Bob Holly and Ross Williams – who, together, wrote The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story, runner up for Wrestling Book of the Year in the 2013 Wrestling Observer awards – recently caught up to discuss the current wrestling scene… some very interesting thoughts from the team that brought you Amazon.com’s 9th most reviewed wrestling autobiography!
Ross Williams: We’ve got to start with this – what did you make of the deal with Undertaker and Brock? Was ending the streak the right move?
Bob Holly: I think it was the right move with the wrong guy. Brock is a part time guy who wrestles what? Three times a year? They could have used that slot to make somebody who is full time. I think people would have accepted that more and wouldn’t have been in as much shock if it had been somebody else.
Ross Williams: Yeah, my reaction was the same – why the hell would you put Brock over? It makes no sense because he’s part time and it’s not going to get him more over than he already is, so it’s sacrificing something that’s been built for so many years for no real gain when you could have an instant win. But the comment one of my friends made, which I thought was quite interesting, was that if you gave the win to a lower level person to try and make him, you run the risk of the audience completely rejecting that guy. If they put over a guy like Roman Reigns to beat the streak, you could have the crowd piss on everything he ever does, you might put a cap on his career.
Bob Holly: I think it would have been good to have Roman Reigns to go over on Taker. I think they’re moulding their next big star there and it would have been perfect to have him work with Taker instead of Brock. That would have made Roman Reigns. Right into main event status. That would have made him and once he beat Taker, his next thing should have been Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan or John Cena. Go after one of those three. But I don’t really know how good he is on the microphone.
Ross Williams: He’s not bad. Maybe not quite ready yet but if he kept Dean Ambrose with him, he’d be fine. Ambrose is awesome.
Bob Holly: Yeah, he is – he’s got great facial expressions, everything – he does a great job character-wise because, watching as a fan, he makes me dislike him and wish that he’d get his ass whipped. That said, it’s a compliment because he’s doing his job properly. I’ve never met him but I’m sure he’s a real nice guy.
Ross Williams: How would you have done the match? Would it have been a long drawn out affair or would you have had Roman dominate Taker?
Bob Holly: No, it needs to be competitive. Long – at least 30 minutes because if Roman Reigns is going to beat Taker, it’s not going to be easy. That’s the way it should be – he should be fighting for his life and pulls out a win. People would have accepted that. I don’t think people are accepting Brock beating Taker because of the part time thing. Hearing reactions and stuff, I don’t think it’s as big a deal as it could have been. If Reigns would have beat Taker, I think that would have been a bigger deal – I really do.
Ross Williams: They got a fair amount of press out of the result. Do you think that was because it was Brock Lesnar, former UFC Champion, beating the Undertaker or would they have got the press no matter who it was who ended the streak?
Bob Holly: I think they would have got the press no matter what.
Ross Williams: So in that case, they could have got Roman Reigns’ name in front of millions of eyes – and he’s the nephew of the Rock! People will go “oh, hey, let’s check this guy out!”
Bob Holly: And it makes sense. Look at who the Rock is, and Reigns is following in his footsteps. It’s a good story. The thing to do now would be to put Roman Reigns against Brock and have Roman go over on him. Hopefully he’ll get a rub off that.
Ross Williams: What about if Taker had lost the streak to someone else? How about Bray Wyatt?
Bob Holly: Oh yeah – if that would have been the direction, if they really wanted to get him over more. Obviously Cena beat Wyatt at Mania but if they’re going to elevate him, Bray’s going to have to beat Cena. He’s going to have to beat Undertaker. Bray Wyatt gets up there to main event status with John Cena and loses, where does that put Wyatt? He goes right back down.
Ross Williams: Agreed – there’s only so much you can get over by nearly beating the guy. If I recall, you were “nearly WWE champion”, weren’t you?! You had Brock in the full nelson… hey, let’s just give you the belt, close enough right?!
Bob Holly: Ha! Yeah.
Ross Williams: So, is there anybody else you think would have been worth considering beating the streak?
Bob Holly: You know, I really believe in Dolph Ziggler. I really think he could be World Champion. He’s got the charisma, he can talk on the microphone, he knows how to captivate an audience, and he can work! He’s one of the best workers in WWE right now in my opinion.
Ross Williams: He’s probably been buried too much that nobody would have bought him beating Taker at Mania.
Bob Holly: Yeah, you’re probably right. It’s all political. That’s the whole thing. We could sit here and say this would have been good for this guy and this for that guy and whatever but it all boils down to what’s good for business according to Vince and Hunter.
Ross Williams: Would you have finished the streak last year? We heard a lot about how Taker was starting to suffer a great deal, so would you have put Punk over him last year?
Bob Holly: Absolutely.
Ross Williams: If they’d have done that, do you still think Punk would have wandered off like he’s done?
