An Interview with Bob â€œHardcoreâ€ Holly
A mere couple of days before Holly sets out for a couple of VPW shows in the South of England, he talks with Liam Burnside about his past, present and future…
You performed at Wrestlemania several times, most notably winning the Hardcore Championship match at â€˜Mania 16 in a match where there seemed to be some confusion over the outcome? What actually happened there, and what was meant to happen?
â€œCrash was meant to win but the buzzer didnâ€™t go off. I shattered that container over his head and went for the cover. The ref, Timmy White, said to me as he was counting â€“ â€œweâ€™re going to hit this perfectlyâ€ and then the buzzer didnâ€™t go off before his hand hit the mat for the three. I donâ€™t know who messed up, all I knew was that it wasnâ€™t me! You see that Timmy didnâ€™t hit the mat on three because he was expecting the buzzer and after the match, Crash went to go get the belt, so we were just going through with the original plan but someone in the back must have been watching the monitor, realised that the whole thing looked shit and called an audible. I wasnâ€™t expecting to be handed the belt.â€
You didnâ€™t look pleased after the match.
â€œI wasnâ€™t! I thought â€œsomeoneâ€™s gonna catch some shit for this oneâ€. They did try to lay it at my feet but I made sure they knew what I thought about that. It wasnâ€™t a big deal anyhow, I just dropped the belt back to Crash the next night and that was that. It wasnâ€™t hard to move that belt around.â€
Moving forward a few years, how did the accident come about in the match with Brock Lesnar where you ended up with a broken neck?
â€œIt was a simple case of an accident caused by inexperience. A lot of people have suggested that I didnâ€™t co-operate with Brock on the powerbomb but nothing could be farther from the truth. If you look at the footage, you can see that I played my part in the move but the rotation didnâ€™t go to plan. Brock should have put me back down on my feet but, instead, he decided to put me down on top of my head. He just wasnâ€™t experienced enough to know how to handle a situation like it and, being absolutely honest, Iâ€™m not sure he realised the damage it would do to me. I reckon he thought it wouldnâ€™t hurt that much if it happened to him, so just sort of dropped me without thinking of the consequences. He learned quick enough about neck injuries after his top rope move at Mania 19 though.â€
Speaking of Lesnar, he came into the WWE when he was well below 30 and was pushed to the moon in what, in retrospect, seems like a bad decision. Out of the sub-30 year olds in the mainstream right now, who would you say is the best bet for future stardom?
â€œYeah, thereâ€™s nobody there who has the dedication, the focus, the ability to tell a story â€“ at least not at the level that they need to move into the upper level. Even if they did, theyâ€™d still have to deal with the current group of guys at the top anyway and I donâ€™t see them moving for a while. John Morrison, for example, heâ€™s good but itâ€™s too early. Heâ€™s stuck at a level and heâ€™s good where he is but he needs to focus and learn from the older guys to really click at the top level.â€
What have you made of Chris Jericho since his return to the promotion?
â€œHeâ€™s a great wrestler and heâ€™s proved just how great since he got back last year. Chris is one of my favourite people in the world â€“ heâ€™s a genuine guy and heâ€™ll never stab you in the back the way that others would. John Cena is the same â€“ just a straight up nice guy, no hidden agenda and one-hundred percent genuine. Itâ€™s a shame you canâ€™t say the same for a lot of others in the business.â€
Why do I get the impression this conversation is heading rapidly towards Ken Kennedy?!
â€œThat motherfucker… heâ€™s a dead man walking. I told VPW that if they get him on their show, Iâ€™ll not only work for free but Iâ€™ll fly myself in too. If I ever see him again, Iâ€™m going to jail, thatâ€™s all there is to it.â€
So is it true then that he was instrumental in having you released from your WWE contract?
â€œNo, thatâ€™s not why I got released. He didnâ€™t have any clout, heâ€™s was a backstage joke. I left months after that whole deal with pills but when he turned me in for doing something he gave me permission to do, he broke the rules and threw me under the bus. You donâ€™t do that to one of the boys, tell them that something is ok and then turn on them the moment that it looks like you might get heat for it. If that happens, you take it like a man and own up to what you did wrong. I guess he had done so many stupid things in the year before that he figured he couldnâ€™t afford to do anything else wrong. Didnâ€™t make any difference in the end, he only lasted a couple more months before they realised how sloppy and boring he is and got rid of his whining ass.â€
If not Kennedyâ€™s doing, why did you get released?
â€œJohnny Ace and I talked about it and I said I wasnâ€™t happy continuing if I was just going to be used as a job guy. When youâ€™re always putting some other guy over, you donâ€™t get any programs, you donâ€™t get to work pay per views and you donâ€™t get to make the money. I felt they could have been using me much better, building to something with other guys and letting them learn from me over a period of time rather than just having some green newcomer go out there, get a quick win over me and then move on without learning anything. It doesnâ€™t help anyone in the long run and sure didnâ€™t help me. I told Johnny that Iâ€™d stick around if they were prepared to get behind me and start using me in a more meaningful manner. Well, turns out that creative werenâ€™t, they had other priorities now, so I decided Iâ€™d be better off off-screen. Â The door is open though, there werenâ€™t any bridges burned.â€
Why do you think they didnâ€™t do more with you?
â€œI have no idea. Itâ€™s something that Jericho would say to me often, heâ€™d say he didnâ€™t have a clue why they couldnâ€™t use me more. Iâ€™ve been in the business for twenty years, I know how to tell a story, Iâ€™m safe to work with and the boys respect me but I guess they just donâ€™t want to put over some people. Hell, even â€˜Taker went to Vince to ask about doing an extended program with me but Vince shot the idea down.â€
What do you think the problem is regarding creative?
