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Wrestling / Bob Holly

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How do you like him now?

"If [Crash Holly defended the Hardcore Championship] 24/7, I'm gonna do it 48/14, and how I about I start with you? How about, I could start with you, right here, right now? It doesn't matter to me, Michael Cole, 'cause I will break your ass in half, you little shithead!"
WrestleMania 2000 post-match interview

Bob "Hardcore" Holly (born Robert William Howard on January 29, 1963) is an American professional wrestler, whose tenure with WWE lasted from 1991 to 2008. Initially, Holly portrayed happy-go-lucky NASCAR racer turned wrestler Thurman "Sparky" Plugg, which failed to garner much success. During the second half of the decade, Holly became a member of the tongue-in-cheek The J.O.B. Squad; the stable disbanded after Holly's win over Al Snow in one of the inaugural matches of the newly-created WWF Hardcore Championship, setting the tone for the hardcore wrestling division of WWF's Attitude Era.

Having thus earned his moniker of "Hardcore", Holly would capture the Hardcore Championship five more times, becoming one of the relatively few holders of that to boast respectable, lengthy title reigns. Holly would later form a minor stable together with (kayfabe) cousins Crash and Molly Holly. After the stable's dissolution, Holly would spend the remainder of his WWE career in and out of action with various injuries; notably, he was in a main event feud with then-WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, had a well-remembered Extreme Rules Match with Rob Van Dam in WWE's revived ECW, and won the WWE World Tag Team Championship with Cody Rhodes on the 15th anniversary episode of WWE Raw.

"How do you like my tropes now?":

