of reinvention. Starting as a member of the Dudley family in the groundbreaking, Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1995, Bubba Ray Dudley eventually teamed with his “brother” D-Von and went on to set records in ECW before joining the then-World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) in 1999.

There, the Dudley Boyz (as he and D-Von were known) helped to redefine tag-team wrestling. In 2005, the pair jumped ship to rival Total Nonstop Action, where they were known as Team 3D. Renaming himself Bully Ray after splitting with Brother Devon, Bully captured the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice before reuniting with D-Von in the WWE. Earlier this year, he arrived in Ring of Honor wrestling, where he captured the Six-Man Tag Team Championship with the Briscoe brothers, Jay and Mark. Bully and the Briscoes have the opportunity to reclaim their championship at the upcoming Death Before Dishonor XV Pay-Per-View, which originates from Sam’s Town Live right here in Las Vegas on September 22.

What should fans look forward to at Death Before Dishonor?

I think after 25 years, people know what to expect when I come to the ring. They expect to be entertained, and they can expect to see a level of violence they won’t see in any other match. Bully Ray and the Briscoes without a doubt are focused on getting the Ring of Honor six-man championships back, we plan on opening up the show and defeating The Kingdom, and then we plan on defeating the Young Bucks and Hangman Page to get those championships back.

You’ve had a long and distinguished career. Can you tell me what it’s like being in Ring of Honor right now?

“I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all” is the best way to put my career in a line of a song. I have been everywhere, I have done it all. But being in Ring of Honor at this stage in my career is awesome. I always thought I’d be a perfect fit in Ring of Honor and it’s working out great. Ring of Honor reminds me of ECW back in the day from 1994 to 1999, the passion of the locker room, the intensity of the guys. The guys want to go out there and everyone wants to steal the show and just make a product. I think the relationship has been working out great. Ring of Honor takes steps forward every time the go out there, and DBD will be great a PPV, and people are going to want to tune in.

Do you have any idea how many people you’ve put through tables through your career?

Yes. 3,897.

Courtesy of Ring of Honor

What’s the key to longevity in the ring?

The key to longevity in the professional wrestling business is staying health and constantly reinventing yourself. Me and my brother D-von had a very long career as the Dudley Boyz, as Team 3D, the most successful and decorated team of all time. It then came time for us to both do something different, we both had successful singles careers, came back to the WWE for a little bit of a reunion for a year, and now I’ve gone off into Ring of Honor. So you constantly reinvent yourself, do things different and keep people talking.

Is it hard to reinvent yourself if people are still responding to you?

It’s not hard to reinvent yourself if you know what people want to see. The way the wrestling business is now, we don’t surprise people enough. All the secrets get out too entirely too soon. I’m proud to say that from the day I created Bully Ray and won the NTA [World Heavyweight] Championship for the first time by defeating Jeff Hardy inside a steel cage until the time me and D-Von came back to the WWE and until the time I debuted in Ring of Honor, those are three major surprises that absolutely nobody knew about. Wrestling fans were shocked. That’s how I keep them interested and I keep them guessing.

“I consider myself a rare breed in this business. It seems like turnover of young talent happens at a fast rate, and I’m one of those guys who’s been able to withstand the test of time and still continue to do so.” — Bully Ray

What were your inspirations at the start of your career?

I grew up in NYC, watching the WWF back in the day, late 1970s, early 1980s, and I was mesmerized by tag team wrestling, watched the likes of Garea and Martel, the Wild Samoans, Fuji and Saito, tag teams like that always interested me, and I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be part of a successful tag team.

You and D-Von run a school. Can you tell me about that?

We don’t just run a school. We own the most successful wrestling school probably in world. Team 3D Academy is located in Kissimmee, Florida, and we just opened up another location in Danbury, Connecticut. We’ve been open for 11 years, and we’ve had students from over 50 countries relocate to come train with us. We’ve trained a lot of successful students [some notables include the Guerillas of Destiny, Jessika Carr, just hired as the first full-time female referee, Chris Melendez, Jeff Neal, Leva [Bates], and a few NJPW wrestlers you might have heard of: [Hiroshi] Tanahashi, [Tetsuya] Naito and [Kazuchika] Okada who have gone on and become successful professionals in the world of sports entertainment. Our motto is “old school rules, new school tools.” We teach them the old school respect for the wrestling business with the new school methods, techniques, and business acumen they need to succeed today.

How has training changed from when you started out?

We offer a very advanced level of training. It’s 360 degrees of training: in the ring, outside of the ring. What we mostly train you for is the business of the business of professional wrestling.

Tell us about your talk show.

I have a wrestling radio show on Sirius XM, Busted Open. The show had been around for about eight years. I’d been friends with the guys on the show and we were talking. They said we want to take our show to next level, we want to have an expert on the show who can talk about this from both sides, from in-ring and outside ring, It’s going really well. Busted Open nation has definitely expanded since I’ve come to the show, and we’ve offered some very educated wrestling talk.

What’s something about you fans don’t know yet?

I’m not really sure what they should know that they don’t know already. I consider myself a rare breed in this business. It seems like turnover of young talent happens at a fast rate, and I’m one of those guys who’s been able to withstand the test of time and still continue to do so.

As far as anything that people don’t know? I’m a good cook and I play piano [laughs]. 

Bully Ray isn’t the only superstar hopping into the ring this weekend. Check out what Kenny King had to say about his upcoming World Television Championship fight at vegasseven.com/kennyking

Death Before Dishonor XV

Sam’s Town Live at 6 p.m. Sept. 22. If you’re out of town,  it airs on pay-per-view, rohwrestling.com, Fite.TV App and Playstation Network.