Greatest Feuds of the Attitude Era - Mankind/Dude Love/Cactus Jack/Mick Foley
by, 10-26-2011 at 01:39 PM (6752 Views)
This blog is about a wrestler who wrestled at the very top and was suggested by both Knox and Sahu. Hope I did him service.
One of the best main eventers of the Attitude Era, this character was one of the most hated heels/ most popular faces from 1996 to 2000. Somewhat of a cult hero in the wrestling world, he was not the most agile or technically gifted of wrestlers but always put on a great match. You may know him as Mankind, Dude Love, Cactus Jack or even (for those fond of a classic J.R. catchphrase) Mrs. Foley’s baby boy.
When Mankind debuted in 1996 he didn’t look anything like the Mankind of ’99. There was no white shirt and tie, no Mr Socko and no witty remarks. He would cradle himself in the middle of matches, pull out his hair and call out ‘Mommy’.
And whereas most new wrestlers to the WWF worked their way up from the bottom of the stack, he attacked one of the leading wrestlers of the time, The Undertaker. King of the Ring ’96, which seems to have become a reoccurring theme in my blogs, was where he made his PPV debut. While Mankind and his many alter egos put on countless classic matches it should also be noted that few wrestlers, Shawn Michaels included, could consistently perform at such a high level at PPVs.
One of the biggest shocks of 1996 occurred at the next PPV, Summerslam. Mankind and The Undertaker battled in a Boiler Room Brawl. In a definitive moment, Paul Bearer who had been managing the Demon of Death Valley since February 1991 turned on The Undertaker, deciding Mankind was the better option.
Mankind subsequently became the number one contender, and in a brilliant 27 minute match he lost out to Shawn Michaels due to interference from The Undertaker. The two foes met again in the first ever Buried Alive match at In Your House, where Mankind was triumphant when several heel characters helped to bury The Undertaker.
The Undertaker got his revenge at Survivor Series when he finally defeated Mankind at a PPV event. The feud came to a close shortly after WrestleMania 13, where The Undertaker had become WWF Champion, at In Your House: Revenge of the Taker. The Deadman was successful in his first title defence and this not only ended the feud, which had lasted around an entire year, but also Paul Bearer’s time in the WWF for a while.
Shortly afterwards Mankind made the first transformation of his WWF career to one of his older characters created during his childhood (and maybe even my personal favourite for comedy moments). Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels had won the Tag Team Titles but as Michaels was unable to defend his title Austin was in need of a partner. He refused the partnership of Mankind but what he received in the end was something nobody was expecting:
He also had one of the best entrance videos of all time:
Austin suffered a broken neck at the hands of Owen Hart at Summerslam ’97 which meant the Tag Team Champions relinquished their gold. Dude Love went on to have a feud with Triple H which coincided with the next of his transformations. In a strange but wonderful segment, Dude Love interviewed Mankind as to who should fight Triple H in a street fight match and they both came to the same conclusion:
It was one of the greatest Raw matches of all time. Then an old friend from Foley’s hardcore days made a return to the ring. Terry Funk, or Chainsaw Charlie as he was known, joined forces with Cactus and they went on to defeat the New Age Outlaws for the Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania 14. Their reign didn’t last long though. The next night they were forced to defend the titles in a cage match against the Outlaws. This was the night the New Age Outlaws joined DX and to prove their new union X-Pac, Triple H and Chyna were ringside to assist the Outlaws in winning back their gold.
Foley became a heel when he announced that the fans would not see him anymore as they didn’t appreciate him. Vince McMahon granted Foley a shot at Austin’s WWF Title at Unforgiven which Stone Cold won. After Foley proved himself worthy of a rematch he took on Austin again at Over The Edge ’98 and with McMahon in his corner it looked like he wouldn’t lose. Unfortunately for Foley, his old nemesis The Undertaker was at ringside to make sure the match was called fairly and in the end he lost again, and was subsequently ‘fired’ by McMahon.
