The SmarK DVD Rant for Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits and Misses

The SmarK DVD Rant for Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits and Misses

– Creepy moment of the DVD: A Wrestlemania XX promo piece, featuring the narrator saying "One day, we will die…" while Eddie Guerrero is posing. That’s freaky, man.

– OK, so this is the second Mick Foley DVD collection, released in 2004 in the same spirit as the Ric Flair collection and it’s just matches with intros from Mick instead of a documentary with extra matches.

– Hosted by Mick Foley, with more hair than the last release.

Disc One

Cactus Jack v. Big Van Vader

From WCW Saturday Night, April 17 1993. This is from the Foley Personal Vault, complete with all the blood edited out of the original broadcast. This is a legendarily brutal TV match showing just how vicious Vader could make things look if he really wanted. Jack fires away with forearms in the corner to start, but lets him up. Vader fires back with really nasty straight rights to the nose and absolutely potatoes Jack in the corner, just giving him the ugliest shots possible right in front of the camera. But Mick says that he told Vader to make it look as real as possible beforehand. Vader follows with a corner splash and just keeps beating on the nose, but another corner splash is caught by Jack and turned into a slam. Legdrop and Jack goes up with a flying clothesline, then puts Vader on the floor with a running elbow and clotheslines him into the railing, knocking it down. He takes out Harley Race as well and we take a break, returning with Jack choking him out on the apron. Back in, Jack tries a sleeper, but Vader falls back on him and starts hammering again. The video quality suddenly changes as we cut to Mick’s personal footage (as indicated by the on-screen graphics) and Vader opens him up just by potatoing him. Jack’s nose is a mess and Vader clubs him down with a blow to the ear, allowing Race to choke away on the ropes. Vader adds a samoan drop and goes up with a pump splash, then tosses Jack, but hits Race by mistake. Then Jack on purpose. Race is taking some bumps tonight. Jack fights to the apron, but Vader boots him down, and Jack kind of tumbles in, walking into more punishment. Vader clotheslines him to the floor with a stiff clothesline, but misses a charge and takes out that poor railing again. That thing takes better bumps than most of the WCW roster at the time. Jack comes off the apron with the somersault dive, and he scores the giant upset by countout at 10:41. Vader would get his revenge the next week, beating Jack in a rematch and powerbombing him on the floor to put him out for a few months. This was pretty sick stuff, but actually ended up as a pretty good match. ***1/2

WCW World tag team titles: The Nasty Boys v. Maxx Payne & Cactus Jack

From Spring Stampede 94, one of my favorite shows. Music overdubbing strikes again here, as "Mr. Bang Bang" falls victim to the lack of clearance. As does Jesse Ventura’s half of the commentary, which must have made for a fun job for someone. Big brawl to start, of course, and Jack beats on Knobbs with a pool cue before putting him on the floor with a Cactus clothesline. Sags gets a vicious chairshot on Payne and then fires away at Jack with the cue, but Jack gives him the chair right back again. Maxx drops elbows on Sags while Knobbs and Jack fight up the ramp and back into the ring again. So they trade and now Knobbs brawls up the ramp with Payne and they’re throwing some surprisingly stiff shots at each other, while Sags clotheslines Jack to the floor with the pool cue. Over to the souvenir stand, as Knobbs dumps a table on Payne, while Jack fights into the crowd with Sags. Payne slams Knobbs through a table and tries to smother him with a WCW shirt, but that only gets two. I knew they were using low-grade shirts. Jack comes over to help, but Sags tosses him over the railing and the Nasties toss Payne through the stand for two. Sags does away with subtlety and just starts whacking Cactus with the table, so Jack suplexes the table onto him in return. Knobbs returns with a shovel and knocks Jack out, but Payne recovers it and they fight over it. Sags accidentally puts Jack through the table while trying to piledrive him, then just kind of shoves him off the ramp and Jack takes the Nestea Plunge bump for him. A shovel to the head ends it and Sags gets the pin at 8:46. This is all about context, as it looks almost tame next to what ECW did to follow, but this was the match (bookended with the Slamboree rematch of sorts) that set the stage for all the crazy tag team brawls that would follow. ****1/2

