Jim Ross has discussed one of the most unique matches in WWE history – the Boiler Room Brawl between Mankind and The Undertaker that took place at SummerSlam 1996.
Mick Foley debuted for WWE the night after WrestleMania 12 and soon began a feud with Undertaker. After months of attacking one another, the two men met at the August pay-per-view. Mankind had been seen in backstage vignettes in the darkness of the boiler rooms of buildings, leading to the unusual venue for the match.
Jim Ross, discussing Mick Foley’s first year in WWE on his Grilling JR podcast discussed the match. JR noted that he wasn’t sure how successful it would be. Most of the match been pre-recorded with the two competitors finishing the bout in the ring in front of the live audience.
“It was a unique match, it’s hard to judge a match in this environment, in this particular structure, like you would a normal wrestling match. So the uniqueness of it was certainly significant.”
“I had my doubts about how successful it was going to be because so much of it was hidden from the live audience. It’s awfully hard for your fans in attendance, who you’re counting on to make a lot of noise, to really get boisterous and invested when they can’t see what’s going on except on the Titantron. I was a little bit worried about that, only because of the length of time. Apparently, the length of time that we were going to be in the dark, or in the Boiler Room. I was wary about that, I was not wary about how well that Mark [Undertaker] and Mick [Foley] were going to work. We already seen they had great chemistry – they were going to do fine. I was more worried about the presentation of it and how it segregated the audience from the action, I thought that might be an issue.”
Jim Ross continued, commenting on the pain both men must have gone through in the hardcore rules match. Ross also commented on the stunning finish that saw Undertaker’s long-time manager Paul Bearer turn his back on the Deadman.
“I thought it was unique – look, I have so much respect for these dudes. They’re doing these things, there’s not an easy bump in the whole Goddamn thing. You’re landing on concrete or you’re getting bumped into steel. I use this a lot in AEW, and that’s the fact that inanimate objects aren’t great tag-team partners – it hurts. And those guys paid the price to hurt and suffer through it and get it done.”
“I think it was a finish nobody saw coming – I mean ‘Taker losing. It was two big match-type scenarios. I don’t think anybody called that one. And they certainly did not call Paul Bearer changing jerseys and going with Mankind and leaving Undertaker. I had some apprehensions, but not because of the talents; simply because of how the match was structured and how long that these two cats were going to be in the Boiler Room.”
Jim Ross has also recently discussed the most unwelcome he ever felt in WWE.