WWE legend Mick Foley breaks down magical, star-making feuds with The Rock, Triple H, Randy Orton and Edge
Mick Foley is a three-time WWE champion and a WWE Hall of Famer. In his own-right, the man is a wrestling legend.
The unique thing about Foley’s legacy in the business, though, is that he helped create four of the biggest stars the WWE has ever had, perhaps even superseding his own greatness in the process.
All of The Rock, Triple H, Edge and Randy Orton – men who had a grand total of 47 world titles between them AFTER working with Foley – had legendary feuds with The Hardcore Legend before they would truly break through as top talents in WWE.
A Foley feud made guys. And he did this in a time where the business has never been hotter and thus, one could argue, the results have never been more influential.
The Game is now a 14-time world champion and the godfather of all-things NXT, one of the most beloved brands of wrestling on the planet.
Triple H and Foley had crossed paths many times prior to this all-time feud. They met at the 1997 King of the Ring where Triple H claimed the crown and many love Cactus Jack’s first WWE appearance that saw the pair have a Falls Count Anywhere match on RAW.
But, in 1999, this main-event feud started in earnest. It started with Triple H taking a sledgehammer to Foley’s knee and leaving him on the shelf (in reality, Foley needed surgery on his knee) and he would return three months later and go right after The Game.
By the time Royal Rumble 2000 rolled around, the hatred seemed palpable on the screen. Triple H was in his second reign as WWE champion and Foley was going all out to destroy him the newly formed McMahon-Helmsley faction.
At the next pay-per-view, No Way Out, Foley, as Cactus Jack, challenged Triple H to a Hell in a Cell match.
If Foley won, he’d be WWE champion. If he lost? He had to retire.
“First of all, Triple H and I really helped each other in that match,” Foley told talkSPORT. “He’s one of the best there’s ever been at working around somebody’s weaknesses and by 2000, I had a lot of weaknesses!
“I had a lot of trouble just getting around. My knees were so bad and my back and my hip were shot, but he brought out the very best in me and I thought I brought out the best in him.
“We both had that goal. It meant a lot for him to send me out on a high note and it meant a lot to give Triple H the kind of match that would increase his value with the company.”
Triple H has long been accused of being bullish on his way to the top of the company and internet wrestling fans have even accused him of burying talents behind the scenes.
For Foley, that’s part and parcel of the game.
“Everybody is going to draw critics on their way to the top,” Foley explained. “I think Daniel Bryan is the exception to that rule, but anyone that has ever gotten to the top has been perceived as being a jerk at some point or another, and I’m including myself in that group of people. I wasn’t an exception to the rule, I was part of the rule!”
During the match, Foley went to the top of the cell once again, just as he had two years prior with The Undertaker.
The end result the first time saw Foley thrown from the top and through a table, a moment that has set a bar for every Hell in a Cell match that has followed and will forever remain the most famous moment not only in those match types, but possibly ever in WWE.
“I did feel like I needed to go to the top in that match,” Foley admitted. “As a matter of fact, I couldn’t understand why the moves we were doing weren’t getting the reaction that we thought they would.
“The match as a whole seemed a little bit muted in terms of audience reaction. Then as soon as I threw the stairs through the cell, that place came alive.
“The Hartford Civic Center exploded because that’s what they had been waiting for. So I felt like I had to go on top of that cell to do justice to what I created with The Undertaker.”
Yes, Triple H had a reputation in his early career and another man we can say that for is Randy Orton.
It’s ironic that Orton would then spend the early years of his career learning from Triple H in the ultra-successful Evolution stable, but his promise from an in-ring perspective was never in question.
Orton was a complete natural in just about every aspect and had a long, establishing reign as Intercontinental champion in 2003. During this time, he crossed paths with Foley and spat in the legend’s face.
The story grew to the point where the Rock N’ Sock Connection would reform to take on Evolution in a losing effort at WrestleMania 20, but Foely wasn’t satisfied with the pay off.
At the next pay-per-view, Backlash, Foley would attempt to win the Intercontinental title but more to the point, he’d attempt to show another side of Randy Orton.
“The whole feud with Randy was my idea. I pitched to Vince, I said ‘I’ve got an idea. I haven’t been on TV in four years, what if I entered the Royal Rumble, won it, and because I haven’t been on RAW or SmackDown I challenge both champions to a triple-threat at WrestleMania, win that to become Undisputed Champion?’
“Vince looked at me and said ‘Mick, I have no interest whatsoever in doing that.’ So I said ‘OK, I’ve got this idea for me and Randy Orton…’
“So I guess I was the guy that really saw something in Randy and thought I could a compelling story.