On the same Raw he was fired, he returned as Mankind. He attacked The Undertaker which led to the legendary Hell in a Cell match. I would write about this match but my words wouldn’t do it justice:
By putting his body on the line he had finally cemented himself as a main eventer and to an audience who were unaware of his non-WWF days, a hardcore legend. Following the match he and Kane held the Tag Team Titles twice and battled The Undertaker and Austin. Those four were really the only main eventers before The Rock and Triple H made the jump up. He also started to become the goofy character that would make him hugely popular with the audience. This involved trying to become friends with the hated Mr McMahon as shown in this classic clip where Mr Socko made his debut:
McMahon used Foley though. He made him believe he was going to become the Corporate Champion at Survivor Series ’98 when instead he screwed him and presented the WWF Title to The Rock.
After weeks of trying to win the WWF Title he finally had his best opportunity on December 29th 1998. The Raw taping was shown on January 4th and as usual the WCW commentators would reveal the results of their opposition’s show. It famously backfired as many people watching WCW switched over to see Mrs. Foley’s baby boy win his first WWF Title:
Mankind would go on to have a wonderful set of matches with The Rock including an I Quit match at the Royal Rumble which he lost and a ladder match on an episode of Raw. He was successful in helping Stone Cold win the WWF Title at WrestleMania XV when he counted the winning pinfall.
He would later join forces with the now popular Rock and they formed the team of The Rock and Sock Connection. They achieved Raw’s highest ever ratings with this famous segment:
Mankind won the WWF Title for the third time at Summerslam ’99 when he defeated Stone Cold and Triple H in a match nobody expected him to win. Unfortunately his reign didn’t last long and he lost to Triple H the next night.
The two would battle again at Royal Rumble 2000 when Foley returned to his Cactus Jack persona. They put on a classic performance in a street fight match and put in a great performance again at No Way Out in a Hell in a Cell match which was officially Foley’s retirement match.
He came back for the four man battle royal at WrestleMania 2000, being eliminated second, and this was his last full time wrestling appearance. He took over from Shawn Michaels as WWF Commissioner in one of his most entertaining roles as a wrestler. He became famous for getting cheap pops from the crowd by usually just naming the place they were, making lame jokes and setting up his office in odd places e.g. women’s toilet. This is maybe my favourite Commissioner moment:
He left the WWF as Commissioner at the end of December 2000 and he was never a full time WWF talent again.
Mick Foley/ Mankind/ Dude Love/ Cactus Jack/ Mrs. Foley’s baby boy. He was easily one of the greatest wrestlers of the ‘90s, and perhaps one of the greatest entertainers. What should be remembered about Foley are three things.
First of all, he was one of best main eventers ever at selling his opponent. He returned in 2004 to sell Randy Orton, losing twice at PPV events to the Legend Killer, despite the feud being of no benefit to him. At his prime he didn’t think twice about his own reputation and put over guys like Triple H, The Rock and Stone Cold when they needed the focus. Guys like Shawn Michaels, Triple H and, most famously, Hulk Hogan all look at themselves as brands that they need to protect. Foley never did that.
Secondly, when looking at the WWE roster it’s clear to see a lack of originality. Foley had three characters in his time in the WWF, all original and distinctive. His imagination made all three characters entertaining and worthy of air time. It’s a shame to see the same recycled ideas on T.V now, such as generic cocky heel who only cares about appearance with utter lack of personality (I’m looking at you Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Alberto Del Rio, Wade Barrett, Drew McIntyre) when he was able to reinvent himself so many times.
Finally, and most importantly, he should be remembered for his service to the fans. Few wrestlers were ever as hard working for the fans as he was. He broke his body many times in matches for the fans, he put on consistently great performances week after week for the fans and he would always make it paramount to entertain the fans.
When people discuss the best wrestlers of the last twenty years they mention Michaels, Stone Cold, The Rock, Undertaker, Triple H and Kurt Angle among others. In terms of wrestling ability, classic matches and entertainment value he would put many of them to shame. For all the time he spent entertaining us the least we can do is remember him for it. Mick Foley truly is God.