WWE Live returns to Atlantic City this Saturday.
While many will be watching the live network special WWE Road Block that same night from Toronto, fans in the South Jersey area can see some of their other favorite superstars and divas live at historic Boardwalk Hall, the home of Wrestlemania IV and V.
With a card expected to change, superstars such as Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens, United States Champion Kalisto, members of the Wyatt Family, Big Show and Kane highlight what should be a pretty fun night in Atlantic City. Tickets starting at $15 will go on sale exclusively through Ticketmaster on Saturday, January 23 at noon, online at www.Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Boardwalk Hall Box Office.
But enough of the regurgitated press release.
Last month, I chatted on the phone with one half of the legendary Dudley Boyz, D-Von Dudley. The Dudley Boyz are expected to participate in a triple threat tag team match this Saturday against the Social Outcasts as well as Dolph Ziggler and Ryback.
With WrestleMania just weeks away (April 3 in Texas), D-Von spoke about returning to the WWE, having some of the most memorable matches in Mania's past as well as a funny anecdote from the last time he was in Atlantic City.
I think you were in Atlantic City years ago?
DD: “I’ve been here, yes. One of my last matches, and a very very memorable one was with APA. It’s a little inside joke with us on what happened in the ring. It was quite funny and I will always remember Atlantic City because of that.”
What happened in the ring?
DD: “I was quite embarrassed. I don’t know if I can tell this story because it’s kind of like giving the business away. Bubba was coming to give the tag and I ran in and I didn’t know this was it. I’m trying to hide behind the referee and Ron Simmons (Farooq) is trying to hit me and I put (referee (Earl Hebner) in front of me and Ron just stopped and said ‘Dammit, D-Von, this is the hot tag.’ I went, ‘Oh (shoot).’” [Laughs] I threw Earl out of the way and Ron just committed to kicking my ass. I just went, ‘Uh oh.’ That man beat me from post to post. We get in the back and Bradshaw goes: ‘You know, Devin…’ I said: It’s D-Von.’ He goes: ‘That’s what I said - Devin… You know, they had two sold out WrestleManias here in history and you killed it in one night.’"
We have WrestleMania coming up and Atlantic City falls on the road toward that. What’s the excitement like around the locker room?
“Well you know, you worked all your life to, No. 1, get to the WWE. Then once you’re there you’re working to get to WrestleMania, whether you’re the opening match of WrestleMania, main event, the mid card. Just to say you were at WrestleMania and on that card to help contribute is just over the top. Everybody is fighting for a position to be at WrestleMania. And of course, everything starts from January-on. I think really it starts from Survivor Series-on. The thing is, it starts from January after the Rumble and that’s when you start gearing up and getting ready. Guys are dieting and even I’m dieting and trying to lose at least 20 or 30 pounds so whoever my opponent might be not only do I want to kick their behinds but I want to kick their behinds while looking good. And even if I get my butt kicked I still wanna look good.
“It’s just one of those things where the excitement is in the air. WrestleMania, the feeling, Axxess, meeting all the fans, interacting, all the cool things the WWE has going on during WrestleMania weekend just to build up to that big event, the granddaddy of them all. Bubba and I have been at numerous WrestleMania’s starting from WrestleMania XV all the way to XX. So we were in five WrestleMania’s and I can’t begin to tell you the excitement of when we were in it. To be honest with you, we stole the show two years in a row with the legendary TLC matches with Edge, Christian and the Hardy Boyz. To be able to do that at WrestleMania. I’m going to tell you right now. With all the people on that card - Undertaker, the Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Rikishi, Chris Jericho, Steven Regal, Lance Storm. The list goes on and on of all the major superstars that were on that card. For us to win Match of the Year amongst those guys. My God you cannot get any better than that. For people to say we were Match of the Year two years in a row, my God. The TLC match helped put us on the map and we will be eternally grateful for it and that’s why every year it comes by it means something even more for me and Bubba. Because now not only are we returning after 10 years from being gone from the WWE we have the opportunity to shine once more at WrestleMania.”
Is there a different energy at shows, especially the Live Events, when we’re around WrestleMania season?
