The core of hardcore

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September 25, 2007

MILWAUKEE -- Even after surviving more than 13 years in WWE and multiple career-threatening injuries, Hardcore Holly is not one to look back and get misty-eyed about a comeback. But Holly still couldn't stop a smile from creeping across his grizzled face after he made a victorious return to the squared circle Monday night on Raw.

"Oh my God, it felt really good," he said. "It's right where I belong. I don't belong anywhere but in that ring."

Cody Rhodes found that out the hard way Monday night. Holly showed Rhodes -- and all of WWE -- that he was still the surly, unapologetic competitor that some Superstars begrudgingly respected. The former Intercontinental and World Tag Team Champion was sidelined for five months with a broken right arm following a vicious attack by Snitsky. The injury aggravated a chronic pinched nerve that the veteran Superstar had fought through.

"It got to the point where I had no feeling in half of my hand and no grip at all," Holly said. "I have atrophy in my hand, and there is a big difference in my right and left hands. I kid with my wife and tell her it is my ‘Skeletor' hand. But that is because I put the surgery. The doctor told me he had never seen a nerve pinched as bad as that. So, they moved the nerve. A couple of my fingers still don't have much feeling, but the doctor said that it could take some time for that, maybe up to a year."

Holly is not called "Hardcore" just because of his toughness in the ring. He survived a serious staph infection that nearly took his arm and his life in 2005 and early 2006. But he is in no mood to reflect on the past or his battle wounds.

"I am coming back strong, just like I did in 2005," he said. "I'm not the type of person [that] when I am down like that [I like] to feel sorry for myself. I'm not one of those ‘me oh my' types. When I am down I get up, look up and move forward. That's all that you can do."

Holly is aware that rumors about his possible retirement circulated after his most recent injury. But he insists rumors of his career's demise were premature at best.

"I don't pay attention to the naysayers," Holly snorted. "I'm fixing to prove that even as I get older, I am still in better shape than most guys in this business. I can still go toe-to-toe with anyone."

After defeating Rhodes on Monday, Holly bristled at the notion of ring rust or being hesitant in his first match back. He has two goals: To remind the Raw locker room exactly who he is and ultimately win the WWE Championship.

"I'm the purest form of an athlete that there is. There ain't no one out there better than me," he said. "Most of those guys [out there] are flat-footed, clumsy and uncoordinated. … I know if given that opportunity, I can beat those guys. Give me the chance and I will do it."

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