17
Jun
14

Inside the Ring and Out: Have A Nice Day by Mick Foley

Have a Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and SweatsocksHave a Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley

A wild read about a wild career, Mick Foley’s first memoir (he’s since written two others) is an entertaining, lucid look at the crazy world of professional wrestling.

Starting with his college years as an aspiring wrestler and filmmaker, Foley takes readers through a long, strange career: he started by jumping off of roofs, driving for hours and sleeping in the back of his car and within a few years was working in the myriad web of independent wrestling promotions and leagues. Some of these formed connections that’d serve him well into his career, but others are long-forgotten shows in half-filled bingo halls. With a self-aware charm, Foley recounts this matches as his apprentice years, putting in his dues and slowly improving as a wrestler.

And as he makes clear, it’s hard work. Sure, wrestling’s scripted. But it’s not easy either; on the back of the book is a chart of some of his many injuries over the years: concussions, broken fingers, torn muscles and blown knees. Even with a career that – to when Foley wrote this book some 14 years ago – was relatively short, he paid a physical price. But it was working, too: soon Foley was working with the now-defunct WCW and ECW leagues, slowly building a reputation as someone willing to do anything in the ring if he thought it’d make for a good match.

It’s harrowing stuff: before long, Foley’s writing about matches where he’s slammed with a folding chair, pounded into a concrete floor or thrown into barbed wire like he’s writing about the weather. His matches overseas up the ante: in Germany he loses an ear, in Japan suffers burns after standing too close to a C4 explosion. The pictures liberally scattered throughout the book often show a bloodied Foley, almost always with a grin on his face. His unique personality shines through the book: he loves getting battered almost as much as he loves listening to Tori Amos or going to theme parks.

The book climaxes with his famed run in the now-WWE as the iconic wrestler Mankind, running through matches with people like The Rock or The Undertaker. His recaps of these matches are as crazy as anything: getting dropped off the top of a giant metal cage, getting slammed around until he blacks out. The way he writes it makes it come off as an unlikely rise to the title; reading between the lines, you can see it as him and the WWE planning a way for him to go out on top, with him retiring shortly thereafter. Indeed the scripting of matches is something he only gets into a bit, but they’re some of the most interesting stuff in the book: why certain angles work, why some people catch on while others fade away, what goes into making an entertaining match.

His humility towards himself is interesting: he downplays his talent, insisting he’s really that great. And his out-of-the-ring side doesn’t get addressed very often and his vast support for good causes (building schools overseas, his visits to wounded soldiers or his long hours volunteering for RAINN) aren’t mentioned much, if at all. It’s interesting how much he downplays this side of his life since most autobiographies are relatively self-serving.

On the other hand, I found the recaps of wrestling a little much sometimes: I suspect someone who actually watched these when they happened will get more out of them. Finally, his fratboyish tone was occasionally annoying: there’s a lot of dick jokes here.

Rating: 8/10. A fun, refreshing read about a man who may be a little crazy but is a lot more clever and better at the memoir game than you’d think by looking at his photos. Recommended, especially for wrestling fans.

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