“HOOOOOO!, Hey folks,” as Hacksaw Jim Duggan would say, “Listen up!” In this, the second part of a question and answer session made up of questions from SLAM! Wrestling readers, the legendary Duggan shares insight on the origins of the “Hacksaw” name and persona, friends and foes in the business, wrestling as a heel — and much more.
Q: Growing up, did you go to live wrestling events in your area? Who were your favourites? [Dave Drason Burzynski, Detroit, MI]
A: Not too often. I’d watch wrestling a little bit and I liked Moose Cholak. I grew up in the North East up in upstate New York and I liked “The Moose,” but I wasn’t an avid fan of wrestling, you could say.
Q: I would like Mr. Duggan to tell us about his early career and where he is originally from? [John B. Burch Jr.]
A: I’m originally from Glens Falls, NY, which is about 200 miles south of Montreal. I went to college in Texas at Southern Methodist and started wrestling there. I went from there to wrestling for Fritz (Von Erich) to working for the WWWF for Vince McMahon Sr. Then to Hawaii where I worked for (Peter) Maivia to Georgia Championship Wrestling to Pensacola working for the Fullers. Then off I went to San Antonio to work for Joe Blanchard, and it was after that I got my big break in Mid-South. I went there as Hacksaw with my 2×4 and flag which I developed in San Antonio, and then I went from Mid-South to WWE.
Q: As a fellow SMU (Southern Methodist University) alumni and fan of World Class Championship Wrestling, I know Fritz Von Erich played a role in getting your career going early on. What was is like to work with the Von Erichs at that time? [Rob Adler, Charlotte, NC]
A: I owe my whole career to Fritz Von Erich. I had played college ball at Southern Methodist, then met Fritz on a recruiting trip when I was a freshman. Then years later I gave him a call and went down to the Sportatorium. He liked my look — even though I had short hair and was clean shaven — and he showed me how to hit the ropes. And yeah, I hit the ropes with all the Von Erich boys — I never had any problem with them.
Q: How did the term “Hacksaw” come about since Butch Reed was using the moniker as well in the central states? [Rob Adler, Charlotte, NC]
A: I started off as Big Jim Duggan — I had short hair and black and red trunks. I wore a mask for a while (as The Convict), then went as “Wildman” Duggan where I wore fur sometimes. Some of the fans get me to sign those pictures. You don’t see too many of the Big Jim or Convict pictures though. But sometimes I see “Wildman” Duggan pictures. When I went to work with (Bruiser) Brody in a main event in the San Antonio territory — which at that time encompassed Houston with Paul Boesch — I had developed the name “Hacksaw,” which is from my football days. I was pretty wild in college and I would always break the wedge, hacksaw my way through the wedge, hence “Hacksaw.” I tried the name “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and it worked for me. I didn’t really impersonate Brody, but I took a lot of Brody’s mannerisms and I felt comfortable with using them. I tell the young kids in the business today that everybody’s gonna show you stuff. Take something from everybody and work with what works best for you.
Q: I know that Hacksaw Jim Duggan started bringing the 2×4 to the ring on the advice of Bruiser Brody, and that he was also part of the same inner circle as Brody for some time before Brody’s death in 1988. I’m curious if Hacksaw, who has worked for so many independent promotions over the years, has ever worked in Puerto Rico for Carlos Colon since Brody’s death? [Mindy James, Parkersburg, WV]
A: I’ve never been to Puerto Rico since Brody was stabbed to death. I traveled with Brody a lot. And yeah, on the advice of Brody is how I started my “Hacksaw” persona. Brody was a super talent and probably one of the best big men in our business.
Q: Which wrestler got the hardest shot from your 2×4, and is there anyone you wish you had the opportunity to hit with it? [Neil Kordalchuk, St. Andrews, MB]
A: Jeez… I don’t know. I’ve hit a lot of people hard with it over the years, you know. If you’re going to carry something like a 2×4, when you roll into the ring with it and somebody’s there, you expect them to get the devil out of there. But if they stay, you go ahead and whack ’em and that way, they’ll remember to get out of there the next time. As for if there’s anybody I wish I had hit with the 2×4? Hmmm… I think I got just about everybody (Duggan laughs).
Q: You worked for Peter Maivia early on. Do you have any Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stories for us when he was a wee lad? [Rob Adler, Charlotte, NC]
A: No, I sure don’t. But a lot of times people ask me who I missed out on wrestling and The Rock is the one guy in the business who I never had the opportunity to be in the ring with. But pretty much everybody else I ever wanted to wrestle, I did.
Q: You had some classic matches with Buzz Sawyer, including a dog-collar chain match that is one of my all-time favourites. What was it like to work with “The Mad Dog,” who was one of the most underrated wrestlers in the ’80s? [Rob Adler, Charlotte, NC]
A: Buzz Sawyer and I, you could say, weren’t really good friends. We kind of had our problems (Duggan laughs). Buzz and I we had a few things go down in the dressing room over the years, so yeah, when Buzz and I loaded it up in the ring it was pretty live, and a lot of folks remember those matches because of how snug we wrestled. Buzz, I really didn’t like the guy, but I have to say I kind of respected him.
