I am sure most people who read this site would expect me to go the easy way. To pick one of the first two Mick Foley memoirs, “Have a Nice Day” or “Foley is Good.” Not so. Both of those books will come a bit later. I wanted to appeal to a smarter audience, one that, while familiar with Foley and his authorial stylings, may have overlooked this tome. It is my sincere hope that I stir those unwashed masses towards a book that I even found, initially, totally ungratifying. But with time comes perspective, and with that, here is my review of Mick Foley’s “Hardcore Diaries.”
I just want to preface this review with one item. Mick Foley was, and I suppose is, one of my top five favorite wrestlers of all time. In the era of muscle, Foley carved a decidedly different niche, and for all of those who condemn him as, what Ric Flair and many others called him, a “glorified stuntman,” I feel for your wrestling viewing souls. Because few before, during, or after combined insane bumps, great mic work, and (gasp!) superior in ring ability as a great match storyteller to put together a package quite like Cactus Jack. No, I mean Mankind. No, Dude Love. No, Spaceman Frank Hickey. The fact of the matter is, behind maybe only Austin and Rock, Mick Foley was the most influential wrestler of the 1990’s, and given the abbreviated terms Rock and Austin had in their ultimate character and style, it could be argued Foley may be the most influential wrestler of wrestlings most profitable run. Chew on that for a while.
Anyway, this is not an article meant for me to stagger off a soapbox. It is a book review. “The Hardcore Diaries” is a unique offering. Originally, the book was supposed to be Foley’s expose into the backstage machinations of the WWE leading into a WrestleMania, particularly focused on a certain fellow named Vinnie Mac. That did not happen. For, you see, Foley was offered a chance, one that he previously thought unattainable. Foley had never had a truly great WrestleMania match before, for all of his previous accolades. The best prior to his retirement was, I guess, his participation with Vader against Owen Hart and British Bulldog Davey Boys Smith at WrestleMania 13. A REALLY good match, but not that seminal “WrestleMania Moment” that Vince and Co. have been shoving down our throats for years on end now. So, instead of being a kind of well informed ultra reporter on the events of WrestleMania 22, Foley was thrown right into the fire, literally, in a match with the up and coming Edge. Edge was sort of recently off of neck surgery, and, more recently, involved in a hot angle, if you could call it that, with Matt Hardy, where Hardy’s longtime girl, Lita, abandoned the old sack for his longtime rival, Edge. This was actually a shoot, as Edge and Lita HAD been having romantic liaisons behind V1’s back. It should of lead to a scorching hot angle, where Matt, after being fired, returns and gets his revenge. But, WWE, by that time, was well into the creative malaise that dogs them to this day. Hardy never quite got his revenge on Edge, because, all of a sudden, Edge was a very, VERY hot act. And WWE usually realizes those acts and rockets them to the main event ASAP. With a rematch with Hardy six months too late, hell eight months, what could WWE possibly do to rocket the act of Edge and Lita even more towards the moon, make them even more sinister, more legitimate?
Simple. Dial 1-900-Mick Foley.
Foley had nothing on tap, and Foley and Edge ending up stealing the show at WM 22. It was a total star making vehicle for Edge, as he defeated Foley after spearing him through a flaming stack of tables. Simple formula: Edge gets the rocket up the card with a convincing win over Foley, Foley gets his WrestleMania moment.
And, mercifully, THIS is where the book starts. I just wanted to get people in the correct mindframe on when and what and why we are talking about.
Foley thought he wad pretty much done after that match. However, he was the envy of the dressing room after the contract he signed, which called for great money for little effort. And Foley heard the backlash (no pun intended), heard the cries of horror over the contract. Foley may have been retired, but he was still, at heart, a WRESTLER. And for all intents and purposes, a great one. So Mick sat home for about a month, and formulated an angle. And not just ny angle. A GREAT angle.
To understand this book, you have to appreciate the wrestling acumen of one MIchael Francis Foley. He is a wrestling savant, of sorts. I shouldn’t even state that; Mick is a brilliant human being. Having got that whole “Stuntman” thing out of the way, I hope most of the people reading this understand what a propensity for wrestling Mick Foley has. A true genius.