â€œWell, hereâ€™s the thing. A lot of the internet and the wrestling fans get worked up with certain people, saying how a guy like Cena sucks and thatâ€™s fine. Itâ€™s their right to do so, they bought their ticket, they can do what they want but they donâ€™t know the guy. As I said earlier, Johnâ€™s one of the nicest people Iâ€™ve ever met in my life period but a lot of people crap all over him. If creative didnâ€™t worry so much about doing their scripted interviews and just took a little time with people outside of the ring, showed the fans who we all are, itâ€™d be interesting and itâ€™d get the boys over. You watch me on a show and you just see me wrestle. You draw your own conclusion. If you were to spend ten minutes with me backstage or at home, youâ€™d have a different opinion. They should open that door and make it more real. Itâ€™d be something the fans would enjoy, especially since everything on TV seems to be about reality stuff now anyways.â€
What advice would you give to people looking to get into the business?
â€œRealise three things from the word go â€“ firstly, itâ€™s hard work and you get out what you put in. Secondly, at some point or another, youâ€™re going to get injured â€“ deal with it. Thirdly, if you want to work for Vince, you canâ€™t be normal. What I mean by that is that â€œnormalâ€ is what you see walking down the street. Nobody pays to see something they can see when they hang out at the local mall. The fans want to see characters and larger-than-life personalities. Thatâ€™s why the giants and the big muscle men have always done well. Theyâ€™re not your everyday guy â€“ theyâ€™re something you pay to see because itâ€™s out of the ordinary. New guys should always be thinking about what is going to make them different from everyone else. You can know all of the basics and be able to piece a decent match together but if youâ€™re just the same as everyone else on the card and everyone in the audience, how are you going to stand out and capture anybodyâ€™s attention?â€
What are you occupying yourself with these days in your post-WWE career?
â€œIâ€™m fortunate enough to have had a long run with WWE and have been smart with my money so I donâ€™t have to just go and work wherever the work is â€“ I can afford to pick and choose. I donâ€™t like to work with groups that have little respect for wrestling and just want to promote a human demolition derby without thought to the consequences for the wrestlers. I work some shows in the US when the promoter seems like a genuine guy and the talent is committed to putting on a good show. Iâ€™ve been abroad this year too, to Europe â€“ in fact, Iâ€™m leaving tomorrow for England where Iâ€™m doing a couple shows with a group called VPW â€“ Varsity Pro Wrestling â€“ in Exeter on Wednesday 5th August and Portsmouth on Thursday 6th August. Theyâ€™re a good all-round wrestling entertainment show, they all work hard, put on a value for money show and theyâ€™ve got a few real good home grown talents, most notably a guy called Chris Andrews â€“ heâ€™s a great wrestler and has a million dollar lookâ€
Have you worked with them before?
â€œYeah, I did a show with them earlier in the year, May â€“ I wrestled the UK Kid, who was trained by Shawn Michaels. Heâ€™s a lot smaller than me but heâ€™s tough â€“ he actually broke one of my ribs in the first minute of the match!â€
So presumably youâ€™re looking to settle the score with him?
â€œWell, it was meant to be a cage match between Kip James and the UK Kid on that last show but TNA needed to use Kip at short notice so they pulled him from the show. He gave me a call and I stood in for him. It ended up being a TLC match and I put the Kid in his place â€“ right through a table. Maybe Iâ€™ll get my way and get him in a cage this time… Iâ€™ve been talking with my contacts over there; weâ€™ll see what they can come up with!â€
Backtracking a moment to going through tables â€“ this reminds me of the match on ECW where you fought Rob Van Dam and took a nasty spill to the floor through a table that didnâ€™t quite go as planned. No pun intended, can you flesh it out for us?
â€œWell, most of the time flesh is going to lose against metal! Most of the tables break on impact and the metal bends under your weight but on that occasion, it didnâ€™t bend as much as I would have liked and ended up creating a pretty huge gash in my back. It ended up taking 24 stitches to close the wound.â€
How much did it hurt?
â€œIâ€™ve had worse.â€
Iâ€™d imagine it canâ€™t have been pleasant though!
â€œNo, it wasnâ€™t but the adrenaline was pumping and all I was thinking about was getting through the match. I thought it was one of my best matches and the crowd seemed to respect me for just getting on with it.Â Thatâ€™s just what youâ€™ve got to do. If I can walk, Iâ€™m going to finish the match. Hell, even if I canâ€™t walk, Iâ€™ll still do my best! Thatâ€™s just an attitude that you get in all of the good guys, the ones that are worth their paycheque.â€
An obvious question but one worth asking â€“ what are your thoughts about the potential of a return to WWE?
â€œItâ€™s a possibility and the doorâ€™s open on both sides for discussion. Weâ€™ll have to see how it goes and if they figure out a way to use me that suits them and suits me. They know what I can bring to the table. Theyâ€™ve got some good experienced hands in there but as far as Iâ€™m concerned, the more experience youâ€™ve got on hand, the better.â€
What about a one-shot deal as a host on RAW or something more backstage, like a producer role?
â€œI think doing a one-shot deal as host would be a waste and I could bring a lot more than that to the show but working with the guys to put the matches together and teach the next generation would be interesting. I did a training seminar with VPW in May and will be doing another one this Friday. Working with guys just starting out is pretty rewarding and, as long as theyâ€™re willing to work hard and put in the effort, Iâ€™m happy to give them all I can to help them succeed.â€
Bob Holly appears for VPW at the Exeter Corn Exchange on the 5th August and at the Portsmouth Guildhall on the 6th August. See www.varsityprowrestling.com for further information.