One shoot interview I have been eagerly anticipating for a while is Team 3D. Formerly the Dudley Boys in ECW and WWE, Bubba Ray and Devon are one of my all time favorite tag teams. From their ultra intense promos that caused near riots in Philly (including the very famous one during HeatWave '99 which apparently got the Dudleys banned from ECW PPV after Bubba asked a ringside female fan if she was teaching her daughter how to favor a man orally), to their jaw dropping TLC matches with the Hardy Boys and Edge & Christian in New York, the Dudleys became top acts everywhere they went. In a current period of wrestling where most tag teams just seem to be two singles wrestlers thrown together at random, the Dudleys excelled because as a team they were much better than the sum of their parts. Think about it, here is one of wrestling's better units, who have been everywhere (ECW, WWE, TNA, Japan), and are famously outspoken. This should be something truly great and a fantastic shoot, unless the era of wrestling political correctness causes the Dudleys not to burn any bridges, especially when we consider the talk of their TNA contracts being up later on this year. Will the shoot interview be worth the wait? We shall see.
On to the DVD!
The shoot started off with both Brother Ray (the former Bubba Ray Dudley) and Devon (D-Von Dudley) discussing growing up in New York. They both talked about how they first got turned onto wrestling and how they broke into the wrestling business. By the way, I fucking refuse to type out Brother Ray a thousand times, so I'm going to keep writing Bubba. Tell Jerry McDevitt to send the cease and desist letter to firstname.lastname@example.org@f4wonline.com. Anyway, Bubba had a great story in which he called up WWE headquarters in Stamford, CT and asked how to become a professional wrestler. The receptionist told Bubba to send a tape to J.J. Dillon. It would be a while before Bubba realized they weren't looking for a tape of him and his friends goofing around in their backyard.
When talking about their favorite matches growing up, Bubba said that he was at the famous Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka vs. Don Muraco steel cage match at Madison Square Garden. Bubba added that everyone knows Mick Foley was at that show in the 10th row and that Tommy Dreamer was there in the 5th row ("probably taking up two seats") but no one talks about Bubba being there in the front row. Bubba added that on the Coliseum video release WWF's 10 Most Unusual Matches he can be seen when the camera Snuka walking around the ring and looking at the cage. Bubba said that anyone who has this tape can see Bubba's fat head and Puma shirt. I need a screen cap post haste!
Devon talked about training at Johnny Rodz's school and said that Rodz got Devon into ECW's training dojo (the House of Hardcore) by talking to Taz. Devon had his try-out match with Perry Saturn and did good enough to earn a spot in the dojo. In an interesting story, Bubba had actually met Devon during Bubba's one day at Johnny Rodz's school. Bubba got talked out of going to Rodz's school full time by an old time WWF jobber named Sonny Blaze. Turns out Blaze wanted to start his own school and Bubba was impressed by the fact Blaze owned his own WWF ring and "was friends with Terry Garvin, which at the time I didn't realize was necessarily a good thing." For those not in the know, Garvin was relieved of his duties within the WWF due to allegations of inappropriate actions with ring boys. Shockingly, Bubba was taught jack shit and Blaze took off with Bubba's money. Today Bubba will tell people that "the business trained me, the boys trained me, the road trained me." Admitting he got worked, Bubba added that the whole experience taught him an invaluable lesson about how backstabbing the wrestling business was.
While working Northeast indies, Bubba developed a fast friendship with ECW Icon, former WWE
suit, and current ECW
superstar wrestler rebel extremist Tommy Dreamer. Bubba was told to stop
by ECW for a tryout, but Bubba had seen ECW and thought the company was a joke.
Bubba's friends ended up talking him into going, so after showing up for a
tryout, Bubba was told he would be put into the main event. Talk about being
thrown into the deep end of the pool. Dreamer made sure to tell Bubba to do
whatever he was told and to keep his mouth shut. No one else said anything else
to Bubba until four hours later when "that jew" (Paul Heyman) told Bubba to "do
this, this, this, this, and that" when going over the match. Bubba was going to
be referee Bill Alfonso's bodyguard in a match between the Pitbulls and the
Gangstas. Bubba was there to take the chokeslam from 911. Bubba took the move
and the arena popped like a mofo.
