The Two Sheds Review: For All Mankind: The Life & Career of Mick Foley
We’re about to take a look at one of the most documented talents in the history of professional wrestling. He’s written four biographies, he’s been the subject of a Biography Channel documentary, and there’s been numerous video and DVD releases documenting his career.
Now we’re going to take a look at the most recent addition to this collection, a three disc set that takes us into the world of the hardcore legend himself as we take a look at For All Mankind: The Life & Career of Mick Foley.
As is the custom with these things, let’s start at the very beginning with…..
If you’ve read any of Foley’s numerous biographies the chances are that you already know the majority of what is discussed here. The thing is though that it’s never been presented in this way before.
This piece deals with almost every aspect of his life and career. Naturally there’s no mention of his stint in TNA, but that doesn’t matter, because what is mentioned here is covered in great detail, and it’s done incredibly well.
From the proverbial humble beginnings Foley tells the story of his life, how he achieved his dreams of becoming a professional wrestler by forging his own unique style, something that he hoped that people would never forget. Well, this writer certainly hasn’t.
As always Foley comes across as a very likeable chap, a very humble man who is proud of his many achievements, and as a man who isn’t happy to sit back and rest on his laurels.
But Foley’s isn’t the only input in this piece. There are more than a fair share of people who are more than happy to step up and speak on his behalf, including his trainer Dominic DeNucci, countless former opponents such as Triple H, the Rock, Terry Funk and Vader, and many who have been inspired by him, including the likes of the Miz and C.M. Punk. Even Shane Douglas makes an appearance, which is somewhat surprising considering his past relationship with the powers that be.
In short, Foley is portrayed as the nicest guy in the world, and that’s very probably true. I’ve been a fan of the guy for years, and it’s nice to see WWE giving him this kind of treatment, because if you haven’t read any of his books then this is a good way to find out what the man is about.
If this review was just about the documentary I’d probably be giving this the big thumbs up right now, but it isn’t. There’s two more discs to work through folks, so let’s crack on and move on to…..
Our man, as Jack Foley, makes his WWF debut, teaming with Les Thornton against Captain Lou Albano’s Tag Team Champions Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid, the British Bulldogs, on an episode of Superstars.
It’s your basic television squash match here. Thornton and Smith put together some nice sequences early on before he tagged his partner in. It was then that the Bulldogs used him for target practice, including the clothesline from Dynamite that dislocated his jaw.
Foley had a fleeting moment of offence which looked quite week before the Bulldogs quickly sealed the deal when Dynamite took Foley down with a back superplex.
It’s on to the AWA, and our man, now dubbed Cactus Jack and managed by Downtown Bruno (the future Harvey Whippleman), teams with Gary Young as they take on a young Scott Steiner and Billy Travis on an episode of All Star Wrestling.
This very short encounter saw Steiner and Travis taking it to their opponents early on, but when Travis missed a corner attack Bruno’s guys used him as their punching bag.
The punishment lasted a couple of minutes until Travis made it back to his corner. A few moments later Steiner rolled Cactus up for the pin, but while the referee was arguing with Travis Young came in and clobbered Steiner with Bruno’s boot. When the referee turned around the first thing he saw was Cactus pinning Steiner, and a three count later Bruno’s boys had the win.
Our man, now called Cactus Jack Manson, travels to the World Class territory in Texas to take on Brickhouse Brown on an episode of Wild West Wrestling.
This was a nice little match, and the first time on this collection that our protagonist got to really show his wares. Both guys put on good performances, although it was a little vexing that the announcers spent the majority of the match discussing the matches for an upcoming card (Kerry Von Erich challenging Jerry Lawler for the Unified World title folks! Get your tickets now!).
They only really began to notice what was happening in the ring when the ten minute time limit was approaching. Cactus went up to the top rope, but when he came down for a superfly splash Brown was out of there. Brickhouse then went on the offensive, but the bell rang as he made his pin, the result a draw.
Our man is now in WCW territory and taking on Keith Hart on an episode of Power Hour.
Foley himself said that he chose this match as an example of how he could dish the punishment out, and boy did he. With Kevin Sullivan directing traffic from ringside Cactus really laid into his man, pulling him up at one point when he could easily have taken the pin.
