“Try to stay away from people,” says Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

“The less time you’re in contact with people, the longer you’re in the ring.”

The WWE Hall of Famer is talking about how to win the Royal Rumble, one of wrestling’s four most popular pay-per-view events in the calendar year.

“The whole thing is about longevity,” explains the retired wrestler, speaking to Betway online casino.

“That’s why when you watch the Royal Rumble, everyone goes straight to the corners. That’s a safe place.”

Having won the inaugural Royal Rumble in 1988, Hacksaw knows what he is talking about.

He entered the ring at number 13 out of 20 that year – the Royal Rumble was only extended to 30 participants the following year.

He battled his way through to the final two, where he watched the 450lb and 6ft 9in One Man Gang tumble through a gap in the ropes he had opened, leaving him as the last man standing.


“You want to be aggressive, you want to be strong, you want to be quick, and luck of the draw has a lot to do with it as well,” he says.

“It’s always better to come in later. You’re fresher than the guys who’ve been out there longer. For the first five guys, that’s a long time in the ring.

“You can be kicking butt and then somebody comes up behind you and that’s it.

“It’s very different to a singles fight. I liked being able to control the pace in a fight, but in a battle royale or a Royal Rumble, forget about it.

“Nobody’s controlling nothing, it’s like the Wild West out there.”

In terms of single pay-per-view events, nothing trumps the Rumble for drama, unpredictability, and utter chaos.

In short, it’s the wrestling event of the year – a must watch.

Yet in 1988, it was a unique concept that had been the brainchild of former WWE wrestler, producer and consultant Pat Patterson.

“You had a unique group of guys back then,” says Duggan.

“I think overall the talent nowadays is much better in terms of athletic ability, but my generation of guys were much more creative.

“We didn’t have a board of guys coming up with our character – I own Hacksaw Jim Duggan and trademarked it long before I went to WWE – so we were much more willing to try something new.”


And that open-mindedness directly led Duggan to what was undoubtedly a career-defining opportunity.

“In my portfolio of wrestling achievements, that’s the biggest one,” he says.

“Nobody was more surprised in that whole building than me after I won the thing.

“I sometimes look through the order of the guys that went out and keep going down and down until ultimately I get to the winner: Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

“I was never world champion, I was never tag team champion, I was never intercontinental champion, I was lucky to win a match but that was my character.”

What Duggan lacked on the glitzy side of the business, he more than made up for in grit and determination, which helped when it came to something like the Royal Rumble.

“I wasn’t a wrestler,” he says. “People ask, ‘Hacksaw, what was your favourite move?’ I kick and punch, I’m a brawler.

“I would work with [Ric] Flair sometimes, get beat 1-2-3 in the middle, grab a 2x4, hit Flair, hit the referee, hit the timekeeper. HOOOO!

“I didn’t win the match, but I’d win the fight. I was a tough guy.”

The excitement in Duggan’s voice is palpable as he shouts his trademark catchphrase.

It’s that level of passion that inspired his return to the WWE in 2009, and again in 2012, where he was pitted against some familiar faces.

“First, in the WWF, I wrestled Dusty [Rhodes], [Ted] DiBiase and [Bob] Orton, and then in the WWE, I wrestled Dusty’s kid, DiBiase’s kid and Orton’s kid,” says Duggan.

“I knew them when they would come to the earlier shows and sit on my lap.

“First I beat up the old man, then I beat up the kid!”


It was in 2012, aged 58, that Duggan was entered into the Royal Rumble again, coming in at number 19 before being eliminated by Cody Rhodes – son of former wrestler and old adversary Dusty.

“Everything about the Royal Rumble in 2012 was harder,” he says.

“I knew it would be a challenge because all the kids were 15 or 20 years younger than me.

“I wasn’t in my prime anymore and I was worried about how I looked physically. I wore trunks and boots and as I got older, my trunks just kept getting bigger and bigger.

“It’s a show that millions of people are going to watch, so you have all that anxiety. Multiply that by 10 when they throw you into a pay-per-view and add another five when people know you’re Hacksaw and you won the first one.”

But, as he explains, none of that mattered as soon as the adrenaline hit.

“Stepping through that curtain, that place was hoo-ing and yo-ing and USA-ing and I could have taken on Andre the Giant again man, I was 10ft tall when I hit that ring,” says Duggan.

“The people have elevated me many times over the years and they had me walking on a cloud that day.”

Now 68, and recovering from cancer for the second time, having had surgery in October, Hacksaw Jim has closed the door on another return.

“I’ve had my health issues, so I don’t think I’ll be hitting the ring anytime soon,” he says.

“Nowadays, my dog barks and I jump off the couch and pull a hamstring.”

Even though he’s not going to be in the ring 34 years after brawling his way to wrestling history, Hacksaw Jim has a few words of advice for this year’s contestants.

“In a Royal Rumble, anything goes,” says Duggan.

“Everybody joked about my eyesight, but you don’t have to pick and choose your targets in a Rumble. If it moves, I hit it.

“If people were betting on that first rumble, the odds would have been pretty high that Hacksaw Jim would pull it out.

“Anybody has a chance at the Royal Rumble, anybody can win it and it can change people’s career like it changed mine.

“Go in there, stand up and be counted. Go for it, never give up, never surrender.”