Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Foley is Good: Books and Dreams

When I started watching wrestling, I was amazed by the high production values. Fireworks, a big screen at the top and each wrestler had his own “music video” to enter to. It was great. And then the merchandizing hit me and I was just one of those guys who needed to get a shirt of DX and get the books that were coming out. I didn’t get Have a Nice Day because I wasn’t a big fan of Mankind. I never got to see what was so great about him outside the Rock N Sock Connection. While his matches were great, especially the two PPV matches he had with Triple H, he just didn’t click with me. The Rock was a different story and it was his mic skills that impressed me the most. So naturally when he came out with a book I had to pick it up. If I loved hearing what he had to say, then reading what he wrote could only be as good right? Well sort of. I read his book and it was pretty much an autobiography. Most of it focused on his rise through the WWF and also had some memories of his growing up in a wrestling family. When reading it I had newfound respect for the man name Dwayne Johnson and what all wrestlers go through to make it in the business. While I was hoping for more detail on the in ring action when I picked up the book, I had a new interest in what happens behind the scenes and what really goes on in the locker rooms and how egos can clash with story lines. The Rock’s book didn’t have so much detail but this made me appreciate Mick Foley’s book all the more.

Foley is Good details the end of his career but it also brings up issues that he faced throughout his whole career and what most other wrestlers go through. The point in the book when he is talking about medication and how people can view taking certain medication as weakness really makes me sympathetic towards wrestlers that put there bodies on the line. I have had pain only once in my life when I could not go to sleep but to have most of your day consumed by it seems to be something that I might never go through. I think that we can look down on those who took steroids because there was no reason for it. Maybe to get a career push but they have no one to blame but themselves for the ill effects it gives them. But painkillers are a different story it seems. What can one say about a person who needs this medication so they can literally get through day without screaming or collapsing from the pain?

Mick Foley details lots of his dreams and aspirations and even though one knows the outcomes are fixed, it seems that being the champ is something that means a lot to a wrestler. It says something about the way they perform, the way they get a reaction from the crowd and the amount of respect a wrestler gets from a company. I am sure having to drop the title to other people just to be pushed out of the spotlight must have been hard on Mick. He got taken out of Wrestlemania and then had his title taken from him after Summerslam. It speaks volumes for Mick’s character and loyalty to the business and company. If only other superstars were like him and willing to make someone else look good or have the spotlight, then I am sure bad storylines and bad endings would not occur as often.


narwood said...

We could in fact say a few things about the pain med junkies. Firstly, that the best way to solve the pain problem is probably to stop wrestling. There are alternative pain management strategies for chronic pain. Or how much fun would it be if a wrestler got friendly with a chemist and eradicated all pain receptors?

The distinction you draw between the use of pain killers and the use of steroids is one I find problematic. You imply that steroids are optional and a silly choice, given the possible ramifications in exchange for a 'career push.' But as we've seen, few wrestlers make it to the top, and thus make money. For those on the under-card, or those mid-carders, looking around at the slew of "chistled body builders" flying first class and headlining matches, this little 'career push' might be the difference between being able to support your family or not. It's like saying that anorexia is the fault of every model, actor, and person afflicted with it, and has nothing to do with societies unrealistic standards of beauty. This is a valid opinion, but disregarding external factors entirely is careless.

You also note that: "If only other superstars were like him and willing to make someone else look good or have the spotlight, then I am sure bad storylines and bad endings would not occur as often."

Aside from a few situations, I have seen no indication in this course that "superstars" do not, for the most part, follow the plans Vince lays out. What is this assertation based on? I admit Foley is a cute and cuddly Winnie-the-Pooh for the wrestling world, a fact bouyed by his personable and prolific writings, and (so far) by his demeanor in our classroom, but is the indication really that the perfect wrestler must be unfailingly selfless? We see similar comments regarding Ric Flair, and both wrestlers have legacies reflecting their actions, but so long as others are doing their jobs, why the aesthetic judgment?

Sam Ford said...

Luis, one of the big differences in Mick's book and Rock's book is the presence of that ghostwriter, that Mick wrote his book. That's always key to keep in mind. But I think you are quite right that fans or scholars or anyone else interested in the performance of pro wrestling must keep in mind the great dangers and the wear-and-tear on the body that comes along with wrestling. That's key. On the other hand, so is Tess' point--wrestling is not the only line of work in the world, and I think it's naive of people wanting to be in wrestling to think that they shouldn't have other options in a post-wrestling life, since very few people create a character with a long-term legacy.

As for the questions about building legacy, Foley's issue has always been that losing is not a big deal but rather it depends on where you lose and how well you lose. Foley managed to lost most of his marquee matches, but he did so in a way that you noticed. Flair could do the same. Rock could do the same. People react to this much better than someone like Hogan who always wants to win, I think, but it doesn't mean that Flair and Rock and Foley are completely one in wrestling is least not anyone you've ever heard of. :)

Carolina said...

I read Rock's book and it wasn't nearly as good as Mick's, which was surprising since I was a huge Rock fan, definitely more so than a Mick Foley fan. But yes, Mick's storytelling and the way his humor makes for a fantastic read all around.

I agree with you on what you said about the pain medication. I think fans in general sometimes don't realize how hard it physically is to do what pro wrestlers do night in and night out, so many days out of the year. I personally don't even think I could stand the traveling schedule alone, and that's not saying anything for the physical attributes of the actual shows. It makes it easy to understand why the painkillers come into play and why some guys get hooked on those painkillers.

With steroids though, it's not as cut and dry. I can understand why you'd think that taking steroids is a cheap way to just get a push, and that there's no substantial reason to do it, unlike with prescripted medication. But I would have to say that it's not so easy to look down on guys who take steroids when you look at the line of work they're in. With all the traveling and wrestling, it's gotta be hard to find time to hit the gym to maintain their body shapes. And maintaining body shape and figure is crucial in pro wrestling if that's what you've based your entire shtick on. Is it justifiable, no, probably not, but it's definitely understandable.

Sam Ford said...

Carolina, I think it's key to remember that Mick wrote his book, while Rock used a ghost writer, which may speak volumes about the difference between the two.