In 2022, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan showed that he is as tried and true as the two-by-four he waves on his way to the ring. Duggan started his year with another health scare, but the first-ever Royal Rumble winner ultimately tossed cancer over the top rope and got to ring the bell in celebration. Then in December, Wrestling Inc. reported that Duggan had been forced to hold a man at gunpoint after he broke into Duggan’s home. Despite his rocky year, the WWE Hall of Famer is happy with what pro wrestling has given to him over the years, and considers himself on the light side of the ring, rather than the dark side that so often commands attention, and he plans on starting 2023 off right with a live watch-along of that first Royal Rumble in 1988. The event will take place on January 24, exclusively on AdFreeShows.com, for subscribers at the $29 level and up.

In a new interview with Dominic DeAngelo, Duggan goes into detail about winning the first Rumble, the wild home break-in, how he feels about Vince McMahon coming back, his time working with Cody Rhodes, and if we could possibly see him draw a number at the 2023 Rumble this weekend.

‘That’s Not A Gimmick. That’s Who I Am’

It is Royal Rumble season, and when that happens, we got to think of the guy who started it all … Jim, thank you so much for joining me today.

Well, my pleasure, brother. But you know the first thing "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan has to do is give a big "Ho!"

Ho!

Kind of fires me up nowadays. Gets the air going in the lungs, gets the blood flowing, gets old Hacksaw ready to go.

When’s the last time you watched [the first Royal Rumble]?

Oh, it’s been quite a while, brother. It really has. Even back in the day, I didn’t like to watch myself on television. I was always so critical like, "Oh God, it’s so bad." So I always quit, didn’t watch myself very often.

I can understand that for sure. It’s always, anytime I do something, even if it’s an interview or anything like that, I’ll be like, "I’m just going to let it out there in the ether" and just not worry about it.

Yeah. That’s why Hacksaw worked for so many years. Just, I am who I am. People say, "Well, that’s a great gimmick. That USA thing." I said, "That’s not a gimmick. That’s who I am." And it’s been a good business for me. Everybody sees the dark side of the ring, and they talk to my great friend Jake "The Snake" Roberts, or talk about Scott Hall, or all the tragedies in wrestling. I’m the other side of the coin. It’s been a great business with me. I’ve been with my wife for 40 years. I never had to go to rehab for booze or drugs. I did a lot of both. I can’t throw no stones, but I just never got addicted to anything. I joke, I said, "No felony arrest, no misdemeanors." But it was the ’80s. What the hell? The bus that will live in infamy, me and the Sheik. I put two daughters through school. I live a comfortable life. It’s been a great business for me. And along with Vince McMahon, so many guys like that, "Vince McMahon, that SOB." Vince, he was my boss. He wasn’t my friend. I didn’t expect a whole lot from him … I knew sooner or later there’d be a time there’d be a flushing sound and I’d be gone. And I look back at it, here I am. I just turned 69 years old. I’ll be traveling. I still travel the world, signing autographs, telling stories about the WWF. Not the WWE, not Mid-South, not the WCW — the WWF, the Golden Age of Wrestling. So I’m grateful for Vince McMahon to give me the life that I’ve had for me and my family. Did he treat me as well as he could have? No, but still, it’s been a good life.

‘It’s His Baby’

Well, now with Vince McMahon kind of coming back, did you kind of foresee that happening in a lot of ways with him?

Well, Vince, the guy’s a workaholic. Even back in the day when I was with WWF, he was one of the first guys at the building, one of the last guys to leave … But also then in WWE, Vince again was one of the first guys at the building, one of the last guys to leave. Even when they brought me back into a voiceover or something a few years ago … I was like, I said something, all of a sudden in the headset, "No, Jim." I’m like, "Wow, holy smokes. The guy’s here listening to rehearsals." So I know the guy loves the business. He built that business. It’s his baby. I see it hard for him to walk away, because he could have walked away, bought an island in the Caymans somewhere and lived his life. But I think the guy likes to work hard … I don’t follow the whole business too much anymore. That’s folks, "Hey, just see what happened on Raw?" I said, after 40 years, the last thing I want to watch when I’m off duty is wrestling.

