The Dudley Boyz made their name in ECW and then became 10-time tag team champions in WWE. But they first left WWE in 2005 and went to TNA/Impact where they were renamed Team 3D.
They didn’t just change their name to disassociate from what they did in WWE, but they changed it because Vince McMahon owned the name of the Dudleys. Bully Ray talked more about the name change on Chris Jericho’s podcast.
“I can’t claim any original intellectual property on the Dudley name,” revealed Bully Ray. “It was an original intellectual property of ECW. When ECW went into bankruptcy, WWE bought ECW out of bankruptcy and when you buy it out you get the assets and the debts, and the assets were the original intellectual property, which are names and characters. The Dudley name and the characters, all original intellectual properties and Vince McMahon owns it.
“When they first told me, I yelled and screamed and kicked and mother f**kered them. I couldn’t believe they were doing this and I told Paul Heyman that I thought I owned the name. I’m sure I don’t have to go any further with this story, but needless to say, you know what? It worked out; I immediately changed the name to Team 3D, and in many ways Team 3D was as successful as The Dudleys, and we still get a check four times a year with the WWE.”
After nearly 10 years away, the Dudleys finally returned to WWE in 2015 but Vince McMahon had a different role in mind for the veteran tag team than what they were accustomed to.
“We [Team 3D] left Impact Wrestling and immediately signed with WWE because I knew that they wanted to do business. So, it was just a question of who was going to call who, so I said that I was just going to give them a buzz,” stated Bully Ray. “I sent an email to Hunter and Vince McMahon and they got right back to us and before you know it, two weeks later we had made our return to the Barclays Center on Monday Night Raw. We had a good year there. We wish it could have been better.”
WWE wanted the Dudleys to put over other tag teams such as The New Day and The Usos. But Bully Ray felt their team was still over in the fans’ eyes and he had creative differences with McMahon over the team’s role.
“I told Vince McMahon that I cannot do this anymore. I can’t do this Dudley thing the way that you want it done. I believe that it has run its course,” said Bully Ray.
“I told him about Bully Ray, and me and Vince McMahon had three really good and serious conversations about Bully Ray and he was totally into it. He said that nobody loves the bully character more than me. He said that is who I am, but he said that I cannot call you Bully Ray. I can’t use the name “Bully” and have the Be-A-Star program.”
Bully Ray then proposed a storyline where he portrays Bully Ray for about a year and then finds the right babyface to put him in his place and have him see the error of his ways. Then Bully Ray would be reformed and could become a spokesperson for the Be-A-Star program.
“He said that it is a great idea, but by the time we get there I will get slaughtered by the press. He felt that it would be too long. You have a Be-A-Star program but you have a guy called Bully. By the time you get to the payoff, I would have endured too much negative press by then. My backup was the Intimidator Bubba Ray. I wasn’t even going to go with the Bully Ray name and that was it, and I saw the look in his eyes where he liked that and we can do that,” stated Bully Ray.
“One of the things that was important to me separating from D-Von and becoming the Bully Ray character was that I had to turn on D-Von. D-Von was the piece of the puzzle because if I turned on D-Von I would immediately have heat. If I turned on a generic wrestler it wouldn’t have any steam or history, but Vince wasn’t feeling it. I presented it to him a few more times and we actually shook hands. On my last SmackDown before our contracts ended, he said that we were going to run with this and will do it. We shook hands and hugged; it was a done deal.
“Our last night that was on Raw was supposed to be the night I turned on D-Von. A few days before Raw, Vince McMahon calls me himself and said, ‘Pal, I’m sorry, we’re not going to run with it. We’re not quite sure we see the money in the feud.'”
Bully Ray said he didn’t argue and he and McMahon left on good terms with McMahon even stating that Bully Ray had a producer position waiting for him when he decided to retire.
“But I just don’t think either he or maybe some other people on creative were feeling the Bubba Ray vs D-Von feud. I think he was sold on the bully idea but wasn’t sold on the feud to get there,” Bully Ray said before adding that he didn’t get the sense McMahon was sold on D-Von as a singles competitor and that when they split up the Dudleys the first time (2002), the experiment didn’t go well.
“The thing that blew me the most away after speaking with Vince McMahon the first time around about not being able to do this Dudley Boys thing anymore, I said that I would like to run an idea with you and he said that he knew all about Bully Ray. I was shocked. I no-sold it. I didn’t flinch and I didn’t blink but that kind of excited me because I felt that at least it was on the radar. We had discussions about it. I brought up guys that I can work with and the stories that we can tell and what we can do.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Talk is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.