Bubba said that his two biggest fears about wrestling before getting involved in the business would be having to shave his head (as, believe it or not, he had a mullet) and to be called Bubba. Something tells me Billy Silverman has worse fears than that now. Anyway, after taking the chokeslam, Bubba made his way to the back and was immediately confronted by Paul Heyman who said, "Hey kid, how'd you like to shave your head?" Bubba didn't want to, but realized immediately he would be letting his first opportunity pass him by if he said no. A week later he also was given the name "Bubba." Welcome to wrestling!
The Dudley Gimmick: Bubba had known Big Dick Dudley from "the neighborhood" as they both came from the same area of New York, so he knew what the Dudley gimmick was all about. Bubba was originally going to be, get this, SKINHEAD DUDLEY. Bubba's spot was originally going to Skull Von Krush (aka Vito Lograsso, the guy wearing a dress and shopping for thongs on SmackDown these days) but that Vito ended up having "issues" which stopped that dead in its tracks. The "issues" were not explained. It also became apparent that Bubba looked more like a redneck hillbilly, a "product of Deliverance," so the stuttering character replaced the neo-Nazi skinhead gimmick. As for Devon, ECW was originally looking for a "Rastafarian" character and Devon jokingly said he had the "George Jefferson" look. Johnny Rodz told Devon not to worry about it. Devon met Paul E. and "the rest was history."
Now that both were in ECW, they were asked what their initial impressions of Tazz were. "Prick." "Dick." The Duds added that five minutes later, a person would realize Tazz was really a good guy. Bubba said that Tazz has developed an attitude because he's in a business full of monsters and, being a short guy, Taz felt he had to prove himself. Devon admitted that the ECW locker room was the first real locker room he had been in and Bubba remembered the first time he met ECW wrestler Hack Myers backstage. Bubba looked at Hack and thought how good it was that ECW was giving this "old guy" a payday. Turns out that Hack was only 20 and "already looked 62" thanks to ECW.
Paul Heyman: Bubba called Heyman, "The David Koresh of wrestling, the Jim Jones of the locker room" and put him over big time. The subject changed over to ECW's first PPV (Barely Legal, which is a bonus disc included with the One Night Stand 2 DVD ) and how Bubba earned a lot of locker room respect that night by finishing his match despite "shattering" his ankle five minutes in. This led to a rant on how, in wrestling, guys don't get themselves over, it's the opponents who get people over. The Dudleys credited the Eliminators for putting them over and Bubba said that everyone needs an established person to put them over if they expect to be seen as a star.
The Dudleys talked about several of the people involved in their gimmick, including li'l Spike Dudley and Joel "Just like the Rubix Cube, the more you play with it, the harder it gets" Gertner. Both Bubba and Devon made it sound as if Gertner's head expanded to Buff Bagwell levels while traveling with the team. I think Joel's head was just growing in scale with his rapidly expanding waistline. Bubba had to remind young Joel and that he wasn't bigger than the group. Devon said that Gertner was PETRIFIED of Bubba the entire time he was involved with the Dudleys. I think I'd be as well.
The subject of Devon teaming with Axl Rotten came up, and Bubba said that was one of the few ideas in ECW that bombed as Axl was always a huge fan favorite and Devon was a dastardly heel. The fans didn't want to cheer Devon and wouldn't boo Axl, so instead they were in a heatless void. During this time, the Mass Transit incident occurred. Devon said that on the day of the show, Axl called and said he couldn't make it. Devon talked about a midget who was at the arena, to which Bubba said "Little people. Don't want to offend Tazz," and the midget was with Eric Kulas. I don't what this has do with anything, but Devon said no one knew Kulas was only 17. Devon then said that Kulas was backstage violating the UNWRITTEN CODE OF THE LOCKER ROOM by, gasp, having the nerve to talk to the veterans. Devon said that in the ring Kulas "screwed up" and Bubba added, "it was all an unfortunate incident." Talk about the understatement of the year.
Here is the Wikipedia write up for the Mass Transit incident. I just noticed they link to my New Jack shoot interview DVD review~! Around this time, Bubba claims to have also seen the writing on the wall concerning his stuttering goofball character as fans were making "Die Bubba, Die!" signs. Bubba went to Tommy Dreamer and talked about being put together with Devon as a heel tag team.
"Heat is heat. I don't care if it is cheap heat or expensive."
