OWEN HART & THE BRITISH BULLDOG
1996 - 1997
WWF World Tag Team Champions
Written by Canadian Bulldog
The tag team of Owen Hart & The British Bulldog isn't one that usually gets its just due. Yet I believe I can make a strong argument that they should be among the top of the late-1990s teams (thus my impetus to write today's Tag Team Spotlight).
Owen and Bulldog (no relation to yours truly) held the WWF Tag Team Championship for nearly 250 days. They also defended the gold against several top duos, switched managers and factions, and even teased a break-up during that time. In short, they went through quite a bit of history, considering this was a time of frequent title changes and dropped storylines that catered to the short-attention-span, channel-flipping Attitude Era fan.
Despite being brothers-in-law, Owen and Bulldog didn't end up on the same side for most of their early careers. As Davey Boy Smith, Bulldog teamed with Dynamite Kid in the WWF and elsewhere, while Hart had a singles run in Stampede and as The Blue Blazer in the WWF.
By the mid-1990s, both were featured singles wrestlers in the WWF, although often on opposing sides. Hart had become a top heel due to his rivalry with older brother Bret "Hitman" Hart, while The Bulldog backed Bret during that lengthy feud. During the "I Quit" match between Bret and Bob Backlund at the 1994 Survivor Series, Owen and Bulldog were literally in opposing corners. Even after the Hart brothers war had largely subsided, Owen found himself teaming with Yokozuna, while Bulldog was paired with Lex Luger as The Allied Powers.
It really wasn't until both were managed by Jim Cornette that they began teaming up -- Owen through to a loose association between Cornette and Mr. Fuji, and Bulldog after he turned heel on Luger.
Combined, their charisma was undeniable, with Owen's Slammy Award winning ways and sense of humor complementing Bulldog's brute strength. As a team, they took on many of the two duos of the era, including The Godwinns; Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon; The New Blackjacks; The Legion Of Doom; even Razor Ramon & Diesel (okay, fine.... New Razor Ramon and New Diesel).
At In Your House: Mind Games, the two finally struck gold, defeating The Smoking Gunns for the WWF Tag Team Championship. Of note: Owen and Bulldog ended up dumping Cornette after this match in favor of Corny's attorney Clarence Mason. Not sure whether that was the best career move for either Hart Family member....
Owen and Bulldog's run as champions came to an end in May 1997, when they lost the belts on Monday Night Raw to the seemingly random team of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. The team of Hall of Fame Texans soon went their separate ways, although Owen and Bulldog faced off against their successors, the equally-odd team of Austin and Dude Love, who captured the tag team titles a few months later.
After exiting the title picture, Owen and Bulldog teased dissention - a fairly common occurrence in the sport... although this story's ending was far less predictable.
Owen eliminated Bulldog from the 1997 Royal Rumble and the following month, Bulldog defeated Owen to become the first WWF European Champion. The two barely got past a title defence at WrestleMania XIII (against another random team - Mankind and Vader) before coming to blows on Raw a few weeks later. It took Bret Hart, who had recently turned heel, to get the brothers-in-law on the same page, setting the stage for the faction that would be known as The Hart Foundation.
Although the events of 1997's Survivor Series broke up the group (Bret, Bulldog and Anvil went to WCW, leaving Owen to fend for himself), the team of Owen and Bulldog nonetheless had a memorable impact on the business.