The Hardcore Diaries
by Mick Foley
Description: If I, as merely a wrestling fan, were to espouse the same ideas and make
the same comments and criticisms about WWE's creative policies that Mick
Foley does in his latest autobiography The Hardcore Diaries, my ideas would
be called "fantasy booking" and I would be derisively tagged as a jaded
cynic who needs to get off the internet and out of mommy's basement and
worry about more important things than wrestling. But when Foley himself
concocts outrageous, but perfectly plausible and potentially entertaining
angles and gimmicks for his upcoming appearances only to find himself
mystified by the company's ineptitude at conceiving of and executing said
concepts, it becomes a story about not just one man, but an entire industry
suffering a crisis of confidence about what qualifies as good business.
Sadly, the details of this captivating and volatile conflict are found
lurking amid a 370 page rant that far too frequently veers from its supposed
subject (wrestling, I think) into politics and treacly anecdotes about the
Hardcore one's well-intentioned philanthropy, among other topics.
That isn't to say The Hardcore Diaries doesn't serve some purpose, however.
Many will find it refreshing to see ol' Cactus Jack still desperately eager
(for a while at least) to blow the collective minds of wrestling fans
worldwide with his unique capacity for ultraviolence. If you've read Foley's
other two autobiographical volumes, you ought to know what else to expect.
Al Snow and Test jokes? Check. Santa Claus, Katie Couric and Terry Funk?
Check. Disturbing and quizzical uses of the phrase "bald-headed champion"
Foley has always been the fan's wrestler in the ring; willing to do
whatever it may take to make the maximum impact on the crowd, but the
chronicle of his journey from feuding with Randy Orton, to ECW ONS '06 and
his subsequent program with Ric Flair reveals him to be the fan's wrestler
behind the scenes as well.
In several instances, Foley's comments sound like something you would read
on one of those dirty, parasitic internet wrestling forums, but
unfortunately, as a narrative, it often feels scatterbrained and not quite
equal to the sum of its parts. But Foley also never lets the reader forget
about the economic realities of both his and Vinnie Mac's position in the
grand scheme of things. At these points, the former King of the Death Match
experiences the disillusionment a large portion of his audience has felt
about WWE for the last five years or so.
The penultimate example of such occurs on p. 141 as Mick recounts a
conversation he had with WWE writer Ed Koskey regarding VKM's failure to
accept Foley's request of letting Terry Funk cut a promo live on Raw,
despite being adamant about how integral it was to the success of their
angle. "It was then that the conspiracy theorist inside me surfaced, causing
me to ask a blunt question before I had given my mind a chance to decipher
the wisdom of such a choice. 'We do want this show to succeed, don't
we?'"(Finally, someone says what so many of us have come to suspect.) Foley
continues, "It was posed as a question, but it was obviously an accusation,
and not as ridiculous as it might seem. Over the years there have seemed to
be Pay-Per-Views that were designed to fail, self-fulfilling prophecies of
failure for good wrestlers who were finally given top spots on shows that
didn't have a chance. Sure, it seemed to be mostly an old WCW trend, but
there have been times when WWE's promotion of certain shows looked so
lethargic as to make one wonder." (I know that I and the 90,000 others who
ordered December to Dismember did about $40 worth of wondering.)
In the meantime, Foley also devotes a chapter to a surreal encounter
involving not only the Johnny Ace of the War in Iraq Paul Wolfowitz, but
also Doonesbury creator Gary Trudeau. Throughout the book, he makes enough
far-left liberal laments about the Bush administration to nearly cause one
to check the spine and see if they bought an Al Franken book by mistake.
Ultimately, the crux of Foley's political pontifications is the general
sentiment that George W. Bush is to world diplomacy and domestic prosperity
what Vince McMahon is to realistic characters and technical wrestling.
If you can't stomach that comparison, then this probably isn't the Mick
Foley book for you. And if you happen to concur with that rasslin'/poly-sci
analogy, then I've already transcribed the most crucial passages of the
book. The rest is either a variation on those themes in some way, or else a
personal recollection, which while demonstrative of Foley's immensely
likeable personality, come off as trivial at best and tedious filibustering
otherwise. The humor in this installment is primarily of the gallows sort,
and overall, the book feels far more rushed and its subject matter more
inconsequential than his others. You should already know if you agree with
Mick's point of view and if you're enough of a fan to need this book. Those
only moderately interested should wait for the paperback (which will likely
include a bonus chapter) or for your local library to add it to their
catalog. To be candid, most fans would likely be best served by watching his
in-ring work at One Night Stand '06 and with Ric Flair and making up their
own minds about the merits of these moments. Whatever you decide, all you
need to know is that while Foley is still good, he's often been much better.
Rating: 2 ½ *
Reviewed by Aaron Hurt on March 25, 2007.