Bulldog content to be back in WWF November 18, 1999
By ALEX RISTIC -- SLAM! Wrestling
You'd be hard pressed to find someone who's been in as many wars as The British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith. Wrestling since he was 15, Smith has had to work his way up everywhere he's gone for his entire 22-year run in the business. You can probably count on your fingers and toes how many grapplers among the thousands that have lasted as long.
It's a quite afternoon, three days before Survivor Series 1999 that Smith called the offices of CANOE for a free-for-all -- about his past, present, and the state of wrestling in general today.
One thing that seems ironic is that Smith instantly captured championship gold (hardcore title) upon his return to the WWF, after his self-imposed two-year hiatus from the company, and then cashed it in for the European belt. It's ironic because Smith was the first bearer of the title of European Champion, and now holds it once more, but he says it won't hold him back from his loftier goals.
"I'm glad to be the European Champion," said the genuinely friendly Smith. "Whatever comes next, comes next. I'm not trying to rush anything; I'm just trying to get myself back into ring shape basically. It took me longer than I thought to get back into ring shape because I took that year off. With not wrestling for a year it took me a while to get my wind back. It's just the past couple of weeks that it's just starting to come back. I can really feel it because I've dropped 15 to 20 pounds since I've back, just lightening up so I can move better."
Not everything is planned 100% in advance. Smith won't know if he'll get a full world championship push for a while, but says it's not out of the question, and that there's plenty of time because he's currently inked a five-year contract. Still after promoting his desire to win the "big strap" after his return, does he think it will happen sooner rather than later?
"I would say so," Smith said. "I didn't want anyone to rush me in right away. I explained to Vince (McMahon, owner of the WWF), 'I've not wrestled for a year, and I should take it easy before I start going and make sure everything's okay with my back.' What happened, The Undertaker got injured, he tore his groin, and basically my first night back was the six-man tag, with me, The Rock and Kane, and it was like 'Whoa!' I went against The Big Show, and I've never been in the ring with The Big Show. He's one big, strong dude. That was my first match back, and it was a big shock to me."
Recently Smith has been teamed up with the Mean Street Posse, something puzzling many of the squared circle observers. Bulldog seemed to be on the right path going solo, so many were surprised at his new mates. Smith explained the affiliation.
"I think it's just to bring me in slowly," said Smith. "They'll help me in the ring, and I can help them, as far as working. It's basically you scratch my back, I'll scratch your back. They're good guys too, They're funny guys, and it's fun to be in their with them."
What was just as bizarre was the booking of Survivor Series, which pitted Bulldog and his Posse against other heels. Smith is at a loss to explain that one.
"It was a big shock to me to," he admitted. "I thought I wasn't going to be working The Survivor Series. It was going to be one night off, out of a million working. No one told me until the last minute. Basically at Smackdown! I found out who the teams were. Basically we're all heels. You've got Gangrel, myself, Val Venis, Mark Henry, Steve Blackman, Joey Abs, Rodney and Pete Gas."
It is also an interesting time in the locker room for the Bulldog at the moment. He is the only superstar from the WWF's heyday in the 1980's that's still in the federations' stable. Smith says he's looked upon with respect, instead of being perceived as taking away the spotlight from the younger talent.
"There is quite a bit of locker room respect," Smith revealed. "People think I just came in for my last run. I was in the ring, at Smackdown! in Baltimore. A few hours before the match started I was stretching in the ring and felt like messing around. I started doing handsprings and nip-ups, and I tried some moonsaults from the top rope, trying to land on my feet, and I was doing it, you know. I went back to the dressing room and all the guys are staring at me and I'm like ‘What's wrong?' 'We didn't know you could still do that,' I said 'Oh yeah.' 'Well why aren't you doing it in the ring?' I said 'Well, I really don't need to do it in the ring right now.' It's always good to have a time and a place to do that. Maybe when I become a babyface, but right now there's really no reason to do it."
Smith is also impressed with his colleagues. Before, he would stay backstage and relax before he was to perform, but now, he says, the talent in the WWF is so exciting that he catches many matches before going out, especially those of The Hardy Boys.
"Oh Jesus, they're crazy. I've never seen anybody like that. They really entertain me. Some of the stuff they do is just ungodly."
Speaking of "ungodly," many unkind words have come from Smith's brother-in-law, Bret Hart, about the Bulldog's return to the WWF. It seems that the memory of Hart's screw-job by the WWF still lingers with him, but Smith says he just wants the past to be the past.
"I just wish he let me live my life, you know. I've never said anything bad about him," said Smith about the Hitman. "I left the WWF because of him, to stand behind him. That is the truth. He said last week that I didn't leave to stand behind him, he said I left because I was disgusted with Vince. If I was disgusted with Vince I would have never come back. WCW, when they let me go, said I could come back when I got better. I didn't want to be there anyway, I was very unhappy there. They've got so many guys there, and to me, it's the same guys every week, like (Hulk) Hogan, taking up all the TV time. I just thought 'This is not the place for me.' I should never have left the WWF. It was a big mistake on my part."
On the horizon for Smith is the release of The British Bulldog's Basic BodyBuilding Workout video. Being that wrestlers, on the average, are over 230 pounds, and many quite muscular, he thought it logical that the public would be interested in a product geared toward "pumping up" like their favourite wrestlers. The video was actually produced last year, but has had some setbacks, including Smith's back injury, which kept him out of the ring for a year, and kept him out of the public eye.
"I think it's just a matter of time before it comes out. I was trying to get it out there, and it was really hard. I couldn't get up and at it to get things rolling. Now I'm on the road, so it might be easier to get out there. Plus I wanted to get my face back on TV first, so people would respond. I don't know a wrestler who's ever done a workout video, so I think it'll really do well. I would say if it doesn't come out by Christmas, maybe by February. That's what I'm gunning for."
It appears that Davey Boy isn't the only one gunning for greater things in the Smith household. Son Harry, all of 14-years old, has recently got involved in an angle in Stampede Wrestling in Alberta. A Stampede source said Harry is a good worker, but he's really small, "125 pounds soaking wet," was the term used. The source also said Harry has a future in the business, and could even be used in some of the TV angles, but thinks he's a little young for championship gold yet. Bulldog, however, couldn't be prouder.
"He's really enjoying it," said an elated Smith. "I've been giving him some advice about being on the microphone, and things like that. He's so much on TV right now I told him not to swear on the microphone, not to cuss on the microphone at all, because he's a young kid and people will think he's a spoiled little brat. He's not. He's worked hard for what he's got. He's wrestling in the Pavilion for Bruce and Ross Hart at Stampede. I might take a pop down there and take a look at it. He's kind of like the Hardy Boys, doing all sorts of crazy stuff."