MITCHELL'S TAKE MITCHELL REVIEW: "The Hardcore Truth" - The Surprising New Book from former WWE wrestler Bob Holly
May 31, 2013 - 4:08:19 PM
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Mitchell Newsletter Exclusive Review
Originally Published: PWTorch Newsletter #1298
Cover-Dated: April 6, 2013
PWTorch senior columnist Bruce Mitchell's review of Bob Holly's new book originally appeared in the pages of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, available for VIP members. Find out how to subscribe and get your VIP membership by CLICKING HERE - PWTorch.com/GoVIP.
One thing bas always been clear about Bob Holly. He's a working man.
Whether he was working as a mechanic all day, then driving an hour-and-a-half to train in pro wrestling with the brutal likes of "Bruiser" Bob Sweetan half the night, or working full-time as a welder while making three dates a weeks with Smoky Mountain Wrestling as Hollywood Bob Holly, or racing the stock car circuit while also traveling a WWF schedule as undercard wrestler Sparky Plugg, Howard worked hard to earn whatever he had. Once he was able to use that work ethic as the core of his WWE character, Hardcore Holly, he had a fulcrum to make himself for a business that always had a place for a dependeable craftsman willing to keep working.
"The Hardcore Truth," Howard's new book about his life in pro wrestling, is much like his work in the ring - hard-hitting, straightforward, and not very fancy. Holly worked through whatever challenges came, did whatever he was asked, hoped whatever gimmicks or storyline came his way (stock car racers, hardcore tough guy, crazy cousins) led to his finally getting a main-event money run, and knew in the end his value to the company came in his ability to make the company's stars look bigger.
As you can imagine, a guy like Holly didn't have much use for some of the more famous power figures in the industry. Tennessee promoters Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler may have been able to tell themselves about their entrepreneurial spirit, and about how they were given exposure and opportunity to new talent in the biz, but Holly speaks plainly about what it was about working for Jarrett that made even the wrestlers who went on to make a good living somewhere else in the business resent how they were exploited.
Holly, who had no respect for son Jeff Jarrett's talent, work, or privileged status in the company, later tells of being there the night Double J took advantage of a contract snafu by WWF talent coordinator Jim Ross and forced Vince McMahon to wire $300,000 into his account before he went out to the ring to drop the Intercontinental Title to Chyna, then flew out to WCW Nitro the very same night.
Some of the best parts of the book are Holly, a work-a-day part of the roster, describing what it was like to live with the damage that Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall did to the company through their determination to keep all the main event attention and money for themselves, while treating everyone else they came across with un-disguised contempt. Interestingly, Holly clearly thought Michaels had leverage on McMahon that went beyond that of a top star, even one as talented in the ring as Holly thought HBK was. He also illustrates McMahon's genius, if patrician, nature, with one startling story about McMahon's brief sponsorhip of Holly's racing career.
You get the idea Holly knows he's done with the business when he makes no bones as to why and how Triple H, who he also acknowledges as a great in-ring worker, did so much damage to the careers of wrestlers who didn't deserve it. It's probably the best job in book form of delineating The Game's reptilian nature.
Holly makes a case that he wasn't the bully some fans made him out to be, as opposed to the one he played as part of his gimmick. He makes a case for why he did what he did to Matt Capotelli in that infamous Tough Enough episode, and how it fit into how saw what he did for a living. It's one of the best parts of the book.
He's also strong at explaining how money works for most wrestlers featured on national television, and it's must-reading for anyone planning to pursue pro wrestling as a vocation.
(Speaking of which, has any phrase appeared in as many different types's life stories across as many years and in as many different books as this one - "Something Vince Russo never understood?")
As tough and clear-eyed as Holly was about most things, he still never lays much blame at McMahon's feet for the frustrations of his career. Like most blue-collar hard workers, he appreciated a strong boss, so the phrase "I never understood why" appears a lot in the book. Holly just keeps working, through the death of his friends Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero, and the murders Chris Benoit committed. He just pushed his feelings in and did what he did best, and kept working.
(Bruce Mitchell has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast every Monday night in the hour before Raw with Travis Bryant. The weekly two-hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller is a VIP audio staple for years. His column archives dating back to 1990 are available in the Bruce Mitchell Library at the PWTorch VIP website.)
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