REAL NAME: Mike Foley
BORN: June 7th, 1965 in Long Island, New York
6'2", 287 pounds
ALIASES/NICKNAMES: Cactus Jack Manson, Jack Foley, Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mankind
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the Rock, Hulk Hogan...all of these wrestlers have achieved success in fields other than wrestling, but perhaps no one, save perhaps for former Governor Jesse Ventura, has helped to bring respect to pro wrestling more than Mick Foley.
Foley grew up on Long Island, New York, a lifelong wrestling fan. Idolizing Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Foley hitchhiked to Madison Square Gardens on the night that Snuka lept off the top of a steel cage onto the prone body of then-Intercontinental Champion Don Muraco in 1983. In college, Foley made a movie of himself as the mythical character Dude Love, highlighted by a death defying leap off a neighbours house. The video made its way into the hands of Dominic DeNucci who would train Foley for his pro debut, when, wrestling as Cactus Jack Manson, he defeated Kurt Kaufman.
In 1986, with just a few years of experience under his belt, Foley wrestled in several matches in the WWF/WWE, as a jobber known as Jack Foley. A couple of years later, after working on the independent circuit, Foley began to wrestle for the Memphis-based CWA, aligning himself with Robert Fuller and his Stud Stable where he would become known as "Cactus Jack". In October 1988, Foley teamed with Gary Young and defeated Todd Morton and Bill Dundee in a tournament final to become the new CWA Tagteam Champions.
Leaving Memphis for Texas, Foley wrestled for the World Class Championship Wrestling (later the USWA) where he won the Light Heavyweight Championship by defeating Eric Embry on December 30th, 1988, despite being well over the weight limit. He was a member of Skandor Akbar's stable and teamed with Super Zodiak and Scott Braddock to win the USWA Tagteam titles twice in 1989.
In 1989, Foley would arrive in the World Championship Wrestling area of the NWA, and was used mostly as a mid-carder and jobber over the next two years, including losing to Mils Mascaras at Clash of the Champions XX in February 1990.
Perhaps it was Foley's work with "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert in Tri-State Wrestling where he really began to get noticed. Tri-State, almost a precursor to ECW, was known for its high impact and violent wrestling style and Cactus Jack fit in well with the organization. It was in Tri-State where Foley and Gilbert clashed in several no-holds-barred typed matches. On August 3rd, 1991, Foley and Gilbert met three times on Tri-State's Summer Sizzler card. Foley won a "Falls Count Anywhere" bout, lost a Stretcher Match to Gilbert and then the two men battled to a double-disqualification inside a steel cage.
With Cactus Jack now becoming noticed by promoters, he was soon back in WCW, where on September 5th, he jumped out of a large "gift box" and attacked fan favourite Sting, leading to a long series of matches between the two superstars. Foley's high-risk maneuvers soon won him respect even from Sting fans. It wasn't long before Jack's manager,Harley Race, turned on him and Cactus Jack was in the fan's favour as he battled Vader. During one of the initial Vader/Jack matches in April 1993, Vader beat up Cactus Jack so badly that Jack had to be "hospitalized" and led to amnesia.
When Foley returned (attacking Vader) at Slamboree, the two men tore up the WCW circuit with their matches. During one battle in Munich, Germany, during a WCW tour of Europe, Foley became entangled in the ring ropes and lost nearly a third of his ear. The injury simply added to Cactus Jack's legend.
Foley would later team with Kevin Sullivan to defeat the Nasty Boys for the WCW Tagteam titles. However, with Foley leaving WCW, the team would split up following the loss of the Tagteam titles and Foley would depart following a "Loser Leaves Town" match.
Foley would wrestle for the Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling where his style certainly fit in with the rest of the ECW competitors. Teaming with Mikey Whipwreck, Foley (still wrestling as Cactus Jack) defeated Public Enemy for teh ECW Tagteam titles.
In addition to ECW, Foley would work for many North American independents as well as in Japan. On August 20th, Cactus Jack would win the IWA's one-night King of the Death Match tournament, defeating legendary Terry Funk in the finals. Foley would also see action in the Japan-based Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (FMW) organization, which became famous for its "junk" or gimmick matches.
