We get to grips with Wrestler and ‘soccer’ fan Bully Ray

http://www.halftimewhistle.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Bully-Ray.jpghttp://www.halftimewhistle.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Bully-Ray.jpgWe get to grips with Wrestler and ‘soccer’ fan Bully Ray

Most Americans just don’t seem to quite get what all the fuss is about when it comes to our national sport or, as they call it across the pond, “soccer”.

When they do get involved we hear countless more amusing differences in terminology, for example if a game finishes zero-zero (nil-nil) that means both Goaltenders (keepers) got a shut-out (clean sheet). Maybe there was a denied PK (saved penalty)? Maybe the starters aren’t fit to wear the uniform? Maybe they don’t even deserve to be on that franchise’s roster !?

And who can forget after the World Cup match between England and USA when the  New York Post ran with the headline “USA WINS 1-1.” Classic!

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We caught up with one American to give him the chance to flaunt his soccer knowledge. TNA Wrestler Bully Ray is a massive fan of the Premier League and beyond.

“I’ve always been a fan of soccer since I was a kid, I was never in a team but played it for fun,” the Grappler from Queens, New York, exclusively told Halftime Whistle. “My family are from Italian dissent and I remember watching with my grandfather a team from Bari in Italy.

“I always loved the sport and as I got older it was always hard to find quality soccer in the US. We’ve got a channel over here Fox Soccer Channel where we can follow the Premier League and Italian League and all the other top European leagues.

“I’m not a fan of one particular team in the Premier League but rather a fan of the whole of the Premier League – it’s such as fast, aggressive style and I just love the passion of the game.

“I really am a fan of soccer for one reason and one reason only and that is the passion of the game. It is the passion of the fans, I don’t believe that American sports can generate that genuine passion, I believed it’s more forced in the United States.”

Bully Ray is used to winning titles between the ropes, he’s a 23-time tag-team champion and a two-time World Champion, and he supports an equally successful soccer franchise, AC Milan, and puts that down to one very specific inspiration.

“I became an AC Milan fan because I was such a big fan of Gattuso and his style of play,” he adds. “Gattuso is a bully on the field which pretty much sums it all up as I’m a Bully in the ring!

“One of the things that is on my bucket list that I definitely want to do is to see in person a match between Inter and Milan at the San Siro.”

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Bully Ray and the rest of the TNA roster arrive on these shores for their annual UK Tour at the end of January but over the years he has never been to see a live football match before.

“I have been coming over the UK on tours with the WWE and TNA for years now,” Ray continued. “But I’ve never actually managed to watch a game over in Europe. I would love to see any Premier League game.”

One of the key reasons behind his love of European football is down to the structure of the sport, especially how it differs from those in American.

“In Europe you’re not only fighting for first place but last place as well. Nobody wants to finish last because you will disgrace your team and get relegated, it makes things a lot more interesting.”

Known for antics as a ‘heel’ (bad guy) and winding up audiences, Bully Ray has used football to get under the skins of UK audiences in the past.

“A few years ago when I performed in Manchester I came out wearing a Steven Gerrard Liverpool jersey and that got the crowd going pretty well!”

Pretty brave I think you’d agree! But I suppose you can afford to be when you’re 6ft 3″ and 325lbs (23 stone). Either way it’s good to see he understands the banter as well!

Tickets for TNA UK 2014 Tour are available from www.facebook.com/tnawrestlinguk, www.gigsandtours.com/tour/tna-wrestling, and www.ticketmaster.com

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Josh Modaberi

Spurs fan by trade. Failed footballer, now professional sports journalist specialising in football and wrestling. HTW’s interviewer extraordinaire!