Bob Holly Talks Working With Ric Flair & Steamboat As A Job Guy, Signing With WWE, If He Was A Bully

I recently spoke with former WWE star Bob Holly. In the first part of the interview below, Holly discussed his early career, working as a job guy with Ricky Steamboat in WWF, working with Ric Flair in WCW, signing with WWF, being given the "Sparky Plugg" gimmick and more.

Make sure to check back later this week for the rest of our interview, where Holly discussed the Attitude Era, if he ever thought about jumping to WCW during the Monday night wars, getting injured in a match with Brock Lesnar, not being ready to be in the title picture, ending CM Punk's streak, working with Punk, hypocrisy with the WWE Wellness Policy and much more. You can also follow him on Twitter @TheBobHolly.

You can also purchase his book, The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story, at by clicking here.

Wrestling INC: You entered the business with wrestling school in 1987, is that right?

Holly: It was actually before that. It was near the end of '86 down in Pensacola, Florida. It actually wasn't a wrestling group or anything. It just happened to be somewhere where they opened a school to train people and a way to make money, of course. And it ended up becoming a wrestling organization after that, but I don't think there was any intention of it becoming a wrestling organization other than it being a wrestling school.

Wrestling INC: What attracted you to the business? Were you a fan growing up?

Holly: Oh my God, yeah. It's funny you talk about that because I have a book out, The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story, and I talk about that in my book, how everything evolved as far as how I got into the business and stuff, but I fell in love with wrestling the very first time I laid eyes on it. That was when, I think I was in the fourth grade, I believe. We had just moved from Glendale, California to Oregon. When I was a kid in Glendale, California I was a huge roller derby fan. And go figure, because roller derby I come to find out's a work also.

I just had this huge passion for the way the whole fight game and everything, how angles worked and how fights all came about and how storylines were, were people mad at each other and all this stuff? I thought roller derby was the greatest thing in the world and that's what I wanted to be, I wanted to be a roller derby guy. And actually the women were more exciting. Watching the women fight were more exciting than the men. But anyways, so when we did move to Grants Pass, Oregon the very first wrestling program I ever saw was Big Time Wrestling out of Sacramento, California. Pat Patterson, Pepper Gomez, Bob Roop, Jimmy Snuka was in there here and there, gosh, Masa Saito. Guys that go way back and stuff were the main names and it's funny because I never thought, back when I was watching Big Time Wrestling out of Sacramento, California, would I ever work side by side with Pat Patterson. It just blew me away when I first met Pat.

Of course, later on that night there was another wrestling program that came on. It was called Portland Wrestling. I fell in love with [it]. You had all the top guys come through there. A lot of guys started there like Roddy Piper. He was the big time heel, and then turned baby face in Portland. Tom Prichard was there. Dutch Savage, you had Bull Ramos, Jimmy Snuka was there, Jesse Ventura, Buddy Rose, gosh, everybody who became somebody wrestled in Portland, Oregon. I thought that was the absolute greatest, it was an hour program. Saturday night came along, 8:30, I didn't go out with my friends or nothing. I stayed home and watched wrestling. In order to answer your question, yes. I was a big time wrestling fan.

Buddy Rose was, to me, he was the greatest of all time. I mean he was the guy that I idolized and I loved everything he did. I hated him as a kid, but then when I started understanding how things worked I idolized him because of what a genius he was and what a mind for the business he had. He was one of the greatest that never did really make it, I think. He got it. He knew what he needed to do and he worked it to a T. If there's anybody to learn how to be a heel from, or a babyface, watch Playboy Buddy Rose. Pull him up on YouTube, watch this guy because he's the consummate professional.

Wrestling INC: You did some job matches back with WWF in the early 90s, right? Before you went there in 94?

Holly: Yep. I did one, it was in Pensacola. I did one with the Sheepherders, or actually they were the Sheepherders when they were with Portland Wrestling, but Butch and Luke, the Bushwhackers, I did a job for them. And then the next night, [in] Biloxi, I had a match with Ricky Steamboat, and it's funny because this is a story that I forgot to put in my book, and I cannot believe I forgot to do this. I went out there because I was wanting to get a job with them. That's what everybody wants to do.

So I went out there. I was out there and I was waiting on Ricky, and when he blew that whole flame thing out of his mouth with the kerosene, I was on the other side of the ring and I could feel the heat from across the mat. I was like, I can't believe this guy does that on a nightly basis, but anyway, we ended up having the match and everything and it was really good. It was kind of back and forth and everything. It wasn't your typical, just go out there and beat the guy up and get over him and come back. It wasn't one of those, a typical enhancement match. When we came back, he thanked me and everything, and he was pissed. He went and talked to somebody and he came back and he was mad. I was like, "did I do something wrong?" And he goes, "no, no, no. They didn't like the match. They liked it, but that's not what they wanted. They wanted me to go out there and eat you up." And Ricky told me, and I just think it's absolutely ridiculous because that was a good match to have on TV.

So he had to go back out there, and he went back out like a couple matches later and ended up doing it with another guy, some big, humongous overweight guy. He was absolutely unhappy with that. But yeah, that was my experience with them back then.

Wrestling INC: Everything I've heard about Steamboat has always been that he's a genuine class act.

