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David "Davey" Boy Smith (November 27, 1962 – May 18, 2002) was a British professional wrestler, also known as (The) British Bulldog, who was born in Golborne in North West England, United Kingdom. Smith is known for his appearances with Stampede Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Described by WWE (previously the WWF) as "one of the most physically impressive individuals in WWE history", Smith found success as both a singles and tag competitor, holding every major title in the organization except the WWF Championship. Smith competed in multiple pay-per-view main events in the WWF and WCW, and challenged for the top titles of both promotions.
Smith was trained by Ted Betley in Winwick, England before relocating to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to further his training under Stu Hart. While training with Hart, Smith met Stu and Helen Hart's youngest daughter Diana, whom he married in 1984. They had two children, Harry (born on August 2, 1985) and Georgia (born on September 26, 1987). He and Diana were divorced in 2000.
Professional wrestling career
Early years (1978–1984)
Davey Boy Smith started competing on ITV's World of Sport when he was only 15, wrestling under the name Young David with his slightly older cousin Tom Billington (Dynamite Kid). His first televised match, broadcast September 2, 1978, saw him draw with one pin each between himself and Bernie Wright. He would wrestle there for four and a half years until February 1983 with his final match again being against Wright, this time winning two pinfalls to one. In World of Sport he wrestled, among others, Dave Finlay, Blackjack Mulligan and Marty Jones as well as teaming with Big Daddy. He also had a series of matches with Jim Breaks, from whom he won the British Welterweight Championship in 1979 by two falls to one submission. The belt was held up due to the match's disputed finish.
He was then spotted by Bruce Hart scouting talent in the UK and travelled to Canada to wrestle for Stu Hart with his cousin. Stu Hart and Roy Wood trained Smith further in his "Dungeon" and Smith became a key wrestler in Hart's promotion, Stampede Wrestling. During his time in Stampede, Smith began a feud with the Dynamite Kid, and on July 9, 1982, he [Smith] won his first title when he defeated the Dynamite Kid for the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight title.
In 1983, Smith debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling where he became involved in a three-way feud with Dynamite Kid and The Cobra (George Takano) over the NWA Junior Heavyweight Title. On February 7, 1984, a three-way, one-night tournament was held, and Dynamite Kid won the tournament by defeating Smith via count-out, and the Cobra by pinfall. After the tournament, Smith and Dynamite Kid formed a tag team in both New Japan and in Stampede Wrestling known as the British Bulldogs. In 1984, the Bulldogs made a shocking move by jumping to New Japan's rival, All Japan Pro Wrestling just before the start of All Japan's annual Tag Team tournament. The Bulldogs made a nice showing in the tournament, which drew the interest of the World Wrestling Federation.
World Wrestling Federation (1984–1988)
The Bulldogs, along with Smith's brothers-in-law Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart were brought in to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) after Vince McMahon bought out Stampede Wrestling. At first, the Bulldogs were able to tour both WWF and All Japan, but eventually McMahon gained exclusive rights to the Bulldogs. While in the WWF, the Bulldogs began a long running feud with Hart and Neidhart, who were now known as The Hart Foundation.
The Bulldogs also feuded with the The Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake). At WrestleMania 2, with "Captain" Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne in their corner, the Bulldogs defeated the Dream Team for the Tag Team Championship. The Bulldogs held the titles for nearly nine months, feuding with the Dream Team and Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik.
In January 1987, the Bulldogs lost the titles to the Hart Foundation due to a severe back injury to the Dynamite Kid. After losing the titles, the Bulldogs gained a mascot, an actual bulldog who went by the name Matilda, and feuded with the likes of The Islanders (who, kayfabe, dog-napped Matilda), Demolition, and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers.
