Wrestling Legend Bully Ray Tells Us Why Ring of Honor Is the New ECW

And why CZW is most definitely not

Bully Ray RoH - Photo by James Musselwhite
Ring of Honor/James Musselwhite

Casual pro-wrestling fans know it’s WrestleMania season, but we’re also on the road to Supercard of Honor XII (to Robin-Hood a marketing phrase for the little guys).

And with all due respect to Cody (do not call him “Cody Rhodes”), no one currently in the Ring of Honor promotion knows the inner workings of both big annual pay-per-view shows quite like Bully Ray (do not call him Bubba Ray Dudley — except on Friday, April 6, when he’s inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as one-half of the Dudley Boyz.)

Ray (real name Mark LoMonaco), who started his squared-circle career as the do-everything guy in Paul Heyman’s ECW and went on to win more belts and make more money with tag team partner D-Von than any other tandem, said his new company reminds him of the old days.

“One of the whole reasons I’m in Ring of Honor is because of how much it reminds me of ECW,” the Ring of Honor “enforcer” told TheWrap ahead of Supercard. “There is not one wrestler out there — or one veteran out there — who understands the Ring of Honor mentality … more than I do.”

“ECW was Ring of Honor before Ring of Honor,” Ray, who does on-air commentary and keeps the peace backstage, continued. “Ring of Honor was created because of the void that ECW left when it disappeared.”

There are, of course, stylistic differences.

“These Ring of Honor guys, they go out there and they do all of these crazy moves — and Ring of Honor matches may not be heavy on psychology, but it’s heavy on excitement. And fans love it, “our interviewee said. “Well, ECW wasn’t heavy on psychology, it was heavy on violence — and people loved it. So, I totally understand what younger wrestlers in the Ring of Honor locker room are trying to do, because we did the same thing 25 years ago. They’re doing it with acrobatics today, we did it with violence back then.”

Speaking of the “violence,” something that has mostly been removed by Vince McMahon for WWE’s “PG Era,” we had to ask Bully Ray (pictured above) what he thinks about CZW. Combat Zone Wrestling is home to the bloody mess that is the Tournament of Death, which is way more gruesome and dangerous than anything the guys did in the Extreme Championship Wrestling days.

To answer our query, Ray walked back his last point a bit — or at least, he clarified it.

“CZW does not carry the torch of ECW at all,” Ray responded. “ECW was not about violence — it was about passion and it was about a mindset. ECW was truly a rebellious movement, giving our middle finger to the rest of the wrestling business, telling people that we were gonna do it our way. And we did it our way so much that we revolutionized the entire business.”

“ECW was the Napster of pro wrestling,” he went on. “Napster went bankrupt and failed as a business, but it revolutionized the way we listen to music. ECW went bankrupt and failed as a wrestling company, but it changed the landscape of wrestling forever. Without ECW, you would never have the [WWE] Attitude Era.”

And CZW, well, he’s with this reporter on the value of that bloodbath.

“CZW is just gratuitous violence for the sake of gratuitous violence, just to shock people,” he continued. “Do they make more money year after year? Are their crowds any bigger? No. So I kind of compare them to GWAR.”

Huh? You lost us for a second there, Bully.

“Listen, GWAR could continue to tour for as long as GWAR wants to,” Ray explained. “They’ll perform to the same 100 fans every night, and they’ll make the same amount of money. They’ll never grow financially and they’ll never grow as an act — and that’s just a fact when you look at CZW as a business model.”

Catch Bully Ray and his excellent analogies on Saturday, April 7, at the Uno Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. Yes, Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor XII takes place in the same city as and on the same weekend as WrestleMania 34, the latter of which is booked at the much bigger Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Technically, Supercard competes directly with WWE’s NXT Takeover New Orleans, where the action will be in the Smoothie King Center. That’s also the venue where Bubba Ray Dudley’s Hall of Fame induction will be held a week from this Friday.

In other words, the Big Easy will become DudleyVille for a good 72 hours the weekend after Easter.