Holly: Yeah, yeah. He is. I really enjoy working with him too. It's the same thing with Ric Flair. When I had a match with Flair down in WCW/NWA days, I had a ten minute match with him and I was really surprised at how much Ric gave me. It was a good back and forth match and everything. I had never been in the ring with a guy of that caliber who was just so smooth and it was just like a dance. It was like a perfect, well choreographed dance to where it was just flawless. He just led. It's just unbelievable how good he is as a leader. Because I had never worked with anybody like that before, it was unbelievable.

Wrestling INC: In 1994 when you did sign with WWF, obviously the business was changing drastically at that point, WWF was really doing a lot of the more cartoony gimmicks. Was that your choice, to sign with WWF [over WCW], because WCW still at that point was less gimmicky?

Holly: Well see, when I was going to Atlanta, Jim Cornette, he stopped me in the hallway and he said quit coming up here doing jobs. He said because that's all you're going to be known for and that's all you're going to wind up doing. He said you're a better talent than that. He said I see something in you.

I thought, "damn! Jim Cornette. Here's a guy who doesn't know me from Adam, pulling me off to the side telling me to stop coming up here." So, I did and he got my number and everything and he told me, he said you know, unfortunately, like two weeks prior to him telling me this in the hallway, he ended up having a falling out with Dusty Rhodes, so he was out of the booking committee. He told me, I would have hired you right on the spot. He told me, he said just go home and don't come back here. I said okay, no problem because I had a great job at home anyways. And then he explained to me, because when you're going to Atlanta and you're going to these places with WWF back then, you don't know that, if you're going up there trying to get a job, you might get a job but that's all you're going to be doing, is an enhancement guy. Unless they absolutely see something good in you or you know somebody or you're in really good with somebody. Cornette smartened me up to that because I was as green as the grass that grows outside.

So, like I said, I went home, went back to work and stuff like that. That's about the time, I'm not too good with timelines, but anyway, Cornette ended up leaving NWA and WCW and he called me and that's when he opened Smoky Mountain up and stuff like that. Of course, I started there. I discuss everything in my book about it, but I ended up going back home and keeping my job and stuff because I had a really, really good job and I had insurance and all that stuff.

At the time, Paul Bearer had taken one of my tapes to Vince [McMahon] and JJ Dillon. They looked at it and they called me. They knew that I had been racing, so to fit into the whole cartoon era part, then that's when they came up with the name Sparky Plug. When I read that, they sent me my contract in the mail and I opened it, I had no idea what my name was going to be. So I opened it and I honestly laughed. I thought, you kidding me? This has got to be a rib. But, back then it fit because in the era that it was, it fit. So I thought you know what, I'll just go with it. Who's going to turn them down? Anybody that wants to sign a contract with the company is not going to turn them down over a silly name, unless your ego is way to big to fit in your pants. I had no ego whatsoever and I still don't.

That was my dream, that was my goal, was to get into WWF and I did and it was just, it was a nice ride. Even when I first got there, I was scared to death, but I was enjoying it despite having to put people over all the time. I always thought just work hard and something's going to give, you'll get a break. They'll start giving you a little push here and there, you'll get wins and stuff like that, which it did. That's how everything went.

Wrestling INC: There were a lot of people in the early to mid nineties that were given those cartoony gimmicks like T.L. Hopper and the Goon and Skinner and things like that. You were really one of the only ones that ended up having a long career out of that.

Holly: I think the reason I stayed so long [was] because I did what I was told to do and I didn't create any waves. They told me to do something, I did it. If something I wasn't comfortable with, I would question them on it, but I wouldn't be confrontational about it. I would respectfully ask them, you know, no disrespect or anything, I'm just really not comfortable with doing this. Can we do this or that? I think because of the way I cooperated, and I had no problems going out there and getting beat and doing what they asked me to do, because like I said, I put my ego to the side. I was like you know what, hopefully something will come along but you know what, you work your ass off, they would reward you. I felt I was rewarded, one of the ways, by [the fact that] I was able to stay there so long, Vince keeping me there for so long because [of] doing what I was asked to do.

There's a lot of speculation out there, people read, hey, that I was hard to get along with, that I beat up people, push people around and stuff in the back, that I'd just bully people and stuff like that. If that was the case, I promise you I wouldn't have stayed with that company for 16 years. I would have not been there that long. The reason I was there for so long is because I got along with everybody and I did what I was told to do. I think that was the key to being there for so long, because I could get along with everybody and everybody liked working with me and I did what I was supposed to do. Plus, another thing that really helped was when they needed somebody, because time cues are really important, especially on TV and PPVs. I was really good at hitting my cues. Gerry Brisco, he was really high on me and using me in certain spots because if they needed somebody and they needed somebody to go out there and have a match, we only needed to go x amount of minutes and it's got to be quick, I was really good at hitting my time cues and everything else and not going over on live TV.

It was a combination of things that I was able to stay there for so long, but I really think it attributed to me doing exactly what I was told to do without giving them any problems whatsoever.

Make sure to check back later this week for the rest of our interview, where Holly discussed the Attitude Era, if he ever thought about jumping to WCW during the Monday night wars, getting injured in a match with Brock Lesnar, not being ready to be in the title picture, ending CM Punk's streak, working with Punk, hypocrisy with the WWE Wellness Policy and much more. You can also follow him on Twitter @TheBobHolly.

You can also purchase his book, The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story, at by clicking here.


Back To Top