The British Bulldogs
|The British Bulldogs|
|Members||Davey Boy Smith|
1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
|218 kg (481 lb)|
|Billed from||Leeds, England|
The British Bulldogs were a professional wrestling tag-team consisting of cousins Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid (Tom Billington). They competed throughout the 1980s in Britain, North America and Japan and are consistently ranked among the top tag teams in history. Both Smith and Billington incurred premature deaths.
Tom Billington (Dynamite Kid) and David Smith (Davey Boy Smith) were first cousins from the Lancashire town of Wigan in the United Kingdom. Tom and Davey Boy are both grandsons of Joe and Nellie Billington. Tom's father, Billy Billington, was the brother of Davey Boy's mother, Joyce Billington Smith. In the 1970s, the Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith both began their careers in Britain. The two were soon invited to join Stampede Wrestling in Canada by talent scout Bruce Hart. The Dynamite Kid went to Canada first and made a revolutionary impact in Stampede with his effortlessly fluid technical wrestling style, and had a fiery feud with his future brother-in-law, Bret Hart. Davey Boy Smith came to Stampede in the early 1980s. During their time together in Stampede, Dynamite and Davey Boy began a heated feud as Dynamite provoked Smith by saying he was "a test-tube baby".
Early history (1984)
The Dynamite / Davey Boy feud would continue in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where they became involved in a three way feud that also involved The Cobra over the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship. After they settled the feud, the two started to team as the British Bulldogs both in NJPW and Stampede Wrestling. In March 1984, the Bulldogs would win the Stampede International Tag Team Championship for the first time. In 1984, the two left NJPW to go to its bitter rival All Japan Pro Wrestling, effectively severing all ties to New Japan to this day.
World Wrestling Federation (1984-1988)
In 1984, Vince McMahon bought out Stampede Wrestling. The buyout meant that the British Bulldogs joined the World Wrestling Federation along with Smith’s brother-in-law Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart (The Hart Foundation). Initially the Bulldogs still toured with AJPW, but soon after they became WWF-exclusive. Although the two British stars primarily wrestled against each other in Stampede Wrestling, with Billington as a villain and Smith as a hero, WWF owner Vince McMahon decided to make them only as a tag team.
The British Bulldogs' first and probably most well known feud was with the Hart Foundation, whom they knew well from their Stampede days, and thus were able to produce a series of outstanding matches that helped elevate both teams in the WWF. The Bulldogs next major feud was with the then-WWF World Tag Team Champions, "The Dream Team" of Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake. The Bulldogs wrestled Valentine and Beefcake for close to a year, coming close to but never winning the tag titles. The stage was set for a "final" tag title match at WrestleMania 2. With "Captain" Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne in their corner, the duo won the WWF World Tag-Team titles.
The Bulldogs continued their feud with the Dream Team and also defended regularly against the former championship team of The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff. In December 1986, Dynamite Kid suffered a serious back injury during a match in Hamilton, Ontario, forcing him out of the ring for a longer period of time (during this period Davey Boy Smith would defend the titles with various replacement partners). On January 26, 1987, the British Bulldogs lost the titles to the Hart Foundation in a match that saw Dynamite Kid so debilitated that he was carried to the ring by Davey Boy Smith and saw little physical action after being "knocked out" by the megaphone of the Hart Foundation's manager Jimmy Hart before he even got into the ring. “Evil Referee” Danny Davis then allowed the Foundation to continually double team Davey Boy in order to get the win (all the while continuing to "check" on Dynamite, leaving the double teaming to take place). The match would air on February 7 on WWF Superstars of Wrestling.
After being given time off to recuperate, the Bulldogs returned to the ring to continue their feud with the Hart Foundation and Davis (who, in the storyline, cheated to help the Hart Foundation win the title). The teams met at WrestleMania III, where the Bulldogs teamed with Tito Santana to take on the trio. The Harts and Davis would win the match when Davis hit Smith with Jimmy Hart's megaphone behind the referee's back and covered him for the win.
Towards the end of the Bulldogs' title reign, they had been given a live bulldog named Matilda, who would accompany them to the ring. Matilda was central to the Bulldogs' feud with The Islanders (Haku and Tama) who along with their manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan "dognapped" her. After rescuing Matilda, the Bulldogs teamed with Koko B. Ware (and his parrot "Frankie") in a six-man tag team match against The Islanders and Bobby Heenan at Wrestlemania IV. The match ended with a loss as Heenan covered Koko for the 3-count. The Bulldogs then went on to a feud with The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond) which included wrestling the first ever match at the inaugural SummerSlam PPV at Madison Square Garden which ended in a time limit (20 minute) draw.
The Bulldogs' last pay-per-view was the 1988 Survivor Series. They wrestled in a twenty-man (10 team) tag team elimination match notable for Mr. Fuji turning against his Tag Team Champions Demolition (Ax and Smash) and joining their rival The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord) in a double switch with Demolition turning face and the Powers of Pain turning heel. The Powers of Pain won the match by eliminating the heel team Los Conquistadores, thus giving their team (which included The Bulldogs who had earlier been eliminated when Smash pinned Dynamite) the victory.
