What’s Old Is New Again? Bully Ray Returns To Impact Wrestling
On a cold evening in Albany, NY, I waited to enter the Albany Armory for Impact Wrestling’s annual Bound For Glory event on October 7th, 2022. As entering the venue grew closer, I heard a group of motorcyclists drive by and I joked to my friend, Dallas, that perhaps the Aces & Eights are going to make an appearance tonight. We laughed. If only we knew that in about two hours, that would be true.
Bound For Glory was a good show. I admittedly haven’t watched Impact Wrestling in several years as a TV product because, well, it’s a chore to find. Having recently moved, I now get the channel that it airs on cable and I plan to watch on a more regular basis. Yes, I’m aware that there are ways to watch it through the premium YouTube channel and other manners, but having it simply on TV is much more convenient and ideal for me.
Anyway, back to Bound For Glory. The crowd was energetic and the action was quite good. Impact has the stigma of being “LOLTNA” and I think that should be long gone by now. But, I can also see that they just can’t quite shed that stigma. At Bound For Glory, they had one of those moments.
During the Call Your Shot Gauntlet there were several surprises for the match. Matt Cardona returning from injury in Impact, Tommy Dreamer and Rhino getting the ECW pop. Taylor Wilde, an underrated Knockout, returning to the company, too. The most noteworthy surprise came in the form of a 2x Impact Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, Bully Ray.
From 2011 to 2014, Bully Ray reinvented himself from being Brother Ray and a tag team wrestler with Brother Devon into becoming one of the top heels for Impact Wrestling. I remember really enjoying the heel singles run and bought into Bully in the role. Bully’s character was successful and won his first championship against Jeff Hardy at Lockdown 2013. Bully was also a main character in an angle where he was dating Brooke Hogan and eventually turned on her and Hulk. (Bully and Brooke briefly dated in real-life, according Brooke. Bizarre, right?)
Bully returned to WWE with Devon in 2015 for a brief two year run, and then he’s in ROH from 2017 to 2020. I can honestly say that I never watched Bully in ROH. I’m the kind of ROH fan that remembers it as the indie company from the early 2000s that had incredible matches and didn’t really rely on characters. Bully just never seemed like the ideal fit there. Perhaps I’ll do a project looking at that run at some point, I’m not sure.
After looking at what he had done in ROH, which didn’t seem to include much of anything noteworthy, I didn’t ever expect Bully to get a shot in a major company again as an onscreen wrestler. I had found that he wrestled Jerry Lawler on an indie show recently, but aside from being curious how that match would go he’s not someone I tend to care about.
But, then at Bound For Glory his music hit and the crowd erupted. I turned to my buddy Dallas and said “Wow, I can’t believe Bully is here.” I didn’t mind the surprise and figured that whomever eliminated him would get some good shine from it. I figured Maclin would eliminate Ray and get some more steam, or something along those lines.
As the match continued on, Bully was still in the match. Final eight, final five, final four and then it’s final two. Okay, It’s Bully and Maclin. Maclin will pin the former champion and clearly be the next guy to challenge the Impact World Champion. Maclin has been hit or miss for me, but this could be a good momentum shift for him.
Instead, Bully Ray wins the gauntlet match and now has a chance to go for the Impact World Championship whenever he wants. In the main event, Josh Alexander retained the Impact World Championship against Eddie Edwards in a fantastic match. But, the lasting impression was a showdown between Alexander and Ray.
That’s the next big match for Impact? Josh Alexander defending against Bully Ray? It seems as if Impact continues to take a step forward and then take a step back. I never would have said that a dream match would be Alexander defending against Bully Ray. This feels like Bully waited too long to return for this to be a positive turn of events.
Perhaps the showdown will allow Alexander to display a different side of his ability with brawling and hardcore tendencies. It’s just not a match that I’m drawn towards, at all. I would be shocked if Bully Ray won the title, but with Impact Wrestling you just never know.
What was your reaction to Bully Ray returning to Impact? Did you enjoy Bound For Glory?
Thanks for reading.
Bob Colling Jr. View All
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.
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