  • '80s Hair: As Thurman "Sparky" Plugg, mullet and all, though his hair line was starting to recede.
  • Aerith and Bob: The Holly Cousins were Molly, Bob... and Crash.
  • Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
    • This was Bob's relationship with his cousin, Crash. It lead to them fighting and working together as a tag team in an effort to prove who the superior Holly was.
    • While Spanky had mostly positive things to say about Bob Holly, he did not think he and Paul London were working out enough. But Spanky found out, while trying placate him, that any action regarding the gym that could be perceived as competitive brought a problem all its own, so he always made sure that his workout was less than Bob's.
  • Arch-Enemy: In kayfabe, Lesnar is the closest thing to be found. Before Lesnar, Holly also had a long-running rivalry with Steve Blackman over which of them ruled the hardcore division. In real life, he has threatened Mr. Kennedy on his life.
  • Atrocious Alias: Would you take a guy named Thurman "Sparky" Plugg seriously? Hell, even Holly himself hated it.
  • Bash Brothers: In some alternate universe, where this trope is named "Combat Cousins", the Holly Cousins would be the page picture.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The basis of the Hardcore Holly character was that he had a chip on his shoulder a mile wide from what he considered his Butt-Monkey treatment with bad gimmicks, weak partners, and being part of the J.O.B. Squad. Determined to show how tough he really was, he changed his nickname to "Hardcore" and entered the division of the same name.
  • Biography: Has written a 2013 biography, The Hardcore Truth, together with Ross Williams.
  • Blood Knight: Above all, Holly loves to fight. He can dish it out, and he can take it. By all accounts, this also applies to his real life self.
  • The Bully: Apparently, he has a reputation for being this backstage. But many wrestlers, like Maven, Spike Dudley, Al Snow, Billy Gunn, Jackie Gayda and Charlie Haas all speak highly of him.
    • Bob was like this in Kayfabe too. Aside from his threatening Michael Cole in the page quote above, he also threatened to beat up Kevin Kelly when Bob invited himself to do ringside commentary during a hardcore match between Al Snow and Billy Gunn.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Holly liked to make matches Hell for rookie wrestlers. This bit him in the ass when he tried his bullying routine on a young Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, who note was a then in his prime 300 pound ex-college wrestling champion, not only just shook off Holly's numerous stiff strikes, he proved just how strong he was when Holly tried sandbagging him on a powerbomb. Lesnar easily picked him up anyway, and the resulting injury put Holly out for a year.
  • Catchphrase: "I'm the Big Shot," though it didn't really catch on... alternatively, "nut up or shut up" was also bandied about at the time. He also asked "how do you like me now?" to people who mocked him for his Sparky Plugg gimmick, often as he was beating the hell out of them.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: To some degree. After being turned face due to favorable crowd reactions after the aforementioned table match, he turned on RVD from out of nowhere in a tag match, with absolutely no buildup.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Besides simply bashing his opponents with weapons during his hardcore matches, Bob could also find creative ways to use them. He won the Hardcore title from Al Snow at St. Valentine's Day Massacre 1999 by pinning Al under a roll of snow fence to keep Al from kicking out.
  • Continuity Nod: Before his now infamous match with Matt Cappotelli in OVW, Jim Cornette made sure to note his cousin was also going to be on the show, Molly Holly was taking on Jillian Hall.
    • During his feud with Al Snow in 1999, Bob took Al's mannequin Head "hostage" to force Al to give him a Hardcore title shot. Al retaliated by coming out for their match in a pedal race car to taunt Bob about his Sparky Plugg persona. Needless to say, Bob didn't appreciate it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Hardcore Holly and Crash were convinced they were super heavyweights who came in and well over 400 pounds each on the scales. Now Bob was not exactly a small man but in reality, their combined weight didn't top 400 until Molly joined them.
  • Cool Car: His NASCAR racing car from the Sparky Plugg days.
  • A Day in the Limelight: His 2003/2004 main event feud with Brock Lesnar was his biggest ever push.
  • Determinator:
    • Sustained severe injuries in several matches, and finished them. Possibly the most notable such occurrence would be his table match against Rob Van Dam in WWE's revived version of ECW in 2006, in which he sustained a huge gash on his back after a botched table landing. This is often described as one of the few moments of the "new" ECW that lived up to that promotion's legacy.
    • Broke his arm during a match with Kurt Angle and finished the match, because as he said "The pain can't get much worse so I might as well finish".
    • On another level, thought the veracity of said claim is easily disputed since it was that reported it, at various points during injury recovery, Holly is said to have refused taking painkillers.
    • A notable in-character, non-injury-related moment would be his resisting CM Punk's (formerly) insta-kill Anaconda Vice and handing Punk his first ever WWE loss.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Even though Holly was mostly known for being a lower/mid-card guy his whole career, he has gotten a few notable victories against top guys who were main eventers at some point and either former world champions or future world champions, most notably Psycho Sid, Kane, Big Show, Rob Van Dam, and CM Punk.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: His role in the second season of WWE Tough Enough.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: His and Cody Rhodes's "feud" with Ted Dibiase Jr ended very anticlimactically, even more so that his title shot against Lesnar. And even then, Holly at least got to come back for another go, Rhodes betrayed him by somehow getting booked as his own opponent in a glorified handicap match to win the Tag Team title from himself and got off without any attempted retaliation from Holly in what would be his final WWE appearance.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Holly was initially a fairly slim wrestler with a much more agility reliant style before he bulked up in the WWF. Even then, there are few to no common characteristics shared between Plugg and Hardcore.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite his reputation for being rough on rookies, even Holly found Bill Demott's methods to be excessive and unnecessary
  • Expy: In SMW he was made into Bobby Eaton with an additional celebrity hanger on gimmick.
  • Finishing Move:
    • As Hardcore, he used the Alabama Slam (double leg slam), and for a time, the Hollycaust/Falcon Arrow (sitout suplex slam). Of course, in his heyday, the finishing move would more likely be innovative usage of foreign objects.
    • "Sparky" Plugg had the Pitstop Plunge, a diving knee drop from the top rope.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Defied with a vengeance! Aside from the aforementioned Determinator moment, he has survived at least one illness (a staph infection) that could have killed him.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: He tapped out to Kurt Angle's anklelock on Velocity even though a little more effort to stretch his arm would have put it under the bottom rope and forced a break or DQ. It was as jarring as it sounds for this to happen to Hardcore Holly.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Delivered a slap to Cody Rhodes during their feud, to "bring out the fire" in the rookie.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Notably, he had one of his few periods of clear-cut character alignment after the aforementioned ECW injury due to having earned fans' adoration and respect... this instantly killed his push.
  • He's Back!: His 2003 return from a neck injury, during which he ran roughshod over several superstars, Stone Cold-style, notably choking out The Big Show with a chair.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Billy Gunn, at various points. Hilarious, considering Gunn's one-time gimmick.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: On the independent circuit he found a soft spot for the up and comer Nicole Savoy.
  • Invincible Hero: His feud with Brock Lesnar, what with running roughshod over a sizable portion of the SmackDown! roster, choking out The Big Show with a chair, and putting fear into Lesnar himself.
  • Jobber: Worked as an "underneath guy" for a majority of his career, but The J.O.B. Squad was the most obvious case.
  • Kangaroo Court: Was part of the infamous "Wrestlers' Court" described on the page.
  • Garbage Wrestler: They don't call him "Hardcore" for nothin'.
  • Groin Attack: The move, whose name varies intensely, wherein he hangs an opponent on the ropes and delivers a kick to their "groin" (really their midsection, but in theory his thigh also hits the crotch).
  • Knight Templar: His dedication to the business and old school values can be likened to this for the outsider.
  • Iconic Item: The huge weight/scale, shared between the Holly Cousins.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Oh boy. He won his WrestleMania 2000 match by busting open Crash's skull with a cookie jar (though this is reputed to be a botched ending to the match), and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • It's Personal: His 2003/2004 feud with Lesnar over the latter having broken his neck. Fans for years claimed that this was because Holly "sandbagged" the move, and Holly finally set the record straight in a 2013 interview with the Wrestling Inc. website.
    It was supposed to be a deal where he looks like he's going to powerbomb me but I land on my feet, he charges me, I duck underneath his clothesline, he comes back, I give him a dropkick. That was the move. Like I tell, because everybody asks me that same question, it's like okay. People have got to use their head here. If you really stop and think, which these people, they get on the Internet and type all the bullshit and everything else, they don't think past the end of their nose. If you take a guy like Brock Lesnar, and you take a guy like me, if Brock Lesnar can take Big Show and belly to belly him halfway across the ring, you've got to ask yourself, could I stop Brock Lesnar from giving me a powerbomb? Can I really sandbag that move to where he couldn't do it? When people stop and think about it, it's like well, yeah. That does make sense. If he can pick a 500 pound guy up and throw him over his head, here I'm 228 pounds, you really think I could stop Brock from doing anything to me? I'm serious. *laughs*
  • Made of Iron: The Determinator entry on this page gives several specific examples, but a more general example of Bob's toughness is the punishment he took in his hardcore matches.
  • My Cousin Is Off Limits: Bob did not take kindly to Molly Holly dating Spike Dudley, outright telling her she didn't know what she wanted when she protested that she liked Spike. Spike's brothers didn't appreciate his dating Molly either, leading to an Affectionate Parody of Romeo and Juliet and a nasty case of Feuding Families between the Dudleys and Hollys.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: To Daniel Puder in OVW. To say nothing of what he did to Puder during the 2005 Royal Rumble, alongside Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit.
  • Odd Couple: Grizzled veteran Holly and young, idealistic rookie Cody Rhodes. Referred to as such by commentary more than once.
  • Power Stable:
  • Real Men Wear Pink: His wrestling attire, as "Sparky" Plugg and Hardcore alike, often bore... unlikely color combinations.

