Ring of Honor Star Bully Ray Thinks 'G1 Supercard' in MSG Is as Big as 'WrestleMania'
Ring of Honor (ROH) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) enter sacred ground when they present this weekend's G1 Supercard from the famed Madison Square Garden — a venue so deep in WWE history that the fact these two companies are holding an event there sent shockwaves throughout the wrestling industry. Days away from the event, Bully Ray, who is among the top stars preparing for the occasion, talked with us.
Having worked The Garden numerous times over his Hall of Fame career doesn’t make Ray's participation on this particular stacked card any less special. Every time the native New Yorker appeared in the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” it’s been as Bubba Ray Dudley, one half of the Dudley Boyz tag team. On this night, he comes in for the first time solo, in the role of arguably the best pure heel going in pro wrestling today.
“I think the G1 Supercard is as big as the Royal Rumble at Madison Square Garden, WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden,” Ray, real name Mark LoMonaco, said. “As big as any event WWE has run in Madison Square Garden. It’s huge because nobody thought Ring of Honor and New Japan would ever have a show at Madison Square Garden, let alone any other wrestling company in the world.
“The NWA and WCW tried for years to crack the wall of getting into there, and they couldn’t do it. Ted Turner’s money couldn’t do it. It’s a big deal for Ring of Honor as a company, New Japan as a company, the locker rooms. For me, it’s a bucket-list item I never thought would happen.”
Ray’s first taste of MSG on the grand stage came almost 20 years ago in 2000 at WWE's Royal Rumble. He teamed with long-time partner D-Von Dudley to face the Hardy Boys in the first-ever WWE tables match. It was an opportunity the performer had put his blood, sweat and tears into receiving going back to his days in ECW. He feels the same hunger to be the best in that locker room to the one in ROH.
“It’s the underdog company. Ring of Honor, for 17 years, has been the wrestling company. Die-hard wrestling, strong style wrestling. Not sports entertainment, but an entertaining sport. Everything they were doing in a Ring of Honor ring we were doing in an ECW ring with violence,” Ray said.
“Ring of Honor sometimes is spots for the sake of spots. ECW was violence for the sake of violence. Nobody understands the Ring of Honor locker room like I do. Their passion, willingness to do everything it takes like I do. Each company gave you the best of both worlds …You have PCO, who is a freakin’ maniac diving off the highest things he can possibly find. You have the Briscoes, who want to fight everybody. And you have Jay Lethal, who is probably the best wrestler in the world. That’s why I understand this locker room so well.”
At the 17th Anniversary Show, Ray issued an open challenge for G1 Supercard. The verbiage in the promo left many thinking (hoping) he was referring to a certain straight-edge ROH alum.
"Everybody is like, ‘Bully challenged CM Punk.’ Why? Because I said the word 'Punk.' Do you know how long I’ve been using the word 'punk?' I’m from New York. It’s in our vocabulary. I probably came out of my mother saying the word 'punk,'” Ray said.
“If people want to think I was challenging CM Punk, let them. When I’m standing in the middle of the ring if Cult of Personality hits, and CM Punk comes out, God bless them, because I didn’t think he had the balls to take this ass-whooping.
“If you think I was talking about Punk, I was talking about Punk. If you don’t think I was talking about Punk, I wasn’t talking about Punk. To say that I was specifically talking about him because I used the word 'punk,' I think fans are working themselves into a shoot, brother!”
It turns out Juice Robinson stepped up to challenge Ray. However, the former multi-time champion did have two on a personal wish list: Hulk Hogan and Sting.
“I thought the chances of it happening were slim and none. I wanted to create such a moment in The Garden that even if the match was horrible, the match would be unforgettable,” he said.
“Hogan, because it would be the last time we would ever get to see him wrestle in Madison Square Garden. Sting, because it would be the first time we would get to see him wrestle in Madison Square Garden. Both of them are contractually obligated to WWE, and I understand that.”
Ray’s love for the pro wrestling continues to fuel his motivation to stay involved in it. He is helping prepare the future of the industry through the Team 3D Wrestling Academy and keeps in the loop of what’s going on in the business thanks to a co-hosting gig on the popular Sirius XM program Busted Open. Ray also still finds joy in lacing up the boots.
“My goal in wrestling is to continue telling compelling stories that people are interested in. I don’t go out there to do anything less than steal the show with whatever I’m handed. I play every hand I am dealt. I never fold,” he said.
“I don’t need the best cards to win. I’m not going to go out there and have the greatest wrestling matches in Ring of Honor. That’s not what I am there to do. I’m there to tell great stories, push characters and help other guys get over. I’ve done it all.
"It’s time for the new generation to step up. I believe the new generation, whether it’s Ring of Honor, New Japan, WWE. New generation wrestlers are doing a great job stepping up. I just think they need more help with their psychology and storytelling, especially in Ring of Honor.”
Ray’s perspective on his career is pretty straightforward. As long as he is having fun and making money, don’t expect retirement to come any time soon. Turning attention to The Garden Ray challenges everyone on the show to step up, and he leaves them with a few words of advice.
“Be well aware of the shot of adrenaline and the rush that will overtake you once you step through that curtain on to that stage,” he said. “You feel those people cheering for you and booing for you. That wall of sound will smack you in the face. You can’t stop that shot of adrenaline.
“All you can do is acknowledge that it’s coming and deal with it. Take a deep breath. Try to focus. Look at Madison Square Garden. Take it in. Get the depth of it. Get the feel of it. Take time to smell the roses. Appreciate it for a moment in time. Compose yourself on the stage. Then head to the ring.”
ROH and NJPW present G1 Supercard Saturday, April 6, Live, 7:30/6:30c, Pay-Per-View and streaming free for all HonorClub members. HonorClub content can be streamed via the ROH and FITE apps and at ROHHonorClub.com.