Mick Foley’s first biography is a landmark in wrestling publishing. It is Babe Ruth’s Called Shot in the 1932 World Series. It is Jim Bouton’s Ball Four. Simply, it was a seminal moment for wrestling, proving that we, the unwashed masses who follow wrestling like sheep, actually had, GASP, brains, and an attention span exceeding a first grade student with ADD. Indeed, Foley’s Have a Nice Day was the device that spawned countless wresting biographies since, and should never be forgotten merely because of its sheer influence.
So why does his second book suck?
I was amped when Foley came out with his second book. I literally stood in line to wait my turn to purchase it back in 2001. THAT was how amped up this fan was. I had read Have A Nice Day cover to cover, then bought the paperback and read it cover to cover. There had never been a book published on wrestling before it. That book left off where Foley, as Mankind, had finally fulfilled a lifelong dream in winning the WWF Championship. As a fan, that January 1999 day was a highlight for me, having followed Foley since his nascent WCW days in 1990. I was, and still am, a HUGE Foley mark. I was one of those assholes out in the crowd holding a “Foley is God” sign. I loved the man as a mark, and I grew to respect and admire him even more as a so called “smart mark.”
So it pains me to say, reading this book back in 2001, and just picking it up again to read for a second time over ten years later, that the book just falls flat.
Let us get to some basics here: The book covers, more or less, the period from when MIck Foley first won the WWF title until his retirement following Wrestlemania 2000, and his commisionary work thereafter. Those aspects of the book are pretty good. So let’s get to those sections.
For all intents and purposes, the book truly begins with the nightmare that was the Royal Rumble 1999 “I Quit” Match between Rock and Foley. Mick had a great angle for the match involving his wife, after seeing too much hard done to her husband, throwing in the towel for her appendage lacking man. It was all devised to get as much heel heat on Rock as possible, as he was rapidly becoming a babyface character while still a heel. In retrospect, that may have been impossible, knowing what we now know, but Foley was going to give it that old (Cortland) College try. Unfortunately, that idea turned into a nightmare for all involved. Foley was a subject in the Barry Blaustein wrestling documentary “Beyond The Mat.” To top it off, the USA network, prudes that they were for the program that put them on top, did not want a particularly violent match. The idea of Colette Foley pleading for her husband was OUT. O-U-T. The USA executives, I am sure, were pleased. Until they saw what plan b was.
Plan B, simply, resulted in one of the most brutal and, for me, anyways, most unwatchable matches ever. Listen, I like Rock. I like Foley. But the spectacle they put on at that Royal Rumble is tough to watch. Rock, after putting Foley through a gimmicked electrical speaker, proceeded to handcuff Mick. The script called for FIVE, count them, FIVE chairshots for Mick to endure. Shit sometimes happens, especially in a wrestling ring, so Rock clocked Mick ELEVEN TIMES with HARD chairshots, which split an existing Mick blade mark wide open. The match, to this fan, is one of the most vile, violent matches I have ever endured, and I still cannot stomach it to this day, especially after the whole Benoit family tragedy. So much for that USA executive sticking his nose into WWF business.
Anyway, after the match, Foley was hurting, but filled with pride. And testicular fortitude. Foley obligates me to use that term. The money is well worth it. Anyway, Foley had a myriad of superstars come and visit him while he was getting stitches from the damage Rock caused. Only one wrestler didn’t show up to thank or congratulate him: THE ROCK. Foley was deeply disturbed by this, but rather than confront the Rock about this, he compartmentalized it, deciding to save that anger for when he truly needed it.
Foley talks candidly about his injuries and complete apathy following this match, and, trust me, as a Foley fan, it showed. 1999, after the first two PPV’s, was Foley’s worst as a performer. His WM XV match against Big Show was a joke, besides the fact he took his “suicide bump” and through most of the year he was horribly injured or horribly out of shape. He had some fun with Al Snow and with the publication of his book, but 1999 Foley was not exactly fun to watch. He was set to retire at Survivor Series 1999, but disaster struck: Austin needed neck surgery. Foley postponed his retirement, and went on the hot streak of his life, engaging HHH in two memorable ***** classics at Royal Rumble and No Way Out 2000. The latter was a Hell in a Cell match where the loser had to retire, and Foley bowed out and put Triple H over massively. MASSIVELY. Unfortunately, WrestleMania 2000 was approaching and Vince can be a sentimental bastard sometimes. He wanted Foley in a four way match involving HHH, Rock and Big Show. Foley, after many misgivings, complied, and, no offense, made an ass of himself. Foley then talks about his commissioner role, which was excellent, and then, THEN, we get into his hardcore tangents.
This book, for the most part, seems to be Foley, circa 2001, trying to defend anything and everything WWF. And, in the 12 years that have passed, his views are almost wholly wrong. I felt it at the time I first read the book, and, Christ almighty, do I feel it now. He puts all the blame on the wrestlers and none on the promotion. Foley gets preachy in this book, and it is not a good look for the man. The chapters where he gets preachy are not a good look for the “Hardcore Legend.” They weren’t in 2001, and they look seriously deficient in 2013. I won’t lie, they are worth a look, as Foley just proves to be a twit, but if you are a Foley fan such as myself, they look short sighted and stupid with over ten years of hindsight. The man provides a clue into the drugs involved in wrestling, but never really condemns it. He cites four wrestling deaths as attributed directly to drugs, and, maybe it made sense in 2001. I didn’t buy it then, and not now. Not with a shit ton of drug related deaths since. I don’t blame Foley for this foible, but the industry itself. But, unlike Foley, I don’t want to get too preachy here.
In conclusion, read “Foley is Good.” Some of it is truly excellent stuff. Some is fluff. And some is downright insulting.