Slater’s Signature Finisher: Oh, You Don’t Know Hacksaw?

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I spotted Hacksaw: The Jim Duggan Story at Barnes & Noble the other day and had to get it. With his trademark beard, long hair, blue trunks, two-by-four, and loud “Ho-oh” chant (which is how he spells it in the book), Hacksaw was a fun character that I enjoyed as child. At 236 pages, it was an easy read that I got through in two days.

Co-written by Scott E. Williams, who has co-authored several recent wrestling biographies, Hacksaw’s book does not pay meticulous attention to detail or specific dates. Instead, it is more of an off-the-top-of-his-head approach to telling his life story. It works for Hacksaw’s book. It gets through the major aspects of his life – childhood, professional football, Mid-South, WWF, WCW, WWE – with an easy flow and plenty of funny anecdotes thrown in.

The biggest part of the book concerns one of the worst scandals of the late-80s WWE, and one of Jim Duggan’s lowest moments, his arrest for marijuana possession. What made the incident particularly scandalous at the time was that he was traveling with the Iron Sheik, the Iranian bad guy he was feuding with. What Duggan said hurt the worst was that his father was a police officer.

As Duggan writes, “Maybe I should have had reservations about being seen giving a ride to someone I was feuding with so heavily, but the kayfabe mentality that the old schoolers had was dying out, and the sense of it was not as strong in the WWF as it had been with Bill Watts’ Mid-South territory. To be honest, as a newcomer, I was actually kind of excited that the Iron Sheik wanted to ride with me.”

Duggan says that one of the biggest mistakes he made was thinking that this arrest would blow over without any major issue. In fact, he didn’t even call the WWE office after it had happened. He recounts when he finally did call WWE boss Vince McMahon – “Usually, calling Vince at his office meant sitting on hold for five minutes, listening to that awful Muzak that companies pipe over their phone lines while you wait. However, when I called his office that morning and told the receptionist, ‘Hi, it’s Jim Duggan for Vince McMahon,’ it was almost instantaneous, like click-click, ‘Jim?’ And, I will remember verbatim what he said next until the day I die: ‘Jim, what have you done to us?’”

While that road story did not end well, he tells several funny stories about his travels as a WWE superstar. Fun times were had with names such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts (who Duggan says he was close to until Jake’s crack addiction drove a wedge between them), Andre the Giant, and the Nasty Boys to name a few.

In Ric Flair’s autobiography, he writes about one of his problems with Hulk Hogan’s entry into World Championship Wrestling being that he brought in a “clique” of wrestlers with him. Duggan pulls no punches in admitting that Hulk Hogan brought him into WCW and that there was resentment from what he dubbed “Ric Flair’s Group.”

One of Duggan’s biggest moments in WCW came in 1994 when he defeated “Stunning” Steve Austin (before he was “Stone Cold”) for the US Championship. The match was notable for being a 35-second fluke, with Duggan hitting a surprised Austin and quickly pinning him. Duggan writes about the match: “We were supposed to go about 10 minutes but we ended up only going 35 seconds. I gave Austin a backdrop and we just went right to the finish. The truth is he just didn’t want to do the job and pass the belt to me. He was pissed off because he was part of the Flair group and I was part of the Hogan group.”

One of the more interesting stories involves Duggan being present for Juventud Guerrera’s infamous ecstasy freakout during a WCW tour of Australia, which saw Guerrera running naked around a hotel lobby before being subdued by several police officers.

In the mid 2000s, Duggan eventually found his way back to WWE in the role of a legend, brought in for the occasional nostalgia pop and to get heat on a bad guy for beating up the legend. He talks positively about wrestling Edge. He also tells a funny story about watching Vince McMahon try to send a text.

Duggan has earned the respect of his peers, as was shown during his brief cameo in the 2009 Royal Rumble: “I used to jump in the ring, but these days, I roll in, so I rolled in and got to my feet to find myself face to face with The Undertaker. Boom! I hit him. Boom! I hit him. Boom! I hit him. Undertaker said, ‘Give me the big one, Hack!’ I wound up and hit him, and he went down like he’d been shot! Everyone else in the match looked my way… and then Kane came over. Boom! He went down. HHH came over. Boom! He went down. Every single one of those guys fed me and it really meant a lot to me that these big stars would give an old-timer like me a chance to shine.”

The book ends with Hacksaw’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, an honor which truly means something important to Duggan. “Still, I don’t care what anybody says, it’s a very big deal, and I think anyone who’s been a part of it will say so, if they’re being honest,” Duggan writes. “Guys who say it doesn’t matter are either lying to you or they’re lying to themselves.”

Duggan tells several more interesting tales, including his thoughts on Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s turbulent backstage antics in WCW, the time he almost got into a fight with actor Mickey Rourke, and Vince Russo’s attempts to make him quit WCW. He was also backstage at the WWE Raw show that was canceled the day Chris Benoit’s body was found. Duggan sheds some light on what was to happen that night on the show.

Being a large man with long hair and a burly beard makes Duggan stand out, but he said his outrageous look has never bothered him, except for two occasions in his life where he felt self-conscious. Both are heartbreaking to read and they really humanize the cartoon-character image of Duggan.

Hacksaw: The Jim Duggan Story is a fun, easy read. Duggan’s book is required reading for a hardcore fan of wrestling, and something that even casual fans can get into and enjoy.

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