With 18 championship reigns, it wouldn't be a stretch to call The Dudley Boyz the most decorated tag team in the history of professional wrestling. Beginning in April, you can also call them WWE Hall of Famers.
Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley will join Goldberg as inductees to the 2018 class of the WWE Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 34 weekend, CBS Sports has learned. The ceremony will take place Friday, April 6 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
The duo, which first joined forces with ECW in 1996 and retired as a team in 2016 following a reunion back in WWE, will enter the Hall of Fame with a multi-faceted legacy built just as much upon longevity and consistency as their reputation for being extreme.
From their camouflage gear and legendary Tables, Ladders & Chairs matches in WWE against The Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian, to their catchphrases -- "Whassup?!" "Testify" and "Devon, get the tables!" -- The Dudley Boyz are among the most iconic duos in the history of sports entertainment.
"The legacy of the Dudley Boyz is really the last of the Mohicans," Bubba Ray told CBS Sports. "We are the last, legitimate, great tag team that you most likely will ever see; the most old school tag team that there is. I don't think you will ever see a tag team go on to accomplish what we have accomplished, whether that's in the WWE or any place else. We really are the last of many, many generations of great tag teams."
Over a 20-year run, The Dudleyz won titles in every promotion they entered, from ECW, WWE and TNA to All Japan and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Bubba Ray and D-Von count 24 total titles to their name.
"The great thing about us is we didn't take no for an answer," D-Von said. "We just went out there and did it when nobody thought we could. That was the biggest thing that Bubba and I had to face in our career because, back in ECW, we weren't really supposed to be an act to be reckoned with."
Both Bubba Ray (born Mark LoMonaco), 46, and D-Von (Devon Hughes), 45, are natives of New York and debuted in 1991 under the tutelage of trainer Johnny Rodz. But their original formation, dressed in tie die as part of the larger hillbilly ECW faction called The Dudley Brothers, wasn't the kind of start which screamed "Hall of Fame potential."
"We were considered a joke at one point," D-Von said. "Bubba was stuttering and there are like nine other Dudleys coming in from other places. It was like a 'ha ha' moment. But when we got together, that 'ha ha' moment became real and became serious. That's when people started taking us serious because of what we were doing in the ring and the commotion and the chaos we were causing."
Bubba Ray credits ECW founder Paul Heyman with "rolling the dice on an act that was never planned to be successful" when he accepted Bubba's request to turn him heel and took a chance on pairing him with D-Von.
Soon after, the remaining members of the Dudley faction -- including Big Dick Dudley, Sign Guy Dudley, Dances With Dudley, Snot Dudley and Dudley Dudley -- slowly faded into the background as the talent of "the brothers from other mothers" began to rise to the surface.
"A lot of those guys came before us and they were important to the initial characters of the Dudley Boyz," Bubba Ray said. "But there was just something different and special about me and D-Von. We don't say that out of ego; we say that out of fact. We knew early on that it was us that was getting the job done and making the mark."
The Dudleyz Boyz discuss their Hall of Fame induction on CBS Sports' In This Corner Podcast (29:04, subscribe here)
While most of the original faction are remembered as nostalgic footnotes, the Dudley Boyz were quick to acknowledge Spike Dudley -- whom D-Von called their "guinea pig" -- for his ability to sell their violence.
"He was instrumental in helping us get to where we were because we beat the piss out of Spike for years and years and years," Bubba Ray said. "You can't just get over by yourself, you need someone to help you get there. Spike helped get us over by taking all of those beatings in ECW. Then when Spike came up to WWE, he took some more beatings."
Spike Dudley did the majority of his selling on Bubba Ray and D-Von's devastating finishing move called 3D: Dudley Death Drop. The flapjack/cutter combo was often best delivered through a table, and Bubba Ray credits the finisher with getting them over.
"The very first thing we knew was that it had to be different and new and unique, and it had to be out of nowhere," Bubba Ray said. "I'm proud to say it's probably up there among the greatest finishes of all-time, and that's what gave us a uniqueness that set us apart from the rest."
If there's a secret to the tag team's longevity and chemistry, Bubba Ray said it is their unselfishness. Outside of a brief and successful solo run on top for Bubba Ray in TNA, the duo remained a team for almost the entirety of their run, and D-Von credits a refusal to be complacent for their single-minded pursuit at becoming the greatest.
The Dudley Boyz truly made their mark upon landing in WWE in 1999. It was in that moment where D-Von knew the idea of one day becoming Hall of Famers was possible.
"Bubba and I clicked on so many levels when we got together and knew that we could hang with the big boys if we got the opportunity to go to WWE," D-Von said. "When we did, we just went from there and were on fire. We just knew that if the WWE would let us be us, we would be extremely good and be able to accomplish exactly what we wanted to do -- and that's be the best tag team in the history of the business."
The Dudleyz took their extreme reputation to a whole new level in WWE during a monumental feud with The Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian. What began as a triple threat ladder match at WrestleMania 2000 evolved into the first TLC match later that year at SummerSlam.
The crowning moment for the trio, however, may have come at WrestleMania X-Seven in 2001 in their triple threat TLC rematch.
"Talking to Edge and Christian, it's just amazing that we did those TLC matches 15 years ago and people are still talking about it as if it were yesterday," D-Von said. "We created so much history with those matches and each time we did it, we made them better. To be able to go into WrestleMania and steal the show two years in a row with so many great names on the card, it's just a testament to how great those matches were and how legendary."
Bubba Ray distinctly remembers standing behind the curtain at the Houston Astrodome, moments before the WrestleMania X-Seven match. After finding out their match had been shortened from 25 to 15 minutes, he delivered a memorable speech which featured advice he expects to heed during April's HOF induction.
"I turned to the rest of the guys and said, 'No matter what, when you go out on that stage, take a second to smell the roses because we belong here,'" Bubba Ray said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take a second to smell those roses because I'm quite proud of the accomplishments of two guys that nobody thought would ever get there."
After leaving WWE in 2005, the Dudley Boyz enjoyed a near-decade run in TNA as Team 3D (and later in the faction Aces & Eights) before embarking on a two-year victory lap with WWE in 2015. But despite their consistent success from the indies to the brightest stage, it's difficult to mention Bubba Ray and D-Von and not immediately think of ECW.
Although there have been other ECW alumni to be inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame -- from Steve Austin and Mick Foley to Terry Funk -- The Dudley Boyz represent the first homegrown talent to get the call. It's a distinction they couldn't be more proud to have on their plaque.
"It probably means more to me than anything else," Bubba Ray said. "Yes, going into the WWE Hall of Fame is cool, but being the first original act ever created in ECW is really a big deal. ECW meant so much to us and it meant so much to wrestling fans. To me, it's a great honor to represent a company that revolutionized and changed the wrestling business."
"I don't think anyone out there can deny that the Attitude Era wasn't an influence of ECW," D-Von said.
"There is a reason why people still chant 'E-C-W,'" Bubba Ray added. "They don't chant [for] WCW, NWA or AWA, they chant 'E-C-W' because it's a product and a promotion that gave them what they want and did it their way. That's how me and D-Von did it; we did it our way. I'm not talking about the Frank Sinatra version of 'My Way,' I'm talking about the Sex Pistols version of 'My Way.'"