Returning to Wrestlemania this Sunday after 10 years away from the WWE, legendary tag team the Dudley Boyz are poised to add another Wrestlemania moment to an illustrious 20-year career that has set the standard for table smashing, bone-crunching violence.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bubba Ray Dudley is a fan of the rawkus and heavy when away from the ring. Hard rock and metal inspires Bubba Ray in the gym and in between shows on the road, but don’t be surprised to spot the former 18-time world tag team champion listening to anything from hip-hop to jazz. Just don’t count on Bubba Ray to be rockin’ to any Dokken, despite what Zakk Wylde might have to say.
Tell me about your first experience with heavy rock and roll.
I'll never forget, I got some birthday money from my grandmother, and I must have been nine or 10, and she took me to the store. I bought the double live album KISS Alive II. And I remember opening it and seeing that photograph of the stage, the raised platforms in the fire and Peter Criss' drum riser all the way in the air with the cat, and I’m like, “What is this?”
And then you see Gene all covered in blood. That's my first memory of hard rock and that's what really got me into rock and roll.
So what was your next step after KISS?
After I got Kiss Alive II the very next album I got – and it wasn't an album, it was a tape – was (AC/DC’s) Back in Black which was released in 1980. So my first two experiences in hard rock and heavy metal, and more so hard rock than heavy metal – were KISS and AC/DC, which is a hell of an introduction to hard rock.
I remember I was about 10-years-old at the time, the introduction to “Hell’s Bells”, the very first track on Back In Black, just listening to the bells was so eerie. I remembering being so terrified by the song. But the riffs were awesome, the chorus was so awesome.
Speaking of AC/DC, what are your thoughts on the sudden departure of singer Brian Johnson and plans to replace him?
You know I've heard the rumors, I've heard the scuttlebutt that Brian is out, that he's out for legitimate reasons. The fan in me it kind of sad that Angus just, you know, kind of discarded of Brian. But the businessman inside of me totally understands. It's like, “Man, you can't go anymore. We've got 10 more shows to do and I still want to make another record, so I need to fill your shoes and fill them quick, and that’s just the way it is.”
It’s a business, and much like the wrestling business, or the music business, or the brain surgery business, you gotta do what you gotta do to stay in business.
You’ve talked about the importance of Mötley Crüe on the Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast. You almost had an encyclopedic knowledge of their history.
I think Mötley was the band I was most obsessed with all the facts and everything like that. I can still tell you so many facts about them but Mötley was like, my band forever and you know, they still are. As you get older, your musical tastes kind of change and things like that but Mötley is still in my top three.
But, you know, January 18, 1981 is Mötley Crüe’s anniversary, I could go on and on with Mötley Crüe trivia.
Was there one band from that 80s rock era that you hated?
Dokken. I can't do the Dokken thing, brother.
So you don’t agree with the saying, “Rockin’ like Dokken?”
So here's the thing. A lot of people know I'm buds with Zakk Wylde, as is (Chris) Jericho, and he's a wrestling fan. And are all huge fans of Zakk. So Zakk will either say, or he'll text “Rockin’ like Dokken,” and it just gets under my skin every time he says it. Because, it’s like, fucking Zakk Wylde and he’s talking about “Rockin’ like Dokken”.
So what happened to you as music trends started to change and Mötley Crüe started to fade in the 1990s?
You know I was a die-hard Crüe fan and anything that was part of the 80s or very early nineties hard rock, hair bands… that whole era I was totally into. And then Nirvana came along and totally ruined it for everybody and I kind of just fell off the face of the Earth with music. I just found myself getting into the all the old stuff. I never really got into anything new and I find myself appreciating the old stuff more.
Like, I just started getting into some old Twisted Sister some more Iron Maiden. I find myself just going to the old stuff that will never let you down. Because, new rock and roll, it sucks – there's nothing to it.
