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Dead Wrestlers #6: the British Bulldog

Davey Boy Smith, known as the British Bulldog, was born November 27, 1962 in Golborne, England. He was known to his legions of fans for his thrilling performance as both a tag team and solo performer during a nearly 20 year professional career encompassing appearances with Stampede Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation, and World Championship Wrestling. Eventually holding every major title in the WWF organization, save the WWF Championship itself, Smith competed in many top rated pay per view events for both the WWF and WCW. Official press releases frequently described Smith as “one of the most physicially impressive individuals in WWF history”.

Smith began wrestling at the age of 15 as Young David. His first match was televised by British ITV’s World of Sport on September 2, 1978, and he continued to appear there until February 1983. During this time he won the British Welterweight Championship from Jim Breaks (1979), although his receipt of the belt was held up considerably due to the hotly disputed finish of that match. Shortly afterward, Bruce Hart invited Smith to travel to Canada to join his family organization, Stampede Wrestling. During his time with Stampede, Smith won the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title by defeating the Dynamite Kid.

In 1984, Smith and Dynamite Kid formed a tag team known as the British Bulldogs. A highly publicized showing in a Japanese tag team tournament caught the interest of the World Wrestling Federation, and the Bulldogs were soon brought into that organization after Vince McMahon purchased a controlling interest in Stampede Wrestling. While with the WWF, the Bulldogs began a famous long running feud with the Hart Foundation and the Dream Team. The Bulldogs defeated the Dream Team at Wrestlemania 2, winning the Tag Team Championship, which they then held for nine months, finally losing it to the Hart Foundation. Shortly thereafter, the Bulldogs introduced their famous mascot, Matilda, who played an integral part in several humorous episodes thereafter.

After leaving the World Wrestling Federation, the Bulldogs returned to Stampede Wrestling. Stampede officials had hoped that the Bulldogs’ return would revive the struggling company, but this proved to be a false hope, and the Bulldogs split up in 1989. On July 4 of that year, Smith was involved in a serious automobile accident. He had not been wearing a seatbelt, and was thus thrown head first through the windshield, landing 25 feet away onto the concrete pavement. His injuries required 135 stitches, and it was some time before he fully recovered.


After nearly a decade spent wrestling for World Championship Wrestling, Smith returned to WWF, his character transforming into a villainous heel. Perhaps the highlight of this last phase of his career was his headlining of a six-man WWF Championship Match that was ultimately won by Triple H. However, Smith’s wife Diana divorced him in 2000, at which time he entered a rehabilitation program due to his addiction to prescription painkillers. On May 18, 2002, Smith was found dead by his girlfriend after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Canada.