Then was saw the moves the made Cactus famous. First came the clothesline over the guardrail, with Cactus going over at the same time, and after a quick adjustment to the aforementioned guardrail Cactus launched himself off the ring apron and connected with an elbow drop. He then rolled Hart back into the ring for the three count and win.
It’s another episode of Power Hour, and this time around our man faces Sting in a Submit or Surrender match.
In case you’re wondering, the stipulations for this one were simple, you make your opponent submit or surrender, or if someone fails to beat the referee’s ten count.
As many of you will know Sting was Cactus’ first big feud on the national scene, and this is a great example of their work together. There’s some nice sequences throughout here, as well as some hardcore leanings, including the spot where Sting put a rubbish bin over his man’s head and came down from the top rope with a stinger splash.
The big elbow drop from the apron to the floor was there, but when Sting dropkicked Cactus off the ring apron and onto the floor it was all but over. The Stinger then joined his opponent on the floor and locked in a scorpion death lock, but by this time Cactus was out of it, so the referee called the match to give Sting the submission win.
January 21st, 1992
His feud with the Stinger now over, our man takes on Van Hammer in a falls count anywhere match at Clash of the Champions XVIII.
The action began in this one when Hammer fired something at Cactus from his guitar (just watch the match, you’ll know what I mean). They spent a brief moment in the ring before Cactus took the fight to ringside where Hammer almost messed up a spot where Cactus took him down with a sunset flip from the ring apron.
It wasn’t long before they battled up the ramp and backstage, eventually making their way to the car park. It was there, as they battled near a bull, that Abdullah the Butcher appeared. Apparently Abdullah was a beloved baby face here, because as they brawled in a rodeo ring an errant shovel shot hit Hammer by mistake. Cactus then sent the Butcher packing before pinning Hammer in the dirt.
Cactus and Abdullah then continued their brawl, with Abdullah stuffing reporter Missy Hyatt into a water trough at one point, before the boys tried to stuff each other into the trough as a soaking wet Missy went running for cover.
Our man has moved on to ECW territory as he goes up against the World Champion the Sandman in a non-title barbed wire match.
No technical niceties in this one. Old Sandy was somewhat hesitant about getting into the ring at first until his manager Woman raised the bottom strand of wire with the kendo stick.
Once inside it wasn’t long before flesh met wire when Sandman was thrown leg first onto the bottom strand. Cactus then made things a little worse for him by sliding out of the ring and pulling his legs, crotching him on the strand.
From their they brawled around ringside for a while, with Cactus using a toilet seat a fan gave him at one point, before they slid back into the ring to throw each other into the wire a bit more. Cactus was the first to bleed when Sandman shredded his arm, and a few hard from Cactus later and Sandman’s head was sliced open.
So with Cactus lying on the mat wearing a crimson mask Sandman decided to start his celebrations early by lighting up his victory cigarette. He then picked Cactus up so he could drop him on the wire again, only for our man to counter with a DDT. A three count later and Cactus had the win.
And just to show what a hard b*****d he was, Sandman got up immediately and walked away like nothing had happened. Either that or he was drunk.
Still in ECW, our man takes on his old training partner Shane Douglas at Cyberslam.
Before the match began Cactus, wearing a jacket and tie, said he wouldn’t be able to wrestle because he’d had a few too many drinks at a wedding earlier in the day, and after leading the ECW faithful in a Mankind chant, one of the fans gave him a beer.
But just as he was about to drink it Douglas slid into the ring and attacked Cactus from behind, with the referee immediately calling for the bell.
What followed was quite brutal, and a brilliant piece of storytelling. Douglas dominated the early going, beating the hell out of Cactus and ripping his shirt off him to reveal an Eric Bischoff tee shirt underneath. (If you don’t get the reference then read Foley’s first biography.) The beating went on for quite a few minutes until Foley made his comeback.
From there Foley proceeded to take Douglas apart, and it looked especially tricky for the Franchise at one point when Cactus put a table upside down on him and came down with an elbow drop.
The tide turned dramatically a few moments later when the referee tried to separate them as Cactus was pummelling away on Douglas in the corner. After Cactus was pushed out of the way the official handed Douglas a pair of handcuffs. The Franchise then clobbered Foley with them before cuffing his hands behind his back.
It was then that Douglas grabbed a steel chair, delivering numerous shots to Cactus’ skull. As Douglas urged Cactus to quit Cactus called out for his former tag partner Mikey Whipwreck. Whipwreck appeared on the scene, but only after Douglas had locked in a figure four. The perennial underdog grabbed a chair, but just when it looked like he was about to hit Douglas he clobbered Cactus in the skull. The crooked referee then made the three count, giving Douglas the win.