Bob Holly: Probably not. My guess is Punk wasn’t happy with the direction they were going with him but nobody knows why he left. Everybody says he was unhappy, this and that – nobody knows except Punk so I can’t comment on why he left.
Ross Williams: He had been very directionless since losing the title…
Bob Holly: I can’t comment on that whole thing. Everybody thinks they know, everybody speculates, but nobody knows. The only three people who know are Punk, Hunter and Vince.
Ross Williams: Going back to the Brock/Undertaker thing, only one person can ever say “I was the one to break the streak” and Brock can already say “I’m the only wrestler to win the UFC title”. He doesn’t need another bragging right!
Bob Holly: Who wants to brag about beating Taker anyway when you’ve been the UFC champion? Doing that is real, true bragging rights because that’s real fighting. I’d be more proud of that than anything I did in professional wrestling.
Ross Williams: It didn’t help that they gave Brock the big win over Taker but a year before, didn’t Brock lose to Hunter clean in the middle? So how can Brock lose to Hunter and then come back a year later and break the streak that Hunter failed to break three times?!
Bob Holly: They just don’t think back like that. To me, Taker didn’t look as if he was in to the match. It was like he was going through the motions.
Ross Williams: I didn’t feel like it was Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker, it was Brock Lesnar vs a tired version of the Undertaker. So I don’t know if it felt like Brock “conquered” the streak, more like he happened to be in the ring when ‘Taker just couldn’t go any more.
Bob Holly: You know, just because he lost at Wrestlemania, everyone is speculating that it was his last match. Nowhere does it say that it was his last match. He never came out and said “this is it”. That said, I don’t think a match with the part-timer was the way to go. If Taker had been in the ring with someone else, a guy who knows how to lead a match and tell a good story, I think that would have been a better fit for Taker, whether it was his last match or not.
Ross Williams: They had that the last few years with Shawn, Hunter and Punk.
Bob Holly: Exactly. That’s why the match wasn’t as good because Brock is ok but he’s not like Shawn, not like Hunter… he can’t lead a match. Bottom line, they should have used a full-time worker because then they would have made a new star that night at WrestleMania.
Ross Williams: Taker apparently got a concussion early in the match so Brock had to lead it.
Bob Holly: If you had somebody like Hunter in there, who can take control of the ship, I think it would have been good.
Ross Williams: Couldn’t Heyman have called it from the floor?
Bob Holly: No. Hell no – that just wouldn’t work.
Ross Williams: If Taker hadn’t got the concussion, presumably the match would have been better because he would have called it?
Bob Holly: Yeah, Taker was going to be the captain of that ship. That’s the thing – if you’ve got two guys in there who know how to be captain, you’re probably going to have a good fucking match. But if you’ve got one guy who is the captain and he gets hurt to where he can’t think, the match is doomed. A match that carries that much credibility needs to have people in there who can lead. I think Roman Reigns would be able to lead a match, I really do. Or they could have brought Punk back and had him beat the streak. Anybody but Brock. There’s no story line carrying on to Monday night Raw every week about Taker losing the streak. You can’t have Brock coming out every week, bragging about beating Taker, because that would be big heat. Roman Reigns – I think he would have come out to the cheer of the crowd if he’d beat Taker. Even if he didn’t and got heat, that’s no bad thing if you want to get him over as a heel.
Ross Williams: What would you have done? My call would have been, if they’d have Roman beat him, to have Taker come out and shake his hand and walk off.
Bob Holly: Hell yeah, absolutely. Yet the part time guy wins and then boom, he’s off TV. There’s no storyline to carry over. The only thing they can do is have Paul Heyman come out and talk about how it happened and that doesn’t benefit anybody. If Cesaro had beat Taker, at least he’s on TV every week so he can carry on that heat. It’s a moot point now, Taker’s streak is over, let’s forget it and move on. It’s a waste.
Ross Williams: You look back and see the Iron Sheik beat Bob Backlund after years and years with the belt but they had Hulk Hogan waiting in the wings. They had a plan. They didn’t do it to beat Bob Backlund, they did it to get the belt onto Hogan. What’s their endgame with Lesnar? Could it not be they’re going to build to SummerSlam and have Daniel Bryan make Brock Lesnar tap out?
Bob Holly: That would be good. That would help Daniel Bryan for sure.
Ross Williams: Do you think the heat is transferable? To me, it seems like the law of diminishing returns… you have a guy beat the guy who beat Taker and it’s like so what? Brock got beat by Hunter, he got beat by Cena…
Bob Holly: The heat’s not transferrable. They’ll never capitalise on that defeat. When he comes back in a few months, then they’re going to bring up the issue. And nobody is going to give a shit.
Ross Williams: When a guy loses after a long title reign, at least the belt moves on. When you beat the streak, you can’t move that on. I guess maybe Taker felt – a lot of people have suggested that it was ultimately his decision and if he wanted to lose to Brock, fair enough, who are we to argue?
