Bob ‘Hardcore’ Holly Interview
Bob Holly was one of the hardest working wrestlers to step foot inside the squared circle and was a mainstay in the WWE for over fifteen years.
The 50-year-old from Glendale, California had a gimmick of a NASCAR driver as well as being a member of the J.O.B. Squad but he really found his success as Hardcore Holly.
He had plenty of success as a six-time Hardcore Champion and becoming a three-time Tag Team Champion with three different partners, 1-2-3 Kid, Crash Holly and Cody Rhodes.
We caught up with Bob to talk about, working with Brock Lesnar, his thoughts on Vince McMahon, popping up in TNA and much more.
How did you first get involved in the sport of professional wrestling?
It’s funny, I lived out in California and when I was a kid I used to watch roller-derby and of course I thought roller-derby was real, as a kid you think everything is real. I got hooked on roller-derby and I thought that is what I would like to do when I get older and then my family had moved from California to Oregon when I was about eight-years-old.
I turned on the TV one Saturday, low and behold there was professional wrestling, and I thought that was even better, and then that’s when I thought to myself that’s what I wanted to do. When you’re a kid you always have dreams of being somebody, a fireman or police officer and I wanted to be a wrestler.
As time went on and I was getting older it wasn’t looking good, we had Portland Wrestling, but there wasn’t any real way of getting into wrestling, no avenues or schools unless you knew somebody. After graduating high school I moved to Alabama because I knew there was a wrestling school out there and that’s how I got started.
When growing up who were the wrestlers that you enjoyed watching and influenced you?
That’s a very good question, when I was in Oregon there was a show that came on called Big Time Wrestling, from Sacramento and I saw guys like Pat Patterson, Don Muraco, Mr. Saito, and Bob Roop.
Then there was Portland Wrestling, which was on Saturday nights and I wouldn’t want to go out with my buddies on Saturday nights I would stay home and watch wrestling. We had guys like Dutch Savage, Playboy Buddy Rose, Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jessie Venture, the list just goes on and on.
Back in the eighties it seemed like they got a lot of the guys from Portland wrestling in the WWE, but Playboy Buddy Rose was the guy that I really liked, he is the one that inspired me the most.
You began your career in WWE with your initial gimmick being a NASCAR driver, what was that experience like?
Honestly it was a gimmick in wrestling but I really do race cars in real life. Back in the eighties and early nineties everything in wrestling had a cartoon character theme to it. When I had a meeting with Vince (McMahon) and JJ Dillon they hired me and said they would send my contract in the mail, when it arrived it had Thurman ‘Sparky’ Plug on it.
I just kind of laughed and thought are you kidding me, yeah it was a corny gimmick because Vince and JJ liked the idea that I was a race car driver so they wanted to play off of that. The thing is what I tell everybody is that you can’t sit there and tell me if they gave you a goofy name like that you would turn them down and say no I’m not going to come to work for you because of that name. The WWE is where everybody wants to be and I just thought to myself, I’ll go with it and we’ll just take it from there and see what happens.
I wasn’t too crazy about the gimmick because I had to be someone I really didn’t like portraying. In wrestling if you’re not comfortable portraying somebody you’re not going to put a hundred percent into it. I went to Vince about it and we discussed it, he was all for changing it.
Under that gimmick you won your first WWE Tag Team titles, albeit a brief spell along with 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman), what was that like?
Oh hell it was exciting man; it was like ‘wow’ because I actually never thought I’d win a belt, I just loved to wrestle. I honestly never got into the WWE for the fame and the fortune of it, I really just loved to wrestle and I knew they wrestled every single night and that’s what I wanted to do.
Achieving that belt was a huge bonus for me, but then the next night we lost them again and that bonus had been taken away just as quick as I got it, but it was fun, I was just happy to hold it for 24 hours.
Yourself, Al Snow and Scorpio formed the J.O.B. Squad, what was it like working with those guys?
It was fun, whenever you are put on TV in a storyline it doesn’t matter what the storyline is you just try to make the best out of a bad situation and have a good time with it and that’s what we did. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be put in with that group but Al pretty much went to bat for me and got me in that little deal. I enjoyed all of the little angles that we did and all the little storylines, I didn’t make it to the top but I did enjoy the times when I did get to do something.
When the J.O.B. Squad deal came along with all three of us and then they added the Blue Meanie, to me that was just good times.
Were you pleased when the WWE brought in the Hardcore title and that style of wrestling?