I mean you take any of the old AC/DC that Bon Scott was singing on, it will totally destroy and melt any band of today. I challenge you, if you're a true rock and roll fan, you pick up AC/DC’s Powerage, listen to “Rock and Roll Damnation” and “Riff Raff”. Those are phenomenal, phenomenal songs.
With rockers like Lemmy Kilmister and others from his generation passing, it makes you worry that nobody will be ready to carry the mantel for rock and roll in the future.
It's true because there are no more rock and rollers anymore. I like my rock and rollers to overdose on heroin and die twice. I like my rock and rollers to drink Jack and Cokes until their livers explode. I like my rock and rollers to snort fire ants off of the sidewalk, you know?
Has your career as a pro wrestler allowed you to live out any cool rock and roll or heavy metal moments?
I've had some great fun stories about rock and roll and hanging out with guys. One my most favorite stories is hanging out with Lemmy, getting drunk with Lemmy. It was me, Lemmy and my friend Paul Gargano who used to be the editor of Metal Edge magazine.
We we're drinking up a storm that night and Paul got totally wasted, and we went up to the House of Blues at about 2-2:30 in the morning. And there’s me, Lemmy and Paul sitting at the front of the House of Blues. Paul throws up a huge puddle of puke all over the floor and basically falls face down into it, and me and Lemmy go on to talk about music and Triple H’s new entrance theme.
Being such a fan of rock and roll, did you ever try to start a band?
Well, little-known fact: I can play the trumpet the piano and the French horn and I can get by on the drums. If you come to my house I have a seven-piece Pearl signature kit, I got a Gibson guitar, I got an Ibanez bass, I've got a set of Marshall stacks – I've got the all the gear I need just in case one day the inner rock star wants to come pouring out of me.
It seems like you might have a wide range of musical tastes considering the instruments you can play.
I don't say “No” to any music as long as it moves me. I grew up with a lot of 70s disco with my mom, so I like some 70s disco. I just recently started listening to a little bit of jazz. Nobody in particular, but after I saw that movie Whiplash I was mesmerized by the drum playing. So if the music moves me and gets me, I’ll listen to it.
As a frequent traveler with other wrestlers, have you ever gotten into conflicts over musical choices?
When you’re on the road as much as we are, you want to travel with guys who have the same schedule as you and similar interests. Now, interesting… me and D-Von, we’ve spend more time in a car together than almost anybody. You know, D-Von is a rock and roller, too. D-Von loves Iron Maiden, D-Von likes all the hard rock that I listen to, and I like all the rap that he listened to. So we always got along musically. In the car, it was never a problem.
You’ve dedicated yourself to staying in great shape in recent years. Do you use hard rock and heavy metal to fuel your workouts?
No doubt, in the gym it’s 90 percent rock and roll – hard rock and heavy metal. And then, you know, a little bit of everything else thrown in there. It's almost impossible for me to go near a gym, whether at the weights or cardio, unless I have my music with me.
You’d be surprised by how much more weight you can lift when the right song comes on, you know?
What do the Dudley Boyz have in store for fans for your big return to Wrestlemania on Sunday?
It’s the Dudley Boyz versus the Usos at Wrestlemania, and obviously we are excited, it is the Super Bowl of sports entertainment. This will most likely be the largest WrestleMania ever at AT&T Stadium in Arlington (Texas). Me and D-Von have been at five Wrestlemanias starting with Wrestlemania 2000 in Anaheim, which was the first triangle ladder match with The Hardys and Edge and Christian. The one that everybody really, really remember is obviously TLC in the Astrodome – Wrestlemania 17, which many consider to be the greatest WrestleMania of all-time. So, the Dudleys are no strangers to Wrestlemania and no strangers to stealing the show at Wrestlemania, and we are looking forward to getting back there and doing it one more time.
Catch the Dudleys taking on the Usos on the WrestleMania Pre-Game show this Sunday at 6:00pm eastern on the USA Network, and watch WrestleMania on the WWE Network.