COMMENTARY | It's hard to say that a man who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame is underrated, but if there is anyone in that sacred club who doesn't get the respect he deserves its Mick Foley. While names like Steve Austin, The Rock, HHH and The Undertaker get credit for "The Attitude Era," Foley is treated like the proverbial "sixth man" during the WWE's hottest years.
But in fact he was one of their top talents.
Whenever the WWE needed someone to put a younger guy over to give him credibility or add toughness to their character, they turned to Foley. On the flip side, if they needed someone to provide a laugh or a light-hearted moment, there was no one better than Mrs. Foley's baby boy. Whether he was Mankind, Cactus Jack or even Dude Love, Foley was a key member of the WWE roster.
Foley's WWE career started with when he engaged in vicious feud with The Undertaker in 1996. At the time, Taker's character had lost a lot of steam and the WWE needed a fresh opponent for The Phenom. Enter Mankind, whose brawling, physical style was the perfect complement to Taker.
The two engaged in heated battles for the next eight months that added a new level to Taker while establishing Mankind as a threat to anyone in the WWE.
Months after feuding with Taker, Mankind was the guy who brought out the mean streak in HHH who was portraying a snobbish Greenwich aristocrat at the time. Their battles throughout the summer of 1997, made HHH look tough in the fans' eyes.
Two years later, Foley was the guy who dropped the WWE Championship to HHH after SummerSlam 1999. A few months later the two engaged in a classic at the Royal Rumble which once again established HHH as a vicious heel.
Foley did the same thing in late 1998 and early 1999 when he battled The Rock in a series of matches over the WWE Championship. One of the most memorable moments in WWE history was the night Foley defeated The Rock for the title. The two met in a handful of matches over the course of four months that elevated Rocky from mid-card wrestler to main eventer.
Even more important for the two, was later in their careers when they formed The Rock N' Sock Connection. Entertaining in both the ring and on the microphone, Foley and The Rock remain one of the top tag teams of all time. The duos "This is your life segment," was one of the highest rated segments in company history.
His creation of Mr. Socko became an instant classic and led to Foley becoming more of a lovable goofball than a maniacal brute.
Foley is one of the best in the business at getting a laugh, but could just as easily deliver a promo that made fans buy into what he was saying and make them want to spend money on what he was selling. His interview segments with Jim Ross in 1997 remain as some of the best interviews ever given and showed a side of Foley fans had never seen before.
After his in-ring career was finished, Foley's run as the commissioner of the WWE was simply brilliant. His interactions with guys like Kurt Angle, Edge and Christian were must see TV and remain funny to this day.
Foley is no doubt a legend in the business but he is often looked at as one of the background guys to some of the other stars of the late 90s. While he may have never been the top guy, he was maybe the most important figure in helping establish the guys who did get to be on top.
Matt Durr is a reporter from Michigan who has watched professional wrestling since he was 3 years old. Not just a WWE fan, Matt enjoys Ring of Honor and Japanese wrestling. He has covered University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University athletics for Annarbor.com. Follow him on twitter @mdurr84.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mick Foley
- WWE Championship
- WWE Hall of Fame