The Bulldogs left the WWF after backstage pranks and altercations with The Rougeau Brothers after bullying Jacques and beat him really hard because he didn’t want to go out to the bar. which led to Jacques Rougeau knocking several of Dynamite's teeth out with a suckerpunch (Rougeau was actually carrying a bunch of quarters in his fist to make the punch harder). Billington himself, however, has claimed that the Rougeau incident was not the final straw that drove him to leave the WWF. Rather, he has stated, it was a dispute with WWF management over issuing of complimentary plane tickets, over which he resigned from the company on principle and, to his surprise in retrospect, Smith followed suit. The wrestling community, even Hulk Hogan, was very happy about the departure of the bulldogs because of the bullying they were doing on other wrestlers that even led some of them leaving the WWF.
Stampede Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling (1988-1990)
After leaving the WWF, the Bulldogs returned to their old “home” in Stampede Wrestling and also resumed touring with All Japan Pro Wrestling, where they had moderate success as a tag team, but it was not as magical seeing these two wrestle there, as years of steroid abuse made them too large, physique-wise, and Dynamite Kid’s back injury from years prior had made his previously exciting moveset more limited. They had feuds with the Cuban Commandos and Karachi Vice in Stampede and won the Stampede International Tag-Team titles for the second time on December 12, 1988.
After losing the titles to Karachi Vice on December 30, 1988, Dynamite Kid became involved in a brutal feud with Johnny Smith in February 1989, after Johnny interfered and attacked Dynamite, before cutting his hair. In May 1989, the Bulldogs split up in Stampede, but remained a team in AJPW at Giant Baba's request. Over in Stampede, the Bulldogs feuded with each other, with Dynamite forming The British Bruisers with Johnny Smith and Davey Boy Smith teaming with a young Chris Benoit.
In September 1990, Davey Boy Smith abruptly withdrew the Bulldogs from AJPW's annual World's Strongest Tag Determination League by returning to the WWF, and fabricating to the All-Japan office that Dynamite was in a serious car accident and couldn't compete. Since Davey Boy Smith had trademarked the term "The British Bulldog" during the Bulldogs' previous run in the WWF, he decided to return to the WWF as The British Bulldog and would send people to the United Kingdom to warn the promoter every time a flyer was distributed promoting Dynamite Kid as a "British Bulldog." As a result of these actions, Dynamite passionately despised Smith for a long time. Johnny Smith would end up taking Davey Boy Smith's spot in the World's Strongest Tag Determination League, and the duo (known as The British Bruisers) continued to compete in All-Japan Pro Wrestling. The duo managed to capture the All Asia Tag Team Championship, but the partnership was short-lived; the years of steroid abuse, working a high-impact style and cocaine usage caught up with "the Dynamite Kid" Thomas Billington as he suddenly announced his retirement on December 6, 1991, although he made the occasional comeback and wrestled his last match on 10 October 1996.
After the breakup of The British Bulldogs tag team, Davey Boy Smith wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) from 1990–1992, 1994–1997 and 1999–2000, and for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1993 and 1998.
Davey Boy Smith died of a heart attack on 18 May 2002 at the age of 39, while the Dynamite Kid had been in a wheelchair since August 1997. Dynamite Kid passed away on 5 December 2018 on his 60th birthday,
The British Bulldogs were made into action figures, first in 1986 during the LJN WWF Wrestling Superstars line and in the mid 2000s Classic Superstars line by Jakks Pacific. They were available separate as well as packaged together. The Classic Superstars double pack even included their bulldog mascot, Matilda. Both versions are highly sought after by collectors and prices can be well over hundreds of dollars in mint condition especially for Billington, as figures of him were not produced as much as Smith, who gained fame in both WWF and WCW after the Bulldogs' split while Billington wrestled primarily overseas, most notably in Japan and whose career was cut short due to injuries. Many collectors who have obtained the figures consider them among their most prized pieces.
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Ranked #5 in the top 100 tag teams of the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Stampede Wrestling
- World Wrestling Federation
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson (2005). The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-683-6.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Brian Shields (2006). Main event–WWE in the raging 80s (4th ed.). Pocket Books. ISBN 978-1-4165-3257-6.
- "Backstage Heat: Jacques Rougeau & The Dynamite Kid", by Ralph A. Eichenlaud, OnlineWorldofWrestling.com
- Tom Billington, Pure Dynamite
- Tom Billington and Alison Coleman (1999). Pure Dynamite. Dynamite Kid Co. ISBN 978-0-9537097-0-0.
- "AJPW Strongest Tag League Results (1990)". Strong Style Wrestling. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007.
9. Dynamite Kid & Johnny Smith 
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Real World Tag League 1984 « Tournaments Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". www.cagematch.net. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Real World Tag League 1985 « Tournaments Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". www.cagematch.net. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
- "World Tag Team – British Bulldogs". WWE. Archived from the original on 29 November 2005. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- Mick Foley (2000). Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. HarperCollins. p. 768. ISBN 0-06-103101-1.
- Best of British Bulldog at WWE.com