The running powerslam. The vertical suplex. Partnering with Dynamite Kid as the British Bulldogs, his iconic match with Bret Hart at Wembley Stadium. Battles against Shawn Michaels, teaming with Owen Hart—and, of course, the run in the Hart Foundation.
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith had a career full of quintessential moments, which will be recognized on Tuesday night during WWE’s Hall of Fame celebration. Smith’s place as one of the greatest of all time was already firmly established, and his induction will provide a chance to reflect on his in-ring brilliance.
“Looking back on his career, it’s going to be like listening to a song on the radio you haven’t heard in a long time,” Davey’s widow, Diana Hart-Smith, says. “When you hear it again, you remember how beautiful it is. That’s Davey.”
Smith left a lasting impression in pro wrestling. He died in 2002 at the age of only 39, yet he created a body of work that continues to endure. His polished approach inside the ring, along with a distinct style and action-figure physique, combined to make Smith one of the most memorable performers in WWE history.
“The Hall of Fame is a really special way to celebrate his legacy,” says Davey’s son Harry Smith, who wrestles as Davey Boy Smith Jr. “My father became a star in WWE; that’s where the world got to know ‘The British Bulldog.’ For him to be recognized in the Hall of Fame, I’m so happy it’s finally happening.”
Smith’s legacy is directly connected to his son, who wrestles in a remarkably similar fashion, equally powerful and agile while steadfast in his desire to constantly innovate.
“I wouldn’t be in wrestling without him,” Smith says. “Carrying over his legacy, that’s something I’m honored to do.
“He was a wonderful father. I’ll always remember little things, like him cheering on me and my teammates at soccer games when I was a kid. He cared so much. He had that spirit, that aura. That’s what helped push me and make me into who I am today.”
Smith’s influence had a massive reach, extending across the United Kingdom. WWE star Drew McIntyre noted that, for wrestling fans in England, Scotland and Ireland, Smith was their European champion long before he wore that belt in WWE.
“I grew up watching him,” says McIntyre, who is from Scotland. “He made me think this was something that was possible. For so long I heard, ‘Wrestling, that’s an American thing.’ Seeing the Bulldog and the Union Jack, that gave me hope.”
Smith had an unmistakable presence, one that especially stood out in his red, white and blue gear. He proudly represented the UK, particularly on the WWE platform, helping spark a global interest in the product.
“The Bulldog was ahead of his time, extremely athletic, and he looked like a superhero,” McIntyre says. “My favorite was Bret Hart, who was always intertwined with him, especially in the Hart Foundation. He brought so much joy to wrestling. Plus, when I was younger, hearing the Bulldog come out to ‘Rule Britannia,’ he made me believe that it was a wrestling song. I remember thinking, ‘Man, the Bulldog is popular; they play his song in church and at public places.’ As a kid, I couldn’t get over that.”
Irish-born Sheamus is another current star who remains inspired by Smith’s work.
“Even though he’s British and I’m Irish, and there’s a big rivalry between the Brits and the Irish, I always loved the Bulldog,” Sheamus says. “I loved the Bulldog, especially in his days with Dynamite Kid.”
Sheamus’s ongoing love affair with pro wrestling was further heightened when Smith came to Ireland for a show at the Point Depot in 1991.
“When WWE came to Dublin, I was so excited to see the British Bulldog,” Sheamus says. “We didn’t get Hogan or the Warrior, but we got the Bulldog. He was in the main event against Ted DiBiase, and I remember thinking that match was incredible.”
“I was always a Bret Hart fan, so I loved when they were together in the Hart Foundation,” Sheamus says. “He showed an entirely different side to his work when he teamed with Owen, too. Technically sound, he was a joy to work. And he showed it wasn’t just American wrestlers that could do this.”
The end of Smith’s life was full of complications, and it was heartbreaking for his children to lose their father at such a young age. Since his passing, they have spent their lives honoring the man they proudly call Dad. While Harry Smith has done that in the ring, Smith’s daughter Georgia has championed her father’s legacy behind the scenes. Through her unrelenting efforts, she has rejuvenated interest in the Bulldog on social media. Her passion even helped put the wheels in motion for her dad’s Hall of Fame induction, one last gift to the first man she ever loved.
“This is so meaningful, so special, and there is a lot of emotion about it for the whole family,” Georgia says. “It’s a labor of love for me to represent my dad. It means the world to me, and I’m so grateful and happy the Hall of Fame is happening.”
With a strikingly familiar tenacity, one that was on display during her father’s comebacks in the ring, Georgia has cared for her father’s legacy. She also helped coordinate a documentary that will air as part of the WWE Network’s Icons series, and she is grateful to play a role in her father’s current success.
“My dad was one of a kind, and he would do anything for the people he cared about,” Georgia says. “He tried to give the best lives possible to my brother and me. I’m so happy he’s getting this credit and recognition. He deserves it. It’s such a highlight for us as a family.
“There were goals I had for him—I wanted a documentary made, I wanted him in the Hall of Fame—now that I’ve reached them, I can’t believe it. I just wish he was here for it.”
The WWE Hall of Fame is more than a ceremony or a ring. For the performers and their families, it recognizes a lifetime’s worth of sacrifice and dedication to a unique pursuit. And though pro wrestling is an endeavor that may end in fame and fortune, or perhaps by returning to conventions and house shows, it is a field far more about the journey than the destination. Growing up in a mining town in northern England, wrestling afforded Smith the opportunity to become a worldwide entity. He shared the fruits of his labor with his children, who remain resolute in their undying love for their father.
“The Hall of Fame, that gives you some sort of immortality as a wrestler,” says Diana Smith, who recently bought a bulldog for her son. “He had the pain, the injuries, and put his body through so much, but no matter what situation he was in, he loved his children so much. He put them on a pedestal and loved them so much.
“Davey comes out through his children. The footprint he left in their lives, that can never be replaced. I wish he could be here to speak what it means to him. I know he’d be very proud of his children, and he’d be so grateful to share this with them.”
Long overdue for the honor, “The British Bulldog” now takes his place among the legends of the industry. his place in WWE history secure. The way his children fought, with love and care, to have their father immortalized is an integral part of his final chapter.
“We’re so glad he is finally being honored in the Hall of Fame,” Harry says. “This is a boost for fans in the UK and all over the world, and for our family. I’m so excited for everyone to see it.”