Mick Foley eventually became one of the top WWE Superstars, but he first had to gain the trust of Vince McMahon, which he managed quite easily.
The early history between Mick Foley and Vince McMahon isn’t much of a secret. Simply put, the WWE boss didn’t envision Foley as someone who would fit his product. It was only after persuasion from Jim Ross that ‘The Hardcore Legend’ was signed to the then-World Wrestling Federation in the first place.
Mick Foley did, however, manage to eventually gain the trust of Vince, hence why he has three WWF Championship reigns to his name. To do so, Foley didn’t have to undergo any sort of maniacal act to earn his trust but rather, he simply agreed to a handshake deal with McMahon.
The former Cactus Jack detailed this on his Foley Is Pod show, alleging that he found a supporter in Vince McMahon just by agreeing to his initial WWE deal being operated without a contract:
“Um, both things [WWE and ECW] could have happened. Yeah, you know, both things could. I would argue that I believe it was always the plan to come out the day after ‘Mania. They weren’t in a rush. I had to, and another thing is I had said to Vince, that I wanted to finish my commitments in Japan.
He said, ‘Have you signed a contract?’ I said, ‘No’. He looked at me, said, ‘So, you want to do dates based on a handshake and not a contract?’ I said that, ‘Yes. If I could.’ [Vince said] ‘That’s the type of man I want to work for me.’ Because at that point, he’d had a lot of departures, guys that he probably thought would never leave. And so I think he liked the idea of someone who was sticking to his word based on a handshake.”
Debuting his legendary Mankind persona the night after WrestleMania XII, Mick Foley went on to become one of the pillars of the Attitude Era. He enjoyed classic matches and feuds against The Rock, Triple H, and The Undertaker, among others, alongside a series of unforgettable skits and segments.
Mick Foley continued, explaining how he transitioned from a packed wrestling schedule in ECW, WCW, and tours of Japan to wrestling exclusively for Vince McMahon:
“So I would, I continued to do the Japanese tours. I continued to do to ECW but now I took the steam off of WCW as part of my anti-hardcore gimmick, because I went from the ‘Forgive me, Uncle Eric’ airbrushed shirt, which was a classic, The Dungeon of Doom, you know, because that was like the antithesis of what ECW fans wanted.
And then when, you know, of course, the ECW fans would know before anyone [when] the word got out, I was heading to WWF. And I don’t think I was forbidden from mentioning it because we did incorporate it into the character. And so instead of ‘Forgive me, Uncle Eric’, I had the ‘WWF and F t-shirt. And I started talking about WWF. So it was known that I was going on.”
Mick Foley’s last encounter before joining the World Wrestling Federation took place on 9 March 1996, as he defeated Mikey Whipwreck at ECW’s Big Ass Extreme Bash event. His final tour of Japan followed a couple of weeks after he made his official WWF debut, though a handful of other one-off matches in Japan occurred throughout the year as well.
If you use any quotes from this article, please provide a link back and h/t to Inside the Ropes.