WWE: Ranking the 4 Faces of Mick Foley
The hardcore legend Mick Foley has wrestled under four different personas throughout his varied career as a professional wrestler.
He has wrestled all over the world building a name for himself—or rather the characters he portrays. He is respected for the majority of these characters but which one is the best?
Which one did the fans want to see the most?
This slideshow will aim to analyze the different characters of Mick Foley to see which one, if any, can be considered the best of the lot.
Personal opinion is likely to play a part in my opinion but I will avoid it as much as I possibly can. Bang, Bang!
Dude Love was the first character Mick ever created and he used it in his own home videos.
He portrayed Dude when jumping off his own roof, a scene that would become synonymous with the tribute videos attributed to his career.
It did not come to fruition in the WWF until around 1997, when, in his debut, Dude Love won the tag team championships with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
After starting a feud with Triple H following the vacating of the titles due to a neck injury Austin had sustained, the Cactus Jack character was introduced and Dude Love was all but forgotten.
This first run as the character was not received well by fans and myself due to it being nothing like the deranged Mankind I had become used to.
However, during his second run in 1998 he was brought back to face Stone Cold after Cactus took a leave of absence due to disrespect to his character.
He faced the WWF Champion at the time at Unforgiven 1998 in what I consider to be Dude Love’s best showing.
He went for a good 20 minutes in the ring with Austin with minimal weapon use. Not once did Mankind or Cactus shine through this persona, yet it wasn’t too farcical as there were no girls with him.
It was just a straight wrestling match and it was an awesome end to a great PPV.
I consider this to be the worst character due to the fact that he had such little screen time with which to play. He didn’t have a chance to really win the crowd over with the gimmick.
The whole thing was made to look farcical and was more about Mick Foley living a childhood dream rather than thinking of the WWF fans.
Most memorable match: Dude Love vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (Unforgiven 1998)
Mick Foley has wrestled as himself since he retired from a full-time professional wrestling career.
It could be argued that he took a few character traits from each persona to create a marketable Mick Foley.
He competed in a couple of memorable feuds with Randy Orton and Edge, setting the bar higher every time, and showing his sadistic nature.
Most of these matches to me resembled the character of Cactus Jack.
The style in which he wrestled and merely the sadistic look on his face showed to the audience that Mick Foley in reality was not Mankind, nor was he Dude Love, but the most feared incarnation of his apparent split personality—Cactus Jack.
More evidence that suggests Mick Foley himself is just a manifestation of Cactus Jack is the T-Shirt he wears. Instead of saying “Cactus Jack: Wanted Dead or Alive," it stated “Mick Foley: Hardcore Legend."
The fact that the attire is so similar is WWE’s way of saying, “This is Cactus, but you have to call him Mick now that he isn’t officially a full-time wrestler."
Is removing the character such a good thing though?
On the one hand, it allows Mick Foley to finally have his name up in lights as himself, not as an extended version of himself.
Secondly, the fans were a little wiser to all Foley had accomplished by the time he was wrestling with his own name, so it made sense for him to come back as himself and portray all three characters without the necessary change of attire.
On the other hand, it’s a shame for the older fans.
Despite the outcomes and the matches being exactly the same, there’s something about Cactus Jack vs. Randy Orton that excites me a little more than Mick Foley vs. Randy Orton.
It is after reviewing these points regarding Mick Foley as a character that I have come to the conclusion he is the worst incarnation of the four barring Dude Love.
However, one could also read the evidence that he was the best of the four, but I’ve made my choice and I stick by it.
I just didn’t know where I stood with the guy. One minute he was in a Mankind-esque comedy mood, the next he was ripping Orton to shreds with a demented smile on his face reminiscent of Cactus Jack.
This slide however is fully dependent on opinion because the fourth face of Foley is technically all three in one. Think of the three-headed dog from Harry Potter. That is Mick Foley.
Most memorable match: Mick Foley vs. Edge (WrestleMania 22)
It was hard putting Mankind second on the list but I just couldn’t put him at the top no matter how hard I tried. Mankind is definitely a shining example of why Mick Foley is a legend.
