Monday’s Raw featured its share of somber moments.
There was, of course, Finn Bálor relinquishing the WWE Universal Championship – a belt he captured just one day earlier. Winning that title was the culmination of a long and arduous journey for Bálor. It wasn’t easy to see an injury force him to surrender the belt, especially not so soon.
But the bright side is that Bálor, barring anything unforeseen, will be back. At 35 he’s not exactly an up-and-comer, but he should have some solid years left in the WWE. The same can’t be said of a legendary duo that left the WWE ring, seemingly never to return, on Monday night.
The Dudley Boyz’s decision to announce their retirement on Monday seemed to come out of left field. The duo had been inadvertently hitting one another in the squared circle for weeks; a trend that many thought meant a split was imminent. Instead, the “brothers” abruptly decided to call it quits.
This could all still be part of a storyline. The Dudley Boyz would, after all, hardly be the first to stage a retirement. Nonetheless, for the purposes of this piece we’ll proceed as though we have indeed seen the last of Bubba Ray and D-Von.
If that is the case, then the Dudleyz’s retirement ceremony probably didn’t go the way their fans might have hoped. The team looked poised to hit Primo of the Shining Stars with their patented 3-D through a table. Needless to say, that would mark a befitting and crowd-pleasing ending for one of the most successful tag teams ever.
But, instead, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson busted up the ceremony. Instead of giving a duo that helped paved the way for them one final moment in the spotlight, Gallows and Anderson left them lying. The lasting image to come out of the Dudleyz’s retirement was The Club with their arms held high.
Are there grounds to be upset over that? Sure. The Dudleyz undoubtedly deserve a hero’s send-off. But pro wrestling is a character-driven business. Bubba Ray and D-Von are departing characters. Them walking off into the sunset doesn’t do any harm, but going out as they did helped to strengthen some characters who could lead Raw’s tag team scene into the future.
In pro wrestling it’s a more or less an unspoken rule that a wrestler should lose in his or her final match. That, in turn, helps to create and elevate new stars. Problem is, The Dudleyz have done lots of elevating since returning to the WWE last year. Wins, however, haven’t exactly been plentiful.
Thus, notching a victory over the Dudley Boyz in 2015-16 wasn’t exactly the resume boost it had been in years past. Groups like New Day, Enzo and Big Cass and The Wyatt Family are all among the groups to best the Dudley Boyz in the past year and, while none of them suffered for it, it didn’t exactly vault them up the card.
But to crash their retirement party is different. It’s cold-hearted, ruthless, selfish, despicable and, well, downright mean. It’s also the act of a great heel tag team. Something that, as Corey Graves put it, The Dudley Boyz might’ve done themselves 15 years prior.
The Club hasn’t been booked to perfection since debuting. At times, they’ve seemed like little more than AJ Styles’ bumbling lackeys. But ruining the Dudleyz’s retirement is the sort of vicious move that could propel them to the top of the tag team scene for years to come.
And something the brothers from Dudleyville were surely glad to play a part in on their way out the door.