“Absolutely. Again, you’re talking about the granddaddy of them all. You’re going to s entertainment at it’s best. No one can put on a show, no one can do entertainment like the WWE when it comes to WreslteMania. They pull out all stops, there is no question about that. And when you see it that’s why it makes history. That’s why at the Pontiac Silverdome (at WrestleMania III) you get 93,173 people when (Hulk) Hogan and Andre (the Giant) went at it. That’s why in Toronto when we were in there for WrestleMania X8 we did 68,000 and in Houston in the Astrodome (at WM X-Seven) we did over 60,000 people. It’s a different feeling. It’s just energy at it’s best and that’s exactly what WrestleMania does. Ever since the first to the present one today, when you hear the word ‘WrestleMania’ you know two things are going to happen – you’re going to be royally entertained and you’re going to see entertainment at it’s best.”
I know you’ve been to plenty of venues that had WrestleMania history but Boardwalk Hall is a unique one. It’s not a venue a lot of people thing of when looking at WrestleMania nowadays being in stadiums. This is a small place compared to where other Manias been. But what’s it like going to a place like Boardwalk Hall where IV and V have been to?
“Again, it’s one of those things where you look at the walls and you know that there was history being made. And to be able to go there, it’s like going to Madison Square Garden. You know at Madison Square Garden that was the first WrestleMania with the main event being Hulk Hogan and Mr. T versus Rowdy Roddy Piper and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff. You knew that that night set the stage for everything that you’re coming to right now. So to be able to walk into a place like that and know that history was made there and that’s what started it, you can’t help but be excited whether it’s a non-televised event, or whether it’s Monday Night Raw or Smackdown. You can’t help but to know that in that same building that you’re going to be performing in history was made repeatedly, one after the other.”
You do know a thing or two about great WrestleMania matches. You and Bubba were a part of what’s considered one of the greatest Mania matches of all time with the ladder match against Edge and Christian and the Hardy’s in 2000. What was the thought process like for that match?
“Well what we were trying to do, was No. 1, survive. Again, you got so many of those guys in The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Big Show, Mick Foley, Triple H. Going against all those guys, and not going up against them but when you’re on the same card as them, you know they’re going to bring it. You know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game because they’ve been there before. Here it is, you got six guys that are put in a match, and even though it was considered a ladder match, it was still the first TLC (tables, ladders and chairs) in my opinion because we were able to use tables and chairs.
"And so the pressure is on. You have to use these, in what we like to call in the business, these gimmicks, these tables, ladders and chairs. You have to entertain the people. You have to sit up there and really not try to maim each other, but you have to put on a show and be safe about it. How do you do that? You can’t fail. You’re at WrestleMania. You’re getting a chance of a lifetime where most people can only dream and never step foot. You’re actually doing it but now the stakes are against you. Because now you’re using three things that can turn on you – tables, ladders and chair. Using a chair, that can turn on you. Going through a table - that thing can snap so many different ways. And a ladder, hell, nobody wants to fall off a ladder. You’re thinking about all of these things and now you have to go out there and perform and not show that you’re scared. You have to go out there and entertain. That right there is a heavy burden.
"For us to be able to do that, it was like wow. The release. They did a video on us building up to that match. At the end of that video, you see us at the end of the match we were all hugging. We knew we hit a home run. We knew this was going to be the start of something. We didn’t know what it was going to be the start of but we knew something was going to come out of that. And we were so happy, so content that it just went from there. So when we did it again at SummerSlam, it was the first official TLC match. We could do no wrong. And then all of a sudden, the next year we do it at WrestleMania XVII, which in my opinion, when you look at it because we added so many different elements – Rhyno, Spike (and Lita). We added to the mix. You add all these extra guys and storylines and we just blew it out of the water. And being that, I’m not mistaken, that WrestleMania, from what I heard, was the most watched out of all. It was, from top to bottom, the most watched and voted as the best WrestleMania of all time. And for me, and those five guys to be a part of it, we made history that could never ever be changed.”
Was that history the reason you guys returned was to help build back up the tag division?
