In a weekend already in peril after Ryne Sandberg leaves the Chicago Cubs organization in baseball, another event is happening tonight that will make fans of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling fans sad. If you have followed this tag team since their debut in ECW in 1996, you may have the slightest idea who I’m referring to: The Dudley Boyz, currently known on TNA as Team 3D.
Their three-year stint in ECW would have its victories and perils. Bubba Ray & Reverend D-Von originally fought against each other until they joined together (at times with Little Spike Dudley) on February 1, 1997. Then their reign of terror began winning their first-ever tag team gold against The Eliminators (John Kronus and Perry Saturn) at Hostile City Showdown on March 15, 1997. This culminated into a rivalry and championship reign until they would lose the titles at their first-ever pay-per-view event Barely Legal on April 13. Somewhere during that timeframe, Saturn would become injured and the Dudley would regain the title by defeating Kronus in a handicap match for the title on June 20.
Not even eight days after they retained the gold, The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa Saed) would make a challenge and couldn’t quite come to par for the win, culminating yet another title retention and a new rivalry at Orgy of Violence. At Heat Wave on July 19, the Dudleys would lose the titles only to win their third title less than a month later at Hardcore Heaven. Eventually, Saturn and Mustafa would part ways with the organization and the two former tag teams would combine to become The Gangstanators.
The Gangstanators got their shot for the title at As Good As It Gets on September 20 and stripped the Dudleys of the title, but even their championship reign was cut short when they lost the tag title to The F.B.I. (Tracy Smothers and Little Guido). At November To Remember, the reigning champs were in a fatal four way tag team match for the title with the Dudleys, the Gangstanators and The Hardcore Chair Swingin’ Freaks (Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten). Both the Dudleys and Gangstanators fell short while The F.B.I. retained the titles.
In the summer of 1998, Bubba Ray & D-Von began a rivalry with Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman. They were delivered their share of losses at Wrestlepaloosa in a non-title tag team match and again with Spike on their side in a 3-on-2 handicap Street Fight at Heat Wave, which would end the rivalry. They returned to working on their run to win their next tag title. They would defeat Sabu and Rob Van Dam on October 24 to win their fourth tag title, only to lose it at November To Remember to Masato Tanaka and Balls Mahoney.
1999 would deliver the Dudleys fifth tag title win and loss, The Sandman’s departure from the organization and Sabu’s ban from performing in the United States, leaving RVD defenseless and would lose the title for the Dudleys sixth tag title. Not only were the Dudleys dealing with The Impact Players (Justin Credible and Lance Storm), but Spike would backstab the duo by teaming up with Balls Mahoney, which this new team would defeat them for the title at Heat Wave. It would also be the first time ever in a PPV that a wrestler has even been put through a flaming table.
Before making a consideration to jump to then-World Wrestling Federation, the duo would win their seventh title at a house show, only to lose them the following night. On ECW On TNN, the Dudleys won their record eighth world tag title from Spike and Mahoney. With the Dudleys wanting to jump to WWF with the titles, Dreamer and Raven won the titles, sending the duo to WWF title-less.
With the Dudleys in WWF, they asked for a $1 raise to return to ECW, but then-owner Paul Heyman denied the request because he was wanting to work with Vince McMahon on supplying talent. In their six-year stint in the organization, which would eventually become World Wrestling Entertainment, they would garner 10 tag team titles and three singles titles as the Dudley Boyz/Dudley Boys. Bubba Ray was a 11-time Hardcore Champion, while Spike Dudley was a one-time Cruiserweight and European Champion.
In late 2005, the Dudleys would join Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, a wrestling organization originally run by former WCW and WWF wrestler Jeff Jarrett, as Team 3D. Up until now, they have won four tag team titles and are known in TNA as the 24-time world tag team champions. The tag team also garnered a tag team of the year award in 2005.
It all leads up to tonight at the Turning Point PPV, when Team 3D have their retirement match and one final hurrah to possibly become the 25-time world tag team champions by facing the Motor City Machine Guns for the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Either way, the long-standing winningest tag team of all time will say their farewells and thank you’s for the very last time before going their own ways.
I was only ten years old when they first started their careers and almost 14 years later, they’re bidding their farewells tonight, win or lose. So here’s to a great career and the best to you in your future endeavors! I will miss D-Von yelling “Testify!” for quite some time to come!