  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Back in 2000, he was in an off-screen relationship with the EMT Diva B.B. (real name Cathy Dingman) while he was in the process of divorcing his wife at the time. WWE canned Dingman for this, with The Dudley Boys putting her through a table to send her out of WWE.note 
    • His feud with Lesnar. After all, he legitimately broke his neck.

  • Red Baron: "Hardcore". Also, "Hollywood" in Memphis and "The Big Shot". "Superstar" during his days in Alabama. "Bombastic" as part of the New Midnight Express.
  • Revenge: The motivation for his feud with Brock Lesnar.
  • The Rival: With Steve Blackman over which of them was the tougher Hardcore Champion.
  • The Runner-Up Takes It All: In 1994, Pro Wrestling Illustrated named ECW's 911 "Rookie of the Year," with Holly coming in second, ahead of Abbudah Singh (Balls Mahoney) and Mikey Whipwreck. While Mikey is the only one of those four to ever be a World Heavyweight Champion, Holly is easily the most famous out of all of them.
  • Signature Move: The Pitstop plunge knee drop. He made use of an unorthodox flying body attack before switching it out for a diving clothesline on Velocity. He is also known for having one of the best dropkicks in the business.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: "The Big Shot".
  • Sweet Home Alabama: He's from Mobile.
  • Tag Team: Part of four title-winning teams with 1-2-3 Kid, Bart Gunn (as The New Midnight Express), Crash Holly (as The Holly Cousins), and Cody Rhodes.
  • Unrelated Brothers: Unrelated cousin of the late Crash Holly (and later, Molly Holly), with whom he even held the Tag Team Championship. Humorously, at one point the team's gimmick was to introduce themselves as "super-heavyweights" despite obviously not being so.
  • Visual Pun: His hardcore match with Raven on the November 30, 2000 episode of Smackdown spilled into the Minneapolis streets. Holly "stopped" the match by knocking Raven senseless with a Stop sign before pinning him.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: To try and sandbag Brock Lesnar, as Holly himself cites above in It's Personal as a reason he supposedly didn't do it.
  • Wild Card: One of WWE's definitive examples of a tweener in recent history, who retained this characterization long after the Attitude Era, the heyday of tweener alignments, ended.
  • Wrestling Doesn't Pay: A wrestling race car driver as Thurman "Sparky" Plugg.

Alternative Title(s): Hardcore Holly