May 11th, 1997
It’s on to WWF territory, and under the mask of Mankind our man faces Rocky Maivia at In Your House: Cold Day in Hell.
Those of you who never saw much of Dwayne Johnson’s early WWF career may be a little surprised with what you see here, and I’m not just talking about his physique. The man who was told that he couldn’t smile too much pulled off some moves the People’s Champion of today would never go near, and the silence that greeted him as he made his entrance spoke volumes.
As for the match, although it was a throw away match it was a pretty decent encounter, and a nice preview of what was to come later. They put together some nice sequences, and when the action spilled out of the ring Maivia gave us another preview of what was to come when he took Mankind down with a rock bottom on the ramp.
Back in the ring, and after taking his man down with a shoulder breaker, Maivia climbed to the top rope for his finisher, the cross bodyblock, but after he connected Mankind rolled with the move and synched in the mandible claw. Maivia was out within seconds, giving Mankind the submission win, with the first few rows openly applauding our man’s win, another great sign of how Maivia was thought of back then.
July 6th, 1997
Our man, now a beloved baby face, faces Hunter Hearst Helmsley, as always accompanied by Chyna, at In Your House: Canadian Stampede.
This is one of the forgotten matches from what is one of WWE’s best pay-per-views ever. Mind you, that’s understandable, considering the massive ten man tag main event.
Mankind came into this one looking for revenge after Helmsley had defeated him in the King of the Ring final a few weeks before, and I’d forgotten just how good this was.
Mankind controlled the early going, but occasional interference from Chyna kept Helmsley in the match. It looked like the masked one was fighting a losing battle as they worked over his knee, especially when Helmsley locked in a figure four and used the ropes to gain an advantage.
Eventually Mankind worked his way back into the match, and despite further interference from Chyna our man crotched Helmsley on the top rope before synching in the mandible claw.
But when Chyna pulled Mankind’s legs and crotched him on the ring post it signalled the beginning of the end. Both men began to brawl around ringside, and by the time they’d gone over the guardrail and into the fans the referee had counted to ten, declaring the match a double count out. The brawling didn’t end there though, and eventually they ended up in the car park where several officials finally broke them up.
November 17th, 1997
The Dudester is in the house, with our man adopting his Dude Love persona to take on the Nation of Domination’s newest member, a certain Rocky Maivia, on an episode of Raw.
Earlier in the evening Maivia stole Steve Austin’s Intercontinental title belt, and before the match began he declared that this was a non-title match.
This very short encounter, short because of the commercial break, was another of those pretty enjoyable encounters. We got to see the beginning of Maivia’s transformation in the Rock, although the people’s elbow was almost missed completely because of the break.
Love managed to make his comeback a few moments later, connecting with sweet shin music and his double arm DDT. But when he went for the pin Maivia’s Nation buddies, who had been watching at ringside, broke up the pin, with the referee calling for an immediate disqualification.
But as the Nation delivered a four-on-one beating the aforementioned Austin ran down to make the save, and with Maivia grabbing his stolen belt and heading for the hills it was left to the former tag champs to clean house.
June 28th, 1998
Yep, it’s that match. Our man, now back as Mankind, faces the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring.
You will never see another Cell match like this again. This match has taken on legendary proportions, and rightfully so. It’s brutal, hard to watch at times, but it’s also compelling viewing.
It began with Mankind challenging the dead man from the roof of the cell. It was a challenge the Undertaker was only too willing to accept, and after they brawled for a few moments we got the first legendary moment, when Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of the cage and through the Spanish announcers table below.
It looked all over there and then. Countless medics and officials, including Terry Funk, came down to ringside as Mankind was carried away on a stretcher, but when they got halfway down the aisle he got back to his feet and climbed back up the cage.
They then began to brawl again until we got the second legendary moment, with the Undertaker chokeslamming Mankind through the roof of the cage. Then, it looked all over as the officials raced into the cell to check on Mankind.
But when the Undertaker jumped down through the hole he’d created he wasn’t content with what he’d done. He wanted the match to continue, and as he chokeslammed Funk and pushed him out of the ring the officials scurried for cover, and to the amazement of just about everyone the match was back on.
