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WWE’s Hall of Fame Chronicles: A Tribute To “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley

In June 1983, a young college student with a passion, a dream hitchhiked his way to Madison Square Garden so he could attend his first wrestling show. Main eventing this wrestling show was Jimmy “The Superfly” Snuka and Don Morocco inside a steel cage.

To conclude the match, Snuka climbed up the cage, posed atop and then jumped off for his legendary Superfly Splash onto Morocco for the win. Seeing this live, the spectacle, the pageantry, the story it molded, solidified this kid’s dream of becoming a professional wrestler one day. This is when he realized with the amateur wrestling experience he had obtained throughout high school, that he, like Snuka and Morocco, could do it.

This kid’s name was Mick Foley.

Just weeks later, Foley would tape his first of two homemade wrestling movies, in which he created the Dude Love character to counteract the problems he had previously had with girls. Dude Love, unlike him in real life, always had the right answer.

To end the first movie, Foley climbed his friend’s house, posed atop and then jumped off for the Superfly Splash onto a mattress below. This was actually the second time he attempted the dive, after the first wasn’t recorded on tape.

This was the beginning of Foley’s legendary tolerance and perhaps even romance with pain, pain he suffered much of when he joined Danny Denuccci’s wrestling school in New York.

While in this wrestling school, Foley kept his promise to his father that he would stay in college and get his degree, just in case his wrestling career didn’t go as planned. Foley would drive five hours from the wrestling school to college (from Freedom, Pennsylvania to Cortland, New York), then sleep in his car until classes begun. It wasn’t an easy life, but it was a life Mick Foley wouldn’t have traded for the world, given the opportunities it set up for him later in life.

Foley would get on WWE TV as an enhancement talent under the name Jack Foley, thanks to Denucci. He would face the British Bulldogs in a tag team match, when he was given such a stiff clothesline that he couldn’t eat solid food for a week.

Denucci knew Foley was bad, but he also knew how bad he wanted it. So, he tirelessly worked with Foley to hone his skills and even offered to let him stay at his house until he was finally ready for the independent scene.

Foley would suffer through a year and a half of high school gyms filled with 100 people and small paychecks. During this time, he realized he needed a bit more of an ominous character; hence Cactus Jack was born.

Foley got the name from kids calling his dad Cactus Jack. His dad—the athletic director of his school—would stand against the wall with his arms at his side at the school’s basketball games, resembling a cactus.

This gimmick finally got him noticed. Foley would soon sign on the dotted line for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), to take a big step in accomplishing his life’s goal.

In WCW, Foley would engage in feuds with big names, notably the likes of Sting and Vader. Against the then-WCW Champion Sting (though the title wasn’t on the line), Foley was the heel and wrestled what he considers one of the best matches of his career at Beach Blast 1992.

Against Vader, Foley would work as more of a sympathetic face. He would wrestle Vader at Halloween Havoc in a Texas Death match, in likely what was the most hardcore match in Foley’s career to that point. Foley would lose, and the match was so violent that WCW wouldn’t book them on pay-per-view again, but it was a match that showcased Foley’s potential in the wrestling business.

To no one’s surprise, however, that potential wouldn’t be seen in WCW. Despite choosing to team with Kevin Sullivan on pay-per-view over getting his ear reattached, WCW was reluctant to push Foley consistently, which pushed Foley out the door. He knew that if he wanted to become a legend, he wouldn’t do it in a company notorious for giving young talent very few chances.

Instead, he jumped to the land of extreme; Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Foley would use ECW as a medium to get back at WCW, as well as hone his mic skills and show off the extreme punishment that he was willing to take.

He would be a mainstay in ECW’s tag team division, as well as feuding with Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, and Shane Douglas.

His final match in ECW was in fact against Douglas. Douglas would lock in the figure four leg-lock to end the match, cuing “Please Don’t Go” chants from the ECW fans.

Foley would go from ECW to WWE.

He met with Vince McMahon about a new character, since Vince wasn’t keen on Cactus Jack at the time, and Vince came up with the ring name “Mason the Mutilator.”

Foley, lying, said he liked the named but suggested “Mankind the Mutilator” instead, which Vince liked even better. By the time Foley debuted, his ring name had been shortened to Mankind.

Mankind was a tortured, mentally deranged soul, in contrast to the two other alter egos he’d take on during his career, Dude Love and Cactus Jack.

Mankind birthed Mr. Socko in a hospital segment with Mr. McMahon, though it was meant to be a one-time thing originally. He competed in the infamous Hell In A Cell match with The Undertaker, where Foley fell both off and through the cell, believing many to believe he was dead both times. And he also won his first WWE Championship with this character, by pinning The Rock on an unforgettable episode of Raw is War.