This book revolves around one of Mick’s greatest ideas, one that did not truly come to fruition, but, still, one that was understatebly brilliant. You see, Mick came off of WrestleMania red hot (pun very much intended) after his barn burner with Edge. This story is occurring in 2006, mind you. What could Mick do to top his fun, event stealing event with the Edgester? A word on that, if I may.
Edge and Foley are two men who have tremendous chemistry onscreen. They have since before Edge was even sniffing what it meant to be a star, as Foley is one of the great wrestlers of all time who make it their business to “Get others over.” In this case, while Foley was filming a VHS recording (REMEMBER VCR KIDDIES?), totally off cuff, as Foley was making an Al Snow joke (Foley’s specialty), he, in the VHS, included Edge. The mutual Geek admiration had begun. Foley always loved getting guys over, and I would argue Edge was the best of the best of the guys he got over. Some would argue Randy Orton, but there was no humor in that program, no growth, no longevity. Foley came in, made Orton, and was out. With Edge, it was something different.
The big proponent against Edge? The Schnozz. The Lame. The ASS-ASS-ASSin. And this book just plain proves it. Listen, I like Paul Levesque, but he has called some ridiculous end arounds throughout history. HHH once said, and I quote, “What Big Draw Did I Beat?”
Foley, jackass. Lets not let that infect this piece. Foley’s idea for the whole angle revolved around, go fucking figure, Terry Funk. I love both of these guys, so don’t consider me biased either with or against them. They are two tough, ornery bastards. The selling point for “ECW ONE NIGHT STAND” was exactly what the title said “ECW.” For some of us in the northeast, ECW was a way of life. WE wanted the Awesome-Tanaka match from the year before.
According to Foley, though, The McMahons did not think we did. Vince cringed at the first “One Night Stand,” which is rich seeing most, including myself, seem to think the entire “Attitude” Era stemmed from ECW. What Foley wanted in his presentation leading up to ONS 2006 was he and Terry Funk having epic promo upon epic promo leading into having Tommy Dreamer and Edge brought into the fray. And Foley’s kicker was just that, a hell of a kicker. You see, Mick wanted to become the first VOLUNTARY member of the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club. That is certainly an interesting wrinkle, even if Vince’s steroid addled butt doesn’t have one. But Mick always has an end point. He wanted to have to kiss McMahon’s ass to keep ECW fortuitous until his savior, his buddy, his mentor, Terry Funk came out of the stands to kneel in Mick’s place. And Mick’s plan was for Terry to KISS McMahon’s ass, with one caveat: Terry would kiss, then bite a hunk out of Vinnie’s derriere.
TELL ME that doesn’t sound like a great angle? Vince makes Foley kiss his ass, Foley agrees, only for his mentor to come through the crowd and try and take the bullet for him, only for it, in so many words, to come back and bite Vince in the ass? It was a great premise that ALL of WWE creative signed off on.
For a week.
You see, WWE Creative is, well, not very CREATIVE. Politics dictate everything in WWE. The big thing with this can’t miss Foley angle? DX, HHH and Shawn Michaels were involved in a feud at the time with GOD KNOWS WHO (As a huge fan, I can’t remember, so it must of sucked). The H’s and the Soma’s (HBK) vetoed the Foley angle, and made it into comedy, of sorts. Ladies and gentleman, WWE Creative!
This, friends, is why I enjoy this book. It gives you an “in” to the WWE creative process. Someone as creative as Mick Fucking Foley is given an in for FIVE FUCKING SECONDS, and is given way to the whims of the REAL CREATIVE, in this case Trips and his butt buddy HBK.
And people wonder why WWE sucks at points. To me, there is no better illustration of this than this book. Listen, I am, and will always be, a huge WWE fan. Sometimes. Most times. Small time. Hard times. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hkb41li6ueE . Read Mick Foley’s “Hardcore Diaries” and find yourself second guessing.