Forced out of the pro wrestling ring due to a global pandemic has been especially hard for a dedicated worker like Harry Smith, Davey Boy Smith Jr. With Major League Wrestling halting shows during this period the son of the late British Bulldog is looking for productive ways to occupy his time. This includes collecting fish, caring for an aquarium, growing plants and making sushi tutorials on social media.
"I always loved sushi," he said. I had done just for fun one of those sushi tutorials back in Calgary. My Aunt Georgia, she is a chef. She invited me to one of those two hours things where the chef shows you. I was sort of inspired back then. I had nothing else better to do. The gyms were all closed. I got tired of Netflix. I decided to start researching, going on YouTube and learning how to make sushi."
He reached out to those from Sushi Hiro, the Japanese restaurant in Calgary. From there it was a lot of trial and error for the budding chef. Smith's taste veers toward spicy tuna and a lot of cream cheese. Not to mention the lobster tempura.
"Everybody is going to have their way of making their sushi and sushi rice. I've tried just about every way of making sushi rice, and that was the most difficult part from YouTube...The more I did it, the more I had to learn. It was kind of like the backyard wrestling kids. They're watching on TV and teaching themselves, but I have to go to a couple of sushi restaurants and carefully watch them in person doing it.
"It's different learning stuff online and in person. That's why I don't think these online programs are going to work for kids right now. Because of COVID. That's unfortunate for them. It's something that Billy Robinson always told me too. You can learn a lot from DVDs and videos, but sometimes you have to be there in person to actually see it. You obtain more knowledge and see things from different angles. When somebody is in person explaining it to you and I'm practicing with my own hands and fingers at the sushi restaurant watching how they rolled them."
Meanwhile MLW continues to run programming through its YouTube and vintage airings from the archives on beIN Sports. The current incarnation of the Hart Foundation member understands the company's stance and with safety being taken into account. At the same time Smith is losing patience and believes the whole world can't be put on hold because of COVID-19.
"If there was a happy medium where MLW could run shows in an empty arena with no fans and people getting COVID testing," he said. "I think that would be the right approach...Unfortunately, they don't pay talent when they are sitting at home bored out of their mind, which isn't good either. My deal is up with them in December. They've reached out to me about renewing my deal.
"The only problem is renewing a deal when you don't know if the company is running again. With all due respect and what I think with what is all going on right now, I think what we're looking at is the new [normal] for a while for the next year to 18 months.
We keep seeing these waves of COVID, so I hope MLW can come back. It would be great for me to fulfill my commitment to them in October and December. If they're back on TV, and back rolling. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances from COVID-19 in their situation. You take a look at these small businesses. They're all down and not coming back from this. I hope MLW comes back. That would be great. At the same time I'm unsure about that."
The MLW Opera Cup winner watched as his fellow stablemate Brian Pillman Jr. worked for All Elite Wrestling. He is happy for his friend for getting out there despite the world events.
"I think he had a slightly different deal than mine contract-wise," he said. "So that's why he is doing what he is doing. At the same time I think he is contracted longer than myself. At least he is staying pro-active and keeping the ring rust off. He has been telling me he has been working out hard at the gym and taking time during the pandemic to better himself. That's something that I've done.
"I've been training at the American Top Team here in Tampa, Florida. I was always a gymnast when I was really young and wanted to get back into that. I didn't have the time. A lot of these gymnastics places, it's hard to do personal, privates with them. Luckily there was a coach here in Tampa. He was teaching me to do round out back handsprings and front flips to your feet. I can almost do a standing moonsault, which is pretty impressive for a guy who is 6-foot-5, 250, 260. I can't think of many guys who can do that next to Tom Magee. I have been as productive as I possibly can to use this time of COVID-19 to make yourself better because what else are you going to do?"
The student of the game has also been learning to speak and write Japanese. Before the shutdowns, he was preparing for All Japan Pro Wrestling. He had new gear made, wanting to make a good impression as a singles star in the Championship Carnival tournament.
"That's what I had in mind and think what we were leading to was a feud with [MLW champion] Jacob Fatu and myself. That's why I wanted to learn how to do the moonsault because that was Jacob Fatu's move," he said. "I thought we could have a moonsault versus moonsault battle and a good heavyweight style match. I remember Davey and Fatu had some good matches with the matches with the Bulldogs and the Islanders. I thought we could reinvent something for now.
"Then when my MLW contract comes up in December, see if it was good to go in that direction or see if WWE, NXT UK would be a good option. Unfortunately, due to COVID there is no WWE NXT UK [right now]. That was what the plan was. My plan going forward is everything is up in the air because of COVID-19."
Smith, whose early career in WWE involved a run in the Hart Dynasty with TJ Wilson and Natalya, is open to another run. Now a well traveled veteran, he'd seriously consider a return to the company to show the promotion and fans how far he'd come.
"With my dad going into the WWE Hall of Fame, we don't know when that is going to happen. The last thing was they were pushing for SummerSlam," he said of the Hall of Fame ceremony planning. "Now they are pushing that back. Things keep getting pushed back. That's why I'm hoping MLW is able to survive this. I have my doubts for a lot of companies. It's going to be a long time. We're in a marathon, not a race here."
And if all else fails, Smith may have another career to fall back on. Maybe opening the Hart Foundation Sushi Bar? Visit www.DaveyBoySmith.com celebrating the career and life of his legendary dad.
Davey's full interview aired as part of today's episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.