Pulse Wrestling recently met with Ross Williams, author of the new Bob Holly biography, The Hardcore Truth, which is available now on Amazon.
Pulse: So, you’ve written the Bob Holly biography. How did that come about?
Ross Williams: Long story short, when I turned 30 I realised that there wasn’t much time left for me if I wanted to fulfil my long-held aspiration to have a few matches as a pro-wrestler, so I got myself a trainer and it so happened that Bob came over to do a few seminars and shows with the promotion. Bob worked with me in training, thought I sucked at the start but, a few months later, noticed how hard I had worked to improve and he seemed to respect that. We got talking more and he got behind me, helped push me.
The big turning point was a show in Southampton, England, a tag match main event that I was supposed to be nowhere near but one of the guys got injured, so I was subbed in at the last minute and ended up having to work a match on the fly against Bob. My story about that match is the preface of the book, actually – Bob always laughs his ass off when he reads it. I took a bit of a beating, I’ll tell you! It was a hell of an experience and I can definitely confirm that, when that bell sounds, Bob works stiff but he works safe and, when we got to the back afterwards, he congratulated me. I think I fully earned his respect that night and that led to us talking more. When he found out that I was a writer and I found out he was looking to put a book together, it was a pretty simple decision to work with each other on the project.
Pulse: Wow, so you got an in-ring hazing from Bob Holly and lived to tell the tale! Have you recovered yet?
Ross Williams: Ha, yeah – I’d like to think I’m stronger for it! I wouldn’t trade my experience of wrestling Bob for anything. Wounds heal but great stories endure!
Pulse: I think it would be fair to say Bob Holly has a reputation amongst internet wrestling fans for being, shall we say, a little bit surly. Is that fair? How did you find working with him on this project?
Ross Williams: It couldn’t have been smoother. Planning, writing and editing (multiple times!) a 300 page book is a long project, longer than many might think and Bob and I were both committed to making this the absolute best we could, so we spent a lot of time talking on Skype and by email. The whole process took about 18 months from start to publication and in that time, I think we got a little tense with each other perhaps once? Even that was quickly resolved and just a result of miscommunication and both of us being tired and probably pissed off about something or other than had nothing to do with anything. You know, like how real people are with each other!!
As for Bob being “surly”, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, he has his moments where he’s tired, annoyed, pissed-off or whatever but so do I. So do you and so does everyone. I think people just have a harder time disassociating Bob Holly the wrestler with Bob Holly the person. It’s easier to figure out where Kane the homicidal pyromanic stops and Glen Jacobs, politician starts, but we all know someone like ‘Hardcore’ Holly, so it’s easy to believe that the character Bob played is actually the person. As with many of the best wrestling characters, it’s part of the person’s personality with the volume turned way way up. Bob’s character was basically Bob getting out of bed on the wrong side and then forgetting his manners for the better part of 16 years! The real Bob is one of the most polite, gracious fellas I’ve ever met.
Pulse: The early buzz on the book is that Bob is not pulling any punches. Dave Meltzer wrote that Holly “gives his opinions on a lot of stuff and while you may or may not agree with his take, I believe it’s his honest opinions, and let’s just say that with a lot of pro wrestling autobiographies, when I read them, that is not the first impression.” Do you think this book offers something unique compared to other wrestling books out there?
Ross Williams: Absolutely, yes. The main goal Bob and I had when putting this book together was to make sure it was Bob through and through. I’ve always felt the best wrestling autobiographies make you feel like you’re in the room with the wrestler himself and he is telling you the story. For example, Mick, Bret, Regal and Jericho’s books – you can hear their voice throughout. It’s their story but it’s also their personality. On the other hand, Batista, DiBiase, Kurt – their books really didn’t feel as genuine. It felt like “Ted DiBiase’s story as told to and translated by….” and so much can get lost in translation. My job, as I saw it, was to make sure that none of Bob’s personality got lost in the transition from ‘out loud’ to ‘on paper’.
There’s much about this book that is unique because Bob’s journey was pretty unique. If you think about it, the only other people who were active on the WWE roster for the entirety of the Monday Night Wars, all the way through ‘Ruthless Aggression’ and into the PG era were Hunter and the Undertaker. I doubt either of them are going to release a book any time soon so you’re not going to get much better of a look behind the scenes in the pivotal era in modern wrestling history than you will from Bob.
