SLAM! WRESTLING: And Nothing but the Truth

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eric Benner is SLAM! Wrestling's regular Friday columnist.

Friday, July 23, 1998

Holly credible and funny

Eric Benner
Special to SLAM! Sports

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Hardcore Holly gets the weekly Benner Awards for (a) most improved gimmick, (b) most improved mic skills, and (c) highest gain on the Benner Top Ten List of great wrestlers. There aren't really any Benner awards, and I don't really keep or make any top ten lists, and I would certainly never capitalize a top ten list of my own, but the point still stands: Holly is great.

Today's is what you might call a multi-purpose column. I'm going to make a statement and try my best to defend it, but meanwhile I'm actually trying to prove some other, more subtle and devious point. Oops, I guess I kind of gave away my plan and that makes it a whole lot less devious. Oh wait, I'm not supposed to be devious, I'm supposed to be straight-forward and honest! It's funny how things work out like that.

My case for this week is one in favour of Holly's recent efforts. The slightly more subtle subtext will read something along the lines of 'it doesn't matter what your reputation is, what matters is what you make of your opportunities.' That may or may not be an allusion to last week's column, in which I basically said that Chris Jericho may or may not succeed in the WWF.
Hardcore Holly

Time to make sense.

Previously, Bob Holly has been marked as pretty much an idiot. Although it's very well possible that he's had other gimmicks beyond my limited experience, I remember him mostly as either "Sparky Plugg" or "Spark Plug" Bob Holly. Either way, a ridiculous name, and either way, a ridiculous gimmick. Come on, a race car driver? What does a race car driver do that's interesting to a wrestling audience?

Football players are tough, hockey players play dirty, basketball players talk trash and hang with a 'posse', and baseball players get tombstone pile-driven by Kane each March. But race car drivers? Maybe if he had a car, or something ... but he didn't. Maybe if he cut some promos from within a car or from a race track ... but he didn't. Maybe ... aw heck, there's really nothing you can do with thing gimmick, I don't care if your name is Vince McMahon.

So he had a bad gimmick, though, so what. All that's a reflection of is poor booking at the time and maybe a lapse in the acceleration of his career. Terry Taylor, current WWF commentator and booker, used to go by the name "Red Rooster." Kane used to be wrestle as a dentist. Well, maybe not the current Kane, who I'm starting to suspect is actually some other guy, because he's more athletic than the original Kane, Glen Jacobs, but let's not get started on that. Certainly, though, the original Kane was said dental hygienist with bad teeth. Now he's Kane, so clearly he's survived a bad gimmick. Even Owen Hart, God rest his very talented soul, had to wear the mask of the "Blue Blazer" before he could shine as himself.

So Bob Holly had a bad start, so what. Who cares. I say we give this guy a second chance, and I say that I'm definitely giving him a second chance. Here's why:

First, Bob Holly is a credible wrestler. Like him or not, the guy has a superior mat technique and can do a lot of those moves that we criticize the WCW main event crew for being unable or unwilling to do. As such, when someone comes along who can do it, we should credit him for it.

There are several advantages to being a mat technician which many people don't realize. A lot of people complain that WWF matches consist of a long brawl followed by a swift finish. Well, a guy like Bret Hart or Ric Flair, who actually knows how to wrestle, can prolong a match without necessarily brawling endlessly. Holly has this skill, though perhaps not in the same quantity as said other two individuals.

Second, the guy has an old-school attitude that's brought fame and success to many others. I'm talking about the heel persona of total macho bravado, much akin to the Rock before his two face turns. The Rock, for those of you with short memories, would cut an interview in which he'd say that his opponent, say Ken Shamrock, didn't deserve to step into the ring with him, then he'd go and get himself demolished. It was hilarious, at least to me and anyone else who would chant "Rocky Sucks!"

I say old-school because a lot of wrestlers nowadays presume that heel means 'gang-member,' which I'm glad to see isn't always the case. Being a heel doesn't mean you cheat all the time and never allow your matches to end or your opponent to win cleanly. It may mean you try to cheat frequently, but it doesn't really add much to your repertoire unless you lay down on the mat every so often.

Third and lastly, Hardcore Holly's new gimmick is funny. Come on, even the most adamant of you Holly-haters out there know that you want to chuckle when you see the following sequence take place:

(1) Holly talks trash about someone or some people, say the Acolytes.

(2) Holly comes out to attack said people, gets completely demolished.

(3) Holly fights his best, cheats a bit, but in the end, he just gets beaten to a pulp.