Cactus Jack v. Sabu

From ECW, June 24 1994. First match between these two, oddly enough. Mick notes that many fans were disappointed because people were almost literally expecting someone to be dead in order to live up to the hype. Sabu drives in with three enzuigiris and follows with a leg lariat, then goes to a facelock. He stomps away in the corner and follows with a backdrop suplex, then puts him on the floor with a nice spinkick. Jack hides in the crowd to escape a dive, so Sabu beats on him with a chair and then hits him with a suicide dive. In the intro, Mick notes that he was attempting to do the "Of Mice and Men" build by taking all the punishment until fans were begging for him to fight back, but really it’s just making him look like a pussy. Back in, Sabu beats on him with the chair and hits Air Sabu in the corner, but a second try hits an elbow. Jack finally fights back, taking him out with the Cactus clothesline, then punishes him with the chair and follows with the Cactus elbow. Jack gets a frying pan from the fans and uses that, and back in for an elbowdrop that gets two. He goes up and misses a senton, and Sabu hits him with a slingshot legedrop for two. Sabu goes up, but Jack brings him down with a backdrop suplex that hurts both guys. Sabu recovers first with a dropkick, but they fight for advantage and fall out to the floor in the process. Jack charges and gets backdropped into the crowd, allowing Sabu to set up a table in the aisle and then put Jack through it with a legdrop. Back in, that gets two. Jack rolls out to regroup, and catches Sabu with a stungun on the railing, but Sabu comes back with a backdrop suplex on the floor. Sabu sets up another table and moonsaults Jack through it this time. However, that takes more out of Sabu, and Jack gets two in the ring. Jack rams a piece of the table into him and follows with a corner clothesline, but Paul Heyman hits him with the phone and Sabu falls on top for the pin at 12:30. That’s a pretty cheap finish for ECW, although it was early in the process. I don’t know why people would call this a bad match, because it’s definitely not. It’s quite subdued, yeah, but it doesn’t have to have crazy bumps and blood everywhere to be good. ***1/4 The brawl continues into the crowd for a piledriver on the concession stand, and back into the ring where Sabu smashes a beer bottle on Jack’s head. See now, THAT probably would have satisfied the picky fans back in the day if it was the finish. And still it continues, as Sabu moonsaults Jack onto the broken table, and Jack suplexes the remains onto him in return.

Cactus Jack v. Chris Candido

From SMW, November 18 1994. This is included more for Jack’s awesome pre-match poem where he rhymes "Candido" with "Cheetos" and "Speedo". Jack can’t remember the match so he has nothing to add. Candido hammers away in the corner, but runs into an elbow and bails. Jack clotheslines him back into the ring, a spot you don’t see every day, and elbows him down before putting him out again with the Cactus clothesline. Back in, Jack overpowers him and drops a leg for two, then actually WRESTLES by using a headlock takedown. What strange universe do I find myself in? I would like to stop and note that even with her ugly shoulderpadded jacket, Tammy Sytch is still transcendently hot at this point. She should have been the biggest thing EVER. Candido pounds on Jack until he bails, then Chris follows with a nice suicide dive and hits him with a fan’s crutch. The crutch breaks but the fan’s OK with it. Jack comes back with the forearms in the corner, but misses a charge and hits the post. Chris goes to work on the arm, then turns it into a pinfall attempt with a three-quarter nelson, for two. Jack fights out and goes up, but Candido catches him with a rana off the top and drops an elbow, but misses a flying headbutt. Jack comes back and slugs him down, then follows with a running choke on the ropes. They head to the floor and Jack suplexes him out there, but Tammy brings Boo Bradley out to help. But Jack runs Candido into him, and gets the pin with the DDT at 8:08. Usual good match between these two. ***

Texas Death Match: Cactus Jack v. The Sandman

From ECW, February 4 1995. This is a famously bad match, as noted by Mick in the intro. Jack attacks and hits Sandman with a chair in the aisle, and into the ring for more sick unprotected shots that put him down for the first pin. Sandman is up quickly, so Jack legdrops him again and pins him again. And up comes Sandman again. Jack manages to hang him upside-down in the ropes and baseball slides him to the floor, and Sandman lands on his head and is concussed. But the match goes on! Sandman manages to whip Jack into the railing and comes in with a slingshot dropkick, and he looks like he’s seeing stars like in the cartoons. Jack boots him down again and tosses him, and Sandman has a look in his eyes like he should be in a hospital bed. Knowing what we do now about things, that’s pretty scary. Jack stomps away, clearly frustrated and Sandman keeps stopping to grab his head and try not to puke. They head into the ring and Sandman gets a suplex, but he can barely manage to walk around the ring. They have a quick pow-wow to call spots and Sandman puts him down with a knee, but he just can’t function properly and keeps standing in the corner to regroup. They really should have just stopped the match. Sandman kind of half-heartedly rams Jack’s knee into a chair while Cactus sells like crazy to try to save this, but Sandman is just unable to do anything. He grabs a chair and stands there forever with it until Jack finally attacks from behind, but a piledriver attempt is reversed onto the chair and Sandman is on offense again. Oh, god. Thankfully Jack takes over again, but misses an elbow. DDT on the chair should have finished this mess, but Sandman kicks out on instinct and then comes back with a piledriver on the chair that messes up Jack’s neck for a good long while after that. And Jack looks determined to suck it up and take the loss, but Sandman actually picks him up at two, seemingly forgetting the Texas Death stip. He follows with a DDT on the chair for the pin, and Jack seems to tell the ref to end it, but Sandman breaks up the count and we have to continue. Jack finally hits him in the nuts and gets the cane for a few good shots, and they brawl to the floor again. Back in, Jack gives him another chair to the head, the LAST thing Sandman needed at that point, and tosses him for a Cactus elbow with the chair on the floor. And AGAIN Sandman is too dumb to stay down and kicks out at two. Another elbow and finally he takes the hint and even Joey is basically saying "That’s the finish, fans" but Sandman gets up like a moron. Mick looks really pissed now and DDTs him on the floor for another pin, but Sandman pops right up. Jack DDTs him yet again for a pin and just shoves him down and tells him to stay, but he gets up again. So Jack gives him another DDT and another pin and you can see him saying "Stay down!" and finally the ref counts fast enough to keep him down at 15:54. This was a trainwreck built on a very scary head injury, which makes it less funny in retrospect. -**

