Wednesday, 28 December 2016

For All Mankind - The Life & Career Of Mick Foley

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 375 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: April 22 2013

It's hard to believe prior to the release of For All Mankind that Mick Foley had never enjoyed a complete career retrospective DVD documentary. We'd had one-hour docs which showcased aspects of Foley's life and times, but never one which took us from the very beginning and through all the peaks and valleys of Foley's career.

Mind you, that is partly because, as any die-hard WWE fan knows, Foley has already released no less than four autobiographies (the first two of which were amongst the greatest wrestling books ever written), which were extremely comprehensive in detailing Foley's entire life. Therefore, it's understandable that we haven't had a full documentary on the Hardcore Legend; considering the books, there was little reason to get a DVD on his life as well.

Nevertheless, this serves as the visual companion to the likes of Have A Nice Day! and Foley Is Good, and with Mick being the engaging and entertaining subject that he is, the main feature is still very entertaining. With the exception of his 2008-2011 TNA stint, every major aspect of his career is covered. They include Mick becoming a wrestling fan and travelling to Madison Square Garden to watch the WWF as a teenager; training under Dominic Denucci; his early days competing (which included serving as enhancement talent for the WWF having barely wrestled at that point); his first WCW stint; his wars on the independent circuit prior to his second fruitful yet frustrating tenure with WCW; his memorable run in ECW; his ultra-violent exploits in Japan (such as the infamous King Of The Death Matches tournament); his initial success as Mankind in the WWF upon his 1996 signing; his transformation into childhood character Dude Love and the eventual WWF arrival of Cactus Jack (hence the Three Faces Of Foley); that Hell In A Cell battle with The Undertaker at King Of The Ring 1998 which would be Foley's most memorable match (as well as one of the most memorable matches of all-time); his unexpected first WWF Title win over The Rock which served as a pivotal night during The Monday Night Wars; his use of comedy in wrestling, including The Rock 'N' Sock Connection; his autobiographies; his many injuries; his decision to retire the first time in 2000 as he realised that his body was breaking down; his very popular run as WWF Commissioner; his multiple comebacks against the likes of Randy Orton and Edge (despite some incredible matches upon his returns, Foley admits that he often wishes he hadn't wrestled again after 2000); his transition into stand-up comedy in the early 2010s; his WWE return in 2011 after he left on fairly bad terms in 2008 following an uneasy run as a SmackDown announcer (this and other gripes with WWE and Vince McMahon over the years are covered in detail); his definitive retirement in 2012 on medical grounds; and Foley reflecting upon his legacy in wrestling, which is a unique and vital mark to have left on the crazy industry that is professional wrestling.

All of this and more is covered, assisted by plenty of clips, some rare archive footage and a plethora of comments by various talking heads including Dominic Denucci, Shane Douglas, Terry Funk, Vader, Triple H, The Rock, Steve Austin, Edge, Christian, Road Dogg, Michael Hayes, Randy Orton, CM Punk and many others. Some of these clips will be recognisable to those who have seen Foley's (excellent) Hall Of Fame tribute video prior to his induction into the 2013 Class; incidentally, said induction explains the purpose, and especially the timing, of this DVD.

If you've never read any of Foley's books, then this should be a very entertaining and informative documentary. However, chances are that a high number of viewers will have read at least one of Mick's autobiographies, or will at the very least be aware of Foley's most significant highs and lows, meaning that there will be few revelations to hardcore fans (no pun intended). That being said, this doesn't detract from the fact that the main feature is as enjoyable as any WWE profile that you will watch, and it is a more than fitting visual examination of, to quote the title, the life and career of Mick Foley.

Included on this DVD are more than a dozen bonus matches. Since Foley's previous DVD Greatest Hits and Misses included all of his most famous matches (on American soil, anyway), with his comeback bouts included on the 2007 re-release of GH&M, it stands to reason that the match selection on this DVD will be inferior to that of GH&M. There are some really good matches, though, which help to justify the existence of this DVD even further.