Oh yeah because it gave me something to do. I was kind of a floundering fish after the whole J.O.B. Squad deal, I honestly didn’t know what was going to be next and then when they created the whole hardcore thing, I thought that’s perfect and at least it’s something else to keep me going. Vince then decided to change my name to Hardcore Holly and it actually fit because I felt really comfortable playing that character, it gave me another platform to be myself.
Crash Holly came on the scene and you claimed more tag team title success, what was that like working with Crash?
He was funny, I showed up to the arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Bruce Prichard walks up to me and tells me I’ve got a cousin now. When I met Crash and we started working together I really took a liking to the guy, he listened to me, he did what he was supposed to do.
He complained a lot and that was his downfall, he got his mouth in trouble a few times and I tried to tell him just to keep his mouth shut and do what your told to do and don’t complain. But he just liked to complain and that was his downfall, which is a shame because I had grown close to him and really liked working beside him because he was a good worker, he really was.
What was it like when you had a WWE Title match against Brock Lesnar?
It is what it is, they only gave us eight minutes, which I don’t know why and we were one of the main events for the PPV, but again it’s one of those deals where you just go out there and do it and keep your mouth shut and hope something comes from it, which it didn’t because that was the end of my run working on top, very short lived but that’s just one of those things.
Let me clear something up, people write stupid shit on the internet all the time saying me and Brock didn’t get along, me and him got along just fine and we worked well together.
I did break my neck during a match with Brock but he called me all the time whilst I was in the hospital checking up on me. People say that he did it on purpose and I got what I deserved, let me tell you something no one deserves to get a broken neck number one, and he didn’t do it on purpose!
You had a feud with CM Punk on the ECW brand, and actually handed him his first loss in that brand, what was it like working with Punk?
At first our styles didn’t really match up that well but then once we started working together more we started to really gel together. I enjoyed working with him, I really liked the guy.
You became a tag team champion again with Cody Rhodes as your partner, what was it like working with Cody?
It’s funny because he was already groomed old skool and he hadn’t even been in the wrestling business yet. Just watching him and his mannerisms he showed a lot of respect towards me and a lot of people that had been there for a while. He listened a lot, but he already knew a lot because of his dad (Dusty Rhodes), so it was as if I didn’t really need to show him that much even though his dad wanted me to help him and work with him.
I didn’t really have to do that much because he was already ahead of the game because his dad and his brother (Dustin) had already taught him so much, so it made my job really easy. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t act like he knew everything, he was always very gracious and would always listen.
What was it like working as a trainer on the second series of Tough Enough?
I loved doing it, it was fun, it was a blast. I think it was about eight to ten weeks, it was something different from the everyday grind of getting up, catching a plane, and going to the show, working and then travelling to the next town. It kind of broke up the monotony a little bit but it was very enjoyable, I loved it and if I could do that again I would.
What were some of your highlights from your time working in the WWE?
Oh gosh, WrestleMania 15 of course where I defeated Billy Gunn and Al Snow for the Hardcore title. Wrestling Brock for the WWE Championship that was a highlight even though it was only eight minutes but still, how many people get to work a world title match in front of a sold out crowd, only a select few.
My biggest highlight I think was going to Iraq and showing support to the troops every year. We spent a week out there and to me that was the best thing I could have ever done. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have the freedom to do what we do now, going over there was voluntary and I always volunteered and that was my way to thank them for doing what they do.
Hardcore Holly on the cover of WWF Magazine alongside The Undertaker and Big Show
What was Vince McMahon like as a boss?
He was a good boss, he knew what he wanted and you did what he asked of you but you had liberty to talk about it. He was very easy to talk to, a lot of people find it hard to talk to him but for me he was easy to talk to. He kept me around for 16 years and I thank Vince for giving me the opportunity to be there for so long because he could’ve easily got rid of me several times if he wanted to. He has always taken care of me when I was hurt and I never had to worry about anything, he’s always been good to me, he really has.
A lot of people don’t like him but he’s a businessman, very smart. When it comes down to wrestling he knows what he’s doing, that’s why you don’t really question what he wants. If you have any ideas or anything like that you throw them at him but there’s really no reason to question him because look at the empire he has created.
You took part in one of the TNA One Night Only tapings, could we see you back on our screens more permanently?
I did some stuff for TNA recently; I did one of these One Night Only PPV’s for them, which I enjoyed immensely. Everybody over there was so nice to me and I teamed up with James Storm and Magnus. It was a completely different vibe there, nobody had any pressure on them, no stress, and everybody was enjoying their jobs. I might be doing some more stuff with them in the future so hopefully you can look out for me popping up in TNA.
You can follow Bob Holly on Twitter @TheBobHolly and his new book ‘Hardcore Truth’ is available to buy.