“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020 during WrestleMania 36 Week in Tampa. The news was first broken by the official WWE podcast, WWE After the Bell with Corey Graves.
British Bulldog joins Batista, nWo members Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash & Shawn Waltman, The Bella Twins and JBL in the Class of 2020.
Smith first broke into the squared circle as a teenager in his home country of England, competing alongside his cousin, Dynamite Kid. The two Brits soon caught the eye of The Hart Family, who brought them to Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling. There, Smith and Dynamite grew as competitors, both as rivals and tag team partners.
Known as The British Bulldogs, the two quickly became one of the most impressive tag teams in the world. Smith’s raw power was the perfect complement to Dynamite Kid’s speed and precision. The two debuted in WWE in 1984 and quickly became one of the WWE Universe’s most beloved tandems as they engaged in a rivalry with The Hart Foundation. At WrestleMania 2, with heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne in their corner, The Bulldogs defeated The Dream Team to capture the World Tag Team Championship on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
At the tail end of the 1980s, Smith & Dynamite Kid left WWE to compete internationally, but Smith returned in 1990. Competing as The British Bulldog, he once again became immensely popular with the WWE Universe, this time as a singles competitor. Bulldog’s return to WWE was highlighted by two huge victories in his homeland. First, he outlasted 19 other Superstars to win a 1991 Battle Royal in London’s Royal Albert Hall. One year later, in front of more than 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, he defeated Bret “Hit Man” Hart to win the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 1992 in what is widely regarded as one of WWE’s finest matches.
The British Bulldog would continue to be a globally renowned Superstar throughout the 1990s with stints in WCW as well as WWE, where he became the first-ever WWE European Champion, Hardcore Champion and held the World Tag Team Championship once again, this time with Owen Hart.
Although British Bulldog passed away in 2002, his impact on WWE cannot be denied, and he is more than deserving of enshrinement in the WWE Hall of Fame. Don’t miss British Bulldog take his place in sports-entertainment history at the 2020 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, April 2, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., and streaming live on WWE Network.
For more than 7 years, Team Davey Boy Smith has worked so hard, with the support of the Hart family, the Bulldog family, wrestlers and fans, for this moment, allowing a proud son to honour his father and induct him into the WWE Hall of Fame. Harry Smith, better known as Davey Boy Smith Jr., proudly announced the news on Corey Graves’ WWE After The Bell podcast. “It’s been long overdue, but I’m really excited and glad to induct my father into the Hall of Fame,” Smith Jr. said on the podcast. “It’s something great not only for my family but for the WWE Universe as well, and I’m so excited and jacked up about it.”
The Bulldog’s daughter, Georgia, stated on social media they learnt about the induction a month ago and were asked not to reveal it. She also said her pride for her father. The legacy of The British Bulldog is tremendous, mostly at a time where all eyes are on UK wrestling. He has inspired generations of wrestlers, but also generations of fans.
A favorite of the @WWE Universe, decorated career and a source of national pride for the entire @WWEUK, British Bulldog is taking his rightful place in the #WWEHOF. Together, we can celebrate his in-ring career and memory as a father, husband, and Superstar. pic.twitter.com/aRzFrXPKOQ
— Triple H (@TripleH) March 12, 2020
Davey Boy Smith won titles within the WWF in three decades, from the 1980s to the 2000s. He headlined multiple pay-per-view events in the WWF and WCW, which included matches for the WWF and WCW world heavyweight championships, and defeated his real-life brother-in-law Bret Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship in the main event of SummerSlam 1992 at London’s Wembley Stadium, in front of 80,355 people. He was the inaugural WWF European Champion and holds the records for longest single reign (206 days) and total days as champion; he also held the title on the sole occasion where a match for that championship headlined a pay-per-view event, at One Night Only in 1997. Prior to finding singles success, Smith achieved stardom as one half of The British Bulldogs tag team, alongside his cousin Dynamite Kid.
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, the Dynamite Kid, Tom Billington. Mentored by Billington’s friend Alan Dennison, in 1979 Smith appeared to have won the British Welterweight championship from Jim Breaks only for the win to be disallowed due to Dennison distracting Breaks. Smith then held Breaks to a 1-1 draw, as a result of which Dennison himself challenged and defeated Breaks for the belt. Smith was then spotted by Bruce Hart, who was scouting talent in the UK, and both he and Billington travelled to Canada to wrestle for Stu Hart. 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 9 July 1982, 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 7 February 1984, a three-way, one-night-only 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.
The Bulldogs, along with Smith’s brothers-in-law Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart were brought in to the 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 Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake). At WrestleMania II, with 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. On 26 January 1987 episode of Superstars, 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, Demolition, and The Rougeau Brothers. The Bulldogs left the WWF in 1988.
After leaving the World Wrestling Federation, the Bulldogs returned to Stampede Wrestling, and also to All Japan Pro Wrestling. In Japan, they feuded with 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.
Smith returned to the WWF in 1990, where he 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, which he had trademarked during his earlier tag team run in the WWF. He made his televised in-ring return on 27 October episode of Superstars, where he defeated the Brooklyn Brawler. Over the next two years, Smith was a mid-carder, feuding with the likes of The Warlord and Mr. Perfect. Smith 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 supershows such as UK Rampage on March 1991 and the Battle Royal at the Albert Hall in which Smith won a 20-man battle royal by eliminating Typhoon on 3 October 1991. Smith again headlined the WWF’s European tours at European Rampage again in 1992.
