Examining The Ultimate Warrior Stunt That Led To A Life-Altering Injury For Davey Boy Smith

"It felt like concrete," said Alex Wright to Wrestling Shoot Interviews when describing landing on a certain spot in one of the two rings used at WCW's Fall Brawl 1998 pay-per-view. That night, Wright teamed with Disco Inferno to face "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart in the opening match. What wasn't known to Wright and Smith was the ring they were having the match in — ring closest to the entranceway — had a trapped door underneath it that was going to be used for The Ultimate Warrior's entrance and exit during the WarGames match.


"I cannot recall that anybody told us there was a trap door," said Wright. "And that was very bad because he [Bulldog] gorilla pressed me and slammed me right on it. And he didn't know. I thought I broke in half. And he injured himself also in that match, so that was very ... not very responsible from the office not telling us, 'Okay, here's the area you shouldn't take any bumps.'"

During the match, Smith took several bumps on the trap door area, all three of which made sickening "thud" sounds; a hip toss, a flat back bump when Wright counted a sunset flip attempt, and a scoop slam by Wright. The end of the match saw Smith struggle to lift Disco Inferno up for the running powerslam, and after two failed attempts, Smith muscled Disco up for the finish.


Effects of landing on the trap door

A year later, Davey Boy Smith was back in the WWF and did a sit-down interview (unaired until 2002) with Jim Ross on August 12, 1999. Smith stated that after the match at Fall Brawl he went to a doctor, who put him on painkillers. When the painkillers failed to have any effect, Smith was put on morphine, which he became addicted to.


Davey's widow, Diana Hart Smith, revealed on "WWE Confidential" she would find pill bottles all over the house from different doctors all across the United States and also syringes loaded up with morphine hidden in Davey's cowboy boots. "Davey became so dependent upon morphine to ease his pain, it went from morphine tablets to morphine injections in his leg, to his shoulder, to right into his vein," said Diana. "The morphine injections in his veins is what shocked me." 

Enraged, Diana swallowed 100 of Davey's Xanax pills in front of him. "This is what you do to me and Harry and Georgia every day. And I'm going to show you what it's like," said Diana. "And he couldn't do anything. He tried. He said 'no' but he was so helpless and feeble. And then I called 911 and said, 'I did something really stupid. I just took a hundred of my husband's Xanax and I don't want to die.' Davey was just sitting there like an eggplant vegetable ... I woke up two days later and was told I died four times en route to the hospital." 


A much needed wake-up call

Diana Hart Smith's overdose is when Davey Boy Smith said he got his wake-up call and admitted he had a drug problem. He checked into rehab on New Year's Day 1999 and stayed for seven weeks to clean out his system. "On the fifth week, I was getting so much pain, I was crying," said Davey in his interview with Jim Ross. "I could barely stand. And they said, 'Oh, it's withdrawals,' and I said, 'No, it's not withdrawals, I am in serious pain.'" 


Following the unexpected deaths of his sister, Tracey, and mother, Joyce, within three months of each other in 1999, Davey, according to Diana, began using substances to help him ease the emotional pain. After his mother's funeral, Davey got an MRI on his spine and within 15 minutes, the doctors told him about his condition. "You've got a fractured spine and you've got a staph infection that's eating your spine away. You might die," said the doctor to Smith.

During his stay in the hospital, Diana brought Davey an envelope that contained his termination from WCW. "Basically, 'We are sorry you're injured and when your back gets better, give us a call and come back in,'" said Davey. "I was so mad. I was addicted to pills because I broke my back in a ring. I wasn't taking morphine for the fun of it."


Returning to the WWF

On the September 9, 1999, episode of "WWE SmackDown," Davey Boy Smith answered The Big Boss Man's open challenge for the Hardcore Championship and defeated him in one minute for the championship, which he handed over to Al Snow moments later. At the Unforgiven pay-per-view later that month, Davey competed against Triple H, The Rock, Mankind, Kane, and The Big Show in a Six-pack Challenge match — refereed by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin — for the vacant WWF Championship.


A month later, Davey formed an alliance with the Mean Street Posse and pinned D'Lo Brown on the October 28, 1999, episode of "Smackdown" to win the European Championship for a second time. For the remainder of the year, Davey feuded with Brown and Val Venis over the European Championship, which concluded with Venis winning the championship in a triple-threat match at the Armageddon pay-per-view On December 12, 1999.

In the first five months of 2000, Davey only wrestled 13 matches for the WWF, the last one being on May 27 in Calgary against "The Lethal Weapon" Steve Blackman. Though Davey was victorious, Blackman told ESPN Magazine he called an audible in the ring. "I tried to protect myself because I was afraid Davey would drop me on my head," he said. "I ended the match as fast as I could and got the hell out."


Davey's last three matches

Though Davey Boy Smith had worked six matches since the Insurrextion pay-per-view on May 6, 2000, he had fallen off the wagon and was showing up to live events in terrible condition. The day after the match against Steve Blackman, the WWF sent Davey home when he showed up in Edmonton in worse condition. In addition, the staph infection had now spread to Davey's legs and he was back in the hospital.


The match with Blackman ended up being Davey's last for the WWF. Bruce Hart told ESPN that Davey was using steroids right up till his death. "Right up to the end, Davey was 'roided out because he thought he could go back to the WWF." Andrea Hart, who was Davey's girlfriend in 2002 and Bruce's estranged wife, explained the struggles that Davey faced. "Davey was in pain because he'd put on 15 or 20 pounds of muscle weight. Some days, he had a hard time walking."

On May 18, 2002, Davey passed away from a heart attack at age 39 in British Columbia. A week prior, he wrestled his last two matches, both of which were tag team matches with his son, Harry, who would later join WWE.

"Davey just got too far into it and I tried," said Diana. "I had him in rehab and Vince McMahon put him in rehab. Then the police put him in rehab but I wish that more could've been done. But I mean, how much more can you do?"


Smith was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2021 as part of the Class of 2020.