The Price You Pay For Wrestling Stardom
"Dynamite Kid" Tom Billington
Synopsis: The controversial autobiography of former British Bulldog Tom Billington.
I got it from a vet who lived close to my home in Calgary. He told me it was for horses. The label even read `For intra-muscular use with horses only' and there was a picture of a horse on the front.
But I didn't care, I was desperate. I was out of my usual stuff and knew I had to take something, so I shot it. I woke up about 2AM freezing cold and sweating at the same time, and feeling terrible. I got up, turned all the heating on, I even turned the burners on over the stove and sat over them just to try and get warm.
When I look back to what I did that day, I know it could have killed me. But at the same time, you didn't think about it.
Many wrestling know Dynamite Kid as one half of the legendary tag team The British Bulldogs (no relation), former World Wrestling Federation tag team champions during the company's peak of popularity. Others may liken his career to that of the late Chris Benoit (minus, of course, the tragic ending).
But Dynamite's true glory days were in Stampede Wrestling, where he legitimately helped revitalize the Calgary-based promotion. Tom Billington bumped like a madman, fought stiffer than people twice his size, and was a shining example of someone who could tell a story in the ring.
However, his life was pretty seedy behind the scenes. Billington is quite candid with his tales of drugs and physical abuse, and how it literally destroyed his body and his life. For those of you who don't know, he was confined to a wheelchair for decades prior to his death and was left more or less destitute.
Reading this book, it's evident that Billington lived hard, wrestled hard, and had a mean streak a mile long. His real-life feuds with Bruce Hart, the Rougeau Brothers and even his own cousin Davey Boy Smith become scary at points. Yet he makes no apologies for his actions. If someone pisses him off, in or out of the ring, they got beaten to a bloody pulp.
Even his ribs were violent in nature, putting him constantly at odds with Vince McMahon during his WWF stint in the mid-1980s. For example, Brutus Beefcake was about to get pummeled in a steel cage match as "payback" for not signing a friend's autograph book, but one night before that.. Billington was paralyzed at a house show in Hamilton, Ontario.
Billington blurs the line between kayfabe and reality far too much for my liking. He claims to have changed finishes mid-match, while other matches turned into "shoots". I'm not sure I really believe that. Plus, Dynamite likes almost no one in the industry, save for Dan Spivey, the guy who almost drugged him to death at one point. Strange.
But besides the factual question marks, this book is entertaining and gritty. Billington's real-life heel character is more compelling than anything WWE could create today, and watching his story play out is fascinating in a "watching a car crash" kind of way.
Rating: Oh Hell Yeah! This was one of the first wrestling books I ever picked up, and I still skim through it from time to time. Worth tracking down.