This epic tag team rivalry took place off and on for over a year seeing The British Bulldogs have their only WWF Tag Team title reign stolen from them by a crooked referee! Although the Bulldogs would try multiple times, they were never able to regain their titles again.
The British Bulldogs were comprised of the superstars Davey Boy Smith (later known as The British Bulldog) and the Dynamite Kid. The Bulldogs won the tag team championship at Wrestlemania II when they defeated The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine).
The Hart Foundation were superstars Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart with their manager Jimmy Hart (who has no relation to Bret Hart unlike Neidhart, Davey Boy, and Dynamite Kid).
These two teams fought quite often on many of the house shows throughout 1986, for the purposes of profiling their long-running feud, I am going to focus on the events that took place on shows that were broadcast on TV only.
I was able to find a video of a very early match that took place on January 18th, 1986 at the Capital Center. This match took place just a few months before Wrestlemania II (where The Bulldogs went on to become the WWF Tag Team Champions). During the commentary by Gorilla Monsoon, this was being tipped as a match where the winners may go on to face The Dream Team in the near future.
Below is a video of the full match. It was a great match with a lot of back-and-forth action. The Hart Foundation were able to steal a win when Neidhart dragged (what appeared to be) an unconscious Bret Hart on top of Dynamite Kid who has unable to kick out of delivering a huge superplex moments before!
As I mentioned earlier, these two teams would battle constantly at house shows. These two teams then met again on May 17th, 1986 in an All Star Wrestling event. By this time, The Bulldogs were the WWF Tag Team Champions for several months now. In this match, The Hart Foundation lost to the champions via disqualification because they refused to stop their double team attack of Davey Boy Smith. Some really good foreshadowing here for how The Hart Foundation would eventually win the titles away…
Later that year, on a September 6th episode of WWF Superstars of Wrestling, Bret and Jim defeated Koko B. Ware and Paul Romo. Although this match doesn’t involve The Bulldogs, in the match commentator Vince McMahon began questioning the actions of the referee Danny Davis. Nothing would come out of this just yet, but it was becoming clear that Danny Davis was allowing The Hart Foundation to get away with some extra double teaming.
After watching this match, I’m not too sure what McMahon is really complaining about, the double teaming did not feel out of the ordinary for a tag match…
Nearing the end of 1986 on an episode of Superstars of Wrestling that aired on November 29th, The Hart Foundation scored their first victory over The British Bulldogs. This match, however, was a non-title match so The Bulldogs remained the champions. As was seen a few weeks earlier, Danny Davis was once again the referee of this match. As The Bulldogs had The Hart’s beat, Dynamite was going for the pin when Davis suddenly became quite interested in Jimmy Hart. Neidhart came in, took out Davey Boy. He then proceeded to setup Dynamite for The Hart Attack. Suddenly, as Bret went for the pin, Davis was done with Jimmy Hart and turned around a counted a fast one-two-three.
Starting off the new year, on the January 10th, 1987 episode of Superstars of Wrestling the WWF Tag Team Champions, The British Bulldogs, lost via disqualification when referee Danny Davis disqualified the champions because Davey Boy chased Slick backstage with Matilda (their dog) after Slick interfered in the match when he hit Dynamite Kid with his cane. Once again, this match didn’t directly involve both The Hart Foundation and The British Bulldogs; however, it would further set things up with Danny Davis as an integral part in this feud.
In December of 1986, Dynamite Kid was seriously injured in a match in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. In the next few matches, the feud with The Hart Foundation and The Bulldogs would continue, but substitute wrestlers were found for Dynamite Kid. In case you were wondering, the above January 10th episode was taped in December before Dynamite was injured.
On an episode of Prime Time that aired January 26th, 1987 Davey Boy Smith who was teaming with the Junkyard Dog they beat the Hart Foundation because Danny Davis did a fast three-count. After the match Davis was upset with himself because he thought he was fast-counting The Hart Foundation to victory. This would have been the case if Davey Boy didn’t reverse the small package that Bret Hart had on the JYD.
On another episode of Prime Time that aired on February 13th that was recorded on January 19th, the Dynamite Kid who was still injured was substituted in a match by Billy Jack Haynes who wrestled with Davey Boy Smith against the Hart Foundation. Danny Davis was the original referee during this match, but was knocked out during the match. After this happened Bret Hart submitted to Haynes’ full nelson.
