Ring Rust Radio had former WWE Hall of Famer Hacksaw Jim Duggan on the show this week, and it was a great episode with plenty of exclusive content.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan Interview Transcript:
Donald Wood: The biggest news in recent months was the announcement that you would be working with Global Force Wrestling. What do you feel GFW has to offer the wrestling industry and what role will you be playing in the growth of the brand?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: I think GFW is offering an alternative to the product that’s on TV today. I think a lot of folks are tired of the show that’s on and want something different. I think GFW is going to do that as a family friendly organization, no obscene gestures, no profanity, the kind of show wrestling used to be. One that you can bring kids to and have a good time. My role is flexible at this time, but I am sure they will have me do all sorts of things. I’m excited to hook up with Jeff and be part of GFW.
Brandon Galvin: Your association with GFW is huge for a growing company, but is there something new or different that you would like to see GFW do to separate it from WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor and the other top promotions?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: I think that will be something different and people are hungry for a PG type of program. Everybody is tired of pushing the envelope, the graphic violence; I think people want a traditional style show. The type of show my generation of guys did: Myself, Jake the Snake, Junkyard Dog, Macho Man Savage. People are hungry for that again and GFW is going to give them that.
Mike Chiari: You’re synonymous not only with being one of the biggest supporters of the United States in the history of wrestling, but also your signature 2×4. How did the idea to start carrying the 2×4 first come about, and what was the significance of it when you decided to make it such a huge part of your character?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: It started in my early days when I was Big Jim Duggan when I had the short hair and clean shaven. I broke in Texas with Fritz Von Erich down in Dallas. That’s also where I played football for Southern Methodist. I went from Big Jim to the Convict, that’s when I wore a mask working in Hawaii for the great Peter Maivia the High Chief. I came back to the States and I still didn’t know what I was doing. I went from Georgia Championship Wrestling to the Pensacola Territory where I was Wildman Dugan. I had a fur with chains on it and grew my beard real bushy but that gimmick didn’t work for me either. I then had the opportunity to go to Southwest Championship Wrestling with Joe Blanchard, Tully Blanchard’s dad. I worked with Bruiser Brody and Buck Robley who I had met while at Georgia Championship Wrestling. That’s where I evolved into Hacksaw. I was a heel down in Texas and it was a rough atmosphere before it was sport entertainment kind of stuff. They had a waiver where if you wanted to try us, sign it and step in the ring with us and we will show if its real or not you type deal. So getting to and from the ring was a challenge. You would get spit on by people, kicked by people, even punched by people. I was sitting in the dressing room covered in loogies and bruises from the fans and Brody came in and told me to carry something to the ring that I could actually use instead of those sequenced feathers and boas. So I looked and said well here’s a piece of wood; then I came out yelling with that 2×4 and it was like parting the red sea man, people scattered. I went back and forth to the ring with no problem and I have carried it ever since. It turned out to be a great gimmick for me.
Donald Wood: Many younger fans were not able to see you in the prime of your career, but they were able to see you as one of the stars in WWE’s Legend’s House. As a huge fan of the show, what was the experience like for you and how much recognition have you received due to your appearances on the show?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: I think Legends House gave Piper, Hillbilly Jim, Jimmy Hart, myself, the whole household just being on TV again brings ya back into people’s minds. Of course, the whole network helped bring back the first Royal Rumble and programs from different libraries of different territories, the longer your off TV the more steam you lose. Being part of Legends House is great because not only did I have a great time, brought my back into people’s minds, get my name going again, but I also met one of my best friends in life. It was a good time for me.
Mike Chiari: You’re a huge part of wrestling history for many reasons, but one of the biggest is the fact that you won the very first Royal Rumble in 1988. When you were first told about the match and what it entailed, what were your initial impressions? And also, are you at all surprised by how big of a phenomenon it’s become over the years?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: I think everyone is surprised by the success of not just the Rumble, but wrestling in general. I don’t think anybody back in the day could see it becoming the world wide phenomena it is today. I’ve been doing a lot of charity golf outings with NFL guys and MLB guys and I always ask them, “World Champions? Where in the world have you guys been?” I wrestled in every state of the Union, every providence in Canada, and 30 different countries. It’s an amazing appeal wrestling has. So I had no idea back then where the business or even the Royal Rumble would go from there. Looking back at it, it is one of the biggest feathers in my cap. That Royal Rumble I will always remember and it was instrumental in my career.
