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By Mike Johnson on 2018-12-05 07:53:00

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World Wrestling Entertainment announced this morning that former WWF Tag Team Champion Tommy Billington, known professionally as The Dynamite Kid, has passed away at the age of 60 years old.  Billington was in many ways the originator of the type of smash-mouth, physical style that exemplified the best in "workrate" inside the professional wrestling ring but also became a massive cautionary tale for the excess of the business as well as the physical destruction that it can bring to those who perform within the ring. 

There will be a lot written about Billington, good and bad, in the coming hours and days and a good deal of it will be true.    He was one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, period, from a performance standpoint.  He had one of the best wrestling autobiographies.  He inspired countless others in the generations that followed him.  He broke down walls.  He was a notorious practical joker and bully.  He went from being one of the scariest (behind the scenes) and mightiest in the ring to a massive recluse, the money made from his body of work long gone, his body left in a terrible physical state.

Tom Billington exemplified the greatness that is professional wrestling as well as the excess of the business. Much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde being the allegory for the darkness that lurks within all men, Billington represented the duality of professional wrestling - that strive for greatness when the spotlights shine down upon the performer in the squared circle and the darkness that can lurk beneath that shining veneer.

Dynamite Kid was the right nickname for him, because like an stick of dynamite, he shocked the system with his explosive performances and forced everyone to take notice. When that explosion had passed, however, whatever remnants left behind were never going to be put back together. There was no going back once the fuse had been lit.

Good and bad, Dynamite Kid was professional wrestling.

We will have much more on the passing of Tom Billington as the days progress.

WWE issued the following statement:

WWE is saddened to learn that Thomas Billington, known to his fans as Dynamite Kid, has passed away at age 60.

Born in Golborne, Lancashire, England, Billington pursued sports-entertainment as a means to avoid a life as a coal miner. Although somewhat undersized, he possessed a ferocity and determination that earned him the nickname The Dynamite Kid.

As a singles competitor, he made his mark in WWE Hall of Famer Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, developing a style that was both technically brilliant and wildly aggressive. It was in Japan, however, where Dynamite Kid set a new standard for junior heavyweight competition in a legendary series of matches against Tiger Mask, which would influence an entire generation of competitors, and help set the stage for brands like WWE’s 205 Live.

Dynamite Kid joined WWE in 1984 with his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, forming one of the most popular tag teams of their era, The British Bulldogs. Alongside their mascot, an English bulldog named Matilda, the duo battled it out in classic matches against Bret "Hit Man" Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart of The Hart Foundation, and defeated Greg "The Hammer" Valentine & Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake to win the World Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania II. 

WWE extends its condolences to Billington’s family, friends and fans.

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