Mick Foley Web Column (8/26)

COUNTDOWN TO COUNTDOWN: 35 DAYS

Mick Foley

Mick Foley

Yes, hard to believe, but it’s only 35 days until the big debut of Countdown. Plenty of time for plugs and quotes and outtakes and such, but today I just want to go over a few things that have been on my mind over the last week. This has been a very exciting time for me; I can’t remember a year where I have had so many different interesting things going on simultaneously. I even teased a big surprise on my Twitter account, which I will not be revealing here – as much as I would like to.

Speaking of Twitter – wow, it’s pretty addictive, right? And to think, I was mocking JB (behind his back, of course) all this time. Thanks to everyone who has climbed on-board the Foley Tweet Train – over 15,000 so far. JB is kind of my tweeting mentor, and he feels like I have really gotten the hang of it. There have been so many times when I have thought of something over the years that seemed mean to share with fans, but I didn’t have the means to do so. Now I do. Of course, sometimes I have more to0 say than 140 characters will allow, which is when I go to http://www.tnawrestling.com or my Typepad account. So, from now on, whenever I have something I think is worth going into more detail on, I will send out a tweet @realmickfoley and direct you to it.

MICK FOLEY’S TYPAD ACCOUNT

For example, I tweeted a couple times about Lindsay Lohan, wishing her luck as she goes through a difficult time. I write a little bit in the new book about Lindsay; in my opinion, she has been through way too much, in the most public way possible. Remember – she’s just 24, and she’s made many of the same mistakes everyone has, just in a much more public forum. I do remember meeting her a couple of times right after “The Parent Trap”, and she was the sweetest kid. She gladly took photos and talked with my kids backstage at the Aaron Carter show, and sat next to me for several hours at the Marty Lyons Foundation holiday party. I saw her kindness and patience as she took the time to make each and every kid feel special. She was the only guest there who wasn’t a sports person – a pro-athlete of some sort, or a washed up pro-wrestler. She was there simply because she wanted to be there, and she was the hit of the party. She felt very much like the little sister I’d never had as she’d get all shy and blush when asking me for advice on boys, and things of that nature. I still see that sweet, shy kid when I see the grown-up Lindsay in trouble – and know it might make me seem naive, I really think the magic power of a good Mick Foley hug, and some words or encouragement coulod go a long way. I know good people when I meet them, even if they go on to be huge stars and have problems. Lindsay Lohan is a good person…and I wish her all the luck in the world.

A few people have suggested that what Lindsay really needs is a good kick in the butt. Maybe so, but not from me. I’m a believer in the power of peace, love and understanding…what’s so funny about that? In many ways, Lindsay has led a life that few could dream of, let alone touch. But she’s young and she’s human. Every human makes mistakes, especially young ones, and no one is beyond redemption; personally, professionally and spiritually. I know it’s human nature to pile on when a public personality is down. Not me. If I could, I would peel all the haters, moralizers and bad news rubberneckers off that pile one by one,, pick her up, and help her in any way possible.

A few days ago, I sent out a tweet about a cool band from Sweden that I heard while hosting VictorVTV for Victory Records in Chicago. Sister Sin rocks considerably harder than the usual Foley selections, but I was blown away by their new album “True Sounds of the Underground”. It usually takes me awhile to make my way through a whole CD these days, but I keep coming back to so may of the kick-ass tunes on this album. In particular, I think “Outrage” would make for a great tie-in tune for a TNA PPV, and though it’s hard to predict success in the constantly changing world of music, where one act after another looks just like the other – in pop, country and rock, if these guys (and one sexy young lady-check Liv out on the VictorVTV show) get a little exposure, they might just catch on with the masses.

Who can really explain what it is about certain music that drives and inspires different people? Though I’m not usually a music and headphones guy, there have been distinct times when I have found great comfort and/or inspiration before particularly important matches through some unlikely artists. I explore thins quite a bit in the new book, in the chapter “Meeting Tori Amos”, where I wonder just what it might be about a particularly beautiful tori song that inspires me to do things in the ring that are not particularly beautiful. It was the first chapter I wrote for the book, and is absolutely the chapter that means the most to me. Check out the “Afterword” in the book to see what a profound change writing that chapter made in my life. Don’t like Tori Amos? Don’t worry – there is a surprising ammount of blood and guts in the chapter as well. Besides, regardless of musical preferences, I think it’s a chapter that pays tribute to the ability of artists and their art to touch the lives of those around them; to inspire others to be just a little bit braver. stronger, tougher, more important than they ever felt they could be.

I was very sad to hear of the passing of Skandor Akbar. Ak was a tremendous influence on me, both in the ring and out, and I hope you will enjoy my remembrances of this legendary figure. RIP, my friend.

