AS I SEE IT - 2/25/2000
by: Bob Magee
A welcome this week to 1wrestle/Maximum Wrestling and a return to WWF-Media.com, which are carrying the AS I SEE IT column beginning this week.
I first got to see Mick Foley wrestle live in 1990, when he began a classic series of matches with the late Eddie Gilbert in NWA/ Championship Wrestling America in Bensalem, PA. The series continued throughout 1991 in Joel Goodhart's Philadelphia-based Tri-State Wrestling Alliance (the predecessor of ECW). This series included a an infamous Barbed Wire match that saw Mick get his head caught in barbed wire-surrounded ropes, and being forced to pull very real barbs out of his head.
The program concluded with one of the most memorable matches in Philadelphia wrestling history in August 1991 at the Philadelphia Civic Center, when fans got to watch a best of three falls/triple- header of matches: a Falls Count Anywhere match for the first fall, a stretcher match for the second fall, during which Gilbert broke a bottle over Cactus's head; concluding with a bloody steel cage match for the final fall.
But I also remember the real-life Mick Foley, the man who we got to meet at Joel Goodhart's meet and greet style luncheons between 1989- 1991. Foley introduced his new wife Colette to the group at one of these luncheons; and looking at her with a warmth that would melt ice, said to us: "Well..I can't use my trademark line 'I'd rather hurt a man than make love to a woman' any more"... 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...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. We got to see the Mick Foley who was a mark for the business just like us.
We've also had the opportunity to read the real-life Mick Foley tell a very real-life story in his history-making book that made the New York Times Bestseller List last year. That achievement still has those of us who have been wrestling fans for a number of years (and who had to deal with the ridicule from those who weren't) beyond amazement.
Mick Foley worked as Cactus Jack all over the world, in the USWA, World Class, Continental, WCW, ECW, and IWA/Japan with some of the wildest spots ever and in some of the most insane "death matches" ever...involving barbed wire, thumb tacks, exploding mine, and fire matches. Many readers of this column have tapes of those matches. Anyone who doesn't have a copy has seen clips of them on WWF TV, or read about them in Mick Foley's recent bestseller.
In March 1996, Mick Foley retired Cactus Jack (or so he thought) with his memorable anti-hardcore storyline in ECW, and then became "Mankind" in the WWF, creating a whole new and memorable character. In 1997 and 1998, Foley worked several PPV matches with the Undertaker. Then, there was June 1998: King of the Ring and Hell in the Cell from Pittsburgh's Civic Arena.
In his book, Foley recounts his fears about how fans would compare that night's match to its predecessor eight months earlier (and 1997's Match of The Year in the eyes of many) -- Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker in Hell In The Cell I.
I sat in front of the TV that June night with several friends who work in wrestling, and watched the match, figuring on seeing something special. But I had no idea what I was about to see. As the match began, and Mick Foley ascended to the top of the giant Hell in the Cell cage...then moved to the edge of the 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 and knocking himself silly. 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. Even Vince McMahon was quoted as saying backstage to Mick Foley that he never wanted to see him do it again. But then we all read months later about Foley saying he wanted to somehow top Hell in the Cell II at 1999's Royal Rumble.
The bump he took 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. The "Beyond The Mat" feature movie and a subsequent Colette Foley interview on ABC's 20-20 showed the horrified reaction of Foley's family to those 10 unprotected chair shots.
As I've said many times in this column, I see fans in the ECW Arena and many other wrestling venues screaming at wrestlers for "f%$#ing up..." when, in fact, those fans have no clue at all 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 physical and emotional costs of those wild, out-of-control spots will be. Either that, or those fans just plain don't give a damn.
But it seems to be a bit different with Mick Foley. People HAVE begun to worry about him on the Internet, in wrestling 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 should one man take? Foley's already made remarks about having some memory loss as a result of chair shots and other blows to the head. He's already questioned his ability to physically perform in the ring due to the abuse his body's taken over the years.
In 2000, we've gotten his return to being Cactus Jack, with this year's Royal Rumble featuring Mick Foley and Paul Levesque putting on a bloody, violent spectacle that should have satisfied any hardcore fan.
But somehow it apparently still hasn't satisfied Mick Foley. There is word that Foley wants to top his Hell in the Cell match at this week's "No Way Out" PPV.
For God's sakes, enough already.
Given that Foley's already made clear that he's approaching the end of his in-ring career, I'm actually scared at what Mick Foley might try to do on Sunday night.
He has no need to do so. Mick Foley proved himself a long time ago.
He proved himself with the matches with Eddie Gilbert. He proved himself with the matches with Leon (Big Van Vader) White in WCW. He proved himself with countless matches in ECW... with barbed wire match after thumb tack match after exploding mine match after fire match in Japan's IWA. He proved himself 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.
If Mick Foley won't step back and realize he has proven himself; then Vince McMahon needs to step in and insure that that we don't see Mick Foley all but kill himself live on PPV this Sunday. I hope to God that Vince McMahon has the sense to find a way to tell whatever story the storywriters have in mind that doesn't involve Mick Foley putting his life or safety at risk.
Please, Vince, let Mick Foley end his in-ring career on top and not six feet under.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)