Bubba talked about his famous pre-match promos that got fans riled up. For people who have never seen these wild promos, they are worth seeking out . We're talking about some incredible mic work as the Dudleys were the best heels in the business in 1998, bar none. Bubba defended whipping the fans into a frenzy and didn't mind that sometimes there would be fans waiting for them after a show to get into a fight. The Duds had back up as Big Dick Dudley was apparently one of the toughest guys in wrestling, helped out by the fact that due to some weird nerve thing, Big Dick didn't feel pain in his hand so he could punch away to his heart's content. According to Bubba, Big Dick Dudley was the definition of "bad motherfucker."
Public Enemy - The Dudleys were approached by Paul Heyman and asked if they would do a program with PE if ECW brought Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge back into the company. Bubba said "Hell yeah" and the actual return went over huge at the ECW Arena. The Dudleys were ready to get their heat back at the next show and after hitting Grunge with a 3-D, Grunge got up to shoot a promo. Oh no he didn't! This was a slap in the face to the Dudleys, basically no selling their finisher. Bubba respected Rocco Rock, but went back into the ring to beat the crap out of Grunge and teach him some respect. Bubba told PE to "stay down." After the Dudleys left the ring, Grunge went back on the microphone. The Dudleys came back to deliver an even harder beating. That was the last time PE was seen in ECW.
"I've got no problems with New Jack . - D-Von
Bubba quoted some song lyrics from the Dudleys' song on the horrible WWE Originals CD that basically buried New Jack. D-Von said that by then the two of them had had enough of New Jack's talking shit and wanted to say something themselves. The Dudleys actually met up with New Jack at the Cleveland Hardcore Homecoming show and said that New Jack had no problems with them. The heat between the three men stems from New Jack being upset that the Dudleys "stole" his gimmick of wearing the camouflage outfits and the music that starts off with a missile. The Dudleys claimed to have no say in their ring gear or music while in WWE. "Blame Vince."
The Dudleys briefly talked about their time in the Japanese promotion FMW and Atsushi Onita, the "king of crazy hardcore shit." Bubba tells the wrestling story of the year as backstage the guys were putting together the finish of a 10 man hardcore match that included a five man Japanese team led by Onita against an ECW team with the Dudleys, Sandman, Terry Funk, and Tommy Dreamer. When giving his thoughts, Sandman went, "I'll PEARL HARBOR you, then you come back and JAP me." Bubba said that time froze. "You want to see your life flash in front of you?" The match itself ended up being OK. The Dudleys then told some more goofy stories of Japan, including Terry Funk taking a piss in the middle of a train station. Like Mick Foley, Bubba does a world class Terry Funk impersonation that I could never get tired of hearing.
The boys talked about Steve Richards coming back to ECW at November to Remember after leaving in the middle of the night to take a WCW deal. "Stevie had more heat than a Mexican lunch plate." Bubba said there was a "Heat Room" at the ECW Arena, a room in back where wrestlers got chastised. Stevie was taken into the back and read the riot act while guys like Taz, Perry Saturn, and Bubba were there to make sure he got the point. Stevie was told point blank to bring his ego down after word went around that, earlier in the day, Stevie made the Blue Meanie cut one of his shirts.
After Tod Gordon left ECW, Bubba had a meeting with Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman about becoming more involved in the promoting side of the business. Bubba took over booking the arenas and "everything but merchandise and the actual writing of shows." ECW certainly had every man pitching in as I remember Stevie Richards saying on the Rise and Fall of ECW DVD that he and ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky would work the ECW phones under gimmicked names and Tazz was in charge of designing many of the shirts ECW sold.
After going through some of their other tag team feuds, such as their battles against RVD & Sabu and Balls & Axl, the Dudleys were asked about PG-13! I have to control my excitement, as for some reason PG-13 (JC Ice and Wolfie D, who had a brief cup of coffee in WWE as the Eminem-like wannabes in the Nation of Domination) are two of my favorite guilty pleasures, along with wrestlers such as Nailz, Waylon Mercy, and Outback Jack. Anyway, Bubba responded to this question with, "What, are you stupid? We had one match with them!" Rob Feinstein came back with, "Well, what about that match?" Bubba had more recollection of Jenna Jameson being at that match than actually working against PG-13.
WELCOME TO WWE! Please leave your dignity at the door.
