To quote the author, of all of Mick Foley's memoirs, Countdown to Lockdown...is the most recent...
Mick Foley's books are generally a cut above most other wrestling tomes, primarily because Mick writes them without a ghostwriter filtering what he has to say. Also, Mick is a college graduate who is very articulate and has a very good feel for wordplay. Don't get me wrong, he is far from Tolstoy or Orwell, but in the spectrum of wrestlers who author their own memoirs, well, he is the closest thing to those great authors we are likely to see.
Countdown to Lockdown resembles closely the format of Mick's previous work, "The Hardcore Diaries." It is basically a journal of Mick's thoughts detailing his run in TNA, and the buildup to his Steel Cage match with Sting at TNA Lockdown 2009. The journal entries are interspersed with full chapters describing some other life events from the mind of the man formerly known as Mankind.
Mick Foley is a pretty smart fellow, so he realizes immediately that a great deal of wrestling fans who are reading this book will not be very interested in, say, his missionary work in Sierra Leone, or his almost creepy infatuation with Tori Amos. To that end, Mick has included for each chapter something he calls the "Wrestle Meter." Basically, each non journal entry, the actual chapters of the book, are rated 0-10 on this WrestleMeter, with ten meaning that the chapter is all about wrestling, zero denoting there is no wrestling content whatsoever. I am someone who enjoys Mick's literary works more than most, so I have read the whole thing, but the meter does help a casual wrestling fan who wants nothing but wrestling content steer away from the other subjects and life experiences Mick describes. I would implore you to read the whole thing, but I would not begrudge you if you skip the chapters on, say, his missionary work (good stuff), childhood dalliances (getting a tattoo to impress a girl), or his infatuation with the music of Tori Amos.
As I mentioned earlier, this book describes the period of Mick's life where he parted ways with the WWE and joined the roster of TNA. Now, I know many fans were turned off by Mick's TNA run, and I don't blame you. I am a HUGE Foley fan, and I wasn't exactly inspired by Mick's efforts there initially. But after reading the book and taking in to account everything that Mick describes, I find myself with a better understanding and enjoyment of his TNA run, via the benefit of YouTube. The meat and potatoes of the book are Mick chronicling his thoughts and psyche surrounding his angle with Sting, and the resulting match at Lockdown. Its different in the sense that this isn't WWE Mick is talking about anymore. He describes how creatively vindicated he felt leaving WWE and crafting a storyline in TNA with one of his all time favorite opponents, Sting, including a now infamous (in some circles) promo where Mick Foley interviewed Cactus Jack. (Wrap your head around that one.)
Mick basically loved his time in TNA, but had one big disappointment. You see, Mick realized he was not the same performer he had been only a few years earlier, never mind his 90's heyday. He has also stated in past volumes that he is a lousy cage match performer. So he approached the TNA higher ups with a concept for a different, custom made cage. No wire mesh, none of that. He wanted the old school big blue bar WWE style cage, but one fitted with platforms near the top where he and Sting could exchange a flurry of fisticuffs and, presumably, where Mick could perform a dive onto a prone Stinger. Well, TNA was going to try, but, alas, they couldn't afford it and Mick (like every other performer not named Foley) would have to deal with the standard cage.
Along the way, we are again introduced to Mick's family, his wife and children. There is a chapter in the book where Mick describes his family being filmed for a potential A and E series along the lines of "Hogan Knows Best." Unfortunately, his family was a little too bland, didn't provide enough fighting firepower. So Foley's series was never green lighted, as A and E instead opted for "Billy the Exterminator." The crazy thing about these chapters on his family is, as a longtime fan, realizing how old Dewey and Noelle are now, and the adolescent phase of their life that they are experiencing. There is actually one very uncomfortable passage where Dewey is going on his first date, and, with Mick driving him there, with Noelle in the car, Mick tries to describe the old "Yawn, throw your arms out, and land with your arm around the girl's shoulder" move. Dewey counters with the "Dick in the Popcorn" gag made famous by Mickey Rourke in the 1982 film "Diner." Noelle, blissfully unaware, asks both Pops and Big Bro what that exactly entails. Suffice to say, it is very awkward, especially for those who have kept up with Foley's books through the years.