“I think as far as longterm storytelling goes, that’s the best I’ve ever been at it,” Foley remarked.
And it’s hard to argue. Orton ended up with thumbtacks in his back and a myriad of injuries he’d never encountered before as
Foley pushed him to his limits. The Legend Killer was born that day in the eyes of many and Orton has said on many occasions its one of his favourite matches.
Edge had done a lot before making his way to the main event scene in WWE.
The Rated-R Superstar was apart of a golden generation of tag teams in WWE at the turn of the millennium and in 2005, he had his first real run with the WWE title.
He would lose the title to John Cena at Royal Rumble 2006 and after losing a rematch that had Foley as the special guest referee, the feud was born.
Edge blamed Foley for the loss and a blood feud began unravelling as we headed to WrestleMania 22.
“I loved working with Edge, I thought he was the best all-around performer in the business when we worked and he would be for the next few years,” Foley said.
“I was able to bring to Edge that element of toughness that some people thought was the missing ingredient. So by having that match at that level and arguably stealing the show at WrestleMania, that was a big moment for both of us.
“Edge took off even faster than he had before – he was already on that huge trajectory and that match just kind of boosted it – and for me, it did give me that missing ingredient which was that magic WrestleMania moment.”
The magic money Foley refers to is the climax of the match which saw Edge spear Foley through a flaming table – and that moment wasn’t easy to realise.
“It had to be done in front of fire marshalls, there were tests done and there were at least six fire marshalls in the audience in the case that anything went wrong, but it was deemed safe and we did it. We pitched it and the powers that be went for it.”
Foley is synonymous with a lot of talents and has given great moments to many – but there was something special about The Rock and Mick Foley.
It started after Foley was screwed out of winning the Deadly Games tournament at the 1998 Survivor Series in Montreal Screwjob fashion from the year prior, thus allowing The Rock to claim his first WWE title.
The pair would have several battles over the WWE title, including a violent ‘I Quit’ match at Royal Rumble that yes, it did have an inventive finish, but everyone remembers the near-dozen unprotected chair shots to the head Foley took.
However, Rock went from being entertaining to having the necessary mean streak to be a top star in WWE in large thanks to
Foley. But, this wasn’t just good for The Rock – Foley would two of his three world title reigns during this feud, including his first.
Their chemistry was so good that later that same year, they became three-time Tag Team champions together and drew ratings that were, at that point, the highest in the company’s history.
“This was another case where we both benefitted so much so that joining forces a year after our brutal encounters made total sense,” Foley started.
“And this is another case where he was already on a clear trajectory towards the top, but again, I gave him an element that I don’t think he had before and that was a real vicious streak. That was the whole point of the Royal Rumble match, because he was so entertaining as a bad guy that he was hard to dislike, so that match was designed to give him a harder edge.
“It did go over the top as far the violence went, but it did showcase his mean streak that we were looking for,” Foley said.
Mankind didn’t appear to be a character that was destined to wear WWE gold one day and Foley admits he was surprised McMahon put the belt on him at that time, especially considering how red-hot Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were.
“I was shocked! I never saw that one coming, especially because it was clear that it was going to be Rock and Austin [At WrestleMania 15].
“But, as far as sub-plots in wrestling history go, I think the Mankind/Rock feud, which led to a bigger and better Rock/Austin feud was among the best we’ve ever seen.”
It’s been well documented down the years that Vince McMahon wasn’t always dead-set on Mick Foley.
However, when we look back at the track-record Foley has left in the WWE, McMahon had to have had faith in his talents to help create four of his biggest money-making talents of their respective generations and in some cases, ever.
“I just saw Vince a couple of weeks ago for a top secret meeting – details to follow – but I don’t think many people have looked into the trust factor Vince had in me.
“Especially the fact that he placed that trust in someone that he outwardly had not been high on – just to crush JR’s spirits! He knew I took a lot of pride in trying to elevate people and he knew that I had developed an ability to do that.
“There was even times down the years where Vince would say ‘I don’t agree with you Mick, but I’m going to trust your judgement on this one,’ and sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I failed, but I always had my opponents best intentions at heart.”
Mick Foley is also on cameo! “I’ve really enjoyed being on Cameo and I’m approaching 1,000 reviews which is hundreds more than any other WWE superstar so if people thought I put a lot into my characters when I’m in the ring, they should check out the cameos outside of the ring at cameo.com/mickfoley.”
Make sure you check out Hell in a Cell this Sunday with THREE Hell in a Cell matches on the WWE Network or BT Sport