D-Von Dudley has revealed that he and WWE Hall of Fame tag team partner Bubba Ray are no longer doing business together.
The Dudley Boyz became one of the most recognisable and decorated tag teams of all time during their tenure together. They won tag team gold in ECW, WWE, IMPACT, and New Japan over the course of their two-decade career.
However, the two men have not worked together since 2016, shortly after leaving WWE after a one-year stint. The Dudleys challenged for the Tag Team Championship during this time, but those challenges proved futile.
D-Von Dudley retired from active competition at this point, while Bubba Ray continued with his Bully Ray persona elsewhere. D-Von remained with WWE as a producer after retiring from the wrestling ring.
The tag team legend revealed on The Cut Pro Wrestling Podcast that he never intended to retire from wrestling, but has grown to appreciate his current role:
“Just for the record, I never wanted to stop wrestling. I never wanted to be a producer backstage for WWE,”
“I enjoy it now but it took me some years to actually embrace it and like it. Bubba decided during that 2016 run that the Dudley Boys were not being treated fair in terms of the position we were in. And I get it to a certain degree but you have to understand, the Attitude Era was gone. And I even said that to him – ‘It’s gone, it’s not coming back.’”
D-Von went on to say that returning to WWE in 2015 meant the team was there to help younger talent and hand the reins to the next generation:
“I’m not coming back to WWE to relive the Attitude Era. In my opinion and my opinion only, in terms of between the both of us, I didn’t feel that way, like he felt,” D-Von said. “Like they were messing up the legacy that we chose. A title doesn’t mean anything at this point and stage of the game when you’ve won 24 already. So to have another title that says you’re the tag team champion at that point didn’t really mean anything.”
“What it meant to me coming back to WWE was helping the young talent out, being able to pass that torch and go back to a place that I felt, back in 2005, that we didn’t leave the right way. There was still some stuff left on the table that I felt we had to come back to WWE in order for me to finish out my career the way I wanted to.”
D-Von revealed that the team had been offered another contract as their second run with the company came to an end. He put pen to paper right away, but Bubba Ray was hesitant because he wanted to use his Bully Ray character in WWE, but WWE Chairman Vince McMahon refused:
“There was a contract given to us after the second run [from 2015-16] and Bubba didn’t want to sign it. He wanted to do the Bully Ray character and Vince said no. He didn’t want that, he wanted the Dudley’s. He didn’t want us to break up. Regardless to what we did in 2002 when we broke up, it still lay fresh in their minds that we were better as a tag team. It’s his sandbox, you have to play in his sandbox or go home.
“I knew coming back we weren’t going to be the top of the food chain. Although the respect we got from the locker room was tremendous, at the same token, I knew my role in coming back was to help the younger talent and help them get over. And in order for that to happen, we got to lay down and we got to do things we probably don’t want to do. But again, that’s Vince’s philosophy and Vince’s sandbox and you got to play by his rules.”
D-Von called the contract “great” but he couldn’t persuade Bubba Ray to sign it. As a result, the two men decided to go their separate ways:
“Well, Bubba didn’t want to play fair. And I know Bubba will have his own opinion about what happened, but again, that’s the majority of it. They gave us both the contract. I signed it. He didn’t want to sign it and it left a bad taste in their mouth,” D-Von said. “And by the time he was ready to sign it, some time had already went by. Let me give you a timeline: when Shane McMahon came back in Detroit, that was when I signed the deal. That was in March. So the deal actually came to us in February of that year. Now they’ve been trying to get us to sign it and Bubba wouldn’t sign it.
“Now all of a sudden we go forward and I’ve signed it and he hasn’t because there’s still things he felt he had to take care of on his side. By the time he got through that, the company was like, ‘Nah, we don’t want it anymore. We’re not dealing with the headaches.’ And they decided not to do it.
“It wasn’t like the WWE did a bad thing by us. Let me put it to you this way – they gave us a contract that was great, and at 44 and 45 years of age, I even told Bubba, ‘We need to take the money and just go. We’re not gonna get another opportunity like this again. We just need to sign this contract and do another year. If you don’t do another year after it, don’t do it. I’ll go on my own.’ But I couldn’t make him sign it.”
While there is no bad blood between the two men, D-Von Dudley stated that both he and Bubba Ray are now doing their own thing:
“I wish him nothing but the best. We do not do business anymore. There’s no hard feelings and I don’t have any animosity towards him. It’s just he’s doing his thing and I’m doing my thing,” D-Von said. “Bubba and I are not at odds with each other. We don’t hate one another. We just went different ways like most tag teams do.”
“This is not a Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels thing where we hate each other. We don’t. We just had a difference of opinions at that time and we went our separate ways. Even the wrestling school, he has the wrestling school in Connecticut, I have the one in Winter Park over here. So we both individually own our wrestling schools but we just do things separate now. That’s all.”
After contract talks fell through, D-Von Dudley stated that he hoped to continue wrestling. He was told that if he didn’t have Bubba Ray by his side, he wouldn’t be able to compete; instead, he was given the opportunity to work as a producer:
“I never wanted to stop. I even went to them and said, ‘Hey, listen. I’m not ready to become a producer, there’s still a lot left in me,’ and they said, ‘Well you know the old man, you know how he is. He wanted the Dudley’s and Bubba didn’t play fair, so we’re gonna give you this opportunity to stay with the company.’ So I looked at it, and it was Triple H, and I said, ‘Do I have a choice?’ and he said, ‘No, not really.’”
“At that point I was going through a divorce and I would have loved to have gone back to Japan to finish my career, but going through a divorce at the time and having to travel 17 or 18 hours on a plane to Japan every week was not what I wanted to do. So I had to weigh my options and say, okay, here we go. I guess I’ll stay here and become a producer.”
Long-time rivals Edge and Christian inducted the Dudley Boyz into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018. D-Von is still a producer for WWE and Bubba Ray hosts Busted Open Radio on Sirius XM.
H/T Wrestling Inc