After establishing themselves as a well-favored tag team, both D-Von and Bubba Ray Dudley [Bully Ray] found themselves in a tough spot after WrestleMania 18 when Bubba Ray was sent to RAW and D-Von was sent over to SmackDown. Once he made his debut as a solo man on the blue brand, D-Von re-imaged himself into Reverend D-Von, a sinister villain, who was Vince McMahon’s spiritual advisor. His newly created image did not last long, but it was a character that D-Von enjoyed portraying.
“Well, the great thing about the Reverend D-Von character was that I loved it and I thought it was great. There were certain powers to be, at that time, that didn’t,” Dudley stated on The New Day: Feel the Power podcast. I remember Vince and I were doing promos together, big things like that. I would try to come to Vince and tell him what I was going to say and what scriptures I was going to use. He would say, ‘No, I want to feed off you’. He was like, ‘I’m loving this character.’ Overnight, the character went downhill, and it really shouldn’t have.”
Like previously mentioned, it can be hard for any wrestler to transition from a tag to a singles competitor, especially if their popularity was at its peak as a tag team competitor. For D-Von, he admits that, yes, it was stressful, but once he got used to the role of being Reverend D-Von, it was easier for him to establish himself as a solo act because he wasn’t much interested in being part of a tag team at one point.
“It’s weird when you’re a tag team wrestler for so long, but when I first came into this business, I’m like Bubba. Bubba always wanted to be in a tag team, I didn’t,” he admitted. “I always wanted to be a singles [competitor]. So even when I got to ECW and I was going to be part of the Dudley Clan, I thought that eventually, I would still be able to be D-Von Dudley by himself and, you know, work with the other guys.
“But they wound up putting me and Bubba together. So, at that point, I just kept on going, and going, and going until the opportunity came and they asked me to do Reverend D-Von. At first, we were like ‘No’, because there it is. We felt that we were on the high, you know, why mess it up? But at the same token, I always said, ‘Whatever the new gimmick is going to be, you have to make sure it works because that’s the only way you’re going to get satisfaction with your career is if you could have done it as a singles.'”
When D-Von got the call that he and Bubba Ray were going to reunite right after his Reverend D-Von gimmick ended, D-Von confessed to Bubba that he didn’t want to go back to being a tag team competitor. Instead, he wanted to keep pursuing some sort of solo career.
“When I got the phone call that Bubba and I were going to get back together, I told Bubba on the phone, ‘I didn’t want it.’ I didn’t want it because I wanted to be singles [competitor],” he stated. “I wanted to give this a shot. I felt like I got shafted, but I look at it this way, with everything that happened and however it went down, you know, we went on to create more history, Bubba and I. That will be the one thing in my career that I could’ve done better. But it is what it is and I moved on from it.”
In time, D-Von knew that his legacy would live on for years to come, but the bumps and torment he took over the years were going to catch up to him. Through religion, D-Von found himself questioning when his retirement would be and what would happen next. He believes he ultimately made the right choice to leave the in-ring part of his career in 2016.
“I always thought that everything has an expiration date, whether it’s life, career, or what have you. At that point, I felt, biblically speaking, that God does have something else for me in mind. That was a lesson that I needed to learn,” he concluded towards the end of his interview. “That was something that I needed to go through. You fail every trial and tribulation that you might endure in your life. Don’t look at it as a downward spiral, look at it as if God is trying to tell you something. Although it might not be what we want we want, you’ve got to learn how to let go and let God take you where you need to be. He didn’t bring you this far to leave you – I personally believe that.”
You can listen to D-Von Dudley’s full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The New Day: Feel the Power with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.