Saturday, 23 April 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Mick Foley - Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks

BOOK REVIEW - Mick Foley - Have a Nice Day - A Tale of Blood and SweatsocksAs you may have noticed by some of my more recent posts, I've been on a bit of a reading kick lately, ploughing my way through wrestling autobiographies, so it made perfect sense to me to go back to the original and -arguably- the best of the bunch. 

Sure, Foley's best-selling tome may not have been the first wrestling autobiography out there (of all things, I remember reading You Grunt, I'll Groan by British World of Sport star Jackie Pallo back when I was a kid), but it was the one that kick-started the trend of major US stars chronicling their career in book form.

Released at the peak of the Attitude Era, Have a Nice Day was perhaps like nothing else that had come along before it, and deserves every ounce of the praise that was heaped upon it at the time. 17 years later (wow, do I feel old!), the book remains a fascinating insight into not only pro wrestling's most popular and profitable period, but also the life, career, and thought-process of one it's -dare I say it- unique performers.

That said, this book is more than just a bloody and brutal trip down memory lane, it's a dramatic, captivating, and thoroughly engrossing story all of its own. It's the story of a man who, for all intents and purposes, never looked set to become one of the biggest stars yet did anyway thanks to a lot of hard work, determination, and sacrifice.

It's the story of a somewhat weird guy with one ear, multiple scars, and missing teeth who thrived in an industry where chiseled, picture-perfect looks were often lauded as factors critical to a star's success, a story of a man who enjoyed success anyway by bringing his strengths to the fore and being as creative as he was courageous in taking every physical and political obstacle hurled in his path and turning it to his advantage.

Physical injuries, ears and teeth missing? Foley made them part of his character. Screwed over by WCW? Foley turned that into one of the hottest angles ECW had going in the mid-1990s. Lumbered with the Lost in Cleveland sketches this fan still vividly remembers watching on Saturday afternoons as a kid? Yeah well, I suppose there's obstacles so bad even the Hardcore Legend couldn't make work for him.

What I found just as fascinating about reading this book two decades after it was published was just how popular wrestling used to be back in the late 90s. Though I was glued to my TV screen for every hardcore match, every crotch-chop, every Steve Austin Beer Bash and every ass whooping Mick Foley was served, the passing of time has naturally made me forget that I was watching all this at a time when wrestling wasn't just popular, but was as mainstream and globally famous as the industry has ever been.

So, though he'll likely never read this review, I guess I should say thank you to Mick Foley, for reminding me of the days when I was perhaps at my happiest as a fan at a time when I just can't seem to care about the WWE's current product, for entertaining me through those years, and the years before it, and for providing me with one hell of a read, seventeen years after Have a Nice Day was first published.


One more thing: If you want some more Foley, check out my review of the legendary IWA: King of Death Match Tournament from 1995.

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.