Mick Foley was inducted into the 2013 Hall of Fame as the main inductee. Grossly overweight, missing teeth, half an ear and unkempt hair and clothing, he was never your archetypal WWE Superstar. In a company that promotes the most physically impressive and statuesque athletes, coupled with a strict dress code which means that all WWE Superstars arrive at the arena and attend media events dressed in tailored suits, it is truly surprising to see a man like Foley lauded as a legend. However, a legend is how he is treated by a large number of Attitude-Era fans. With his daredevil antics and masochistic stunts, Foley proved that sometimes you have to be willing to sacrifice everything to achieve your dream. To see him now, a man in his forties, hobbling like an elderly gentleman, you see that he really did give it his all and figuratively, and literally (teeth, hair, ears!) left himself in that ring. This DVD set celebrates the man behind Cactus Jack/Mankind, and in his own words, tells his story.
Now, anyone who read Ric Flair’s Autobiography “To Be The Man” will recall the now infamous quote “Mick Foley was just a glorified stuntman”. Mick Foley certainly remembers, it caused a feud between the two (off camera), but before I review this set, I must confess that I feel entirely the same way as Ric Flair. You will see until now I haven’t described Mick Foley as a wrestler, because in my view he wasn’t really. His grotesque ‘extreme’ matches (both in and outside WWF/E) never appealed to me as a wrestling fan. I’ve seen his stuff in Japan but it was viewed in the same way I watched Jackass. Not as a sporting activity, more as an entertaining waste of time, where I could safely wince and cringe as I watched men mutilate themselves and others. It was a modern-day freakshow to me and had nothing in common with the sport I adore. I enjoy wrestling for it’s intricate beauty, a ballet performed between two men that looks like a fight but is beautiful and safe. Wrestling is capoeira, hardcore wrestling is more akin to a bar-room brawl, ugly, amateurish and dangerous.
So, although I always try to be unbiased, I can only be truthful. I dislike Mick Foley’s style of wrestling and I resent him and his ilk for bringing this stupidity to mainstream wrestling. With that in mind, he is a well-spoken and intelligent man and I have nothing but interest in his story. So let’s get going…
Disc One is a biographical documentary. Mick tells his story from childhood, through high school, to his wrestling training to his WWE career. We have a problem. I don’t like Mick Foley. I was sure that I would, since I wasn’t a fan I haven’t read his bestselling autobiography, so I was intrigued by his life and career in the same way I am by all WWE Profile Documentaries and usually I either find I love the real person behind the character (Edge) or that despite flaws, he is so open and honest that I respect him more (CM Punk). Most of the time these men are humble, good-humoured and open, often self-deprecating. Mick Foley is none of these things. He is his own biggest fan and aggrandizes even the most nominal achievement. According to him he was an exceptional student (I don’t doubt this, as I have already stated he is a very intelligent man), a great wrestler who WWF loved using as enhancement talent, an overlooked fan favourite (WCW) and a phenomenal author. Now, all these may be true (at least two aren’t from my recollection) however, it isn’t for him to say. That sort of praise is heaped upon you from friends and peers, not self-assigned. This annoyed me from the get-go and it niggles throughout the film.
The other thing I noticed about him is that he seems very protective, almost guarded. I believe that the things I stated at the beginning about his ‘style’ have haunted him throughout his career. He was never a great wrestler, he adopted a form of ‘wrestling’ that many purists (including his locker room brethren) hold in disdain, he is a physical wreck and is not how a wrestler should look by many people’s standards and as such I feel he is constantly on the defensive and uses his self-praise as a way to deal with any criticism. I have heard people say that the man has a wonderful sense of humour, indeed he has embarked upon a Stand-Up Comedy career since retiring, but I see none of this. He seems more bitter than amusing, perhaps I don’t ‘get’ him, but when he’s funny in the ring, I find him humourous, but not so in his real life persona. I’m just not entertained and feel no warmth toward him.
I would assume that nothing that is said within this documentary is new to those of you that have read his massively successful book “Have a Nice Day”, so unless the need to hear it in abridged form from the man himself is overwhelming, I don’t think this film offers you anything new. Of course, if you haven’t read his book then this offers insight and is a fair way to spend a hour or so. There’s nothing wrong or offensive about the documentary, I just wasn’t absorbed by the subject or his story. It’s a shame as I would have loved to have been.
The real draw here is the plethora of career spanning matches sprawled lovingly across the remaining discs. They begin with his first match within WWE in 1987 as Jack Foley and feature a number of bouts from some really obscure promotions as well as some more well known ones such as AWA, WCW, WWF/E and ECW (where he did his best work). I admit that I massively enjoyed his work in Paul Heyman’s ECW as he played a character who used his brutality to show that EXTREME wrestling was a mistake. He acted like he’d made a huge mistake by leaving WCW and had been fed a lie by Heyman, ending up in a trashy company that only wanted to exploit his fame as a monster. Very clever storytelling, and a sympathetic role for the former Cactus Jack. (see also; ECW’s use of Steve Austin and Brian Pillman)
It is with some regret that none of his famed Japanese King of the Deathmatches matches appear here, but there is plenty to sink your teeth into. It is a fair compilation of Mick Foley’s career in North America, and is enjoyable to watch. The Blu-Ray also offers extras including promotional and backstage skits which help flesh out his characters. It also has stories by friends, family and colleagues, which is a nice touch.
I am not a fan of his, and even less so now I know that he is his own biggest fan. However, I cannot deny that his style changed wrestling in the 1990s, and even though it wasn’t my cup of tea, it was something different at least. I know that a lot of Wrestlers look up to him and are inspired by him, which is a great legacy to leave behind. Anyone who inspires and encourages a youngster to try their hand at the greatest sport I have ever known is ok by me. I enjoyed his matches more in retrospect than I did the first time around, but I still don’t like Hardcore for Hardcore’s sake and I never will. Mick Foley deserved his spot in the Hall of Fame and he deserved a well-researched and well-made DVD set. I may not enjoy him, but for those that do, this is a dream set.