“We knew that we couldn’t leave this business without returning. We didn’t leave on bad terms. This is where we wanted to finish our career. The WWE has always been our home next to ECW. ECW was what gave us a start and the WWE is what made us stars. And it has always been our home. And being that Vince (McMahon) bought ECW and made it a part of WWE and opened up his own brand of ECW so now I consider it both. In my opinion, we might have been gone for 10 years but we knew where home was. For 10 years, we were like an airplane circling around the city waiting to land. And finally when it came about mission control said you can land, guess what? In Brooklyn at the Barclays Center the Dudley Boyz landed and came back home where they belong.”
How electric was that Brooklyn crowd last August when you guys made your surprise return?
“Electrifying. And not to take the phrase from The Rock [Laughs]. But it was something where I told my wife, if I die tomorrow, I’m O.K. I don’t want anybody to say, ‘My God, the Dudleys just got there and this tragedy happened,’ because that is something that every kid in this business - and when I say kid I mean grown men too because we were once kids before - but every kid watching the WWE or watching WCW or the NWA or Florida Championship Wrestling, whatever it was back in the day, hope and dream for a reaction like that. Not too many people can say that they walked through any wrestling door and got that type of reaction. To see everybody stand up on their feet and lose it the way they did.
"Listen, I don’t have to tell you how it was. Go back on YouTube, go back on the videos or in April when the Dudley Boyz video comes out, you can see it for yourself. That’s my cheap plug [Laughs]. Go back and see that for yourself and see how electrifying that crowd was. Watch how that camera pans on those people. You have grown men jumping out of their seats losing it as if The Rock came out for the women. We came out for the guys and they lost it. I don’t know, that’s a little weird for me [Laughs]. But all seriousness aside, that was a moment I will never ever forget. You want to talk about a moment that stands out in my mind out of my whole career. Listen, if you had asked me that two years ago I probably would have said the TLC matches. But now, our return back to the WWE, I don’t think we could ever top it. And if we do, then ask me that question again when we do top it.
Lastly, what can we expect in Atlantic City next month? Because you guys are feuding with the Wyatt Family (last month)…
“Oh we’re feuding with everybody now, not just the Wyatt Family. We’re going to feud with everybody. We’re going to feud with The Wyatt Family, The New Day, The Usos, Lucha Dragons. We’re feuding with everybody. We want those tag team titles. We’re going to make it No. 10. We’ve already been considered the baddest and best tag team in the history of this business. We have accomplished more than any of the tag teams that have come before us and that is here now in the present day. Not taking anything away from legendary teams like LOD: Road Warriors, the Rock n Roll Express, the Midnight Express, Tully (Blanchard) and Arn (Anderson), the list goes on and on. The British Bulldogs, the Hart Foundation. Not taking away anything from them but the Dudley Boyz, without a doubt, have accomplished more than any other tag team, and that’s just because we’re students of the game. We sat there and learned from the people before us. As far as we’re concerned, and don’t get me wrong when I say this, LOD will always be No. 1 to us for the fact we looked up to them, worshiped the ground they walked on and wanted to be just like them. You can’t outdo your hero. Let’s put them aside, make them No. 1 and then it would be a hard No. 2 and no other tag team has ever accomplished more than what we have. We took it over where the Road Warriors left off and I’m sure there will be other tag teams that will come out there and do exactly what we are trying to do.”
So are we going to get plenty of tables in Atlantic City?
“Oh absolutely. Brother, you’re going to get tables, you might get some chairs, you might get some ladders, oh my. TLC, one more time. Why not?”
Weekly Power Rankings
Week of March 7 (Feb. 29 rankings)
- Triple H (1) - Ambrose suckered him in this time.
- Dean Ambrose (3) - Got the last laugh on Triple H this week.
- Brock Lesnar (2) - Bray Wyatt is just a tune up this weekend.
- Roman Reigns (4) - Still healing from the broken nose.
- Kevin Owens (5) - I think Sami Zayn is here to stay this time.
- New Day (8) - Picked up the win over Y2AJ on Monday.
- Kalisto (7) - Had a nice convincing win over Tyler Breeze.
- A.J. Styles (6) - How will he respond to Jericho's betrayal?
- Charlotte (9) - She left both Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch on the mat.
- Ryback (10) - Is the Big Guy gunning for a US Title shot?
Out of the 10: No one
On the bubble: Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho.