FLEA WRESTLING CHALLENGE – DAY THREE – FAVORITE WRESTLER EVER


FLEA WRESTLING CHALLENGE – DAY THREE – FAVORITE WRESTLER EVER

 

Hello out there! It’s FLEA. Any idea who in the hell Chen Wok is? I didn’t know until going though the column below. Turns out “Chen Wok” is “Chin Lock”. Perils of the first time using type and text for for this. Live and Learn

 

Today is Day Three of the FLEA Wrestling Challenge! Up now is the category “Favorite Wrestler Ever”. That a no brainer

 

Mick Foley! 

 

Also know as Cactus Jack, Dude Love and The Hardcore Legend

 

I first saw Foley tape trading for a CWA comp. He hooked me right away. Not just some goof like Buzz Sawyer, but clever, sometimes witty and all the time violent. Just wild. I followed him to WCCW and got all the tapes I could. At that time, Foley also wrestled several matches for WCW with Kevin Sullivan pushing for him. “Brotha you gotta see his elbow drop” Elbow Drop? Foley – Cactus Jack – would turn on his tag team partner at the end of the match, throw him outside, run down the apron and drop an elbow on the poor schumck. On the concrete floor! It may sound tame now, but that blew people’s minds. Flair told him he’d be in a wheelchair by 30. Nonetheless, Foley would drop that elbow around the world. He also did the old “Nestle Plunge” on the concrete in a match with Mil Mascaras. I’ve gone back and watched a lot of this and it’s just insane. Even by today’s “drop them on their head” standards. Foley would describe his style as “high impact” instead of “high risk”. Okay…it’s still cold, hard concrete

 

Foley would move on to Philadelphia for a feud with Eddie Gilbert. A series of violent and bloody matches, including a trifecta of matches in one night – Falls Count Anywhere, a Stretcher Match and a Steel Cage match. Incredible trifecta and damn sure worth looking up. Foley would go back to WCW, with the idea of being a Monster Heel in a feud with Sting, basically to get Sting over. Foley had other ideas and went on to have some of the best matches of the his career. The 1992 Bash at the Beach Falls Count Anywhere was Foley’s favorite for many years. Eventually, he went on to feud with Vader and now we start cooking with gas

 

Foley had the bright idea, because he was now a face against the duo of Vader and Manager Harley Race and not getting the proper symapathtic reactions (hard to feel bad for a guy who throws himself around on concrete). So he comes up with this – I’ll let Vader legit beat the shit out of me. And he did. Brilliant in some ways, masochistic in others. Despite the beating, the blood and the bones breaking, it worked like a charm. Cactus won the match via count out

 

A few weeks later Vader POWERBOMBED Cactus on the concrete floor. This led WCW to giving Jack time off with every intention of following up with big money matches

 

HAWR! Bullshit  – this was WCW. Their idea was a series of vignettes titled “Lost in Cleveland”, featuring Jack wandering around Cleveland with amnesia, looking for a bag. Just rotten stuff and it took away all the reality of a legit injury. Of course, that would happen again when Jack’s EAR was ripped off..how can you go wrong with that? WCW did. It’s amazing they ever stayed in business. In the long run they didn’t, but this was 1993

 

They did have a blow-off match at Halloween Havoc. A Texas Death Match. One of not only a favorite match of mine from Foley, but also one of my all time favorites. I went on the WWE Network to watch it – hadn’t seen it at least 20 years, maybe longer.  And while I’m watching I might as well do a recap

 

Cactus Jack vs. Vader – Halloween Havoc 1933

 

Tony is dressed up like Jesse Ventura for Halloween! It turns out all you need is a bald cap and cheap sunglasses. Vader jumps Jack, bullies him into the corner and proceeds to dish out some Flashback Music! beating him up, but good and tosses Jack to the outside. Vader’s yanks off his mask with the conviction of Lawler pulling down the strap

 

God Damn here we go with stiff shots again – whoops he misses a clothesline, hitting the post to cut himself off. Harley has something to say, distracting Jack allowing Vader to come back with rabbit punches. Jack fires back and hits Vader in the face with a Fan’s Camera, better known as an “International Object”. Jack with a chair, laying out Vader…Bang! Bang! for the crowd  – the last time they sawr him he was wandering around Cleveland like an idiot. Back in the ring, Jack charges but eats a boot. Stiff punch knocks Jack silly and here we ago again in the corner – Vader starts teeing off on him with sickening punches. Jack escapes outside to the ramp. Vader tries to bring him back in with suplex but Jack reverses and Vader takes HUGE bump on the ramp. This is nuts. Jack tops that with a back suplex! Vader is bumping like Osprey here – that’s some irony

 

Jack pretends to go for a pin but instead starts wailing on Vader. Payback. Here Comes Harley with the chair, Jack cuts him off, Harley takes a weak bump (for Harley) and disappears. Into the graveyard set up they go, (RIP ELVIS! Tombstone!). Jack’s a bloody mess from from the punches earlier and he’s pissed. Jack whacks Vader with a chair and punches sending both into a grave. Jack out first, Vader slowly crawls out; he’s a bloody mess himself. Cactus lays in some kicks and punches. Cactus with a pin attempt. 1,2,3. 30 second rest. That doesn’t do Vader any good. When he gets up, Jack hits him with…a CACTUS~! Not a real one – this is WCW. It’s a cardboard Cactus, probably sent in by a 9 year old fan

 

That would have worked better if Jack had wrapped it in barbed wire and lit it on fire. Shit, WCW freaked out about this enough for the violence. They’da had collective heart attacks if Foley brought out barbed wire. Or thumbtacks

 

Vader gets away, off the ramp now – goes for a table, but loses his balance and falls on his back. OUT OF NOWHERE! Jack comes in with the flying elbow. Love that move. Jack with another pin. 1,2,3 and a 30 second rest period. Jack doesn’t wait until 30 and goes back to work. Both guy are a bloody mess.  Vader fires up and grabs Cactus for some great back and forth action. Jack throws a table into the ring. Jesse suspects the might arm wrestle! I don’t think that’s going to happen. Vader goes for the “put him in the corner and kick his ass” move again, and blood is flying everywhere. Vader’s next idea is to throw Jack into the opposite corner – straight at the table. Jack reverses and Vader eats it. The table doesn’t sell. Or break. Jack throws the table at Vader’s head and neither the table, or Vader, sell. HA! Vader walks out for a breather. Jack misses the sunset flip off the apron but puts Vader belly first on the railing and goes for something wild – Jack crashes and burns on the cold, hard concrete

 

Vader tosses Jack back over the railing and it looked like he fell on his head. To make it worse, Vader hits him with a chair right in the back of the fucking head. I’m glad I don’t see much anymore. Look out, Harley’s got a taser! Foreshadowing- the sign of quality literature. Even in WCW. Vader with a body slam. Up to the top…it’ll be a splash or moonsault. It’s the moonsault! and he barely hits it, but it’s enough for the 1,2,3. Jack , again not waiting for the 30 count, is back up but Vader, shoves him into the corner (ya think?) and let’s loose. Vader throws him out onto the ramp – and here’s it comes

 

Foley admitted in his book that he thought the bump would end his career and he could sit back and collect an insurance payout from Lloyd’s of London. Turns out he ain’t got that kind of luck. He’s jumps on Vader’s back and Vader just falls backwards, crushing Jack on the ramp. Which had no give to it at all

 

So. instead of being down and out he gets back up in the nick of time for a big chair across the face! And that’ll do it. No it will not. Jack is back to his feet again. Vader gives a Jack a DDT on the chair. Vader yells it’s over but referee Nick Patrick stops everything and call out the doctors. In a Texas Death Match? That’s enough to make Funk burn yer house. In a great spot, Vader scares all of them away. Vader grabs a chair, but changes his mind and goes for the pin. 1,2,3. 30 seconds rest and Jesse starts HOWLING about he rest period. Thanks for joining the party, Governor. Jack is up, gets the upper hand and plants Vader on a chair with the Double Arm DDT.  Remember Harley and the Taser? He’s sneaks up behind Jack and zaps him for the screwjob ending. And I thought the doctors coming out sucked. Vader unceremoniously wins by getting to his feet by 10. Jack goes after Harley and gets nailed with a DDT. Jack gives us a bang bang – he lost the match, but he’s still Cactus Jack. Tony says it’s a miracle Jack is even standing – so much for that insurance career-ender

 

A beautiful, violent match. Foley would go on to do matches crazier than this one. But for an all out fight, without a gimmick barbed wire match, or flying of the Cell, this one is tough to top

 

Foley would move on to what eventually became ECW. From here, seeing that everything is on the network, no sense in getting overly verbose. How about Highlights and Lowights

 

Highlights:

 

The “Cane Dewey” promo

 

This came about from Foley, after years of killing himself for the fans, looks into the crowd as sees a “Cane Dewey” sign. Dewey was Foley’s young son. You  make the guy mad and here’s what you get. Raw emotion mixed with A+ story telling mixed with Cactus decked out in leather, looking like a real mean sumbitch. The only drawback was it didn’t lead to big money, like a Dusty or Flair promo. But, if yer like me, this is about the best promo you’ll ever see

 

Cactus Jack vs. Sabu – June 24 1994

 

Memorable for being the first meeting of the two, in a match built up so much that, as Foley said, “people thought someone was going to die”. Not a bad match and fuckin a it was hot in that Bingo Hall that night. Besides the match and the heat, it was also memorable for me, being that was the night my daughter was born. Everything was fine at 4pm when I took off for Philly. No cells phone back then (or not ones that didn’t look overly suspicious and rarely worked). Especially in South Philadelphia. So I get home and read the note: “you know where we are!”. No ransom request, so it must be the hospital. I was late, but I wouldn’t have been in there anyway, much less cut the cord with my teeth. So all in all that was a great, special night

 

The Exit to WWF

 

When it was announced Foley was leaving for WWF,  I was very happy, but a lot of the ECW fans turned on him. Crudely. WWF wasn’t the Enemy like WCW, but the iggies from ECW were territorial about their pissings. Foley was very upset describing his next to last match, which took place in Queens, New York. They shit all over him. But, the final match, against Mikey Whipwreck, at the ECW Arena on Philly, he was beloved. Good match with Mikey which culminated with Foley dancing and strutting out with Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie. One of those magic nights where you were glad you were there

 

Lowlights:

 

Alright, thinking back the only bad I can come up with for his ECW run is anything he had at all to do with The Sandman. Every one of their matches were pitiful and scary – not in a good Foley / Cactus violent and wild way, but a Drunken Shithead Sandman way. Hated everything about it. Subsequent Sandman interviews, he’d call Foley a pussy for not wanting to have matches with him. Probably the smartest thing Foley ever did was get away from him

 

Onto WWE, where Foley would make his monkey ass famous. Again, it’s well documented and easily available for viewing. Here’s Highlights and Lowlights. I’m pretty sure I’ve got some lowlights here

 

Foley feuds with HHH

 

One night on RAW, HHH had a match scheduled against Dude Love, the Third Face of Foley. Dude appears on the screen, with the video effects featuring Dude, Mankind and – CACTUS JACK~! Great match that led to a feud, eventually culminating in two outstanding matches – a Street Fight at the 2000 Royal Rumble and the follow-up Hell in a Cell match that by losing, should have been the end of Foley’s Career. But, it wasn’t

 

Foley feuds with Austin 

 

This could have been WAY better if Foley would have been Cactus. But that wasn’t the storyline and Vince brought him out a Corporate Dude Love. Turns out it worked just fine

 

There were only two PPV matches between Austin and Foley (at that time). Below is a recap of my favorite

 

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Dude Love for the WWF championship – Over the Edge 1998

 

A video promo shows the build-up with Vince stacking the deck. Vince as Ref, Brisco as Timekeeper and Patterson as the Ring announcer. Here’s a backstage interview with Michael Hayes. Vince’s is wearing the sleeveless ref shirt, showing off the guns, which looked more like pistols then instead of bazookas. Vince would correct that later. Vince lies through his teeth and goes on to say if Austin lays a finger on him, he’s going to stop the match and award the title to Dude Love. Then here’s some more foreshadowing – Vince’s hand is the only hand that can count the pin. He reinforces “by my hand only”

 

By the way, this show is coming from Milwaukee – scene of the very suspicious Lana hotel shenanigans. Here’s The Fink with some corny ring announcing doing a long-winded introduction for Patterson. And here comes Patterson, with a big smile, saying “We’re going to have some fun tonight! I wish I would have got to see Patterson in his day. Patterson grabs the mic from Fink and he goes on to uneven cornier introduction for Brisco…

 

Brisco comes down and pimps a wrecked car that’s been spray painted “Brisco Brothers Body Shop 813-879-4421”. Sign in the crowd: “Brisco stole my hubcaps!” Ah the good old days. Patterson is still rambling on. Brisco also has a big old toothy grin. Well damn, with an intro like and a plug for your business,  I’d smile too. Ross re: Brisco Brothers Body Shop – “guess who does the rear end work?” Hyuck! Here goes Patterson again, these are some introductions. Ross thinks he’s introducing Frank Sinatra. And here comes Vince actually less jacked at that age than he would be in later years. Wonder how that happens. It must be sleeping 4 hours a night, eating right and going to the gym. Obviously. I know all sorts of guys in their 70’s that look like Vince. Now here’s Patterson’s introduction for Dude Love. “He’s the cat that makes the kittens purrrrr”. Dude has fake front teeth, unlike that mutilated Mankind. Next, Patterson introduces Steve Austin…a “beer- swelling, foul, loud mouth Punk and a disgrace to human beings!” Then Patterson cuts himself off and says aint going to introduce a bum!

