The history of the WWE is one built on blood, pain, household names, jobbers, champions, icons, superstars, mid-carders, memorable matches, tragedy and moments that are forever cemented in time. Hogan slams Andre. Snuka takes flight. Tables, ladders and chairs.
It's been a long ride, and many men and women have given their all to add a piece to that legacy. Many matches have brought the crowd to their feet. But what about those moments, matches and wrestlers who have fallen through the cracks?
This will be the first installment in a weekly examination of all things overlooked and under-appreciated. The underrated matches and the unsung heroes of WWE history. To kick things off, one of the most unbelievable characters in the history of wrestling...
A Character that Fell Through the Cracks: Mankind
They just don't make them like they used to.
The character of Mankind, debuting in 1996, was one of the most frightening, intriguing, disturbing and all-around deep creations to grace a WWE wrestling ring. Hailing from "the boiler room," Mankind terrorized fans and opponents with his heinous shrieking, self-mutilation and missing ear. And don't forget about The Mandible Claw.
Everything about Mankind worked to solidify him as one of the strongest characters of all time; a forgotten soul, carrying all of the pain in the world. Mick Foley, one of the most likable guys behind the curtain, transformed into a schizophrenic madman, hell bent on inflicting pain on his opponents and on himself. Always a versatile performer, Foley did some of his best character work here.
His theme, a haunting piece called "Ode to Freud," told just as much about the character as any promo. I mean, he actually had a theme for his entrance, and a different theme for his exit. His victory theme—a beautiful, soothing piece—seemed to come from inside Mankind's mind, as if the suffering of his defeated opponent, the knowledge that another being could feel his pain, was the only joy in his existence.
What truly took the character of Mankind to the next level was his epic feud with The Undertaker, one of the best in wrestling history. There was just something about the idea of a man so insane that he did not fear death. Not only was Mankind unafraid, not only did he enjoy tormenting the most feared man in the WWE, but he was actually able to get inside The Phenom's head.
Mankind would eventually become a fan favorite, as Mick Foley's good-guy, underdog demeanor was able to shine through the twisted mask. While already an established name for his time spent in WCW, ECW and Japan, Foley also became a household name, being "made famous" by The Undertaker in the brutal Hell in a Cell match in 1998. However, his persona as the deranged Mankind of the mid-1990s deserves special notice for being one of the most ingenious characters ever brought to life.