Cactus Jack & Raven v. Terry Funk & Tommy Dreamer

From November to Remember 95, one of ECW’s best ever shows if not the best. Jack’s Dungeon of Doom t-shirt rules all. The faces clear the ring to start and Funk bitchslaps Jack on the floor, then tosses a chair into the ring and just nails Raven in the head with it. A garbage can full of weapons gets involved via Stevie Richards, so Funk and Dreamer put him in a shopping cart and run it into the post. Ouch. Back in, Dreamer gets the all-time classic by smashing a VCR on Raven’s head, then following with the remote. Funk follows with a golf club to the nuts as Raven starts bleeding, and Raven comes back with a toilet seat to choke him out. The heels double-clothesline Dreamer with a chain and Jack stabs at Funk’s arm with a handy foreign object, and they head out to the floor where Dreamer gets whipped into the railing. Back in, Jack uses the object to dig into Funk’s burned arm in a particularly sick spot, but Dreamer yanks the heels into each other with a chain. However, needing an extra boost of power, Jack removes the Dungeon shirt to reveal his famous "Forgive Me, Uncle Eric" shirt, which is why everyone calls him Uncle Eric in case you’re wondering. Dreamer, bleeding buckets, slugs back on Jack and gives him a chairshot, while Funk drops the shopping cart on Raven. Jack DDTs him on the chair, but the ref is long dead, so Raven hits Dreamer with a dive to the floor and pins Funk, while Jack counts the pin himself. That doesn’t count of course, so we continue and Bill Alfonso and Taz come out to act as officials. Taz beats on Funk and counts his own pin, but Dreamer takes him out and continues brawling with Raven. He gets the DDT while the ref revives, piledrives Raven on the chair, and Funk gets the pin at 13:34. This was kind of a big mess with no real flow to it, but again it’s a context thing because this kind of over-the-top mayhem hadn’t become part of the national scene yet and people were still honing it. ****

Cactus Jack v. Mikey Whipwreck

From ECW, March 9 1996. This was Jack’s farewell to ECW and he’s suddenly massively over as a babyface after months of heeldom. Jack throws Mikey down on his injured neck to start and stomps him down, then fires the forearms in the corner. He follows with a running knee and tosses him, but Mikey avoids a wildly swinging chair until Jack sends him into the post. Jack sends him back in after disgustedly swatting away some particularly lame weapons from the front row, but Mikey fires back with a Cactus clothesline of his own and rams the back of Jack’s head into the railing. He follows with a backdrop suplex on the floor and brings a chair in for a legsweep, but Jack swats him down and onto the table at ringside. To the floor, where Jack leans the table against the post and suplexes Mikey onto it, sadly not breaking it. Ouch. Jack goes up and adds a Cactus elbow, then beats him down with some guy’s crutch. Mikey fights back and superkicks a chair into his face before they fight into the crowd. Mikey tries a springboard dive into the front row, but the timing is off and Jack kind of turns it into a gutwrench suplex instead, then brings him back to ringside with a Cactus clothesline over the railing. He brings Mikey in and debuts the Mandible Claw, although Joey doesn’t know what it is yet. And that sets up the piledriver for two. Double arm DDT gets two. So Jack hauls him to the apron and drops an elbow on his throat, then sets up for another piledriver, but Mikey fights out with a backdrop. So Jack gives him a neckbreaker on the railing. He tries to follow with a springboard elbowdrop of all things, but MIkey moves and Jack hits the railing. Back in, MIkey uses a chair a few times and gets two. He keeps on swinging the chair, which was probably his best course of action in fact, and Jack runs into the crowd for a breather. They head to the bleachers and Mikey suplexes him and climbs up to the Eagle’s Nest, coming down with a bodypress onto Jack. Back to the ring, as Mikey goes up, but gets walloped by an elbow coming down and you can see the end coming. Jack returns the favor with the chair and just brutalizes him, and the piledriver ends it mercifully at 17:12. I can safely call this one Mikey’s best singles match ever without fear of contradiction, I think, as Jack was determined to get the best out of Mikey on his way out, and it told a great story with Mikey fighting with a bad neck and almost beating Jack, but getting his own medicine back one time too many and not being able to withstand it. ****

Extras

– After the Vader match that kicked off the DVD, Cactus talks with Tony about his family fearing for his safety if he accepts a rematch. But of course he accepts the rematch anyway.

