Mick Foley appeared on Good Morning America today and Slam Wrestling’s Matt Gardner was kind enough to rifle off a transcript for those who missed it. The segment, airing during the 7:30 hour, was hosted by Diane Sawyer who seemed very much into the film by Barry Blaustein saying that now that she’s seen the film she is a very big fan of the sport. Many clips of the film were shown throughout detailing the behind the scenes footage of the WWF, specifically Royal Rumble 99 where The Rock bashed Mankind with 15 chair shots in front of Mick Foley’s wife and kids.
Diane Sawyer(DS): There is Oscar talk about the documentary were going to show you some of this morning, It’s called “Beyond the Mat”. Critically acclaimed. It’s about wrestling. It’s about wrestling deglamourized in some way-and humanized. And whether or not the matches are fixed, they are just as physically challenging and dangerous as they appear. Take a look at some of it.
CLIP: Royal Rumble 1999. The Rock throws Mankind into steps and Mankind hits the Mandible Claw as Foley’s family look on from the audience.
DS: Well, the man who survived that fight and that fall is Mick “Mankind” Foley, one of the great stars of pro wrestling and also an author whose autobiography has been on the bestseller lists for months. And he’s joining us along with the films director and producer, Barry Blaustein. Mick, I have to start right here, because what people may not have seen is that those little face, with those little eyes sitting ringside watching you go out were you’re kids.
(CUE OMINOUS MUSIC)
Mick Foley(MF): Yes, they were.
DS: And first of all, I cannot believe your kids come to these matches to see you going through it. Why do you do it?
MF: Uh, why do I bring ’em? That was a case where I was the WWF champion and had a pretty good idea that it was the last time I was champion. And we had a chance to go to Disneyland and go to Universal Studios and the only catch was they had to watch there Dad get beat up.
CLIP: Mick walking backstage with his young daughter. Mick is very bloody, but in good spirits as the Roaddog and Mosh talk in the background.
MF: And I thought going in that wasn’t a bad trade off, but it turned out it probably wasn’t a good parental decision.
DS: Barry, you made sure he saw your footage of them watching.
Barry Blaustein(BB): When Mick told me he was bringing the children, my first thought is `Was this a good idea?’ I knew it would be good film. But that was one of my ideas behind the film. These wrestlers, they come off as superhuman. I wanted to see the affect of this stuff on the children.
DS: Alright, I’m going to roll the clip of the children, because I want everybody at home to see what happened in the middle of this fight.
CLIP: Of “Beyond the Mat” where Barry shows Mick and his wife the footage he had shot at the Rumble. Mick was noticeably upset while watching. Mick said, “I don’t feel like such a good Dad any more.”
DS: Your daughter’s head was buried in her Mom’s arm.
MF: Yeah, my son started shaking and crying also.
DS: Is this something you always wanted to do? Is this something you came to because you saw it on TV?
MF: Wrestling or traumatizing my children?
LAUGH FROM ALL
DS: Let’s go to wrestling, we’ll get back to traumatizing your children.
MF: Yeah, that was my dream. The way some kids wanted to play center-field for the Yankees, I wanted to be in the ring. In many ways I was able to live out my dream, but dreams come with a price.
(CLIP: Mankind walking to to the ring with the WWF title as the fans cheer him and his family looks on.)
DS: Let’s go with what might be a headline from this documentary, you make it known, Barry, that the outcome of these matches are known. (to Mick) You even call at one point and say “Come, I’m going to lose the belt.”
MF: Make them pay to see that. You don’t have to tell them. Don’t ruin it for them, Diane.
DS: What is this? Is this sort of a…
BB: It’s spectacle.
DS: Yes, but to the fans watching, is it an illusion?
MF: Well, they willingly lose themselves in the stories and that’s what they tune into see. I think they’re actually comforted by the fact that the guys are friends and it’s a show. I feel comfortable with my kids watching me get beat up, but at least it was by a friend. Which is not a very good excuse, but it’s the best one I have.
DS: What is not predetermined is the extent of the choreographed, um…assaults on each other?
MF: In that situation, Barry was lucky enough to see a match that did get out of control. Not that the guys involved, me and the Rock, were mad at each other, but it just got a little carried away from what we thought.
BB: I think one of the biggest misconceptions about wrestling…what it is, is I think the fans do get it. And it’s like going to a movie, they suspend their belief. And they just go along for the ride. However, in the suspension of their belief, now they just think it’s all fake. And the reality is they get hurt all the time. When Mick gets hit in the head with a chair it’s a real chair. When he falls on cement, it’s real cement. It’s real blood.
DS: Broken bones, third-degree burns, 300 stitches just for one injury, dislocated jaw, concussions, all in a day’s work?
MF: And that was just after a fight with my wife! No, I have a very physical style. When I met Barry five years ago, I think I was supposed to be the kind of washed up independent guy at that time. We didn’t know my career was going to have a resurgence. But when I met Barry I think that’s what attracted him to me in this project is that I have made my living in this very physical style.
BB: And also to contrast to a guy whose very physical and violent in the ring, he’s very peaceful. He’s actually, despite his bad decision, he’s a wonderful father. He does everything to make sure his kids are all right.That’s what interests me.
DS: Again as we say, it’s really quite astonishing documentary. And stay safe.
MF: I’ll try.