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" Again check.

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 � *

Reviewed by Aaron Hurt on March 25, 2007.

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