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Grimmas

Mick Foley

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No. not really. You have them interacting through 1999 as Mankind. Regardless austin is definitely the least of the four. However, despite that being the least prnounced feud, I think it came at a really important time, right after Austin won the title. Having something that continued the momentum was not at all a given. Dude Love was a perfect choice (esp after HBK) to keep that rocket fueled up. Different point, but that feud produces what some think is Foley's best (or amongst his best) work. 

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41 minutes ago, elliott said:

Am I forgetting some feud he had with Steve Austin other than the Dude Love matches?

You're likely thinking of the Austin/Kane/Foley/Taker feud in the Summer.

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4 hours ago, Cap said:

No. not really. You have them interacting through 1999 as Mankind. Regardless austin is definitely the least of the four. However, despite that being the least prnounced feud, I think it came at a really important time, right after Austin won the title. Having something that continued the momentum was not at all a given. Dude Love was a perfect choice (esp after HBK) to keep that rocket fueled up. Different point, but that feud produces what some think is Foley's best (or amongst his best) work. 

The Unforgiven show drew 300,000 buys in April. On the lower end for the year, but about average if you exclude the big 4 PPVs. The Over the Edge show in May drew 200,000 buys. Only No Way Out with the 8 man tag drew less. The 2nd Foley match drew about 85,000 fewer PPV buys than the next worse drawing show of the year excluding the No Way Out show. Shit, Over the Edge drew closer to the No Way Out show than it did to the next worse drawing show of the year. 

If we're ranking people or career moments important to the Steve Austin rise to megastardom you'd have to put Foley behind Austin himself, Vince, Tyson, Shawn, I almost forgot Bret somehow!, Undertaker. Hell, the Owen Hart neck break match was more important to Austin's career storyline than those Foley matches. 

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The Foley feud was more like the Vince feud with Foley as a of proxy while a being fresh challenger for Austin as Taker was being set for Summerslam, Kane was in a feud with Taker and Rock isn't ready to challenge yet. You could argue Foley wasn't the guy either though when he was just in a team with Terry Funk feuding with the Outlaws. 

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Exactly. The real feud was Austin vs McMahon. Foley was one of McMahon's henchmen he ran at Austin. Foley was a supporting character in a much bigger feud. He was an important character and key figure, but I'd credit him less than 1% for Steve Austin's success. 

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I think the matches probably did more to help Foley's career than Austin's, but the WWF had only just started gaining momentum with the ratings and everybody was waiting to see what would happen next. I remember Dude Love being a left field choice and a bit of a surprise, but the matches satisfied the hardcores, especially the second one that laid out the template for the Attitude Era main event style. The buyrates were up from the previous year (business wouldn't really explode until the following year where the product was much crappier), but I think the matches solidified Austin in the hardcores' eyes as a main eventer and helped propel Foley to the next level. 

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I think perhaps we are having different conversations. Buy rates and ratings are the least interesting thing in all of wrestling to me, so if I reference success or momentum, I am almost never talking about that. I am thinking more in hindsight in terms of how the whole thing is taken up in retrospect, what holds up, how we craft these narratives and histories in our little hardcore bubbles of wrestling. However, I brought up stardom, so I get it.

Even still... Throw the Austin part of my point out.  I don't mean that flippantly. I mean in genuinely. I think the dude love feud is low key really important and I believe the fact that he was a proxy in a larger war does little to nothing to diminish his contribution/importance, but I can see the argument that it was vastly more important for Foley. Plus, I said, it is also clear that he meant less to Austin than the others I mentioned. Again, however, the feud brought out some of the best in Austin and to OJ's point, laid out the template for the Attitude Era main event. That template didn't always produce quality, but when it hit it hit... and that we are actually measuring here right? In ring performance is they key.   I brought up the stardom thing, so its on me, but I was really making a more passing comment after watching a doc more than a case for him. I don't think of that as at all part of his case for this project. I just see Foley as the glue that held much of that era together and a low key mvp of it, but that has nothing to do with how I would vote for him.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Cap said:

I think perhaps we are having different conversations. Buy rates and ratings are the least interesting thing in all of wrestling to me, so if I reference success or momentum, I am almost never talking about that. I am thinking more in hindsight in terms of how the whole thing is taken up in retrospect, what holds up, how we craft these narratives and histories in our little hardcore bubbles of wrestling. However, I brought up stardom, so I get it.

