By Goose Mahler, Columnist
December 5, 2018, we lose another wrestling legend – Thomas Billington aka the Dynamite Kid – on his 60th birthday. Why must fate be so cruel? The wrestling God’s work in mysterious ways and often confusing ways.
The first time I saw The British Bulldogs, I was hooked on the Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith. The snap suplex, The standing-delayed suplex, the diving headbutt, the crisp tags, the power lift, the power slam, the speed, the chemistry was amazing! They came in and just set the WWF on fire. They were so good my first wrestling toy was the Dynamite Kid.
Dynamite started wrestling in his teens and then worked his way to Calgary and Stampede Wrestling for Stu Hart. Another grad of the legendary Dungeon. Those of us that were lucky enough to see some of the matches he had with various Hart boys. He was fast, he was strong, he was poetry in motion before Jeff Hardy took the name. He was a trend setter.
From Stampede to Japan to the WWF and then back to his roots in Stampede and Japan, the Dynamite Kid was one of the best pound for pound wrestlers in the world. Facing off against guys like the great Tiger Mask, Bret Hart before he became the Hitman. Dynamite was a mixture of speed and power the wrestling world at that point hadn’t been seen.
When the British Bulldogs hit the WWE they had some exciting matches leading up to a Wrestlemania 2 WWF Tag Team Title Match against The Dream Team which was Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine with Lucious Johnny V. Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite came to the ring with their retiring manager Captain Lou and Rock Legend and fellow UK brother Ozzy Osbourne. The match was fast paced on limited time, but the WWF put the tag team belts on a team that should have carried the division into the 90’s.
Unfortunately, an untimely back injury cut the Bulldogs’ reign short. With Dynamite out of action the WWF scrambled to find Davey Boy partners (Roddy Piper, Junkyard Dog, and Billy Jack Haynes) to defend the belts, ultimately the injury meant the belts would be dropped to another team. Vince McMahon wanted to put the belts on Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Shiek, but Billington flat out refused. Instead he wanted to have the Hart Foundation beat him and Davey Boy for the belts. He got his wish. Not many people win over Vince, but Dynamite did.
With losing the belts it gave Tommy more time to heal his back, but feuds with the Islanders, Conquistadors (the original version, not Edge and Christian or the Hardy’s or Kurt Angle) really didn’t get the Bulldogs back into the title hunt. Billington become sour on the WWF and the travel and not getting first class treatment. He walked and Davey Boy followed suit. The WWF lost, in my opinion what could have been the best tag team in the world.
They went to Stampede again and then back to Japan where more titles would follow. Giant Baba had so much respect for both Bulldogs they were able to choose when they want to wrestle, tours they wanted to be apart of, name it. The run didn’t last that long and the Bulldogs split Dynamite teams with Johnny Smith becoming the British Bruisers while Davey Boy teamed with a young Chris Benoit and then Davey Boy went back to the WWF with the trade mark British Bulldog Name. Dynamite kept working with Smith and singles matches. His last match was in 1996 and he retired from wrestling.
You can see Dynamite’s influence in many current wrestlers and some past. The most notable was Chris Benoit and the snap suplex and diving headbutt stick out the most. As much as the WWE wants to erase Benoit from existence, the fact of the matter is he was patterned after Dynamite Kid. The high-flying arsenal and power game were what made fans watch both men. As Mick Foley once proclaimed, Dynamite was one of the stiffest wrestlers to grace the ring along with fellow Brit Les Thornton.
I’m not going to talk about the bad here. It was a known fact that Billington was not the most popular person backstage. But Dynamite was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up. When he retired because of his health issues it always killed me reading stories about his decline. What I will tell you is this.
There was only one Dynamite Kid. Whether he was a British Bulldog or British Bruiser…didn’t matter. He was a high flyer that allowed smaller guys like Shawn Michaels, Brian Pillman, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guererro to shine in the spot light. He is a huge reason speed and power is still a grand thing in wrestling and not a common trait for some of the current wrestlers in the world.
We lost a legend. But go back and look at some of his matches on Youtube.com or WWE Network and tell yourself this…not many people can replace Tommy Billington because in the ring he was Simply Dynamite! RIP Dynamite Kid.