Having worked for WWE for several years as one half of the Dudley Boyz, Bully Ray has no shortage of memorable moments performing in Madison Square Garden. His favorite: In 2000, he and his partner D-Von pretended to join the faction of uptight bad guys known as “The Right To Censor,” only to turn on its members.
“I said to Stevie Richards, ‘If putting people through tables is wrong, then I don’t want to be right,’” said Bully Ray, who went on to powerbomb Richards off the top rope and through a table. “I remember security at the Garden pulling me and D-Von aside and saying that’s one of the loudest reactions that they had ever heard.”
This Saturday, Bully Ray, formerly known as “Bubba Ray Dudley,” returns to MSG. And while Bully said he expected he might one day wrestle again at the Garden, “it would not even have crossed my mind” that it would be for any other company than WWE.
Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling are joining forces to put on the G1 Supercard — the first non-WWE pro wrestling event ever held inside “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
“Madison Square Garden, when it comes to pro wrestling, is the house that the McMahons built,” said Bully Ray, referencing the family of WWE chairman Vince McMahon. “Once I left the WWE, I never thought I’d ever wrestle in the Garden again until I returned to the WWE. So when this all came together, I was pleasantly surprised.”
The event, which will see Bully Ray face New Japan’s Juice Robinson in a New York City streetfight, sold out within days of tickets going on sale. It’s expected to be a highlight of a huge wrestling weekend for the New York metropolitan region, which is hosting WrestleMania 35.
It’s also the culmination of the unlikely latest chapter of the career of Bully Ray, who grew up in Huntington and last year was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame over WrestleMania weekend. After making a name for himself as one of wrestling's most decorated brawlers, Bully Ray joined Ring of Honor — a company known for its athletic and technical wrestling style — in 2017.
“Every reason why people didn’t think this relationship would work out is exactly why it’s working out. Ring of Honor has always been what it is: a wrestling company for great pro wrestlers. It never had a great storyteller . . . I’m bringing something to Ring of Honor that nobody has brought here,” said Bully Ray, who expects Saturday's match may be his last ever in Madison Square Garden. “I know I’m going to sit there and take it in for a minute and smell the roses.”
Calling the action Saturday night for the G1 Supercard, which will air live on pay-per-view television and streamed on FITE TV, is another man with New York roots: ROH play-by-play announcer Ian Riccaboni.
The New York University graduate studied media and communications with the goal of one day providing the soundtrack for big-time wrestling matches. He’ll have family and friends on hand at the Garden when he fulfills that dream.
"This is such a huge night for Ring of Honor. I think every person in the locker room has this feeling of looking back at their journey," Riccaboni said. "It's kind of wild for me. I can't quite wrap my head around it. But I'm excited to be a part of it and make some history at Madison Square Garden."