Up to this point, The British Bulldogs: Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid had been mostly getting the better of The Hart Foundation: Bret Hart and Jim Heidhart. This, however, was about to change. At this time, Dynamite Kid was still in the hospital recovering from back surgery. To ensure this feud would be able to continue when he was healthy again, against Doctors orders, Dynamite checked out of the hospital to show up for the following match.
On February 7th, 1987 on WWF Superstars of Wrestling (that was recorded from a live event on January 26th), The Hart Foundation defeated the Tag Team Champions, The British Bulldogs. At the start of the match the Dynamite Kid was knocked outside the ring with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone. The referee, Danny Davis was also outside checking on him. While Davis was outside, The Hart Foundation double teamed Davey Boy Smith and after landing their finisher – The Hart Attack – referee Danny Davis counted the one-two-three. This marked the first title reign for The Hart Foundation.
The following week on Superstars of Wrestling that aired on February 14th, WWF President Jack Tunney suspended referee Danny Davis for life after doing many things that were making him a non-bias referee; including being quite favorable with The Hart Foundation’s tag team championship win.
At Wrestlemania III on March 29th, 1987 The Hart Foundation and former referee Danny Davis won a six-man tag against The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana. Danny Davis hit Davey Boy Smith with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone to secure the one-two-three.
Shortly after Wrestlemania, in a non-title match WWF Tag Team Champions, The Hart Foundation (with Jimmy Hart and Danny Davis at ringside) defeated Rick Hunter and SD Jones on an episode of Superstars of Wrestling in April of 1987. After the match, the British Bulldogs (with Maltilda) rushed the ring chasing the Hart Foundation backstage letting them know that this rivalry was far from over!
A few weeks later on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event that aired May 2nd, 1987 the tag team championship was up for grabs in a best 2 out of 3 falls. The British Bulldogs won the first fall when the referee disqualified Jim Neidhart who was not the legal man in the ring and he and Bret Hart continued double teaming the Dynamite Kid. In the second fall, Dynamite pinned Neidhart after Davey Boy pressed slammed Dynamite onto Neidhart for the one-two-three.
Everyone thought there were new tag team champions with The Bulldogs winning the best of 3 in 2 straight falls. However, (in a great way to confuse any new potential wrestling fans tuning in for the first time that) the championships could not change hands because of disqualification. Making the almost 10 minutes of action after the first fall pointless…
One week later on an episode of Superstars of Wrestling, Davey Boy Smith defeated Bret Hart in a one-on-one match where Dynamite Kid and Jim Neidhart were both at ring side supporting their respective teammates. After the match, Neidhart and Kid brawled outside while Danny Davis and Bret Hart double teamed Davey Boy in the ring. Even though Davey got the victory, The Hart Foundation was continuing to get the better of The British Bulldogs because of help from Danny Davis and Jimmy Hart.
This lead to another six-man tag team match that would air in June on an episode of Prime Time where Billy Jack Haynes and The British Bulldogs defeated Danny Davis and the WWF Tag Team Champions – The Hart Foundation – when Dynamite Kid pinned Bret Hart after a diving head butt with some help from Davey Boy Smith who launched him off the top rope.
In what may have been The British Bulldogs last televised chance to win back the WWF Tag Team Championships (which of course I cannot find a video for!), they faced off against The Hart Foundation in August of 1987 on an episode of Prime Time. As Davey Boy attempted to suplex Bret Hart into the ring from the outside, Neidhart swept Davey Boy’s legs causing him to fall allowing Hart to secure the victory for the Hart Foundation to once again remain champions.
Later that year, in November, on an episode of Superstars of Wrestling the Hart Foundation lost the WWF Tag Team Championships to Tito Santana and Rick Martel.
A few weeks later, the Bulldogs and the Foundation had one of their last televised matches on Prime Time. Neidhart secured the pin on Davey Boy after Bret hit him with a double axehandle from the middle rope while Davey Boy had Neidhart in a sleeper hold.
As 1988 started, The British Bulldogs had finally had enough of The Hart Foundation and moved onto a new feud with Bobby Heenan’s Islanders marking the end to one of the greatest tag team feuds in WWF history that began in early 1986 and ended as 1987 came to a close.