“Do you know who I am?
Bully Ray has been asking that rhetorical question to opponents and fans for years, but the truth is that we know all too well who Bully Ray is, or should I say, who the real Bully Ray is. He’s certainly not the affable, fan-friendly veteran he purported to be during his first year in Ring of Honor.
He is a man who nearly incited riots in the ECW Arena back in the day and once powerbombed a nearly 80-year-old Mae Young in WWE. And when his former colleagues talk about him, those who have anything positive to say about Bully Ray as a person are as scarce as victories are for the Cleveland Browns.
Bully Ray’s true colors were exposed -- again -- at Supercard of Honor on April 7, when his reprehensible actions tainted what otherwise was a great and historic night for ROH.
For those who missed it, after The Dawgs took out Cheeseburger’s tag team partner Eli Isom, Bully Ray, in his role as ROH enforcer, came to the ring to scold The Dawgs and inform Cheeseburger that he had no choice but to call off the match since he no longer had a partner.
Cheeseburger, who did not want to miss out on his opportunity to wrestle before the biggest crowd in ROH history, pleaded with Bully to tag with him. After some coaxing, Bully agreed. The lovable underdog and the revered veteran performed the Dudleys’ crowd-pleasing “Whassup” move, and then Bully directed Cheeseburger to “get the tables.”
What happened next shocked the crowd at UNO’s Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. Bully’s facial expression abruptly changed from a smile to a scowl as he snatched Cheeseburger by the throat and choke-slammed him.
“Who the hell do you think you are,” Bully snarled as he stood over Cheeseburger’s lifeless body. How dare you little pissant put me on the spot. You are what’s wrong with the wrestling business. … Your entire generation is selfish. You’re spoiled. You’re entitled. … Guys like you. Guys like Will Ospreay. Guys like Flip Gordon. … You’re all the same. You have destroyed the wrestling industry.”
At that point, appalled ROH COO Joe Koff came down to ringside to confront Bully, who proceeded to berate both Koff and the fans.
“This is the reason the wrestling business sucks,” Bully said to Koff. “Because you sign guys like this. You brought it down. And you made idiots like this think that it’s OK.”
Koff told Bully his behavior was unacceptable, to which Bully menacingly replied that Koff wasn’t going to do anything about it. That brought Gordon to ringside to intervene. Gordon hopped up on the apron and was about to enter the ring, but Bully picked up the limp Cheeseburger and threatened to piledrive him if Gordon took another step.
“If I piledrive him, not only will I break his neck,” Bully said, “but you know damn well the Louisiana State Athletic Commission will shut the rest of the show down. Get off the apron, young boy. I’m a veteran. You’re a nobody.”
Fearing for Cheeseburger’s safety, Gordon had no choice but to back off.
“Do you know who I am? I’m a WWE Hall of Famer,” Bully growled as he took his Hall of Fame ring from his pocket and placed it on his finger. Then he powerbombed the defenseless Cheeseburger and left the ring.
Bully Ray, as he has done numerous times throughout his illustrious 27-year career, once again made a fool out of anyone who thought he had changed his ways for the better. As a singles competitor and as one-half of The Dudley Boyz, Bully sometimes adhered to the rules and was a fan favorite, but, ultimately, he would revert back to his thuggish, morally bankrupt behavior.
Like a number of people -- including Koff -- I actually thought this time might be different. Ever since Bully came to ROH last year, he had been saying all the right things.
“I came to Ring of Honor because I genuinely want to,” he said when he made his debut at Manhattan Mayhem in March 2017. “When I retire, I want to be able to say that I fought for Ring of Honor.”
Bully was a great ambassador for the company, and Honor Nation embraced him, especially after he was brutally attacked by The Briscoes last September. A month after he and Tommy Dreamer lost to The Briscoes in a brutal New York City Street Fight at Final Battle in December, Bully announced his retirement, which prompted an outpouring of emotion and respect from the fans as well as the ROH talent.
At the end of his farewell speech, which fittingly took place in Philadelphia’s 2300 Arena, Bully said, “Do you know who I am? I’m Bully Ray, and it has been my honor.”
Looking back, one has to wonder if Bully Ray was being sincere at that moment or if he was just lulling all of us into a false sense of security. Just 24 hours before his heinous actions at Supercard of Honor, Bully delivered a heartfelt speech as he and longtime tag-team partner D-Von Dudley were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Koff believed so strongly in Bully that he appointed him ROH enforcer in February. Bully’s job was to right the wrongs in ROH -- and that’s what he did. However, while Bully’s decisions were popular, he was becoming more and more heavy-handed in executing them.
When Bully not only denied The Kingdom their rightful shot at the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles at Supercard of Honor but also banned them from the building, it became obvious to me that Bully’s ego was out of control. He wanted to put the spotlight on himself rather than the ROH talent. It was the very thing he vowed when he first came to ROH that he wouldn’t do.
Bully simply isn’t the type to retire with class and pass the torch to the next generation. He’s the epitome of a bitter veteran. But he’s also a very dangerous individual.
I attended the ROH international television taping this past weekend in Pittsburgh, and while I won’t give away any spoilers, I will say that Bully Ray picked up right where he left off at Supercard of Honor. Koff took some action in Pittsburgh regarding Bully’s behavior, but if ROH is to be rid of the cancer that is Bully Ray, someone on the roster -- preferably one of the young competitors who Bully has so much disdain for -- is going to have to step up and take matters into their own hands. That’s the only way to deal with a bully.
So, yes, Bully, we know who you are. To quote a former NFL head coach, you are who we thought you were.
Kevin Eck is a veteran pro wrestling journalist who has worked for The Baltimore Sun, WWE and WCW before joining ROHWrestling.com.