The British Bulldog has gone down in history as one of the greatest British wrestlers in WWE history.
Despite being fired multiple times by Vince McMahon, his popularity in the UK never waned, and he was one of the biggest names in professional wrestling all the way up to his death in 2002.
Davey Boy Smith (British Bulldog’s real name) was fired multiple times by the WWE, although the most memorable was in 1992, where just months after headlining Wembley Stadium he was fired, mainly due to the WWE’s involvement in the Steroid trial that nearly killed the company.
British Bulldog Was High On Drugs For His Wembley Stadium Match With Bret Hart
The biggest match of the British Bulldog’s career was his main event match against Bret Hart at Summerslam 1992. While business was down in the US, the immense popularity of Bret and Bulldog helped the WWE sell nearly 70,000 tickets for Wembley Stadium and put on one of the biggest wrestling shows in history.
The WWE Champion at the time was The Ultimate Warrior, who was relegated to a mid card match against Randy Savage – which he won, but only by count out. Warrior was not going as strongly as champion as Vince McMahon wanted, and he was nowhere near the star in the UK that Bret Hart was.
Hart held the Intercontinental Champion, and had helped to elevate the belt into almost on the same level as the WWE Championship (Although much of that was also due to Ultimate Warrior devaluing that belt), and truly earned his spot in the main event of Summerslam 1992.
The Bret Hart vs British Bulldog match was fantastic. It was years ahead of its time, with the hometown crowd truly behind Davey Boy Smith in his quest for gold. Bret Hart played the heel in the match, but it was clear that he was a close-favorite for the English crowd.
In an incredible main event that is considered one of the best matches in wrestling history, The Bulldog pinned Hart with a sit-down pin to win the title and become the hero of the day in front of his home country crowd. He took home the WWE Intercontinental Championship that night, in one of the greatest moments in British wrestling history.
This was despite Bulldog being high on drugs throughout the match. He was off his head when the plane landed in London, and had to be helped off the plane by the rest of the WWE wrestlers. He famously uttered the words “Bret, Im f***ed” as the pair stood in the ring, and Hart considers him dragging Bulldog through that match as his greatest accomplishment in wrestling.
“‘Bret, I’m f***ed,’ Davey panted as I had him clamped in a side headlock. ‘I can’t remember anything!’Bret Hart quoting The British Bulldog in his autobiography, “Hitman”.
Bret Hart vs British Bulldog was voted as one of the best WWE matches of all time by the fans. It was given the 9.20 rating by the users at Cagematch.net, making it one of the highest rated WWE matches on the entire site. It was also beloved by Vince McMahon, who told Bret Hart just that after the match at Wembley Stadium.
Bret Hart revealed in an interview with Kenny McIntosh at Starrcast that the rest of the WWE locker room did not care about his terrific performance and that “nobody watched it”.
“I come back to the dressing room and nobody’s there. Everybody’s got a bus back to the hotel, there’s like three guys in the dressing room and they didn’t even watch my match. Nobody watched it. Nobody knew.“
“I never got any praise, in fact, I was hoping for some feedback from Curt [Hennig] or, I have a lot of buddies back there who would say ‘Oh that was a great match.’ But nobody was there.“
“I went back hotel and finally went down to the bar and I felt like someone had thrown me out of an aeroplane, I was so beat up. My body was so sore, everything hurt. It felt like I’d been caned. I remember asking guys ‘did you see my match?’ and they were like ‘no I missed it, we had to go, the bus was leaving,’ nobody saw it.“
However, the WWE Hall of Famer revealed that one man did congratulate him on the match after the fact – WWE chairman Vince McMahon. McMahon congratulated Bret Hart on the bout against the British Bulldog by calling it the “greatest match in the history of wrestling”
“I had Vince McMahon come up and tell me it was the greatest match in the history of wrestling and that he thanked me so much, and told me I was the greatest athlete that he’d ever seen wrestle, which was a nice compliment.
This was the crowning moment of the British Bulldog’s wrestling career. While he would wrestle for another decade (before his untimely death), he would never hit the highs of Wembley Stadium in 1992.
WWE Fired British Bulldog Due To The Steroid Trials
From 1991 to 1994, the WWE was locked in a huge legal battle over the use of steroids in the company. Vince McMahon was charged with supplying his wrestlers with steroids for years, and faced years in prison if the allegations were found true.
Due to this, the WWE changed immensely. The bigger, more muscular wrestlers were pushed to the side and told to slim down. All drugs were banned, with wrestlers like Hulk Hogan immediately losing a huge amount of muscle. Hogan will claim this was due to his various movie roles at this time, but that is untrue. (and just one of his many, many lies told over the decades.)
On page 303 of his autobiography, “Hitman”, Bret Hart wrote about Vince McMahon explaining to him why he had to fire the British Bulldog, after already sacking The Ultimate Warrior earlier that day.
He explained that Davey Boy Smith was fired for importing Human Growth Hormones from a dealer in the UK, who had just been busted by authorities. With the steroid trial now upon him, Vince McMahon had to distance himself from anything drug related at all cost.
“On November 18, Vince phones to tell me he’d just fired [Ultimate] Warrior and that, unfortunately, Davey [Boy Smith, aka The British Bulldog] was going to be next. He wanted to tell me first so I could prepare for any backlash that might happen as a result. He said that Warrior and Davey had been receiving shipments pf growth hormone from a dealer in the UK who’d just been busted. Vince was so under the gun that he fired them both immediately”.
He Wrestled For WCW After Being Fired, Before Returning To The UK and Japan
The British Bulldog soon lost the Intercontinental Championship on November 14, 1992 and was fired less than a week later by Vince McMahon. With a big drug problem on his hands and burnt bridges with the WWE, he moved around a lot, looking for work, wrestling in a host of different promotions around the world.
After leaving the WWE, Davey Boy Smith worked in WCW for a time – Vince McMahon’s biggest competitor. He was pushed heavily after debuting at SuperBrawl III on 21 February, defeating “Wild” Bill Irwin, and went on an undefeated streak against a whole host of jobbers.
He formed an alliance with WCW’s biggest star, Sting, and challenged the WCW World Heavyweight Champion Vader in a series of title matches. Bulldog even defeated Vader on a tour of England, albeit only be disqualification. The Englishman celebrated with the championship, but soon had it ripped away from him – the rules state that titles cannot change hands on a DQ, so the title change was overturned.
However, a bar fight on that same tour with a man at a bar who was making advances towards his wife cost Davey Boy Smith his job with WCW. The following legal battles forced WCW’s hand, and they fired him from his contract in December 1993, just a year after he left the WWE in disgrace.
He briefly returned to the UK to replace the recently-retired Big Daddy as the main star of Ring Wrestling Stars (formerly the Joint Promotions that enjoyed prominence on ITV’s World of Sport), but without a TV deal he had very limited potential in the company.
British Bulldog would then return to the WWE in 1994, but was fired again (Twice!) over the next 8 years. He died in 2002 due to complications from his years of drug use, and died at the age of 39.
Shawn Michaels vs British Bulldog
Shawn Michaels vs British Bulldog was one of the most disgusting moments in HBKs’ career
In 1997, WWE returned to the UK for a blockbuster pay per view set to rival Summerslam 1992 in Wembley Stadium. The One Night Only PPV emanating from Birmingham, England was set to once again crown the fan favorite British Bulldog as champion in his come country, in front of thousands of screaming English fans.
5 years prior, he had locked horns with Bret Hart in one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time. The two had filled Wembley Stadium with the most ardent wrestling fans in the UK as they battled over the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
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.