Falls Count Anywhere: Sting v. Cactus Jack

This is the main event of Beach Blast 92, a pretty underrated show. Mick Foley and The Coach are doing commentary to rid us of Jesse Ventura. Sting with a backslide on the ramp for two, and he whips Jack into the ropes and faceplants him on the ramp for two. Sting charges and crotches himself trying to dive into the ring, then falls to the floor where Jack drops an elbow on him. That gets two, and a neckbreaker on the floor gets two. Sunset flip off the apron gets two. Sting comes back and rams him into the railing a couple of times, then backdrops Jack into the crowd for a suplex on the floor. Jack takes a crazy bump back over the railing again while Mick talks about the pain of taking suplexes on the concrete back in the present. Into the ring, Sting catches a kick and Jack turns it into a discus clothesline, which Mick complains about DDP stealing from him. He notes that people stole all his good stuff and became main eventers, leaving him with all the painful stuff. Jack takes him down and goes to a bodyscissors, but makes the mistake of slapping him around, which gets Sting all fired up. Cactus takes him out with the Cactus clothesline and whips him into the railing, then beats him down with a chair…and bestows some loving words upon the chair. Aw, that’s nice to see. Jack hauls him over to the post, but Sting backdrops out with a suplex and gets two. They actually do a mini pinfall reversal sequence on the floor, but Sting charges for a Stinger splash and Jack turns it into a stungun on the railing instead. He follows with a piledriver and heads up for the elbow off the middle rope, but Sting hits him on the way down. He fights back on the ramp and slams Jack there, then grabs Jack’s beloved chair and pounds him with it. Love hurts sometimes. He tries the deathlock, but Jack squirms free and they land on the floor. Back to the ramp, where Jack gets a double arm DDT for two, but Sting clotheslines him on the ramp and goes up with a flying clothesline to finish at 11:55. Definitely one of my favorites from that era, with all kinds of crazy bumps from Jack as he tried like hell to put Sting over as a killer. ****

– From ECW, June 24 1994: Jack cuts a promo where he spits on the WCW tag belt and tosses it down. WCW was, not surprisingly, kind of miffed about that and he didn’t get to wear it for much longer as a result. Funny lines here, like Jack talking about how he lost the only titles that mattered to him at that show, like "World’s Ugliest Wrestler" and "Jack Kevorkian’s Favorite Wrestler". He promises that his WCW contract won’t be valid for much longer, which is true because he was fired from WCW soon after this.

– Mick’s favorite promo ever: From ECW, the famous "Cane Dewey" one, as Mick introduces it by talking about Michael Hayes’ rule of being a heel. Always believe you’re right, even if you’re wrong. Michael also has a rule about calling black people names they don’t like, so maybe he’s not the best guy to seek advice from anymore. This promo is indeed awesome, as Cactus goes off on the fans for bringing a "Cane Dewey" sign to the arena, and rages about leaving guaranteed money and benefits in Atlanta for a pissant hotbox arena run by a scumbag. So he’s going to call WCW on Tommy Dreamer’s behalf and trade in his ECW shirt for a pair of green suspenders, because Raven really loves him deep down. Great stuff.

– Another famous ECW promo, as he talks about how wrestling isn’t worth the pain anymore, and as long it’s only a business to him he might as well be "cuddled in the loving arms of World Championship Wrestling". And he’s not going to take part in the puppet show orchestrated by the fans because FUCK THEM, that’s why. This led to his hilarious "anti-hardcore" period in ECW where he would attempt to wrestle scientifically, and thus got booed out of the building.

Cactus Jack v. Sabu

From ECW, September 1994. Jack debuts again after leaving WCW. He drops a leg on Sabu for two and follows with the running choke on the ropes, into the legdrop on the apron. Jack swings and misses with a chair, but Sabu’s followup was a springboard moonsault that misses by a mile as he kills himself on the railing. Mick, on commentary, notes that Sabu needed time to recover, so 911 charges in to brawl with Cactus and stall for time. Sabu recovers and they brawl at ringside, as Jack rams him into a chair to welcome him back, but Sabu comes back with a suplex on the floor. Jack suplexes a table onto Sabu, and on commentary Mick jokes that he’s surprised that no one has stolen it because if he can do it, obviously it’s not hard to do. Finally into the ring, Sabu hits him with a chair to set up Air Sabu, but misses the Arabian facebuster before head-faking Cactus and hitting it. They slug it out and Jack stomps him down before tossing him. He adds a suplex on the table, and they fight over to the empty bleachers and whip each other into them. Over to a stage, where Jack gets a piledriver and follows with an elbowdrop, but Sabu reverses out of another piledriver. Jack bails to the floor, but Sabu follows him with a bodypress. They fight into the back and Jack grabs a garbage can for some damage, but as they make it back to ringside 911 and Paul E attack him and buy time for Sabu. Back to the floor, where Jack gets put on a table and moonsaulted. Back into the ring, where Jack finds a non-gimmicked bottle, but Sabu moonsaults him for two. Mick reveals a dirty secret on commentary about how bottles in WWE are "less than real". Perish the thought. Jack catches him on a bodypress attempt and Sabu falls on top for two. He grabs the bottle and keeps hitting Jack with it, trying for the shatter effect, but it just keeps going "thump, thump, thump" until the damn thing finally breaks. That’s pretty sick. Jack is done and Sabu pins him at 14:23. Mick riffs on how he loses both his bonus DVD matches. Much better than the original match, although again not a classic or anything. ***1/4 I’m not a Sabu fan on the best of days, though.