Debuting as a deranged, boiler room dwelling freak, Mankind swiftly became one of the most popular characters in the WWF following his loss of the tag team championships.
He morphed into more of a comedy character, allowing the audience to love him rather than just see him as a freak.
This turned out to be one of the best decisions by the creative team and mainly Mick Foley as it created some very memorable scenes and the birth of Mr. Socko.
He had a lot of success in the tag-team department creating one of the most underrated tag teams with The Rock—The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection. You couldn’t script this stuff...
Speaking of unscripted occurrences, Mankind is best known for flying off the Hell in a Cell structure that was once feared by audiences and wrestlers alike.
Personally Ii think it’s a bit disrespectful to have devalued it so much but that’s another point for another article, another time.
This came from a feud with the Undertaker which had been ongoing pretty much since Mankind debuted in the WWF.
The two had extremely good chemistry and produced some of the best matches ever, this being one of them.
Despite Mick Foley himself expressing his dislike that everyone thinks this match was his best, one would be hard-pressed to argue with that statement if best is meant in terms of spectacle, excitement, shock and awe.
Anyone who followed Mick Foley throughout his WWF career will know what a success Mankind was and why he holds a special place in my list of top 10 characters in WWF history.
Said Jim Ross once;
"His manifestations as Dude Love and Cactus Jack are infamous, but none are more deranged than Mankind..."
The strange attire, the Mr. Socko gimmick and the deranged nature of the persona puts this character second on my list.
Most memorable match: Mankind vs. The Undertaker (King of the Ring 1998)
Cactus Jack is without a doubt the greatest manifestation of Mick Foley ever. Even if you just look at his WWF career it is definitely the best persona.
However, this wouldn’t have been the case had he not spent years trawling the Japanese circuit building a name for himself in some of the most hellacious matches known to man.
He competed in what I consider to be the greatest death match of all time in 1995 against his friend Terry Funk, leaving him bruised, battered and burnt.
This reputation, when brought into the WWF, was maintained by the excessive weaponry and deranged things Cactus would do to injure his opponent.
Cactus Jack was the most disturbing persona of all, obsessed with barbed wire and thumb tacks, the sadistic psycho would stop at nothing until his opponent could no longer stand up.
Triple H was his first opponent, as Dude Love and Mankind debated who should face him.
This featured the infamous piledriver through the wooden table, which was then shown quite often in vignettes regarding the character.
He enjoyed a fairly successful run with the character in 1998, teaming with Terry Funk and taking on the New Age Outlaws in a feud that would see them thrown off the stage in a dumpster.
However, his best run was the one that finalized his career.
Towards the end of 1999, Mankind was becoming easy to beat for Triple H and was replaced by none other than Cactus Jack for a street fight at the Royal Rumble.
This resulted in a short feud between Cactus and the WWF Champion at the time.
The last match of what I consider to be his official career in the WWF came in the infamous Hell in a Cell structure.
Reminiscent of the 1998 spectacle, Cactus would go flying off the side and slamming through the top, before losing to the pedigree. I can’t think of a more fitting end to Foley’s career.
He ended his 15 years with the portrayal of his best character. He ended it in Hell in a Cell, a structure he made famous. He went out knowing he had achieved everything in the WWF he could.
Cactus is the best character because Mick Foley looked most at home portraying him and he created exciting television with his metamorphosis from Mankind to Cactus Jack.
Most memorable match: Cactus Jack vs. Triple H (Royal Rumble 2000)
Thanks for Reading!
I’ve wanted to do an article on the four faces of Foley for a while now and I hope you enjoyed the read.
What is your favourite Foley incarnation? Are you a Dude fan, or more of a Mankind man?
Please let me know in the comments section below.
Please watch the tribute video here. If you are a Mick Foley fan it will bring shivers to your spine or even a tear to your eye.
Thanks for reading!
Have a nice day!
OWW have mercy!