He believed he had done it all with Devon when he decided to try his hand in singles competition. For Ray, tag team wrestling was a lost art.
“Tag team wrestling is unfortunately extinct,” Ray said. “I’m happy for guys like Bad Influence, Daniels and Kazarian and [Bobby] Roode and [Austin] Aries were together for a while and Chavo [Guerrero] and Hernandez, but it just doesn’t feel the same. As great as Frankie and Chris Daniels are together, I don’t think you can build an entire tag team division around that because there is such a lack of other teams.
“Unfortunately, tag team wrestling is almost extinct. I wish I could tell you there was a light at the end of the tunnel in any division, but until WWE or TNA really puts the focus on trying to rebuild it, I don’t think it’s going to happen…”
Now the consummate professional’s focus is on retaining the gold against “the Icon” Sting. The stipulation that the challenger would never go for the world championship again if he loses has proved added motivation for Ray. He is not taking his opponent lightly and prepared to be at the top of his game on Sunday.
“I’ve heard rumblings that Sting doesn’t deserve to be in this position or Sting is maybe too much of a veteran to be in this position,” Ray said. “Do you know what I say to those people? I say, ‘Go to hell.’ They’ve never laced up a pair of boots and don’t know what it’s like. Sting can still go. I’m in the ring with him. I’m the one who trades punches with him.
“The guy has it one thousand percent. He is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been in there with. When he comes out there, the people love him. Does he deserve to be standing across the ring from me wrestling for the world heavyweight title? Absolutely, and we are going to deliver at Slammiversary. At least I know I’m going to deliver and kick his a%^…”
After Sting, Ray makes no bones about wanting to face one and only Hulk Hogan. It’s a match TNA has seemingly been working towards for several months.
“That’s who I want,” Ray said. “I want Hulk Hogan in the ring. I want that match. I want to look across from him and know that his fate is going to be the same as Sting. Let me tell you something. Hulk Hogan versus Bully Ray will get the whole wrestling world talking. For one reason or the other, people will be talking about it. I don’t care who sits back and goes says Hulk Hogan says this or that or he doesn’t belong there. At the end of the day people will be interested. They will be interested and want to see what happens.”
• Follow Bully Ray on Twitter: @RealBully5150.
• Slammiversary, celebrating the 11th anniversary of TNA Wrestling, is 8 p.m. EST live on pay-per-view on Sunday, June 2 from the Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University.
No Holds Barred: TNA champ Bully Ray vs. Sting. (If Sting loses, he can no longer wrestle for the TNA title.)
Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles.
TNA Tag Team Elimination Title Match: Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez (champs) vs. Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) vs. Austin Aries & Bobby Roode vs. James Storm & Gunner.
TNA TV champ Devon vs. Joseph Park.
Ultimate X champ Kenny King vs. Suicide vs. Chris Sabin.
Samoa Joe, Magnus and Jeff Hardy vs. Aces & Eights (D.O.C., Garrett Bischoff and Wes Brisco)
Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell.
Gutcheck Tournament Final: Jay Bradley vs. Sam Shaw.
• TNA Impact Wrestling is 9 p.m. EST Thursdays on Spike TV.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN, http://twitter.com/#!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.