Vince Russo contacted Bubba about getting the Dudleys into WWE. Originally the Duds were going to turn WWE down, as they wanted to stay in ECW, but they also saw the writing on the wall. Bubba recounted the famous story of going to Paul Heyman and asking for just one dollar a day more than what they were currently being paid. Heyman refused. Bubba said this was because: a) ECW was being used as a farm system for WWE and when WWE called, Heyman was basically forced to give them whatever they wanted and b) PPV companies didn't want the Dudleys on ECW shows. As for Heyman being on the WWE payroll, the Dudleys said that many guys already knew he was sucking on the McMahon teat even though Heyman was denying it. The Dudleys' overall thoughts of Heyman can be summarized like this: "Best creative mind ever. Business wise? The shits."
The Dudleys had two meetings before signing with WWE, the first with Jim Ross, Vince Russo, Ed Ferrara , and Vince McMahon. The second was with just Ross and McMahon. They knew going in they would be given a lesson thanks to how the Public Enemy acted when they were in WWE. During their first match with Bradshaw and Farooq, the Dudleys gave as much as they got. After the match, they shook hands and earned the respect of the locker room.
The Dudleys said their matches with the Hardy Boys were some of the best matches in the business as it was "the good looking babyfaces versus the disgusting bad guys. Booking 101." Bubba was asked about Matt Hardy writing in his book about Bubba being a great worker but not someone he would want to hang around with. Bubba said he wouldn't want to hang around a guy like Hardy either.
Sylvan Grenier - The Dudleys talked about working with La Resistance, who were "green as grass." After working with him for a while, it was clear that Sylvan Grenier was not learning anything. One night, the Dudleys roughed Grenier up to teach him a lesson. "Old school wrestling 101. It's happened a million times before." After the match, Grenier whined, "Why are you working stiff with me? Don't you know I'm green?" Bubba slapped the taste out of Grenier's mouth for that one. This got the Dudleys some heat with the WWE office and they had a meeting with Johnny Ace, director of talent relations. Bubba did another good impression of Ace as he talked about the Dudleys being told that's not how things were done in WWE. Bubba asked Ace, if they were in Japan, and it was the Dudleys versus Johnny Ace and Dr. Death Steve Williams in Korukan Hall, and the same exact situation went down, what would have happened? "Doc would have killed you," responded Ace.
"This was not shocking, this was bad booking."
Bubba talked about being asked by WWE creative to drop the tag team belts to Billy Kidman and Paul London as a way to shock the fans. Bubba didn't even know who London was. Bubba explained that, as singles wrestlers, both were doing Velocity and dark matches and that, as a tag team, they were "zero."
Bubba said that the Queens one shot, the night the Dudleys make their return to ECW , was his idea of a way to give back to the company. Bubba claimed they raised $60,000 for ECW that night at the Elk's Lodge. Bubba wanted that money to "help the boys who haven't been paid in so long." Unfortunately, the "boys never saw a dime of that money." Apparently after the match, there were complaints by the Dudleys' opponents. "The match was for the fans," Bubba said, "I'm supposed to sell for CW Anderson?! Who's gonna believe that?!" There was also a story told of Johnny Swinger, who was also involved in the match, calling Christian (yes, that Christian) before the match and telling Christian that Swinger had recently hurt his face bad and needed reconstruction. Swinger then asked Christian if he could approach the Dudleys and see if they could take it easy on him. Christian then passed the information on to Bubba.
Bubba's answer? "No."
The breaking up of the Dudleys tag team was thanks to "Vince 'Stupid Idea' McMahon," who broke them up "for no rhyme or reason." McMahon felt he had done all he could with them as a team and had faith they could get over by themselves. Vince wanted to know what their problem was and Bubba said that, when thinking like a fan, who'd want to see Hawk or Animal wrestle in singles? Well, that question can certainly be answered by Animal's last WWE run. Bubba was incredibly nervous in his three way match against Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle. "Singles wrestler? Against these machines?!" Bubba said that the mental aspect of working a singles match is totally different than working as a tag team.
D-Von talked about his reverend gimmick and claimed it was a joke on the Catholic church by WWE. D-Von discussed Deacon Dave (Batista) and explained that Dave didn't get over because he didn't know how to wrestle. I'm not 100% sure of that, as I don't think Batista has improved that much over the years, he was just given a gimmick 1000 times more believable. D-Von said that Batista couldn't wrestle because "no one taught him how in OVW." Later the Duds talking about going to OVW themselves, as they wanted "to help cultivate future opponents." Dear lord, the Kayfabulator 5000 just exploded. Bubba said that Heyman and Cornette were "night and day" when it came to wrestling philosophies. There wasn't nearly enough talk about OVW, as I remember shit hit the fan when Cornette went out of his mind after the Dudleys gave Jillian Hall a 3-D through a table one week before she needed to work a match in OVW. In WWE TV that's fine. In OVW world, a woman getting a 3-D through a table will put her out for months, if not a career ending move.