The Bulldogs left the World Wrestling Federation in 1988, in part due to backstage problems between the Bulldogs, specifically the Dynamite Kid, and the Rougeau Brothers over a prank pulled by Curt Hennig. The Bulldogs, noted ribbers (pranksters) in their own right, were blamed for the prank, leading to a series of confrontations which culminated in Jacques Rougeau knocking out four of the Dynamite Kid's teeth with a fist filled with a roll of quarters. Though there are various accounts of this situation, many suggest that Billington drew first blood by bullying Rougeau (among many others including The Honky Tonk Man, whom Dynamite, allegedly, brought to tears) in Miami. While Rougeau was playing cards backstage, from behind, Billington smacked Jacques in the ear and then punched and kicked him in the face several times and also struck Raymond, who was on crutches at the time. It was weeks before Jacques responded. Bret Hart wrote about the incident, in his book HITMAN: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling: "At first I was upset, and contemplated getting involved. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that Tom had been asking for this for years and that everyone who'd been bullied by him would rejoice at the news." After no disciplinary action was taken against Jacques, Billington quit the WWF, and Smith followed suit.
Stampede Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling (1988–1990)
After leaving the World Wrestling Federation, the Bulldogs returned to Stampede Wrestling, and also to All Japan Pro Wrestling. Stampede officials were hopeful that the return of the Bulldogs would revive a struggling promotion, but they were unsuccessful. Eventually, the decision was made to split up the Bulldogs, which caused some problems with All Japan owner Giant Baba, who was still promoting the Bulldogs as a tag team. On July 4, 1989, Smith, along with fellow wrestlers Chris Benoit, Ross Hart, and Jason the Terrible, was involved in a serious automobile accident. Smith, who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time, needed 135 stitches after slamming his head through the windshield and being thrown 25 feet onto the pavement. He recovered, and the Bulldogs continued teaming in All-Japan against teams such as Joe and Dean Malenko, Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, and The Nasty Boys. Personal problems began to surface between Smith and Billington, and Smith later left All Japan to return to the WWF. During times in All Japan when Billington was injured, Smith would team with another canine inspired character, Romeo Magruder.
World Wrestling Federation (1990–1992)
Smith was pushed as the same character from the British Bulldogs' original WWF run, but this time as a singles star under the name The British Bulldog, and was much bigger in terms of muscle mass than he was in his first WWF run. He was a fairly popular wrestler in the United States, but was a huge attraction to fans in the United Kingdom, due in part to the WWF becoming a ratings hit on Sky Sports, as well as the promotion touring the country holding supercards such as UK Rampage which saw Smith defeat The Warlord at the London Arena in March 1991 and the Battle Royal at the Royal Albert Hall in which Smith won a 20-man battle royal by eliminating Typhoon on October 13, 1991. After entering as the first man in the 1992 Royal Rumble, he eliminated "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Jerry Sags, and Haku before being eliminated by Ric Flair.
Smith again headlined the WWF's European tours at European Rampage again winning a 15-man battle royal by eliminating The Mountie in München, Germany on April 14, 1992 and defeated Irwin R. Schyster in Sheffield, England on April 19, 1992.
In 1992, due to this newfound popularity, the WWF decided to hold its annual SummerSlam pay-per-view in Wembley Stadium in London. The show was main-evented by Smith (led to the ring by the British Heavyweight Boxing champion Lennox Lewis) and Bret Hart in a match for Hart's Intercontinental Championship. Initially, Hart was to lose the title to Shawn Michaels, but Hart suggested that Smith get the win at Summerslam as it would mean big business in England. On August 29, at SummerSlam, in front of 80,355 of his countrymen, Smith won the Intercontinental Title in a match which is regarded by many wrestling experts as the finest in his career. Smith lost the title to Michaels on the November 14 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event and was later released by the WWF. The reason for Smith's release was that he and The Ultimate Warrior were receiving shipments of Human Growth Hormone from a pharmacy in England. The Warrior was released as well.
