Whether you prefer to call them Team 3-D or The Dudleys or The Dudley Boyz, you have to respect Bubba Ray and D-Von for all their accomplishments and recognize them as one of the greatest tag teams of all time.
Oftentimes, when anyone – in any field – retires, folks tend to wax nostalgic and play the revisionist history game. They distort the truth a bit, have selective memories and pump up the retired honorees’ accomplishments. And now that Team 3-D has officially retired (or, at the very least, they’ve walked away from a Total Nonstop Action wrestling ring – let’s hope retirement’s for real), there will be plenty of debate over their place in sport of the king of kings. Are their 23 titles truly impressive, given that they also lost these championships nearly two dozen times and that they thrived in an era that, for the most part de-emphasized tag team wrestling? How do they stack up next to The Road Warriors, The British Bulldogs, The Midnight Express, The Hart Foundation, et al?
Here’s The Dirty Truth: The 23 titles are not what made The Dudleys great. And they really were not all that innovative. (Unique, yes, but not really that innovative.) They did not really change pro wrestling but did something just as important. They proudly carried on the tradition of their tag team forefathers. They reminded everyone of the path that teams like Hawk & Animal, The Wild Samoans, The Valiants and the list goes on paved for them, even as the pre-eminent wrestling organization in the world, WWE, continued to take a big fat dump on tag teams year after year.
WWE has not cared about tag team wrestling for about the last decade. What’s that you say? DX? Sorry, my hero – the real DX was a faction and I guess Triple H and HBK can technically be considered a tag team. But Hunter and Shawn Michaels were not really a tandem. As DX they were really two individuals who were more concerned with hijinx and havoc than tag team artistry and championships.
Let’s look at some facts about modern day WWE and tag teams. Sure, the Attitude Era classics that featured Edge & Christian, The Dudleys and The Hardy Boys were classics and revived tag team wrestling in WWE. But that was a long time ago. Sure they became “interested” again with the Unified Tag Team Titles, but look at what they’ve done with their tag teams.
WWE’s creative team tinkered with the formula of The Road Warriors and practically destroyed them. (Any wrestling fan who has watched more than 10 or 15 years will remember – with horror – how Droz, Sunny and puppet named Rocco were all part of the Legion of Doom at one point.) They like to break up all the “real” legitimate tag teams. (I’m not talking about the ones that are thrown together for two or three months – ie. Big Show & Chris Jericho, Big Show & Miz, Cody Rhodes & Drew McIntyre.) Remember when WWE broke up The Dudleys and thought they could make them singles stars. (I bet D-Von still cringes when his “Reverend D-Von gimmick comes up.) Cryme Tyme, The Colons (Primo & Carlito), Miz & Morrison (okay, they were thrown-together tandem that actually became a team) are just a few examples of real teams that separated in recent years. For Miz & Morrison, it may have been time to break them up, but there was no good reason to break up Cryme Tyme and The Colons. And the individual careers of everyone in those two teams have faltered ever since.
That’s what makes the current storyline with young Hart Dynasty so discouraging. Barely six months after deciding to truly push David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd (with Natalya Neidhart) and giving them the tag team championships, WWE, it seems, have decided to break them up. They’ve teased a feud between Smith and Kidd for weeks now and it just further illustrates The Dirty Truth: WWE doesn’t give a rat’s ass about tag teams.
The Harts had a ready-made feud with The Uso Brothers that had a ready-made, layered storyline with four talented wrestlers (six, if you count Natalya and Tamia, the ladies accompanying both teams). These teams could have had classic matches and traded tag championship title wins for months. But WWE squashed the feud and storyline about as quickly as they started it and poured practically all its energy into The Nexus.
Unless Teddy Hart is somewhere waiting in the wings to emerge as D.H. Smith’s partner in a revamped Hart Dynasty, nothing good can come from this imminent breakup. It’s a heartbreaking situation (pun-intended) and Kidd and Smith will not thrive apart from each other at this stage of their careers.
Bubba Ray and D-Von knew they were much better off together than apart and they bucked the odds and system to stay together. They traveled all over the world, as far as Japan, to face the best teams. They were lucky to find a home in TNA, which still values the art of tag team wrestling and boasts some of the best teams today in The Motor City Machine Guns, Beer Money and Generation Me.
It’s not Team 3-D’s fault that the industry (or at least the WWE) de-emphasized tag teams. However, they managed to stay true to themselves and will train a future generation in some of the dying fundamentals and nuances in pro wrestling. That’s Bubba Ray and D-Von’s greatest legacy … and that’s The Dirty Truth. Testify!