Mick Foley accomplishes his dream

Dude Love, created by Foley during his childhood as previously mentioned, was most like Foley in real life. He was a fun-loving hippie, and most notably both teamed and feuded with Steve Austin during this time.

Cactus Jack was famous for his fondness to hardcore matches and would sacrifice his body like no one else. Under this character, Foley would compete at No Way Out inside the Hell In A Cell in 2000 against Triple H. Foley would fall through the cell one last time, and cap off the Three Faces of Foley phase of his career.

From 2000 to 2008, Foley would sporadically compete under his real name, like against Edge at WrestleMania 22 that helped boost Edge into superstardom and against Ric Flair in a SummerSlam I Quit match where Foley portrayed in the heel.

Foley never had the best body, nor was he the most athletically gifted guy on the roster, but he more than made up for it with the ability to play any character he was given, ability to tell a story, his passion, and his grit.

He was willing to sacrifice his body for the love of the sport and the love of the fans, despite how it may hinder his health. He showed that anyone can accomplish anything they want if they set their mind to it. He proved that anything is possible.

For that, I say thank you Mick Foley. Thank you for entertaining us, the professional wrestling fans over many years. Thank you for creating moments that many will remember until the day they die.

Thank you, Mick Foley, and congratulations on the much deserved induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.

About Ryan Frye

Wrestling is real, people are fake.I enjoy messing with people's emotions, and that's what writing and wrestling are both about. So why would I stop? It's way too fun.
  • Ryan

    Amazing tribute, So many legendary moments and matched. Mick Foley is so deserving of his induction. Excellent work.


    Not to mention being a best-selling author. Foley is a wrestling god–a scraggly bear of a god, but one nevertheless. Used to like his entrance film where he’d morph into the three different characters … and as for Cactus Jack, BANG, BANG!

  • Kevin Berge

    Awesome tribute, Ryan. It really felt like in limited words you captured the essence of Foley’s story. He was the young kid who was willing to do anything to be wrestler who became the wrestler was willing to do anything. He told a story better than most anyone both inside the ring and on the mic. He could make sure that nothing got in the way of that storytelling despite not always being in the best of shape. It took him through three distinct characters, but Foley did it all without ever being quite incredible at any one thing (except possibly his mic work). He was just a guy who sacrificed his life for wrestling. The man is a true legend.

    • Ryan Frye

      He’s not just a legend, he’s God. I’m convinced lol.

      Thanks Berge.

  • Joe Burgett

    Another good one kid. You’re moving on up in this writing thing. ;)

    • White Chocolate

      It’s about time, I’ve been here for awhile haha. Eventually you get better, even if it’s on accident.

      Thanks Joe.

  • Paul McIntyre

    Loved this. Made all the better by the fact the man himself has seen and acknowledged it. One of the all-time greats, and one of my personal favourites. Cannot wait to see him go into the Hall of Fame.

    • White Chocolate

      Thanks Paul.

  • Charlie G

    Great tribute…. I MET MICK FOLEY ONCE, AND YOU DIDN’T SO HAHAHA (…or did you?)

    Hey, how come Paul hasn’t commented yet? Is he too busy jerking off to the tribute video & this article as a whole? (I hope Paul reads this….and then reads Jacob’s…then this again…..but doesn’t comment because I know he’ll take an unnecessary shot at TNA…then reads Jacob’s one more time).

    • White Chocolate

      I haven’t, unfortunately. Maybe I will one day though, who knows.

      Paul said he’s gonna read it, but he doesn’t have internet access until tomorrow or something like that. So… yeah.

      Thanks Charlie.

  • Mathieu Nicod

    Awesome article, great job!

    • White Chocolate

      Thanks man.

  • Brett Chandler

    Awesome article, Ryan.

    • White Chocolate

      Thanks Brett.

  • Guest

    Awesome article, Ryan.

    • Brett Chandler

      I botched a comment…

      • White Chocolate

        Blame Miz, or Jacob. Your choice.

  • Jaykub StalksAWitch

    Your AJ/Daniels rivalry tribute was sooo much better……but Foley is cool…..transitional champion though (I hope Paul reads this).

    • White Chocolate

      Ehh, that was a lot different lol. But, of course you say that being a TNA mark, especially when I didn’t include Foley’s TNA stint in this.

      Anyway, thanks Jaykub.

  • Sinclair

    This article can be written in three words. FOLEY IS GOD.

    But in all seriousness good job.

    • White Chocolate

      Haha, thanks Marc.

  • Magic Sean

    BUT HOW IS HE STILL ALIVE!?!?!?!?!!? Lol, great article, love Mick Foley, he’s the man.

    • White Chocolate

      He’s obviously not human, lol. Nobody can survive that much abuse.

      Thanks Sean.