Photo Credit: WWE.com
Mick Foley is a former WWE champion, a New York Times bestselling author and a WWE Hall of Famer. Nicknamed “The Hardcore Legend,” Foley has been known for leaving fans in awe many times during his professional wrestling career with his hardcore style of wrestling. Foley joins The Nick Feudale Podcast to talk about his visits to Knoebels Amusement Resort, his upcoming Nice Day tour, and more.
Mick Foley grew up on Long Island, New York. In high school, Foley played sports and was also known as a good writer. Ever since he was 16, professional wrestling was the only thing the Hardcore Legend wanted to do.
“Well from the time I was 16 it’s the only thing I wanted to do. I wrestled as an amateur, but I really loved professional wrestling. You know, I wasn’t a great natural athlete, I thought well I can take this, you know, basic amateur background I have, I’m not claiming to be a Kurt Angle from nearby Clarion.”
In high school, Mick Foley was on the same wrestling team as actor and comedian Kevin James. For many years after high school, Foley and James kept in touch.
“Yeah we did, for many years we stayed in touch, probably for 15 years, and then we fell out of touch but last time I saw him was when I was a surprise guest for him on ‘The Katie Couric Show’ when he was promoting ‘Grown Ups 2.’ So I haven’t heard from him in a while but I have a couple friends who still stay in touch and he always gives me a shoutout.”
The Hardcore Legend was in attendance for the steel cage match between Don Muraco and Jimmy Snuka at Madison Square Garden. Fans at the Garden saw Snuka perform a Superfly Splash off the top of the cage onto Don Muraco. The match had a huge influence on Foley’s career, making Foley want to deliver memorable moments to the fans.
While many fans might assume that Foley would take any risk, he says that he is smart about it, and uses discretion.
“You know, people think I was completely reckless, but I tried to be smart about it. I did turn down a stunt on ‘The Jimmy Kimmel Show’ where they were gonna hit me, they were going to have a complete novice hit me in the head with what was like a prop chair, but I said, ‘Well what if he doesn’t hit me right on the cushion?’ They were like, ‘Well what do you mean?’ I was like, ‘Well what if he catches me with the lip of the chair and split my head open like a melon?’ They were like, ‘We haven’t thought of that.’ So I mean nine times out of ten probably that would have gone well, but when it’s your head and you’re talking to somebody who’s never hit somebody in the head with a chair before, yeah I thought discretion was a better part of valor there. There have been times, I didn’t just let people randomly throw me anywhere I didn’t want to go. But I did have some cool things I could bring out, break out, and they were very realistic things and added some realism to the matches and excitement and I enjoyed taking people on that kind of a ride.”
One of Mick Foley’s most famous matches was his Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker at the 1998 King of the Ring event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The match is one of the most talked about matches in WWE history after Foley was thrown off of the 16 foot high cage. Mick was also then chokeslammed through the top of the cage after he got back up from the first fall.
Despite the popularity of the match 23 years after the fact, Mick Foley did not expect the match to still be relevant today in 1998.
“It was such a small deal that Shawn Michaels was on the next day, he was on ‘Raw,’ and WWE hadn’t talked about it, they hadn’t made it part of their what we call ‘the hot open,’ it wasn’t discussed, and Shawn went out and he mentioned it in his promo, which is his time on the air, when he got back he said, ‘I figured if no one else was going to mention that match, I should.’ So it wasn’t seen as something that was all that amazing.”
Foley mentions that if the match would have happened today, it would have been quickly forgotten about.
“If it would have happened in today’s day and age, it probably would have trended on social media for a day, maybe two, and then forgotten. Instead, this thing was like a snowball going downhill that just gathered momentum and it did it organically. So I’d say about four or five months before the full impact of that match was really felt. I’d say after about six weeks it was really gaining momentum, but it just became a legendary event in our business to the point where I personally met more people who claimed they were in attendance than I could have met in that venue. It’s not that they’re lying, they’re not telling the truth but they’re not willfully lying. They’re just reliving history the way they wish it would have gone down which is as them as a spectator.”
Following a hall of fame career, Mick Foley went back on the road. This time, it was on the comedy stage. Mick talks about how his stand-up career got started, and what fans can expect while attending the shows.
“You know, I had a chance to do stand-up comedy and I was trying to do observational humor and you know, even delving into politics and things like that. I thought I was doing a pretty good job, but I was essentially running away from the thing that people wanted to hear me talk about, I was like going out there just like a singer refusing to play my big hits because I wanted people to hear my new acoustic album. And that’s great that you have some things that interest you but I found a way to make the stories really accessible and to tell them in such a way that they were always fun for me, I wasn’t just a guy going through the motions.”
Mick also talks about how he tries to make shows enjoyable for everyone, not just wrestling fans.
“What they can expect is I kind of take people on a little stroll down memory lane with my stories from my career and I try to come up with, you know if I had some sort of memorable occasion that took place in that town I bring that up, I try to incorporate it into the stories. And I just try to make it an enjoyable experience for people who love wrestling, and if they don’t love wrestling I try to make it accessible so that they can still have a good time.”
One of Foley’s favorite places to vacation is Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. Foley tells some of his Knoebels stories throughout the years, and talks about his friendship with park owner Brian Knoebel.
“Yeah, Brian’s the man. He’s been really good to us ever since we made our first visit in 2000. I always thought it was 2001, but it was 2000 and when I returned home from my first visit to Knoebels Grove, it was my birthday in 2000 and when I returned home there was a message on my voice machine from Vince and Linda McMahon singing me ‘Happy Birthday.’ I wish I had that tape, it would probably be worth some money now.
Mick also recalls a stand-up show he did at Knoebels Amusement Resort that was ruined by a snowstorm.
“You know, I did do a show at Knoebels. In 2013, I had a tour t-shirt. And I just thought it would be cool, I remember I was doing Sinners and Saints Tattoo Shop, you know doing a venue there, and you know we had a lot of comedy clubs and a couple small theaters, and I wanted to have the Polar Theater at Santa’s Village, and Knoebels on the back of the tour t-shirt. But what happened when I was at Knoebels is the night before my event it was cold out, second to last day of the (Knoebels) year. I was actually going to be appearing on the last day of the year. Second to last day, it was cold, it was chilly, I went out to the park and it was starting to snow. And by the next day, they had like eight inches, none of it plowed because it was the end of October, and I was literally going on social media going, ‘Do not come to this event. Please stay away because it’s not worth it.’ Because there were cars skidded out, off the road everywhere you turn. So I was doing that show by talking on the intercom at the, not at Cesari’s, but at the Alamo you know? By some standards it was the worst show I’ve ever done because there was eight people there and I was doing it over the intercom. But I had fun and we got to take home all the pumpkins we wanted, so that was a win-win for me.”
During his WWE career, Mick Foley was also known as Dude Love, Cactus Jack and Mankind. The trio was known as the “Three Faces of Foley.” Mick Foley shares his thoughts on who would win in a triple threat match between the three characters.
“Well, it could be any stipulation. The wilder the better. Dude would win because he would ease his way out of the conflict and let the other two destroy themselves with their macho ways. Then Dude would slide in and vanquish one if not both of them simultaneously.”