On another level, I do think also that it helps that I’ve actually stepped into the ring myself so I understand the toll wrestling takes on a body, what bumps feel like and how much hard work it is. It’s just not possible to fully grasp any of that unless you’ve actually been in a ring, in front of a live audience, challenging yourself to perform to the best of your abilities whilst making sure you look after yourself and, more importantly, your opponent.
Finally, I’d say that it helps immensely to have a writer who has followed wrestling for most of his life. If you have someone who is good at interviewing and good with words but doesn’t have an intimate knowledge of the industry he’s writing about, things are going to get missed. If the writer isn’t passionate about wrestling, the book is going to suffer for it.
Pulse: Do you think Bob’s outspoken approach to this book is going to rub some people the wrong way?
Ross Williams: Probably a couple of the wrestlers! I think it’s no secret that Bob doesn’t much care for the way he saw Hunter conduct himself as a businessman and there are a number of guys that WWE pushed over Bob that he feels shouldn’t have been in that position. Perfectly reasonable, if you ask me – he’s not dirtying their character, just observing that many of them didn’t have the staying-power, passion or talent to warrant their push. WWE didn’t get a great return on investment on a lot of people they pushed over the years and I believe they could have had a much better return if they’d put the same effort into getting behind Bob rather than squandering his talent for so long.
Pulse: Will we ever see the return of Hardcore Holly to WWE, as a wrestler or perhaps as a trainer/agent?
Ross Williams: Never say never but I can’t see Bob being welcomed with open arms after some of the things he says in his book about Hunter. It’ll depend on the sort of guy Hunter truly is – if he accepts that Bob is expressing a genuine opinion in the book rather than there being any sensationalist agenda behind it, perhaps the two of them can talk at some point in the future. He did a show with TNA recently and maybe the door will be open there. I certainly think he’s got more to give the business and if either WWE or TNA brings him on board, they’d be gaining a huge asset.
I’ll tell you this, having personally trained with Bob, I can guarantee he’d be absolutely awesome for the guys in developmental. His basics are rock solid and the way he explains and shows you in the ring makes them much easier to pick up. I think he’d be a great agent too – a lot of people think it’s all just about wrestling experience but I believe that, nowadays, you’ve got to understand how to work for the show you are on and if you’re doing live TV which involves commercials, you’ve got to know how to plan and execute a match involving very tight time cues. Some of the guys who spent most of their career doing taped shows – or working for WCW where time cues were all over the shop – won’t have developed the instinct for strict timekeeping during a match the way that Bob had to.
Pulse: What is your favourite Bob Holly moment, as a wrestling fan?
Ross Williams: Without a doubt, the match with Rob Van Dam on ECW in 2006. That match really epitomised everything about Bob. He injured himself badly about half way through, gutted it out and carried on and it ended up being probably the best match of his career. He lost the match but the audience chanted his name afterwards out of respect. Any time that happens, you know you’ve done something great.
I really think WWE dropped the ball on Bob after that, they could have made a lot of money with him in ECW rather than trying to go with other people who weren’t the right fit for the brand. Bobby Lashley, Matt Hardy, Jack Swagger, John Morrison – they’re all fine but they should have been on Smackdown or Raw working for the mid level titles. Maybe if they’d gone with people like Bob on ECW, it would have ended up as a most distinctive brand and therefore more “must-see”. As it was, it just ended up another hour of the same old programming.
Pulse: Finally, when is the book on sale and where can people buy it from?
Ross Williams: It’s on sale in the USA right now and released in the UK on 9th May – available on Amazon both sides of the pond. If anybody is on the fence as to whether to buy it or not, they should go check out my website, www.rossowenwilliams.com where I’m posting all the reviews and commentary on the book that I can find – both Bob and I are extremely pleased with the feedback so far and we’re confident anybody who likes wrestling will love this book.
Pulse: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us and all the very best with the book!
Williams is also an actor – for more information about his work, including this rather odd yet awesome project, go to www.rossowenwilliams.com.