What followed was brutal as these two simply clobbered each other. By this time Mankind was bleeding from his move, and he had a tooth stuck in his noise. The Undertaker soon joined him in the bleeding stakes, his head sliced open by the cage when Mankind ducked away from a suicide dive.
It was then that Mankind introduced thumb tacks into the equation, but when he failed to knock the Undertaker into them he went for the mandible claw. The dead man looked out of it until he lifted Mankind onto his back and dropped him right onto the thumb tacks.
Undertaker then added insult to injury by chokeslamming Mankind onto the tacks before he sealed the deal with the tombstone.
Then, after all he’d gone through, Mankind refused to be carried away on a stretcher, and was helped back by Funk and Commissioner Slaughter.
July 13th, 1998
Our man heads into the tag team division as he joins Kane in challenging Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg of the New Age Outlaws for the Tag Team titles on an episode of Raw.
Before the match began the Undertaker came down to ringside to get a better view of his brother. Needless to say this didn’t sit too well with his former manager and manager of Kane and Mankind Paul Bearer.
There was a lot going on in this short encounter. The match began with the Outlaws working over the shoulder that Mankind had injured in the cell, and when Kane tagged in the champs just couldn’t do anything against him.
As the match went on the Nation’s Rock and Owen Hart came down for a look see, and when they went to get a bit of a closer look DX’s Triple H and X-Pac headed them off at the pass.
Thus began the mass brawl between the DX and Nation members, and while the referee was other distracted D’Lo Brown came out through the crowd, chest protector and all, and connected with a frog splash on the Road Dogg. Kane then took the Dogg out with a chokeslam, and a three count later we had new tag champions.
December 13th, 1998
Having been screwed out of the title at the Survivor Series, our man challenges the Rock for the WWF title at In Your House: Rock Bottom.
Lots of jaw jacking at the beginning of this one. Mankind, hoping to benefit from a clause in the contract that stated he’d get the title if Rock didn’t compete by attacking him earlier in the evening, injuring his ribs.
In the ring Vince and Shane McMahon wanted Mankind to scratch that particular clause, but the challenger stated he’d only do that if Vince announced to the world that he didn’t quit the previous month. McMahon refused, and when Mankind tore up the contract the Rock attacked him from behind, starting the match.
Although Rock had taken the upper hand early on Mankind quickly took control with a ringside brawl. It was then that Vince instructed the referee to disqualify Mankind if that sort of action happened again.
Back in the ring there were numerous great sequences. The People’s Elbow came out early, but the champ was frustrated when Mankind kicked out of the pin.
The challenger regained control a few moments later, but when he held Rock’s legs open and connected with a leg drop to the mid-section Vince ordered the ref to disqualify him. He didn’t get the chance, because Mankind took him down a piledriver.
With no referee in sight the two began to brawl before Rock scored with a rock bottom. He would have got the pin there and then had the referee still be active. Rock then tried to use the situation to his advantage when he called Shane into the ring. But when Shane went to clobber Mankind with the title belt Mankind ducked as the champion took the full force of the blow. He then went for the cover, but there was still no referee.
As Vince looked like he was having kittens at ringside another referee arrived on the scene, and after a few near falls for both men Mankind pulled out Mr. Socko and applied the mandible claw. Rock fought the hold for as long as he could until he passed out. The referee called for the bell, giving Mankind the title win.
Or so we thought. As Mankind celebrated Vince announced to the crowd that titles can only change hands on pitfalls and submissions, and because Rock didn’t tap out and he wasn’t pinned Mankind could keep the win, but not the title.
None too happy with the outcome, Mankind put Socko into Vince’s mouth, and when Shane tried to stop the attack with a chair shot he soon met the same fate. Vince’s stooges Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco then failed to make the save before Ken Shamrock and the Big Boss Man came down for the attack, finally putting Mankind down before the Rock got in a final few stomps.
September 2nd, 1999
Our man now teams with the Rock as they defend the Tag Team titles against WWF Champion Triple H and Shane McMahon on an episode of Smackdown.
The challengers attacked Mankind before the Rock had made his entrance, and although the great one got in a few good shots Trips and his future brother-in-law quickly began to use Mankind as their personal punching bag.
Mankind took a few good shots, but when he applied the mandible claw to Trips McMahon distracted the ref so Chyna could break the hold with a south of the border shot.
