Related collections and offers
|Product dimensions:||4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.57(d)|
About the Author
Mankind is one of the three deranged personalities of Mick Foley, onetime World Wrestling Federation Champion. This is his first book.
Read an Excerpt
March 17, 1994, Munich, Germany
"I can't believe I lost my fucking ear; bang bang!" Now, I'm not a big proponent of the "F" wordin fact, I went from age six to age twenty-one without saying it oncebut this was a special occasion and it cried out for a strong expletive. In fact, without the "F" word, that statement just isn't as impressive, is it? Bang bang? Well, for those who know, no explanation is necessary, and for those who don't, well, we'll get to "Bang bang" soon enough.
March 17, 1994, wasn't shaping up to be a real great day anyway, even before the F'ing ear in question was torn off the side of my head. I was not all that happy with my current place of employment. World Championship Wrestling was owned by Ted Turner, but even with Ted's deep pockets behind it, WCW had never really seemed to be on the right path. Part of the reasona huge part of the reason, actuallywas a blatant misuse of talent, a category that I, as Cactus Jack, certainly fell into. In this case we were on a two-week tour of Germany, and I was the only guy on the tour who spoke German. Good German. So it would seem like a natural to have Cactus Jack leading the promotional charge, right? Well, not exactly. In the first week of the tour, I did a few local radio spots while the other guys appeared on national television shows, print work, and promos.
On the first day of the tour Ric Flair, our booker (wrestling vernacular for the guy who makes or breaks you), admitted he wasn't familiar with my work as a babyface (good guy). Now, Flair was a legendary performer in the ringgreat charisma, conditioning, and promos that could raise goosebumps on your arm. But apparently, preparation wasn't the Nature Boy's forte. Not familiar with my work? What the hell does that mean? It's his job to be familiar. I'd been a babyface for all of his fourteen months back with the company. I'd main-evented Pay-Per-Views that he wrestled on. Not being familiar with the talent he was in charge of meant that, in my book (and hey, this is my book), he was every bit as bad on the booking side of things as he was great on the wrestling side of it.
About an hour before the match, Flair had talked to me for a long time about changing the course of my career. Naitch, short for Nature Boy, felt that I needed to be a heel (bad guy). His rationale was simple. "You and Vader had the most brutal bouts I've ever witnessed," began Flair in his trademark voice, a strange combination of lisping and perfect enunciation. "But your rematch didn't raise the ratings at all. Nobody cares about you as a babyface."
Even before the Monday night Raw/Nitro wars, WCW had always lived and died by its television ratings. At that time, its flagship show was WCW Saturday Night. Also at that time, there were no quarter-hour breakdowns to more accurately determine just who was responsible for viewing patterns. In other words, Flair was holding my fifteen minutes on air responsible for the ratings of the entire two-hour show. He also failed to realize that ratings increases are more a result of trends and ongoing story lines than just one match. In my book (and once again, this is my book) Flair was wrong about the ratings. But he sure as hell was right about the brutality of my matches with Vader.
Vader, the real life Leon White, was in 1994 the greatest monster in the business. Guys were terrified of him. His style was the stiffest in all of wrestling. Some guys have a style that looks like they're hurting guys when they're not, which is good. Some guys' stuff looks like crap, but it hurts like hell, which is bad. Vader left no room for error; his stuff looked like it hurt, and believe me, it did.
Some of the newer guys used to actually leave the arena if they saw their name on the board opposite Vader. Other guys would hide until that evening's card had been drawn up, and then come out of hiding if Vader wasn't their opponent. Really, underneath it all, Vader was a nice, sensitive guy. I even saw him cry in the dressing room after he paralyzed a young kid named Joe Thurman (Joe recovered the feeling below his waist a few hours later). Still, when that red light turned on, the '94 Vader's sensitive side seemed to turn off.
Strangely, I enjoyed my battles with Vader. I'd pump myself up for days before a big match and would usually hurt for a few days after. The two matches that Flair had mentioned had indeed been brutal. During the first match, at my suggestion, Vader did a number on my face, even though it seemed that my interpretation of "try to raise a little swelling around my eyes" varied dramatically from his. The toll after match number one was impressive: broken nose, dislocated jaw, fourteen stitches in my eyebrow and seven underneath my eye. The second match almost put me out of wrestling for good.
Now, we should probably get something straight. I know you didn't pay $25 (unless your cheap ass waited for the paperback) to have your intelligence insulted. I will not try to portray professional wrestling as being a "real, competitive sport." I will readily admit to occasionally stomping my foot on the mat, and always placing a greater emphasis on entertainment value than on winning. I have, however, over the course of fifteen years of blood, sweat, and tears, compiled a list of injuries that I would compare to that of any "legitimate" athlete.