Former WWE star Bob "Hardcore" Holly on approaching Vince McMahon about a name change, fighting in bars for money, auto racing, writing his autobiography, injuries suffered in the ring
Kayfabe Wrestling Radio with Bob Holly
Hosts: Alan Wojcik
Airs Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET
Interview available at WildTalkRadio.com
On writing the book: "It never occurred to me that it was a bad idea. The only thing that occurred to me, the whole 18 months it took to write this, is nobody’s gonna want to read my book; nobody’s gonna want it. I mean, I was just a midcard guy, you know, and it was like ‘Who is going to want to read my story? I mean, there’s nothing exciting about me.’ So, that’s what ran through my mind, and then after we edited it over and over because we’d send it back to ECW Press and then they’d send it back and we’d have to edit and do this and do that to it and after reading it many times over; every time we read it over, it was still interesting. So that’s when it occurred to me, ‘Hey, maybe people will find this interesting.’ Because, every time a read a chapter, it still captivated me and it still does; when I pick up my book and see what somebody had read and they talk about it and I go back and look at it, I end up reading the whole chapter again. And that’s what made me think that maybe people will want to buy this and read it. So, it was a lot of work too, but it was fun and it had its times where it reminded me of certain bad times and stuff like that. But, it was a good experience, it really was."
His pre-WWF/E days and his bar fighting past for money: "You know, it’s funny because when I was writing that part, it was like it brought back; you’re not going to believe this, and you’re going to think I’m full of it, but it was fun to me. Those were exciting times to me because I’m the kind of guy that likes a challenge and I would go into bars and it’s like; ok, I find the toughest guy in there and I’d want to put up money to fight the guy. I just found it, the thrill of the fight, exciting to me and to this day I still do because I won’t turn down a challenge to anybody and I find myself. When the whole MMA/UFC thing came along and it’s like if that came around when I was a little bit younger, I think I would have ended up going that direction because I love the thrill of the fight; I love the challenge, no matter who it is I end up fighting with. So, when I look back on that, those were fun times for me; I had really enjoyed that and I made money doing that. It’s an odd way to make money, but it was what I had to do to survive. And that’s why I look at it like ‘Yeah, that was exciting to me’."
His experience with Auto Racing: (6:45) "Well, the thing about auto racing is you gotta know all the right people. I raced at a local level and then, when I got into the WWE and I got to know the right people and I got connected with Hermie and Elliot Sadler, who are involved with NASCAR to this day; I was too far into my (wrestling) career to just say ‘You know what, I’m going to go. I’m going to start racing instead of wrestling.’ Because racing, it’s based on performance; I mean, if you’re not performing, you’re gone. You have to have a lot of money behind you and a good team behind you. So, it’s a very tough business to make it in. And like I said, when I was doing the local stuff, I know all the right people or anything and I was just enjoying what I was doing at the local level, and then when the WWF called me to come up and start wrestling for them and, of course, when you work for them you meet all kinds of people all over the world. Then, of course, when I met Hermie and Elliot, I got back into racing part-time, just once or twice a month on my days off.
"It could have escalated into more, but I was too far into my WWE career and that’s when we were into the Attitude Era when things were really good; the money was really good, so it was hard to say ‘Ok, I’m going to stop doing this, take a chance and start racing and see if I can make it there because if I hadn’t made it in racing, then I would have lost out on the Attitude Era, if you understand what I’m saying. I didn’t want to take that chance because I was having too much fun during the Attitude Era wrestling and making great money. Of course, it didn’t matter where you were on the card; if you were opening match, mid card; of course Main Event makes big money, but even when you were the opening match, you still made great money. So, that would have been really hard to give up to go take a chance in auto racing, where there is no money unless you get to the Cup Level. So, I think I did the best for my career, I did what I wanted to do and I still got to race and stuff like that, so I enjoyed that and I didn’t have the stress, the pressure to perform in auto racing. We just did it at the fun level; went to different tracks around the Southeast and there was no pressure or whatever; we just went out there, had a great time and raced and then got on a plane and flew to wherever I had to go wrestle. I did what I wanted to do and I never considered going full-time racing; you gotta be damn good you better have the right people backing you."