By the spring of 1996, Foley had left both Japan and ECW behind, and Cactus Jack went into a semi-retirement. Mick Foley signed with the WWF and debuted as Mankind. Immediately targeting the Undertaker, Foley would receive help from the Undertaker's manager, Paul Bearer when Bearer turned on the Undertaker during a Broiler Room Brawl match at SummerSlam '96. In between battling the Undertaker, Foley would also challenge Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship in the fall of 1996.
After teaming with Vader in an attempt to win the WWE Tagteam titles from Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith at Wrestlemania XIII, Mankind became a fan favourite and began fueding with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, meeting Triple H (as he would later be known) in a steel cage match where he emulated Jimmy Snuka.
When "Stone Cold" Steve Austin needed a tagteam partner in the summer of 1997 (following Shawn Michaels' walkout after a dispute with Bret Hart), Mankind campaigned to be that partner. Instead, Austin turned his back on Mankind and opted to battle Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart by himself. Austin did eventually receive help from Dude Love and the pair defeat Hart and Smith for the WWE Tagteam titles.
Austin and Mankind would lose the belts via forfeit with Austin's injury at SummerSlam 98, but Foley would revisit his Cactus Jack persona and team with Chainsaw Charlie (aka Terry Funk to defeat the New Age Outlaws for the belts at Wrestlemania XIV, only to lose the belts the next night on Raw as the genesis for the reformation of DeGeneration X.
Claiming to be frustrated by the lose of the tagteam titles, Foley retired the Cactus Jack persona in favour of Mankind, who would align himself with Vince McMahon and battle both Austin and the Undertaker, the latter in the most infamous "Hell in a Cell" match where Mankind was thrown off the top of the cell and through the Spanish announce table.
Although at first a vicious character, Mankind began to show his lighter side, visiting McMahon in the hospital and introducing the world to "Mr. Socko". Mankind would become the first WWE Hardcore Champion, a gift from McMahon.
When McMahon's Corporation turned its back on Mankind at the 1998 Survivor Series, Foley targeted the Rock and on the last Raw of 1998, won his first WWE World Championship. The Rock would defeat Mankind at the 1999 Royal Rumble, but Foley would regain the title in an empty arena during "Halftime Heat" on Super Bowl Sunday.
After battling The Big Show, Foley enlisted him, along with Test and Ken Shamrock to form the short-lived Union that battled the Corporation. At SummerSlam 99, Foley would overcome Triple H and Steve Austin to win the WWE Championship in a bout refereed by Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura.
Meanwhile, Foley was starting to garner attention for his best-selling autobiography "Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks" which would rise to Number One on the New York Bestseller Chart, the first wrestler biography to do so.
As 1999 ended and 2000 began, Foley once again crossed paths with Triple H, this time for the WWE Championship. Triple H would get the better of Mankind in a street fight at the 2000 Royal Rumble, but Foley and Hunter would clash again, with Foley adopting the Cactus Jack persona during a Hell in the Cell match, with the stipulation that if Foley lost, he would retire. Indeed, Cactus Jack lost and Foley retired from active competition, save for one farewell match at Wrestlemania 2000.
In June 2000, Foley would return to the WWF as Commissioner, making matches and dishing out justice and punishment, all the while garnering cheap pops and laughs.
After being fired from the GM position, Foley named himself as the special referee for the Shane McMahon/Vince McMahon Street fight at Wrestlemania VII.
Foley's second book "Foley Is Good" debuted at Number One on the New York Times Bestseller List at May 27th, 2001.
With the "Invasion" angle up and running, Foley would return to the WWE in October, 2001 and resume his role as WWE Commissioner. However, his time in that role would be limited and he would walk away from the WWE on the day after the 2001 Survivor Series.
Foley would not resurface in the WWE until June 2003 when he refereed a Hell in The Cell match pitting Triple H against Kevin Nash. After the match, Foley stuck around the WWE to be honoured as a "Hardcore Legend" and get into a confrontation with Randy Orton and Evolution.
In December 2003, after a brief period as co-GM of Raw, Foley was to have battled Orton, except that just before the match was to take place, Foley walked away from the arena. After weeks of taunting by Orton, Foley returned to the WWE in the Royal Rumble and attacked Orton. Orton got revenge with a subsequent beatdown on Foley by Evolution.
Foley got some help from his old Rock'n'Sock Connection partner, the Rock and the two battled (but ultimately lost to) Evolution in a handicap match at Wrestlemania XX. Orton would also defeat Foley one-on-one in a Hardcore match at Backlash.
