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Countdown to Lockdown A Hardcore Journal
By Foley, Mick
Grand Central Publishing Copyright © 2010 Foley, Mick
All right reserved.
Countdown to Lockdown
COUNTDOWN TO LOCKDOWN: 34 DAYS
March 16, 2009
All right, all right, I’ll admit it. I’m terrified of Kurt Angle. Not worried. Not concerned. Terrified. Absolutely terrified. Not like a “wow, Vince is really putting Koslov in a main event” type of terrified. I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness “Alastair Sim as Scrooge down on his knees begging the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come for another chance at life” type of terrified. Yeah, I know I went with the same Alastair Sim reference to describe my fear of my editor at Knopf, Victoria Wilson, who will no doubt love being mentioned in a second wrestling memoir, but I’m not sure that was real terror, more like intellectual insecurity. This, however—this thing I feel about Kurt Angle—is terror.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Kurt. He’s a caring, giving person and a genuine American hero; a guy who won a gold medal in the Olympics while competing with a broken neck. He is also one of the most talented performers in the history of our business, with a résumé of classic matches that rivals anyone’s, of any era.
And later tonight, I’m going to be in the ring with him for the very first time. Okay, okay, all you nitpickers, I know I’ve actually “been in the ring” with him plenty of times—for interviews, angles, even an odd punch or really hard head butt or two. Granted, tonight is a tag team match, and really more of a door I must pass through to get me into the creative corridor leading to a different big match with a different big opponent.
But Kurt Angle really isn’t interested in any talk about opening doors and creative corridors and big matches in the future. He’s interested in tonight. And that same competitive fire that vaulted him to the top of the amateur wrestling world—possibly the most thankless and difficult world in sports—drives him to pull off the best match he is capable of, night in and night out, no matter how big the show, no matter how limited the opponent, no matter the physical or emotional toll to himself.
I respect that attitude. At one time I probably shared it. But I’m a different man now—older, weaker, slower—and a lot more realistic.
If anything, Kurt is more driven on this night than usual. Last night was Destination X, a TNA Pay-Per-View that held a world of promise. Following a February offering that looked flat on paper and, if anything, underperformed those limited expectations, TNA looked ready to regain its form with Destination X. Led by a complex, well-told, long-term story involving Kurt and his Main Event Mafia partner/nemesis Sting, our TNA Impact show (Thursday at 9:00, Spike) was on a roll, recently eclipsing two million U.S. viewers for the first time. I liked the odds of Kurt and Sting pulling off a classic, and I was looking forward to my role as special guest enforcer at ringside, which more or less ensured me the best seat in the house (although technically I’d be standing).
But at Destination X on that particular night, expectation gave way to disappointment, reality couldn’t compete with hope, and a good, hard-fought match simply wasn’t enough for our fans… or for Sting or Kurt, especially Kurt. I was not without a disappointment of my own in the match, having shattered my own long-standing belief that I went up “light” for big moves—a necessity if one wants to avoid the worst of the injuries that the business can offer. Instead I went up like a 300-pound S.O.S.—figure out the acronym for yourself (I’m trying to stay PG-13 in this book)—for Kurt’s Angle Slam, injuring my pride, and possibly Kurt’s vertebrae, in the process.
Like I said, it was a good match, a point I kept reiterating in separate long conversations with both men after the show. I was trying to look at the glass as half full. But the glass-half-empty view was indeed troubling. Sting looked old. I looked like a 300-pound S.O.S. And Kurt Angle looked human. Apparently, a few voices on the Internet, I would guess a vocal minority, said that Kurt was washed up, his best days were behind him. I knew Kurt would be looking to prove himself. And guess who he’d want to do it with? Me. Great. Kind of reminds me of the night I wrestled Dr. Death, Steve Williams, in Saginaw, Michigan, in early 1990—the same night Doc learned that WCW (World Championship Wrestling) intended to reduce his contractual guarantee. I remember how I felt that night. Pretty much the same way I feel tonight, over nineteen years later—terrified. Absolutely terrified.
How did this moment ever arise? I asked myself. Why hadn’t I just stayed under the safety of the WWE umbrella? Sure, my situation with WWE hadn’t been perfect, but it couldn’t have been that bad, right? At least it was a certified Angle-Free Zone.
Well, to truly understand my story, I’m going to have to introduce you to an old friend of mine. Readers of my earlier memoirs will remember him well, if not fondly. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Al Snow.
Excerpted from Countdown to Lockdown by Foley, Mick Copyright © 2010 by Foley, Mick. Excerpted by permission.
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