Hacksaw Jim Duggan is in his 40th year in pro wrestling so he’s seen just about everything in sports entertainment. The latest thing in pro wrestling is AEW which is headed by Cody Rhodes.
Duggan worked side-by-side with Dusty Rhodes for years and he spoke with Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast recently to discuss comparisons between father and son.
“Dusty was an office guy,” said Duggan. “He always was ? NWA, WCW…
“It wasn’t a stretch for Cody to start promoting. Dusty was running Florida Championship Wrestling back in the day. I think Cody’s got it in his genes.”
Duggan’s early career was before the rise of WCW so WWE was really the only option for national exposure. That has changed quite dramatically and Duggan talked about another opportunity for wrestlers with AEW.
“Anytime there’s another place to work, that’s great for the talent,” stated Duggan. “If you have no negotiation skill, there’s no place to go and there’s only one place in town, then you’ve got to play that game.”
Duggan said when he was with WWE there weren’t contracts and people just got paid for when they worked. WCW changed that and started offering guaranteed contracts which led to many leaving WWE for WCW.
“It was like rats leaving a sinking ship,” Duggan said of leaving WWE for WCW. “Hogan left, I left, Macho left and Nash ended up leaving. Everyone went down [to WCW]. It was my second or third week down there that I beat Stunning Steve Austin so bad that he had to shave his head and change his name. HOOOOO!!!!!”
Vince McMahon took many underused WCW talents like Austin and rebuilt them into something far greater than they ever were in WCW.
“That shows what a master Vince is because he took the rejects from [WCW], brought them up to WWE and re-packaged them,” said Duggan.
As you would expect, wrestling has changed a whole lot in the past 40 years since Duggan came up. He says the focus now is on the big spots in a match and a match from yesteryear would feel out of place in today’s wrestling environment.
“It’s changed a whole bunch. Back in the territory days where you were doing high school gyms, you could work the headlock for 20 minutes. Now they’ll run you out of the building if you’re in a headlock for five seconds,” said Duggan. “The kids now tend to be more high flyers than brawlers. They are also more professional and probably more athletic. But I think my generation of guys were more original. Ric Flair is Ric Flair. Bret Hart is Bret Hart ? he’s not a conglomeration of a bunch of different characters.”
Duggan then talked about how recently at WWE he was given a script by a writer and he doesn’t think that’s the best way to help talent get over.
“I have a whole new respect for guys who deliver lines. For me that was very hard to act natural? Just let me go out there and be Hacksaw,” stated Duggan.
Duggan was asked if he would have succeeded if he came up in today’s generation and his answer might surprise you.
“No and I don’t think a lot of guys would,” admitted Duggan. “Our generation was more character-driven…The pendulum has swung the other way and if you’re not on the top rope doing a double flip, then it’s not wrestling.”
The full interview with Duggan was included in a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast, which you can listen to below. You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.