Since leaving the WWE, Foley has been active as a special referee on the independent scene and in October 2004, Foley became involved with the Ring of Honor organization and although the two never stepped into the ring to face each other, he engaged in a feud with Ricky Steamboat in late 2004.
Foley continues to be active on the independent circuit, mostly in a referee's capacity, including a stint as the referee for a Chris Sabin/Alex Shelley match at a Border City Wrestling show in January 2005.
With the ECW Reunion shows in June, Foley revited his hardcore past and took part in both shows. He made a suprise appearance at Hardcore Homecoming and acted as the special referee in the Sabu/Terry Funk/Shane Douglas main event and then provided commentary, with Joey Styles, for ECW's One Night Stand.
Foley continued to make appearances on the independent circuit for much of the summer of 2005, both as a referee and as a wrestler, including appearances in Ring of Honor, Ballpark Brawl and Wrestlereunion.
For weeks, rumours circulated that Foley was on the verge of signing with TNA, but finally in September, Foley announced that he had signed a four-year deal with WWE.
After appearances on Piper's Pit and Carlito's Cabana, Mick Foley headed back into ring action in WWE, taking on (as Mankind) Carlito at Taboo Tuesday.
After appearing as the prosecutor in "the Trial of Eric Bischoff", Foley traveled to Afghanistan to take on JBL in a "Good Santa vs. Bad Santa No HoHoHolds Barred" match, won by Good Santa Foley.
Acting as the referee for one of the Edge/John Cena rematches, Foley drew the ire of Edge who blamed him for not being able to regain the WWE Championship. A match between the two was set for Wrestlemania XXII.
Foley won the bout, only to unite with Edge by turning on ECW mainstay Tommy Dreamer and turning his back on hardcore. Foley, Edge and Lita defeated Dreamer, Terry Funk and Beulah at One Night Stand.
After years of trading barbs in the pages of their respective books, Foley and Ric Flair would finally battle in the ring, with the culmination coming with a Flair victory in an "I Quit" match at SummerSlam.
-- complied by John Milner
April 19, 2013: For All Mankind DVD showcases all three Foleys
April 20, 2011: Lifetime honoree Foley captivates at CAC Baloney Blowout
Sep. 30, 2010: Foley's Countdown to Lockdown is honest, informative, insightful
Mar. 5, 2009: Foley still has the itch to write
Feb. 28, 2009: Foley has no plans of retiring
Feb. 26, 2009: Foley having a nice day in TNA
Sep. 3, 2008: Mick Foley TNA bound
Mar. 13, 2008: Retro Review: Foley's Hardcore Diaries for the educated fan
Mar. 28, 2007: Foley draws good crowd in Troy
Sep. 6, 2005: Foley turns to baseball for new book
Jan. 11, 2004: Foley busier than ever
June 27, 2004: Flair rips Mick Foley
Apr. 18, 2004: Foley writing a new chapter
June 27, 2003: Foley ponders past, present and future
July 6, 2003: Foley's still got the write stuff
July 31, 2001: The many pages of Foley
May 27, 2001: Former champ finds success as an author
May 23, 2001: Foley not resting on his laurels
May 18, 2001: Foley discusses 'Judgement Day'
May 10, 2001: Another great book from Mick Foley
May 10, 2001: Foley vid a keeper
Feb. 4, 2001: An evening with Mick Foley
Nov. 13, 2000: Christmas Chaos pure Foley fun
Nov. 2, 2000: Extras in Foley's paperback not worth it
Aug. 31, 2000: Foley greets his fans at Comic Expo
Mar. 19, 2000: Hogan, Piper, Foley open up
Mar. 18, 2000: Daredevil wrestler will be missed
Jan. 27, 2000: Good Morning Foley!
Dec. 14, 1999: Foley flick, an insightful look at a legend
Dec. 1, 1999: Foley announces retirement
Nov. 23, 1999: Move over Shakespeare, here comes Foley
Oct. 25, 1999: Foley autobiography an ear-ful
May 5, 1999: Foley considered retirement
Jan. 27, 1999: Foley champ again
Jan. 5, 1999: Mick Foley wins WWF World Title, dedicates match to his children
Nov. 8, 1998: A mat legend in the Mick of time
May 27, 1998: Foley: No Love lost for Austin
MICK FOLEY STORIES