There are few wrestlers in the history of the sport who exemplify hardcore better than TNA Superstar Bully Ray, and even at 42 years old, the former world champion is proving he is still one of the best.
Bully Ray is currently one of the top stars in TNA Wrestling, and he will be featured in a Grudge Match against Ethan Carter III during the annual Slammiversary pay-per-view on Sunday, June 15.
After a storied career in ECW and WWE, Bully Ray has carved out a spot for himself at the top of the card as a singles competitor. While many questioned his transition from tag team wrestling to the world title hunt, his unparalleled success since the move has been a pleasure to watch.
His microphone skills and ability to tell a story in the ring make Bully Ray one of the most valuable assets on Impact Wrestling each Thursday night, and he should be back in the world championship scene sooner rather than later.
Featured columnists Donald Wood, Mike Chiari and Brandon Galvin sat down for an exclusive interview with Bully Ray and talked about TNA’s Slammiversary, Hulk Hogan, wrestling in the Northeast, House of Hardcore, the WWE, Vince McMahon, the Von Erich family, the 2014 World Cup and so much more.
Here is the interview with TNA superstar Bully Ray.
Donald Wood: TNA is having one of its biggest shows of the year with Slammiversary on Sunday, June 15, from Dallas, Texas. You are scheduled to take on Ethan Carter III in a Grudge Match. As one of the kings of hardcore, how are you approaching this matchup physically and mentally?
Bully Ray: Here’s the deal, these types of matches I can do with my eyes closed. I’ve been having hardcore matches, table matches, any type of violent matches for a long, long time. I think this is Ethan Carter’s first match like this if I’m correct. Ethan Carter is stepping into a style of match which he is unfamiliar with and he is stepping in the ring with a guy who’s basically the top two or three of this style of match, period. Ethan Carter has very smooth, pretty skin, and when you chop it a certain way, it splits right open, and that’s what I’m going to do to him. I’m going to split his skin open. I’m going to chop him until he bleeds and hopefully bleeds to death. I’m definitely excited about the match. Slammiversary is a huge event for TNA. The Texas crowds have always been great for us, and to be able to get my hands on a Carter and spill their blood in Dallas, Texas, is going to be great for this kid from Hell’s Kitchen.
Mike Chiari: During your time in TNA you’ve feuded with a lot of authority figures including Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter. As a performer, what do you like about feuding with someone in a non-wrestling capacity and what are some of the challenges it presents?
Bully Ray: A story is a story and she is a performer, she is someone on our television show and I don’t care who I’m standing across the ring from. If they’re in the ring with me, I’m going to make sure that it’s the best possible performance. I’m going to make sure they up their game, and I’m going to make sure, first and foremost, that the people get what they paid to see and when it comes to Dixie Carter. The one thing that every TNA fan, every WWE fan, every ROH fan, every House of Hardcore fan, every wrestling fan around the world wants to see is that lady getting powerbombed through a table.
Brandon Galvin: TNA is heading to the road for stops in both Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and New York City at The Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center. As a wrestler who spent plenty of time in both cities with ECW, WWE and TNA, what does it mean performing in these venues at this point in your career?
Bully Ray: For me, it’s always great. I love performing in the Northeast. Not because I’m from the Northeast, because I know what kind of atmosphere and what kind of fans there are in the Northeast. They’re so passionate and they’re so into the product. This is going to be the first time, I believe, that we will be taping in Pennsylvania and the first time we’ll be taping in New York City, and I think this is a great opportunity for TNA to take the wrestling world by the balls and show everybody what we’re really about. Entirely too many people sit back and knock TNA and don’t give it enough credit and those are the people, I believe, who look at the product with jaded glasses, or whatever the term is, and just bash, bash, bash. TNA is a really good company. Is every single storyline good? No. Is every single wrestler good? No. Is every single baseball player good? No. Is every single football player? No. You get a mix, and I think the wrestlers are going to feed off of the Pennsylvania crowd. I think they’re going to feed off of the New York City crowds, and I think they’re going to be some of the most top-notch performances you’ve ever seen.
Donald Wood: There was a lot of controversy surrounding your removal from the House of Hardcore card. You and Tommy Dreamer have been very outspoken on the way this situation was handled. Do you think fans should be expecting to see Dreamer involved in the TNA product as the company heads to the Northeast?
Bully Ray: If Tommy wanted to get involved, I would be more than happy to step to the side for just a moment so he could get his two cents in because you guys all sit back and say ‘oh, this is part of a wrestling story’. Guys, let me make you understand something; she pulled a scumbag move, more of a scumbag move than you people really know. I was booked in the main event two nights before my best friend’s up-and-coming promotion's show and then at the very last second got me pulled off. She pulled me off in a way where she could justify it and contractually, I could not sue her because she pulled me off for another TNA Spike event. She f----d me over, she f----d Tommy over, most of all she f----d the fans over. It’s a big deal. You hear the term ‘this person crossed the line’, well Dixie Carter really crossed the line with this move and made it a lot more personal than a lot of people realize.
