Have a Nice Day
A Tale of Blood And Sweatsocks
Synopsis: The first of four autobiographies of Mick Foley, this one covering the bulk of his in-ring career.
"Vince," I asked with confusion in my voice, "why can't I just be Cactus Jack?"
Vince tried to be comforting but failed miserably with his words. "Mike, you've got to understand that the average wrestling fan sees wrestling as a glut of performers who seem to blend together. It is hard for our licensees to get behind our products, and hard for us to push your characters if there is no distinction between the competition and us. We feel that with this unique character, we can market Mike, and make Mike a bigger star than he's ever been."
His words made sense, and in retrospect the marketing of Mankind has been a great success, but at the time, I was thinking something altogether different. Not only did Vince not want the Cactus Jack I wanted to give him - he didn't want him at all. Poor Mike. He wasn't happy.
Whenever I speak to someone who scoffs about my love for wrestling, I take this bad boy off the shelf, hand it over, and challenge them to read through this and have them not at least be mildly interested in the squared circle afterwards.
Okay, the technique rarely works, but at the very least, they concede that Foley is a fantastic writer, and is definitely "above" what they perceive wrestling to be. That has to count for something.
What's more interesting is that, when this book was released in 1999, Foley wasn't seen as the literary-genius type. If anything, he was the somewhat goofy performer with a penchant for hurtling himself towards large inanimate objects.
But Mankind proved them wrong in his very first time putting pen to paper. And I mean that literally - too often, authors talk into a tape recorder or have someone else "ghostwrite" their memoirs. Foley handwrote this entire thing from beginning to end, finding time to compose his life story while backstage at WWE events, on airplanes zig-zagging across the country, and in dumpy hotel rooms at the end of a busy travel day.
Foley's humor -- the same brand of dark and often witty humor we've seen for about two decades now -- is apparent here almost from the introduction, a scene in which he loses his ear in Germany. If that sounds like a strange contrast to you, it is; and it works.
Over the course of more than 500 pages, Foley goes into painstaking detail about growing up as a wrestling fan, stumbling into the opportunity to train with one of those people he grew up watching, and the trials and tribulations until he makes it to the very top of the business. That in itself is a tremendous success story.
But where Foley separates himself from the pack is hearing how his wrestling mind works. Unlike the bio of, say, The Rock, who was told to do this and that by the company's powers-that-be, Foley has an active part in developing his own storylines, which he continues to do to this day. Although not all of the angles he helps put together are an unqualified success, it's interesting to read his rationale.
Other things I like (and you probably get the impression by now that is a review filled with positives): His constant knocks at Al Snow (a hilarious running gag); the lack of unnecessary jabs at colleagues (even his criticisms of Ric Flair are prefaced with praise for the in-ring performing); his re-telling of the legendary "Hell In The Cell" and other big matches; and the level of detail he gets into when discussing the love of his family.
Foley talks (in his next book) about writing a screenplay based on "Have A Nice Day". It's unfortunate that never materialized, because I think that's the type of story (read: NOT films about John Cena battling random terrorists) that wrestling fans would have paid money to see at the box office.
Rating: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. This should come as no surprise, I suppose, but "Have A Nice Day" is the gold standard that wrestling biographies, and even biographies, period, should be held to. I don't think I could possibly give out a higher recommendation to read this.