Even still... Throw the Austin part of my point out.  I don't mean that flippantly. I mean in genuinely. I think the dude love feud is low key really important and I believe the fact that he was a proxy in a larger war does little to nothing to diminish his contribution/importance, but I can see the argument that it was vastly more important for Foley. Plus, I said, it is also clear that he meant less to Austin than the others I mentioned. Again, however, the feud brought out some of the best in Austin and to OJ's point, laid out the template for the Attitude Era main event. That template didn't always produce quality, but when it hit it hit... and that we are actually measuring here right? In ring performance is they key.   I brought up the stardom thing, so its on me, but I was really making a more passing comment after watching a doc more than a case for him. I don't think of that as at all part of his case for this project. I just see Foley as the glue that held much of that era together and a low key mvp of it, but that has nothing to do with how I would vote for him.

 

He totally was. #2 behind Austin, if we aren't including Vince McMahon. Rock had the bigger spots but he was secondary in a lot of his biggest matches and feuds (HHH, Austin, Foley, even Shamrock). Foley had the iconic match of the era (Hell of the Cell), had what was the best match of the era (Rock at the Rumble but Austin at Over The Edge is just as great) and was critical is getting over the biggest heel of the latter stages of the AE in Triple H when Austin struggled (or wouldn't). Even when he retired as a wrestler and became commissioner in 2000, he had some memorable moments going against Vince, revealing Rikishi ran over Stone Cold. The Foley Cheap Pop term was created in that era as well.

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Ok, so I started typing and I can get wordy when I'm trying to avoid real work and that is what happened. It is mostly blathering nonsense, so I'll give you two versions.

TLDR Version: Foley is perhaps the most important person to my own enjoyment of the attitude era, fond memories I have from that era, and determining what I will go back and enjoy as a fan. What's more I think - without the ability or willingness to substantiate this much further - that his contributions to the overall success of the era are vast (if often less obvious and quantifiable) enough to at least put him in the conversation, but of course under any conventional or discernible rubric he is in the very least behind Austin and The Rock in terms of importance without much question




Full Version: Imperfect as it might be, I'll stick with my NFL analogy for this. And remember, this is independent of this project. This applies to the passing question of: who is the most important wrestler to the attitude era. 

Foley, The Rock, Austin, Taker, etc... they all did different things. They played different parts.  The Rock and Austin where your star RB or WR and QB. Everyone knows their names. They will 100% get the MVP votes or the Heisman votes They will 100% end up on the commercials. They were the stars and the plays were designed to get the ball in their hands because they could make things happen. Foley was a lineman.... a really good lineman. Linemen don't get that kind of stardom, but Foley was so good that he did get some credit. He is the Anthony Munoz of wrestlers in this analogy. If you don't have a really good lineman out there blocking your QB isn't going to look as good (ask Mahomes about his experience in the last super bowl). Now... we all know if you pluck your star qb or "skill player" out of the lineup then the performance of the team goes down. So of course if you take the Rock or Austin out the Attitude Era is vastly different. Things change in a big way because we see it in the production, what we are often trained to see as fans. We don't SEE the production of those trench players in the same way. They are more butterfly effect type contributions, harder to quantify (esp for even the above average fan) and when you do quantify them there are probably more variables that add doubt to the equation (Ex: NFL - hows the guy directly to his right or left blocking? WWE - how are other people doing at elevating their fellow wrestlers or shifting character gears to fit the story or feud. Both - how much extra weight are you pulling).   To me, Foley's contributions were never going to be measurable in the same way that the Rock or Austin's were. They were asked to do very different things and I would venture (based on how Foley talks about his own career) they conceptualized their part differently. Foley wound up being champion, but his biggest contributions came in trench-esqu wrestling and that isn't going to win you traditional MVP awards.

