Book Review: The Hardcore Truth by Bob Holly
Written by Graeme McGaw
When it comes to wrestling autobiographies – I just can’t get enough of them. I’ve been a wrestling fan since 1991. As fun as wrestling is – what goes on behind the scenes is always so much more fascinating. I just can’t get enough of the stuff – from the stories, to the politics, to the ribs. I’ve been a subscriber to the Wrestling Observer newsletter since 1996, can’t get enough wrestling shoot interviews, and own practically every wrestling autobiography there is.
Of course, the autobiographies can be a mixed bag. Some of them are written with the main intention to slander others. Some just can’t conceal their bitterness, and really turn you against the writer. Some are written carefully by wrestlers who are hoping to get back into the business and don’t want to say anything bad. And some are just pure fantasy land – Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff; I’m looking at you.
Thankfully, The Hardcore Truth was none of these things. The Hardcore Truth is co-authored by Ross Williams, and is the story of Robert “Bob” Howard, better known as Bob Holly. Holly wrestled in the WWE for 15 years and now wrestles on the independent circuit.
The Hardcore Truth is exactly what the title implies – Bob Holly sitting there taking you through his career, and telling you the straight up truth. No BSing around, no implications – just Holly taking you through everything, and giving you his thoughts and opinions on it all as he does it.
The book was written extremely well. With many autobiographies, I find they jump around a lot and are patchy in terms of cohesion. The writing on this was tremendous – and as you went through the book, you could picture everything in your head. There were no time jumps that left you wondering – Holly covered practically everything about his career in a very cohesive and entertaining fashion.
What really stood out to me was the bitterness – or in this case, the lack of it. Reading the book, you could see how Holly COULD be bitter. He was someone who just never got that chance. He was constantly for years being used to put new wrestlers over – because he was an extremely solid worker who could make them look good, and teach them a few things.
He quite rightly questions that often – if he’s so good he’s being used to make others look good, why wouldn’t they push him? Yet he manages to put it in a way where he never comes across bitter. Instead you sit there nodding along agreeing with him – and wishing that his career could have played out differently.
When it comes to other wrestlers and their relationships – Holly is very frank and truthful about them too. Like many wrestlers he has his issues with Triple H and he writes about them numerous times throughout the book. However he’s also quick to give credit to HHH for any positives involving him. It was refreshing to see that even if he has problems with someone, it wouldn’t deter Holly from giving them credit where credit was due.
It was also good to get the Bob Holly side of things on numerous other issues, such as the Rene Dupree incident. That was an incident back in 2004 where Bob Holly legitimately beat the crap out of Dupree in the ring, due to a ticket Dupree got while using Bobs rental car.
I remember at the time reading about the incident and every writer dragged Holly over the coals. After reading Bob Hollys version of events it really put the whole thing into perspective, and is a great lesson in regard to never believing just one side of events.
Holly also frankly discusses other incidents like the Matt Capotelli conflict on Tough Enough.
At no point do you ever get the impression Holly is trying to pull the wool over your eyes during those, or any other stories he tells. He’s simply providing his side of events, and if you don’t like it – tough shit!
Bob also provides some great tales from the road – always my favourite part of any book. Billy Gunn learnt the hard way to not fall asleep when Bob is driving – he woke up to find them parked on train tracks with a train heading directly for them!
I went into this book with a slightly negative attitude towards Holly. To me, he was always a generic midcard wrestler, who other than an awesome stint as “The Big Shot” was always just sort of “there”. Also due to the backstage stuff you hear about, I had the perception that he was a bit of a bully as well.
I came out of the book with a whole new respect for the man. This is someone who has worked incredibly hard over the years, and has probably the biggest character trait there is – loyalty.
I watch a lot of classic WWE TV. Prior to reading the Hardcore Truth, if Bob Holly came out to wrestle I’d often zone out. Now? After learning a whole lot more about Holly, I’m looking forward to going back and watching his matches, and I’m going to pay a lot more attention to the classic footage showing him. Hell, prior to writing this review I spent the last hour on Youtube just watching some of the matches and moments he referenced in the book.
To me, you can’t give a higher complement than that. If you’re a wrestling fan this is a must-read. If you’re not a wrestling fan I still think it’s worth reading. It’s a great book and a great life story, and Bob takes the time to explain everything out.