Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day

daveybulldog-1

It was the first thought that came into my head – surely everyone’s going this way?

‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith was both an inspiration and a tragedy, a bittersweet journey uncomfortably synonymous with professional wrestling.

From humble roots of working class Manchester, Smith would become one of the WWF’s biggest draws of the 1990s. He started out as a tag team with The Dynamite Kid, a fellow Mancunian, who went by the name of The British Bulldogs; of course, it being the WWF and the 80s, they were given a pet bulldog, Matilda, who would buoy the team and, of course, terrify the cowardly bad guys.

tumblr_mnv13tFysA1rg89a6o1_500

The Bulldogs with a bulldog.

But it wasn’t until 1991 and a repackage as a rugged singles competitor that his star grew. I didn’t see any of his work ‘live’, as he’d left by the time my brother and I began watching, but at the age of about ten, for some reason, I lavishly blew a fiver on a video of SummerSlam 1992.

SummerSlam that year came from outside America, one of the few big events to do so. It came from Wembley Stadium, and The British Bulldog was going up against Intercontinental Champion Bret Hart in the main event. It had to only go one way, surely? The reaction of eighty thousand fans as The Bulldog made his way down the aisle, Rule Britannia blaring, adorned head to toe in Union Flag gear and flanked by Lennox Lewis, was unlike anything I’d heard before. Yes, it’s wrestling, but there was something quite emotional about it. Sure enough, Bulldog was given the strap that night – the crowd went berserk. It was perfect.

Though perfectly capable, Smith’s in-ring ability was not his strength. This was not going to set alarm bells ringing; the crowds were probably unlikely to much care about skill – look at how Hulk Hogan was portrayed. The Bulldog most definitely had the superstar look, coupled with an aura that guaranteed big-name billing in such performances. He’d go on to capture many more titles and headline many big events, tangling with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold and The Rock.

Bulldog left the WWF for rivals WCW in 1997, which turned out to be a wholly disastrous move. The next year, WCW were bringing in 80s star The Ultimate Warrior, and planned to have him make his debut by breaking through the ring – to do this, a trapdoor had been put in place. Indicative of just how careless WCW were toward their talent, they didn’t think to tell anybody on the show that night that such a device had been installed. Bulldog took a back drop directly onto the trapdoor, suffering spinal damage so severe that it almost crippled him. In a further demonstration of the company’s unwavering class, they fired him while he was in hospital.

Admirably, he returned to the WWF in late 1999, but by then the damage was done, and it was very visible. During the long period of recovery from the trapdoor incident, Smith had become dependent on cocktails of drugs to numb the relentless pain in his back. His skills were diminished, his struggles were physically and mentally evident, and sure enough, The British Bulldog dropped down the card like a stone, his appearances meaning less and less until he disappeared from TV altogether. Despite several courses of rehabilitation, Davey Boy could not escape the clutches of drug addiction and passed away in May 2002, aged only thirty-nine. A sad end, and one on a long list of fellow competitors who fell the same way. His son Harry follows his legacy, currently performing in Japan.

And indeed just as I write this, I’m told that Chyna, one of the most badass superstars the WWF has created, has died today at forty-five. She was one of my favourites as a kid; very sad news indeed.

Advertisements
24 comments
  1. That is so sad about that poor guy. 😦 He should have sued the WCW for negligence. You did a beautiful painting of him in his glory, though. I don’t know who he was, but I could tell he had star quality.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Teresa – he truly was an impressive character, and it was great to have a Brit to cheer on (if retrospectively.) Yes – the WWF were no saints themselves, but WCW in comparison was an utter nightmare of an operation; it’s no surprise that it went under.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad they went under, but I’m sad that they managed to ruin the life of this young man (and perhaps many others) before they folded. 😦

        Like

  2. Bill Fufkin said:

    He looks almost amusingly patriotic…I suppose this is wrestling we’re talking about. I see what you mean with “beautiful”, however! B

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks very much, Bill! He was often booked that way, but it worked really well as he was completely different to the rest of the roster.

      Like

  3. I didn’t follow the wrestling, but my lil brother did, what a sad story, of this impressive man, that you have captured so well ( obviously whilst I stare at those huge muscles 😉)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      I only got into the wrestling when my brother and father started watching, it was a lot of fun back then and a good way to bond on Sunday afternoon. Thanks Rebecca – Bulldog looked incredible in his prime. He was certainly a pleasure to draw, well, besides that troublesome championship belt!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lee Hesketh said:

    Amazing sketch Jay – I don’t know much about old WWE but I know him which shows how popular he still is, him and Regal are legends!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      He certainly is, Lee – great that he is so well-remembered, still. Thanks very much.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks Sharon, glad to hear it befits a champion! He was a challenge but a lot of fun also.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow… what a tragic tale this poor bulldog suffered. I always thought they treated the talent poorly but never knew to what lengths they would go. Poor bulldog…I wasn’t familiar with him either but he definitely deserves to be celebrated today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks Charlie – he and Matilda deserve it most definitely! Yes, they were often shockingly careless – thankfully it’s much better these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great painting. I didn’t know this guy but what a story. That was disgusting to surprise them with a trapdoor and not help him after.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Yes, it was idiocy beyond belief. Thanks Catherine, glad you like the painting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Come back any time, Sabrina – thank you very much!

      Like

  7. Holy hell- although i never got into the wrestling thang, this story mad me angry and sad! I can’t believe they got away with that?! Yikes. Unbelievable. Anyway….excellent drawing, though, as per usual!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks very much, he was (unsurprisingly) great fun to draw. Yes, it’s a madness; I know these guys get hurt in the ring all the time, but this incident was entirely at the fault of the promotion itself. Astonishing negligence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tamara Yancosky said:

        Thank you 🍭🍭🍭

        Tamara 😊

        Liked by 1 person

Talk to me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: