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Not what it could have been
on 11 November 2003
I am a huge WWE fan, and have devoured most of the autobiographies that have been published over the course of the last four or five years. If you know anything about the wrestling business, you'd know that the memoirs of Steve Austin promise great things. The neck injury suffered at the hands of the usually dependable Owen Hart in 1997, an insight into the cutthroat environment of the backstage political minefield of the WWE locker room, the controversial 'walk-out' of 2002 - by rights, Austin's book should have been the most explosive wrestling-based book of all time, the WWE's answer to Roy Keane's autobiography.
In reality, Austin's book is a by-the-numbers account of his life and career, too often shying away from the total honesty that made Mick Foley's two non-fiction books such wonderful reads. Wrestling fans know Austin has axes to grind (and he has never been one to hold his tongue in interviews), but for some reason, he seems loath to straight shoot on any subject, which makes his book very frustrating for a die-hard fanatic to read. In addition, Austin is very careful - his woeful marriage record aside - to cast himself in a bad light. Although his book is not as delusional as Hulk Hogan's effort last year, Austin's unwillingness to look at some of his own mistakes (and here I refer to his own political games within the WWE, particularly in 1999 and 2002) leaves 'clued up' readers slightly non-plussed.
Having said that, the book does provide a nice insight into the wrestling business, and no doubt would seem eye opening to somebody who has not read Mick Foley's work. The book's strongest points are when Austin gives the rundown on his thoughts and feelings during his recent matches, which is always intriguing and interesting. For these reasons alone, it is worth reading.
The biggest problem of all is that Austin's own rich character is lost among the workman-like prose of his co-writer, and this is what seperates his book from Mick Foley's. Foley stumbled upon a fertile mind, and untapped writing talent, and this - combined with his own, unadulterated voice - made 'Have a Nice Day' and 'Foley is Good' such amazing reading experiences. Whatever honesty in Austin's voice is suffocated by the 'ghost' moulding his life into a palatable whole, alienating the readers from perhaps the one WWE superstar we have come to know better than any other.
It could have been so much more.