The Reality of Wrestling: Foley or Austin
By Phil Clark & J.D. Speich
The Hardcore Legend Vs. The Rattlesnake: who has a better chance at a comeback?
With the recent signings of nearly every “legend” from the 80’s and 90’s by the E, one has to wonder whether or not the legends program as a whole will pay off any dividends. At the helm of all of this legends talk is the “Night of Champions” RAW on October 3rd. That RAW also is the first RAW with the E back on USA. Vince has pulled out all the stops for this show with HHH’s return, Hulk Hogan’s return, Vince’s return, and the returns of Mick Foley and Steve Austin. Austin and Foley’s signings are obviously the most high-profile of all the recent signings; that will also create the inevitable curiosity about how Foley & Austin will be used in this run with the company. Will Foley be on board just to plug his book? Will Austin only be there as an on-air personality? The questions are endless and the answers will begin to come out in two weeks. With all of these questions, the biggest has to be which of the two will have a better comeback?
P.C. Says: Foley will have the better comeback
Mick Foley has always been one of the most, if not the most, vibrant personalities in wrestling and the majority of his WWE run was himself making great T.V. with his interviews and skits. Foley has always been a wiz on the mic and if he were to comeback, there’s no doubt that he would make even a shill for his latest book into something entertaining. He’s already done it before. In 2003, Foley came back for that specific reason and to ref the HHH/Nash Hell in a Cell match. Foley not only got free ad time for his book, but more than likely helped add a large amount of buys to the show (the show ended up doing about 380,000 buys).
If Foley were to comeback in a non-wrestling role, he would still be able to entertain. His role as “commissioner” from 2000-2001 worked only because it was Foley. Other “commissioners” in the WWE include Ric Flair, Paul Heyman, Stephanie McMahon, Kurt Angle, Teddy Long, and Eric Bischoff. Out of all of these, Foley was the best of all for many reasons. While Bischoff and Heyman is the quintessential authority characters in wrestling, Foley was able to upstage them in his role simply because he was able to break away from his wrestling persona and create a new one fitting for the role. That is the main reason why Angle’s time as commissioner during his latest neck injury was nothing, but a joke and why Flair’s was a good effort, but not what people wanted. Foley succeeds as a non-wrestling personality when he’s not wrestling. It sounds redundant, but it is the truth and the reason for it is because when Foley is not actively wrestling, he can concentrate on his non-wrestling character. So, if this latest return for Foley turns out to be one where he acts as a guest ring announcer, guest commentator, a guy in backstage skits, or whatever, I have no doubt that Foley can make it work.
If the comeback is in an actual wrestling feud (it’s unlikely Foley will become an active competitor again), than it has an even better chance at succeeding. Now I like Austin as much as the next guy and still have very, very fond memories of the Attitude Era and Austin’s time at the top, but I just don’t think he’ll be able to wrestle effectively after two years on the shelf and all the back and neck injuries he’s accumulated over the years. However, Foley proved he could still go last year and with the release of his DVD, people do want to see Mick Foley one more time. Foley has proven time and time again that he can get back into shape (shedding 20+ pounds in 2000 and 2004) for a big match. It’s the name; it’s the legend that draws people to want Foley. They know that they won’t see too many of the hardcore bumps that made his legend, but they will still see the intensity in the interviews plugging his match and the stiffness in the ensuing match. In other words, take out the thumbtacks, the nails, the barbed wire, and the exploding ring ropes, and you still have Mick Foley. That’s all the fans need to hear. Like Hogan, the “Dream Match” factor has set in for Foley and it would be stupid not to put him back in the ring one more time. You get the people in the building, you’d get more emotion out of the match than most matches with active competitors have, and most importantly, you’d get memories that will likely last, unlike the Hogan/Michaels dream match.
J.D. Says: Austin will have the better comeback
With Austin signing with the WWE you can’t help but believe he’s coming back to wrestle two or three more matches. Austin signing has to be the biggest signing of all the latest signings in the last few months because of all the legends that have signed; he just might be the biggest name. I feel that if Austin comes back to the WWE as a man who is going to give it a shot one more time instead of being an on the mic character he will have the bigger and better comeback than Foley.
Austin will have the bigger comeback for quite a few reasons. Number one is the fact that of all the wrestlers, past and present, he has the biggest draw for pay-per-views of any other wrestler. You put Austin’s name in a pay-per-view now you will automatically have probably the biggest buy rate of the year. Austin can bring in more money than Cena or Batista would ever dream about. Austin would kill a buy rate for a PPV with him in it rather than if the big name was Foley. Even though Foley has done some great things over the years he has never carried a company on his back like Austin did for the WWE from 1997 to 2002. Without Austin, the WWE would not have been able to compete with WCW.
Reason number two for Austin’s comeback over Foley’s is that I have to believe Austin would put on the better match. Austin is by far the better wrestler over Foley. Foley has always been great at being the human bump machine and was always a decent wrestler, however, Austin was the better pure wrestler of the two. Austin could wrestler any style and could wrestle against any style. Austin was able to put on great matches with Brett Hart, The Undertaker, HHH, and put Mick Foley through some great matches as well. Austin can brawl, he can do submissions, and he can flat out wrestle. The only thing Foley was ever good at was hardcore wrestling. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Foley fan, I have almost all of his matches, but in this case it’s a no contest when comes to who is the better wrestler here.
The third and last reason as to why Austin’s comeback is going to be the best is because of the matches they already have planned for the two. Foley is suppose to wrestle Kurt Angle and Austin is suppose to wrestle Hogan. From a true wrestling fan stand point, Foley vs Angle would easily be the better quality match, but, Austin and Hogan would get the better buy rates based on the dream match quality. Just look at what the Hogan vs HBK match did for Summerslam, which was probably the worst Summerslam I’ve seen in a while. That pay-per-view really good buy rates and because of all of the dream match quality this match brought, most reviewers gave it four stars or better, I personally gave it one star just because of what HBK had to do to pull Hogan through a twenty minute match. If people can have the balls to give Hogan vs HBK four stars, then they’ll for sure have the near sight to give Austin vs Hogan five stars and a match of the year candidate.
In closing, it is more likely that Austin’s comeback will better because his comeback will be of the wrestling variety, as oppose to Foley’s which might just be plug for his book, because he wants to prove he can put on one or two more great matches with or without neck problems.
The Reality is…October 3rd is going to be an interesting night. With all the returnees, it is obvious that the build for Wrestlemania will start here may it be direct or in a more subtle way. However it is done, there is no doubt that the returns of Foley & Austin more than any will help T.V. ratings climb back up at a time when they need to. With the new Monday Night War appearing to be SpikeTV Vs. USA, USA needs all the big names they can get as Spike will be opposing them with a one-two punch consisting of ultimate fighting (UFC) and pro wrestling (TNA). The legends program’s success (if there’s any to be had) relies upon the usage of Foley and Austin after 10/3. Hopefully, a fire will be lit under the ass of the E’s so-called new and improved writing teams to make something good out of a no-brainer.