Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Sign in to follow this  
joeg

Are the problems in modern wrestling Mick Foley's fault?

Recommended Posts

Thought I just had in the shower, Mick Foley's run as a top guy in WWF normalized what I consider the two biggest problems I see in modern wrestling- career threatening dangerous bumps and bad skit comedy. Sure there were other people during my childhood who got over risking their well being with dangerous bumps and sure there were guys who got over doing stupid comedy sketches, but there was nobody who drew as much money or had the same level of success doing those two things as Mick Foley. So my question is, if Mick Foley hadn't had the level of success he had, would we now have the dangerous bumps and excessive violence that seems to plauge modern wrestling? And if Mick hadn't had the level of success he did, would we have the horrible terrible comedy we see every Monday night in bad sketches and on the indies with dick flips and the Invisible Man, etc? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is skit comedy necessary a bad thing? When you’re filling a three hour show every week variety is a very good thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering Vince would be Vince regardless, I can't fault Mick for the bad skit comedy. I believe he has stated some regret that his career inspired people to do more dangerous bumps without realizing he only did them because that was the only way he thought he could get over in the era he did them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Al said:

Is skit comedy necessary a bad thing? When you’re filling a three hour show every week variety is a very good thing.

Good comedy is welcome. The problem is, 99% of "wrestling comedy" is putrid.

I don't think Mick Foley deserves the blame for that though, as I remember the majority of his comedy skits being hysterical at best and painless at worst.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mean, you look at guys like R-Truth, who's been able to prolong his career for the most part because of his excellent comedy skills. I agree that comedy for the sake of comedy just doesn't work but when you got guys that are really good at it, it can sometimes save an abysmal show and give you something fun to talk about the next morning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find stuff like this tough because I like Mick's work and think he was great presence in his day. Some of the bumps and chairshots are hard to watch in retrospect though and the long term influence of that stuff is bad. But then in the same way, do we blame Misawa and Kobashi for Kota Ibushi or Niato taking suplexes on their head? Maybe we do. What about blaming Shawn for the melodrama that overtook the WWE main event style and possibly reached its nadir during the Ciampa vs Gargano feud? That might be a little different because Shawn could well have been agenting those matches. I just think 'blame' is a little bit of a strong word. I can see the argument that, of the previous generation of wrestlers, Foley is one of the most influential on the modern era. I'd probably throw Shawn and Jeff Hardy in there for the US.

But I wouldn't blame Mick for the 'irony wrestling' bullshit we see on the indies so much as I would blame social media and the modern attention economy. And comedy is funny with good performers and good characters with good material. It isn't Mick's fault that current WWE doesn't have that combination - that's on Vince.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, C.S. said:

Good comedy is welcome. The problem is, 99% of "wrestling comedy" is putrid.

I don't think Mick Foley deserves the blame for that though, as I remember the majority of his comedy skits being hysterical at best and painless at worst.

Hacks wouldn’t have imitated him if he did it badly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, FMKK said:

But then in the same way, do we blame Misawa and Kobashi for Kota Ibushi or Niato taking suplexes on their head? Maybe we do.

Just like garbage wrestlers grew up idolizing Mick, a lot of Japanese wrestlers grew up idolizing Misawa/Kobashi and wanted to emulate the AJPW 90s style. It took Misawa dying in the ring for the point to finally be driven home that head drops aren't great for long term health and even then you still have guys like Hiromu who break their necks (granted that was an accident) but feel they need to prove they can still take crazy bumps when they come back. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, William Bologna said:

Hacks wouldn’t have imitated him if he did it badly.

I think the lame b-level failed soap opera, sitcom, and "comedy" writers WWE hires are just as much to blame, if not more.

Unless you mean stuff like Being the Elite, which I don't watch, but some find it funny and others think it's cringe-worthy. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did Mick discover time travel and go back to give Vince a thirst for low-brow humor and silly comedy? Because Vince eats that shit up. It's entertainment, pal!

Seems a little silly to pin that on the shoulders of Foley. Wrestlers would still be participating in hokey skits and stuff without Mick's sock puppet or awesome Corporate surrogate son story from the Attitude Era.