Now, while most of the book details Mick's TNA run, there is also a good amount that describes the end of his WWE run. Namely, the chapters on Mick's brief run as a color commentator on Smackdown. THIS is the true attraction of the book, as Mick was not thrilled with WWE's treatment of him during this time period. Did I say WWE? Sorry, I meant VINCE MCMAHON. Most of us are privy to what happens on the announcers headsets by now. I mean, Michael Cole is basically Vince McMahon's ventriloquist doll. Well, Mick spent a lot of time and considerable effort into preparing himself for this gig, taking it very seriously. He was having a fine time of it....until one night where Vince started screaming unnamed expletives in his ear and basically undressing Mick via the headsets...in the middle of a PPV. This chapter is powerful, and well written, as Mick basically describes the battle between literary folk heroes "McMagical" and "McFoley" , the chapter comically named "The Magical Headsets."
Mick also relays a couple of chapters to the biggest, most horrific tragedy in wrestling history: The Benoit murder-suicide. Mick was having a particularly hard time finding flight and airfare to the Vengeance: Night of Champions PPV on June 24, 2007. Honestly, had Mick not mentioned it here in the book, I would have never remembered that he was in the main event of that show in a 5 way match. He relays that he said in the locker room that night that something must REALLY be wrong with Benoit if he misses a PPV. Hours later, he would realize how prophetic those words were, as he, along with most of us, soon realized the horror of what happened in Georgia. He writes a couple of chapters detailing the drug problem that has infected wrestling for years, but not in a traditional sense. These chapters might not be everyone's cup of tea, as Mick tends to get a little preachy on this stuff (see Foley is Good) and he eschews what most people assume about the drug problem in wrestling. While he doesn't dismiss it, he sort of plays devils advocate with the subject, stating in one breath that it is a problem, while outlining benefits and rationales for using painkillers and performance enhancers.
As a quick aside to the Benoit chapters, Mick also expresses his pure hatred of the Mr. McMahon death storyline. He basically echos my, and probably most reading here, frustrations with that insidious, stupid angle. He also gets the best description, from Vince himself, on the angle that best describes the vacuum WWE Creative lives in: "Mick, its not Vince McMahon who is dead, its MR.MCMAHON who is dead. Our fans will realize that." REALLY? I am not even going to touch that, you, fair reader, digest that tripe.
By now, I hope I have given you a fairly good (and detailed...and long, I know I know) synopsis of Mick's latest literary venture. But by no means have I given everything away....quite the contrary, I have left out a shitload of what is included here. As always, I just like to give people an idea, a taste, if you will, of what the full course is like. Countdown to Lockdown is a good book, but it isn't "Have a Nice Day." I think it is better than "Foley is Good" and right on par with "The Hardcore Diaries." All in all, I would highly recommend reading it, and, after doing so, retrace Foley's TNA run through the glorious resources provided on the internet. Its a solid piece of work from a solid human being.
This was was easily the worst of Foley's memoirs, but still a decent, quick read.ReplyDelete
Very nice review.ReplyDelete
I've read Mick Foley's work: The autobiographies, both novels, if I ever have kids, probably those books too, more times than I can count. For me, Foley, is something of an inspiration, that "sort of off" kid who managed to achieve incredible success despite the fact most everyone counted him out, or never pictured him as a big star.ReplyDelete
That said, of all of Foley's books, this is probably my...third favorite. I love the stuff on Benoit, and his thoughts on Steroids are pretty interesting, as well.
I recently saw "For All Mankind" and it kind of brought a tear to my eye, to be honest. I had read about Mick's work in various indies, WCW, etc, but I'd never sought out the footage, and to finally see the stories I've read at least a dozen times on video was kind of astounding.