Why want to tune back in after you’ve experienced it all, basically?

And it’s still popular. And the kids, I think nowadays the kids are better athletes, they’re even more businesslike. But I don’t think they had the creativity that our generation of guys had. We came up with our own gimmick, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart was Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart … Kamala was one of the last of the wrestlers that would scare kids. He would come down to the ring and kids would run away from the ring. Now, no matter who the heel is, he comes down to the ring, the kids all run to the ring. So it was a different business then.

A lot of the wrestlers, it’s like what defines them today is the wrestling aspect and not the character, who-you-are-as-a-person aspect. And that’s what really drew people. I mean, look at all the names that you were with in the WWF, from Jake the Snake to Hulk Hogan to you, to Ted DiBiase, Million Dollar Man. It was just like, embracing your character.

You can still name 10 guys without thinking about it. Andre the Giant, Bret Hart. I mean just one after another, was just a golden age. I was lucky enough to be part of it … The appeal of wrestling is crazy amazing. And I get a lot of folks that are closet wrestling fans like, "I’m not a wrestling fan, but aren’t you Hacksaw Duggan?"

Andre The Giant

If I could go back in time and meet a wrestler that I’ve never met before, I think it would definitely be Andre the Giant … He’s just literally a larger-than-life character. And it’s just unbelievable how he transcends the business in a lot of ways.

Oh yeah. I mean back then, there was not many seven-footers. Now you see seven-footers, Big Show, Shaquille [O’Neal], there’s seven-foot guys running around everywhere. But back then, Andre was Andre. He had those giant-type features. But I’d met him as a kid when I was working over for High Chief Peter Maivia. I was under a mask wrestling as The Convict.

Oh, I remember you telling me that. Yeah.

Yeah. And Andre and all the top guys would come back from Japan, spend a week in Hawaii, do a show for Maivia and spend some time in Hawaii. So I got to work with Andre as a kid, and he got to like me. I respected him … and so later on in life when I was in WWF, he did me the huge favor where I knocked him out on television with my two-by-four. And the WWF went off the air, me standing over Andre the Giant covered in blood, with my two-by-four over my head, ho. And that elevated me from a mid-card guy to a main event guy, and that was a favor Andre did for me. And if he didn’t like me, if he wouldn’t have done it for me. So that was a huge favor the man did for me.

Cody Rhodes And The Kids That Grow Up In The Business

Well, you’ve talked about working with all these legends and stuff, and then you talk about working with Dusty’s kids and everything. And Cody is like, I know you don’t follow the business, but he’s reported to return. He’s scheduled to return in the Royal Rumble actually, this year. Working with him a little bit, what was your perspective on him in the early days?

Any of the second-generation guys, they’re always that much more polished. Like, my generation guys, like Jake the Snake, Ted DiBiase, Curt Hennig, the Von Erichs, they were in the ring when they were 16 years old. I learned an awful lot from guys like Jake and DiBiase, because I didn’t get into the ring [until] I was 25, coming out of football. And they’re like, "Big Jim Duggan, this guy’s going to beat you in 10 minutes." And I’m like, "Well, I can beat him. I know I can beat him."

And of course, a guy I’m working with is going, "Oh my gosh." Poor Johnny Rodz and Jose Estrada in the old WWF, they put up with me. But it took me a while to learn the business. But guys that started in the business earlier — and Cody’s one of them, and Goldust [AEW’s Dustin Rhodes] — kids that grow up in the business, Rotunda’s kids [Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas], they just understand the business that much better, and that’s more polished than a guy like myself.

Well, they helped carry on the legacy too, and preserve a lot of what the old mentality is.

