The British Bulldog
On May 18th, 2002, the pro wrestling world lost Davey Boy Smith. His family, of course, lost way more than we can measure. Hard to believe it’s been nine years. While Rowdy Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels, and Bret Hart were, and remain some of my all-time favorites, a special place in my book always remains for Davey Boy Smith.
I always loved Piper, but my true appreciation of the Hot Rod came a little later on when I got older and began to soak in the performance side of the sport. I rooted for Michaels from the very moment he put Marty Jannetty’s face through the Barbershop’s gimmicked window, but before that I honestly had trouble remembering which Rocker was which. And while I screamed at Vince through my TV set with Bret was screwed in Montreal, the big confession was I didn’t think he would make it on his own when The Hart Foundation broke up. Before they became my favorites, I was a little kid who proudly called “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith my favorite wrestler.
It was my early obsession with The Beatles and childhood interest in England that first lead me to the Union Jack-sporting British Bulldogs circa 1986, but it was the dazzling moves of Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith that kept my interest. At the time, they stood apart in the clothesline and legdrop landscape of professional wrestling. They were dazzling and different. Fast beyond comprehension. When The Islanders stole Matilda, I was furious… and therefore hooked on wrestling.
The Bulldogs disappeared. (Remember this was pre-Internet. I had no idea Dynamite Kid has backstage heat with the Rougeaus or that they were back in Stampede Wrestling as well as tearing up Japan.) So did my weekly routine of watching wrestling. I was growing up, entering Junior High, and discovering “adult” things like baseball and science homework. Wrestling looked to be a thing of my past. Then, one fateful day, a good friend of mine named Gavin told me that this new guy had shown up in the WWF. His name was The British Bulldog. Just like that I was back on my living room floor the following Saturday watching WWF Superstars. I had to see if this “new” guy had anything to do with my old favorites. I was overjoyed when “Rule, Britannia” hit and out came Davey Boy Smith. He was bigger than I remembered, and I remained innocently and blissfully unaware as to why. He had long dreds now, no mascot, and the announcers rarely called him Davey Boy. But it was the same guy I had rooted for.
For a short time in 1992, it could be argued that Davey Boy Smith was the most over face in the WWE and 80,000 plus in attendance at Wembley Stadium for SummerSlam ‘92 would agree. That card’s Bret Hart versus Bulldog main event remains my personal all-time favorite. I was prepared for a long Intercontinental Title reign, but it wasn’t to be. He dropped the belt Shawn Michaels by November and was soon gone for reasons I didn’t know at the time. Sometimes I wish I never did find out.
I tried watching him in WCW, but he was playing volleyball with Sting and pirate midgets were blowing up their speedboats. Then I had to endure The Bulldog standing next to someone called The Shockmaster and I turned off my TV, never really watching WCW again.
To my utter most excitement Davey Boy returned to the WWF at the 1994 SummerSlam as part of the Bret versus Owen family feud. By then my appreciation and support for other wrestlers had grown and Davey Boy was just “one” of my favorites. But it was a great time to be a card carrying member of the Bulldog Fanclub. His 1994-1997 run was probably his most successful period with many great moments, title runs, and main event spots. I missed most of the Attitude Era, which means I missed the tragic end. I heard about Davey Boy’s death through a news clip. While I can never, ever feel the loss of Davey Boy with the great weight felt by family and friends, his death struck a particularly painful chord in me as it was a chord directly tied to my childhood. When I think of Davey Boy Smith, I think of watching wrestling with wide eyed innocence and wonder.
Over the (pay-per-view) limit
This weekend the WWE will hold its SECOND pay-per-view of the month. I’m sure many of you might be purchasing this wonderful event which will find John Cena defending his WWE title against The Miz, Randy Orton continuing to squash Christian’s dreams, and some other matches that we’ll probably see again the very next night on Raw. If so, then please tell me how it turns out… I’d rather spend the hard to come by cash on things I need like food, bill paying, and a new tent for the Harry Potter pre-sale ticket line. The WWE has the “profits” from their monthly pay-per-views built into their yearly budget, so there is literally no need to beg them to stop. They won’t.
However, you cannot ignore the fact that there is a pay-per-view overload hang over in constant effect. With no time to build individual match hype into a fever pitch, they use the second tier pay-per-views to keep the overall stories and feuds going on. Which, yes, is what you’re supposed to do. Yet not every feud is Rock-Austin, Steamboat-Flair, or even Nailz-Bossman, so watching some of them drag out is like watching paint dry… sober. The effect becomes repetitive and mind numbing. The feuds become a blur that obscures the highlights. (How many times did we see Punk-Orton in the ring?)
Again. You can’t change this. It’s part of the business structure. And that goes for the talent as well, who probably factor those pay-per-view performance bonuses into their yearly bank accounts. But the very structure that is driving the business forward is hamstringing it against building any great, next level reaching hype. Why get excited for Miz-Cena when you can just wait about three weeks to see them do it all again?
So, while the R-Truth household will certainly be buying Over the Limit, (Why is there a car theme for this?) I’ll be relying on WrestleZone live result updates or watching it through the squiggly, unscrambled TV rays like I did as a child.
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