There is no one source for why wrestling is shittier today than before. It's a multitude of reasons. Mick may be guilty of inspiring a bunch of backyardigans to jump off rooftops or some shit, but blaming the guy who got comedy right for all the unfunny shit that followed him is a pretty big reach. Let's do better, guys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't pin the blame on Foley.

Foley took inspiration from others namely Snuka and the MSG Splash. If it wasn't Foley, it'd be somebody else taking that spot or the hook from the Scaffold match and making it their own.

As far as backstage skits, they were the natural evolution of the backstage vignettes that were popularised in WCCW in the early 80s. The WWF had been running them since at least the start of Hulkamania, most notably when he was preparing Mean Gene for their tag team match. They became more common place in the 90s, but even before the Attitude era you had that episode where Heenan was banned from Raw and was constantly trying to enter the building to no avail.

Even so, if anyone deserves the blame for it, it'd have to be Russo since that 'fly on the wall' story-telling became popular during his tenure.

I also don't think you're giving wrestlers enough credit. If they sat down and watched Mick and the only thing they got out of him was that he was goofy and he took crazy bumps then they'd have to be the biggest bunch of simpletons on the face of the earth. Mick is somebody who by rights should have just been a guy on the roster and yet he's one of the biggest names to ever come out of the sport. What made Foley so good is that he was a details guy who could take a spot and get more mileage out of it because he could find a way to connect it to his persona.

As a personality he was able to connect because he came up with creative motives for his character and had an excellent turn of phrase. It was more than just the dialogue as well, Mick would always deliver a performance that went beyond the stereotypical promo and carved his own niche.

Again, I think the vast majority understand this and the small percentage who don't didn't stand a chance in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the biggest problem with the skits is that they had guys like Hogan, Foley, Rock, Austin, Angle, Heenan, etc. that could pull them off.  Not everyone is as good at them as they were.  It's the same thing with the long-ass promos.  Guys like that could pull them off, so they became the norm.  Now, they try to make everyone do it.  There's no more finding a guy/gal's strengths and playing to them.  They want everyone to fit into their box.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Laz said:

...didn't WWF run lame comedy segments when Foley was still training? RD Reynolds says yes.

Tuesday Night Titans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would put more blame on Shawn Michaels & Rob Van Dam than I ever would put on Mick Foley. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/15/2020 at 5:14 PM, joeg said:

Thought I just had in the shower, Mick Foley's run as a top guy in WWF normalized what I consider the two biggest problems I see in modern wrestling- career threatening dangerous bumps and bad skit comedy.

Are these really the two biggest problems with today's wrestling? Are they in the top ten?

One of the biggest issues with present day wrestling is that no one is willing to buy into it. Matches are performances and wrestlers are performers playing a character. Obviously that was a natural progression of things to some extent, but that's something I think you really could say that goes back to Foley.  I'm sure the funny stuff like him showing up in the hospital with a sock helped get him over, but he was one of the first to really embrace his fans cheering for the man behind the mask, so to speak. That's what made his title reign so emotional, the fact that it was Mick Foley finally achieving the dream after over ten years of hard work and sacrifice, more than just Mankind avenging a couple of screwjobs pulled by Vince and Rock. Compare that to Austin in the same era. He was getting cheered for being a badass, not because he overcame Bischoff and Hogan holding him down to finally get a push at the top of the card.

Now Foley stories are commonplace, maybe even the template for a truly successful connection with the fans. Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan have a lot more in common with him than they do with Austin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/15/2020 at 6:24 PM, William Bologna said:

Hacks wouldn’t have imitated him if he did it badly.

Hacks wouldn't have imitated him if he did it unsuccessfully.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The funny part is thinking the new era of wrestling is nothing but fake looking flippy shit is a tale as old as time. Lou Thesz said the same thing about Harley Race as people say now about Kenny Omega.  Only difference is now we're the grumpy old men. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, cad said:

Are these really the two biggest problems with today's wrestling? Are they in the top ten?