Our man managed to make it back to his corner a few moments later, and while Rock took care of Trips in the ring Mankind dealt with McMahon at ringside, and while the referee was distracted trying to stop this particular brawl Billy Gunn raced down to the ring and took Triple H down with the fame-asser. Rock then connected with the people’s elbow to claim the title retaining pin.
December 16th, 1999
It’s another Smackdown encounter as our man takes on Al Snow in a falls count anywhere match.
As far as hardcore brawls go this was pretty good. Snow tried to start the match with a baseball bat shot which Mankind avoided. Said baseball bat soon found itself shattered when Mankind avoided another shot and the bat hit the ring post.
It wasn’t long before further toys were brought into the equation, with Snow’s grapefruits taking quite a bit of damage when Mankind caught them with a pair of tongs before using them for bowling practice.
The action soon spilled to the outside of the ring and beyond, and they soon found themselves brawling backstage and right into what appeared to be the dressing room of D-Generation X. The next thing we saw was Snow flying out of the door, with Mankind crawling out after him to take the three count and pin.
It then emerged that it was actually the Rock’s dressing room, and that he’d taken care of Snow with a couple of chair shots.
February 27th, 2000
It’s the final match of the collection. Mankind is no more, and it’s Cactus Jack that challenges Triple H for the WWF title in a Hell in a Cell match at No Way Out, with the added stipulation that if Cactus lost he’d have to retire.
Remember what I said about the King of the Ring match against the Undertaker? Well, you can put this one in the same category, because like that particular encounter you will probably never see a match like this again.
With Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley watching on from outside the cage these two beat the proverbial out of each other. They clobbered each other with the ring steps and with chairs. They threw each other into the cage fence and drew blood, and that was just the start of things.
When Triple H ducked out of the way of Cactus’ flying ring steps the steps broke a section of the fence as they crashed into it. Moments later our protagonists took the fight to the outside, and after Cactus took the Game down with a piledriver on the announcer’s table he revealed his secret weapon, a two-by-four covered in barbed wire.
Despite Triple H’s pleas he was soon on the receiving end of the aforementioned board before he climbed the cage in order to escape. Cactus was soon following him, throwing the barbed wire board onto the roof as he went. However, just as he was about to reach the top Triple H stopped him, and after slicing open his head with the barbed wire he sent him crashing down onto the Spanish announcer’s table.
It didn’t quite have the same dramatic effect as the King of the Ring incident, but it served it’s purpose. A shocked Triple H looked down at Cactus laying in the wreckage before, and he was even more shocked when Cactus got to his feet and began to climb the cage again.
Once he got there they began to brawl across the roof, and after taking the champion down with a couple of moves Cactus revealed that his barbed wire board had a little added attraction when he set the end on fire. But just when he was about to take Triple H down with a piledriver on the board the Game back dropped him through the roof and almost through the ring below.
Once again the Game looked down at his opponent with a shocked look on his face. Cactus never moved as Triple H climbed down back into the cage, and once again he looked even more shocked when Cactus began to move again. A few right hands from the Game followed before he took Cactus down with the Pedigree. A three count later and he had finally secured the title retaining win, ending Cactus’ career in the process.
Afterwards Cactus refused medical attention and crawled out of the ring before getting back to his feet, and as he walked down the aisle everyone in attendance gave him a standing ovation as he left the arena for what we all thought would be the last time.
In conclusion – after nearly seven hours and four and a half thousand words, we’ve finally reached the end. So what are my final thoughts on this collection, I hear you ask.
As a Foley-mark I was really looking forward to finally reviewing this set, and it certainly delivered big time. From the documentary right through all of the matches it’s a collection worthy of the hardcore legend, and a perfect companion set to the Greatest Hits & Misses collection.
The timeline of the matches are a great example of how Foley’s career evolved, from the proverbial humble beginnings through the many stages and personas of his career right up to his retirement match in 2000, and even though that retirement didn’t last you could still feel the emotion of that “final” match, even after nearly 14 years.
If you’ve still got some of the Christmas money your loved one gave you then I’d suggest getting this collection, because you definitely won’t be disappointed, and to end this thing, let’s give this set the big thumbs up.
With thanks to Fremantle Media and Fetch Publicity for supplying a copy of this release. For All Mankind: The Life and Career of Mick Foley is available to buy online at www.wwedvd.co.uk.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!