I, Nicholas Wright, just got the chance to meet another WWE wrestling legend and hero of mine. I was able to get another opportunity like this, thanks to the wonderful Ruth at March of Dimes Canada (http://www.marchofdimes.ca, an organization that supports independence, personal empowerment, and community participation for people with disabilities). This time it was Mick Foley, aka ‘Mankind’, aka ‘Dude Love’, aka ‘Cactus Jack’.
Mick Foley is a professional wrestling legend, and member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Now retired from matches in the ring, the 49-year-old Mick Foley is revered in the wrestling world, and widely considered the most fearless superstars to have ever entered the squared-circle. One of his most-iconic moments came at King of the Ring 1998, in Pittsburgh. This is when he, as the Mankind character, faced the Undertaker, and as per the agreed choreography, was launched off of the top of the 16-foot cage through an announcers’ table - the Spanish one, of course. The sight of Mick flying through the air is still surreal to watch, but the real part of that fall was that he dislocated his shoulder. The insanity of the match didn’t end there - Mick incredibly, and against all odds, got back into the match and climbed his way up on top of the cage again. Yet shortly thereafter, he was thrown through the top of the same cage/cell structure, he since made famous, and plummeted down over 12-feet to the mat below. Foley landed there with an audible thud. This second massive fall, was the one that knocked him unconscious, and also sent a dislodged bottom tooth into his nostril somehow or another. But, true to form, Mick wasn’t going to submit. He would again miraculously get back into the ring so that the match could continue. Only on this occasion, was subsequently stabbed thousands of times, all over his body, by a bag full of thumb tacks that he, himself, had dumped onto the canvas. And you ask why I watch professional wrestling? Mick lost that match by the way.
Foley is not only one of the most ‘Hardcore’ athletes ever in sports entertainment, he was also one of the most talented actors both in the ring and on the microphone. He carved out a legacy as not just one character, but three separate and successful personalities, each unique and credible: Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind (when combined referred to as the faces of Foley). This is an unfathomable feat for any professional wrestler, and one that had never and probably will never be done again.
It is a testament to Mick’s acting / story telling abilities, as generally fans would not tolerate this kind of thing. Mick even participated three different times in the same Royal Rumble match, once as each of his 3 characters. Some may nit-pick and say that he had 3 tries and couldn’t win, but I will cut him some slack. I remember that Mick Foley was also a three-time WWE world champion. Did you hear that, a three-time WWE world champion? Oh, and did i mention that he is a multiple time New York Times #1 bestselling author? [* here is where we insert the classic Stone Cold audience participation and yell, “What!?!”.] Mick being a #1 best-selling author will come as no surprise to wrestling fans, his story-telling ability and comedic work during his career with the WCW, ECW, and WWE is among the best of all time. Mick Foley’s first book, “Have a Nice Day” set the ‘gold standard’ for sports entertainment autobiographies.
Mick Foley has made appearances as recently as last week on WWE live shows, where he still gets massive ovations and cheers from the crowd. Outside the ring, rumors are that he is currently working on a Christmas album with country music artist - Shooter Jennings . He has also recently produced a documentary film about what shopping-mall-Santa’s do the rest of the year after the holiday season, it’s called ‘I Am Santa Clause’ (http://iamsantaclausmovie.com/). Mick if you haven’t guessed, is Christmas-crazy. As of now, he has been wearing different pieces of Christmas inspired apparel for well over 300-days straight. During Foley’s time with the WWE he often dressed up as Santa for segments of special holiday episodes. Mick just loves Christmas. It’s about innocence and being a kid, ideals the notable family man, and father of 3, holds close to his heart. Mick’s daughter is even named Noelle. Foley is always busy, yet also always finds time for his kids. So how does he find time to do stand-up comedy as well? Who knows, but that is what he is doing, traveling around the world with his “Hardcore Legend: An Evening with Mick Foley” 2014 tour. It has just made its way across Canada, from the West Coast out East.
This tour stop in Ottawa is how I got my chance to meet Mic Foley. Unfortunately, the venue for the show was inaccessible, so I could not attend. However, Mick was kind enough and able to come meet me before his show and give me a small taste of what he had in store for that night. He brought his buddy, and opener for the show- ‘the real Jason Sensation’. This guy does spot-on impressions of every wrestler imaginable, or at least over 100, he said, when asked. Mick described that Jason would be appearing as the WWE legend Stone Cold Steve Austin to introduce him during the show. According to an article on Slam.canoe.ca (http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/2014/09/26/21968791.html), at Mick’s shows there can be a mixture of laughter, tears, and goosebumps for audience members. Mick’s shows can be both funny and emotional. While some of the stories are covered in his books, seeing them delivered in person must be an entirely different experience. His self-deprecating humor has apparently had near sold-out audiences across the country in stitches. Some of the biggest pops have been reserved for when Foley slips back into his Mankind and Cactus Jack characters, recreating famous promos in their distinctive voices. (apparently Dude Love rarely makes an appearance at Mick’s shows)
Mick Foley has many accolades, as mentioned: three-time WWE World Champion; #1 Bestselling New York Times Author; Hardcore Legend. Yet, Mick lacks the ego that others of similar accomplishment often have. He has long been a favourite interview of wrestling journalists, and is also known to be consistently good to fans. At the end of his shows, Mick makes the time for photos with everyone who wants one, and the lines are often long. Heck, he even gave two ladies who interrupted our short meeting, a moment of his time for a gap-toothed smile and photo-op, before respectfully giving his attention back to me and our visit. He is , and remains the Mick Foley that fans have come to love over the past 25years. I would imagine that seeing ‘An Evening With Mick Foley’, is like the article states, worth the price of admission. Humble. Hilarious. And a great representative of Mankind.