– Mick’s farewell interview after his last match in ECW.

The British Bulldogs v. Les Thornton & Jack Foley

Jack’s WWF debut in 1986 as a jobber, as he learns that being Cactus Jack in front of 300 people didn’t mean anything when you’re being paid 500 bucks to do a job for the tag champions at a Superstars taping. Again, Jesse is cut out here. Davey does a wrestling sequence with Thornton to start and they exchange pinfall attempts, and Davey gets a victory roll for two. So it’s over to Foley, and the Kid quickly gets a snap suplex and a really hard butterfly suplex, into a backbreaker and falling headbutt. Davey Boy with the powerslam and delayed suplex, and that gets two. Jack tries to fight back and Davey totally no-sells his elbow, and it’s back to Kid and Foley’s in trouble now. Kid just kills him with a clothesline and Smith puts him on top, setting him up for a backdrop superplex to finish. Mick notes in the intro that Kid took some liberties with him to teach him not to fight back when working as enhancement talent.

– From Confidential: Mick explains the breakdown of his relationship with Vince and why he left from 2002-2004.

Disc Two

– Onto the WWF era, as we get the first Mankind vignette where he talks to a rat and explains the backstory of the character: Child piano prodigy who disappointed his mother one time too many, and either she slammed the lid on his fingers or he used a hammer to break his own fingers, resulting in the mutilated hand.

WWF World title: Shawn Michaels v. Mankind

Seen it a million times, still *****, let’s move on.

Cactus Jack v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

From RAW, September 1997, this is a falls count anywhere match that debuted Cactus formally in the WWF, in MSG no less. The video on the Titantron with Dude Love and Mankind doing a split-screen introduction of Cactus is great stuff. Jack immediately starts hitting HHH with a garbage can out of the entrance way, and Jack hits him with a neckbreaker on the floor for two. They head in and Cactus takes him out with a Cactus clothesline, but Chyna gets involved and slows Jack up. They brawl into the crowd and backstage, where Hunter slams him on the floor for two. Hunter thinks he’s won and heads back out, which gives Jack a chance to find a fire extinguisher and spray him with it. They fight back into the ring as the railing pays the price, and Hunter bumps out over the top again. Jack flies at him with the elbow, but he lands on a trash can instead and Chyna sends him into the stairs. We take a break and return with HHH using a mop in the ring and necksnapping Jack to the floor. Back in, Hunter spears him with a chair and they head to the apron, where Jack hits the post but recovers with a shot to Hunter’s post. He adds a sunset flip off the apron for two. Chyna tries a chairshot, but Jack catches it and he collides with her into the stairs. Cactus and HHH fight up the ramp and Hunter gets a backdrop suplex for two. He tries beating on him with a plastic trash can, but that’s pretty lame so he switches to a snow shovel instead. A table gets retrieved from backstage and HHH sets up for the Pedigree on it, but Jack goes low and finishes with a piledriver at 9:15. Not a great brawl, with too many slow spots, but of course they’d go on to have a better one in that arena two years later. It did, however, act as a precursor to the hardcore division in the WWF. ***1/2

