HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
OWW’Wrestlers of the Week: Team 3D
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, profiles the most successful tag team in recent history. Team 3D chose to align themselves with the Frontline in the Respect Wars in TNA.
Brother Ray and Brother Devon have been a solid unit for 12 years. They have absolutely dominated every organization that they have competed in. They are 20 time World tag champions. They have been mentioned in the same breath as The Road Warriors, Rock and Roll Express, the Koloffs and many other legendary teams. On a recent episode of TNA Impact, they swerved the Main Event Mafia and joined the Frontline assembly. For having the courage to stand up to the Mafia, as well as their years of dominance, Brother Ray and Brother Devon are this week’s OWW Wrestler(s) of the Week.
Mark LoMonaco and Devon Hughes both applied to be trained by WWE Hall of Famer, Johnny Rodz. Rodz had formed an alliance with promoter, Paul Heyman. Paul was looking to expand his fledgling ECW organization. Mark and Devon were brought into the group as part of the stable of half brothers known as the Dudleys. The story was that “Big Daddy” Dudley had seduced women of all races, all across the country. Mark was renamed Buh Buh Ray (later spelled Bubba Ray). Devon maintained his given first name, only adjusted to the spelling D-Von. They were joined by Matt Hyson, who portrayed their youngest brother, Spike Dudley. Buh Buh and Spike were paired together, initially. Buh Buh and D-Von actually feuded at first. The Dudley family members were always battling each other. Heyman noticed that the two seemed to “click” in the ring together when fighting each other. His logic was that if they were that good as opponents, they would be outstanding as a tandem.
Buh Buh and D-Von debuted as a team on February 1, 1995. They were an instant hit, albeit a hated hit. They took on their own family members and just about everyone in sight. They wanted the tag belts but The Eliminators (John Kronus & Perry Saturn) had a death grip on the titles. The Dudley Boyz, as they had come to be known, finally took the titles from the Eliminators on March 15, 1997. The Dudleys would win the tag titles on eight different occasions. Their run with ECW would come to an end, over $1.
The Big D-D-Dance
In 1999, Buh Buh and D-Von reached the end of their first contract with ECW. As a show of good faith, the two men asked for a $1 raise. Paul Heyman refused. The Dudleys dropped their ECW tag belts to Tommy Dreamer and Sandman and headed to the WWE.
When they first arrived in the WWE, Bubba Ray and D-Von were still sporting their thick, taped-up glasses and tie-dyed wardrobe. Creative decided to take the Dudleys in a new direction. The glasses were tossed aside and the tie-dye was replaced with camouflage. Bubba’s trademark stutter was also eliminated. The two became brutal battlers who introduced the hardcore style to the WWE. They utilized chairs, ladder, tables and just about anything not nailed down to torture their opponents.
In addition to putting several people through tables (including Mae Young and Terri Runnels), the Dudley Boys began to focus their attention on the tag titles. They were involved in one of the greatest tag team wars of all time. The Dudleys, The Hardyz, and Edge & Christian traded the tag belts back and forth, numerous times. During this time, the Dudleys were pushed as a face team. They were soon joined by little brother, Spike. The trio were involved in numerous Tables, Ladder & Chairs (TLC) matches against their main rivals. The Dudleys face run would come to a halt when their fellow ECW stars showed up in the WWE.
In 2001, Vince McMahon bought the bankrupt ECW from Paul Heyman. Many of the original ECW stars were brought into the WWE as part of an Invasion storyline. They were joined by many ex-WCW stars, as well. The group was led by Shane McMahon and Paul Heyman. The Dudleys were the Muscle of the group. They were also given a manageress, Stacy Keibler. During this angle, the Dudleys won the still-active WCW tag belts. In doing that, they became the first, and only, team to win the WCW, WWE and ECW tag belts as a unit. As the storyline was being wrapped up, the Dudleys beat the Hardyz to unify the WWE and WCW tag belts.
Breaking up the Band
In the Spring of 2002, the World Wrestling Federation changed their name to World Wrestling Entertainment. The change was a legal solution to a battle with the World Wildlife Fund. In addition to the name change, the rosters were split into two teams. Raw and Smackdown each crowned their own champion and tag champion. Soon after Wrestlemania X-8, the talent was drafted to one show or the other. D-Von was sent to Smackdown, while Bubba Ray stayed on Raw.
D-Von had a character change, becoming ‘Reverend D-Von”. The character was loosely based on his own father, an ordained minister. D-Von also helped to launch the career of Batista. Batista was brought in as Deacon Batista, a powerhouse bodyguard for the Preacher. The two brothers were brought back together, albeit on opposite sides, at the 2002 edition of Judgment Day. D-Von was in Stacy Keibler‘s corner and Bubba Ray stood aside Trish Stratus as the two divas battled for the Women’s title. The over-whelming response that the Dudleys received forced Creative to re-think their decision to split up the Dudleys.
Getting the band back together
The duo was reunited officially when D-Von was drafted to Raw as part of a package deal. The Dudleys worked on Raw for 2 years, chasing the tag belts. They also united with Raw GM, Eric Bischoff. They were again used as Muscle against enemies of the powers-that-be.
Eventually, Bubba Ray and D-Von were sent to Smackdown. They feuded with the Undertaker. They also interjected themselves into many of Spike Dudley’s matches. They helped their little brother win many of his matches. Their assistance came to an end when Spike was released due to budget cuts. In addition to the cuts, many contracts were not renewed…including the Dudley Boys.