REMEMBERING THE GENERAL

My beloved Ford Fairmont had finally hit the deck for good, following many a glorious road trip from Cortland, NY to Pittsburgh, Pa., as I slowly worked my way into the fold and some sort of respectability at Dominec DeNucci’s school in Freedom, Pa. The school was about 380 miles, one way from my college at Cortland, I came to understand that certain sacrifices were going to be made out of necessity if I was going to follow this foolish dream of becoming a professional wrestler Sacrifices like foregoing the relative luxury of the Admiral Perry Motor Inn, which offered up a semi-clean room and a regular hissy fit from the owner, all for $15 a night.

That Fairmont was good to me though; traversing the rugged terrain of the Ohio and West Virginia independent scene, sometimes with big stars from Bill Watts’s UWF in tow (Chris Adams, Terry Taylor),sometimes an NWA star or two (before they became WCW) that I’d been lucky enough to drive from their hotel to the Pittsburg Civic Arena. On one specific night, I saved the whole bleepin’ show, in the eyes of the Lightning Express, Brad Armstrong and Tim . U nfortunately for the Express, they figured out en-route that they had forgotten their ring music. “Well, maybe I could help”, I offered up meekly. “Armstrong looked at me and smiled. “Brother, I seriously doubt you can.” he said. “Not unless you happen to have “Train Train” by Blackfoot laying around. Within two seconds, a Blackfoot cassette was in their hands, and the night was saved for the Lighting Express and all who loved them. I felt a special sense of pride that night when Brad and Tim hit the ring; really feeling that I’d made my first, honest to goodness contribution to the business.

I believe it was Terry Taylor who described my car this way: “Shitbox car, kickass stereo”.- a fairly accurate assessment. But unfortunately, Ford Fairmonts do not run on tunes alone, and as I saw it resting in Billy’s (no last name, just Billy) garage/home, and got the bad news from the man himself (he’d tried to save it, but there was nothing more that he could do) I got the distinct feeling that one name Billy was going to euthanize my beloved pet Fairmont in order to put him out of his misery.

I was devastated; that car had meant so much to me. Not only had it held my sleeping bags and an inordinate amount of fast food wrappers, but for a short time, the back seat had paid host to some rather spirited make-out sessions with a post-flower power free spirit who had a most persausive tongue. I never even attempted to cop a feel in the cracked burgundy backseat of that piece of crap Fairmont, but to this day, I can’t listen to Jefferson Starship’s “Miracles” without thinking of the cop that should have been but never was.

But life moves on, and the fact of life was that along with Gorgeous Gary Young, I was being requisitioned to Texas, to the vast frontier of World Class Championship Wrestling. After sifting through the wretched refuse that made up the Nashville used car scene, an unlikely angel appeared in my life; the twisted facade of Mike Davis of the Rock’n’Roll RPM’s. Mike may have been the most poorly cast “rocker” of all time, but he was a good guy, and a hell of a worker, and later found his true calling as “Maniac” Mike Davis, who, among other things, would dress up as a red and white barber pole, and then spin out of control all over his opponents. “I’ll tell you what Jackson”, Davis said, using a name for me that almost made sense at the time. “I heard you need a car, and my old lady has one to sell. How does a hundred dollars sound?”

To tell you the truth, it sounded like all the money in the world, and the car, a Plymouth Arrow, with one unusable front door, made the piece of crap Fairmont look like it was a custom George Barris muscle car by comparison. In fact, of all the uncool cars I’ve owned, this Davis Arrow was undoubtedly the least of the least. But at least it got me to Dallas. Whizzing and banging, puffing and sneezing, but it got me to Dallas.

I’m not sure that Gary and I were ever supposed to be a big deal in Big D. Certainly not by the way we were booked in our first even, a twenty minute broadway (time limit draw) with Steve Casey, and the returning Tony Falk, who had donned a rugged cowboy hatin order to transform into “Cowboy” Tony, from the Androgenous “Boy Tony”, a name that raised many a goosebump up and down the spine of many an opponent.

We must have made a decent impression that night, especially when I went to get the Arrow in the parking lot, only to find that two of the tires had been slashed, by angry fans. In most lines of work, having tires slashed would not be looked on as a good thing. But wrestling is not most lines of work; it’s wrestling, where slashed tires meant “heat” from the fans, which meant people care, which meant this cactus Jack/Gary Young team had to be given another look. Indeed, within two days, we were given the news that we were going to go with the General. The General? Scandor Akbar, the founding father of Devestation , Incorporated, the most hated heal group in the territory. I think, by that time, they were also the only heal group in the territory. No doubt about it, being with Scandor Akbar’s Devestation Inc. was the biggest honor of my career at that point.

What a group it was, too. The Black Ninja, Keiji Muto, who would return to Japan and become one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Jimmy Jack Funk, Kamala and Kamala 2, and now, the new guys, Cactus and Young.

