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Devon, GET THE TABLE.
July 19, 2013 8:18 AM   Subscribe

A 45 minute interview with pro wrestler Bully Ray. Also known as Bubba Ray Dudley of the Dudley Boys.

From the early days of ECW, to the tag team wars with the Hardys and Edge and Christian, to his current run as the main heel in TNA, this one covers a lot.
posted by vrakatar (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Four guys can be a lot more entertaining than two"

I don't watch wrestling, what does this mean?
posted by stbalbach at 8:31 AM on July 19, 2013


Singles wrestling = two guys in the ring.
Tag team wrestling = four guys in the ring.
posted by frenetic at 8:32 AM on July 19, 2013


Tag team matches are typically two teams of two wrestlers, with only one from each team in the ring at a time -- the other one stands outside the ring, in a designated corner, until the person in the ring "tags out," physically touching his teammate to make the switch. Much of the drama is based on one of the wrestlers (the "babyface," or good guy) getting his ass kicked by the other two (the "heels," or bad guys) in tandem (cheating, of course, is a big part of this, with fake tags and double-team moves in the opponent's corner) and eventually making a dramatic dive across the ring to tag in his partner, who is "fresh" and can take out the other team in a flurry of violence. This was made famous by Ricky Morton of the Rock 'n' Roll Express in the '80s, to the point that the person getting his ass kicked is said to be "playing Ricky Morton."

This added dimension, plus the sheer ability of two guys to do totally different moves, is what Ray is talking about. He has an array of double-team moves, in particular the 3D (Dudley Death Drop), wherein his partner lifts the opponent into the air and Ray performs a move slamming the opponent to the mat, or a move where one person holds down an opponent to allow his partner to inflict more damage.

Tag team wrestling goes through up and down cycles -- sometimes, people like Ray (as part of the Dudley Boys) will ignite interest in it, but mostly (as the interviewer mentions), it's a place for a talented but less-popular wrestler to team up with a less talented (and also less-popular) wrestler to keep them both busy (and, the promoter hopes, to raise interest in one or both of them, as worked for Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart in the '90s). In this situation, the talented wrestler typically plays the "Ricky Morton" role, doing the "heavy lifting" of telling the story of the match and allowing the less-talented partner to look good for just a few minutes so as not to expose him as less talented.
posted by Etrigan at 8:45 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really don't like Rosenberg, but I may sit down and watch this later. Bully Ray has been one of the more oddly compelling wrestlers over the last 15 years.
posted by deezil at 8:52 AM on July 19, 2013


It seems like they keep going back and forth with the tag team division in WWE now. For the last year, you had arguably the most talented wrestler in the company teamining with a limited, yet very well respected wrestler in Daniel Bryan and Kane, but making it largely into a comedy routine.

Then, suddenly, the Shield comes in, and you have three man tag matches where they were mostly trying to find a third person to team with Bryan and Kane. Now, also, there's the Wyatt's, and they could easily go into a three man tag division (clearly apeing Chikara) but that, too, seems to be fading.

Meanwhile, they've just broken up one of the other effective teams, the Rhodes Scholars. Realistically (yeah, I know) they've got the makings of an excellent tag divison (Tons of Funk/Prime Time Players/Usos/Wyatts/Shield/Primo&Epico) and they could build it up, if they wanted, back to the heights of the Dudleys, Edge and Christian, the Hardys, and all, if only they could stick to it long enough.

Personally, I was always a fan of the con-chair-to.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:53 AM on July 19, 2013


they've got the makings of an excellent tag divison

I think if you look at the history of tag-team excellence, it has involved managers. I don't think WWE currently has any teams whose characters and chemistry rival the greats, but I also think it's a fatal flaw (to this recipe) that WWE has mostly eliminated managers. A heel team needs a manager to reach that next level of excellence, and a face team needs that mastermind to foil.
posted by cribcage at 9:01 AM on July 19, 2013


I think if you look at the history of tag-team excellence, it has involved managers. I don't think WWE currently has any teams whose characters and chemistry rival the greats, but I also think it's a fatal flaw (to this recipe) that WWE has mostly eliminated managers. A heel team needs a manager to reach that next level of excellence, and a face team needs that mastermind to foil.

I would argue that the solo division requires it as well, for the same reason -- when two people meet in the ring and one wins, then he's better, and you're done. When two people meet in the ring and one wins because his manager cheated, then you have a reason for another match. For instance, the greatest storyline in wrestling history was inarguably Stone Cold Steve Austin against Vince McMahon. I barely remember who Austin was taking on in the ring on a nightly basis throughout that angle (he cycled through Mankind, the Rock, the Undertaker, and seemingly dozens of others, as I recall), but his real opponent was always Mr. McMahon.

