He is the greatest wrestler the United Kingdom has ever produced, and my second favourite wrestler of all time. He’s inspired countless others over the past 30 years or so, and now he’s getting The Two Sheds Review treatment.
The man in question is Tommy Billington, the Dynamite Kid, and courtesy of my good friends at the British Wrestling DVDs website we’re now going to take a look at some of his matches with the first two volumes of The Best of the Dynamite Kid series.
The majority of these matches are from what has become known as the World of Sport era, when wrestling had a regular slot every Saturday afternoon at 4pm. There’s also some fan-cam footage in there as well. Sadly I don’t have the exact dates of these matches, but I can tell you that they’re all from Joint Promotions shows and range from his early career in the 70’s through to the latter stages of his tenure on the early 90’s. Also, most of them were contested over the rounds system.
So let’s get this review underway with our hero’s opening match, a non-title affair against British Light Heavyweight Champion Marty Jones.
This was around the time that Dynamite had returned to Britain after his first sting across the pond, and our esteemed commentator Kent Walton seemed very surprised at the muscle mass he’d gained since his debut as a lightweight.
This was a great contest. Dynamite frustrated Jones early on, but as the bout progressed Jones managed to stage a few comebacks. The action got a little heated at times, which just added to the tension.
Jones took the first fall in round four, taking Dynamite down with a folding press as he came off the ropes. Dynamite equalled the score in the next round, taking Jones down with a Tombstone-like piledriver for the pin.
The final fall never happened. After a frantic exchange of moves Dynamite executed a suplex that sent both men over the top rope and crashing to the floor. The referee began his count, but as neither man made it back into the ring in time the bout was declared a draw.
It’s a much younger version of the Dynamite Kid next as the 17 year old faces Tally Ho Kaye.
For those of you who don’t know Kaye’s gimmick was that of a sportsman. He normally came to the ring wearing a fox hunter’s outfit and blowing a brass horn. Thankfully that particular instrument was missing on this occasion.
This certainly proved to be an interesting battle between youth and experience. Dynamite was just one year into his career at this point, while Kaye had a decade’s experience in his favour. Kaye was also well adept at bending the rules, and at complaining whenever Dynamite took the upper hand.
Kaye took the first fall in round four. With the referee growing increasingly frustrated with his tactics he took Dynamite down with a series of body slams, the last of which saw the Kid’s legs smash into the top rope. One half-Boston Crab later and Kaye had the first fall.
The Kid equalised in the next round. Having frustrated and somewhat mocked Kaye he scored with a Sunset Flip out of the corner for the three count.
As with the previous bout the third fall never happened. Both men fought tooth and nail in the final round, with aye always looking like he could get disqualified. Dynamite regained control in the final seconds, but by then it was too late and the bout was declared a draw.
The young Dynamite then goes up against another veteran in the form of Yorkshire strongman Alan Dennison in what was Dynamite’s first ever televised bout.
This one fall contest proved to be a good natured affair, and another nice battle between rookie and veteran. Dennison tried to use his size and weight advantage early on as he tried to take Dynamite down with a series of throws. However, Dynamite ended up flipping over and landing on his feet every time, and it was the same when Dennison went for a monkey flip.
Although he was frustrated by Dynamite’s tactics it was obvious that Dennison was impressed, and he even tried a somersault himself between rounds, although he lacked his opponent’s grace.
Dennison did have some success with his throws later on, but when Dynamite missed with a flying attack and landed throat first on the top rope the referee called a halt to the contest. Dennison then took to the microphone, paying tribute to his young opponent before asking the official to make this a no contest because he didn’t want to take the stoppage win. It was a request that the referee was more than happy to grant.
The next match saw Dynamite, now the British Lightweight Champion, taking on another veteran, Tony Scarlo.
Dynamite’s London debut proved to be a very good encounter. These two were equally matched skill-wise, which made for some great technical exchanges, with a few high flying moves from Dynamite thrown in for good measure.
The only fall needed came in the third round where, after a fast exchange of moves, Dynamite rolled Scarlo up for the pin.
Then it was on to a second encounter with Tally Ho Kaye.
This was the first match of a tournament pitting two teams of three against each other, with three singles matches and a six man tag at the end (more on that later).
This was a particularly heated battle. Kaye pulled out all the stops against his younger opponent. The only problem was that the stops were all illegal moves. In reality it was the perfect display of heel wrestling which got the crowd baying for his blood.
