Harry Smith returned to the WWE in a dark match after nearly a decade away

Wrestling (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Wrestling (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Harry Smith, son of the British Bulldog, made a surprise return to WWE during a dark match at the go-home edition of WWE SmackDown before Money in the Bank. He and Austin Theory were successful in a tag team match against Odyssey Jones and Xyon Quinn. With his return, the conversation has turned to whether or not this was the right move for him at this point in his career.

The legend that was his father

The British Bulldog needs no introduction to the longtime wrestling fans. The legendary status he achieved is due in large part to his catalog of incredible matches dating back to his start in the wrestling business when he was 15 years old.

He teamed with the Dynamite Kid, and they were known as The British Bulldogs. Smith later went on to form the Hart Foundation with his brothers-in-law, and even a run in WCW.

He was the first-ever European Champion—winning that title against Owen Hart in Berlin, Germany in 1997—in a bout that essentially was a Picasso painting of the wrestling world only on the wrestling canvas in front of those German fans and the legions watching at home.

But why go on and on about Davey? Because in wrestling, the first generation matters…the then trendsetters, the ones that started it all; before the internet came about and hashtag trending was as mysterious as electric cars.

In professional wrestling, being a second or third-generation superstar means that you understand the business from the inside and aren’t just a fan who wants to be like something you see on TV; not that there’s anything wrong with that either, as you have to start somewhere, but I digress.

At the same time, you get pointers from your father or mother…insights on the business and that is worth…well, it’s priceless in the wrestling industry.

Background of a 3rd generation superstar

Like his father, he started young. There is footage of him in his grandfather’s dungeon. Jr. began training at the tender age of eight, believe it or not. It was Davey who started his son on his pro wrestling journey, and when Davey wasn’t around because of wrestling schedule obligations, it was Harry’s uncle, Bruce Hart that trained him. So the base—an historic wrestling base—was definitely there from the get-go.

Believe it or not, his first in-ring match was at the age of eleven for WWE! The match was at a house show in his native Calgary. In the match, he teamed with Tyson Kidd and his cousin Teddy Hart.

Understanding Stampede Wrestling

Its first run lasted from 1948 to 1984. The territory was started by Stu Hart, the patriarch to the Hart Dynasty and father to Diana (Harry’s mother and wife of Davey’s–they separated shortly before his passing), Bret and Owen Hart, and foster father to so many other wrestlers the world over who trained under the legendary master over the years.

It was in 1984 that Stu sold the territory to Vince McMahon and the rest is history, please pardon the cliché.

Stampede wrestling had two resurgences…once in 1985 to 1989, which was very short-lived, and then again in 1999. The territory would close its doors in 2008, but it was there that Davey Boy Smith Jr. would have cemented his rise among the ranks of professional wrestling. He premiered in the company with Tyson Kidd and they were known as The Stampede Bulldogs for obvious reasons.

His time in WWE

He went on to wrestle for many promotions including New Japan Pro, OVW, Deep South Wrestling, FCW, and finally WWE for his first run in 2006. He and Kidd had a run as a tag team in WWE known as the Hart Dynasty with Natalya.

In WWE he wasn’t allowed to do as well as he could have, it is perceived. The company instead highlighting Natalya as the years went on, and she wasn’t at all the best that the Hart dungeon had produced in its last years. A bold statement but it must be made. Unavoidable in fact.

After his release from WWE, Hart stated: “When I was in WWE I lost the passion and when I left WWE, I thought that my career was done.”

He wasn’t quite done yet, as he returned to the independent circuit and has been wrestling there ever since, stopping off at familiar promotions and new ones as well, where he hadn’t yet wrestled.  He even formed a tag team known as The Killer Elite Squad with none other than Lance Archer at NWA.

The lackluster performances of NXT and Indy circuit stars on WWE’s main roster

I’ve mentioned this before, but I need to reiterate it once more. There’s an unwritten rule in wrestling, or rather there seems to be: wrestlers who perform explosively on the Indy circuit and now NXT are dialed down on the main roster, or rather they appear to be…which brings me to Jr.’s return.

It was on July 16 that Davey Boy Smith Jr. returned to WWE on SmackDown, billed as Harry Smith. No scratch that…he, this third-generation star returned in a dark match of all things, before they taped SmackDown!


With all that lineage, all that history? A dark match! It makes as much sense as having John Cena and Matt Riddle team up this past week on Raw, only after they went off the air.

A conundrum to say the least.

He was featured following the show on a WWE Network exclusive. It can be as exclusive as they want to say it was…it wasn’t on TV and a wrestler of his caliber belongs on TV…period.

Would he be better off at AEW?

At this point, I’m going to have to say yes. I can understand his wanting to return to WWE where he had his start at 8, and where his father became legendary, WWE even placing his father in the WWE Hall of Fame for the class of 2020.

But perhaps he would have been better treated at AEW. It just seems that they treat ex-WWE talent much better.

The possibilities there would have been endless. He could have had a run-in with his former buddy, Lance Archer, and as a big man, he could have had feuds with Brian Cage, Powerhouse Hobbs and the list goes on.

I hope that in the end, WWE doesn’t let this be an anticlimactic end to an impressive career, and for the love of God…put him on TV.

We’ll have to wait and see where this goes, dear readers.