#MickFoleyWeek: A Difference of Opinion

It’s the Final Day of #MickFoleyWeek, a celebration of all things Wanted: Dead and the fourth installment of our patent-pending Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. We started with A Wrestler You Should Probably Know Better. We’ve given you the finer points of the Dude Love oeuvre with some Essential Viewing before marching through Hump Day with a GIF parade. Yesterday, we fulfilled our destiny as Amazon.com on steroids with “Juice Make Sugar Recommends…“. before finishing everything off today with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Bang! Bang!-fueled civil war.) 

Nick: Have you seen Brooklyn Nine-Nine?

Dave: Is that the Andy Samberg vehicle?

Nick: Yes, but more importantly, the dudes from Parks and Rec’s new baby.

Dave: I can’t really take Andy Samberg smiling for the camera and being cute. I like a guy like that in the context of SNL… Sometimes.

Nick: Yeah, if you like that, you’ll be fine. It’s not shot like P&R, which is good. It would be INSUFFERABLE if it was a mockumentary. Also, surprisingly good: Trophy Wife on ABC with Bradley Whitford.

Dave: I don’t think I can even give any of the new network shows proper attention until after Sunday when Breaking Bad ends.

Nick: Oh, you’re one of those people.

Dave: Only new episode I’ve seen is New Girl. Haha.

Nick: Firstly, thank you for not calling it The New Girl. Secondly, I tried with Breaking Bad but it is way, way, way too intense.

Dave: That’s what I like about it. So many shows (especially wrestling shows) are so scared you will change the channel if things get heavy. But Breaking Bad makes you sit through the most uncomfortable silences.

Nick: Yeah, it’s a beautiful show. I got through the first season but I literally couldn’t take it anymore. Relatively speaking, that season is almost a fucking comedy compared to what comes after as far as I can tell.

Dave: Yeah. It gets progressively darker and more menacing. And they make you like Walt less and less.

Nick: The heel turn actually doesn’t bother me because, wrestling. It’s the wanton violence and endless pit of despair thing.

Dave: Like, at the beginning, everybody else seems like a criminal compared to him. By the end everybody seems like a saint compared to him.

Nick: Speaking of which is it weird that I think Mick Foley should be canonized?

Dave: Yes. It is. I’m sorry, but on this one, I just have to throw out the “I don’t get it” card for Foley. In my mind, he’s way more lovable than good. And he’s not even that lovable.

Nick: I actually used to think that, but like I talked about for Better Know, when you contextualize him with everything else that came before and after. He feels like a revelation. I know you have your Bruiser Brodys (or is it Brodies?) and your Valentine vs. Pipper dog collar matches, but they always seemed like they were slumming it in the hardcore world.

Dave: Nick, let’s use its proper Christian name: Garbage Wrestling.

Nick: Oh, of course.  One of the major problems with my “Mick Foley is one of the five most important wrestlers” live journal series is that just because he’s important (and in my opinion, very very underrated in the ring) doesn’t mean that his importance is a good thing. But for me, his legacy is much more in between the lines than his actual work in the ring.

Nick: His legacy is the Cane Dewey promo, in essence.

Dave: Cane Dewey is great, but it’s also Foley talking out of both sides of his mouth: “I want to represent violence, but I want to that violence to be very circumscribed and dictated by me!”

Nick: But is that fundamentally different than the CM Punk pipe bomb? He was just trying to get himself over, that he could make it seem like he was shooting on the people in charge was just gravy.

Dave: Well, I think that promo looks less good with each passing day too. But I see your point.

Nick: Or, in Foley’s case, complain about the Pandora’s box that he opened, while acknowledging that he “made his bed of nails” and that he has to be powerbombed through it. And beyond “revolutionizing” the sport, in what was (admittedly) the worst possible direction, he also play a major role in turning the tide for the WWF.

Dave: According to popular wrestling books, several of which are written by him, yes. I think he was a cog in the wheel — to overstate his importance over Undertaker or Steve Austin or The Rock is criminal. Steve Austin and The Rock would have eventually eclipsed the “everybody in the pool” version of the nWo, with or without Foley.

Nick: But what about the Rock and Sock connection? That is as over a tag team (depressingly) as there has ever been in the history of the sport.

Dave: Well, it was an over tag team at the time of the biggest audience. I don’t know if it makes it the most over tag team ever.

Nick: And Taker definitely isn’t Taker without the Mankind feud. Not even the Hell in a Cell, but the entirety of that feud is actively important to the development of the Taker character at a level, looking back, that feels more important than Kane. Kane had the longevity, but do you honestly remember a single match between the two?

Dave: I can’t disagree with you there, but it also serves this point: Mick Foley is wrestling’s most successful jobber to the stars.