Mick Foley v. Terry Funk

From RAW, May 4 1998. This is Vince’s punishment against Dude Love, who dared to stand up to him, so now he has to beat his best friend to earn a title shot against Steve Austin. But he doesn’t want to be Dude Love anymore, so it’s just Mick Foley. Pat Patterson is the special referee, and Austin, on commentary, has an awesome "What the hell is this crap?" reaction to that. Funk slugs away to start and tosses Mick, then starts swinging the chair already. Mick is down and Funk slaps him around, so Mick gets all worked up and fires back with the chair. They head back into the ring and Mick gets the neckbreaker, and they quickly head out to the floor again. Mick gets another neckbreaker out there for two, while Austin gets pissed off at technical difficulties with his headset and takes it out on Jerry Lawler. Meanwhile, Funk sends Foley into the stairs, but runs into a boot. Or sneaker in this case. Mick tries a piledriver on the concrete, but Funk reverses out of it and tosses Foley into the crowd, taking out an innocent railing in the process. They fight over to a concession stand and beat up the hot dog guy, because why not? Funk hits him with the giant drink cooler and climbs into the stands, then moonsaults onto Foley below just because he’s a crazy old son of a bitch. Really, no matter how nuts New Jack may be, Funk is on a level all by himself. Foley is just pissed off now and drags Terry over to the table for a piledriver, and now they crawl under the stands and into the back. The camera can’t follow, so we take a break. See, now that’s a more natural way to take a break without having it seem fake. So we return with Mick beating on Funk near the bathrooms, and they head back into the arena again, fighting onto the ramp for a Foley DDT that gets two. Back into the ring, a Cactus clothesline puts them on the floor again, and Mick puts Funk onto the announce table while Austin enjoys a cold one. He elbowdrops a chair onto him and throws some "bang bangs" at Austin, and back in that gets two. Double arm DDT gets two. Piledriver and Mick grabs the chair again, adding one more on top of it for the pin at 14:04. This was closer to the original Cactus Jack than the cartoon character that Jack became in his WWF run during the time they were doing silly stuff like all three Foleys in the Royal Rumble. It was also a crazy brawl with the desperate Foley pulling out everything he could to beat his old friend, and a great brawl at that, showing how far the hardcore genre had evolved in a relatively short amount of time. **** Vince returns to bestow the Dude Love outfit on Foley again after the match. Vince dancing with the Dudettes is kind of disturbing.

WWF title match: Steve Austin v. Dude Love.

Okay, here it is: The match that established the Steve Austin Main Event Style forever and gave Vince Russo his idea to recycle 800 times after this. The Fink is forced to robotically introduce guest ring announcer Pat Patterson in glowing terms while reading from cue cards. Funny shit. Pat is apparently a Canadian legend on the level of Anne Murray. No argument there. Pat then introduces fellow stooge (and guest timekeeper) Gerald Brisco, including a plug for the body shop, of course. "We know who does the rear ends", JR notes. The introduction of guest referee is so incredibly over-the-top that you know Vince had to write it himself. And you know it’s a special occasion because Mick has his teeth in. Patterson refuses to introduce a bum like Austin, but everyone knows who he is. Undertaker then delays the opening bell by making a surprise appearance as the guest enforcer to keep Vince in line. Vince starts bullying Austin right off the opening lockup. Dude’s shoulderblock gets a REALLY fast two-count, and UT shoots Vince a dirty look. The counts slow down after that. Crowd is just INSANE for Austin. Dude gets a knee for one and grabs a headlock, and they work off that for a bit. Crowd chants "Vince is gay". Well, that’s just slander. Dude’s teeth get knocked out, so Austin improvises a spot where he stomps on them. What an awesome touch. Well, now Mick’s pissed, and he pounds on Austin in the corner, but walks into a Thesz Press and gets dumped. They brawl, and Austin hits the stairs. Vince tells them that there’s no countouts, which is news to JR, so back in we go. Dude gets a legsweep for two, and chokes away. Dude drops an elbow and rams a knee into the gut for two. Austin gets a Neckbreaker and three clotheslines, and stomps a mudhole. Dude gets the Mandible Claw early on, but Austin hangs him in the ropes. Out we go, and Patterson "reminds" us that it’s no-DQ. This, also, is news to JR, and he gets a bit bent out of shape over it. Dude takes advantage of this sudden change of stips by choking out Austin with a TV cable, but hits a table and gets pounded. Austin sends Dude into the front row with a sick clothesline over the railing, and back to ringside for more ass-whooping. Back in, Austin crotches himself and Dude baseball slides him out again. Neckbreaker on the floor, and now Patterson "reminds" us that it’s falls count anywhere. JR is shocked and appalled. Dude gets a backslide for two in the aisle. Austin rips his head off with a lariat and they fight to the cars used as scenery, where Dude backdrops Austin onto a car, and gets two. Austin hotshots Dude onto a car for two. They head onto the roof, but Dude blocks a stunner and sends Austin crashing to the floor in a crazy bump. Austin blades on the way down. Dude then sunset flips him off the top of the car, for two. Dude grabs an exhaust pipe, but Austin isn’t ready to take the shot so they scrap it. Austin fights back, but a piledriver is reversed for two. Dude suplexes him and heads up to the roof of a car, but misses an elbow. Austin gets two from that. They head back to ringside and into the ring, where Pat trips Austin to put Dude back on offense. He exposes a turnbuckle, and rams Austin into it, then works the cut. Dude hits the chinlock and Austin fights free.but goes back into the turnbuckle again. Dude grabs a chair in desperation and uses that for a double-arm DDT that gets two, but charges and gets it back in the face. Now Austin is PISSED. Chairshot kills Foley DEAD, but Vince won’t count. Dude recovers and charges with the chair again, but now Vince gets it upside the head and goes night-night. KICK WHAM STUNNER, no ref. Another ref runs in to count, but Pat Patterson gets rid of him at two. Mick reverses to a Mandible Claw and Pat decides to exercise his refereeing powers to count two, but Undertaker exercises his right to fuck shit up old-school and chokeslams him through a table. OH YEAH. Now THAT’S an effective use of Undertaker. You know a match is working when it’s 4 years later and you’ll still marking out watching it. Brisco tries the same refereeing strategy, and he gets no love from the Deadman, either. KICK WHAM STUNNER, and Austin uses Vince’s own hand to count the pin at 22:26 and blow the damn roof off the building. ****3/4 Now THAT’S sports entertainment.