Bob Holly: Maybe Taker realised that there’s no way in another year he could come back and do it. But there was no gain in how they did it. I think it was the timing of it with Taker realising “this is going to have to be it” and the match was already made with Brock. Maybe it was now or never.
Ross Williams: Couldn’t they have changed that in the lead up? He must have known two or three weeks out at least, they could have had the Shield take out Brock Lesnar and have Roman Reigns take the spot at Wrestlemania.
Bob Holly: They could have done that, or they could have had Reigns come out on TV and say I want to put my career on the line right now for the shot at the Taker at Wrestlemania – I want to be the one to beat him. Then he could beat Brock and go on to Mania – that would have been better. There are so many ways and we could talk about it all day long but they’re going to do what they do. They had another first in wrestling history this week – Daniel Bryan got married, ok? He became world champion at Wrestlemania, he gets married after that. He’s on his honeymoon. He wasn’t on Raw last night, nor is he going to be on Smackdown and the guy is the world champion? This is the first time ever in the history of the wrestling business that a guy became world champion and got to go off on a honeymoon and miss TV. How does that fuckin’ happen?! You’re carrying the company but you get to be off because you’re on honeymoon? Since when did that change?!
Ross Williams: I’ll tell you why – because of Total Divas. Because it’s part of the show on Total Divas so even though it’s a honeymoon, it’s still work.
Bob Holly: But still! Do Raw and Smackdown and then take a private jet and fly on your honeymoon until next Monday! If you’re carrying the company, you’re the main draw on that show. I was just shocked when I read that he wasn’t on there. This guy’s the fucking world champion and he gets to take off? I’m sure they’re filming it for the show but he still could have done Raw and Smackdown, then fly out and come back for next week’s Raw. Six days is plenty of time to have a honeymoon! Plenty of time to film Total Divas and all that.
Ross Williams: We’ll see the next time someone gets married, I guess. I think when Cody got married, they didn’t make a fuss about him going on honeymoon, so they seem to be softer on these things these days. There’s none of this punishing Ricky Steamboat because he wants to be there for the birth of his son sort of thing anymore.
Bob Holly: You miss the birth of your child, you miss your kids graduation, if you’re carrying the company, you have to be at TV. That’s the way it was but I don’t know what the deal is now. Maybe they’ve softened up.
Ross Williams: Maybe they just think as long as they’ve got Cena, Daniel Bryan is optional?
Bob Holly: Yeah, they might think that but then, if they did, why did they give Bryan the belt?
Ross Williams: They couldn’t not give him the belt.
Bob Holly: Oh, I know that – they had to. Well, it’s not that they had to…
Ross Williams: Yeah – they had to!
Bob Holly: Yeah, ok – they had to. I think it was probably killing Hunter to have to do that though! I knew they’d have a good match because Hunter’s really good and I stand by that. Just because I don’t care for Hunter and his vindictive ways, it doesn’t mean I’m going to say he’s a horrible wrestler or entertainer because he is really good – despite what Bret Hart says about his skills.
Ross Williams: What do you think about Eric Young winning the TNA Title?
Bob Holly: That’s about like me getting the World title! You know what, it’s like ok, WWE spent almost a full year building Daniel Bryan with this storyline. TNA is like hey, I’ve got this great idea, Daniel Bryan just won the world belt at Wrestlemania, how about we spend 2 hours and put the title on fucking whatshisname. That’s why TNA is in the situation they’re in. They watched WWE and think that because WWE got Daniel Bryan over like they did, hell, Eric Young’s going to get over that quick if we put the title on him. Eric Young is a comedy guy. And that’s all he is. He’s never been serious and that drives me nuts because comedy stuff gets old just like Santino Marella and that girl Emma who comes out with him and does that stupid stuff with her hands. Does she not realise that she is killing her career? Who told her to do that? Did she come up with that?
Ross Williams: It worked in NXT… they don’t seem to have figured out that things that work in NXT might not work in front of 17,000 people…
Bob Holly: When I saw her do that the other night, I was like number one, Santino’s going to kill her career by them putting her out there with him because he’s a comedy act, and number two, her doing that fucking stupid bullshit with her arms is going to put her career six feet under. She won’t have a career in WWE if she keeps doing that. It’s like when I had the Sparky Plugg gimmick, that wasn’t much better but I realized real quick that character wasn’t going to get me anywhere fast. No pun intended!
Ross Williams: You know who Emma reminds me of?
Bob Holly: Who?
Ross Williams: The Bushwhackers.
Bob Holly: Yes! Yes! But the Bushwhackers were back in the 80′s and that’s when the comedy gimmicks worked! Comedy gimmicks don’t work as well as they used to… my opinion. I just… when I see her I just want to tell her STOP… stop doing that! I can’t watch it, I have to look away, I get embarrassed watching her. Can somebody send her a message, like, maybe I should send her a message on twitter – stop doing that!