Mike Chiari: You recently did an interview for Roddy Piper’s podcast Piper’s Pit and you mentioned on Chris Jericho’s podcast that you’ve been a wrestling fan since you were a kid. As a young wrestling fan, was Piper one of the guys you found yourself looking up to? And what was it like for you to get to sit down and talk with him?
Bully Ray: When I got the offer to sit down and talk to Roddy, I was genuinely excited because I don’t know Roddy and that’s why I wanted to talk to him so much. Me and Jericho can sit down and it’s so easy because we’re such good friends and we can trade stories, but me and Roddy don’t know each other, so it’s kind of a feeling out period, you know? I had never gotten the opportunity to go back and forth on the microphone with Roddy Piper, so I jumped at the opportunity and it was awesome and we had so much in common. I think he respected the fact that I knew so much of the old school history of the business, something that guys that come from his day don’t expect guys like me to know, but I pride myself on being the last of the old school mentality. So, sitting down with Roddy was great, and we could’ve talked for hours.
Brandon Galvin: You've been in the business for more than 20 years and continue to find ways to re-invent your in-ring work and character. Where do you draw your inspiration from and is there something you've wanted to add to your character that you haven't had the opportunity to do so yet?
Bully Ray: The inspiration for me of always trying something new comes from the rock n’ roll world, watching bands like Kiss and Motley Crue. They go out there every year and they’re playing the same songs, but they always find a different way to present it to you. A different stage set, a different feel, and that’s what I try to go out there and do. I try to take the rock n’ roll approach to things. Whether I’m out there and people love me or people hate me, I try to go above and beyond. If people love me, I want them to name their first born child after me. If people hate me, I want them to slash my tires and despise me to a whole new level. I’m always thinking of new ways to do things, and I’ll always be passionate about the business, and I’ll always be passionate about taking the fans on a roller coaster ride, so that’s what keeps me going.
Donald Wood: One of the coolest additions to the Slammiversary card is the involvement of the Von Erich family. With the pay-per-view taking place in the heart of Von Erich country, are you excited for this monumental occasion?
Bully Ray: I’m just excited to meet Kevin Von Erich because he is somebody that I’ve never met before, and with the Von Erich name in the history of professional wrestling, it’s going to be a cool moment for me to shake his hand and tell him I appreciate what he and his family have done for the industry. I’m definitely looking forward to meeting him.
Mike Chiari: I know that you’re a big soccer fan, so with the World Cup getting started in Brazil, I was wondering who you see winning it all and lifting that World Cup trophy.
Bully Ray: I will always be pulling for my home country of Italy. I’m really hoping they can repeat what they did two World Cups ago. There’s so many strong teams. With the World Cup being in Brazil and them being probably the No. 1 or No. 2 powerhouse in the world right now, but Argentina is also going to be very tough because Argentina is in South America. It’s always great when all these teams get together and put the absolute best on the field. I love the World Cup. I’m a huge soccer fan. Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Spain, all these powerhouses coming together is going to be awesome.
Brandon Galvin: You and Devon are the masters of the table. Who have you enjoyed putting through a table most during your career?
Bully Ray: The one person that we almost put through a table that would’ve been absolutely great was Vince McMahon. We had him jacked up, and ready to go, but I believe Road Dogg and X-Pac stopped us from doing that. As far as enjoying one person over another, a lot of people enjoyed the Mae Young table bump the most. I put Joe C from Kid Rock through a table. I’ve enjoyed everything, so everything sticks out in my mind, but I think putting Vince McMahon through a table would’ve been special. I am really looking forward to jacking Dixie Carter up and putting her hard, hard, hard through the middle of that table.
As one of the top faces in the company, Bully Ray has proven he can be the ambassador that TNA needs if it wants to continue evolving as a brand. Add in his ability to switch on a dime if needed and be the top heel on television, and the company has a valuable asset.
Slammiversary is one of TNA’s biggest shows each year, and the fact that Bully Ray has not only been placed in a top match against ECIII, but also asked to carry much of the top storyline on the mic, and it is clear that the company understands his value.
While many fans want Bully Ray to take the victory on Sunday, he is one of the smartest men in the business today and understands what it takes to build new stars.
Bully Ray will likely take the loss on Sunday in a cheap way to give ECIII the credibility moving forward, but he will inevitably get to put Dixie Carter’s nephew through a table. Add in some possible interaction with Dixie herself, and wrestling fans are focused on this match.
Don’t forget to check out TNA Slammiversary this Sunday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET on PPV.
*All quotes obtained first-hand.
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