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Thread: Mick Foley talks MMA's influence on the art of pro wrestling

  1. #1
    Beetlegeuse's Avatar
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    Mick Foley talks MMA's influence on the art of pro wrestling

    From MMA Junkie:

    Mick Foley talks MMA's influence on the art of pro wrestling, and 'Peanut Butter Falcon'

    Back in Mick Foley’s day, an armbar was primarily a move used to fill time during the beginning of a pro wrestling match.

    If someone placed Foley’s alter ego Cactus Jack in an armbar back in the 1980s, Foley would slap the mat with his free hand to register the pain, kick his legs repeatedly so the people in the cheap seats could see how the move affected him, and give the camera his best agonized grimace.

    He wouldn’t do much to defend against the hold, and certainly wouldn’t submit to it. Eventually, Foley and his opponent would transition to something else, ideally before the crowd started chanting “boring.”

    “People really didn’t know back then,” the WWE Hall of Famer and best-selling author told MMA Junkie. “Maybe some of the more hardcore fans did, but the people weren’t educated on something like what a real armbar looked like, so we took it and used it to fit the style of the time.”

    These days? Due to mixed martial arts’ influence, a generation has grown up knowing what an armbar can do in a real fight. Thus, they know that if it is properly applied, a fighter has a window of a few seconds to come up with a line of defense, otherwise their options are to tap or snap.

    In that way, MMA has spilled over into pro wrestling. If you watch WWE or AEW these days, an armbar is a finishing maneuver, perhaps played up a bit more for dramatic effect than what you’d see in the UFC, but it’s made an impact on the art of wrestling performance all the same.

    As Foley himself notes, Ronda Rousey made millions of dollars in MMA off the strength of her real-life submission skills during her pioneering UFC run, then transitioned to headlining WrestleMania in large part on the strength of her public persona as a real-life badass.

    “Look at what Ronda accomplished,” Foley said. “The people these days know what’s real in a fight, and wrestling is constantly evolving and adapting, and so now you’re seeing more of that. Just look at the way wrestlers throw kicks and elbows now compared to how they used to. There are more similarities between wrestlers and fighters, and the wrestling business and MMA, than you’d think.”

    That goes for the movie business, too. While Foley still has a hand in wrestling and continues to do a successful touring one-man stage show called “Have a Nice Day,” which chronicles his life’s exploits, he’s also dabbled in the film realm.

    His most recent Hollywood exploit was a part in the surprise hit “Peanut Butter Falcon.” The critically acclaimed film starring Shia LeBeouf, which was recently released on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital, resonated with audiences. It’s became 2019’s highest grossing indie film, topping the $20 million mark, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and has an approval rating of 95 percent on the website Rotten Tomatoes.

    Foley plays the role of a wrestling referee in the climactic scene in which Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a 22-year old with Down syndrome, lives out his dream of doing a backyard pro wrestling match against Sam, played by another wrestling legend in Jake “The Snake” Roberts. And Foley believes the film’s success has come about due to it’s earnest and authentic tone.

    “Zack was just so genuine,” Foley said. “His character was so well thought-out and portrayed. That really shined through, and it spilled over onto everything else, and I think it resonated with people of all ages because you can tell when you’re seeing something authentic, and that’s why audiences responded as they have.”

    While the Long Island native’s first love was wrestling, he’s grown to become an MMA fan over the years. Foley noted he’ll be in attendance at the PFL’s Dec. 31 championships at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, where friend and former WWE ring announcer Lilian Garcia will serve in a similar function.

    Which leads to the question: Would Foley have given MMA a chance if it was a thing back in his day?

    “Nah,” Foley said with a laugh. “Look, I can take punishment, and MMA fighters can take punishment, too, but they’re world-class athletes. What we do is athletic, too, but I was a performer, and that’s what I was drawn to.”
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    Entertaining read. Always a fan of FOLEY. He always took things to the edge.
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  3. #3
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    What strikes me about wrasslin' versus prizefighting or MMA is that in "real" fighting, you get into the ring thinking you have -- literally -- a fighting chance. You wouldn't get in there if you hadn't convinced yourself that there was a chance that you could give better than you got.

    Not in wrasslin'. Sometimes you know before the bell rings that you're just going to get your ass kicked. That's wrasslin'.



    The one-eared one epitomizes that.



    Painters and musicians talk about suffering for their art. Not like wrestlers they don't ...

    ... except Van Gogh of course.
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    First thing I think of with Foley, probably the first thing a lot of folks think of, is:

    Hell in a Cell

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    I think about him getting his ear ripped off ...



    ... and continuing with the match like it was part of the show.



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