The reincarnation of Bully Ray has begun in Ring of Honor, though his return was originally slated for WWE.
“We came one day away in August from debuting Bully Ray in WWE,” said Bully, who starred for the majority of his career as Bubba Dudley before enjoying a run as world champion in TNA as Bully Ray. “At the last second, the decision was made to not go forward with it. Bully Ray was ready to go, but that’s all I can tell you. We were one day away, and they had to pull the plug on it.”
WWE’s loss is Ring of Honor’s gain.
Bully Ray made a surprise appearance—and a statement—at last ROH’s Manhattan Mayhem last Saturday by choke-slamming world champ Adam Cole straight through a table. Bully—known outside the ring as Mark LoMonaco—is set to make his in-ring debut tonight at the ROH 15th Anniversary pay per view as he teams with Mark and Jay Briscoe against War Machine and Davey Boy Smith Jr.
“There is a really great reason why I am in Ring of Honor,” said Bully. “It’s because I want to be.”
Impact Wrestling, which was formerly known as TNA, also made an eleventh hour push last week to sign Bully Ray, but he ultimately came to terms with ROH.
“At the last minute, TNA came in hard and heavy and made me a significant offer,” said Bully. “But the way I look at it is this: If I can’t go back some place and top what I did before, then it’s kind of pointless. I’m not blowing smoke up my own ass here, Bully Ray was the top heel in TNA. I generated ratings—me and Jeff Hardy drew TNA’s biggest house of all time at Lockdown, and I had my run with Hulk and with Sting. If you take a look at the landscape of TNA and their locker room, I don’t have anybody to top what I did before.”
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Instead of returning to Impact Wrestling, Bully stated that his heart is set on wrestling for Ring of Honor.
“For the past fifteen years, Ring of Honor has been a company that has really reminded me of ECW,” said Bully. “It’s the passion from their wrestlers and the passion of their wrestling fans. Ring of Honor has the best wrestlers in the world in their company, but what they could use help with is a storyteller, a veteran who has been everywhere and can help those younger guys raise their game and take them to the next level. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing with Ring of Honor.”
The Hardys also made a surprise appearance for ROH this past weekend, as they won the world tag team titles from the Young Bucks. Despite the fact that the Dudley-Hardy feud has endured for nearly two decades, Bully Ray admitted that, no, he has not tired of beating up Matt and Jeff Hardy.
“Since the time the Dudleys and the Hardys touched at the Royal Rumble at Madison Square Garden in 2000 at the first-ever ‘Tag Team Tables’ match, we have all remained extremely relevant for wrestling fans for all over the world. So no, beating up the Hardys never gets old.”
While the Hardys’ contract status with ROH is in unknown, Bully Ray is reportedly signed for a six-month deal.
“Ring of Honor is a bunch of fresh guys,” said Bully. “Fresh personalities, fresh stories. The possibilities are endless for Ring of Honor for me and the company. Bully Ray versus Adam Cole for the championship? That sounds cool. Bully Ray and the Briscoes teaming up for the six-man championships? Bully Ray versus Jay Lethal? What if we thought outside of the box and you had me and Tommy Dreamer wrestle the Young Bucks, and then have a crossover match in House of Hardcore? There are so many possibilities. I look forward to working with all of those guys and helping them raise their game. That has nothing to do with me putting myself over, it’s about working up to a different level. That’s when fans get a better product.”
Bully Ray does not look like the prototypical Ring of Honor champion, which has traditionally been a wrestler in the mold of Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, or Austin Aries. Yet he is not intimidated by the ROH wrestling style nor does he feel he has to prove himself.
“I don’t have to prove anybody wrong about anything,” said Bully, who at 45 has spent 23 years in wrestling. “I’ve been doing this for a very, very long time. When I started in ECW, me and Devon were a part of a bunch of goofy guys in a goofy family that wore tie dye and glasses without lenses, and we went onto become the most decorated tag team of all time. I’ve proven everybody wrong already. All I’ve been doing my whole career is proving people wrong, I helped steal the show at WrestleMania twice. I proved everybody wrong again when people thought I couldn’t pull away from my tag team and become a successful singles guy. What more do I have to do?
“I’m going into ROH with such an open mind. I’m going to wrestle Bully Ray style, I’m going to be the Bully Ray that I’ve been since I invented the character, and that will complement the different styles of the Ring of Honor guys. Styles make a fight, and everybody in Ring of Honor basically has the same style of wrestling. Wouldn’t it be interesting if a different style came in? I’m promo-driven on the mic, and that leads to a big match.”
Bully, who just joined SiriusXM’s Busted Open radio show as a co-host, is also still extremely active training the next generation of wrestling greats at Team 3D Academy. While he has no current plans to start his own faction, similar to the Aces and Eights that he led in TNA, to combat the Bullet Club in Ring of Honor, he does have an objective in mind for his time in ROH.
“I’m hoping to do for Ring of Honor what Terry Funk in 1995 for ECW,” said Bully. “By no means am I saying I am as great as Terry Funk, but Funk helped ECW take the next step. Hopefully, Bully Ray can do the same for Ring of Honor.”
Bully was kind enough to offer advice for Cody Rhodes, Jay Lethal, Bobby Fish, Dalton Castle, Matt Taven, Adam Cole, and the rest of the Ring of Honor roster who were anxiously awaiting his arrival.
“When you get in the ring with me, be ready to up your game,” said Bully. “If you want to go with me, be ready to up your game of physicality.”