Q: One Man Gang defeated you in a loser-leave-town match right before you started appearing in the WWF, but you got revenge by eliminating him and winning the first ever Royal Rumble. What was it like working with him as he was so much bigger, not to mention he could move fairly well for a man of such size? [Rob Adler, Charlotte, NC]
A: Gang was an opposing giant of a man, to say the least, and a great brawler. Actually, he gave me my worst injury I ever received in the ring in Houston, Texas. He rammed my head into a ring post and there was a bolt where the old rings’ ropes were connected. So he cracked my skull and I was in the hospital for about a week. Gang, I still see him once in a while at appearances and reunions, and it’s always great to see him. He came to my wedding 20 years ago. His wife and my wife are friends even though he lives in Louisiana and I just moved to South Carolina from Florida, to be here by my wife’s family.
Q: Why were you passed over to be the first UWF champ? Duggan has never won a title in WWE despite being very successful in the ’80s. Has he any regrets about that? [Scott Brown/Krishincha]
A: No, not really. I never gave much credit to championships belts. I’ve known guys in my career who would rather be champion than make money, and I just never really understood that. The belts have never really been my deal, you know. Hacksaw Jim Duggan, I may not win the match, but I win the fight. So that’s why I was never a heavy belt guy throughout my career.
Q: Does Hacksaw have the WCW TV title still to this day? [Anthony Maurizio]
A: No, no I don’t.
Q: How much of the fight between Hacksaw and Harley Race was planned at the Slammy Awards [Frank Salemi, Toronto, ON}
A: Harley and I, we just went for it. It was a lot of fun, the battle Harley and I had as we went to the ladies room, though a bunch of donkeys and chickens — we fought everywhere (Duggan laughs). We ended up where I was hittin’ him with a giant tuna fish and I was using the tail like a 2×4. It was great, ’cause the Slammys were the Academy Awards of wrestling, obviously, and that battle was definitely something I’ll always remember.
Q: Having grown up watching Mid-South, which was my introduction to pro wrestling, I remember fondly the feud between yourself and Ted DiBiase. They were classics — tuxedo matches, coal miner’s glove matches! When I transitioned to watching WWF television, I would see the same Ted DiBiase now as “The Million Dollar Man.” My question is, was it strange to see wrestlers like DiBiase go from Mid-South-type promotions to the WWF, and change their characters so much? [Brett Lafayette, LA]
A: No, not really. I mean, in the dressing room it was the same ol’ Ted. And in the ring, he was still a very smooth wrestler in the WWE. I probably wrestled Ted more than I wrestled anybody — 1,000 times over the years. It was a unique group of guys, coming in from the territories to the WWF in the ’80s, and we all had a special relationship.
Q: What was it like to work with “Stunning” Steve Austin in the U.S. title program in WCW? You hold the quickest pinfall ever on Steve Austin. I believe you beat him in 35 seconds at Fall Brawl in ’94 in your debut. Did you ever envision he would go on to become the mega star known as “Stone Cold”? [Mike/Rob Adler/Adam Hewlett, United Kingdom]
A: You know, a lot of times Steve and I didn’t see eye to eye, so I always say that, “I beat Stunning Steve Austin so bad he had to shave his head and change his name (Duggan laughs).” But yeah, of course you’d see guys like Austin, Triple H, and even Sable, and you could tell they had a hell of a career in front of them. There are guys you can look at today and know immediately — guys like Dolph Ziggler — that they got a future in this business.
Q: How did Hacksaw feel about the heel Goldberg punching him until he coughed up blood? [Anthony Maurizio]
A: It was great to be in the ring with him and have a match like that — a lot of people remember it. At first, Goldberg had a big opportunity to be a big star in this business, but then he went off in another direction. But I like Bill. He had a lot of heat with a lot of guys but I always got along with him.
Q: Was Hacksaw ever offered a role in the New World Order, being an ex-WWF talent? [Anthony Maurizio]
A: No, I don’t think my character lent himself to the NWO.
Q: Would Hacksaw ever go to TNA and work under Vince Russo? [Anthony Maurizio]
A: (Duggan laughs) There’s a far outside chance of that happening, either way — I would say.
Q: Lastly, most people may not realize that Hacksaw was a heel at the start of his career, facing then-babyfaces like Gino Hernandez. What was it like to be heel since most fans know you as a face, and which did you prefer being? [Rob Adler/Dave Phlegmball]
A: I didn’t enjoy being a heel, it just wasn’t in my heart. I’ve always considered myself as a people person, and that’s why I enjoy the indies so much — it’s a chance to get out and meet the fans. I’ve been pretty much a babyface for my whole career. As you said, I had a few stints as a heel early on, and the time Eric Bischoff was trying to push me out of my contract in WCW with that Team Canada deal. But I think my relationship with my fans, they recognize I’m a good guy, especially most Canadian fans can relate to my character as they too are very passionate, patriotic and proud people. I’m very proud of my country and I carry my flag all over the world. I think the best gimmicks are the ones that are a part of you, and I still really enjoy being Hacksaw Jim Duggan.