Perhaps that Plymouth Arrow was actually a blessing in disguise, the way it chugged from town to town, barely making it most of the time, once in a while not making it at all. When it finally stopped for good, in the mountains of Pennsylvania, I just took the plates off and left it on the side of the road; hitch-hiking to the wrestling show because that’s just the way you do things when you wrestle.

But knowing the limited lifespan of the Arrow, I was far more open to the possibility of riding with a couple of our more seasoned veterans, Akbar and Bronco Lubich, a grizzled old main-eventer from Charlotte who did 40 mph in the fast lane and actually refereed slower than he drove. But, oh, the stories they could tell! Most of Bronc’s started out with “I remember one time, I was working in on top in Charlotte…it was sold out”, a precurser to Ricky Morton’s oft-heard declaration, “Brother, me and Robert sold this sonuvabitch out”. Bronc was a lovely man, though and a perfect foil for the tough as nails Akbar, who showed no signs of weakness for at least two weeks, as we lumbered through the rugged Texas countryside, doing 40 in the fast lane.

Akbar liked to yell every now and then. One night, without the reassuring presence of Bronco to comfort him, AK went on a tear, throwing around the F-bomb in much the same way Vince McMahon did twenty years later. I was barely 23, and though I could drop an elbow off the apron from 12 feet with uncanny precision, I was absolutely petrified. Ak did this on a fairly regular basis after all. After a couple minutes, he started laughing. “General, are you ok?” I asked. Ak kept right on laughing for a while, then got serious and turned to me. “God damn I love going off, Jack”, he said with a big smile. “I love it!”

“You mean, you thought that was fun?”, I said

Ak looked at me philisophically. “Jack, after I go off, I just feel so great. I sleep so well. I try to go off at least a couple times a week.” He even encouraged me to give it a try, an offer I turned down at the time, but in my own way took up several years later, during my ECW promos. I’ll be darned if the General wasn’t right, too; going off in those promos – on the fans, my opponent, myself, whoever, made me peaceful, almost serene, and I slept really well as long as I had that outlet to go off.

But “going off” was just a small part of Skandor Akbar. He was a true gentleman who looked out for and cared about the guys in his flock. We may have been a fictitious band of bad guys, but there was a definite family feel to Devestation, and even after leaving, I would talk to the General about the possibility of putting together a Devestation reunion party. From time to time, as I travelled around, I’d run into guys who had served under the General and we’d share our favorite story about our time in the Sportatorium or laugh about something Ak had done or told us. We finally got to do a little Devestation Reunion Party in 2000, though it was only a handful of his guys, representing different eras inside Ak’s incorporation: me, Kamala, King Kong Bundy and the Missing Link. I think I’ve still got a couple of those show 8×10’s laying around the Foley house.

More than anything, I remember Skandor Akbar as a man who took a genuine interest in my life. He was concerned, not only that I was doing a few too many things that might not lend themselves to career longevity, but that I might be hurting my status as a bad guy by being too nice to everyone outside the Sportatorium. “Jack”, he said, his big expressive eyes awide with genuine concern, with those impossibly furry eyebrows dancing around for added emphasis. “You work so hard, and you put yourself through so much. I just don’t want you to lose your heat because everyone knows you’re the nicest guy in the building.” I nodded, but didn’t truly understand. I think Ak sensed that I just wasn’t going to be the guy to be rude to fans or yell or brow beat them in order to stay a heel. “I’m not saying you have to be mean or anything. Just stop making it so hard to boo you.”

He was a great guy. He loved the oldies, and to this day, I steal an Akbar line verbatim anytime I’m asked if I have music at an independent show.

“Yes, I do…This Magic Moment”

I heard about the General’s passing two days ago. I don’t feel the sense of tragic loss that I do at the deaths of others in the business, because unlike so many in this wrestling business, he’d lived a full life. He was a figure who commanded immediate respect, but who reciprocated and gave back in so many ways. I was proud to be one of his “boys”, and he never hesitated to tell me how proud he was of me every time we got together over the years. It was twenty two years ago that the General bestowed on me the two most lasting gifts of my career: he took me to my first Whataburger, and showed me that saving money can be a joy, not a sacrifice.

So the next time I head through the Lone Star state, and see that majestic “W” slicing through the blue Texas sky, rest assured that I will honor the General’s memory. A double meat and cheese Whataburger, hold the onions please…and a cup of tap water. The tap water’s free, right?

Rest in peace General. You were such a great help to me and so many others.

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About Ray Mullan
Ray Mullan is a longtime wrestling fan and Owner/Editor of TNA UK . Also a contributing writer to a number of other online wrestling media including 1Wrestling.com, Wrestle Zone UK & Lords of Pain.

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