Here are some questions that Mick was nice enough to answer for me:
It seems that your stand-up routine is always a bit different, determined in part by where you are performing, from night to night and place to place. How often are you working on new material?
I’m always trying to make each show unique, but when I start a tour, I try to find a few core stories and a motif to revolve them around. This particular tour, the Hardcore Legend tour, began in April, and will probably end in December. I’ve had stops in cities across North America. Even though I try to make each show unique, beginning in January, (when I start a new tour), I will have a whole new theme and new core stories to work into that theme.
Speaking of different places, what was your favorite city to wrestle in? And also, do you have most memorable stop so far on the comedy tour?
Well let me start by saying that Ottawa was a great experience, because I had arrived one day after the terrible shooting at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The city was in shock and mourning, and a lot of people needed a break from the gravity of the situation. I received so many thank-you’s from people who said they really needed the laughs. I will never forget being in Ottawa.
One of my greatest comedy experiences took place in London, UK, specifically because I took a chance on a piece of comedy that I was told could never work. Even with all the great advice from people that knew far more than me, I decided to give it a shot. It turned out to be a great experience, and one that I actually wish I had recorded because it the response was so amazing.
Some of my favourite places to wrestle have to include Madison Square Garden, because it is near where I grew up, and where I used to hitchhike, or take the bus or train to watch wrestling when I was kid, so to be able to wrestle there was a realization of a childhood dream. I also really like Nassau Coliseum, because it’s 30 minutes from my house, where I live now. Also, Hershey Park Arena, because I could spend the day hanging out in the park, and then I could just walk in the back gates and go to work.
Comedy was always something you did well during your career as a WWE wrestler. It plays import role in professional wrestling and successful sports entertainment. What superstars do you consider to have the most comedic flare?
In the past I really enjoyed playing off The Rock, with the Rock and Sock connection. Some of today’s wrestlers, I like Tino Marella… Colt Cabana does it so regularly and well on the independent scene. In the past, Edge and Christian really delivered some really funny moments along with Olympic gold-medallist Kurt Angle.
You are always busy, taking on new projects, and participating in different things. Can you tell me a little about the Christmas album you are working on with country music artist ‘Shooter Jennings’? And also something about the “I am Santa Claus” movie that you have recently been working on?
It’s an album that will come out on vinyl and Itunes. It’s a story that my son Hugh wrote for mom, dad and Santa Claus, he wrote it when he was nine-years-old. I thought with a little tweaking and help from dad, this could be really special, so it was originally going to be a children’s book. It turns out that Shooter was a fan of mine from when I was wrestling, and I’m a huge fan of his, and when he asked if there was something we could work on together, I said there is this children’s book. He had recorded a country music album with his dad, so he knew to treat Hugh’s story respect, and that story held the same importance to me and my wife, as his album with his dad meant to them as a family. It comes out on November 25th, 2014.
On a larger scope, I am Santa Claus will come out on November 11, 2014 on DVD, Blue Ray and ITunes. And by the way, this movie is not for children, it’s about the men who play Santa Claus, and work so hard at bringing joy, and it’s also about the struggles they endure in the off-season. You can learn more at (http://iamsantaclausmovie.com/)
And just how many Christmas inspired, or specifically Santa Claus themed articles of clothing do you own?
I’m on day 310 of consecutive days of wearing something Christmas-themed. I must have over 100 items, and of course, I mix and match them, but it must be over 100, counting up t-shirts, custom-made button downs, dress shirts and actual Santa Claus regalia. It’s really the only weakness that I have financially. Don’t let me go to a Christmas-themed convention with a credit card!
You must be receiving Christmas-themed items from fans now.
I am sure as the season wears on, I will get one or two ugly Christmas sweaters as gifts from fans, and they will be gladly accepted.
Would you like to come to my parents place for Christmas dinner? I’m inviting you. It would be a blast, and we do all kinds of fun traditional Christmas things. You could come as yourself or Santa.
I don’t have the sleigh, so it would be a long drive.
And lastly, what upcoming projects do you have lined up for 2015? What do you want to accomplish next?
I plan on taking the new tour all over the country, the continent, and parts of the world, and may do a little more writing. And I plan on being the best ambassador for Santa that I can possibly be.
There it is! Thanks so much for your time Mick, both in meeting me and answering these questions for my blog. It was a pleasure to meet you.