Mick Foley IS a God: by Jim Ray
I had never heard of Mick Foley when I made my quiet return to wrestling in July of last year. I knew who Mankind was, from the few times I had sneaked a peek of wrestling when I thought no one was looking, but Mick Foley...no. I had no clue.
It was right about this time that I got online, and started reading various news services. I had never been on Usenet before, and had no clue what rec.sport.pro-wrestling was. I didn't start reading RSPW until much later. However, I started to read things about this incredible wrestler named Mick Foley. Being a naturally curious guy, I wanted to find out who Mr. Foley was.
My first step was to talk to my father. He never understood my obsession with wrestling, yet he seemed to know a lot about it. I asked him if he knew who Mick Foley was? He replied, "He's Cactus Jack, isn't he?" Well, lol, I didn't know who Cactus Jack was either, so I just gave my father the most vacant stare you have ever seen in your life. Finally, my father said, "I think he's called Mankind now."
BINGO!! Just like that, I knew who Mick Foley was. He was that psychotic guy from the WWF, right? Well, no. At that point, I had not been real successful at separating gimmick from personality. It was a subconcious thing. I am, by no means, stupid, but I was still watching wrestling with the "wrestling is fake" chip on my shoulder. As long as a fan carries a grudge against wrestling, he will never truly enjoy it. So, I was now content with my knowledge of who Mick Foley was. I made no effort to find out anything else about him because I didn't care. Until the Royal Rumble of 1998.
See, at the Rumble, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk, someone I DID know from my days of watching wrestling in the 80s) were the first two contestants in the Royal Rumble. They bashed and beat on each other, putting a steel chair to good use. My reaction...,"Man, these guys are crazy!" Now I was building up that love for Mick. I started to read everything I could about him. About his Deathmatches in Japan, his tenure in the ECW, on and on. And I began to form a solid opinion of this strange and bizarre individual. I decided that he loved he fans. But more on that later.
When the King of the RIng came about, I had to go to great lengths to ensure I would get to see it. I did not get Pay-per-view, but I wasn't going to miss it. I had seen the historic first Hell in a Cell match, and I was certain that if anybody could top that, it would be Mick. He delivered. Boy did he ever.
In a series of bumps that may very well go down as the greatest in wrestling history, Mick showcased the greatest match I have ever seen. No man should go through what Mick Foley did that night, yet he did. And he did it for us.
Right then, I came to the concluson that Foley was a God. The God of wrestling. Anytime someone bad mouths wrestling, or insults you for your love it, insert that King of the RIng tape into your VCR...you will quiet them down real fast.
Still, something was missing. I learned that Mick had never held any belt in the WWF aside from the Tag straps, and that he had never been a world champion. I could not believe it. This man, who risks his very life for the sport we love, had never been given anything...no recognition at all. I listened for the deafening roar of the crowds as they cheered him on to victory, and I heard nothing. "What is wrong with these people," I thought, "Why aren't they cheering?" That was when my barrier broke. That was when all the grudges I held toward wrestling, all the hatred I held towards the heels, and all the love for the faces disappeared. It was like opening my eyes for the first time on a new world. I discovered that many of the wrestlers I had previously despised were fantastic. Chris Jericho, Eddy Guerrero, on and on. I no longer defined my love for wrestling by gimmick, instead I defined it by "wrestling", something I finally discovered WAS real, just shrouded by illusion. I had answered my own question, and it was an earth-shattering conclusion. The fans didn't cheer for Mick, because they didn't understand. Mick was a tweener, he sure as hell wasn't a babyface, and the fans just didn't understand. I almost felt ostracized. I looked for some kind of fan acknowledgement that Foley was great. I watched the WCW, where he became a glorified jobber to the stars. Fans didn't appreciate him there. I went to the ECW...where fans did appreciate him. But not for the right reasons. They appreciated him because he took big bumps, not because he loved them and wanted to put on a great show. And I couldn't watch the ECW. I wanted Mick to get respect in the here and now.
Thankfully, I found rec.sport.pro-wrestling about this time. I began to find people who saw Mick as I saw him. They even loved the hated Chris Jericho and the despised Rock. Sure, there were some jerks, but they didn't matter. Here, Foley was a God.
I watched in awe as Mick made it to the finals in the Survivor Series versus the Rock. Sure, he was part of McMahon's crew, but i didn't care. I just knew he was finally going to get his due. Never happened. In possibly the most painful conclusion to a pay-per-view I had ever seen, Vince betrayed Mick, and the Rock was crowned the "Corporate Champion". And still, there seemed to be little crowd support for Mick.
I watched the finals of Rock Bottom, where the Rock postured and posed. I knew they were going to do a classic swerve, and Mick was going to win the title form the Rock at his self-named pay-per-view. And it happened! Mick won the belt! In those few seconds, I bet my cheers and screams woke all of the Carolina's up. My dogs howled, birds screeched...all was right with the world, until Vince took the belt from him. And still, there was almost no support for Mick Foley. Then TIME Magazine did their Online Man od the Year Poll for 1998. And the crap hit the fan. Just when I had decided that more people than I guessed shared my love of Mick Foley, it was shattered by the mindless, homophobic rantings of a few sick individuals. A stain was cast on the lustre of seeing Mick Foley's numbers rise and rise. I still loved Mick, but I questioned the worth of some of his fans.
Since I know that someone will take an opportunity to insult, degrade and demean Mick Foley, I want to take this opportunity to say this. Mick Foley loves every fan who has ever watched wrestling.
How could he not? Is there a more genuine wrestler in this business than Mick Foley? I don't think so. Every night, every time he wrestles he gives 110%. At a pay-per-view, a televised event, or a house show, if Mick is there, he is giving all he's got. The man is crazy. Who else would put his body on the line night in and night out for a majority of fans who just don't appreciate him? No one.
I think Mick met his ego once, in a wrestling ring in a field somewhere. And I think Mick gave that ego the most powerful DDT that has ever been given. He pummeled his ego until it no longer existed. How else do you explain it? He gets no respect, he is rarely a champion of anything, yet he is always in the upper-card. Why? He will job to put people over. He will lose to make people look good. As long as one of us is cheering him on, Mick will always be happy. I think that ego died a quick death, and Foley never looked back.
Who gives the best interviews in the business? Ric Flair? Nah. Chirs Jericho? Nope. The Rock? Getting warmer. Foley is the most innovative man on a mic I have ever seen. Who else could use Doritos as an explanation for a heel turn? Nobody. Mick is that good.
Mick Foley represents the undedog in all of us. He is the man that goes out, does his best, and never gets credit for it...but on December 29, 1998, I learned that all that had changed.
Finally, after over 15 years of wrestling, Mick got the recognition he deserved. And it took all my willpower not to cry like a baby. When I heard those fans chanting, "Foley! Foley! Foley!" a flood of tears did spring to my eye, but being a guy, I quickly wiped them away :) If I ever remember one single moment in history, it will be when I saw Mick Foley win a world title for the first time on January 4, 1999. There is a new king in the WWF. Long may he reign. And Mick, I have no doubt, no reservations when I say: You are a God. And we love you for it. BANG! BANG!