The Crow's Nest - Will We See Bully Ray Back in WWE?
By The Crow
Aug 22, 2014 - 9:29:16 PM
Will We See Bully Ray Back in WWE? (08/22/14)
In what has to be considered a huge loss for TNA, Bully Ray and TNA have not been able to come to terms on a new contract, so he will be leaving the company after this weekend. I was a bit surprised when I first read this news as it always seemed like he was fairly happy where he was with the company. Just goes to show you that, no matter what we read in the dirt sheets, we never truly know what's going on backstage.
When TNA first decided to push the former Bubba Ray Dudley as a singles star, I had my doubts about how successful he'd be. There's no doubt that the man was a legendary tag team wrestler, but could he really carry a whole brand on his shoulders? Could he step out from the tag world and hold his own as a character?
As it turns out, yes, yes he could.
The Aces & Eights storyline was, for a while, looking like it was absolutely going to be a bust. It was building too slowly without any real memorable moments along the way, and none of the participants were really taking the ball and running with it. The gang stayed anonymous for too long, and when names finally did start to be revealed, there was no real "wow" factor.
Bully Ray initially appeared to be fighting for the "good guys" against this stable of thugs, even winning over a very skeptical Hulk Hogan. In the performance of his career, Bully Ray even had the fans convinced that he had turned over a new leaf and could possibly be the saviour that TNA needed. He really seemed to have a new passion for the business that he had never had before.
As we eventually found out, this was indeed the performance of his career, but in a very different way than I originally thought. After cheating to beat Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, turning heel in the process, and being revealed as the president of Aces & Eights, Bully Ray took control of a failing storyline and really started to turn it around. All of a sudden, Bully Ray was becoming the superstar I never thought he could be.
While I generally take every piece of wrestling news with a huge grain of salt, the idea that Bully Ray is leaving TNA isn't entirely unbelievable. The company's financial issues aren't exactly a secret, and there's definitely been a fair amount of bigger names leaving the company over the past year because they weren't getting the contracts they wanted. So the question that remains is this: will we see Bully Ray in WWE again, now that he's (allegedly) about to be a free agent again?
My immediate answer is to say "maybe". I don't think WWE will have any interest in bringing him back at this point in time unless they also bring back Devon, reuniting the Dudley Boyz in WWE for the first time since 2005. Neither of them are particularly young wrestlers (Bully is 43, Devon is 42) and neither of them really had any success as singles wrestlers during their WWE tenures. As good as their work in TNA was, I very much doubt that Vince is going to want to acknowledge that success on his program.
I'd be on board with a Dudleyz reunion in WWE. Who better to inject some energy and skill into WWE's tag division than one of the best tag teams of the modern age of wrestling? I'm not saying that they should be brought back on a long-term basis, but for a year or so? Absolutely.
But then there's the potential bad blood to consider.
When Bully and Devon left WWE in 2005 after the company choosing not to renew their contracts, ending a 6-year run, they were served with legal notices warning them that the Dudley name was the intellectual property of WWE, and as such they would not be able to use it for future appearances. They had been using the Dudley name since 1996 while still a part of ECW, but after WWE acquired ECW's intellectual property, they also took control of the Dudley name. Bully and Devon believed they had been granted the rights to the name, but evidently they were mistaken.
I have no idea if there is still any bad blood between Bully, Devon and the WWE, but it's definitely something to keep in mind as a possibility.
Again though, I don't see either of them returning to the WWE unless it's as a team. Don't get me wrong, I think Bully Ray could probably hold his own in the mid to upper-mid card in WWE now that he's really hit his stride as a wrestler, but I don't think there's any need for it. The WWE roster isn't hurting for talent right now, and younger stars are finally being established. The "returning veteran" spots should be reserved for already established WWE superstars (like Chris Jericho) that the WWE Universe can get behind. Very few people that haven't followed his career in TNA are going to buy Bubba Ray Dudley as a legitimate singles star because most of their exposure to his work is as a tag team wrestler. Sure he's dropped a bunch of weight and updated his skill-set, but that's not going to matter. I believe his only chance at a return to WWE as an active wrestler is to reunite the Dudleyz for a temporary run.
But like I said at the beginning of this column, we never truly know what's going on backstage. For all we know this could 100% be a work, or it could be an aggressive tactic by Bully Ray to persuade TNA to give in to his contract demands (or at least budge from their position on the matter). It could just as easily be legit and we could end up seeing Bully Ray hit the indy circuit in the next month.
Regardless of what happens, I wish the man success. He absolutely turned me into a believer when he became Bully Ray, and it's kind of a shame that it didn't happen sooner.
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