One of the biggest issues with present day wrestling is that no one is willing to buy into it. Matches are performances and wrestlers are performers playing a character. Obviously that was a natural progression of things to some extent, but that's something I think you really could say that goes back to Foley.  I'm sure the funny stuff like him showing up in the hospital with a sock helped get him over, but he was one of the first to really embrace his fans cheering for the man behind the mask, so to speak. That's what made his title reign so emotional, the fact that it was Mick Foley finally achieving the dream after over ten years of hard work and sacrifice, more than just Mankind avenging a couple of screwjobs pulled by Vince and Rock. Compare that to Austin in the same era. He was getting cheered for being a badass, not because he overcame Bischoff and Hogan holding him down to finally get a push at the top of the card.

Now Foley stories are commonplace, maybe even the template for a truly successful connection with the fans. Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan have a lot more in common with him than they do with Austin.

Austin's entire reason for being a beer-swilling, foul-mouthed redneck who wouldn't take shit was directly related to how he was treated in WCW. This was part of his gimmick and selling point, regularly referenced in WWF-approved media.

If you want to point the finger? Point it at Vince McMahon. Montreal did more to solidify the themes of "performer behind the gimmick" than Mick Foley did, and that acknowledgment of reality behind the scenes is what turned Vince from about to file bankruptcy into a billionaire. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But, to us, who were "in the know," that part of Austin's career/gimmick was much clearer than to the millions (...and millions!) of Austin/Rock/WWE fans who hadn't watched much wrestling before 98'-99'. I was in high school back then. My friends and I were wrestling fans since the early 90s and had watched countless tapes and read all the magazines and were obsessed with WCW, WWE, and whatever ECW we could get at 2 AM on local TV. But the jocks and newer fans who got into it in 99'? They had no idea that Austin's gimmick was based on being held back by Eric Bischoff. It was inessential to understanding his character.

Case in point - I remember around the time of the Higher Power angle, we were talking about who the Higher Power of the Ministry could be in lunch and I said to some buddies, who were newer fans, that I thought it might be Ted DiBiase because he had been the guy who first brought in the Undertaker. They had never heard of him, but proceeded to say, "You're probably right, I bet you it is Ted The Bossy." 

So, yes, while Austin's back story definitely was a part of his character, it really was very minuscule compared to what the company did for Mick Foley (the sit-down interviews with JR, the callbacks to the Jimmy Snuka splash, the consistent reference to him as "Mrs. Foley's Little Boy") to make him seem like an average joe that was not particularly physically gifted, but was a man of the people and refused to quit. And, in that sense, I do see that parallel to CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, guys who, from their first introduction, were really presented as "non-WWE" and "alternative" who were now going to "sink or swim" in the "major leagues" after toiling away in the minors. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all I loved Cactus Jack before he was even in the WWF. 

I, too, have though of Foley's influence in the shower, and don't know if his influence was good or bad. This is a good conversation. I wish more would contribute to this thread.

The skit stuff- no, that's not related to Foley. Being rewarded for dangerous stunts? Yeah. The trend to let out-of-shape normal-looking fans in wrestling? Yeah.

However, I will not make a judgment if these trends are "problems" or not. Nor do I concede if wrestling has any "problems" preventing it from becoming mainstream, or that mainstream ought to be a goal.

But I find it ironic that Jim Cornette and Vince Russo love Mick Foley from working with him and his legacy, but IMHO Mick opened the door for "non-TV stars" to be pushed as a huge thing in the post-Hulkamania world, but they hate "normal looking fans becoming wrestlers". He a throwback to "menacing, ugly" brawlers like Brody, and he was not a "technical wrestler". He was an early indie darling in the early AOL/newsgroups. Not a work rate guy, but still made waves.

He was natural at being a jobber vs Kamala in the 1980s but he was a pioneer who got over by KILLING HIMSELF for attention. His skills were character work, psychology, creative details, and promos. Perhaps no one did more with less physical gifts. He had talent but got the initial attention due to his dangerous bumps and spots. He has brain damage. That was his price for fame. It's what "non-convincing wrestlers" like Spike Dudley, Sandman, Dreamer, Whipwreck did in the 1990s and Joey Janela did today to get noticed. It's a living.

