Mick Foley Interview
‘The Hardcore Legend’ Mick Foley is one of the most entertaining and daring wrestlers to step foot inside the squared circle. He has gained success wherever he has wrestled in WCW, ECW, TNA and WWE.
The 47-year-old from Long Island, New York wrestled under his real name and various personas including, Dude love, Cactus Jack, and Mankind. Foley is a four-time world champion, 11-time tag team champion and the first ever WWF Hardcore Champion.
Away from the ring Foley is a multiple-time New York Times bestselling author, and has also embarked on comedy storytelling tours.
We caught up with ‘Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy’ to talk about, why the 2013 Hall of Fame class is the best yet, his relationship with Vince McMahon, which wrestlers will be good comedians plus much more.
You are going to become a member of the WWE Hall of Fame in the building where it all began for you after seeing Jimmy Snuka jump from the cage, what is Saturday going to be like in Madison Square Garden?
It’s going to be huge for me, I attended a New York Knicks game as a guest of the WWE and they but my name up on the scoreboard at Madison Square Garden and then played my Hall of Fame induction video and that is when it kind of dawned on me. In a very short amount of time I will be up on the stage standing in front of close to 20,000 people in the worlds most famous arena and for the first time I got a little bit concerned.
I love doing these shows but usually the audiences are in the several hundreds not the tens of thousands. I still think it is going to be great and I’m going to have a great time, but I’m feeling a little bit of pressure to still have a good speech up there.
You’re going into the Hall of Fame along with some great people this year, Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Booker T and Trish Stratus?
I think it is the best one; I would hate to be a 2014 inductee and have to follow this year’s class. This year there doesn’t appear to have the obvious opening guy like other classes do, which is no knock on Koko B. Ware or other guys in the hall, but I think this is the strongest class and I’m glad to be a part of it.
Was Terry Funk always going to be the person to induct you into the WWE Hall of Fame?
There were a few names being bounded about and I think that is one of the benefits I had of it being such a strong class including Donald Trump who is bringing a lot of media attention to the event. If it was a weaker class without that type of attention I would have understood WWE asking for a more recent superstar maybe a current guy to induct me, but when it was clear that this Hall of Fame had sold out and there was plenty of attention they allowed me to pick whoever I wanted and I went with Terry.
How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?
I started from the very bottom, setting up rings at local shows in the New York City area, I was going to college 250 miles away about a five hour drive. I would get down and unload a ring from a storage building put it in a freight elevator piece by piece, then unload it into a truck and set up the ring. If I got the ring set up in time then a veteran named Dominic DeNucci would train me.
After DeNucci saw that I did have the will to do this wrestling stuff he invited me to join a group of wrestling hopefuls that he was training in Pennsylvania and the rest is as they say history.
Who were some of the wrestlers that you enjoyed watching whilst growing up?
Growing up I got the old WWWF programmes so I would watch all the old superstars that came through there from Bruno (Sammartino) when he was champion to Bob Backlund when he was the champion. I would watch a parade of unique heels who would come through for six months to a year to try and take the titles away from them and I got to see some pretty colourful characters, Billy ‘Superstar’ Graham being one of the.
I remember seeing a really good match at Madison Square Garden on the same card as the Jimmy Snuka v Don Muraco match and that was Bob Backlund v The Masked Superstar, I saw a lot of really good wrestlers go through the area.
During your career you had many personas, who did you enjoy playing the most, Dude Love, Cactus Jack or Mankind?
Here is one of those things that I couldn’t appreciate at the time but I loved the latter day Mankind, funny Mankind. It’s strange because when you talk about not realising things at the time, neither The Rock or I really knew ourselves that the Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection was that big a deal. Clearly The Rock was meant for singles stardom and this was almost just a bump in the path, but here we are 14-years later and it’s one of the two or three things people remember most fondly about my career.
You’re first WWE Championship win marked the turning point in the Monday Night Wars, what was it like to be part of such an important moment of wrestling history?
We didn’t understand at the time the significance of that event, it’s tough to really appreciate history while you are busy making it. I’m glad so many people look at that moment as being vital, but at the time it just seemed like a struggle to survive in the ratings.
WCW really shot themselves in the foot with Tony Schiavone making the infamous butts on seats announcement, it was the best thing that could have happened from our point of view. Looking back we did realise it was a big deal that we had beaten them in the ratings with a taped show, while they had a live at the massive Georgia Dome with a main event that everyone wanted to see.
What were some of your career highlights?
I was lucky being with all the great guys from the Attitude Era. I was a heel when Stone Cold was having that amazing run and everything I did against him elicited such a reaction that it would give you the false perception that you were really over, whilst in fact it was just that people were so into the Stone Cold character.
I would say I’ve wrestled The Undertaker as much as anybody maybe more and that was always a great, emotional thrill. People probably don’t realise I made more money wrestling Triple H than against any of the other guys. I really enjoyed teaming and having personal battles against The Rock as well.
What were some of your WrestleMania highlights, you’ve referred to yourself as the anti-Undertaker in the past?
(Laughs) Yeah didn’t actually have that many WrestleMania highlights, up until I had that big match with Edge in 2006 my WrestleMania highlight was being the referee for The Rock’s match against Stone Cold in 1999.
There was a story I was telling during my tour last year, my wife called me up after that gruelling match with Edge and I was expecting nothing but sympathy and her first words were, “how is Edge?” and I was like so what about Edge what about me. The next day I saw Edge and he looked in shock like he had been through a war so I could understand my wife’s concern but at the time that isn’t what I wanted to hear.
What is Vince McMahon like as a boss?
We have had a pretty good relationship, my entire feelings for Vince completely changed with one phone call. That is when they called me up and told me that they were going to mention my book on Raw even though I was actively working for TNA. The moment I heard my name being mentioned any ill will I had towards the WWE or Vince just disappeared.
You have been in the ring with both The Rock and John Cena, how do you see that match going?
It’s funny because the other week on Raw Booker T said he was the only guy who had competed with both guys and a friend of mine text me right after the segment and the text read, “were you pointing to yourself when Booker said he’s the only guy to have been in the ring with both guys?” I didn’t think they were going to get that on camera but I certainly was pointing to myself.
I think it’s going to be really interesting, being that close to The Rock and John Cena that night on Raw I could certainly feel the passion both guys have for the match and that’s when great things happen; both guys are dead set on stealing the show!
You have had many great matches against The Undertaker but have not been part of the WrestleMania Streak; do you think Undertaker will remain unbeaten on the grandest stage?
I have no idea what to expect when Undertaker and CM Punk wrestle at WrestleMania. There have been years where I’ve gone into WrestleMania and just not seen the possibility of opponents ending the streak. 20-0 has an unbelievable ring to it whereas 21-0 doesn’t; I know Punk prides himself on stealing every show he’s on so I think it’s going to be a very interesting match up.
You’re currently on tour with your third comedy show, what can fans expect this time around?
People can expect to hear the wrestling stories they’ll love, this show is called Tales From Wrestling Past. I’m not going to be on stage telling one-liners, I see myself as less of a comedian and more of a storyteller. This is a wrestling show for wrestling fans.
Are there any other wrestlers we should be looking out for on the comedy circuit?
There are many wrestlers who not only could do well but are trying it themselves. William Regal is a great storyteller and has done a couple of spoken word shows in the US and I think one in England, I did a show with Roddy Piper in Chicago which was a lot of fun. Edge is going to give it a try and might be doing a few shows in the UK, in no way am I trying to encourage people to hold off on my tour to see them.
Dolph Ziggler may do a set with me on one of my US shows; Santino Marella has been working on some material so I would like him to host my post SummerSlam party in Los Angles.