World Championship Wrestling (1993)
Smith had a stint with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1993, immediately targeting the main event scene. He engaged in feuds with Sid Vicious and Big Van Vader, whom he challenged for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Slamboree, and formed a mildly successful alliance with Sting. He was officially billed as Davey Boy Smith but was referred to as The British Bulldog frequently and interchangeably with Davey Boy Smith. He and Diana had trademarked the British Bulldog name early in his WWF career, which meant he owned the name and gimmick and was free to use it anywhere he went. This was the source of animosity between the Dynamite Kid and Smith.
In July 1993, he was reportedly involved in an altercation with a man at a bar who was making advances towards his wife. As a result of the altercation (and the ensuing legal issues that followed), WCW released him from his contract. His final pay-per-view appearance for WCW came at the Battlebowl pay-per-view. He was teamed with Kole in the first round of the Lethal Lottery; they lost to Road Warrior Hawk and Rip Rogers. Before his firing in November, he was scheduled to feud with Rick Rude over the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship; he was subsequently replaced in the feud by The Boss.
Independent circuit (1994)
In 1994, he worked for some independents in Great Britain before returning to the WWF.
World Wrestling Federation (1994–1997)
Smith returned to the WWF at SummerSlam, as a spectator with the rest of the Hart family. Smith immediately became involved in an ongoing family feud between Bret Hart and his brother, Owen Hart. Smith teamed up with Bret against Owen and Jim Neidhart in a series of tag team matches.
Smith appeared at the 1994 Survivor Series in a 10-man elimination match. His partners were WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, and The Headshrinkers. They faced Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and Diesel, Owen Hart, Jeff Jarrett, and Jim Neidhart. Smith was eventually counted out, but his team won the match after the entire other side was counted out while trying to stop Diesel and Michaels from fighting in the back.
After entering the Royal Rumble as the second entrant, Smith and Shawn Michaels were the final two at the end. Smith tossed Michaels over the ropes and celebrated on the second turnbuckle. However, only one of Michaels feet hit the floor and he was able to reenter the ring, and eliminate Smith from behind, whilst Smith's music was playing and he was celebrating on the turnbuckles. Soon after, Smith began teaming with Lex Luger as the Allied Powers. The team wasn't much of a success and only wrestled on two pay-per-views as a tag team. The first came at WrestleMania XI were they defeated The Blu Brothers. The second came at In Your House 2 were they lost to Tag Team Champions Owen Hart and Yokozuna in July. Afterward the team briefly began feuding with Men on a Mission. During this time, Smith began teasing a heel turn at several live shows where he walked out on Luger during several of their matches together. Another incident saw him antagonize fans for chanting "USA" during their matches together, as they often had done. The normally affable, happy-go-lucky Smith became bitter and spiteful, and would get easily annoyed with the fans and his partner.
On the August 21 episode of Monday Night Raw, the Allied Powers were supposed to face Men on a Mission but Luger (kayfabe) no-showed the match; Smith found a replacement in then-WWF Champion Diesel. During the match, Smith completed his heel turn and attacked Diesel, assisting Men on a Mission in beating down the champion. He left the ring with manager Jim Cornette and joined former adversaries Owen Hart and Yokozuna in Cornette's stable. With a new look and attitude, Smith knocked down challenges from the likes of Bam Bam Bigelow among others, and pinned Diesel in a six-man tag team match on RAW to earn a WWF title shot.
Smith received a WWF Championship shot against Diesel in the main event of In Your House 4 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Smith won by disqualification after Bret Hart interfered. At the Survivor Series in Landover, Maryland, Smith participated in the Wild Card eight-man elimination match. He teamed with Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, and Sycho Sid. They faced WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon, Dean Douglas, Owen Hart, and Yokozuna. Smith, Michaels, and Johnson were the survivors.
In the main event of December's In Your House 5 from Hershey, Pennsylvania, Smith was granted a title shot against new WWF Champion Bret Hart in a rematch from their SummerSlam match back in 1992. They had another well-received match, yet Hart won this time. A notable incident from this match was that Hart bled during the match, which was controversial because WWF outlawed bleeding at the time.