That’s true. I got to tell you though, brother, I have two daughters, and thank goodness neither one wanted to be in wrestling … They’re like, "Dad, I want to wrestle." I said, "Well, everybody wants to wrestle at the Royal Rumble, but you got to do Minot, North Dakota after a 10-hour drive with 20 people in the building" … It’s a tough business for a guy. It’s a real hard business for a girl. I think that’s one thing also a lot of folks don’t realize is how competitive professional wrestling is. And they’ll say, "Hey, I’m going to be a wrestler." I said, well, if you look at it as a businessman, if you’re going to make a living at it — think of it. There’s 1500 NFL football players playing. There’s 500 NBA basketball players. There’s what, 150 WWE/AEW wrestlers? They’re television shows. They’re more competitive than sports, and it’s not just kids from America. You got kids from Japan, Australia, Europe. Wrestling is an extremely, extremely competitive business. And one of the huge misconceptions there, "Well you guys are all good friends, aren’t you?" Oh yeah. We all compete for the same money. We’re real good friends. It’s business. I mean, something happens to your buddy, you’re sorry it’s him, but you’re glad it’s not me. I mean, it’s a dog-eat-dog, like any business. It’s a tough one, though.

Absolutely.

But it’s been a good one for me and for a lot and for a lot of guys. Tito Santana, my good friend [Roddy] Piper. There’s a lot of success stories in our business, but you don’t hear about it.

The 2023 Rumble And Being Canadian

All right, I guess I got to do my due diligence here. You mentioned you’re in San Antonio. Can we confirm you for the Royal Rumble this year?

You got to watch and see. Otherwise, Vince will be chewing my butt. I might pull a hamstring getting off the couch.

Well, one of my buddies wanted to ask about you turning Canadian for WCW. As a kid, when I was in my teenage years, I was like, "Oh, that’s kind of neat." I was like, "I’m so used to Jim Duggan being synonymous with America and stuff like that. It’s a different take." But how did you feel about all that when it was taking place and everything?

Well, if you go back and think about what was going on, it was WCW days. Vince Russo just came in, and Vince Russo and I didn’t mesh at all. We didn’t get along at all. And so first, he made me the janitor of the WCW … Russo was trying to get me to quit. He wanted to push me out of my contract. So they said, "We’re going to make you the janitor." Well that backfired because the janitor gimmick got over. Put me on TV. I’ll get myself over.

So they fly me back up to the CNN Center in Atlanta, big meeting, and they’re like talking, "We’re going to turn you against America." And I’m like, "Oh my gosh." I’m thinking to myself, "Is this Iraq, Iran? Where are we going to go with this?" And they’re like, "You’re going to be part of Team Canada." And I’m like, "Well s***, we got a lot of heat with the Canadians." You know what the hell? And I joke, I said, "Well, Major Gunns was part of that team" … I cut my hair and shaved my beard, and we were on the road and I wore a suit. And I went to the show that night, and guys I’ve known for 20 years didn’t have a clue who I was.

Seriously?

Oh, it was great. I was sitting in the dressing room. I didn’t say nothing to nobody. I’m just sitting there, and everybody’s eyeballing me. They thought I was a new commissioner or something. Nobody knew who I was, but it just was the way I make my living.

Details Behind His Recent Home Invasion

I’m so happy to hear that everything was okay with you, too. After your incident with the break-in and all that stuff. How do you feel?

Yeah, it was terrifying. We were here at the house. We were going on the road the next day. My wife Debra was in the bedroom packing. I was in the living room watching TV. We’re down a dirt road. We got 10 acres all fenced in with a big gate. We’re 50 yards off the road, off the dirt road, but the only house on the whole road with Christmas lights on. And all of a sudden, there was this huge pounding on the door, on the front porch and me and Debra were running.