Hell in a Cell: Undertaker v. Mankind

OK, I’ve taken a lot of shit over this one over the years, so I’m gonna give it a fresh review with the perspective of history behind me now. Following the advice of Terry Funk, Mick decides to start the match on top of the cell, which proved to be a bad move on his part. Taker follows him up and they slug it out on the roof to start, and Mankind uses a chair to pound Taker down. The roof nearly gives way early as they fight to the other side of the cage, but it’s the famous moment as Taker tosses Mick off the cell and AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, HE’S BROKEN IN HALF! Things predictably grind to a halt at that point while Mick resists the urge to go into the light. Just for fun, watch the bounce that Mick takes off the table and wonder how he lived. They raise the cage as if the match is over and wheel Mick out on the stretcher, but he’s crazier than THAT. So he fights off the medics and climbs back up the cage again to continue, at which point Undertaker chokeslams him onto the roof, through the cage, and to the mat below where he hits a chair on the way down. There’s bad days and then there’s bad days. In his books, Mick credits that bump with doing the majority of the damage, and in fact it knocked him out and necessitated Terry Funk stepping in and stalling Taker until he came back to the land of living again. So Taker chokeslams Funk, giving Mick the chance to remember what country he’s in. And indeed, he manages to reverse the ropewalk and smile at the camera, giving us the iconic image of the tooth sticking out of his nose. He somehow manages to put Taker on the floor and he tries for the stairs, but his arm is gone and he can’t carry them. Taker uses them instead and smashes them into Mick’s head, apparently not having sufficiently made his point yet. He tries to follow with the suicide dive, but he misses and hits the cage, drawing blood. Back in, Mick piledrives him on the chair for two, finally recovered enough to make his own comeback. Legdrop on the chair gets two. Double-arm DDT and he retrieves a bag of thumbtacks from under the ring, back before it became a silly TNA cliché. Mick tries to knock him into them, but Taker catches him with a tombstone attempt, which Mick reverses to the Mandible Claw. Taker fights out of it and drops Mick on the tacks, and of course Mick rolls in them for effect. And Taker hits an additional chokeslam in them, then puts Mick out of his misery with the tombstone at 17:31. Much like the Bret-Austin match, Mick lost but became a much bigger star as a result. Total one-man stunt show from Mick Foley, but the years have mellowed me on it and I can watch it much easier now than I used to be able to. It’s still not the Match of the Year for 1998 or even the best match in the WWF for that year, but it’s pretty damn good. ****

WWF World title: The Rock v. Mankind

From January 4 1999 (although it was taped the week before). D-X and the Corporation are all at ringside. Rock attacks to start and slugs Mick out of the ring, then whips him into the stairs and hits him with it. I hope that Test had someone take lots of pictures of him at ringside holding the WWF title, because that’s the closest he ever got to it. Rock suplexes him on the floor and then grabs the headset and does his own color commentary, which allows Mankind to fight back. Mick adds his own commentary in a great bit, but Rock hits him in the face with the bell and chokes him out with a cable. Rock Bottom through the table, and that gets two back in the ring. Russian legsweep gets two. Mankind comes back with an elbow out of the corner, but Rock slams him and follows with the People’s Elbow. That gets two. Mick with the neckbreaker, but Rock hits him with the belt for two. Mankind gets the double-arm DDT for two and it’s time for the sock, but Ken Shamrock comes in and breaks it up with a chair. It turns into a big brawl at ringside, but Steve Austin trumps everyone by coming in and nailing Rock with the chair, then putting Mick on top for the pin and the title at 8:45. “Yeah, that’ll put butts in the seats.” I hope they engrave that on Tony Schiavone’s tombstone. Just kind of a sloppy brawl compressed into TV time, but obviously the match quality wasn’t the issue here, the insane crowd reaction and huge feelgood moment WAS. **1/2

WWF World title, Street Fight: HHH v. Cactus Jack

OK, I’m curious to see how this one holds up, so let’s redo it. From Royal Rumble 2000 in MSG. Slugfest to start and HHH goes down, so Jack hits him with the forearms in the corner. HHH bails and Jack slides out for a neckbreaker on the floor, then legdrops him on the way in. Back to the floor and Jack sends him into the table, but HHH uses the bell to fight him off. HHH backs off into the ring and arms himself with a chair, then goes with the simple approach and just hits Jack in the face with it. Jack comes back with a clothesline and slugs away, then legdrops the chair onto HHH’s face for two. Back to the floor and HHH slugs away, but charges and gets backdropped into the crowd. They fight up into the stands and back to the entrance, where Jack tosses him into a pile of bricks and then suplexes him onto a pallet, which actually opens up an ugly gash on HHH’s calf. War is hell. Jack whips him into the doors, but HHH gets a backdrop suplex onto a garbage can to come back. Jack fires the forearms at him on the stairs, and then charges and adds a running knee into them as well.

