D-Von Dudley on racism in pro wrestling, reuniting Team 3D at Impact 1000, the Reverend D-Von gimmick

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Good Karma Wrestling with guest D-Von Dudley
Hosts: ESPN Chicago’s Jonathan Hood, ESPN Milwaukee’s Gabe Neitzel, and ESPN West Palm’s Brian Rowitz
Twitter: @gkw_wrestling
Interview available at YouTube.com

On the evolution of African American wrestlers in 2023 and shared his own experiences: “It’s grown a lot, believe it or not. I remember when I first broke into the business in 91, you have to understand that racism was still alive and well, just as I feel like racism is still alive and well today. I like to say what Malcom X used to say, ‘a lot of the Klansman turned in their white sheet for a suit.’ Walking around and doing what they’re doing. It’s still relevant in the wrestling business, it is but we have come a long way since then.

“It’s going to be hard to stop us from doing what we love to do. We watched this sport, we loved it, we want to be a part of it and we’re coming in there and we’re doing exactly not what we want to do in a disrespectful way but doing what we want to do to pay homage to those that have come before us that we have watched and idolized for so long. I’m just very proud.

“Sometimes I talk to guys like Koko B. Ware, when Bad News Brown was alive, we talked in the locker room anytime we were in Canada. He pulled me aside and gave me some tips on how to survive as an African American in this business. Something that Tony Atlas said, and I don’t want to get too much into this, during the Junkyard Dog Dark Side of the Ring, was that ‘a black man in this business has to understand that we can’t do what the white man do and expect to get away with it.’

“Again, you still have racism that is very very prominent in this business. If they give you enough rope to hang yourself and you hang yourself then there is nothing that you can do about it. You never heard about me being in any controversy, drugs or anything like that. I’ve kept my nose clean for 30 years in this business. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done things before cameras came about but never been in trouble with the law, never done anything. Never given them a reason to want to mess with me in any type of way. Whenever I disagreed with something within the business, I always had a plan B just in case I didn’t like plan A. I couldn’t just go to them and say, ‘listen, I don’t want to do that, I’m not going to do that.’ I always said, ‘I don’t feel comfortable but here’s what I think we can do.’ Sometimes it worked and sometimes we didn’t. I went in there with a smile on my face and did it even if they told me that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do and that was fine.

“I do understand that we have come a long way since when I broke into the business in 91. I remember coming into certain locker rooms and there were certain people that didn’t care if it got out how they were treating you. There was a prominent figure, in WWE, I should say that he was office, that basically told me that he didn’t like me because I was black. Two occasions he told me. Bubba was there on one of them and Bubba was there on the second one along with Paul Heyman, Tommy Dreamer and Spike. To this day, I have no respect nor do I like this individual. I’m not going to go and put him on blast right now, but I don’t care for him, so I just stay away from him.

“I just know that we have come a long way. I’m not going to sit here and cry over something that might have happened ten years ago, I just move on and make the best of it. Look at my career, I have nothing to be sad about, I have nothing to have any remorse about it. Bubba and I have become the greatest tag team of our era.”

If the Reverend D-Von run worked in the WWE: “The singles run that I had in WWE, I thought it was great with the Reverend D-Von gimmick, I thought it went fantastic. But there were certain powers to be within the company that basically stopped it. I’ve always said this, if you can get Vince [McMahon] at the right time and change his mind, it will be changed. I don’t care how powerful that man thinks he is, I have seen it personally. He’ll be dead set on something, someone comes in and changes his mind and it was over, and I felt like that’s what happened with me.

“I’ve always said, if the Reverend D-Von gimmick didn’t work, then Triple H would have never laid down for me on Smackdown. Not only did he lay down, but the man gave me 50/50 of a match. If he didn’t believe in the gimmick, he would have never done that. Not to mention, I’m hitting promos with Vince the first time out, the people were reacting, the whole nine. It was definitely somebody in Vinces ear that stopped it. Which is fine and ok because TNA gave me the singles run with Aces and Eights and the television title and I had a blast with it and loved every bit of it.”

Being surprised that Impact Wrestling is still alive: “When we left TNA, we thought TNA was over. Had no idea that it was going to resurge and come back again. I was damn proud to hear them come back. We all know that we cannot let Vince McMahon have the monopoly because if he did, we are all in trouble. Thank God for companies like AEW and of course Impact, still going strong. I love it, regardless they are still going along and still trucking. Regardless of how many nails were put in the coffin they busted it wide open and “we’re not going anywhere, we’re staying right here” and I was very happy to see that.”

On getting to reunite Team 3D this weekend: “I didn’t think I would ever be able to wrestle again. Then when I got cleared, I was like ‘Okay, here we go,” and I was pretty excited. I never thought I’d be getting back in the ring with Bubba on this level again. I just thought maybe it would just be independent shows or what have you. So, when I found out that I was going to be on the 1000th episode, I went down to my wrestling school and I just started bumping around and testing it out (his back). At first it was scary, because I hadn’t taken a bump in seven years. It was kind of like taking a bump for the first time like when I first started my career. Not going to lie, it was probably the scariest part of my life ever.”

Other topics include whether he will have another singles run, his run with Aces and Eights, tag teams paying tribute to the Dudleys, and what he was most proud of having a hand in backstage.


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