Mick Foley could be the poster child for the idea that there’s some truth in wrestling.
After all, it wasn’t fake blood he was spewing when he fell through the “Hell in a Cell” structure that was built for his famed 1998 bout with The Undertaker.
Foley, who wrestled as the WWE’s Mankind persona, was knocked unconscious from the fall, but eventually finished the match with one of his front teeth lodged in his nose.
What the audience didn’t know at the time was that the cell’s ceiling was rigged to fall part-way apart. That the whole thing collapsed was unexpected — and definitely unintentional.
But then so much of professional wrestling, although more entertainment than sport, is unpredictable.
Something about having a couple of 300-pound men in spandex go at each other in the ring predetermines a certain level of risk, admitted Foley, who’s bringing his live comic/autobiographical stage show to Red Deer’s Memorial Centre on Friday, Sept. 26.
“Things either go wrong or they go right. My whole career was known as much for its spectacular failures as its big successes.”
Arguably his biggest coup happened after his retirement from the ring in 2000. That’s when Foley reinvented himself as a best-selling author (of the memoirs Have A Nice Day, Foley is Good and others), a stand-up comedian (Just for Laughs and other festivals) and a storyteller who earned spots with Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart and other late-show TV hosts.
The Bloomington, Ind., native has also guest-starred on 30 Rock, Boy Meets World and Celebrity Wife Swap and now has enough of a fan following to warrant a 20-city tour of Hard-Core Legend: An Evening with Mick Foley.
His show is billed as being for wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike: “A full course meal for the senses, including Q and A and meet and greet — all done with the use of one solitary F-bomb.”
The 49-year-old said he draws on universal human truths to make his “PG-13 show” resonate with people.
But he warned that being in front of a live Red Deer audience could be as unpredictable as his career in the ring. “Who knows what to expect? It’s always a surprise.
“You try something a little different, it’s like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.”
For example, it once crossed Foley’s mind that “just because no ex-wrestler has ever tried to be Dorothy from Oz in braids and blue gingham dress, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. …”
He went ahead and tried the comic Oz bit — and it went over like an anvil.
But better to have tried something new, he added, than to have stuck with obvious choices — as if playing it safe has ever been a Foley failing.
“Who would ever have thought that an awkward, shy, tall, unmuscled physical specimen like me could ever have been a wrestler in the first place?” he said with a chuckle.
That he not only wrestled professionally as Mankind and Cactus Jack for 16 years, but became known for absorbing the kind of “seemingly inhuman punishment” that left him in need of yet more back surgery this month, surely indicates Foley is an all-in kind of guy.
The married father of four admitted he would never want his sons to go into professional wrestling. But two of his kids are already filming their own battles on top of a trampoline.
And Foley knows better than to try to stop them.
“The best way to ensure your children will do something you don’t want them to do is to tell them not to do it.”
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $37.50 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.