 

This is five stars and the match hasn’t even started. Going back to the promo package before the match, Vince said there is no one that can intimidate him which brings out the Undertaker, of course. That’s how it was back in those days. Wait a minute, that’s how it still is. So back to the match, but first it’s GONG! Here’s UT to make sure Vince doesn’t fuck off. And here we go… lock up to start and Austin backs Dude into the corner. You think after the Vader match, Foley wouldn’t want to go to a corner! Clean break and the middle finger from Austin to Vince. Back and forth, Dude with the knockdown and a quick attempt at a pin.  1, 2, nope. Austin bitches at Vince for what he thinks is a fast count. The crowd agrees with him. More back and forth Foley goes for another pin and Vince counts with Austin’s shoulder being “a foot up in the air” says Ross. Into the ropes, back elbow by Austin and Dude’s fake teeth go flying!

 

The crowd starts a Vince Is Gay chant. Which Ross sells as “Vince is Dead” Heh, Patterson is sitting right next to him. Lawler attempts to cover again saying “And there’s an Undertaker at ringside!” Yeah, there was also a guy that’s gay ringside. The late 90s for you, ladies and gentlemen. Austin finds the teeth and goes to STOMPING THEM and kicks them into the crowd, Ha ha ha. Foley would later get them back. Lawler said “The Dude has lost his smile!” Hawr. Dude takes control but Austin come back with the Lou Thesz press, or as Foley would say – a “dick to the mouth”. Dude over the top rope to the floor , Austin follows but gets thrown into the ring step and beat up. Dude throws him into the ring and gives Austin a russian leg sweep. Kickout a 1, so Dude starts biting him! Dude  with some offense, multiple pin attempts with Austin kicking out at 1 again every time. Because that makes sense.  Austin comes back with a neck breaker. Austin with some clotheslines but Dude reverses the whip into the corner. Dude ducks a punch and lays in the Mandible Claw! Austin fixes his wagon by driving him into the ropes and Dude does the “Hangman” trapping a his head between the top and middle ropes flipping over to strangle himself. That’s always brutal. Good way to lose an ear. Dude breaks free and Austin goes to meet him on the outside

 

Dude takes over and hip tosses Austin onto and over the Spanish announce table. All that’s going on while Vince tells Patterson to make an announcement. Patterson says this match is now No Disqualification! adding stips to the match that makes Ross howl. “They’re making the rules up as they go” Dude with a  TV cable but Austin reverses and send Dude slamming into Brisco, who gets wiped out. Austin’s beats the hell out of Dude with rapid fire rabbit punches. And then clotheslines Dude up and over to theril to the concrete. Austin walks all over Brisco, stomping mudholes. Jack cuts him off, throws Austin outside and hit’s a neck breaker on the ramp. Patterson, at Vince’s behest, get on the mic and reminds everyone it’s Falls Count Anywhere! Ross is apoplectic. Austin fires and here comes the brawl. Austin takes a backdrop on one of the junk cars and breaks a windshield with his leg

Austin tries to come back but gets an eye rake for his troubles. Austin hits Dude with a hot shot on the car, goes to the roof and tries a kick wham Stunner! No Dice. Dude sends him flying onto the hood of the car and off onto the concrete with a SPLAT. Dude tries a Sunset flip off the hood of the car on the concrete and hits it! He gets a two count for that. Dude grabs a pipe and hits Austin with a weak ass shot. That was very weird. It’s rare to see Foley not lay it in. But it was enough for Austin to come up bloody and take a backdrop on the concrete. Two count again. Austin takes another suplex on the concrete. I forgot he was nuts. Dude on the top of a car and here comes the mighty Cactus Jack flying elbow! Unfortunately, the Dude Love character won’t take that bump and Dude cheeses out, lands on his feet and rolls. Well that sucked

 

Austin gets a two count. Austin kicks his ass back towards the ring and chokes him in the ropes. Foley reverses a whip into the ropes and Austin get tripped up by Patterson! Dude hits a distracted Austin for two, kick out but DUDE lays in (about time) some punches to Austin’s bloody head. Austin is a mess. Dude takes off the top turnbuckle and sends Austin into the exposed metal. Foley back to some increasingly weak punches (what’s up with that? Not taking the concrete bump is one thing; throwing punches worse than Cena is another. I guess after you watch the Vader match, everything’s going to look soft). Foley with an eye rake in the corner. Chin Lock gives us the visual of Austin not quitting as blood runs down his face. Never gets old. Austin fires up with punches but Dude drives his head back into the exposed turnbuckle. That gets two. Vince is pissed and gets a chair fro Brisco. Shots to Austin’s back by Dude. Austin dragged up and it’s a Double Arm DDT on the CHAIR! Another 2 count. Now Vince is really pissed. Dude grabs the chair, runs towards Austin in the corner, but up goes a Rattlesnake Boot. One of those moves that never works for Foley. Like Flair off the top

