On the latest episode of Grilling JR, former WWE commentator Jim Ross spoke about Mankind in 1997 and the infamous promo he had with Mick Foley that skyrocketed Foley’s career.
Ross talked about that interview with Foley on June 9th of 1997, saying it was the turning point for Vince to see what he brought to WWE. He also said that the interview was the origin of one of Vince McMahon’s most memorable lines.
“We didn’t know Vince was even going to be there, we had no idea,” Ross said. “That’s where the famous line that came from Vince, where we got to a certain stopping point and heard this voice and it’s unmistakably Vince saying ‘This is good s--t.’ At that point, Mick is made.
“He just sold the old man. I don’t know what his thoughts would be if you asked him today, but at that time, he had turned the corner. He got the blessing of the most powerful man in all of pro wrestling. Vince being there was a surprise, a pleasant surprise. When we were done, he was ecstatic. That was a big deal, that was a real big deal.”
Foley will forever be known as one of the biggest risk takers in the history of the wrestling business. Foley has been lit on fire, thrown off the top of the Hell in a Cell, thrown in thumbtacks and has taken chair shots directly to the head multiple times. Ross talked about Foley’s hardcore style, saying that he and Vince had plenty of conversations with Foley about slowing his style down but nothing ever changed.
“It’s hard to correct things that have already happened,” Ross said. “He had no filter. He always wanted to please the fans, he always wanted to do more for the guy he was working with. Mick was a very unselfish performer. But yeah, we had those conversations [about him doing less stunts], it’s like the one Vince had with him after Hell in a Cell [with Undertaker] ‘We’ll never ever come close to doing this again.’
“I talked to Mick about that several times, sometimes he would do too many things. You keep taking big chances, somewhere along the way you’re going to get your ass blown up. Limit your chances, eliminate as many of these opportunities to put yourself in the hospital and affect your career going forward. I don’t want to say he didn’t listen, I know Mick appreciated the concern that we all had for him, especially me, because I put my reputation on the line to get him hired. But, you couldn’t convince him, he only had one style. He would listen, he would thank me for the concern or anybody else that was speaking to him but it wasn’t going to matter. He was a wild horse, he’s going to run.”
One of the more legendary moments in wrestling history happened at King of the Ring 1998 when Mankind faced The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match and Foley was thrown off and through the cell on the same night. Foley talked about that match previously as a guest with Inside the Ropes saying he resents being known for just that match. Ross spoke about how if it was under his control, the moment of Foley falling would’ve never happened.
“I would’ve screwed up history,” Ross said. “If it would’ve been solely up to me, it would’ve never happened. The risk/reward is to finite. How do you get up from that? How do you not break something? How do you not destroy body parts? Something has got to give here. You don’t learn to do this in wrestling school. I would’ve said no, the risk is too high based on the risk/reward ratio. I’m glad I didn’t have a vote on it, I didn’t know he was going to do the damn thing. That’s what’s beautiful about it, I didn’t even know that spot was in the match. At the end of the day, I guess it worked out well, we’re still talking about it in 2021. I know Vince after it was over, he said we’re never doing something like this ever again. You just can’t follow it. It’s just too dangerous.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.