Friday, October 18, 2013

Boo: Have a Nice Day!

Mankind
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Fans who are just getting to know Mick Foley probably view him as a pretty fun loving guy.  He loves Santa Claus and all things Christmas.  He's a best selling author, including several children's books.  He's a nice guy, who stands up for the little guy.  But those of us who remember him from the early days of his career know that Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy has had quite a few intense personas.

I first learned of Mick Foley when he wrestled as Cactus Jack Manson in World Class Championship Wrestling.   He was a part of Skandor Akbar's Devastation Incorporated.  Jack was tough as nails and an early player in the hardcore wrestling movement.  I really took notice of him when he headed to WCW and teamed with Abdullah the Butcher.  The two tormented Sting, the Steiner Brothers, and Van Hammer.
He lost part of his ear in a battle with Big Van Vader, so even as a babyface, Jack was intense.

Of course, Jack wrestled in ECW too, the land of the hardcore movement.  Barbed wire baseball bats, flaming tables, and thumbtacks ruled the world.  He had legendary hardcore matches with his friend Terry Funk overseas as well.  But it wasn't until his arrival in the WWF in 1996, that I really took notice.

Jack was repackaged as Mankind, a deranged individual who wore a brown leather mask.  He kept that hardcore streak alive, but it was somewhat tamer than what we'd seen him do in ECW, obviously.  I liked Mankind in those early days, but I'll be honest, I didn't think he'd be around long.  I never expected him to excel past the mid-card, much less become a three time WWE champion.

Mankind's brutality made him the perfect opponent for the Undertaker.  I believe he was one of Taker's greatest challenges in the Dead Man's long career.  The two had many classic matches, including the Boiler Room Brawl at SummerSlam 96 in which Mankind and Paul Bearer joined forces.

Mankind & Socko
Photo by WWE

Eventually Mankind would turn face and adopt a sweat sock named Mr. Socko as his "sidekick."  Foley's gimmick lightened up, but he stayed just as intense in the ring.  I think my favorite Foley match from his WWE days was against Undertaker in the Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring 98.  Within the first few minutes, Foley was tossed from the top of that cage and through the Spanish announce table.  Jim Ross, the voice of the WWE, told such an amazing story with his commentary that night and the way Mankind just kept getting up to fight are remarkable.  He was later chokeslammed through the roof of the cage and eventually pinned by Undertaker.

Foley has earned his spot in wrestling history and is now a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.  I'm glad to say I was there (although late) when he got inducted into the HOF earlier this year.  Foley is God (and Good too), thanks for the memories and putting it all on the line for us fans.







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