Mick's WWF squash match debut alongside Les Thornton against The British Bulldogs, whilst featured on GH&M, has alternate commentary with Mick and Joey Styles, as Foley (wrestling in this bout as Jack Foley) explains how he was left with a broken jaw as a result of an extremely vicious Dynamite Kid forearm/clothesline. Some rare bouts from the AWA and Memphis are followed by an early WCW bout against Keith Hart and an exciting Cactus Jack-Sting encounter from late 1991. A Falls Count Anywhere clash with Van Hammer from, erm, Clash Of The Champions is decent for the era (this is the match Foley referenced in Have A Nice Day! whereby he was "advised" to have interviewer Missy Hyatt somehow end up being covered in mud).

Next, we enter Foley's ECW stint, and we get a Barbed Wire match against The Sandman which is simple in its execution yet very bloody and at times hard to watch. More so is his battle with Shane Douglas at Cyberslam 1996 (which again has alternate commentary from Mick and Joey) during which Foley, handcuffed as he would be during the notorious I Quit battle with The Rock at Royal Rumble 1999, takes several very hard unprotected chair shots; that we are told in the documentary how chairshots like this caused Foley to have to retire for good in 2012 makes this a challenging encounter to watch. Disc two ends with two Mankind matches from 1997 against Rocky Maivia and Hunter Hearst Helmsley, prior to the Attitude Era during which Foley would have classic rivalries with both men, once their characters had completely transformed.

Kicking off disc three is Dude Love vs. Rocky Maivia from November 1997 which, to be honest, is pure filler (the brutal Mankind vs. Kane bout from Survivor Series eight days earlier would have been a better inclusion). The same can't be said for the next match, which is Mankind vs. Undertaker from KOTR 1998; this iconic Cell match once more has Mick and Joey giving us new commentary, and it remains a jaw-dropping battle to witness. That it has been released many times before, including on GH&M (not surprisingly), doesn't detract from the inclusion of this massively important chapter of Foley's career. Mankind and Kane vs. The New Age Outlaws serves more to demonstrate just how over every major WWF star was during the Attitude Era, whilst Mankind vs. The Rock from Rock Bottom 1998 is good, but arguably the weakest entry in their famous 1998/1999 feud. Closing out the DVD is The Rock 'N' Sock Connection against Triple H and Shane McMahon in a forgotten match from 1999, a brawl against Al Snow in late '99, and his superb Hell In A Cell showdown with Triple H from No Way Out 2000 which was meant to be his swansong (sure, Foley wrestled again six weeks later at WrestleMania 2000 and many times after that in later years, but could you imagine a major WWE star nowadays willingly having their last match at the PPV event before Mania?).

Other notes: I liked the artwork of this DVD, which sees Foley on the cover sitting in an old-fashioned lounge with momentos of his career in the background. The disc covers are unique as well as they feature Foley's signature smiley-face logo in the colours of his various alter egos (one of which was actually printed incorrectly for the Blu-ray version).

Summing this collection up, then, if you had never read any of Foley's books, you would argue that the documentary is one of WWE's best ever. And if the matches included on Greatest Hits & Misses had accompanied said doc, you'd have enough evidence to suggest that it might actually be of the greatest wrestling DVDs ever released. However, neither is the case, and we have a strong main feature albeit one lacking in revelations for Foley's biggest fans, and a selection of matches which is good on the whole, but don't come close to representing Foley's greatest battles, or even being of a high standard across the board given the amount of filler included. However, the documentary is undeniably entertaining, and there are some gems amongst the unmemorable bouts on discs two and three. Therefore, I still heartily recommend this DVD to any fan, and those who do love Foley will also love this DVD. If you already own GH&M, For All Mankind will fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle, and both DVDs combine to create one hell of an overall collection for one of the most entertaining personalities in WWE history.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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