In 1992, due to Smith’s newfound popularity in the United Kingdom, 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 then British, Commonwealth & European Heavyweight Boxing champion Lennox Lewis, and Bret Hart in a match for Hart’s Intercontinental Championship. On 29 August, in front of 80,355 of his homeland fans, Smith won the title in a match which is regarded by many wrestling experts as the finest in his career. Originally, the WWF was going to have Hart drop the title to Shawn Michaels prior to SummerSlam. Smith lost the title to Michaels on 14 November Saturday Night’s Main Event XXXI and was later released by the WWF. From 1992 to 1994, he would work for Eastern Championship Wrestling, AJPW, WCW and All Star Wrestling in the UK.
Smith returned to the WWF at SummerSlam in 1994, where he immediately became involved in an ongoing family feud between Bret Hart and his brother, Owen Hart. Smith then teamed up with Bret against Owen and Jim Neidhart in a series of tag team matches, most notably in a victory on Monday Night RAW. Smith again played a key part in the main event featuring his brothers-in-law Bret and Owen Hart, in which he supported Bret against Owen’s benefactor, Bob Backlund. After entering the Royal Rumble as the second entrant in 1995, Smith and Shawn Michaels were the final two remaining participants 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. Soon after, Smith began teaming with Lex Luger as the Allied Powers.
Back in singles competition, in December 1995, at In Your House 5, Smith was granted a title shot against new WWF Champion Bret Hart in a rematch from their SummerSlam 1992 match. They had another critically acclaimed match yet Hart won this time into a crimson red ring due to Hart bleeding during the match. He would later feud with Shawn Michaels, team up with Owen Hart and the two soon won the World Tag Team Titles from The Smokin’ 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 WWF European Championship, and Smith became the first-ever holder of the title, winning a tournament which culminated in him defeating his own tag team partner, Owen Hart.
Hart and Smith later joined forces with Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Brian Pillman to form a new form of the Hart Foundation, a heel faction which feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin and other American wrestlers. This created an interesting rift between American fans, where the Hart Foundation were vilified, and Canadian fans, who revered the Hart Foundation. Smith and Owen dropped the World 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 at the British Pay-per-view event One Night Only. Fans at the event, who gave Smith an ovation, voiced their displeasure by viciously booing Michaels and littering the ring with garbage.
After the infamous Montreal Screwjob in 1997, Smith left the WWF for WCW, along with Bret Hart and Neidhart, soon afterwards. He began a feud with Steve McMichael. Smith and Neidhart later formed a tag team but were only featured sparingly on WCW Thunder. 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, much more serious injury on 13 September 1998 at Fall Brawl during his match with Neidhart against The Dancing Fools, Disco Inferno and Alex Wright. During the match, while taking bumps, Smith twice landed awkwardly on a trapdoor that had been set up underneath the ring canvas to enable The Warrior to make a dramatic entrance in the night’s main event. The result was a spinal infection that nearly paralysed Smith, hospitalising him for six months. While recuperating, Smith was informed that his WCW contract had been terminated. Following this serious back injury, Smith then battled an addiction to morphine and painkilling drugs.
Smith returned to the WWF in September 1999, following the death of Owen Hart. On 7 September episode of SmackDown in Albany, New York, Smith defeated the Big Boss Man for the WWF Hardcore Championship. Smith forfeited the title later that evening, giving the belt back to Al Snow. Smith then began pursuing the WWF Championship, eventually turning heel 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 2 October, Smith returned to England as a heel at Rebellion. He lost to The Rock at No Mercy. Smith defeated D’Lo Brown for the WWF European Championship on SmackDown on 26 October. He lost the title to Val Venis in a triple threat match at Armageddon.
On 6 May 2000 in London, Smith defeated Crash Holly for the Hardcore Championship. Holly regained the title from Smith in New Haven, Connecticut on the 11 May episode of SmackDown. Smith’s 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. After Heat, WWF announced that Smith had again left the WWF on 15 May 2000. Before his death on 18 May 2002, Smith had been training with the intent of resuming his career and had wrestled in three tag team matches with his son, Harry Smith the previous weekend in Manitoba, Canada.
This long story is unique because Davey Boy Smith is a true British hero. If WWF gained some spotlight in the UK in the 80s and 90s, it was because of him. If many UK wrestlers have started to think they could do it in WWE, it’s because of him. NXT UK exists because one day some talented wrestlers put the spotlight on British Strong Style, they cultivated it and they spread it. The Bulldog’s legacy is not the one of a multi-time Champion but of a man who helped wrestling become the worldwide phenomenon it has become. The WWE Hall of Fame has waited for him for so long, this year The Bulldog will be forever immortal.
On a personal level, the young girl I was at first fell in love with Matilda the dog. Then, quickly after, The Bulldog is one of the men who made me love wrestling. He gave his heart, soul, and body to this business. In my Hall of Fame, The British Bulldog will always have a very special place.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE