This afternoon Mick Foley, who will be appearing at Waynesboro High School on Saturday for a VIP Meet and Greet and a performance of his "Tales from Wrestling Past" comedy show, is a walking testament to the price that wrestlers pay for fame and glory.
"While I am in some pain, and there was a price to pay for the very physical style that I was known for in the ring, there are people who never had the chance to attain the kind of goals that I did," said Foley, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame last Saturday night in Madison Square Garden.
The venue was special in itself for Foley, a Long Island native who used to take the train to the Garden to watch greats like Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund, who were also inducted into the Hall of Fame this past weekend, and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka do battle in the ring. He never imagined being a future hall of famer was that youngster watching from the cheap seats, in part because he said he couldn't imagine wrestling growing as big as it has become.
"To have the chance to make it official in the very arena that I grew up hitchhiking to and taking trains to turned out to be very special," Foley admitted.
Foley is more Snuka, at least in daring, than either Sammartino or Backlund, both considered master ring technicians. Once derided by 16-time world champ Ric Flair as nothing more than a "glorified stuntman," Foley made his name in the business by demonstrating an otherworldly tolerance for pain and a creativity for finding ways to both take it and dish it out.
"No one ever made me do anything that I wasn't comfortable doing, but it was usually me with the wild ideas. And the calmer, cooler head of Mr. McMahon (Vince McMahon, the CEO of WWE and a 1964 Fishburne Military School alum) telling me that some of the more extreme ideas weren't going to happen," Foley said.
Semi-retired from pro wrestling now, Foley embarked upon a second career, comedy, four years ago, not straying too far from comfortable territory.
"I don't really tell jokes, I tell stories," said Foley, whose shows are a window into life on the big stage and behind the scenes of professional wrestling.
You don't have to be a fan of wrestling to get some value from the show, which includes a key interactive element in the Q&As that often lead to material for Foley for future shows.
"The questions often lead to better stories than I could have thought of on my own. I have a story that I'm going to keep in the show that came about as a result of an answer to a question at a Q&A. So I look forward to the opportunity to answer the questions, and to do it in as entertaining a way as possible," Foley said.
Comparing life on a high wire wrestling in front of thousands of fans live or millions on TV to telling stories in comedy clubs, Foley sees a clear connection.
"Getting up on stage with just a microphone is a terrifying prospect unless you're just really comfortable with it and have it down," he said.
The reviews of the show have been strong, though when confronted with this information, Foley shrugs it off with a bit of humor.
"Generally, I almost always exceed their limited expectations. People have no idea what to expect. And they usually leave happy that they made the decision to take a chance on it," Foley said.
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