Mick Foley Interview

Mick FoleyThis Pro Wrestling Radio classic interview transcript features an interview with WWE Hall of Famer and former world champion  Mick Foley. Mick talks about his career, the NWO, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Harley Race, Goldberg, ECW, his new book, and more. Originally broadcast June 28, 2003.

Eric Gargiulo: I comment on how much I liked the book.

Mick Foley: Hey, thanks. I did feel like it was one of those books that you’d feel compelled to read once they started and to me that is the mark of a good book. One that kind of calls out to you when your’re not reading it and I have read a lot of books that are supposed to be great and I understood while I was reading them that was writing was really good, but I didn’t feel anything in common with the characters or any need to relate to them and I think if there is one strength, and I think that this book does have several strengths, I think that is the strongest point that the main character is very engaging and likable and I think people like you will find that they will be drawn to them. Thanks Eric, I appreciate that.

Eric G: I comment on how real I found the actions of the father, compared to stories I have heard from some wrestling veterans and mention the acknowledgment of Harley Race.

Mick Foley: It is not a wrestling book, but there is some wrestling in it and that the father really is a fascinating guy. He is portrayed as being an ex-wrestler, you don’t find that out until later and it’s kind of a revelation and I am ruining it for all of your listeners. I remember asking Harley a few years ago when I was out there doing a show for him in Kansas City doing a little refereeing thing. Yeah, it was two years ago coming right off when I referee’d the bra and panties match at the pay per view a couple of July’s ago and I asked Harley to think of any bitter light heavyweights who felt that they never got their due because of their size and I remember sitting in the restaurant with Harley and letting him unfold the history of light heavyweights and with the exception of Danny Hodge that none of them never made the big money and that is kind of what I was looking for, the guy that in a real world of fighting could have handled anybody, but it is kind of like the fastest runner is not allowed to win the race, and he harbors a great deal of resentment that surfaces later in the book. In that sense, it is a wrestling book because it follows through flashbacks one guy’s career in the small southern territories during the civil rights era in this country. It’s my stab at historical fiction and I think wrestling fans, and non-fans a like will find it pretty fascinating in that respect.

Eric G: I mention the subliminal references to J.R.’s restaurant and the Fuller’s Alabama promotion.

Mick Foley: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, Robert Fuller was another guy I talked to and Terry Funk was another one. Those were the guys, my three mentors, friends that talked to me about that time period. So, yeah I gave Fuller a mention and said something about his goofy kid helping out in a brawl in Montgomery, and for the guys that want to take a look at the book, there is a hidden character in there that is me. Not a main character, but a guy portrayed as something of a loser on a very small role, but if someone detects the red and black flannel shirt reference from New York in 1985 that would be yours truly.

Eric G: Was it hard coming up with an ending or did you have an ending in mind from the start?

Mick Foley: You know what was one thing that really changed from the time I was talking to Harley and conceiving this weird father-son story until the finished the product is that the original story was supposed to be about manipulation and revenge and it was like one of those Vince Higher Powers angles, “I planned it all along Andy!” Every single thing in this kid’s life would have been a set up. I think it may have been September 11, 2002, that really changed my mind and heart about that, when I sat down I really didn’t want to write about revenge, and I found that the characters are a lot more fascinating when they were true to themselves, instead of just being seen as manipulators from the star. That said, the ending changed a lot because originally I had an even darker ending if you can believe that? What I also did was tie it up in three different epilogues explaining every single thing that I thought the story meant. I had a great editor who said I did not have to explain everything, and that part of the fun as a reader is to try and figure out things on your own, and sometimes writers aren’t sure what they are writing and why they are writing it, so I did not want to give everybody the answer. At some of these book signings if people have read it and have their own take, I’d be glad to tell them what I was thinking. Speaking of that Eric, your show goes through the Jersey-Philly area. I don’t have the schedule in front of me, but I know we are hitting that area pretty hard with book signings. We have one in New Jersey at Bookends on July 19, and than July 16, in Philadelphia.

Eric G: I mention the date in Philadelphia also features a rare reading and Q & A.

Mick Foley: Yeah, that is going to be pretty cool. I believe it is going to be a speaking engagement also, and I am assuming the people listening to this radio show have heard me speak on the wrestling shows and like what I have to say. It is kind of cool to have a separate forum and talk about other things, and of course I am not just going to talk about the book, I will tie in some wrestling stories, and I will mention specific passages that came directly from my wrestling days. Eric G: How odd was it after your lay off to come back and share a locker room with

Eric Bischoff, Bill Goldberg, Sable, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Kevin Nash?

