What do you call a wrestler who has 4 distinct wrestling personalities? Is he a heel or hero? How about Sybil? Well, when it comes to
Mick Foley, the term "crowd favorite" is the most fitting answer. Over the years of his career, he's only had one thing in mind-- the
happiness og his fans. Whether it be Cactus Jack, Mankind, Dude Love, or Mick Foley, the 3-time WWF champion loved to hear the roar of
the crowd. He got off on giving them their money's worth and more--even if it meant he had to put himself in harm's way.
This is a very rare practice not only in professional wrestling, but any kind of entertainment these days. Most wrestlers or entertainers
are usually only interested in new things--- the championship title or the money. They couldn't give a darn about the fans. They are
under the impression that their interests are more important than the fans, who pay good money to see them perform. But not Foley.
He is an entertainer first and everything else second. Sure, he liked winning championships and earned cold, hard cash, but those were always
secodary to the fan-loyal grappler. He hung up his wrestling boots at the conclusion of WrestleMania 2000 and has resurfaced in the WWF as
the acting commissioner of the WWF. He now gets a chance to strike back at some of the foes he battled throughout his illustrious career. With
this prestgious title, he now has the final say in most matchups and can give or take any title or belt whenever he sees fit. That's a lot of
power to givea kid from Long Island who grew up imitating his favorite ring kings.
Over 15 years ago, a teanage Foley met up with a wrestling promoter by the name of Tommy Dee, who was doing a show at his old high school, and
Dee wound up giving Foley his first job in the wrestling business as part of his ring crew. Even though he wasn't bashing heads or his own body
yet, he was able to cross paths with some famous grapplers who took a liking to the kid from New York.
Foley wound up meeting and getting tips from popular wrestlers like Bob Backlund, Larry Zbysko, Sgt. Slaughther, Rick Martel and Dominic
DeNucci. Of all these superstars, DeNucci would have the biggest impact on the future hard-core wrestler's career.
In his spare time between matches, DeNucci would not only show him moves and how to take bumps in the ring, he would personally invite Foley
to his wrestling training school in Pittsburgh. Even though Foley was in college at the time, he decided to take Dominic up on his offer-- traveling
over 400 miles each weekend to get there--because there was nothing that he wanted out of life more than to becoming a professional wrestler.
On June 24, 1986, he made his ring debut against another DeNucci student, Kurt Kaufman, in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Kaufman who had some pro
experience from his time on the indy circuit, defeated the inexperienced Foley in the ring on that night, but it didn't matter to the newcomer as he
was on his way to becoming a full-time grappler.
Foley would ply his trade all over the wrestling world. Wherever they needed a 6'2",297-pound, out-of-shape grappler he was there. That's right. Out
of shape. But this was the beauty of Mick Foley. He came into the wrestling world out of shape, and went out the same way, but what he did in-between
is what wrestling fans will never forget.
He bounced around as not only different characters, but also in different federations. At one time or another he has wrestled for the IWA, CWA, UWF,
ECW, WCW, and the WWF. You name the federation and Foley has been there. Hell, it's a good bet that he probably broke a bone or two there also.
In his mat history, Foley has suffered 6 concussions, a broken jaw, a broken nose (twice), a broken cheekbone, a broken left thumb, a broken right wrist,
2 thirds of his left ear lost, a torn abdomen, 4 front teeth knocked out, a broken toe, both shoulders dislocated, second degree burns, broken ribs, and
he has over 325 body stitches to his credit.
But he'll be the first to tell ya that it was worth it. Yeah, he may have suffered a bit along the way, but he was able to make a living doing what he
loved and that was entertaining the crowd as a pro wrestler. The reason the fans have grown so fond of Foley over the years ic because they grew to know
that there wasn't anything he wouldn't do to keep them happy.
Onr of the first instances Foley went above and beyond for the crowd was in March 1994 in an overseas match against Vader. He lost one of his earlobes
in the ring in Germany during a bout against the round wrestler. Vader caught Foley's head between the top and middle ropes, and when foley tried to free
himself, he ripped off part of his left ear and did some damage to the right lobe as well. But being the showman that he was, continued to wrestle and
wound up losing not only his ear, but the match as well.
Another memorable matchup occurred in 1995, at the IWA's Death Match tournament in Japan. Even in a tourney that had everything under the sun from barbed
wire, steel chairs, baseball bats, beds of nails, and exploding platforms, Foley would find a way to go the extra mile and add a little something extra to
After beating Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, Leatherface, Tiger Jeet Singh, and others on that memorable night in the King of the Death Match tournament, he would
have to face his friend Terry Funk. The ropes would be replaced by barbed wire for the contest and there wasalso exploding planks that were set to go off
during the final match. Oh, yeah, I left out the best detail. There was a firebomb set to go off and leave the ring in a fiery mess.
Well, as the 2 warriors beat each other to a bloody pulp, something went wrong. The explosion went bad and let out nothing but a puff of smoke. You would
think that the wrestlers would have been relieved, but not Foley. Seeing how disappointed the fans were, he took it upon himself to turn up the heat. He
threw a ladder into the ring and the two went at each other at an even more intense pace. This was when most of the injuries occurred to the two matsmen, but
Foley didn't care. He just wanted to see his fans smiling, even though he felt like crying. The payback was worth it for him, but the paycheck left a lot to
"I had 7 stitches in my hand, 14 behind this ear, 12 in my head, and 7 more over my eye, as well as second degree burns. For that i got $300," Foley said in
an interview with Slam Wrestling. "[But] I think there are enough people out there who understand what I do to make it worthwhile."
But he rationalized his in-ring behavior by having several different charcters who wrestled in different manners. While he mostly liked to grapple as Mankind
or Cactus Jack, who thrived on wrestling with a noholds-barred, kamikaze, death defying, neck-breaking, table-crashing style, there wasalso his Dude Love
character who was more smooth within the ropes. This was a good change for him and allowed his body to heel and rest from all the vicious and devastating bumps
and bruises he would endure over the course of his career.
But his hard-core fans didn't take a liking to this toned-down Foley character. They were accusing him of selling out and these words were stinging the
crowd-pleasing performer, who always had the fans' best interests in mind, more than any bump he took in the squared circle.
"The Dude is good and should not be overlooked, because he taught me that you don't necessarily have to be in pain to entertain an audience," Foley said. "The
hard-core wrestling fans can say what they want, but the fact is The Dude entertained a lot of people last year and didn't get hurt."
But whether Foley was a heel or hero in the ring, it didn't matter to his true fans. They knew he would give them everything he had in the tank that night and
more. Foley wasn't one to leave anything in the locker room. Just ask any wrstler who stood accross from him on the canvas for a match. Ask "Stone Cold" Steve
Austin. Ask Sting. Ask Triple H. Ask The Rock. Ask Vader. Ask The Undertaker. Ask the Steiner Brothers , Rick And Scott.
I'm sure all of them would tell you that Mick Foley was one of the best entertainers to ever set foot in the ring. They will say that this dude really knew how
to wrestle and knew what the fans wanted! This is why Foley is so good in his WWF commisioner's role. He not only understands the industry from the wrestler's side,
but more important he also has his finger ont the pulse of wrestling fans everywhere.
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