Smith entered the 1996 Royal Rumble, where he made it to the final four before being eliminated by Shawn Michaels. At In Your House 6, he lost to Yokozuna by disqualification after Vader interfered. At WrestleMania XII, he teamed with Vader and Owen Hart to defeat Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson, and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. At In Your House 7 in April, Smith and Owen Hart defeated Johnson and Roberts after Smith forced Roberts to submit.
In 1996, after Shawn Michaels became WWF Champion, Smith was put in a feud with the new champion. The feud was supposedly based on Smith's wife, Diana, accusing Michaels of hitting on her, which made Smith mad and determined to take the title from Michaels. The two main-evented the In Your House 8 pay-per-view, and their match ended in a double pin when Michaels German suplexed Smith and both their shoulders were counted down by separate referees. A rematch between the two headlined the 1996 King of the Ring pay-per-view. Michaels ended up successfully defending the title. During this time Smith agreed to join WCW where he was to be the fourth member of the nWo. However, the day he was meant to join he instead re-signed for the WWF with a five-year contract.
Afterwards, Smith formed a tag team with his brother-in-law, Owen Hart, and the two soon won the Tag Team Titles from The Smoking Gunns. The team defended their titles against teams such as Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon, Vader and Mankind, and The Legion of Doom.
In 1997, the WWF created the European Championship and Smith became the first ever holder of the title, winning a tournament in Germany, which culminated in him defeating his own tag team partner, Owen Hart in the finals, which made Smith a double champion. A match considered one of the best that year. According to Bret Hart's autobiography, the title was awarded to Smith to appease him for unfulfilled promises Vince McMahon had made.
Hart and Smith later joined forces with Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Brian Pillman to re-form the Hart Foundation as a villainous faction which feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin and other American wrestlers. This created a rift between American fans, who despised the Hart Foundation, and Canadian fans, who revered the Hart Foundation. Smith and Owen dropped the Tag Team Titles to Austin and Michaels, and lost the final match in a tournament for the vacant Tag Team Titles to Austin and Dude Love. Smith then started a feud with Ken Shamrock for the European Title, and eventually lost the European Title to Shawn Michaels in the main event of British pay-per-view One Night Only. Smith was booked to successfully defend the belt against Michaels. However, Michaels convinced Vince McMahon that he should win, as it would create build-up not only for his impending rematch with Bret Hart, but also for a rematch against Smith at the next British pay-per-view. Smith reluctantly agreed, and fans at the event, who gave Smith an ovation, voiced their displeasure by booing Michaels and littering the ring with garbage. This marks the only time Smith lost on a WWF card in the United Kingdom, and the third championship Smith has lost to Shawn Michaels. After the events at Survivor Series 1997, Smith, along with Bret Hart and Neidhart, left the WWF for WCW.
World Championship Wrestling (1998)
Smith re-joined WCW as the British Bulldog and immediately began a feud with Steve "Mongo" McMichael, who was complaining about all the wrestlers coming from "Up North". Smith and Neidhart later formed a tag team. They challenged for the World Tag Team Championship on several occasions, but failed to win the titles.
Smith suffered a knee injury in April 1998 that sidelined him for a month. He suffered another injury on September 13, 1998 at Fall Brawl during his match with Neidhart against the Dancing Fools (Disco Inferno and Alex Wright). While taking a bump, Smith landed awkwardly on a trapdoor that had been set in the ring to enable The Warrior to make a dramatic entrance in the night's main event. The result was a spinal infection that nearly paralyzed Smith, hospitalizing him for six months. While recuperating, Smith received a FedEx informing him that his WCW contract had been terminated.