(4) The Big Show, while rolling his eyes, comes out to save Holly - but not to help him, just to drag him to safety.

And if the last bit doesn't make you laugh, at least a bit on the inside, then you may have issues of some kind:

(5) Holly, barely conscious and bruised all over, protests being carried away. "I had 'em beat," he says.

I laughed out loud at that particular sequence, and the same basic thing has been repeated a few times on various shows. And who doesn't love watching Kane choke-slam him multiple times each week?

What I'm trying to do here is get on the Holly band-wagon first so that in two months time, I can shout at the top of my lungs, "I told you so!" Er, just kidding. I'm just trying to support a guy who's trying hard to entertain us, and who deserves a second chance at stardom. Maybe he'll crash and burn, but maybe he'll gain a following and rise to new heights.

The same, I think, can be said for Jericho. It's entirely a coincidence, though, that this week's point applies so well to last week's column.

That's all for this week, here's the mail.

Frank Seguin,, writes:
"Anyway, regarding your SLAM! column... why don't you consider The Big Show as a main eventer? He's been two-time champ with WCW (and with the politics over there, no small task), and, even though he hasn't main event a PPV (co-evented Wrestlemania would probably be the closest he's come so far), he's been doing the last segment of Raw alot of times (at least 6, I think); granted, alot of that was with Austin, but he can manage his own, no?"

I could try to defend myself last week and give you reasons such as that Wight hasn't headlined a pay-per-view yet, or that he hasn't had a long-lasting feud for the title, but in all honesty, I just forgot about him. I just don't think of him when I think of the staples of the WWF main event scene, and that probably says something about how he's been promoted. Whether or not he's up there yet is up to the individual's perception, I think. He's close, and he'll probably be there soon, though. A win over Kane this weekend would get him started.

Stephen Bruce, from, writes:
"Eric, I was somewhat miffed to read your column of yesterday on SLAM!. You indicated that it was refreshing to get an E-Mail from someone who was not full of self importance and ego, offering their opinion on Chris Jericho, such as he will suck in the WWF or he will be the next Shawn Michaels. All the writer from Ireland did was suggest that she had never seen Jericho and asked your opinion on the matter. Now possibly I misread you, but what you said to me in that message was it was refreshing to get an E-Mail without opinion, asking for your opinion. Now isn't THAT full of self importance and ego?

I must ask you, what is wrong with people offering their opinion on these matters, be it in an E-Mail forum to you, or on a call in show or to friends. Isn't that what it's all about? People judging things for themselves, and formulating their own thoughts and opinions and sharing them. It's the people who add nothing that I can do without. I was just having an E-Mail conversation with someone at the office on a similar type of thing about the Jim Rome radio show. This individual did not care for it, which is fine, to each their own, but the one thing that I respect about his show, and what makes me want to continue listening, is that the host solicits intelligent opinions from his callers, while the usual mundane caller, on other formats, will simply call the host and ask for their opinion.

I enjoy your column, it always appears well thought out and of some substance, but please don't get to a point where you feel that yours is the only opinion that counts. I will say this, I am guessing that I have misinterpreted what you were trying to say, as you have never some across as being full of self worth, and you have always openly solicited feedback, but it is how I took it from reading it. Stay real, and if you do have any clout, please initiate a campaign to Get DJ Ran "all OUT of my area", why this clown continues to pull a paycheck from WCW amazes me!"

Stephen, you make a valid point. But let me say that I misstated myself last week and that it was not my intention to suggest that readers' opinions don't count. My personal opinion, and I think my history of column writing will back me up here, is that my opinion is just as important as everyone else's, no more, and no less. I have a right to express it here at SLAM! because they let me do so. But it doesn't make what I have to say any more important than what a given reader of mine has to say.

What I meant to say last week is that I'm very tired of assumptions. Assumptions that people make that their own opinion, or something they heard somewhere, is the truth. I'm tired of hearing that Jericho will win the title by December end of story, no ifs, ands, or buts. I'm tired of reading internet columnists without sources who proclaim Jericho an immediate resident of the WWF main event crew. I think that everyone has a right to say what they think, and I'll respect anyone's opinion, but what I dislike is when people start to treat their own opinions, or the opinions of others, as anything more than an opinion. As a fact, for example. It bugs me, and it especially bugged me with Jericho.

I think your point, though, is valid, in that if I misled even one reader into thinking that I thought your opinion didn't count, then that's my fault. That isn't what I think, though. I hope everyone understands that.

Thanks for reading, thanks for writing, as always. Have a fantastic week, enjoy Fully Loaded, see you in seven.

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