And as I get to the foyer, the doors break open. And this … 25, 26-year-old man comes falling through the front door because there was a step to come in the house. And he tripped over the step. So when he fell in, now I’m coming at him, if he had a gun, he would’ve shot me because I couldn’t have stopped myself. I was charging him. And he got up and on his knees and I got him. I got him by the throat and the arm. And for some reason, I’m running him out of the house and I’m throwing him out of the house, out of the porch. And now he’s screaming, "Help me, help." And Debra thinks he’s afraid of me, that I’m going to kill him. I said, "Watch him," she puts her foot on him. I reached inside the house, we got ducks and chickens. I got a pond. So I have the big .44, Model 29. The "Dirty Harry," exact "Dirty Harry" gun.

Hell yeah.

It’s just because it’s so loud to scare off the foxes. But that’s right there on the front door. So I grab that and I got this guy, I got him spread eagled on the front porch. Debra, I tell her, "Turn off the light. Turn off the light." She turns off the light. So now I hear two guys out on the street yelling, "We’re going to get you. We’re going to kill you." And so my first impression was obviously a home invasion. So that’s just when I got my gun, I’m waiting for at the back door. Nobody came in. So I went back to this guy. So now I’m thinking, "Well he’s a drug dealer or something. And these guys are going, what did he bring to my house? Are these people coming in my house to kill him?" So Debra’s on the phone with 911. We got to deal next week with a sheriff here. We’re going to go back and meet the dispatcher and the deputies that responded. But she was like, "Send the firetruck, send the ambulance, send everybody."

Of course Nasty Boy [Brian] Knobbs calls me, he says, "Duggan, how much you pay that guy to break in your house with all the publicity you got?" It was funny. I think obviously you got the ball rolling for me. But it was all the conservative channels, One American News, Newsmax, Fox, they all had it, but none of the liberal stations covered it because it was pro-police, pro-gun. But it’s funny, the coverage that I got out of it, and like I said, this coming week, we’re doing a local deal with a local TV media. So yeah, I got a lot of media out of it, that’s for sure.

Beating His Second Bout Of Cancer

And plus, it has been a rough year. I had my prostate cancer deal, so I want to throw that out there for folks. I had zero symptoms. I just had a blood test. They found my PSA level was high, had prostate cancer, they took the prostate out. I still had cancer. Had to do eight weeks of radiation, and they got all the cancer. I’m cancer free. So I tell folks, "Get checked out. They can save your life now." It’s a scary, terrifying time. But they can then save your life.

This was my second bout with cancer, and earlier detection there. They removed my kidney. I lost a kidney way back there in WCW. And then of course I had the heart issue, which was the big one there a couple years ago. At 65, I was still in the ring. 66, the wheels fell off. But they’re like, "Hacksaw, you look a little rough." I said, "Compared to a lot of boys, I look great."

Right. And you can take a 25-year-old out too, still.

Yeah.

Well, cool. Jim, thank you so much for the time. It’s January 24th, Jim is going to be doing a live watch along on AdFreeShows.com It’s for the $29 level and up for fans. And if you do that, you get to tune in, you get to interact with Jim, he’ll answer some questions, and you get to watch the Royal Rumble where he wins it.

Yeah, and any questions are fine. A lot of folks go, "Can I ask you that?" I said, "Brother, ask me anything you want folks." And I love talking to the people. It’s always a good time.

Well, Jim, you do good.

I also got to throw out the week after, I’ll be on Jericho’s cruise. And the WCW used to have a Bruise Cruise back in the day. But yeah, this is my third year. The first year, they had the COVID, they canceled. Last year, I was sick. I missed it. So I’m looking forward to going this year.

Well Jim, that’ll be a blast. You’re going to be life of the party.

To the Rumble and all the questions during the Rumble. Nothing, no mathematics though.

Yeah, there we go. Yeah, I’m not good at that either, Jim. That’s why I’m writing.

All right, well before you go brother, you going to do one with me? And if you’re going to do it, "ho" like you mean it. So here we go. 1, 2, 3. Ho!

Ho!

That’s some good ho-ing.

Hey, thanks Jim.