wrestling / TV Reports

411’s Dark Side of The Ring Report: ‘The Dynamite Kid’

June 11, 2021 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
The Dynamite Kid

-Last week was horrific as they covered the disgusting acts of Grizzly Smith and the way it affected his family. It’s pretty jarring that an episode about Dynamite Kid is likely going to seem like a pick me up by comparison. Time to have more of my childhood crushed. Let’s get to it!

-As a reminder Chris Jericho is the narrator for this season.

-The intro puts over how great Dynamite was in the ring and the need to overcome his size led to bad choices which affected his personal and professional life.

-Lance Storm says Kid’s impact was gigantic and he left a positive impact on the business. He says if you are a fan of today’s wrestling that is attributed to Dynamite along with guys in Stampede like Bret Hart. Lance Storm basically disappears after this brief opening statement.

-Next we meet Michelle Billington, the former wife of The Dynamite Kid. Her sister is Julie and they moved to Calgary and Julie fell in love with Bret Hart. Julie is here and says she took Michelle under her wing and Michelle even mentions Julie was more of a mother than her own mother. She moved in with Julie and Bret and the first time she saw Dynamite Kid wrestle was against Bret. She calls Tom a ping pong ball flying around the ring and mentions how awesome the matches with Bret were.

-Michelle and Tom took a walk in the storm and she fell in love with him. She was 18 years old when she married him. She reads a love letter from Tom as we see home video of her with their daughter. She mentions Tom didn’t hold their little girl until she could walk because he was afraid of hurting her.

-Bronwyne Billington, the daughter of Dynamite, tells us there was a wrestling ring in their backyard. She remembers being backstage at shows and Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth loved her and she loved being around them. She brings up her dad had retainer teeth and he would pull them out to play tricks on her. Amaris Billington, is DK’s youngest daughter, and she is proud of what he accomplished in his career as he didn’t let his size stop him.

-Mick Foley talks about the matches Dynamite had with Tiger Mask in Japan. At some point I should probably watch one of those. He would watch their matches so much on VHS that the tapes would break.

-Dave Meltzer says there is no Jushin Liger without Tiger Mark and Dynamite Kid. They opened the door for people like Eddie Guerrero, Owen Hart and Chris Benoit. He says DK always had a chip on his shoulder because of his size. Mick says that with Tommy if it looked like it hurt it probably did and Dave says Tommy had no regard for his body.

-Dynamite signs with the WWE in 1984 where his cousin Davey Boy Smith and brother in laws, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart were already working. To fit in with the land of giants in the WWE he started taking steroids.

-Dan Spivey who still looks rather scary, says Tommy was just one giant muscle and talks about the steroid use. Gary Porttz (wrestler Scott McGhee) says everyone was taking steroids and he became friends with Dynamite. Every day was like a party and Spivey says they would go to rooms and give each other shots. They would throw the needles into the walls of the hotel room like a dart board.

-By 1985 The British Bulldogs were tearing it up in the WWE Tag Team scene in front of sell out arenas. Jacques Rougeau remembers Dynamite coming into the locker room with a needle still in his ass screaming they were going to have a great match tonight. He admits he was afraid of Tommy.

-The Bulldogs win The WWF Tag Titles and now at the top of the pecking order, Dynamite wants to put those below him through the same hell he went through. Foley mentions Dynamite was trained in The Snake Pit in Wigan, UK. It was filled with guys who knew how to hurt you in a hurry and he thinks it created a bitterness from Dynamite towards guys who didn’t come up with the same tough training. Mick admits he found out first hand and if you read Foley’s first book you know where this story is going. Young Jack Foley is an enhancement guy and is in a tag match against The Bulldogs and Dynamite dislocates Foley’s jaw with a stiff clothesline. He couldn’t eat solid food for 3 weeks, but there were no hard feelings as he felt it was an honor to be in the ring with them. He shook their hands and then went back to his hotel and vomited blood.

-Commercials!

