Remembering Mick Foley's greatest moments as Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack
51 years ago, the wrestling world was gifted with one of its greatest athletes ever.
Okay, "athlete" might not be the right word for Mick Foley. He shocked us for years with his incredibly painful and extreme approach to the squared circle, to be sure. As for impressive displays of strength and agility, though? Foley wasn't about that kind of thing -- and we loved him for it.
There will never again be anyone like Foley. Who else could simultaneously portray three unique gimmicks -- Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack -- in an effort to mess with his opponents? Who else would bring Mr. Socko along to visit Vince McMahon in the hospital? And who else (other than maybe Shane McMahon) would vault from the top of the Hell in the Cell cage for the very first time, with no knowledge of whether he'd live through the spot?
So today -- and every day, really -- we celebrate Foley's fantastic WWE run with his top moment from each of his three gimmicks, plus one ultimate Mick Foley moment just for good measure.
Happy birthday, Mick. We miss you in the ring, but we're glad we don't have to worry about your health any longer.
Mankind feuded with Undertaker from the moment he debuted with WWE. The angle started with creepy vignettes and ended with Foley flying through the air, tossed from the top of a cage to a table waiting below. Really, words can't do it justice -- well, other than J.R.'s famous call. Those words are perfect.
That feud with Taker would also give rise to the three faces of Mick Foley, for which we are eternally grateful ...
You have to love a guy who wrestles in sunglasses -- especially if he's wearing a tie-dyed shirt and channeling his inner hippie while he's doing it.
Steve Austin had refused to accept help from Foley in his Mankind character, preferring to take on Owen Hart and the British Bulldog by himself rather than team up with such a madman. So Foley did what Foley does, introducing the world to Dude Love 11 months before the infamous Hell in a Cell match. Had Foley known what was coming, maybe he would have stayed as Love a little longer.
After Love teamed up with Steve Austin, the two won the tag team titles and had the WWE world in the palm of their hands. Unfortunately, a serious neck injury to the Rattlesnake forced the popular tag team to give up their belts, and Foley subsequently entered into a feud with Triple H. Before a no-disqualification match on a 1998 episode of "Raw is War" (ahhhh, memories), Foley appeared on the Jumobotron in both his Mankind and Dude Love personas at the same time.
Technology's wonderful, isn't it? Both Foleys then introduced a third Foley -- Cactus Jack, a character Foley hadn't used since his pre-WWF/WWE days. Jack came out to the ring and beat Helmsley with a piledriver through a table, in classic Foley fashion. Jack went on to team with wrestling legend Terry Funk (as "Chainsaw Charlie") before Foley turned heel and resumed his Dude Love personality.
Rival promotion WCW thought it was being coy when it spoiled the fact that Mankind would win the championship on a January 1999 episode of Raw. The idea was wrestling fans would have no reason to tune in if they already knew the result.
But WCW underestimated how much fans had fallen in love with Mankind after the character transitioned from a caricature of a mentally ill person to a more comedic wrestler who used Mr. Socko with the Mandible Claw. Over half a million people changed the channel to see Foley's win, and wrestlers from the back came out to congratulate Foley on reaching wrestling's summit.
For our money, there might not be a better moment in the history of the industry. And on Mick Foley's birthday, why not embrace the love?