Also, seriously when he's talking about "Mr. McMagical" and a bunch of other stuff, he makes a joke that is *so* fucking funny I was laughing outloud for minutes.ReplyDelete
I've always enjoyed his writing style, unfortunately he kinda pulled an Orson Welles and released his best material first.ReplyDelete
It was around this time that Mick's endless talking about his charity work kind of got annoying. I know it's a great thing he's doing, but HOLY FUCK, enough is enough. People thought you were a good person already, Mick- no need to beat us over the head with "OH HEY GUYS DID YOU KNOW I DO CHARITY WORK ALL THE TIME!?!!"ReplyDelete
Mick realizing he wasn't great performer anymore was kind of sad and ultimately very honest compared to a lot of guys. I also appreciated his thoughts on the drug issue, pointing out some of the positives (Road Warrior Animal did the same apparently, discussing how steroids can make you physically stronger and healthier without killing you if used right).
I also loved the headsets bit, because it's one of those moments where you realize how nutty Vince truly is. And also, that he thinks that HE HIMSELF was the ideal wrestling commentator. Think about THAT next time you watch an old Royal Rumble and you get the "AND 'E'S OUT nohe'snot!!!"
I don't think he was being wholly self-serving by bringing up his charity work. He was promoting awareness. That's what you do when you represent a charity. Not entirely sure why that warrants criticism.ReplyDelete
Because I'm such a publicity whore, for another take on the same subject:ReplyDelete
I've wondered if Foley's complaints about McMahon being on his headset had anything to do with Foley's concussions and a possible auditory processing disorder.ReplyDelete
I haven't read the book since 2011, but I remember the line that stuck with me the most in regards to the stupid Mr. McMahon Death storyline.ReplyDelete
"Vince, what if one of our guys were to actually die?"
Haven't numerous other former commentators mentioned the same things, though?ReplyDelete
My stance is, I'd rather someone do something for charity and brag about it than be like me most of the time and do nothing.ReplyDelete
It's the same reason I don't understand people who constantly question others' motivations for charitable actions. Who cares as long as the charitable contribution/action is actually done?
They've mentioned it, but have any complained about it? I figured that it was pretty common (admittedly, I've not read Foley's book) and thought his problems with it was related to concussions.ReplyDelete
I thought Foley's first book ("Have A Nice Day") was great, but his second book ("Foley Is Good") fell really flat so I never picked up "Hardcore Diaries" and didn't even known "Countdown to Lockdown" existed.ReplyDelete
I think it had more to do with money - he was paid a rookie announcers salary and it wasn't worth the hassle.ReplyDelete
I completely agree. Yet people accuse WWE of that very act all the time. I think Greg Phillips gets it.ReplyDelete
I may be in the minority here, but I really liked "Hardcore Diaries." Honestly, I think "Foley is Good" is the worst book he has authored.ReplyDelete
I can agree it felt very long winded, but it was also from a place of genuine passion versus "look at how great I am!" which makes it a wash in my book.ReplyDelete
Also being sweared at by Vinny for not saying things the exact right way.ReplyDelete
It was all about being dressed down in a profane manner by the Vin Man. The salary thing came at the end of his tenure, and certainly didn't help.ReplyDelete
I read this in a couple of days after I got it. I don't remember a lot of interesting revelations. He hated having Vince yell at him on the headset. He pitched his usual "put over a young guy" storyline with John Morrison. Creative felt he had to be repackaged. Jeff Jarrett's as out of touch as his clothing would suggest he is, and I assume William Regal was the wrestler who failed a drug test due to over the counter supplements on the verge of the biggest push of his career. I don't remember the Benoit stuff for whatever reason and I didn't consider his match with Sting to be important enough to be the focus of the book.ReplyDelete
I know it doesn't happen often, but I hate those moments where Chris Bosh gets to act like he's important.ReplyDelete
It just got kind of cloying to me, is all. I know it's a good thing, and he's probably the best person in wrestling by my estimation (not knowing any of them personally, obviously), but STILL, it was felt like it was overdone.ReplyDelete
Mick Foley to me in the non-fiction world is like Brian Keene in the fiction world, I'll read whatever he writes and love the hell out of it. I've loved all of Mick's books about wrestling many times over. He pulls you right in, and just has a way with words. I thought this was a really interesting book, because of how much it showed that Mick cares about the product and his performance. I also like that he had "wrestle-meter" so you knew when to skip if you wanted.ReplyDelete
The Lockdown match was pretty good, too. I'd say it's about ***1/2, and would have benefited from going a bit longer.