Throwback Tribute: Davey Boy Smith (1962–2002)

May 18, 2017 by Brock Allen

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15-years ago today the wrestling world lost an all-time great when Davey Boy Smith, “The British Bulldog”, passed away at the tragically young age of 39. To honor the life, career and legacy of Davey Boy Smith Throwback Thursday pauses to look back at ten of Smith’s greatest matches, hidden gems, and career-defining moments from the archives of the WWE Network.

Throwback Tribute: Davey Boy Smith (1962–2002)
WWE - 'British Bulldog' Davey Boy Smith Finisher, Running Powerslam

Born David Smith on November 27, 1962 in Golborne, Lancashire, England, the future “British Bulldog” was one of four children of Sid and Joyce Smith and the younger cousin (by nearly four-years) of Thomas “Dynamite Kid” Billington (born December 5, 1958). Trained by Ted Betley, whom Davey met through cousin Tom at the age of 12, Davey Boy made his pro debut at the age of 15 and first tasted success in wrestling on World of Sport as “Young David” teaming with Tom Billington. By the age of 17 Davey Boy joined the Dynamite Kid in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling promotion (as well as Japan) where both men shined.

When Stampede was acquired by Vince McMahon only Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid, and Davey Boy Smith (with Jim Neidhart to follow in the fall) made the final cut in the WWF with all three men making their unofficial WWF debuts on the same night, January 27, 1984, in Nagoya, Japan as part of a NJPW tour headlined by WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan.

Tag Team Match (WATCH – 25:40)
Goldie Rogers & Bobby Bass vs. Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid
Maple Leaf WrestlingOctober 21, 1984

WWE - Davey Boy Smith Debuts Teaming with The Dynamite Kid

Davey Boy Smith made his WWF TV debut in Toronto on September 23, 1984 on Maple Leaf Wrestling in a win over Goldie Rogers (a program currently unavailable on the Network but can be seen here). Though Davey and Dynamite had teamed on their NJPW tour this was their first tag team match in the WWF in North America. And what a debut it was. Featuring some decent psychology and action, and a flying headbutt for the ages, this match put the future “Bulldogs” on the map and was only the beginning for one of wrestling’s all-time great tag teams.

WWF Tag Team Championship (WATCH – 1:34:25)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Chet Coppock
The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) w/Capt. Lou Albano & Ozzy Osbourne vs. The Dream Team (Greg “The Hammer” Valentine & Brutus Beefcake w/Johnny Valiant
WWF WrestleMania 2April 7, 1986

The British Bulldogs made their names in the WWF with classic matches with The Hart Foundation, like this one from January 18, 1986 in Landover, Maryland. But it was the nearly year-long battle with The Dream Team that brought the Bulldogs their one and only taste of tag team gold in the WWF. In a match that stole the show, Davey Boy and Dynamite Kid finally dethroned The Dream Team and in the process put on one of WrestleMania‘s all-time great tag title matches. Unfortunately, a severe back injury to the Dynamite Kid on December 13, 1986 in Hamilton, Ontario (seen here) forced the Bulldogs to drop the Tag Team titles to The Hart Foundation on January 26, 1987 and led to the teams slow decline. Following a classic 10-on-10 elimination bout at the 1988 Survivor Series the two left the WWF to work the fledgling Stampede Wrestling promotion and All Japan Pro Wrestling, where the team finally came to an end in 1990.

WWF Intercontinental Championship (WATCH – 2:04:31)
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith vs. Bret “The Hitman” Hart(c)
WWF SummerSlam ’92August 29, 1992 (AIRED: Aug. 31, 1992)

WWE - British Bulldog Entrance with Union Jack Flag, SummerSlam '92
Tribute to Davey Boy Smith on WWE Network - Bulldog vs. Bret Hart, SummerSlam '92

Upon returning to the WWF in the fall of 1990 Davey Boy Smith found immediate mid-card success working a solid program with The Warlord, whom Davey worked at WrestleMania VII. As popular as Davey was in the U.S. Smith was a mega star in Europe. Seizing on Davey’s popularity the WWF staged SummerSlam ’92 at Wembley Stadium where over 78,000 fans gathered to see Davey Boy win his only Intercontinental title in a career-defining match that stands as one of the very best title matches in wrestling history. Davey Boy’s run with the title was cut short, however, when he failed a drug test for steroids. Smith’s last WWF match at that time came at the Saturday Night’s Main Event XXXI tapings on October 27, 1992 when he dropped the Intercontinental title to Shawn Michaels in another classic match.

