Monday, June 23, 2014

For All Mankind: The Life and Career of Mick Foley

Former three time WWE champion and hardcore icon Mick Foley has his fair share of DVDs and books out already covering his career. I have read each and every one of his four, yes four memoirs and even one his fiction novels, all tremendous reads! What can I say, I am a fan of his work; I even went and saw his stand up act earlier this year and left surprisingly impressed. He has had a few DVDs released in past years, but they either consisted of primarily match collections or just focused on a small snapshot of his career. Last year, WWE finally released a documentary covering his entire career with an in depth interview with him, his family and peers, along with a hearty chunk of extra matches and bonus interview snippets. For All Mankind: The Life and Career of Mick Foley (trailer) is finally the career spanning retrospective that has been long overdue for the hardcore legend.

With Foley having a lengthy active wrestling career from 1986 until 2000, and making many brief returns since then, it is hard to imagine any length of documentary doing his career justice. WWE did their best however, and went about a half hour longer than what they usually do on most of their documentaries by dedicating just over two hours and fifteen minutes to Mick's career. A fair amount of time is spent on Mick's early days before the ring and his unique personality that bled over into his wrestling personas. A lot more time than I anticipated is dedicated to Mick's initial years before he made it big. For the first time on a WWE home video, Mick's trainer Dominic Denucci and fellow trainee Shane Douglas are interviewed, and it is fascinating getting their perspective on Mick at this initial stage of his career.

Mick makes sure to sneak in some quick stories and WWE has plenty of footage to accompany Mick's tales jumping around from an mid-80s WWF jobber, to the AWA, WCCW before finally landing his first memorable run in WCW. This part of the feature there is some interesting insight from Mick's mentor at the time Kevin Sullivan, who I believe is also his first time getting interviewed on a WWE home video release. When the film covers his second, more prominent run in WCW, we are treated to interviews from Vader on WWE video for the first time ever! Yes, they make sure to cover in great detail how Vader ripped off part of Mick's ear!

Mick's ECW and Japan days in the mid-90s have a great chunk of time devoted to them, and we get a lot of great insight from Foley, Terry Funk, Joey Styles, Shane Douglas and Paul Heyman on how Mick delivered some of the best promos in wrestling history in that time and how he really evolved the Cactus Jack character. A lot of you probably want to know by now if the film pays any attention to his WWE career at this point, and yes probably about the last hour and a half focus on his WWE runs. Mick is candid about how trepid he was starting off as Mankind and how it got to be too much bouncing around portraying all three of his personas (Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack) for awhile in 1997 before finally settling down in his Mr. Socko days of Mankind.

They spend a lot of time on his friendship and infamous tag team with The Rock in The Rock 'n Sock Connection and his classic battles with Triple H that led to him retiring as a full time wrestler. I am glad the documentary makes sure to focus on his memorable run as commissioner in 2000, because he had a lot of classic bits that had me in stitches, and they make sure to include a bunch of them here. The final chapters of the feature bounce around on a couple big return matches against Randy Orton and Edge, his awful memories in his brief run as a Smackdown announcer, and life after wrestling for Mick with portions focusing on his charity work, rising up the ranks as an author in his memoirs, fiction and children's books and his latest endeavor as a standup comic. No mention of his two year run in TNA wrestling is referenced at all, which is a surprise as I imagined WWE does not consider them true competition and Mick would have been able to squeeze in at least some sort of mention about his time there.

There is a unique assortment of bonus matches, and WWE has been good lately of trying to avoid including repeat matches from past collections in recent releases. There are a couple of repeats here, but I understand why, and that is Mick's second ever match and debut WWF match as a jobber where the British Bulldogs beat the living shit out of him, and his classic Hell in a Cell match against Undertaker that cemented his legacy. For those two matches and an ECW match against Shane Douglas we get new alternate commentary from Mick Foley and Joey Styles that adds a new dynamic reliving those bouts. Mick has some brief introductions to some matches and why he included them like a seemingly oddball match against Keith Hart from 1990 where Mick justified its inclusion because he wanted a Cactus Jack match to be seen where he did all the ass kicking instead of being on the receiving end for a change. There is a total of 17 matches, and it is for the most part a fresh new assortment of matches I have never seen or have long forgotten about.

Now I picked up the BluRay version of this release because there is just over two hours of bonus features. First is a half hour of five Mick Foley promos, with Mick doing a brief intro to each segment and why they were included. I never saw the "Sting's Birthday Cake" promo before and I will now never forget it. After that is an hour and a half of bonus stories and other cutting room floor segments that did not make their way into the documentary. One of these is a 15 minute mini-documentary Mick did for a school project all about Dominic Denucci's training school from his time there in 1986. This is surprisingly in depth, and never really done before its time and a great bonus to check out on the BluRay. There are a ton of other great interview clips worth checking out that did not make their way into the main documentary that cover origins of the Cactus Jack character, funny traveling stories, Mick's reverence for Disneyland and so much more that make the extra $5 the BluRay versions usually go for well worth the upgrade.

This is one of the better home video releases WWE has put out in recent years where they seem to be complacent in releasing more and more themed collections of matches instead of putting some serious effort into their documentaries. The documentary portion of this is up for streaming on Netflix and WWE Network. Whether you have read his memoirs or not, an in depth and thorough documentary, a fresh collection of matches and hearty chunk of must-see BluRay extras combine for me to give highest recommendations to For All Mankind: The Life and Career of Mick Foley.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Goldberg Ultimate Collection
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
RoH Supercard of Honor V
Warrior Week on WWE Network
WWE Wrestlemania 28
WWE Wrestlemania 29

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