The British Bulldog is one of the most memorable performers of the Golden Era through the New Generation Era. Whether aligned with Dynamite Kid, defeating Bret Hart in his home nation in front of over 80,000 fans, or colluding with Owen – Davey Boy Smith proved to be one of the most reliable and prominent performers of his day. Despite his status, the heroic Brit’s return in the late 90s and early 2000 was not befitting of someone of his talents. The British Bulldog was certainly barking up the wrong tree during his attempted Attitude Era run.
Back In The WWF
On the SmackDown airing on September 9th, 1999, The British Bulldog returned to in-ring action for the first time in a year. His last match was during his second short stint in WCW. Presumably, he filled the time watching the Queen’s Speech extended cut, drinking tea, and engaging in racist comments over lunch – it’s the British way!
His return was not as sparkling as you may imagine. Instead, he made an announced in-ring return in a match in just over a minute. Wearing a baggy, grey hoodie throughout, he won the Hardcore title after beating The Big Bossman. He subsequently gave it to Al Snow; Snow was impersonating his old New Rocker moniker Leif Cassidy at the time.
He then turned heel, helping Triple H beat The Rock in a match refereed by Bulldog. For the last time, The British Bulldog competed in his Union Flag attire for the final time when competing for the WWF title in a six-way bout for the WWF title at Unforgiven 1999.
A New Bulldog
Bulldog quickly became a more Attitude Era-altered character. Now wrestling in jeans, with a buzzcut, and a new rockier theme – this overhaul created an almost all-new character, which – as we mentioned with Ricky Steamboat – is not always the smartest idea.
He challenged “The Game” in a singles WWF title match, a match that ended with special guest The Rock standing tall after deliberately sabotaging the match. He did however beat X-Pac at Rebellion in his native England.
On the October 11th edition of Raw, a tag match against The Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection ended in a no contest. The ex-tag partner of Dynamite Kid was Rock Bottomed into a tray of dog poop as Michael Cole yelled “The dog poop!” various times. In fairness, it was the most memorable part of his entire return. At No Mercy, he lost to The Rock in a wildly predictable match, a brief main event departure for “The Great One”.
By this time, Bulldog found himself alone in the WWF with Bret in WCW, Owen recently deceased, and Dynamite Kid was immobile – needing the aid of a wheelchair. Naturally, the WWF turned to the next best thing: The Mean Street Posse.
It worked well enough as Bulldog clawed the European title off of D’Lo Brown on SmackDown, winning with a suplex. This was back when the move actually meant something: the move performed by greats like Barry Windham and Bob Orton – not just the generic high spot that it is now that everyone kicks out of.
The title reign saw a fair few defenses, large on house shows. His results on TV were not exactly stratospheric with a DQ retention over Edge, a DQ retention over Christian, a DQ retention over Val Venis as well as some wins on Jacked did not spell success. Bulldog lost nearly every televised match including tag losses to The Headbangers, a terribly hodgepodge Survivor Series team, and Too Cool. He did challenge for Big Show’s WWF title but it lasted only just over 30 seconds but hey-ho silver lining.
He eventually lost the strap but was protected in defeat, not pinned in a triple threat match in which he dropped the belt to Val Venis.
Walking Out The Door
Bulldog competed in the Royal Rumble where he was in the first half eliminated.
Bulldog did win the Hardcore title from Crash Holly in the UK at the Insurrextion PPV although this was short-lived.
Bulldog’s last televised match was against Eddie Guerrero on Heat for the European belt after being hostile towards “Latino Heat” for ‘disrespecting’ the legacy of the belt the Brit was the first to hold. It ended in double DQ.
Fighting for his job, the man billed from Manchester would fight Steve Blackman at a house show; the match ended in quick fashion. He turned up in terrible condition to another show, being sent home and subsequently fired.
Bulldog did not compete on a large stage again, dying in May 2002, over two years after his last match in the WWF.
The British Bulldog? Was His Return Any Good?
An all too short and sadly deflating run, The British Bulldog simply returned at the wrong time.
Whilst a top star in the mid-90s in the New Generation Era, the Attitude Era was filled with, if anything too much star power which would not allow for another top guy. Plus, the conventions at the time would not allow the patriotic British character he had previously had and would instead have to see a character overhaul that in hindsight hindered the character.
The second WWF run of The British Bulldog was, in application, British bullshit.