A Forced Name Change
When the Dudleys ended their WWE career, they planned to remain Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley. Vince McMahon sent his lawyers to force the Dudleys to cease and desist in their use of the Dudley name. Vince’s side argued that they owned the trademarked names: Dudley, Bubba Ray and D-Von. Bubba Ray argued that the duo had started using the names well before becoming members of the WWE roster. Vince countered that when he acquired the ECW property, he also gained possession of all trademarked names within the unit. Bubba Ray and D-Von had no legal legs to stand on, so they were forced to abandon the names that made them superstars.
While working in the US indies and in Japan, the duo began to call themselves Team 3D. The 3D name came from their finisher, the Dudley/Deadly Death Drop. As for their individual identities, Devon stood his ground that Vince McMahon might own the “D-Von” name but his birth name, Devon, was not trademarked. Bubba Ray simply replaced Bubba with Brother. Since many small children call their older brothers Bubba due to developing speech patterns, it was as if he were still Brother/Bubba Ray. It was a trick to get around the legal restraints. Team 3D worked numerous smaller federations while waiting for their next big break. That break would happen in September, 2005.
T(eam 3D’s) N(ew) A(ssaults)
On September 21,2005, Team 3D was announced as the newest acquisition for TNA. The duo signed a multi-year contract with the upstart promotion. They immediately clashed with Planet Jarrett and Team Canada. Team 3D turned to 3LiveKru (Konnan, B.G. James and Ron “R-Truth” Killings) for assistance. The feud with Planet Jarrett narrowed to Team 3D v America’s Most Wanted. Planet Jarrett, Team Canada and Father James Mitchell actually threw a Funeral for Team 3D after a vicious beatdown. The skit reached a new low when James Storm pretended to relieve himself on the casket. Team 3D came very close to winning the then-NWA World Tag Titles, but AMW kept getting themselves disqualified to avoid losing the straps.
After their feud with AMW, Ray and Devon were joined by their little brother Spike, now renamed Brother Runt. The two older brothers would often help their little brother in his matches against substantially larger opponents (such as Abyss). Ray and Devon also feuded with Team Canada, The Naturals, LAX, and others. Runt began to use an alcoholic gimmick where he would show up in an altered state. He caused Team 3D to lose their bid for the NWA World tag titles. Runt soon disappeared and Ray and Devon re-focused on the tag titles.
Team 3D finally defeated LAX for the NWA tag titles in an Electrified Steel Cage Match. Team 3D never lost the NWA titles. On May 13, 2007, the NWA severed its ties with TNA. Team 3D was then announced as the first official TNA World Tag Team champions. Team 3D defended their championship until the Champions v Champions battle at Victory Road. They were defeated by Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle. Rick and Scott Steiner got involved in the match and cost Team 3D the straps. The two legendary teams were then scheduled to battle in one of the most anticipated tag matches in recent wrestling history. The Steiners won the 2-out-of-3 Tables Match.
Team 3D then moved on to face the Motor City Machine Guns. That led to a war with the X-Division. Johnny Devine stepped into the Brother Runt role for this war. Team 3D wanted to erase the X-Division from TNA. That led to a bizarre battle where if Team 3D won, the X-Division would disappear. If they lost, Team 3D would have to keep their weight at a certain level or they couldn’t wrestle. Team 3D lost and TNA ran several weeks worth of comedy skits where the two large men kept battling the bulge.
Running with the Bad Dogs
Team 3D had been a face team since their arrival in TNA. As time moved forward, Ray and Devon began to switch over to the Dark Side. They began to run with various heel factions, including Kurt Angle, Christian Cage and more. The team was used more as enforcers for the lead heel, rather than contenders for the tag titles. During the rest of 2007 and most of 2008, Ray and Devon made life miserable for all the face units. They battled various versions of the Prince Justice Brotherhood and the Motor City Machine Guns. They steered clear of championship gold contention until the fall of 2008.
When the Main Event Mafia began to emerge as a force in TNA. Ray and Devon felt that Beer Money (Robert Roode and James Storm) were showing disrespect to Team 3D. Ray and Devon began to get involved in the matches of the tag champs. The Main Event Mafia approached Ray and Devon to see if they were interested in joining the Champs Only faction. Since most people saw Roode and Storm as TNA Originals, it was assumed that Beer Money would join the Frontline and Team 3D would side with the Mafia. It appears now that the exact opposite may occur.
On the Thanksgiving night edition of Impact, Ray and Devon came to the ring dressed in custom suits. They seemed to be joining the Mafia. Ray cut a heart-wrenching promo about being in the ECW equivalent of the Frontline. He accepted the respect ideas presented by the Mafia. Ray and Devon simply didn’t feel that the Mafia was the organization that they wanted to be associated with. Ray and Devon turned on the Mafia and helped Rhino, A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe destroy the Mafia. Were it not for the save by Scott Steiner, Ray and Devon would have 3D’d Kurt Angle through a table.
Will Team 3D’s alliance with the Frontline turn out to be a cleverly devised trick? That’s always a possibility. Will Team 3D win their 21st tag team title in the near future. I would bet the farm that Ray and Devon will hold gold again. 2009 should be a stellar year for the former Dudley Boys. Ray and Devon didn’t take the easy route in TNA. They could have easily slid into the Mafia. Their championship scorecard would make them more than qualified to step into the elite group. By standing up and walking away from the Main Event Mafia, Brother Ray and Brother Devon have shown why they are the best tag team in the history of wrestling. I understand that Brother Ray isn’t the biggest fan of internet writers, like myself. I hope he will see this and know that both he and his brother are highly respected. They will go down in history, in my humble opinion, as the most successful tag team in wrestling history. This week, they are the OWW Wrestler(s) of the Week.