Mick Foley admits that wrestling so frequently for TNA in 2009 was not a good idea for his neurological health.
Mick Foley, who recently made very clear his displeasure at aspects of Dave Meltzer's coverage of his run in TNA, officially buried the hatchet with him in a 90 minute interview for Meltzer's October 8th Wrestling Observer Radio show. It should come as no surpise that all that was needed for Meltzer to get back in the fickle Foley's good graces was a place to plug his latest book. I'm sure he was flattered at the opportunity and felt it showed what kind of respect Meltzer has for him and, deep down, that he genuinely still likes him and appreciated all that he's done for the business. Observer subscribers who haven't checked out the interview should really do so, as Foley came off much more reasonable in this format than in the unchecked freedom of his blog, sucking up to Vince McMahon on WWE.com and his shamelessly pro WWE soundbites to journalists covering Linda McMahon's Senate campaign. Indeed, Foley summed up his appearance afterwards on Twitter accurately:
I enjoyed my time on the Wrestling Observer Live - good conversation, some differences of opinion, voiced respectfully.
The highlight was Foley speaking very frankly about concussions, something he doesn't normally talk about. Here's a summary of what he had to say on the issue:
- He agreed with Meltzer that the concussion issue is a kind of scary situation, given that all the stuff he did for years, like taking bumps on the back of his head and working a very strong style, didn't seem to carry that much danger at the time. When he talked to the Sports Legacy Institute he was surprised to find out that their description of what a concussion is included a lot of things that he would not have previously considered to be a concussion, like briefly seeing stars and temporary blackness. Which means the number of concussions he's had during his career multiplies by four or five from ten or so to dozens and dozens.
- He mentioned that he had dinner with Chris Nowinski recently and asked him whether any concussion studies had been done in youth soccer, as Foley thinks he suffered his first concussion when playing the game in high school. Interestingly, Nowinski replied that the only two sports that haven't signed on to his Institute's research is soccer and gymnastics. Foley went on to argue that soccer is resistant because they wouldn't have a sport anymore without heading, unlike pro wrestling where you can modify what you do. He cited, similar to Scott "Raven" Levy, that you can change your chair shots so that guys would put their hands up and the thrower is not trying to knock a person's head off and you only use them in really important circumstances.
- To back up his point that wrestling is controllable, he cites what he wrote in Foley Is Good in 2001 that he was able to go six months without taking a chair shot in the WWF, because he had to refuse when asked to do so because his wife wouldn't let him take any.
- He ironically suggested that indy promoters who goad their concerned talent into reluctantly taking chair shots have no business being in this particular form of business.
- Bryan Alvarez flippantly made the comment "Well, pro wrestling, I mean is every bump a sub concussive blow, I mean is that where we're at right now and it becomes a kind of slippery slope as far as like is movement going to be frowned upon pretty soon". Foley in response mentioned that Nowinski told him that any physical body has only so many blows that it can take and thus maybe there are only so many bumps a guy can take in his lifetime before it starts really becoming dangerous.
- He mentioned that he was really worried after the King Of The Mountain match at Slammiversary 2009, because he really got his bell rung three times in the match but didn't do anything particularly dangerous by his standards and it was really difficult for him to accept that maybe he just couldn't take the shots anymore. He recently even got his bell rung as the referee. He knows that he's the boy who cried wolf, but thinks he may only have a couple more matches in him left, if that.
- Alvarez noted that Flair was the aberration who doesn't seem to have a limited number of bumps in his body. Personally I believe that's because Flair stopped taking flat back bumps after he injured his back in a plane crash in 1975, but that point passed everyone by.
- He discussed his meeting with Vince McMahon in late 1999 when he asked to retire. Said that Vince told him to work on his weight and nutrition and try yoga when he said he had difficulty moving around and couldn't even play football with his kids unless the ball was kicked right to him, but as soon as he told Vince that he had trouble remembering things Vince immediately agreed to him finishing up and having a retirement match.
- He now wishes he had limited the number of chair shots and the number of moves he did that were designed to look like he was hitting the back of his head during his career, due to the very small margin of error on those moves.
- When recently rewatching his memorable ECW worked shoot anti-hardcore promos of 1995, he was surprised about how much he talked about concussions in them and that it was a central theme of those promos.
- He said his memory problems impoved after retiring in 2000, but thought he did himself no favors by doing so many matches in TNA, especially a year and a half ago. He then repeated the story that he started to get hurt from doing things that used to be pretty average. Said he took a sick thud on the concrete in a handicap match with the Motor City Machine Guns, which would never have happened ten years ago because he would still have the strength and instinct to keep his chin firmly tucked. Said it's not anybody's fault apart from maybe his own for not putting his foot down and not sticking up for what he knew was best, but he had to have that talk with himself that moving forward he cannot do the things he was doing a year and a half ago as far as being a regular part of the wrestling on the show.