-Dynamite’s daughters show off some of his ring gear and British Bulldogs wrestling figures. Jacques says a few things happened that changed his opinion of Kid. Spivey says he was a ribber and some people didn’t take the jokes well. He would put sleeping pills in some guys drinks. There was a kid named Mitch Snow who talked a bunch, so Tommy slipped him the sleeping pill. While he was out, Dynamite and Bulldog snuck into his room through the balcony window and shit in his bag, shaved his eyebrows and head. The kid was so shook he went home and hid as he was afraid of his life. Spivey says it was just supposed to be a funny joke. Jacques says it’s funny now, but it’s not funny when you are on the road for 23 straight days.

-Michelle says he wasn’t like that the first 5 years of their marriage. It all started after his back operation. His back gave out during a house show match in 1986 and he needed immediate surgery. His lumbar area was shredded and he had 2 discs removed. He was told he couldn’t wrestle, but was back in the ring within a few weeks. Dave says Vince needed to take the Titles off The Bulldogs due to the injury. Davey had to carry Dynamite to the ring and he immediately gets hit with a megaphone to get him out of the match and Davey gets pinned to crown The Hart Foundation as the new Tag Champions. Dynamite went back into a wheelchair and slept on Gary’s floor because it was the most comfortable spot. Dynamite ignores what the doctors tell him and gets back in the ring after only a few months.

-Michelle tells a story of going out and not wanting to drink, but she knew that would anger Tom. He got pissed when he found out she had tonic water. On the way home he would act like he was going to drive the car into another car, but swerved out of the way. He forced her to sleep in a closet and she was fine with that as it was away from him. They found out she was pregnant with their son and he started to get his act straight but that didn’t last.

-The Bulldogs and Rogeaus are told to have a 20 minute Broadway at SummerSlam and in Jacques mind they won because they weren’t on The Bulldogs level at that point. He didn’t think he would ever have a problem with The Bulldogs. The producer asks Michelle about the Rogeau incident and she is tired of hearing about it. She says Tom was old school and felt The Rogeaus needed to earn their right to be arrogant. Jacques admits he liked to joke a lot and that probably didn’t help him. Perfect asked Jacques to play cards and as he sat down, Dynamite smacked him in the back of the head and landed a punch and kick to the face which caused a lot of swelling. Foley says it made Jacques look weak to the boys and Jacques admitted he couldn’t shave for weeks as he didn’t want to look at himself in the mirror. In Jacques’ mind he needed to get revenge.

-Commercials!

-Jacques says he lost 10 lbs because he wasn’t sleeping well and was vomiting when he tried to eat. He felt he needed to get his respect back. His father told him to go to the bank and get himself a roll of quarters. Jacques is waiting for Dynamite and looks him in the eye and blasts him in the face with a right hand. It knocked 4 teeth out of Dynamite’s mouth and DK yelled he was going to “fuck him up.” Jacques told him him next time he would put him in a wheelchair. Gary thinks Jacques used brass knuckles instead of a roll of quarters and Michelle doesn’t think what Tommy did deserved to lose four teeth over what he did to Jacques. Spivey says it damaged Tommy’s reputation and his plans for revenge were stopped cold when Dino Bravo told him there was a hit out on him. Michelle says Tommy was told by Bravo that he saw an envelope with Tommy’s name and address on it and pictures of his house and kids. If he retaliated in any way, they would all be dead. Damn! Michelle says they sold the house because The Mafia knew where they lived.

-Dave and Mick mention Dynamite never got a chance to get his respect back and that he was never the same after that incident. The producers ask Jacques about the mafia rumor and he laughs. He says he forgot about it, but he knew Dino was a stooge to The Bulldogs. He admits to writing down a fake name and telling Dino he was calling that person every night and if he didn’t make the call, bad things would happen. He is glad to hear what he did worked.

-Tommy’s career with the WWE ends and he heads back to Japan where he felt more at home. He was a physical wreck, but it was hard to tell as he was still giving everything in the ring. His arm was hanging on by a thread and he got into a fight with Michelle and started ripping the bandage and sling off his arm setting his reocvery back. Michelle breaks a little as she mentions all they had been through.

-Commercials!

-Julie says Tom was slipping deeper into pills and drinking. She was invited over to watch wrestling and it was just hours of him and Tiger Mask. That was her last memory of being around Tom.

