All month, I’m chronicling some key runs of ‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith in appreciation of his too-short career, in memory of his too-short life.
This has much to do with me as Davey Boy. As I chronicled last week, it was the Bulldog’s 1993 WCW push against WCW Champ Vader that first sucked me into wrestling when I was 9. Look, I was into Davey Boy enough that I wished I had long braids. When he eventually got the flattop cut, you better believe I went to Hawkins Barber Shop and had old Mr Hawkins give me a flattop too.
When that surprisingly strong but ill-fated 1993 run in WCW came to an abrupt end due to a bar fight (WCW let Davey Boy go amid the ensuing legal issues), the Bulldog eventually resurfaced in the WWF for a serious World Title push there, off and on, which I’ll chronicle next week.
He almost went back to WCW in 1996 after Bash at the Beach when contract renegotiations were breaking down with Vince. He was briefly considered by Bischoff and co. as the alluded to incoming 4th member of the nWo, the next ex-WWFer to invade after Hall and Nash and Hogan. Vince caved though in the rising tensions of the Monday Night Wars and paid Davey Boy for fear of losing such a big name to WCW. The Giant was eventually picked as the fourth man, kinda ruining the whole WWF invasion thing (which Bischoff may have wanted at the time given Vince’s lawsuit against WCW over the angle). Imagine if Davey Boy had gotten the kind of push (and heat) as the guy to go nWo after Hogan.
After The Montreal Screwjob in 1997, Davey Boy did leave the WWF with his brother-in-law Bret Hart and Jim Neihardt for the WCW once again.
But 1998 was not 1993. For reasons never clearly explained WCW did very little other than a nWo, seemingly made up on the spot, promo cracking on Canada and telling Bret Hart to come join the nWo to capitalize on the hot angle of the Screwjob and the incoming WWF’ers as a result. Davey Boy just showed up on Nitro in black jeans and a black vest to challenge…Steve “Mongo” McMichael. Yea, no good.
During 1998 Davey Boy was primarily paired with his brother-in-law Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neihardt, which is actually a pretty intriguing thought. I mean, it’s half Hart Foundation and half the British Bulldogs. Though Bulldog and Neihardt had always been connected in the WWF because of the Harts, the Anvil had primarily tagged with Bret and Owen while Bulldog primarily tagged with Owen and Yokozuna after sharing the Bulldog name with Dynamite Kid. If the nWo storyline hadn’t been so weak by this point, or it had been a year earlier, it would have been genius to put heel, jealous brother-in-laws Neihardt and Smith in the nWo to feud with and attempt to sabotage incoming face, Bret Hart.
But that didn’t happen. While Davey Boy and Neihardt did get several cracks at the WCW Tag Titles, they never actually got the belts or title push. Primarily they were used as names to boost ratings on the flailing new Thursday show, WCW Thunder. They found themselves feuding with the likes of the Dancing Fools, the team of Alex Wright and Disco Inferno. Sigh.
It was in a match against those Dancing Fools at Fall Brawl 1998 that Davey Boy would make his last WCW appearance. Ironically, like his 1992 WWF departure that landed him in WCW for the vaunted 1993 run, his 1998 WCW run came to an end due to the Ultimate Warrior as well. Sort of.
In 1992 Bulldog and Warrior were popped together for having HGH shipped from the same British pharmacy to the States. In 1998 it was because of a stupid gimmick rig. For the big Warrior debut in WCW later in the night, and the Warrior’s newfound WCW power of appearing and disappearing in clouds of smoke, the ring at Fall Brawl 1998 had a trap door. Davey Boy landed awkwardly on the door taking a bump. He badly injured his spine, which eventually got infected, which temporarily paralyzed the Bulldog and worsened his addiction to painkillers (Smith and Neihardt did win the match at least).
To cap it off, the WCW fired him Steve Austin style, sending a FedEx telegram while Davey Boy was recovering from his injuries. Unfortunately, Davey Boy didn’t have the same kind of run left Austin would go on to have in the WWF after his WCW dismissal, but he did make an inspiring comeback from the paralysis and spinal injury for a respectable last run in the WWF/E to end a Hall of Fame career. And good job on the WWE for making that happen this year.
You can find me on Twitter @gritvanwinkle.