Friday, February 23

Why The Dudley Boyz Left WWE In 2016, Explained

Highlights

  • The Dudley Boyz returned to WWE in 2015 and immediately made an impact by attacking The New Day, but were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to win the WWE Tag Team Titles.
  • The Dudley Boyz left WWE in 2016 due to creative differences, feeling burnt out on their Dudley Boyz characters and wanting to explore other opportunities like Bully Ray.
  • The Dudley Boyz made one-off appearances for WWE after leaving and were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018. They also had a reunion match at Impact 1000 under the name Team 3D.


When discussing the greatest tag teams in professional wrestling history, it is impossible to have that conversation without mentioning the Dudley Boyz. Consisting of Bubba Ray Dudley (known as Bully Ray in TNA) and D-Von Dudley, the duo have done it all in tag team wrestling. They are highly decorated and have held tag team gold in WWE, ECW, WCW, TNA, and NJPW. They had initially left WWE in 2005 and went on to have a highly successful run in TNA. However, on the RAW after SummerSlam 2015, they made their return, but after only a year, they once again left the company.

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Some of wrestling’s biggest tag teams today would have amazing matches with the legendary Dudley Boyz, while others likely wouldn’t.

The Dudley Boyz Returned To WWE In 2015

Attacked The New Day On Raw

The Dudley Boyz returned to WWE and immediately made an impact. They attacked The New Day, who were the reigning WWE Tag Team Champions at the time. Bubba Ray and D-Von pulled out all of their classic moves, including putting Xavier Woods through a table with a 3D. This set up a series of matches for the titles at Night of Champions, live from Madison Square Garden, and Hell in a Cell 2015. However, The Dudley Boyz were unsuccessful in all of their efforts to win the WWE Tag Team Titles. From there, Bubba Ray and D-Von later entered a feud with The Wyatt Family and teamed with fellow ECW Originals Tommy Dreamer and Rhyno to face them. However, they lost this rivalry as well.

The Dudley Boyz eventually turned heel and feuded with The Usos. They had even abandoned their use of tables, something they were known for throughout their career. At WrestleMania 32, Bubba Ray and D-Von lost to The Usos during the kickoff show. For the rest of their time in WWE, they were involved in low profile feuds until their departure. On their final night in the company, following a face turn, they were attacked by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.

The Dudley Boyz Left WWE In 2016

Had Creative Differences With WWE

bully-ray-return-impact

After a few appearances on the independent circuit, The Dudley Boyz did not team with each other again for years. Bubba Ray reverted to his Bully Ray character and went on to compete in ROH and TNA. D-Von returned to WWE, where he worked as a producer until January 2023.

Bully Ray explained his reasoning for the Dudley Boyz leaving WWE in 2016 while speaking to Chris Van Vliet on Insight (h/t Yahoo!). In his explanation, he cited exhaustion from Vince McMahon’s choices for the Dudley Boyz creatively. He said, “I told Vince, ‘I can’t do this Dudley thing anymore. I can’t do this Dudley thing the way you want to do it.’ I did it for a year. Vince sat me and D-Von down and said ‘Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to work with the New Day, help get them over. Work with The Usos, help them get over. Work with The Wyatt’s, help them get over, and then whoever else we throw at you.’ Okay. You got it, no problem. The boss sat us down, this is how much he’s paying us, this is what he needs. You got it.” He further added, “But after a year of doing it, I’m just like ‘Okay, I’m burnt on The Dudleys and I know I got Bully Ray in my back pocket.’ I told D-Von up front, I said, ‘Listen, I don’t think I’m gonna re-sign.'”

The Dudley Boyz second WWE run left a lot to be desired, especially compared to their first run. However, they did a lot to help build up many of the tag teams who have gone on to define a generation, including The Usos and New Day.

Related

10 Things About The Dudleys’ TNA Careers That Made No Sense

The Dudleys, who were known as Team 3D in TNA, had some questionable moments during their time in Impact Wrestling.

Dudley Boyz Reunions In And Out Of WWE

WWE Hall of Fame Inductees

team-3d-reunion-impact-wrestling-1000

The Dudley Boyz made a couple of one-off appearances for WWE after they left. One time was on the 25th Anniversary of RAW when they put Heath Slater through a table. Another was when they were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018. They were inducted by Edge and Christian, their historical rivals throughout their career.

They would also have one more match together at Impact 1000. Reuniting for the first time in years under the name Team 3D, which they used in TNA, they faced The Desi Hit Squad. It was a tremendous moment, and it meant a lot to them. Speaking with Sports Illustrated prior to the event, Bully Ray said, “We spent more time in Impact than in ECW or WWE. It’s going to be fun to get back for one night. We never thought this would happen with D-Von’s health, but he says he feels great.”

Finisher 3D
Championships ECW World Tag Team Champions, IWGP Tag Team Champions, TNA World Tag Team Champions, WWE World Tag Team Champions, WCW Tag Team Champions, NWA World Tag Team Champions
Notable Rivals Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian

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