WCW World Television Championship (WATCH – 42:45)
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith vs. “Lord” Steven Regal(c) w/Sir William
WCW Halloween Havoc ’93October 24, 1993

Davey Boy Smith signed with World Championship Wrestling on January 19, 1993, debuting at SuperBrawl III on February 21, 1993 in a win over “Wild” Bill Irwin. Though Davey Boy seemed to be headed towards a lengthy main event run in WCW a fight in a Calgary bar called The Back Alley that left a man in a coma brought Smith’s WCW run to a screeching halt. This overlooked classic from Halloween Havoc ’93 marked one of Smith’s final matches in the company. After BattleBowl ’93 in November Davey Boy Smith was released from his contract and fired from WCW. In January of ’94 Davey Boy, unable to return to the WWF, headed home to the UK where he worked for All Star Wrestling.

“1995 30-Man ‘Royal Rumble'” (WATCH – 1:53:07)
Special Guest Hostess: Pamela Anderson
1) Shawn Michaels, 2) Davey Boy Smith, 3) Eli Blu, 4) Duke Drose, 5) Jimmy Del Ray, 6) Sione, 7) Tom Prichard, 8) Doink the Clown, 9) Kwang, 10) Rick Martel, 11) Owen Hart, 12) Timothy Well, 13) Bushwhacker Luke, 14) Jacob Blu, 15) King Kong Bundy, 16) Mo, 17) Mable, 18) Bushwhacker Butch, 19) Lex Luger, 20) Mantaur, 21) Aldo Montoya, 22) Henry O. Godwinn, 23) Billy Gunn, 24) Bart Gunn, 25) Bob Backlund, 26) Steve Dunn, 27) Dick Murdoch, 28) Adam Bomb, 29) Fatu, & 30) Crush
WWF Royal Rumble 1995January 22, 1995

WWE - Shawn Michaels & British Bulldog Last to End of Royal Rumble Match in 1995

Davey Boy returned to the WWF at SummerSlam ’94 as part of the Owen/Bret saga as one of the few Hart family members not to turn on then-WWF Champion Bret. Bulldog, as popular as ever, would do battle with Million Dollar Corporation as well as Owen and Jim Neidhart before having yet another career-defining performance in the 1995 “Royal Rumble”. Starting and ending with Davey Boy and Shawn Michaels the 1995 “Royal Rumble” remains a classic, producing a classic finish that few of the preceding “Rumbles” have touched.

WWF World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 2:04:25)
Special Guest Referee: Mr. Perfect
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith w/Jim Cornette & Diana Smith vs. Shawn Michaels(c) w/Jose Lothario
WWF King of the Ring 1996 June 23, 1996

Following the 1995 “Royal Rumble” Davey Boy formed a short-lived tag team with Lex Luger (The Allied Powers) before turning heel on the August 21, 1995 edition of RAW when Davey attacked his partner, then-WWF Champion Diesel, and joining Camp Cornette with Owen Hart and Yokozuna. Davey would battle both Diesel and Bret Hart for the WWF titles in late 1995 before another strong showing in the 1996 “Royal Rumble”. By May of 1996 Davey Boy would become Shawn Michaels’ first real challenger to his newly won WWF World title. Though the two would have a great match at May’s In Your House: Beware of Dog event, it was their battle at the next month’s King of the Ring that remains one of the greatest matches in either mans career.

WWF Tag Team Championship (WATCH – 27:26)
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith & Owen Hart w/Clarence Mason vs. The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart) (c) w/Sunny
WWF In Your House 10: Mind GamesSeptember 22, 1996

WWE - Owen Hart & British Bulldog Win Tag Team Championships!

One of the highlights of Davey Boy’s career was his partnership with Owen Hart. An old school tag team that relied on psychology and the art of storytelling, Davey Boy and Owen quickly became one of the WWF’s best tag teams that despite their rule breaking ways were loved by fans in every city they worked in. This match marked the duos only WWF Tag Team title win, a reign that would last an incredible 246-days, the longest reign to that time since Demolition’s legendary then-record 478-day reign.

Finals of the Inaugural WWF European Championship Tournament – “Champion vs. Champion Match” (WATCH – 1:11:15)
WWF Tag Team Champion Owen Hart vs. WWF Tag Team Champion “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith
WWF Monday Night RAW #199February 26, 1997 (AIRED: March 3, 1997)

One can’t talk about the career of Davey Boy Smith without talking about this epic inaugural European Championship match. The match, however, came at a time when WCW was destroying the WWF in the ratings, making the WWF pay dearly for taping RAW in advance. This taped edition of RAW drew the lowest rating of the “Monday Night Wars” for either promotion and led to Vince Russo being given more control of creative, the debut the next week of “Raw is War”, and McMahon’s decision to go all-in on “WWF Attitude”. The match, however, boosted both men’s career and set the stage, four weeks later, for the formation of the new Hart Foundation.

“Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:16:52)
Steve “Mongo” McMichael vs. “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith
WCW SuperBrawl VIIIFebruary 22, 1998

Tribute to Davey Boy Smith on WWE Network - Bulldog vs. Mongo in WCW

Following the “Montreal screwjob” in November 1997 Davey Boy demanded and was granted his release from his WWF contract. Davey Boy followed Bret Hart to WCW where he debuted on the January 26, 1998 edition of NITRO against Steve “Mongo” McMichael in the first battle of their short, underrated program. The blow-off of the “Mongo”/Smith feud came at SuperBrawl VIII and exceeded expectations, producing a solid, stiff battle that ranks as one of McMichael’s best matches. Despite the solid start Davey Boy never quite got on track in WCW. In September ’98 at Fall Brawl ’98, Davey suffered a severe back injury that ground his career to a halt for nearly a year. While recovering Davey Boy’s drug problems began to spiral and he was released from his WCW contract.

WWF Hardcore Championship (WATCH – 1:08:51)
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith vs. Crash Holly(c)
WWF Insurrextion 2000May 6, 2000

Tribute to Davey Boy Smith on WWE Network - Bulldog vs. Crash Holly

Davey Boy would return to the WWF for the third and final time on the September 9, 1999 edition of SmackDown!, winning the Hardcore title from Boss Man before handing it off to Al Snow, who was feuding with Boss Man at the time. The return, which saw Davey Boy join forces with The Mean Street Posse and win his second and last European title, was cut short in January 2000 when Davey Boy’s demons, compounded by his divorce from wife Diana, forced him into WWF-sponsored rehab.

This match from Insurrextion (the first title change on UK-exclusive PPV since Davey Boy lost the European title to Shawn Michaels at One Night Only) marked Davey’s surprise return from rehab and the first steps towards getting his career back on track. It wasn’t to be, however, and Davey wrestled his final match with the WWF on the May 28, 2000 edition of Sunday Night Heat (a series currently unavailable on the Network) in a double-DQ with European Champion Eddie Guerrero.

After his release from the WWF in May 2000 Davey Boy returned to rehab and stepped away from wrestling for a time. Helping train his son, Harry Smith (who like his father debuted at the age of 15), Davey Boy resumed his own training. Davey Boy and Harry Smith worked a series of tag team matches together on May 10 & 11, 2002 for Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling before Davey Boy went on vacation with girlfriend (and estranged wife of Bruce Hart) Andrea in Invermere, British Columbia where, on May 18, 2002, Davey Boy Smith passed away in his sleep at the age of 39.

Final Thoughts

For much of his 24-year career Davey Boy Smith was among the very best wrestlers in the world.

Though his life ended far too soon Davey Boy created a legacy between the ropes that ensures that so long as there is professional wrestling the “British Bulldog” will never be forgotten.

WWE - 'The British Bulldog' Davey Boy Smith Signature Entrance with UK Flag

Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then help celebrate the life and legacy of Davey Boy Smith by watching some of his greatest matches and moments! And, as always, tell us what you think in the comments below. Which is your favorite Davey Boy Smith moment/match?

Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!

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9 Comments left on this article...

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  1. Dennis winship says:

    I use to watch the british bulldog wrestle. He was one of my favorite wrestlers. Dennis winship lynn,massachusetts

  2. justin f says:

    There is speculation that he does get inducted next year.

  3. CMW says:

    Great story, and a great wrestler. Shame he’s not in the Hall of Fame yet. Koko B. Ware made it, but Bulldog doesn’t?

    • CMW says:

      I should clarify. Nothing against Koko, but I feel that Bulldog should have been inducted before him, and is long past due for an induction.

      • brandon vendetta says:

        The hall of fame makes no sense as far as who goes in before others. It never has and probably never will. Like you said koko is in but Davey boy isn’t.what a joke. They will probably induct Eugene and yurple the clown before they induct Davey boy. It’s so stupid how their mindset works in WWE but sadly I’m probably right.

  4. RCS1988 says:

    inal time on the September 9, 2000 edition of SmackDown! It was September 9, 1999.

    • Brock Allen says:

      You are right, RCW1988, that was a typo on my part.

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! Have a good one!

  5. Robert emons says:

    Very nice throwback now just waiting on the payback and backlash 2017 dvd covers!

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