Brandon Galvin: We’re big fans of legends being used in today’s product. What do you feel is the best way a company can use legends of the business?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: I think there is a lot of different ways. Associations are always good with young guys coming in and you want to associate them with Legends to help out. I think what happens a lot, like they did with me in WWE, is later in my life I signed a Legends contract and came back and wrestled DiBiase’s kid, Orton’s kid, heck even Dusty’s kid. I beat up the old man then I beat up the kid! It was just exciting to be able to come back like that and realize how big the business really is.
Donald Wood: We recently talked to former WCW star Vampiro about his time in WCW and he claimed it was one of the worst periods of his life. As someone who spent years with the company, what are your fondest memories of WCW and what was it like being there as the company was going under?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: I really enjoyed coming in with WCW because it really revolutionized the business. Ted Turner started giving guys contracts and that was a motivating factor for myself and also other guys to leave the WWF at that time. Most of us didn’t have contracts and it was just if you worked you got paid, and if you didn’t work you didn’t get paid. Turner offered no cut contracts so a lot of us went down there. At the beginning, it was a great time. We took a show that was being shot at Center Stage with maybe 30 or 40 people in the arena up to the Monday Night Wars. I had a lot of fun in the beginning but towards the end I had some problems with Vince Russo. First of all, they were trying to push me out of my contract. So they started giving me gimmicks like being the janitor of WCW, telling me I had to wear a janitor’s suit. I would just tell them, “yea that’s cool”. So they tried harder saying, “Well you are going to have to clean Vince Russo’s toilet with a toothbrush for a vignette”. I told them, “even better!”. When it came time to clean the toilet, I poured a diet Coke in the toilet and instead of standing back, scrubbing the toilet with a toothbrush half-heartedly, I dove in there, got my hair wet, head in the toilet, and I was screaming, “I’m cleaning the toilet tough guy, hooooo!”. It made the spot work and it got over. They weren’t really happy with that so they flew my back up to Atlanta for another meeting. That’s where Vince Russo told me they were going to turn me against America. I had been carrying the American flag for 30 plus years now, ever since I was in the DiBiase and Matt Bourne in Louisiana I have been carrying it ever since. I asked them what they were going to do, and they said, “You are going to be a part of Team Canada”. Not a whole lot of heat there with people from Canada ya know? They teamed me up with Lance Storm, Major Guns, and Hugh Morris. Lance was a great technical wrestler but not the most colorful guy in the world. He would be standing in the ring saying “Can I please have everyone’s’ attention” and I am behind him being Hacksaw, stomping, running around, and screaming the whole deal. They would tell me that I would have to turn my stuff down to push the young guy ya know? So I would tell them, “turn my stuff down? Tell him to turn his up, this is the big leagues”.
Mike Chiari: One of the biggest running jokes when it comes to WCW is that pretty much everyone and their mother joined the nWo at some point in time, but you were one of the few who didn’t. Firstly, why did you decide against ever joining the group, and also, do you feel like the nWo getting too big and powerful may have been a contributing factor in WCW’s demise?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: I think art imitated life there, with the kliq and finger kiss and all that kind of stuff. That’s not for Hacksaw Jim Duggan. I’m not going to hook up with Scott Hall, Diesel, do finger kisses to the ring, and be part of that whole kliq. That just wasn’t my character or personality. That’s why I think it may have hurt me back then but I have been Hacksaw and doing that for so many years. I also agree with you that they involved way too many guys into the NWO. They had a unique club with the Hulkster turning heel, but they rode a good horse to death and killed it.
Brandon Galvin: Is there a match or performance from your time with WWE that you’re most proud of?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: The thing that sticks out most in my mind was growing up in a small town in upstate New York. As a kid my Dad would take me down to the NIT Basketball tournament at the Garden. To wrestle a main event in Madison Square Garden was it. I pulled up to see my name on the marquee “Hacksaw Jim Duggan Vs Andre the Giant” as the main event. That was a double whammy. Not only was I main eventing at the garden but it was with Andre. That was a highlight of my career. I was never a world champ, tag team champ, intercontinental champ, never a big spot at WrestleMania, or anything like that. But main eventing a match at the Garden with Andre is the highlight of my career.