-Michelle tells a story of ringing in 1991 and Tom walks in the house with a bloody face and her daughter was freaked out by it. Michelle started having issues with the idea of bringing another child into this crazy life and started having suicidal thoughts. She put her foot down and told Tom to leave and head back to England. Tom didn’t take that well and started dragging Michelle by her hair. This all happened in front of the kids which is so sad. Keep in mind she was pregnant at the time and Tom told her that she needed to leave. He headed downstairs to get a gun and told her to get out within 15 minutes or he would blow her head off. She called his bluff which is insane and again, all this is happening right in front of their kids. She called the police and whoever was on the line told her to leave if Dynamite said she could leave. She didn’t want to go to Bret and Julie’s to dump all that on them, but she had no other choice. Julie says Michelle was terrified and Dynamite was not in good head space at that time. It seems the family did a great job of hiding what happened for a while, but when it came out it changed everything.

-Commercials!

-Tom leaves Calgary and heads back to England. While he was there, Michelle had Amaris and Michelle says she saved her life. She starts to cry as she talks about what a blessing Amaris has been. Tom had his retirement match in Japan and never came back to see his new daughter. She thanks God for that as she thinks he realized he had a problem and being away from the family was the best.

-Instead Tom starts fighting in garages and in a circle of cars bare knuckled. Spivey is asked if Tommy talked about his family and he didn’t because that would be a sign of weakness.

-DK returns to Japan for a comeback match in 1996 and he is just a shell of his former self. Wow, he looks just awful there. He got injured and the doctors told him there was too much scar tissue to operate. He was back in a wheel chair by his 40s and nobody really wanted to visit him. Michelle says he still loved him and felt sad for him. She just didn’t love what was going on with him.

-The daughters mention their mom never said anything negative about their dad. They grew up thinking he was a prince and then the Chris Benoit documentary came out and Michelle let the girls know about their father’s abusive past. The media frenzy over Benoit led to the media wanting all the dirt on wrestling and Michelle spoke to CNN about Dynamite’s abusive past. She had to tell her kids before it aired on TV. Amaris breaks down as she admits she was mad at her dad for hurting her mom. She calls her mom the best woman ever, but also was mad at her mom for lying to her. Her mom was pregnant with her when Dynamite pulled a gun on her. She says that was the start of a dark time in her life. Yeah, I could see how that would mess with someone.

-Tom told Michelle he would return, but never came back to Canada. Bronwyne had a child and felt that would make her whole, but she soon realized she missed her dad. She booked a flight to England, but Amaris told her she wasn’t going.

-Commercials!

-Fifteen years after last seeing her dad, Bronwyne paid him a surprise visit. She broke down crying and he acted like no time had passed. It was the first time she had ever seen her dad in a wheelchair. She sat next to him and he broke down while holding her hand and told her he was sorry. That was the first time he ever apologized. She is happy she made the trip.

-Tommy had a stroke towards the end and Gary breaks down as they talk about Tommy passing. Spivey says he loved him and he misses him. He mentions he loved his friends and his kids. Bronwyne mentions she didn’t cry for a week because she was in shock. Amaris got a call from her mom and she had to console her mom. Her mom told her that now her fathers was beside her and that’s all she ever wanted.

-Dave says that Dynamite will never get the full credit he deserves because the entire story is a sad story. Michelle wants them to let it go and wants to make sure they also talk about CTE and depression. She doesn’t want anyone to knock him. They could have asked him to come back more, but it was their choice to end it because they were better off without him. He would tell her he wanted his kids to be proud of his body of work and at the time she just wanted him to be a father and not a wrestler. Now she knows that is what he is giving to them to remember him and she makes sure her kids know about their father’s career.

-Foley gets the final words as he talks about Tommy as an artist and how brilliant he was. He was not the first and won’t be the last to suffer for their art. “You become the biggest star you can imagine and you pay for it the rest of your life.”

-Another heavy show this week as expected. This one had me the entire way, because I haven’t heard most of these stories. I grew up on Hogan era WWF and knew of The Bulldogs, but DK was on the back end of his career by that point due to injuries. This was a fine episode and another cautionary tale. Getting into fights with other wrestlers in the back in one thing, but abusing your pregnant wife and doing so in front of your children is something else entirely. I am happy Michelle and her kids have found peace and hopefully this episode has been cathartic for them like these shows have been for other families. Thanks for reading!