Book Review: Countdown to Lockdown

Fans of professional wrestling will immediately recognize the name of this book as it was written by current TNA Wrestling star, former TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and former WWE Champion Mick Foley. Wrestling fans may also recognize this title because it was promoted on both TNA Wrestling and WWE programming, which is a first for a book written about the professional wrestling/sports entertainment industry.

The name of Foley’s latest book is Countdown to Lockdown. Lockdown’s focus is a short, six-week period of time leading up to Foley’s match against Sting in the main event of TNA Wrestling’s Lockdown event which was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Younger wrestling fans will love reading about Foley’s state of mind as he recounts his actions in the ring promoting this match and during the match. Older wrestling fans will enjoy reading Foley’s commentary on the wrestling world, including his frequent references to and shots at Vince McMahon. However, I think all consumers of good literature will like reading about how Foley’s life is intimately informed by the world around him and how he interacts (and gives back) to that world.

My favorite story from the book isn’t actually wrestling-related. In fact, my favorite story recounts how Foley donated money to a small area of Africa to help build a school for the children there. Yet, Foley didn’t stop by just donating money to build the school – he actually went over to Africa for a site visit. This is my favorite story in the book because Foley recounts how he was treated like a king including having choirs of young children singing his name and being greeted and thanked by all of the local townspeople.

There’s something about envisioning the “Hardcore Legend” being exalted in sub-Saharan Africa that the wrestling fan in me really enjoys. The philanthropist in me, though, loves the fact that Foley gives away so much of his income to worthwhile, charitable causes.

I also enjoyed the frequent references to Tori Amos and her song “Winter,” which you can listen to by hitting play on the video below. Foley talks about how this song is his go-to song to amp him up for the biggest matches in his wrestling career. And yet, he says that he’s only listened to this song a small handful of times before his matches. In other words, he only uses this song to get prepared for a match when it is an especially important match to him, personally. Pretty amazing.

From a wrestling fan’s perspective, the constant jabs at McMahon are really fun to read. And when I write that the jabs are fun to read, I’m not suggesting that I enjoy reading about someone taking shots at McMahon. Not at all, actually. Instead, I’m more suggesting that so few wrestling books take the time to comment on how McMahon interacts with his talent backstage that Countdown to Lockdown provides a refreshing alternative to the pack. Of particular entertainment is the discussion around Foley’s time as an announcer on WWE Smackdown!

As a reader and wrestling fan, I felt bad for Foley when he recounted his story about McMahon almost ruining a planned family vacation by yelling and screaming at Foley through his headset during a live show. In fact, Foley talks about how McMahon used the type of language that he wouldn’t even dare to repeat in his book, which is pretty amazing considering that all manner of craziness is usually included in wrestling books. After reading that story and reading about some McMahon’s other pet peeves when it comes to announcing (for example, he doesn’t like the use of “he” or “it” or “she” – instead he wants proper names always used), I watched a few minutes of WWE RAW this past Monday night and I couldn’t help but laugh to myself a little bit. Not only was Foley right on the money about McMahon’s pet peeves, but it was really funny listening to Michael Cole have to say things like, “Jack Swagger comes off the ropes into Daniel Bryan and Daniel Bryan, King, seems like he’s ready to launch a comeback against Jack Swagger. I wonder if Jack Swagger will be able to hold off the brunt of the offense being unleashed now by Daniel Bryan!? And Daniel Bryan with a few big right hands against the head of Jack Swagger; Jack Swagger reeling from this assault from Daniel Bryan and Daniel Bryan is on top!”

It’s ridiculous to listen to the announcers on WWE programing when you’re listening after reading this chapter in Foley’s book.

There are a lot of gems in Countdown to Lockdown and I think that readers of all types and ages will enjoy reading this book. It’s one of those rare pieces that starts in one literary world (wrestling books) and crosses over into a variety of other worlds including inspirational piece, autobiography, historical commentary, and work of art. If you’re looking for a good, solid read, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book.

  • William B. West

    Great review Joe. I have been meaning to buy this and had put it off for various reasons. I think I’ll head out this week and get a copy.

  • William B. West

    I’m guessing Vince’s preference for using only proper names in play-by-play comes from the old days when boxing fights were broadcast on the radio.

    It could also be the a bit of his obsession(not that it is a bad obsession) with branding. He might feel he has invested money in this character and the character isn’t going to get referred to generically.

    Either way it definitely sounds like good reading.

  • Joe

    Thanks for the compliment, WBW. I think you’ll enjoy reading this book. Typically, I’m stuck between reading 3 and 4 books at a time so I switch between them all until I reach a point in any one book where I can’t put it down. When reading this book, I reached that point after the first few pages and I wound up fully reading the book within a week. There are so many good stories in there – let me know how you like it after you’re done.