D-Von said that working with Stacy Keibler was cool, "but she had a big head." Bubba wasn't nearly as impressed as he thought Stacy was "the perfect example of what happens when you come up (in the business) the wrong way." The boys also talked about WWE writers Brian Gewirtz and David Lagana, the latter of which "sucks" and was "a fan first, writer second."
Both Bubba and D-Von loved being a part of One Night Stand as well as the second Hardcore Homecoming show at the ECW Arena, November Reign , as they got to say goodbye to the fans. Bubba said that Vince McMahon took his hands off One Night Stand "as much as he possibly could" and that the only thing WWE wouldn't give in to was letting Bubba shoot a promo on the mic. "You wanted authentic," said Bubba to McMahon. "That's too authentic," was the reply.
The Dudleys talked about their contract situation with WWE, and how at the last minute WWE pulled their contract offer back and added, "we have nothing in creative for you." This was right after being told of a six month booking plan WWE had for the Dudleys. Both Bubba and D-Von feel they know who stabbed them in the back and soured the deal, Johnny Ace. As for the Dudley name itself, WWE had no problem with the Dudleys using the name in being advertised for WrestleReunion 2 until about a week before the show. Then came the cease and desist letter. "Take the name and keep sending me my royalty checks." Bubba said that they had plenty of talks with Paul Heyman over the years and he always assured them they had ownership of the name. However, "when you peel back the layers of an onion, you find out what makes it stink." Bubba said Heyman was in the middle of that onion.
"Honesty in wrestling is an oxymoron. Like 'skinny Tommy Dreamer' or 'good worker' and 'Big Show'"
I was at WrestleReunion 2 and was able to sit in on the Q&A with Bubba and D-Von. You could tell there was some major animosity at that point between them and the company. One of the great parts of the Q&A is that, because they were taping the session, the fans were told not to use the Dudley name in any way, shape, or form. After this long spiel from the guy who would be interviewing the Dudleys telling us not to say "Dudleys," the guy then immediately asked "the Dudleys" a question, violating the rule he just spent ten minutes explaining. It was five star comedy.
TNA - The boys talked about how being in TNA reminds them of ECW. The locker room is great and they get along great with Jeff Jarrett. Their creative control in TNA is "not as much as ECW but boat loads more than WWE." If they could change anything in TNA it would be "to slow things down" but they realize it's tough as TNA only has 44 minutes of TV time and have to get a lot of stuff in.
Bubba felt that the biggest misconception about WWE is "that everyone gets a fair shot." Keep in mind that statement and what Bubba said about Paul London earlier. Bubba said that he was "hyper critical" of his own matches and told this surreal story about having an argument with Johnny Stamboli after a match because "it was good, but could have been great." I can sort of picture two guys like Bryan Danielson and Samoa Joe having a discussion like that after a match, but Bubba Dudley and Johnny Stamboli?!
The biggest piece of shit in the business? "Paul Heyman," who was also the guy who did the most for them. The Dudleys concluded by saying their only regret in wrestling so far was not flying to Connecticut and thanking McMahon for their time in WWE along with asking him, "Why?" The why referring to them being given the runaround right before being fired.
Overall Thoughts: This shoot definitely wound up in my top ten when all was said and done. Two discs and covers everything you could possibly want to know about the behind the scenes goings on at ECW and WWE, at least from the perspectives of the Dudleys. Like many, Bubba and Devon have a lot to say about Paul Heyman, with credit given for being a creative genius, but also laying the blame at his feet for a lot of their problems. Bubba does most of the talking during the shoot, but that's a good thing as he has a lot to say and often comes across much different than I expected him to. Highly recommended and a must have for any fan of the old ECW. If you would like to purchase Team 3D's shoot, Click HERE , or head on over to www.RFVideo.com and check out all the other tapes and DVDs they have to offer.
ROH: The Milestone Series
"Bodyslams" by Gary Michael Cappetta
Heroes of World Class DVD
Extremely Crazy Fans DVD
1 Night in China DVD (with screencaps and special guest reviews by TNA's Jeremy Borash, Dave Meltzer, Jim Ross, Bryan Alvarez, and more!)
THE TWF "MENTAL WELLNESS TEST!"
With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).