The British Bulldog suffered an injury that would ultimately contribute to his death at Fall Brawl 1998, and it was all down to a terrible stunt being performed by The Ultimate Warrior later in the show.
The event is regarded as another terrible offering from WCW during this time. The domination by the long-outdated WCW continued to plague the company, with company bosses seeming to have no other fresh ideas to prop up the main event scene.
The main event of the show saw The Ultimate Warrior teaming with Diamond Dallas Page and Roddy Piper in a three vs three vs three War Games match, with the winning competitor earning a shot at the WCW Championship. While DDP picked up the win for his side, the match was used to build up to a huge match at Halloween Havoc 1998 – Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior.
This was the sole reason Warrior was brought back into the company. Hogan only wanted to get his win back from WrestleMania VI, when he dropped the WWE Championship to Warrior in an iconic match. Warrior wasn’t the best in the ring, so a host of smoke and mirrors had to be employed to help keep up with the rest of the roster – something which would ultimately cause the end of the career for “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith.
British Bulldog Injured His Back On Ultimate Warrior’s Trap Door
At Fall Brawl 1998, The British Bulldog wrestled in the opening match of a show in a tag team match. The English wrestler joined forces with his former “Hart Foundation” teammate Jim Neidhart to do battle with the dancing duo of Alex Wright and Disco Inferno.
The match was a generic tag team match, with little action of note to talk about. Bulldog and Neidhart (who were brothers-in-law, having married two of Bret Hart’s sisters) won the match, but it was one particular bump in the corner that saw Bulldog writhe in pain and scream out in agony.
This is because there was a trap door built under the ring mat, causing one part of the ring to be much harder, and with much less give, than the rest of the ring. Bumping in a wrestling ring is bad enough on your health as it is, but this trapdoor caused every bump in the corner to be agony.
The trap door was part of The Ultimate Warrior’s entrance later that night. He appeared in a flurry of lights and smoke, standing in the ring as if he had teleported out of nowhere, as opposed to his usual entrance of sprinting down the ramp as fast as he possibly can.
Each time Bulldog hits the mat in one place, you can see the agony in his face. Somehow, despite suffering a debilitating back injury in the match, he manages to struggle to get Disco Inferno onto his shoulders, and powerslammed the star onto the matt to win the match for his team.
Sadly, the damage was already done, and British Bulldog was sent to the hospital for an extended stay due to his injured back.
The Injury Caused Davey Boy Smith To Become Hooked On Painkillers
After his match at Fall Brawl 1998, The British Bulldog was quickly rushed to hospital to deal with the back injury he suffered after falling on Ultimate Warrior’s trap door. His severity of his back injury was not known straight away, but it soon turned into a life-threatening condition.
Soon after being admitted to a local medical facility, Davey Boy Smith contracted a staph infection in his spine, caused by his injury. An infection in the spine has the potential to kill a man, with the chance to become paralyzed for life drastically going up with that diagnosis.
Doctors battle for six-months with The British Bulldog to stop the infection. He spent the rest of 1998 and half of 1999 in a hospital bed, spending time in a full-body cast as they tried to quell his illness. During this time, Bulldog became hooked on painkillers (specifically morphine) which led to the breakdown of his marriage and his eventual death, just four-years later.
“Davey became so dependent upon morphine to ease his pain, it went from morphine tablets to morphine injections in his leg, to his shoulder, to right into his vein,” His widow Diana said, in an unaired WWE Confidential Interview. “The morphine injections in his veins is what shocked me.”
WCW even fired British Bulldog for being unable to perform in the ring – despite his injury being their fault. He had a short run with the WWE in 1999, but died before a planned 2002 return was supposed to take place.
Alex Wright Spoke About How Talent Weren’t Warned About Ultimate Warrior’s Trap Door
During an interview with Wrestling Shoot Interviews, Alex Wright spoke all about his match with the British Bulldog, and revealed how none of the wrestlers were warned about the danger of bumping on the trap door.
“I cannot recall that anybody told us there was a trapdoor, and that was very bad because the gorilla pressed me and slammed me right on it. He didn’t know; I thought I broke in half, you know, and he injured himself also in that match. So that was a very, um, what’s the word, just an unhappy situation all around. It sounds like it was not very responsible from the office, not, you know, telling us, ‘Okay, here in that area, you shouldn’t take any bumps.'”
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.