Bull Dempsey’s bad breed: NXT’s Wrecking Ball on wrestling’s most dangerous outlaws
Since his arrival in NXT several months ago, Bull Dempsey has demolished everyone set in his path. From the outset, the tough New Yorker has proclaimed himself to be old school, a throwback and “the last of a dying breed.”
What exactly is he hoping to bring back?
“Brutality,” Bull stated simply. “Anyone who steps in the ring with me should say a prayer to whatever god they believe in.”
Dempsey’s thuggish demeanor may be rare in today’s politically correct world, but it wasn’t uncommon in the all-or-nothing days of territory wrestling where outlaw grapplers fought their way across the country both in and out of the ring. NXT’s Wrecking Ball is out to prove that he’s the one to continue the line of dangerous brawlers in squared-circle combat.
“I think it’s far too long since somebody like me has shown up,” Dempsey explained. “A lot of the guys I’m going to tell you about are forgotten or they’re wrestlers that people miss. Thankfully, this is a time when our industry is getting back to their kind of values. I’m just the right guy to bring it back to the forefront.”
While Bull Dempsey may not utilize a ton of throws like ECW’s Human Suplex Machine, he was greatly influenced by the orange-and-black-clad Tazz.
“Growing up in New York, we got a lot of ECW, so I got the chance to see him early on,” Dempsey explained. “There was this atmosphere when he came out, along with his presence, you knew that he was a guy who was going to come at you full force. You felt bad for whoever he was in the ring with.”
Dempsey later spent a great deal of time perfecting his craft with The One Man Crime Spree. That may have been where the brawler picked up his nasty attitude and vicious in-ring style.
“I think just being around him for as long as I was, it rubbed off on me,” Dempsey said.
That wasn’t the only thing that Tazz passed on to Bull.
“My singlet is cut just like his,” he explained. “That was his idea and something I feel like he passed on to me. It’s pretty cool, looking back on it.”
Tazz wasn’t the only ring veteran Dempsey bonded with during his time on the independent wrestling scene. The other grappler Bull considers a mentor might surprise people, considering the generation gap between them.
Matt Borne was bred to be a wrestler. The son of “Tough” Tony Borne, a star in the Portland, Oregon, territory, Matt was known on the national stage as Big Josh in WCW and the original Doink the Clown in WWE. But it was Borne’s early years that had the greatest influence on Dempsey. Particularly vicious back then, Borne dominated World Class Championship Wrestling with “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer and ran roughshod in Mid-South Wrestling as part of The Rat Pack with Ted DiBiase and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan.
“He was a guy that was always moving forward, always looking to snatch somebody up and beat them up,” Dempsey said. “He was no-nonsense, straightforward. You knew he was going to do something bad if he got his hands on you.”
Dempsey got to know a different side of Borne when he started hanging around him at independent shows. He credits Borne with keeping him on track to getting to WWE.
“He took me under his wing when he didn’t have to,” Bull said. “He saw something in me and was always positive, telling me to be patient and keep working hard, that my time would come.”
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Anyone wanting to make a name for themselves in sports-entertainment would be well-served to study every move “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made, and Dempsey’s no different
“He’s obviously one of the biggest stars in the history of our industry, if not the biggest, and did everything his own way,” Bull said.
Dempsey admires the changes Austin underwent after being let go by WCW, channeling his anger to push himself to the limit in ECW and WWE as one of the toughest men to ever step in the ring.
“It’s amazing when you go back and watch the transformation he made,” Dempsey said. “But no matter what, he always stayed true to himself and his beliefs. Plus, when you watch him beat somebody down, it’s pretty fun.”
When you think of Terry Funk, it’s easy to focus on the “middle-aged and crazy” brawler that survived barbed wire wars with Sabu and went on to wreak havoc in WWE and WCW. But that was just part of his storied career. Funk’s staying power throughout the years is something that Dempsey loves.
“I think it’s amazing, because you rarely see somebody who can keep up with the times and stay such a respected name in the industry for so long,” Dempsey said. “It’s what we all should aspire to do. Terry Funk is someone every Superstar should aspire to be.”
While Dempsey may not be the technical wizard that Funk was early in his career, the brawler from the concrete jungles of New York believes he’ll be demolishing opponents for as long as Funk.
“I don’t see why not,” he said. “I think with the WWE Performance Center, there’s all the possibility in the world. All the tools are right in my hands to make it happen.”
The man known as “Captain Redneck” may fly under the radar of all but the most hardcore fans, but Bull Dempsey is a student of Dick Murdoch’s game.
When asked what he admired most about Murdoch, Dempsey said, “His style, his tenacity and the way he could incite a crowd.”
Whether he was tearing up the territories with fellow Texas Outlaw Dusty Rhodes, joining forces with New Yorker Adrian Adonis in WWE or taking part in whatever brawl he could find, Murdoch did anything he could to come out on top. That’s the biggest takeaway Dempsey got from the Waxahachie native.
“No matter how much he had to cheat or how dirty he had to fight, he got the win,” Dempsey said.
If that’s the kind of brawler Bull Dempsey is modeling himself after, the rest of the NXT locker room had best be prepared for the fight of their life when they enter the ring with the Wrecking Ball.