Mick Foley once incurred burns and required 42 stitches in one night after a wrestling match in Japan involving explosives and barbed wire.
The professional wrestler and bestselling author told his story to a large audience of students, prospective freshmen, and wrestling fans during last night’s lecture, “The Real World’s Faker than Wrestling.” The two hour lecture was sponsored by Comparative Media Studies, which brought Foley to MIT as a part its class on professional wrestling.
Foley continued his story, describing how he answered questions from the Japanese press for over an hour and then walked himself to a hospital to receive treatment for his injuries. When he asked the head of the Japanese wrestling company where he wrestled a few days out of the month for a bonus due to his injuries, the man put a coin into a vending machine and tossed him a soft drink.
Clad entirely in black, Foley, a two-time New York Times bestselling author and three-time World Wrestling Entertainment world champion, discussed the current perception of professional wrestling through a bevy of humorous anecdotes from his past wrestling days as Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack, among other personas. Foley’s entrance to the lecture hall, complete with theme music and raucous applause from the audience, set the tone for the lecture that followed.
Foley opened the lecture by exploring a study that tracked the occurrences of questionable activities performed by wrestlers, including simulated sex and drug use, obscene gestures, and harsh language. The study was cited in accusations that televised professional wrestling was offensive because of harsh language, sexual references, and violent content.
“I’m gonna kick your ass” — a staple in the wrestling world — fit all three categories. Foley argued that the criteria used in the study overestimated the offensiveness of the program.
After a telephone conversation with the head of the study, Foley’s performed his own study that reviewed the popular television programs “General Hospital” and “Cheers” using the same criteria. Foley found these programs contained equal or more references per hour of airtime to certain questionable activities, especially in regard to alcohol use and sexual references.
“Sexual language can be cute,” said Foley, who claimed to be one of the first to use the word “testicles” on television.
Much of the talk involved Foley’s time spent in the WWE, but his eloquence as an orator and showman were at a height during the parts of his lecture that were only casually related to the wrestling industry. Foley told a number of jokes, including a suggestive story about adult entertainment star Christy Canyon and former president George H. W. Bush.
Foley described his activity with the Make-A-Wish foundation, including a short story when he surprised a child with cerebral palsy by introducing Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snyder.
Foley also recalled a humorous series of meetings with World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Doonesbury author Gary Trudeau.
In filming a recent movie with Willem Dafoe, Jr., Foley said he extensively researched Dafoe’s film history before the shoot. “You have to ask the right questions,” Foley added.
During the question and answer session, Foley told an audience member interested in writing storylines for wrestling that she should not enter the wrestling industry as a writer due to the high turnover of employees. “By the time I learned [the writers] names, they would be gone,” Foley said.
Foley also lamented the name change of the World Wrestling Federation from WWF to WWE because of a conflict in acronym with the World Wildlife Fund, saying, back then, “we were still the WWF and hadn’t lost the suit to the … panda people.”
Foley’s impressive professional wrestling career began in 1991 with the now defunct World Championship Wrestling, but he has only appeared in eight matches in the last seven years.
Foley’s latest book, “The Hardcore Diaries,” was released in 2007 and spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller’s list. He has also authored various children’s books.