Nick: At a time when, for better or worse, that was the most important thing in the company. You needed guys to keep feeding to people like Triple H, the Rock and to a lesser extent (because of McMahon) Austin.

Dave: I’ll paraphrase Jim Cornette (who was at the time talking about Triple H): Foley was the guy who worked with the guy who drew money. And he was great at it, but I think his star status is overstated.

Nick: Is that from a wrestling standpoint, or from an overall “get recognized in public” standpoint?

Dave: Both.

Nick: Because, I’ll admit, outside of that Rumble match (which everyone should know is my personal all-time favorite), his work isn’t necessarily the best on the card. But neither was the Rock’s.

Dave: He was an alright wrestler. In fact, he was quite good, but he cheapened himself with all the shortcuts he took. Ability aside, though, I don’t think you could sell out a building west or south of Philadelphia based on an appearance by Mick Foley.

Nick: Is that why he’s selling out comedy clubs across the country so that he can talk about wrestling from fifteen years ago? Or a New York Times bestseller? I think you are underestimating his drawing power, and even if he didn’t, the only city worth dick west of the Mississippi is LA. John Cena sells out in Phoenix, does that mean his work is exemplar?

Dave: Comedy clubs are way smaller than arenas, and becoming a bestseller is a foregone conclusion with the right publishing and marketing clout behind you. How many people are at a sold out comedy show? 200?

Nick: I feel like, personally, you just hate him because he’s from Long Island. And that hurts me, as a Long Islander and your friend.

Dave: Naw, that’s only the carrot in the stew. Can I get on my “Nobody Likes TNA” soapbox for a second?

Nick: Sure. We’re family here at JMS.

Dave: The stuff he pulled in TNA was abhorrent. He displayed, in my eyes, a Hulk Hogan level ego, and at the end of the day, he stacked them just as many dollars as every other guy who ever came there: zero. But he walked around like he was a combination of Jesus Christ and Rambo, come to save the day. Daffney’s career was severely impacted because she was pressured to take a bump that he didn’t want to. Stuff like that is not high-character material.

Dave: She got hurt on that spot, then she came back and got killed by a half-trained girl who literally sat on her sternum full force. But the reason she took a really, really dangerous bump in the first place is because Foley had begged out of taking a bump for Abyss. So they thought they had to do something big to make the angle work.

Nick: And putting a woman through a table seemed like it was enough. Which begs another question: Does TNA do guy on girl fighting? We all know WWE is VEHEMENTLY against it, for obvious reasons like “it’s terrible” and “something that should make everyone watching really really uncomfortable”.

Dave: They used to. Because, remember, Vince Russo. Hating women and all.

Nick: The bitches had it coming, to be fair. Guy had to wait until he was thirty to lose his virginity. Which, even for a wrestling fan, is late.

Dave: The ego trip he went on in TNA undid a lot of the good will I had for him. He always billed himself as a “regular guy,” not a politicking, ego-driven wrestler. I thought he exposed the work that had made him money.

Nick: But, even if he is an ego driven wrestler, think about all the guys he put over. Can we really blame somebody for wanting to get a pay day at the end of his career and not wanting to have to work too hard for it?

Dave: Didn’t he famously save his money? He just wanted to lift his leg (as Kevin Nash would say) one more time.

Nick: Even so: people got hurt, but so has Foley. Isn’t that kind of what you sign up for when your job is “get dropped by people on your back repeatedly”? Is it really Foley’s fault that TNA thought chokeslamming Daffney through a table was a cool idea? When anyone could have told them that ANYONE getting chokeslammed through a table onto a floor from the apron is literally the worst fucking idea?

Dave: No, it’s not his fault, but he was in a position to stop it, and he didn’t. He’s the kind of mark for hardcore wrestling who probably thought that bump was a good idea. Or would at least “pop the crowd.”

Nick: That’s fair, I suppose.  Since it seems we are never going to agree on Foley, which I guess is kind of the point of this, can we at least finish by asking this question: Did you at ever, at any point, think that he was dead after taking a bump? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Dave: Second question first: It’s a bad thing. That’s the line right there.

Nick: Is it though? I will never, in my life, forget Road Dogg and Billy Gunn pushing him and Terry Funk off the stage in that dumpster. That, to me, is the most important bump in wrestling history. It so blurred the line between real and fake that looking back, I’ve been searching for that feeling ever since.  Which, I guess begs a REAL final question: has Mick Foley ruined wrestling for me forever?

Dave: I think Foley did to wrestling what LSD did to hippies: expanded the possibilities people could imagine, generated a huge emotional response, and permanently scarred the brain.

Nick: And because of that, we now have farmer’s markets, so I guess your answer is: yes.