An emotional night for Bulldog's boy
UNITED KINGDOM -- Birmingham's National Indoor Arena (NIA) was virtually empty on a damp, chilly Monday morning. The only people that scurried around the concrete arena floor were stage hands carefully placing chairs, sweeping and prepping for a sold-out edition of Monday Night Raw.
Harry Smith, knowing he would be stepping into the ring under intense scrutiny from our fans, Superstars, family and friends, admitted he was anxious as he watched the uneventful happenings of the morning unfold.
"I'm actually quite nervous," he said, tapping his fingers lightly against his bulky thighs. "Believe it or not, I had goose bumps on the plane ride over here; England is my father's home country, and I'm dedicating my match against Carlito to him. I want to do my father's legacy proud tonight."
Harry's father, the late British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, was the major inspiration for Smith pursuing a career in sports-entertainment. With the Bulldog's untimely death in 2002, Harry had trouble coping with the loss and contemplated whether or not to continue. Now, years later, it is his time to take center stage in front of a live audience, and his performance could set the stage for the way he's perceived by members of the WWE locker room for years to come.
When asked about the difference between the Harry Smith of today versus a year ago, when WWE.com first interviewed the 20-year-old (story), without hesitation he explained the change in him as a person. It has been this change that has prepared him for his first major obstacle.
"My mentality and the way I approach wrestling has changed since our last interview," he said. "I have more confidence in myself in terms of wrestling capabilities; I've been hitting the gym more, working on my mat skills more and I've also gained the confidence to speak openly about my father in public, whereas before that was something I may have not been able to do. I feel as if it held me back in a way."
With four hours left before the doors of the NIA open to the public, for Smith, there is no going back. Being reminded that a packed crowd at the NIA would be roaring in appreciation for the Bulldog as well as Harry didn't help matters any. The tapping on the thighs started again, and a slow fidget began to occur as he spoke.
"It's not that I'm afraid of anything; I'm ready for tonight," he said with confidence.
"I'd like to win tonight -- obviously that's the goal when someone competes -- but if I don't, I hope the fans see the effort I'm going to give them, and for my father, all I have to give," he said. "I'd like to gain the respect of our fans, and that would mean a lot since I'm wrestling in my dad's hometown."
With that, Smith politely excused himself from the interview to go prepare. What he did from there wasn't documented, as WWE.com respected his wishes, and allowed him to get into the "zone" in peace.
Later that evening, after a raucous applause and the dedication of the match to his father, Smith did what his opponent, Carlito, never expected -- he won. Using the running powerslam, a move the Bulldog used to punish his opponents, Harry covered the Caribbean loudmouth for the three-count.
Having completed what he set out to do, Smith later told WWE.com he could rest easy that night knowing his best efforts would have made his father proud. Drenched with sweat, inflamed with bruises from his match and still trying to catch his breath, Harry's smile was inerasable as he slowly made his way to the locker room area to shower and celebrate his victory with his family and friends later that evening.