By Brian Garside, tsn.ca
May 26, 2002
On Sunday morning I woke up late, and went about my usual routine. I stumbled downstairs, kicked my PC on and turned on the kettle for my morning cup of coffee. I always check my e-mail first to find out what my plans for the day will be. The third e-mail down was from my buddy “Big Daddy” Donnie Abreu, and it was titled “Sad News”.
It was 11 words. “Hey Brian, Did you hear about Davey Boy Smith? Really sad.”
My immediate reaction was, “Oh no, not again.” Davey had been in a serious motorcycle accident almost a year and a half ago which had almost killed him. He had been admitted to rehab a couple of times. He had fought a staph infection in his spine that almost killed him two years ago…but he was Davey, he always came back.”
I popped over to The Wrestling Observer, and there it was. “Davey Boy Smith passes away”.
My first thought was, “Not another one.” Haven’t the Harts suffered enough these last two years? I went upstairs and told my wife the sad news, and I felt the same emotions that I did the night I told her Owen Hart had passed away two years ago.
I knew Davey, my ex-roommate reminded me this weekend of the phone calls he’d take that were simple and to the point. “Hello, is Brian there? Tell him Davey called.”, it was hilarious telling my roomie that Davey was The British Bulldog.
A couple of years ago, I ran a little side-business called “WrestlingSites.com” where I would build web sites for wrestlers. I built the official web sites for Lance Storm (StormWrestling.com), Perry Saturn (PerrySaturn.com), and I had talked to Dean Malenko, The Honky Tonk Man, and Chris Benoit about doing their official sites, but the very first official wrestler website I created was TheBritishBulldog.com for Davey Boy Smith.
I first met Davey in 1997, about a week before the infamous Survivor Series incident. Bret was going to be on Off The Record on a one-on-one interview, and Davey and Jim Neidhart were to be on a panel later in the day. It was a really brief meeting, as Bret was under incredible stress, and Davey and Jim were there to support him. I shook all three men’s hands, and that was about it.
The next time I talked to Davey was on the phone at Ike “The Crippler” Shaw’s place in Cambridge. Ike was representing Davey while the Bulldog was recovering from a serious staph infection. From all reports on the internet, Davey was on death’s door, but when I asked him how he was doing he said, “It hurts like hell, but I’m gonna beat this thing.” As soon as he said that, I had no doubt that he would. He also spoke about how he was going to talk to Vince (McMahon) about going back to the WWF. Davey and Jim Neidhart had jumped ship to WCW when Bret left two years earlier. In WCW Davey had floundered in the mid-card, and eventually incurred the injury that would almost end his career by being slammed into a trap door in the middle of the ring which was there so that The Ultimate Warrior could impressively enter the ring later in the show.
We had a few conversations, and Davey approved the design for the official British Bulldog website. It was a labour of love on my part, and I was doing it just for the doors to the wrestling world that it would open.
Because of that site, I had a great conversation with Perry Saturn, which led to me creating his official website. Perry’s site led to a conversation with Lance Storm, which led to me creating his official website, and in one of my favourite moments, I had a chance to go to dinner with Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Chris Jericho to talk about official websites when both WCW and the WWF were in town one weekend.
But none of that would have happened if the door hadn’t been opened by Davey. Eventually he did beat the virus, and Vince McMahon did sign him to a contract. Davey made his return to the WWF, and I met him backstage at a WWF event a couple of months later. At this point he had decided that he wanted to let the WWF build a website for him, and the grueling road schedule was too much for him to contribute updates to the site (of the original three WrestlingSites.com members, Lance Storm was the only guy who managed to get something done regularly. Even today, he still writes a weekly column on StormWrestling.com which I find very entertaining). When we met backstage, I introduced myself to him. The man must meet hundreds of people a day, and when I said my name, he smiled, said “nice to meet you”, and started to walk away. Then he stopped and said “Wait a minute, are you the guy that made my website?”, I nodded, and his eyes lit up. “Thanks, it’s really good. I’ve shown it around to a few of the boys. They realy liked it.” He shook my hand again, and was off.
I’ve been building websites since 1997. I’ve helped build TSN.ca for more than five years (minus a half sabattical I took), I built the original “Top Rope on TSN.ca”, I re-designed Showcase, HGTV, and the Life Network’s websites, I’ve done work for TD Bank, and more dot-coms than I can remember, but no compliment has ever meant more to me than those few words Davey said that day.
I haven’t seen Davey since that day, but I’ve thought of him a lot. I thought of what a good guy he was on the phone, and how soft spoken he was. I’ve thought of how he always talked about wanting to wrestle with his son Harry in the WWF, and how he wanted to be the first father-son team to take the tag straps in the WWF. I’ve thought of the wasted potential, and hoped for him to come back.
But now he’s gone, and all I can think about is the effect that losing another member of their family must be having on the Harts. I can’t help but wonder about Harry and how the death of his dad, whom he was so close to, must be affecting him. He’s determined to make it to the big show in WWE, and I really believe he’ll do it. I want to see Harry in a WWE ring, I’d love to see him wrestle Chris Benoit in Calgary, for his dad, and hopefully to break the Hart curse. Harry’s got the ability, and he’s got the drive. There’s been too much tragedy in the Hart family lately. It’s time for one good story to come out of it.
Last weekend, I dug up the website I had made, and used most of the bio material for our obituary of Davey Boy Smith, but while I was doing it, I decided to post the site for people who wanted to learn more about Davey’s life. The Davey Boy Smith Tribute site now lives at http://bulldogtribute.tripod.com. I’ll be updating some stuff in the next couple of weeks. I have a ton of great photos that I’d love to post, and I have a bunch of really cool articles that I’ll be putting up online.