There have been great tag team managers, but the Dudleys and Edge and Christian were two of the great heel tag teams of all time, and their managers (when they bothered having any) were the smallest possible part of that.
posted by Etrigan at 9:10 AM on July 19, 2013


I really don't like Rosenberg, but I may sit down and watch this later.

I don't know anything about Rosenberg, but I encourage you to watch this (or, like I did, listen to it while doing other things -- there's only one or two important visual moments). He knows enough to steer the conversation, but he mostly gets out of the way and lets Ray tell his stories.
posted by Etrigan at 9:15 AM on July 19, 2013


I see WWE's constant start-stop treatment of their tag division as rooted in the Rockers break-up and success of The Heartbreak Kid, which displayed the simple corporate logic of economising energy and resources (i.e. why double your workload by pushing two guys when you can just push one and dump the other?). As such tag team division will never become more than a midcard holding pen, useful for allowing management to decide which member of a team is Shawn Michaels, and which one's going through the barber shop window. You could say Bully Ray and Devon have gone along same trajectory - they were one of the greatest teams of all time, but one performer will often go further than the other.

Personally I'm a huge fan of the art of tag wrestling and would love to see it embraced more in the US, but business at the top is against it, no matter how amazing a show it can offer. It doesn't help that WWE has a lot of very stupid (and for some reason, secret) rules that prohibit the dramatic sequences of near-falls that make Japanese and Mexican and US indie tag matches so hot.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 3:13 PM on July 19, 2013


That secret rules interview reminded me of Indies Wrestler so much, particularly when he said he liked Japan because the matches were longer and he could do more moves. I laughed!

I don't see the point of having tag matches if you have only five real seconds in the ring before you're disqualified.

Perhaps tomorrow we might find out what the deal is with Chikara and get some more tag team matches. I know I would enjoy more of Orbital Adventure Ant's rocking helmet.
posted by winna at 8:08 PM on July 19, 2013


a midcard holding pen

See, that's what I think is great about the tag teams. You've got guys who could never make it on their own (the Uso's, for example, and quite possibly the Prime Time Players), but as a team are able to be pretty entertaining.* There are also the teams like the late, great Rhodes Scholars, who put two wrestlers together who, at the time, weren't catching on, and gave them a storyline, and after the MITB match, seems to have worked perfectly. In an all-heel ladder match, Rhodes put on a great match, owned the crowd, and pulled off a pretty fantastic face-turn, which could only be completed by the way Sandow won the match. Now, both wrestlers have a lot more going for them, but they did a pretty solid job of being a tag team.

Tag teams don't, I think, have to be permanent fixtures, but if two characters are put together for a reason (Rhodes Scholars being best friends, Team Hell No being thrown together into therapy) that makes even a tiny bit of sense, you can have an organic storyline that elevates both members. When the storyline comes to a logical conclusion, they go their separate ways, but it allows for a solid nine months to a year grouping that could bump the tag division up.

Sadly, the yo-yoing up and down isn't helping.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:37 PM on July 19, 2013


See, that's what I think is great about the tag teams. You've got guys who could never make it on their own...but as a team are able to be pretty entertaining.

I definitely agree, although I think this scratches the surface. The Road Warriors would never have been greats as individuals, but together they were...well, great. Then you have teams like the Rockers or the Steiner Brothers, where as Kandarp Von Bontee notes, one performer had the ability to excel as an individual but he needed that time in the tag division to develop. I wonder if some of WWE's current midcarders could be exponentially better if they'd spent a few years in a real tag-team setting.

And then you have, as you say, talented guys who need a boost, getting paired as a tag team. Rhodes Scholars is a good example, as is Daniel Bryan and Kane. My example would be the Natural Disasters. I liked Earthquake and Tugboat as individual performers, but together? They were absolute and pure fun, both as heels and faces.

But I guess lamenting some of these team dynamics is like lamenting jobbers. I miss them, I think it was a mistake to nix 'em, but those days are never coming back.
posted by cribcage at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2013


But I guess lamenting some of these team dynamics is like lamenting jobbers. I miss them, I think it was a mistake to nix 'em, but those days are never coming back.

Iron Mike Sharpe: greatest human being of the 20th Century, or greatest human being of all time?
posted by Etrigan at 3:02 PM on July 20, 2013


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