Mick Foley: (Laughs) Well I haven’t seen all of those guys. I didn’t see Rena Mero, Piper, and Hogan. You know it was kind of weird to see Bischoff, but you know I never really hated him, I just had different thoughts about the way he chose to do things. The big concern was Flair, because he deserved to be mad at me, and he has been such a class act about it, and actually we got a long pretty good. At some point that is something I would like to talk to him about, because I think when I was younger in 1993 and 1994, I may have confused business with personal, and I think everybody has a tendency to do that, because business is so personal when your family’s well being is on the line. As far as the other people, the hardest part for me about returning was opening up the doors to the backstage, once that was done it was kinda cool that the first person I saw was Stacy Keibler. She came and gave me running and gave me a big hug, and unfortunately Test was right behind her scouring at me, but after that I saw Stone Cold and talked to him, and it really felt like being home again, in that sense all the things I said (note: in the middle of this, Mick does play by play on a horse diving nearby, and notes how classic this is.) Speaking of coming back I heard you said earlier (as he was waiting to come on) that you have Bruno Sammartino coming on, and that’s funny because one of the producers, I cannot remember which guy said to me, “Geez, we never thought we would see you back here.” I said, “Oh really?” He said, “Yeah, you and Bruno were the ones we never thought we’d see come back.” I am thinking, “I never thought I had that type of Bruno heat.” I think the Bruno heat is all on his end, because I think there is a part of Vince that would love to have Bruno on television, just to acknowledge him, or do something special for him, and from time to time Vince will mention Bruno’s name, like the thing with Kurt Angle, bringing prestige to back to the championship, and he mentioned Bruno, and Vince admitted that he does it partially because he wants to honor Bruno, and partially because he knows Bruno will hate being mentioned on the show. Let’s face it, WWE history is just not the same without Bruno there, you can’t really ignore it. Who knows? I like Bruno, I don’t know him that well but I know him a little bit over the years. Dominic Denucci and Bruno were best friends, Dominic of course is the guy who trained me. It would be good to have Bruno back in the business in some respect.

Eric G: I bring up a story from a few years back when I had worked on staff at an autograph signing for Mick and he playfully gave all of the fans wearing Goldberg T-shirts a hard time.

Mick Foley: Oh, I thought you were going to say I did not sign the autograph. (laughs)

Eric G: What are your thoughts on Goldberg’s recent run in the WWE, especially after his boss publicly called him a disappointment.

Mick Foley: Yeah, yeah. First, when you asked what it was like to see Goldberg, I did not know that I met him until I read it in his book. He said he thought I was a great guy, but just did not understand the reason I did things that I did. I guess he had hair then and did not look quite the same. I kind of felt like I knew him because we both have the same manager, Barry Bloom. Barry speaks really highly of Bill, not just about wrestling, but about the things he does for the community, so I felt like I knew him a little bit, and we hit it off really well. I think the Goldberg case is one of Vince trying to reinvent the wheel. You know what I mean? They have this proven method that really did work, and I think Vince’s pride prevents him from just redoing something that already worked. I think you can’t portray Goldberg as a guy who is in a cage match with 8-9 minutes with Christian. That is not to put Christian down at all, but what got the guy over was that he was a wrecking machine. This brought about a lot of questions on how he would do with this guy, how would he do with Nash, how would he do with Hogan? I think that question was eliminated by using him as just a regular guy. He’s got to be booked like a unique individual, which is what he is. I think on television the other night he had a short, explosive match, and I think that is what needs to be done. So, I would not discount him just yet but certainly I do not think they have done what they could have with him.

Eric G: Is there anyone throughout your career that you felt had “it” to be a star, but never reached their potential? Whether this was their own doing, timing, or an outside influence?

Mick Foley: The two guys that I point out in my book, and I think what you are looking for is someone that my have messed up on drugs a long the way or made bad enemies. The two guys I thought were the most talented that never made it were Rip Rogers and Gorgeous Gary Young. I don’t know if Gary could have been a superstar, but he certainly could have been a strong guy in the middle of the mix. As far as Rip, I thought he was truly one of the most talented guys ever in the business. He was just a little too weird even for our industry. He was the only guy who booked, who didn’t push himself on top. He also believed so strongly in the legitimacy in the characters, that he would not turn. He thought a guy only has one turn in his career and he thought that he had already used it. I would say, “Rip, you are in a different territory. What difference does it make if you turned in Puerto Rico?” He thought that it was one of those things were fans would subliminally know if someone was turning every other month, so that is my answer for you.

Eric G: I mention that the number answer I have gotten over the years is Buddy Landel.

Mick Foley: Buddy Landel, yeah yeah. Buddy, I remember thinking, “What’s the big fuss about Buddy?” I only really saw him when he was just doing it to kind of make end’s meat. Then I got in the ring one time for Bert Prentice’s old group with him and Tommy Rich, of course it was not a very big crowd. It was not like we were all getting out of control, but the stuff they did was so well done and well timed, that I finally understood what everyone saw in this guy.

Eric G: Do you think ECW as everyone knew it could be successful today?

Mick Foley: You know what I think if you did rehash it and tried to make the new ECW, it would never live up to the old days. I remember when I first started in the WWF as Mankind, you would have ECW chants at every arena. Loud ones. Then, Vince’s product became rougher, and harder edged, and it kind of took away that need for ECW in a sense. I think Paul E. addressed that when he accused Vince on television of ripping off his ideas. I think Vince was doing what he had to do to survive, and that was incorporating a hardcore style, and little, by little the ECW chats went away, and the WWF was for the new ECW. They certainly had all the old guys in there, the hardcore guys, plus the guys that could really go like Benoit, Malenko, and Guerrero, guys like that.

