Mick Foley has many aliases: Mrs Foley’s baby boy, Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mankind, WWE Hall of Famer and New York Times bestselling author are many of his guises. Foley is renowned for being in some of the craziest matches in the history of pro wrestling and sports entertainment. The hardcore icon lost half an ear against Vader, teeth knocked through to his nostril, thrown from a cell and pushed off a stage while locked in a dumpster. Proving either he’s not all there or he’ll do anything for the business he loves. He invented Cactus Jack an eerie creation who Paul Heyman helped come to life in ECW.
Foley’s promos can make hairs on the body rise, listening to every word with his gasping screech is menacing and impressive. The ability to not look in the direction of the person or camera he talks to is off-putting and rather scary. Watch his promo with Raven after joining Ravens Nest in ECW, two of the best. Quoth, the Jack, nevermore.
ECW was a place Foley’s style was lapped up by their bloodthirsty fans. One-night Foley changed. Annoyed a fan held a sign reading ‘Cane Dewey’ (Foley’s son), Foley instantly went against the hardcore style and wrestled slower matches with no danger bumps or hardcore equipment being used, holding opponents in headlocks for seven minutes, or leg locks for six. This section of his career and later Dude Love may have helped his in-ring longevity.
The slow matches didn’t last long, as his maniacal force of brutality came back. Around this time WWF took notice and the Mankind Character arrived and life in WWE as we know got dark and scary. With that in mind, what are Mick Foleys best five matches in his career? I’ll start this off and see how many disagree. Bang bang.
WCW: Beach Blast 1992 – vs Sting.
During 1991, in WCW, Cactus Jack stalked Sting, the surfer, face painted bleached blond hair saviour of WCW. Foley pursued Sting for weeks, attacking him once while hiding in a large gift-wrapped box in the ring. Eventually, lead to them face to face at Beach Blast in 1992 Falls Count Anywhere non-title (Sting was WCW champion). A fight full of hard bumps for the two. Sting suplexing Cactus onto the concrete floor, no mats just concrete to break the fall and Foley can sell ice to Eskimo’s. This match was before ECW went to another level and before hardcore matches were the norm for WCW and WWE. Cactus Jack or Mick Foley is fearless in the ring, he’s aggressive, and Sting the handsome homely superstar proved that with a demon heel facing him Sting was the right man to lead WCW. Foley’s technical style of wrestling is impressive and fun to watch and is overlooked at times, he and Sting created an amazing event for their fans. To this day I still remember Cactus Jack running from the gift-wrapped box to get at Sting. Sadly, WCW lost it in the end with Jack, having a storyline of Cactus going missing to later found with memory loss. Mmmm didn’t get it.
WWE/F: Mind Games, 1996 – Vs Shawn Micheals
Mankind took on Shawn Michaels Mr Wrestlemania the Heart Break Kid. HBK is known as probably the greatest in ring performer of all time and during this period a tough personality to work with. The rough goings of Mick Foley’s Mankind turned out to be an exceptional technical fast-paced contest, and Michaels allowed fans to see the ethic Mankind puts into matches. The two are complete opposites as characters and wrestlers, yet both brought the best out of each other. When Michaels is up for it and in the mood, he’ll be part of something magical. I feel this was one of Foley’s best matches, the crowd were engaged, and Mankind is that unique of a character, people want to see, while Shawn Michaels is Shawn Michaels and at that time could make or break someone.
WWF: Summerslam 1996 – vs The Undertaker
The Undertaker’s greatest foe, Mankind, took the Undertaker to a new level of crazy. The moment Mankind in his original attire appeared on WWF calling out the Phenom from his own private boiler room. They met at Summerslam 1996 at boiler room brawl it didn’t feature much in the ring until near the end. The showdown between these unique individuals built up showing fans of WWE why Mankind/Mick Foley/Cactus Jack is infamous in previous companies. The rocking motion in the corner of the ring, the pulling of his hair, the smiling at the camera when he takes a dangerous bump, the pain he looks at causing his opponents. The Undertaker v Mankind rivalry is pure gold, they took so much damage in their matches easily causing issues to their bodies and probably their mental state, but for me, Summerslam 1996 Boiler Room Brawl was electric and the start to a feud that lasted years and before Hell in a Cell.
ECW: Hostile City Showdown, 1994 – Vs Sabu
Let’s go back to 1994, ECW Hostile City Showdown, Cactus Jack against Sabu, two men who do not know the meaning of ‘maybe you shouldn’t do that’. Sabu the homicidal, suicidal, genocidal maniac and Cactus Jack the hardcore lunatic start to outdo each other, while making their opponent look a million dollars with crazy moves, dangerous bumps and stuntman style moves. I went for this as it’s peer through your fingers stuff. It’s hardcore stuff, table bumps, chair shots, hold your breath viewing. Sabu moonsaults from the apron crashing Foley through a table. Foley drops his elbow from the top of the apron onto Sabu who lays on the concrete floor. This is certainly a match to look for and see two icons try to outdo each other.
WWE: Shotgun 1997 – Vs Bret Hart
Bret Hart and Mick Foley can tell a story, and this would’ve been a great opportunity for a feud. It’s a shame as Hart left WWE for WCW in 1997, not long after Foley arrived on the scene. A show-stealing instant classics is what I could see in this match. Two superstars get the best out of opponents. At the beginning of 1997, the two come together at Shotgun in New York City. On commentary is King of Harts Own Hart with Vince McMahon and Sunny. Bret Hart’s technical ability took Mankind to a level who only Bret Hart can make people get to. This is hard-hitting methodical and at times a little crazy as you’d expect. Bret carries himself immensely at keeping up with the rough looking style of Mankind. The match was interrupted by the Slammy award winning Own Hart attacking his older brother, thus meaning Mankind loses via disqualification and leading to a continuation of the Bret and Owen feud.
In any incarnation, Mick Foley shows wrestling ability while his head’s full of crazy. He makes us sit and watch, cheer, boo, no matter what, the fans have an invested interested in any situation he’s in, from barbed wire to calling his sock Mr Socko and becoming the Rock n Sock Connection to general manager and so on.
There you have it my favourite five matches of the New York bestselling author the many faces of Foley’s top five matches.