Many fans of the WWE (or the WWF as it was known then) will have vivid memories of seeing Hardcore Holly win the Intercontinental Championship. He was a midcard star in the promotion for decades and considered one of the toughest men in the locker room, something clearly revered by Vince McMahon during his reign as Chairman.
Known as Bob Holly, Hardcore Holly or even Sparky Plugg, whatever name he went by he was always considered a key part of the promotion. He had a number of successful championship pursuits during his time with the company, which lasted from 1994 to 1999. He is a former Tag Team Champion and help the Hardcore Championship on multiple occasions during the Attitude Era.
However, many fans seem to remember Hardcore Holly winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship during the 1990s. However, if you go through the annuls of history and look at the history of the title reigns there is no mention of the title win and no evidence of him holding the prestigious belt.
Some have argued that this is a case of the supernatural effect known as “The Mandela Effect”. Named after the former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, the theory is that people remember things that never happened (or vice versa) and that the history of the world has changed around them. The prevailing belief is that the people or things have been moved form parallel universes where those events did occur, although it’s likely that the false memories are just people misremembering.
The effect is named after Nelson Mandela, after a large amount of people believed he had died in prison during the 1980s. Instead, he was released in 1990 and served as the first post-apartheid president of South Africa. He died in 2013, aged 85 and firmly not imprisoned.
Hardcore Holly Wins The Intercontinental Championship
While people may think they have come from a different universe where Bob Holly did take home the Intercontinental Championship, the truth may surprise them. While he was never officially the champion, they did see him win the title on an episode of the little-known Action Zone in 1995.
On the May 7th, 1995 edition of the show (which was taped the previous month on April 26th) Hardcore Holly defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the Intercontinental Championship. At the time he was wrestling under the name Sparky Plug, with the gimmick of a racing driver turned wrestler. It wasn’t the best character but clearly someone backstage in WWE had faith in him.
He pinned Jeff Jarrett during the show to become the new champion, but then the referee noticed that Jarrett’s foot was on the rope when he was pinned. This meant that the victory was null and void and the title win was declared illegitimate. Officially he had not won the title even though he had the visual win with the title belt on WWF TV.
The match was then restarted with Jeff Jarrett pinning Sparky Plugg, declaring him the Intercontinental Champion and erasing Holly’s win from history. He would never again win that title and his biggest moment would be a failed title attempt against WWE Champion Brock Lesnar at the 2003 Royal Rumble. He also teamed with Cody Rhodes to win the World Tag Team Championships in 2007.
On the “Grillin Jr” Podcast, Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson spoke about the phantom title victory. First, Conrad spoke about the taped episode of Action Zone where he won the title and had it cruelly taken away from him.
“It was May 7th 1995 – It was actually taped back on April 26th. Tt aired on Action Zone and Hardcore Holly pinned WWF intercontinental champion Jeff Jarrett in a title match, but Jarett had his foot on the ropes and the decision was overturned and the title was vacated.”
“Later in the show Jarrett defeated Holly in a rematch for a vacant title, after pinning Holly with a roll up. so kind of a fun little footnote and it shows you that, hey, somebody in the office is a believer in Bob Holly for him to get a spot like this.”
Jim Ross then chimed in about how Hardcore Holly was viewed backstage and what made him such a constant in the 15 years he spent in the WWE.
“In the office, I don’t think any of us had any issues with Bob Holly. Especially me, because he was so damn reliable right and he and he could book you with anybody you know you’ll have a good match. He’s going to give the fans, the paying customers, what they deserve. The effort was always there so what was there not to like.“
“The fact that Bob did not have overwhelming charisma is what it was, but that doesn’t mean that everybody can be a three or four hole hitter like a baseball line-up. Some guys got to hit seven or eight but they’re playing and they’re getting paid for playing That’s kind of what i think.”
“Bob is just reliable. He could be a baby face or a heel. He made all the guys. Bob was not lazy and one of the things that bob demanded from the people that he worked with was effort. You don’t want to get on his wrong side”
You can listen to them speaking about Hardcore Holly’s Intercontinental Championship win down below.