However, if someone is interested in in all these other aspects of wrestling it can become a talking point. Football, like wrestling when we are thinking of this question, privileges certain skill sets, but those aren't the only ways to measure success or importance. DeVonte Smith won the Heisman last year, but he was drafted after the top lineman in the draft. 

So was The Rock and Austin more important to the success of the WWE in the Attitude era? Of fucking course! That is easy. We can measure these things. No need to discuss it.

Even still... I think of Foley as a low key MVP of the attitude era because I see his finger prints all over a lot of my favorite parts. I see his matches as many of the best, his moments as many of the most memorable FOR ME. I think he is the best promo of the era. I think he is a better in ring performer than the Rock and probably better than Austin. I personally like him more and for my enjoyment of that era he is probably the most important.  

 

This is why I think we are having different conversations. I don't see this as any part of his case for this project. I don't see this as a question of measurable success. I see it simply as my perception of the attitude era and what made it enjoyable.

 

Just so I am not side stepping the key point that I think launched this, I do still think that Foley had key feuds and key matches with all the big names mentioned that helped elevate them at very crucial points in their career. Was that elevation always measurable or discernible, probably not, but it is my gut feeling about the ebbs and flows of the product. So, as I said before, of course they would all (maybe not HHH) be stars without Foley, but I don't think it is a given just how big a stars they would be because not only did foley have those key feuds and matches, he had many other contributions that I think resonate throughout the attitude era in crucial ways and raise everyone's stock.... but none of that as particularly quantifiable and to be perfectly honest I don't have the energy or give a shit to comb through an era of wrestling that I mostly don't like to provide a detailed articulation of how  I suspect his match with HBK, Hell in a cell bump, early feud with taker, comedic timing etc etc rippled through the era so at a certain point my laziness will end my willingness to engage this in any way that resembles helpful. Honestly, the more accurate way to say what I meant would have just been that the attitude era wouldn't have been what it was, rather than picking out individual wrestlers.



 

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Foley was the best wrestler in the Attitude Era by far (considering Austin best years, 1997 and 2001, happened just before and after the AE). The most intelligent "dumb" wrestler ever, and the kind of worker you could always trust to deliver something great when it was necesary. He'll be on my list, near the middle.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s1olSYcNTM

 This is one of my favorite US matches of the 90s. Fuck thats an understatement, this is just staight up one of my favorite matches ever and one I find myself thinking about from time to time and will use any excuse I can to recommend it. Its in a small gym so there are basketball hoops way to close to the ring (all wrestling should take place on basketball courts, on baseball fields, or floating in a pool/lake/ocean). The place is packed and super into the match and the performers. Jim Cornette is there getting involved. The top rope falls off so they just say fuck it and keep having match. Just an awesome spectacle. 

In addition to the awesome WWE run , theres a lot more to his career. I really love his early 90s work and had sort of forgotten how awesome it was until I rewatched some of that stuff over the last 5 years. I thought the famous 3 stages match against Gilbert really holds up as an awesome brawl. The Las Vegas match against Sabu from 1994 is an all timer. One of my favorites from either guy. Weirdly I think several of his matches with Terry Funk are on the disappointing side and then they'll have something like the 1/95 death match or an awesome ECW tags and its like "ITS FOLEY VS FUNK OF COURSE IT RULES." I mentioned the Sting matches earlier but its worth repeating for forever that Cactus vs Sting was a super matchup. I love the Nasty Boys matches. Like you don't want the list of tag matches I think are worse than the Nasty's.  

I think if you split FOley's career in half Pre-WWE & Post-WWE, both versions would be candidates for the top 100. 

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