by: Bob Magee

Ten unprotected chair shots to the head. That's what I saw.

Ten unprotected chair shots to the head. One chair shot to the head after the other by Duane Johnson on Mick Foley at the Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 24th, 1999. I don't mind telling you they scared the hell out of me.

I first got to see Mick Foley wrestle in 1990, when he began a classic series of matches with the late Eddie Gilbert which began in the New Jersey-based NWA in Bensalem, PA. The series continued in 1991 in the Philadelphia-based Tri-State Wrestling Alliance, including a infamous Barbed Wire match that saw Mick get his head caught in barbed wire- surrounded ropes and pull barbs out of his head.

It concluded with one of the most memorable matches in Philadelphia wrestling history on a night at the Philadelphia Civic Center in August 1991, when fans got to watch a best of three falls/triple- header of matches: a Falls Count Anywhere for the first fall, a stretcher match for the second fall, during which Gilbert breaks a bottle over Cactus's head; concluding with a bloody steel cage match for the final fall.

But I also remember Mick Foley, the man who we got to meet as well back in 1990 and 1991 at Joel Goodhart's meet and greet style luncheons. He introduced his new wife Colette to the group at one of these luncheons; and said "Well..I can't use my trademark line any more 'I'd rather hurt a man than make love to a woman'"...and just grinned.

Those of us in Philadelphia got to meet and find out about the real Mick Foley... just another fan who dreamed of being in the business since he was a kid...a man with a college degree...the kinds of things that the rest of the country saw years later on WWF TV in the footage of Foley as a kid who cut wrestling promos and jumped off of a roof into mattresses. The Mick Foley who was a mark for the business just like us.

Mick Foley worked as Cactus Jack all over the world, in WCW, ECW, and the IWA in some of the most insane "death matches" ever...barbed wire, thumb tacks, exploding mine, and fire matches. Foley then became "Mankind" in the WWF, creating a whole new and memorable character.

Then there was the night of 1998 King of the Ring and the Hell in the Cell Match... Mick Foley and the Undertaker. I sat that night with friends and watched the match, figuring on seeing something special. But I had no idea what I was about to see.

As Mick Foley was at the edge on the top of that cage, I thought "No...not even HE'S going to try that...". But as we all know, he did. Off of the top of the cage and through the announcers table... Then Foley came back to the match...If that wasn't bad enough, he then went THROUGH the cage, driving a tooth into his nose. If that still wasn't enough, he decided to take bumps into thumb tacks.

I remember writing in this column that, while the Hell in the Cell match was something never to be forgotten, I hoped I'd never see anything like that again. I still cringe when I see the spot replayed. Then I read about Mick Foley saying he wanted to top that Hell in the Cell match at the Royal Rumble.

The bump on the "electrical board" was bad enough, but typical Mick Foley. But then I saw the ten unprotected chair shots to the head, one after the other, concluding with the screw-job finish of projecting Mick's voice over the P.A.

All too many times, I see fans in the ECW Arena and other venues screaming at wrestlers for dogging it...when, in fact, those fans have no clue whatsoever about the human beings behind the characters, the physical pain they suffer, the drugs that many take to deal with that pain, and what the long-term costs of those wild, out-of-control spots will be.

But it seems to be a bit different with Mick Foley. People HAVE begun to worry about him on the Internet, in the industry newsletters, and even the average fan in the stands. How many insane bumps can one person be asked to take? How many unprotected chair shots can one man be asked to take?

Mick, you proved yourself a long time ago.

You proved yourself with the matches with Eddie Gilbert.

You proved yourself with the matches with Leon (Big Van Vader) White in WCW.

You proved yourself with countless matches in ECW.

You proved yourself with barbed wire match after thumb tack match after exploding mine match after fire match in Japan's IWA.

And for God's sake, if there was ANYTHING left to prove, you proved yourself with the King of the Ring and the Hell in the Cell Match.

Enough already, Mick. Please. For God's sake, enough. You don't have anything more to "prove" to us.

You have a beautiful wife, Colette. You have two young children. They need to have a father who will be able to know who they are, and be the real-life Mick Foley some of us know to them as they grow up.

But I look at a Jerry Quarry, and I see you if you're not careful. Mick, no more unprotected chair shots. Please. No more insane spots like the King of the Ring match.

We'd like to see you work as long as you want to. But I don't want to watch you kill yourself on live TV...whether all at once, or match after match.

Please, Mick, enough...

Until next time....

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