Dynamite put in his usual solid performance, mixing technical mastery with a few high flying moves, and although he looked like he was going to lose his temper he kept his emotions in check as he took the only fall needed in the third round with a roll-up.
As for that six man tag, that particular match saw Dynamite teaming with Bert Royal and Vic Faulkner against Kaye, Blackjack Mulligan (the British one, not Barry Windham’s dad) and Ken Hogan.
Six man tags weren’t the norm over here back then, and unlike the ones you’re probably to used to seeing to get the win the winning team had to get three falls.
For those of you raised on matches full of double team moves this one may come as a surprised, mainly because there weren’t any of these moves. But that didn’t detract from the overall entertainment value. Once again the heels played their part perfectly when Dynamite took the punching bag treatment. Our man was also involved in some nice exchanges with Hogan, which were impressed considering Hogan outweighed him by over 40 pounds.
The first fall came in the very first minute when Faulkner slammed Mulligan. Dynamite took the second fall for his team, rolling Hogan up with a folding press for the win.
Kaye then pulled one back, finishing off what his buddies had started when Dynamite submitted to a Boston Crab. The bad guys continued to work over Dynamite until he managed to tag Royal. Royal and Faulkner then took it in turns to take Kaye down with Various moves until Royal body slammed him for the pin, giving his team the 3-1 win.
The final match on Volume One saw the slightly older Dynamite, about to embark on a trip to Japan, taking on World Heavy Middleweight Champion Rollerball Rocco in a non-title affair.
Some of you may know Rocco from his appearance on TNA’s British Boot Camp show. If you don’t then the best way to describe him is legend. He was also a master at getting heat from the crowd. He came into this match with over 30 stitches in his head and knee, courtesy of wounds he’d suffered in recent bouts.
Rocco tried to get under Dynamite’s skin before the bout began, and it wasn’t long before they were beating the proverbial out of each other. The public warnings were soon flying about, mainly because of Rocco’s underhanded tactics and because Dynamite was using American-style moves that were prohibited under British rules back then.
The heat got turned up to 11 later on when Dynamite opened up the stitches in Rocco’s head after a diving head butt from the top rope, and by then both wrestlers were in danger of getting disqualified because they’d both earned two public warnings.
As for the falls Rocco took the first fall in round two. After dropping Dynamite stomach first onto the top rope he then took him over with a suplex to get the first pin. Dynamite equalised in the following round. After spinning out of Rocco’s clutches he took his man down with a back suplex for the equalising pin.
The final fall came in the fourth when Dynamite took Rocco over with a belly to back suplex as he came off the ropes. Dynamite then challenged Rocco to a title match. The irate champion refused as he lambasted his challenger for busting him open.
Volume Two begins with Dynamite, now World Junior Heavyweight Champion, facing Rocco once again.
This proved to be just as heated as the previous encounter. All of the ingredients were here, and once again Rocco showed off his abilities as a heat magnet.
The referee was somewhat lax as far as enforcing the rules was concerned. Rocco used quite a few dirty tactics, and when Dynamite retaliated in kind the official let it slide, up to a point.
The turning point in this one was when Dynamite sustained a cut to his head after a head butt from Rocco. The referee allowed him to continue, but it was an injury that would place a crucial role in this encounter.
The first fall came in round three when Dynamite took Rocco down with a series of moves, finishing up with a belly to back suplex for the pin.
That proved to be the end of the bout. The referee checked the cut on Dynamite’s head and ruled that he was unable to continue, and even though Rocco claimed the stoppage win the referee ruled that Dynamite as the winner because of the pin.
Our man faces another opponent for the second time next as he goes up against World Mid-Heavyweight Champion Marty Jones once more.
Remember what I said about Rollerball Rocco getting heat? Dynamite showed that he was just as adept in this contest.
It began in quite a friendly manner, but when Dynamite gave Jones a good old fashioned slap it was obvious that this wasn’t the fan friendly version of the Kid. His style was even more aggressive than usual as he used some of the tactics he’d learned in Calgary, tactics that weren’t allowed under British rules.
All of this meant that the tension level between these two went all the way up to eleven, and it went even further when Dynamite got in some sneaky blows between rounds, often claiming that he hadn’t heard the bell.
Jones took the first fall in round three, countering Dynamite’s body slam attempt with a small package. Dynamite equalised three rounds later. Having already drawn the ire of the referee following a flying head butt from the top rope he took Jones down with a body slam for the pin.
The final fall came in round seven. The heat was taken up a couple of notches in this round, and after some hard postings from Jones he finally put Dynamite away with a folding press for the winning pin.