His "Spark" Plugg gimmick: "I had graciously bowed out of Smokey Mountain and, like I said, I appreciate Cornette using me and giving me an opportunity to wrestle there. So, I went back to work, and I thought ‘You know what? I’m just going to focus on my job; I’ve got a great job, I make really good money, I’ve got insurance so I’m set.’ And I got my weekends off so I could go race wherever I want to because I had a race car at the time. So, I came home from work one day a couple months down the road and of course there was a message on the machine from J.J. Dillon wanting to talk to me. So, of course, I call him back and I was pretty damn excited, so they arraigned for me to fly up to Connecticut, to meet with him and Vince (McMahon).
"So, I flew up there, met with them and everything; met with them for about an hour and they said ‘Ok, we’ll send you a contract in the mail within the next week or so.’ And I’m like ‘Ok, Cool’; I had no idea what my name was going to be, I just though, you know, I was going to be Bob Holly something or whatever, cause that’s the name I’ve always had And so, I get my contract in the mail and I open it up and the first thing I see is "Thurman ‘Sparky’ Plugg", and I’m like ‘You’ve GOT to be freaking kidding me!’ I’m like ‘Wow’ but then it sunk in and it’s like ‘Ok, you know what, it doesn’t matter what they call me; I’ve finally made it to the top, so you just roll with it.
"A lot of people have made fun of that "Thurman ‘Sparky’ Plugg" but they were in the same position, they would not have turned WWE down because of the name, I guarantee that! I thought you know, because everything back then was cartoon characters-type gimmicks and I just thought well, this is just something of that or whatever because I was a race car driver that they wanted to go with that. And J.J. Dillon was the one who actually came up with the name. But again, I’m also thankful for that name; yeah, I didn’t like it but it gave me my start to a long career in WWE. So, it’s kinda embarrassing but then again I’m kinda thankful for that, also. And then I thought, well, let me get my foot in the door and hopefully I’ll get comfortable in stuff where I can approach Vince and say ‘Hey, can we do something about this?’
So, probably about six months down the road, I went to Vince and I’s like, ‘Vince, is there anything we can do to change my name?’ And I was scared to death to go in there and ask him; I thought, here I am six months in the company, I’m new, and this guy is asking Vince to change my name. I thought for sure, he’s going to let me go. But that was the chance I had to take, so when I went into the office and said ‘Hey Vince. I appreciate you’ve given me this opportunity here, and I’m really grateful to you for that, but can we change my name?’ and he’s like ‘Fine. What do you want to change it to?’ And now I’m like ‘Oh, wow. Ok, this is pretty easy.’ So, I said how about Bob Holly. He said ‘Ok, that’s fine. What we’ll do, to make the transition, we’ll call you Bob "Spark Plug’ Holly.’ And I said ‘Hey, that’s better than nothing. I’ll take it.’ So, we went from there and then, of course, eventually we got to drop the ‘Spark Plug’ and I was just Bob Holly after that. So, that’s how all that came about."
His laundry list of injuries and if it’s just part of being a wrestler: "Another day in the office. You know, to me, it was my job and the mindset I’ve always lived by is ‘If I’m still walking, that’s no reason why I can’t finish what I have to do.’ That’s always been my mindset; I don’t go on TV and cry over a black eye and a bloody lip and cry on national television and want to quit because I got a black eye or bloody lip or I got my arm broken or my neck broke or my back slashed. I never went on TV and cried ‘I’m going to quit; it’s just too rough for me’, I’ve always had the old adage ‘If I can walk, I’m going to finish what I have to do in this ring, no matter what’. No matter how bad it hurts, I’ve got a job to do. If I’ve got to get somebody over, I’m not going to cheat them out of getting their win or help getting them over because that was my job. That’s my job: to help this guy look good and no matter what, that’s what I’m going to do. If I can walk, I‘m going to finish my match."
You can follow Bob on Twitter (@TheBobHolly) in order to get the latest news, notes and event information where he will be. You can buy his new book (with co-writer Ross Williams) "The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story" through ECW Press; go to the ECW Press homepage (www.ecwpress.com/hardcoretruth) for ordering information or visit www.amazon.com or your local book retailer. You can also see Bob as part of the TNA ‘One Night Only’ PPV series for "Hardcore Justice 2"; go to www.impactwrestling.com for the latest information on showtimes and ordering details.
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