World Wrestling Federation (1999–2000)
Smith returned to the WWF in September 1999 following the death of Owen Hart in an in-ring accident. In keeping with the company's new "Attitude era", Smith began wrestling in jeans instead of his usual Union Flag-adorned tights and his theme music was changed from "Rule, Britannia!" to a remix of that particular theme, and later to rock music (complete with the sounds of a dog barking as the song began) that the WWF used for most of its talent at the time. On the September 7 episode of SmackDown! in Albany, New York, Smith defeated The Big Boss Man for the Hardcore Championship. Smith forfeited the title giving the belt back to Al Snow because Boss Man had previously (kayfabe) dog-napped Snow's dog Pepper to win the title from him, driving him insane in the process. Smith then began pursuing the WWF Championship, eventually turning into a villain and beginning a feud with The Rock. Smith headlined Unforgiven as part of a six-man WWF Championship Match that was won by Triple H. On October 2, Smith returned to England as a heel at Rebellion, where he defeated X-Pac. He lost to The Rock at No Mercy later that month.
On May 6, 2000 in London, Smith defeated Crash Holly for the Hardcore Championship. In one of Smith's last televised appearances, Holly regained the title from him in New Haven, Connecticut on the May 11 episode of SmackDown!. His last televised match with the WWF was on Sunday Night Heat some weeks later, when he burst into Eddie Guerrero and Chyna's locker room, accusing Guerrero (who was the European Champion at the time) of not treating the belt with the respect it deserved. This led to a title match on Heat, in which both men were disqualified.
Before his death, Smith had been training with the intent of resuming his career, and had wrestled in three tag team matches with his son, Harry "D.H." Smith the previous weekend.
Smith and his wife Diana had two children, Harry (born August 2, 1985) and Georgia (born September 26, 1987). In early 2000, Diana divorced Smith, with Smith being given shared custody of their children. At the same time, he entered a drug rehabilitation clinic at the behest and expense of Vince McMahon due to his problems with prescription painkillers and morphine since his back injury he suffered in WCW. He was released from the company shortly thereafter.
Andrea Redding who was his girlfriend from 2000 to his death has stated that she and Smith were planning to get married shortly before his passing.
Smith died on May 18, 2002 after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Invermere, British Columbia with his girlfriend, Bruce Hart's estranged wife Andrea Redding. An autopsy revealed that past anabolic steroid use may have played a part in his death, but no certain reason was found. It is apparent that stress, serious injuries, and the use of drugs took its toll on the wrestler. Bruce Hart claimed "Davey paid the price with steroid cocktails and human-growth hormones."
Two funeral services were held, one by Andrea and the other by the Hart family. Bret Hart attended both.
He is buried in his home town of Golborne.
On April 6, 2010, the WWE released Hart & Soul: The Hart Family Anthology, which is a 3 DVD set featuring a documentary on the Hart wrestling family (including Davey Boy Smith) as well as 12 matches. It is unique in that it also features previously unseen home movies from the Harts as well as candid interviews from surviving family members. On April 28, 2010, the WWE put his wrestling profile on the "WWE Alumni" Page. Smith (along with brother-in-law Bret Hart and former tag partner Lex Luger) is also a downloadable character in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Arm drag often followed by a submission hold
- Camel clutch
- Clothesline, sometimes with high impact
- Diving crossbody
- Hanging vertical suplex
- Headbutt, sometimes in a series while trapping the opponent's arms
- Military press drop
- Running powerbomb
- Running shoulder block
- Shoot kick to the head of a kneeling or seated opponent
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- January 2 Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal Winner (1989)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI Match of the Year (1992) vs. Bret Hart at SummerSlam
- PWI ranked him #15 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1993
- PWI ranked him #5 of the 100 best tag teams of the PWI Years in 2003 with The Dynamite Kid
- PWI ranked him #53 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Stampede Wrestling
- NWA Stampede International Tag Team Championship (Calgary version) (2 times) – with Bruce Hart
- Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with The Dynamite Kid
- Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- Stampede World Mid-Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame
- WWWA Intercontinental Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Federation
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- WWE.com Profile
- Davey Boy Smith profile at CAGEMATCH.net
- Davey Boy Smith at Online World of Wrestling
- "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith at the Internet Movie Database