There's nothing different from Foley jumping off the roof compared to backyard wrestlers or the current crop of controversial gimmick guys. The only difference is Foley became a TV superstar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/15/2020 at 10:40 PM, SomethingSavage said:

Did Mick discover time travel and go back to give Vince a thirst for low-brow humor and silly comedy? Because Vince eats that shit up. It's entertainment, pal!

Seems a little silly to pin that on the shoulders of Foley. Wrestlers would still be participating in hokey skits and stuff without Mick's sock puppet or awesome Corporate surrogate son story from the Attitude Era.

There is no one source for why wrestling is shittier today than before. It's a multitude of reasons. Mick may be guilty of inspiring a bunch of backyardigans to jump off rooftops or some shit, but blaming the guy who got comedy right for all the unfunny shit that followed him is a pretty big reach. Let's do better, guys.

I agree.

However what I got from the OP (albeit poorly phrased) was that guys like Joey Ryan realized he would never make it based on his in-ring ability or other skills, so resorted to dick spots to get noticed and it works for him to pay the bills. Orange Cassidy admitted he created his ironic gimmick because he wasn't better than the hundreds of other high flyers so needed to stand out. And they may have been inspired by Foley- a guy who used trash cans, barbed wire, TLC spots, fire, and thumb tacks to get noticed, which were not based on traditional wrestling techniques. More of a carnival sideshow or stuntshow. All of these guys appear to be fans and marks for the biz and found their niches. But I admit it may be a stretch.

I think OP may be buying into James E. Cornette's theory that Joey Ryan has destroyed professional wrestling as we know it due to his "comedy", when in fact, people named Vince ought to get 99% of the blame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If we're seriously talking Foley leading to wrestling's detriment for being a major star who a) didn't look like an athlete and b) did stupid violent shit to get over...like, are we going to forget the Sheik? Abdullah the Butcher? Half of the stars of the 50s/60s/70s who look like they have more in common with my uncle's softball league than a professional athlete? As if pro wrestling was ever some sacred artform and not just a way to get people's money by giving them some form of violence.

If anything, I'd give Mick credit for proving that you didn't need to use juice in a post-Hulk world to get over. Taking big bumps and doing dangerous shit might have become more commonplace after him, sure, but Onita was doing it to a greater degree before Foley. Mick was deemed an "American Onita," after all. Not much different to me than German punk/metal bands taking cues from American/British ones and upping the ante, as evolution tends to do.

Besides, most people wouldn't know what Mick did if not for the WWF. Just like @War is Raw said above: Vince is 99% to blame there. 

As for selling the idea of the performer over the performance, I'm putting my money on that being a natural evolution of the business. Those interviews with JR happened after the nWo blurred the reality line, and it was going to happen anyway as the internet was on the rise. Just like musicians didn't sell songs anymore but entire packages, selling the lifestyle brand over the quality of product itself, pro wrestling followed suit. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Laz said:

Besides, most people wouldn't know what Mick did if not for the WWF. Just like @War is Raw said above: Vince is 99% to blame there. 

As for selling the idea of the performer over the performance, I'm putting my money on that being a natural evolution of the business. Those interviews with JR happened after the nWo blurred the reality line, and it was going to happen anyway as the internet was on the rise. Just like musicians didn't sell songs anymore but entire packages, selling the lifestyle brand over the quality of product itself, pro wrestling followed suit. 

He's 99% to blame in the sense that as the big boss he approves everything, but apportioning blame like that is pretty simplistic. Wasn't his MO famously to avoid mentioning wrestler's pasts elsewhere? I doubt he came up with the idea of highlighting a guy's work in Japan. Doubt he even knew all that much about it. IIRC when he introduced himself to Foley he said something like, "Hi, Mike." The original Mankind push was more his style, monster heel coming in, looking dangerous for a few months to build to the big match when the face takes him down.

The NWO blurred the reality line in an entirely different way. Their appearances felt more real than the rest of the show, and that was for only a very brief time. They weren't encouraging a peek behind the curtain.

Oh, I forgot the book. His was the first and most influential one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×