It’s a young Mr. Billington in the next match as he goes up against another legendary villain in the form of Jim Breaks. It’s also a battle of the champions, with Dynamite holding the British Lightweight title and Breaks holding the British Welterweight title. There’s also a bit of history between these two because Dynamite had beaten Breaks for the Lightweight title.
For me this was a timely reminder of how good Breaks was. I never liked him when I was a kid, which means that as a villain he was doing his job perfectly, and as a wrestler he wasn’t that far behind in that respect.
All of the old tricks were there, as well as a few tantrums, as he worked over Dynamite’s arm to set up for his Breaks’ Special submission hold.
With only one fall needed in this contest Breaks went for his hold in round three. Dynamite managed to work his way out of the hold, taking the pin a few moments later with a folding press.
Championship action followed as our man faced Rollerball Rocco again, this time with Rocco’s World Heavy Middleweight title on the line.
Scheduled for 15 rounds this one featured a ton of great action. Dynamite looked in top form early on, and his Ricky Steamboat-like arm drags looked tremendous as he took Rocco down time and time again.
As was his custom Rocco used a few underhanded tactics, but as they reached the fifth round and Dynamite made one of his comebacks he suplexed Rocco over the top rope, his momentum carrying him over to the floor as well, and with both men barely moving it wasn’t long before the referee called for a no contest.
We then move forward a few years to the fan-cam segment of this volume. It’s now 1993 (that’s what it says on the date stamp in the corner of the screen) as Dynamite defends the World Light Heavyweight title against Fit Finlay’s former tag team partner Skull Murphy.
If I’m to be perfectly honest this wasn’t the best match I’ve seen Dynamite in. Murphy controlled the majority of the action with his usual underhanded ways, and most of Dynamite’s offence came in the form of forearm smashes and a few baseball slide dropkicks when Murphy was at ringside.
The only fall needed came in round five when Dynamite took Murphy down with a flying body press for the winning pin.
Dynamite then takes on another guy who started his professional career at a young age in the form of Danny Collins.
This bout was much more in the American style, and as with the Murphy bout it was Dynamite’s opponent who controlled the majority of the action. Once again Dynamite used mainly striking tactics, which probably explains the extended period of brawling around the darkened hall.
Dynamite took the pin here, rolling over after Collins came down from the top rope with a cross body block.
The penultimate match on this disc saw Dynamite teaming with the Legend of Doom against Ritchie Brooks and Tarzan Boy Darren. Before you ask, the Legend of Doom was a one man tribute to Hawk and Animal, and there were two or three of them doing the rounds at one point.
This was a relatively short encounter. Dynamite looked okay. He was more of a wrestler than a brawler in this one. His moves when he took Brooks down early on were quite good.
For me this was slightly let down by poor ring psychology, simple things such as whipping a man into his own corner, as well as releasing one of the corner pads to expose the bolts underneath but never using that corner for the remainder of the match.
After a brief brawl at ringside Dynamite took the win for his team, pinning Brooks with a bridging Fisherman’s suplex.
The final match of the volume saw Dynamite and Doom teaming up again, this time against the Liverpool Lads team of Robbie Brookside and Doc Dean.
Any match putting Dynamite against Brookside and/or Dean would be considered a dream match by British fans of a certain age, but sadly they were in different stages of their respective careers when this match took place.
Once again Dynamite put on a nice performance wrestling-wise, but he kept himself to only a few moments in the ring as Doom took on the punching bag duties.
The match itself was another one that fitted into the okay category. The performances and sequences can’t be faulted, it just didn’t hit the spot as it were.
The end saw Doom throwing Brookside over the top rope, with Brookside coming back into the ring with a Sunset Flip for the winning pin.
In conclusion - so, where to begin with my summing up of this collection?
This is a very good chronicle of Dynamite’s career in his homeland. Watching these matches again brought back a lot of fond memories, confirming for me that I was right to put the man in such a high position in my all-time list.
The footage is okay, although the quality varies at times because it was garnered from various sources, including some VHS recordings from the 80’s. It can be a bit patchy at times but that’s to be expected. Apart from that I can’t find anything else to complain about, and that’s why I’m giving this collection the big thumbs up.
And before you ask, there are more volumes in this series that we’ll be taking a look at later.
With thanks to Carl Smith for supplying a copy of this release. The Best of the Dynamite Kid Volumes One & Two can be purchased online at www.britishwrestlingdvds.vze.com.