 

Now Austin has the chair – he’s about to go to work on Dude, but before he does that, Austin forgets anything at all he ever knew about physics and hits the top rope with the chair, causing a ricochet effect back into his face. Heh – Botchamania!  Austin gains his bearings and whacks Dude in the face! Dude goes down, Austin with a pin attempt – Vince refuses to count! As Austin argues with Vince, Dude grabs the chair and swings HARD at the back of Austin’s head. That might have killed him. Austin sidesteps and VINCE is the one eating metal, with one of the most brutal chair shots you’ll ever see. I mean, that’s a criminal offense nowadays. But no one ever called Vince a Chicken! Austin is up and hits the kick wham Stunner. Austin for the pin, another ref comes out! 1,2 and NO! Patterson pulls out the ref! Patterson tries to count the 3 himself but Undertaker pulls him out! Undertaker grabs Patterson and kaboom! Chokeslam right through the English announce table right on  top of scurrying JR and King. Patterson went up way high for that. While that’s happening, Brisco tries to sneak in and make a count but Undertaker pulls * him * out and Brisco goes sailing through the Spanish announce table, via chokeslam! He didn’t get up so high. Back in the ring it’s a kick wham Stunner on Dude… Austin drags a prone Vince over and uses Vince’s own hand to count the pin. See? Just like Vince said before the match, that’s the only way it could end. By his own hand. That’s a payoff. You don’t see too much them of them these days. At least not in WWE

 

Another match that stands the test of time. Just brilliant booking

 

COMISSIONER FOLEY

 

Corny? Yes? Funny? Sometimes? Glad to see Foley doing something, contributing greatly without killing himself? Hell yeah. Angle in a chicken suit, spittakes at Al Snow and Foley got The Gavel over! That’s even better than Jericho’s List! Great, fun times and glad to see Foley kick back and enjoy himself. Well deserved. No shit, especially after I recapped that Vader match

 

Lowlights:

 

COMMENTATOR FOLEY

 

Not his fault by any means. For the short time he was there, I liked it. It’s Foley, he knows how to get a story over. But that wasn’t Vince’s plan and it was  disheartening to hear Foley describe that Vince yelling in his ear caused him to lose parts his love for the business. Foley left when his contract expired

 

This, unfortunately, led to run run in TNA, with Foley’s attitude changing, for the worse I thought – read Hardcore Diaries. Just bitterness and I have no time for that. Part of me lost my love for Foley at that time. I didn’t even go see his Flair match, which took place for TNA, 20 minutes from my house. Fangol

 

1999 Royal Rumble – Rock vs. Mankind

 

I won’t even go back and watch this. I know Rock got carried away, but until the “knockout blow” Foley was still feeding him and yelling for him to hit him. Total bullshit on what could have been a classic. Foley’s grand idea was to have his wife make him quit – actually, looking back I think that would have been more palatable

 

THIS IS YOUR LIFE, ROCK

 

Just watched it again. I don’t think many people remember how bad this was. Luckily, Foley and Rock carried above the level of a New Day skit, but all around –  – PEE-YEW. Total Stinker. I think it was this nonsense that led to the tightened up scripting of promos. Or maybe that happened when Flair told Randy Orton he would “bleed like a virgin!”. Yikes

 

I’m over the animosity towards Foley, much of it was being a mark for the guy and overreacting, but most of my love returning is seeing someone succeed despite the odds, self inflicted or otherwise. The Rocky movies ain’t just whistling dixie. “Have a Nice Day” was my Bible for a few years, it was Hard Times back then and that book was something that got me through. My favorite wrestler, telling his story, by his own hand and in his own words. I couldn’t ask for anything better and once I get done with all this typing, I think I’ll read a few chapters, for old times sake

I had a chance to catch Foley’s 20 Years of Hell Tour, both live and the showing on the Network. Glad he made it through the other side, with most of the marbles intact and looking better than ever. As Buddy Rogers would say -”To a nicer guy, it couldn’t happen!”

 

Next Up! Day Four! Favorite Tag Team. That’s ambiguous, but I’ll figure something out

 

I think I’ve set a new record for words. It’s all for you BOSS!

 

I’m @ryderfain or ryderfakin.com

 

Thanks for Reading!

 

FLEA