Eric G: Are you surprised at that the WCW Invasion angle did not blow up and become as big as some thought it could have been?

Mick Foley: Well, I was right there for a little while. Don’t you ever forget that I was the referee of that Bra and Panties match, I’ll never forget that (laughs). Here is what I thought, where I thought they went wrong, and there were a lot of little mistakes made. Even if everything had been done the same, even if Goldberg had not come in for a couple of years on the road, and even if Steiner had not been brought in, all that, all the talent was the same. I firmly believe that when they had the Invasion pay per view, I firmly believe that when Stone Cold Steve Austin. Remember when he returned in the pool hall, and he was debating about whether or not to come back? Then he came back on the side of the WWF, then he turned. But, when he turned he went right back to doing the funny stuff. Remember? I really think if when he had turned, if he went back to being the old Stone Cold Steve Austin, and left it up to the fans to decide whether or not to cheer or boo, and really at that point, l who would have cared whether people were cheering the WCW Stone Cold Steve Austin? My feeling is, he would have given them such a shot of legitimacy that it would not have mattered. Everything in hindsight is always 20-20, so who knows? But, certainly they could have gotten more mileage out of it than what they did.

Eric G: What are your thoughts on the departure of Jeff Hardy, considering his style was very physical like yourself?

Mick Foley: Yeah, I read his book and it was like, “Geez Jeff, can you like this stuff any less?” I think that is where the fact that we do not have an off-season kind of hurts, because it is just the burn out factor. I guess he found music, and that is what made him happy. Certainly if he could have taken a long period of time off, and he worked on his music during his time off, he could have came back to wrestling and been refreshed. He never seemed to be able to work on his character to the point of where people would show up to see him do something other than wild maneuvers. If he had been able to do that, it certainly would have taken pressure off of his character of being the guy that had to risk life and limb every week.

Eric G: Was it hard adjusting to being at home and family life after so many years on the road? I comment about NFL players who jump right into broadcasting, because they cannot handle the home life.

Mick Foley: I can understand where that happens to people. I went to a Trisha Yearwood show and she talked about how she would come home and she just was not good at being home. That is kind of the same thing with our (WWE) guys, they are so used to the freedom of the road, and the rush of the crowd, and now you come home and you have to feed guinea pigs, and all of that. Even when I came home from the Garden on the big tribute night, I came home, and by that time I had really been hurting from being thrown down the stairs. I get home and my wife is like, “Mick, can you take out the garbage?” I am laying down in bed and thinking, “Three hours ago 20,000 people were chanting my name,” which is a good thing. A lot of people do not have that family life to keep them grounded, and they want that mystique, and the power of the wrestling industry. I think what made it easier for me was that I did have the writing, which kind of fulfilled the creative urge. Also, I made a conscious effort to start doing stuff in Long Island, and elsewhere, talking to kids, reading to camps, doing some stuff with the Make-A-Wish and Marty Lyons Foundations. In a weird way, I may go in and talk to special needs kids and read the Christmas story to them, but I will redo the rhymes so that all of the kids are in the story, and I will get a reaction that is every bit to me as important and impressive, as a standing ovation from thousands, even though you are talking about 15-20 kids. For me, all of that has been very useful in making post-wrestling life a little bit easier.

Eric G: How many of those references in your other books to the Mean Street Posse were directed at Marc Mero?

Mick Foley: (Laughs) There were a few where I was asked, “Geez, take it easy on this guy.” I kind of did change the Mean Street Posse, I don’t think any of them were that mean. (laughs) The Marc Mero situation just bothered me when I was just breaking in (in the WWF), and Austin and I were riding in the car, and both of our careers were going pretty well, and but Marc Mero had come in with a big guaranteed contract. It just really ate at me, and at the same time I think it drove me to be better. If you don’t mind me ending with a cheap plug in traditional Foley style, I would just like to say for guys like you that read the book and liked it, obviously positive feedback, and having people talking is a great tool for selling books. What I have done on Mickfoley.com, and WWE was nice enough to allow me to get that back up and running, is that I took out four or five specific excerpts that I thought that our fans would enjoy, and it kind of covers the whole territory emotionally of the book. Everything from the strange father-son relationship, to the romantic interest in his life, to the weird sex, and the graphic violence. My sense is that if the people read that, they will have a pretty good idea of what the book is like, and if they like those excerpts, they will like the book. If they read it and they don’t like the excerpts, they will save themselves $20. That is Mickfoley.com, and I believe it has a tour schedule. Eric, I want to thank you for having me on, like I said I think I have three or four Jersey-Philadelphia appearances, as well as the big kick off one July 9 at the Barnes and Noble in New York City, so hope to see as many wrestling fans out there as possible. I appreciate it and have a nice day!

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