by Nik - September 06, 2013
Books… Remember books? They’re like the Internet only they’re printed on a paper-like substance (most likely paper) and you have to flip through the pages manually with your fingers. They’re so old school!
Recently a chum of mine kindly purchased me one of these so-called “books” – one entitled “The Hardcore Truth” by Bob Holly.. and after having my brain absorb its content over the last few days, I’d like to share my opinions on it with you – because that’s just the kind of generous and giving chap that I am.
I’ve read an abundance of wrestling autobiographies in my time – which have ranged from the superb (Bret Hart and Chris Jericho), to the pretty dull (Jerry Lawler and Ted DiBiase Senior) to the damn right awful (Hulk Hogan and Chyna). I’m happy to report that Bob Holly’s book verges on the “superb”, and yours truly has thoroughly enjoyed reading the scribes of the Hardcore veteran.
I’ll confess that I’ve always been a bit of a Hardcore Holly fan. Sure, he never had the top matches on the card, he never worked an overly flashy style and he never had the best catchphrases or glamourous aura… But regardless, I was always entertained by his no-nonsense approach to the grapple game. And, lest we forget, this is a guy that worked through it all – The 90s cartoon “occupation gimmick” era, The Attitude era, The Ruthless Aggression era and even the start of The PG era. He was employed by Vince McMahon for 15 years! 15 freaking years!! How many other wrestlers can boast such a claim? The Undertaker and Mark Henry, Billy Gunn comes close maybe… The list is pretty damn short. You gotta take your hat off to that achievement regardless of your opinion on the man.
What makes this book so accessible and enjoyable is Holly’s frank and honest attitude towards his entire career. He’s fully open about his own shortcomings (both as a wrestler and sometimes a human being) and this honesty allows you to enter his story with little apprehension about his claims and backstage tales.
It’s easy to raise eyebrows when reading wrestling autobiographies and be fully aware that when the wrestler who’s writing his tales tells his version of a story, the other guy(s) involved will recall it going down completely differently (which, for example, is why there are so many conflicting accounts of the Montreal Screwjob or WWE’s plane journey from Hell).
But when Holly recalls tales of how he physically threatens the likes of Kevin Nash, Bam Bam Bigelow or Shawn Michaels backstage (for various reasons) and they back down, part of me thinks that it probably did happen like that – because he’s almost equally as open about stories that don’t put him in a good light. He even claims he got a little shouty and sweary towards Vince McMahon on a couple of occasions!
In truth, a lot of Holly’s stories in the book seem to culminate with him threatening someone with physical violence, but that just makes it more fun to read when you’re aware of which WWE employees he’s talking about each time – and it’s just a testament to the kind of guy Holly is. He insists he’s never a bully though… He’s eager to point out (several times in fact) that he’s very intolerant of bullying, and he’s only ever aggressive towards people that have wronged him and he thus feels deserve the onslaught of his wrath. Although, to me, it seems he got a great deal of gratification out of being a hard ass regardless of whether it was justified or not.
There’s a bunch of intriguing tales in here – what it’s like to work for Vince; How messed up HBK was in the 90s; How getting over is so frustrating in the WWE; How difficult it was to work with Chyna; the time Mick Foley gave him $500 rather than face “wrestlers court”; the real toughest guy to ever be in the WWE; how much the average WWE performer is paid; steroids and the Wellness policy; his thought on the deaths of Owen, Eddie and Benoit … Just an absolute abundance of wrestling goissp and insight that, if you’re as into wrestling backstage politics as me, you’ll lap it up with glee.
Call me narrow-minded if ya like, but I often get a tad bored at the beginning of wrestling biographies when the wrestler in question chooses to go into great depth about their childhood and what it was like for them growing up. Then they’ll digress from wrestling later in their book and talk about how much they love their kids, or regret getting married or whatever. Quite frankly, I couldn’t give a hoot about that stuff. The sole reason I read these autobiographies is to get an inside perspective on life in the wrestling industry – an industry that is often so shrouded in secrecy. Thankfully, Holly almost never ventures off the track. Of course, the obligatory couple of chapters are there about his childhood but they’re kept short and to the point, and Holly also talks a bit about motor car racing (his other passion in life) – but otherwise it’s all wrestling. The women in his life are only mentioned in passing a couple of times – but if you’re genuinely interested in reading about who Bob Holly has had sex with then I’d suggest your priorities in life are seriously misguided.
Holly doesn’t have much interest in trying to get himself over in this book, although he does mention the fact that he never got a main event push about a dozen times despite feeling worthy of one (and he has a few conspiracy theories to suggest why that might be) – but I’m gonna let him off for that because I’d probably also expect nothing less after 15 years with the company. Even Mark Henry got a Heavyweight title reign last year! “It’s a thankless industry,” he writes. And to come to that conclusion after 15 years, you gotta feel his frustrations.
A couple of other very minor gripes are his somewhat warped views on steroids (“No different to alcohol” he claims… I’m no doctor but I’m pretty sure that’s very, very false in so many ways), and his constant bashing of Triple H. Holly makes no secret of the fact that he dislikes and distrusts the guy – but that could and should have been dealt with in a paragraph or two. Instead, Holly likes to remind the reader at every opportunity that he thinks HHH is “a pussy”, ” an ass licker” and some other things that might make your mother blush. But hey, these are just very minor gripes in what is generally a compelling read. “The Hardcore Truth” is the most apt title there is for such a yarn.
And do ya wanna know the best thing of all about Holly’s tale? Despite writing this book just after being released from the WWE, [spoiler alert] it still has a fantastically happy ending. Hooray!
You can pick the book up through Amazon (or an electronic version if you’re digitally inclined) for less than the cost of haircut and I heartily recommend that you do. Besides, your hair looks fine just the way it is anyway. I promise. Although a Hardcore Holly-style buzzcut and bleach would definitely suit you.
Over and out.
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