Ross Williams: Well, they’re bringing up a bunch of other people right now like Rusev, Bo Dallas, Adam Rose and putting the spotlight on them, so where does that leave them with guys like Dolph and Kofi Kingston, guys who are excellent wrestlers but never really got used to their full capacity?
Bob Holly: Kind of like they did with me? They’re in the same boat as I was.
Ross Williams: I get angry for Kofi the same way I got angry for you!
Bob Holly: Kofi is always going to be doing what he’s doing now. That’s never going to change now. He’s too far gone in terms of that role that it’ll never change. Dolph – he’s borderline. He’s teetering on that – he’s started getting wins again here and there but he’s teetering on that fine line of that role that I was in and that Kofi’s in. That’s the nature of the business though – they bring people in and I can’t blame them for doing it, they need to know if people are going to be star material or not. They constantly have to make new stars, so I don’t blame them for doing it but on the other hand, you have to sacrifice talent that has been there for a while. It’s a double edged sword.
Ross Williams: You’re talking about top stars – their top stars now… much like 2004, ten years ago, Randy Orton, John Cena, Dave Batista, Rey Mysterio, the Big Show, Mark Henry, Kane… all of these guys are still there and Cena’s not going away any time soon, Randy Orton’s not going away any time soon – how are they going to get anybody over to that top level? Punk came in, got to the top and then decided he couldn’t be bothered and left and part of it could well have been that he looked around and thought “is this still 2005?”
Bob Holly: It’s just always been like that though!
Ross Williams: Go back and look at the 80s. Hogan left! Savage left! Warrior left! They weren’t around for 10 years – with WCW, you could switch it up and move people in and out.
Bob Holly: The thing is the reason those guys, Cena, Orton, Batista are still there is because they haven’t found anybody else to replace them. Punk could have but they’re looking for something specific. It all comes down to politics. Look at Dolph. There’s no reason this guy should be losing like he loses.
Ross Williams: I don’t get it either, Dolph is everything they could want in a top guy.
Bob Holly: Exactly, Dolph has the same amount of charisma as Shawn Michaels. Look at when Dolph comes out – as soon as he comes out, instant energy! He grabs everybody, right out of the gate. He grabs your attention. Nobody will ever get it – the only people who will get it are Vince and Hunter but nobody will ever know why you have a guy who looks good and is a great worker but not up there and you’ve got a subpar worker up there on top. I’ll never understand it.
Ross Williams: What did you make of the Warrior tribute?
Bob Holly: It’s great to see WWE do a tribute to Warrior but I question why they only do that for certain people? Only people who’ve made that company tons of money. It’s like, in other words, his life is more valuable than a mid carder’s life.
Ross Williams: There was a good example of this recently; Warrior worked for them for what? 5 years total?
Bob Holly: Yeah, not long.
Ross Williams: How long did Viscera work there?
Bob Holly: Quite a while.
Ross Williams: He got there in ’93, he worked there on and off until about 2008?
Bob Holly: Yeah, he was there off and on when I was there.
Ross Williams: Maybe 10 years?
Bob Holly: Probably, not quite ten but more than Warrior, I know that.
Ross Williams: What did they do for Viscera when he died?
Bob Holly: They didn’t do anything for him! I was looking that morning after to see what they did for him and nothing on Raw. They acknowledged it on Smackdown with a picture of him and the date he was born and the date he died and I think that was it. They didn’t do the everybody on stage, the ten bell thing – they didn’t do any of that.
Ross Williams: Many of those people on stage this Monday for Warrior – many of them probably worked with Viscera or at least met him whereas maybe what? 10% of those people on that stage ever knew Warrior?
Bob Holly: Yeah, if that. What pisses me off is that these guys that don’t get acknowledged when they pass, they sacrifice for that company, they sacrifice their body, they sacrifice their family, they sacrifice so much to work with WWE and for WWE to not acknowledge people but acknowledge Warrior, that’s a travesty to me. It’s wrong. They’re saying Warrior is more important than Viscera. Every human life is just as important as the other. What makes Warrior’s life more valuable than Viscera?
Ross Williams: You feel it should be a rule for everybody?
Bob Holly: Yes, for whoever worked for WWE because you do make a huge sacrifice. It should be acknowledged.
Ross Williams: You don’t have a problem with what they did for Warrior, they should just do it for everybody the same?
Bob Holly: Exactly. And they should do that. What they did for Warrior, they should do that for everybody that worked for the company and made sacrifices.
Ross Williams: Did you ever meet Warrior?
Bob Holly: Yeah, I did. He was a very pleasant man – VERY charismatic and intense! That man could sell out an arena! I feel real bad for his family, his wife and children – it’s a great shame he died so young.