The Future for Bully Ray in Impact Wrestling
Hi bloggoverse, as this is my first blog please don’t hesitate to leave some feedback or ideas on how I can improve in the future. Those of you familiar with Impact Wrestling will be aware of the surprising rise of the former Bubba Ray to the now familiar role of ‘The Bully’ and it’s the future of this character that I would like to discuss in my first blog. In recent months Ray has been taking a turn towards the light, teaming with Sting, pledging his support of Joseph Park in his feud with the Aces ‘N Eights, but whether such a staunchly heel character can function as a face is an interesting debate.
It seems that his character has changed personalities, changing from the classic bully, a man who is at his heart cowardly, he attacks the weaker members of the herd, which meant that the storylines between Bully and Aries and Styles were even more compelling to watch as underdog stories. Now it seems that the word bully has taken on a different meaning, his character is now a smash-mouth, aggressive man. It seems that everything that was making him a bad guy has been removed, he no longer spends the first 10 minutes of a match ducking in between the ropes and running away when the odds are no longer in his favour, but instead seems to relish a fight against worser odds, as seen by his involvement in challenging the Aces ‘N Eights. This has been an undoubted success for TNAs creative department; they have avoided a total re-brand of the character and a stand out face turn (aside from his desire to team with Sting) did not materialise. But this is just another success story for their creative department, since the departure of Vince Russo, things have vastly improved in the Impact Zone, implausible alliances (Such as Kurt Angle teaming with Immortal just months after wanting them out, never mind that Immortal contained within its ranks a certain Jeff Jarrett who had previously spent what seemed like an eternity feuding with Angle) have been reduced. The Roode push was a bold move, putting the title on a man who at the time could be viewed as a glorified tag team wrestler, for such a long period of time in an industry whose audience has a notoriously short attention span in recent years, but their faith was repaid and this led to the rise of Roode, a man who, in my opinion is, along with Austin Aries, the best TNA has to offer.
But back to the matter of Bully Ray, he seems to play the role of the anti-hero well, with the introduction of Devon as a major figure within the heel faction Ray has an instant desire to run them out of the Impact Zone, and a personal reason for involvement. I’m not going to deny that I am a fan of Bully Ray, even going so far as to cheer for him against Jeff Hardy in the main event of No Surrender and feeling a sense of severe injustice when he didn’t win the title shot, and subsequently cheering for him in every one of his matches. In the past he has had several excellent singles matches against Austin Aries (at Sacrifice) and Abyss (at Genesis) and a phenomenal (pun intended) last man standing match against A.J Styles (at Slammiversary) and I would recommend each match if you need convincing of the Bully’s ability. There has been some talk of limited ability of Bully Ray outside of the tag team scene, some stating he only really has two moves (the Bully bomb and the Bully cutter), and it is an issue that concerns me too. Personality and character can sometimes hide ability in the ring, Mr. Anderson and James Storm being extreme examples, and Bully is very capable of telling a story well within the ropes, his match with Aries last year attests to that. But it is his work on the microphone where he really excels, I long for that moment when he steps in the ring and utters, in that strong New York accent ‘do you know who I am?’, which he has been doing far less of lately. Following his heated discussion with Hulk Hogan on the December 13th edition of Impact, (which you can find here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtyWDqI00Xo ) incidentally a fantastic bit of promo work, I am even more convinced of his ability as a talker.
But what of the over-arching storyline between the Bully and Hulk Hogan? Where will it lead for the former 30 time tag team champion? Allegations came forth from the aforementioned Aries of a romance developing between Hulk’s daughter Brooke and Ray, which was copied from WWE’s angle between Cena, A.J Lee and Vickie Guerrero, which was in turn stolen from the A.J Styles, Claire Lynch, Daniels storyline (Honestly are there no original storylines in wrestling anymore?). As to my personal opinions of this developing story I can’t say I’m too excited by the prospect, (less talking, more action I say) but I am in favour of anything that brings Ray closer to the attention of the audience and the wrestling world more generally. Do I see him with the World Heavyweight championship? I would like to see him given the same chance that Roode had, but I feel that TNA would come into massive criticism if they chose to give him the strap because of his age. TNA has in the past been criticized for employing older wrestlers, (or so-called has-beens), Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Sting come to mind. It would be an interesting prospect, but I cannot see Bully main eventing the majority of Pay per Views. One possible way to advance would be to have Austin Aries win back the title at Genesis (given that he refused a match for the title on free tv recently) and Ray to continue his feud and challenge Aries at either Victory Road or possibly Lockdown (the prospect of which makes my mouth water instantly). It seems the Bully is at his best when providing a stepping stone for other wrestlers to advance to the title as he did with Jeff Hardy in the Bound For Glory Series, so whether he could be the one who gets the push and convincingly hold the title is still up for debate, but I’ll close by saying that I would love to see him get a chance to play a higher role in the company and his feud with general manager Hulk Hogan would provide a perfect platform to the World Heavyweight Title.