And then the first big moment of the match, as Jack retrieves his barbed wire 2×4 from under the ring, but HHH gets it from him and brutalizes him with it. Jack goes low with it and adds a double-arm DDT, which gets two. Carlos Cabrera gets the 2×4 for safe keeping. Jack steals it back and lays HHH out with it, and that gets two as the blood starts flowing now. Jack gives him another shot to the face with it and HHH is wearing the crimson mask. He tries running away to the floor, but Jack follows and sends him into the announce table, but can’t get the piledriver. HHH backdrops out of it to break the table, but he’s shaking like a car crash victim while he recovers. That’s some phenomenal selling. Back in, HHH gets his second wind and pounds on Jack in the corner, but the Pedigree is reversed to a catapult and HHH hits the post. A bulldog into the barbed wire gets two. Cactus clothesline puts them on the floor, but HHH reverses him into the stairs and then does it again for good measure. Jack’s knee is weak, so HHH clips him and they head back into the ring, where HHH hits the knee AGAIN on the way in. Then he gets back into the spirit of things by hitting the knee with the 2×4 to really pound it. And then, because he’s a right asshole, he finds a pair of handcuffs and cuffs Jack’s hands behind his back after taking out the knee again.

He brings the stairs into the ring, but Jack somehow takes him down with a drop toehold, then follows with a headbutt to the nuts and some biting. HHH is able to clothesline him down again, however, and Jack retreats to the entrance while HHH keeps hitting him with a chair. But after one too many, the Rock pops out of the dressing room and delivers a chairshot of his own to stop HHH, then uncuffs Cactus to even the odds. Jack begins his big comeback, sending HHH into the Spanish table and finally getting his piledriver in a nice setup and payoff spot. Back into the ring, Jack digs his own grave by bringing a bag of thumbtacks with him. Stephanie joins us at ringside to plead for mercy, but Jack slugs away on her husband, then charges and gets backdropped onto the thumbtacks. And we thought that was sick enough, but HHH uses the distraction for KICK WHAM PEDIGREE…but it only gets two. But if that’s not enough to finish, a second one on the tacks IS enough, as HHH retains at 26:51. Yeah, it still holds up, surprisingly deep for what could have been a mindless brawl, as Jack brought in two weapons and they both backfired on him, showing that not only was HHH just as tough, but he could out-think Cactus as well. This is a match, along with MindGames and Over the Edge’s brawl and a few Steamboat-Flair matches, that I’d consider a "desert island match", on the off-chance I was ever stranded on a desert island with only a TV and a DVD player. I’d also consider this HHH’s greatest in-ring performance, as it kicked off a year of greatness for him where he could seemingly do no wrong and drew millions of dollars for the company. *****

Extras

– No more bonus matches, just interviews and promos.

– Mankind teaser #1! Just an ear shown.

– Mankind teaser #2!

– Mankind teaser #3!

– Mankind teaser #4! He’s really focused on his ear.

– A proper vignette now, as he relates the version of the story where he smashes his own hand with a hammer. I think it’s in his first book where he tells the version about the piano lid.

– A quick interview with Mankind before the Mindgames PPV, as he turns on the Philly crowd to make sure he gets booed.

– From RAW in 1997: The famous sit-down interview with Mankind and Jim Ross, as Mick relates the story of Dude Love and then snaps and attacks JR, turning himself face in a bizarre way.

– From RAW: Mr. Socko is born.

– From Smackdown: Mick Foley and Al Snow clown around in Vegas.

– From RAW: Kurt Angle meets up with Commissioner Foley to complain about a loss to Eddie Guerrero, but Mick interprets that as wanting a match with Undertaker.

So overall, I’d call this one the definitive Mick Foley collection at this point. I mean, what more are you gonna want here? It’s got all the stuff considered his best, aside from maybe the I Quit match with Rock (which is covered in much more detail and honesty in Beyond the Mat anyway) or perhaps the No Way Out rematch with HHH, but really if you’re new to the greatness of Foley and you pick this up, you’ve got the career of Mick Foley summed up in two discs about as well as you’re ever going to. Maybe add in the Spin the Wheel Make the Deal lost masterpiece against Vader, but that’s for completists anyway.

Highest recommendation, skip Hard Knocks and pick this up instead, you get all the same content plus MORE.

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