Mick Foley was never meant to succeed in WWE.
Signed at the repeated behest of Jim Ross, Foley was someone who it was believed wouldn’t work in the bright lights of WWE. According to Ross, it took three try-outs, and Vince McMahon only relenting as he wanted Ross to know what it was like for a talent to break his heart to even sign Foley.
However, despite the scepticism, Foley went on to become one of the most beloved stars in the history of the business.
Prior to joining WWE, Foley had wrestled on nails and barbed wire in Japan, through the chaos of ECW while showing total disregard for his own safety in WCW. It was this version of Foley that McMahon looked upon less than favourably.
Recalling his thoughts on Foley prior to signing him on the new A&E Biography Special dedicated to ‘Mrs Foley’s Baby Boy,’ McMahon said that he thought he “didn’t have any talent.”
“I thought it was kind of degrading to our product. I thought he didn’t have any talent. I thought it was déclassé,”
Despite McMahon’s reservations, Foley began to connect with the WWE audience. Something the WWE Chairman admits that he didn’t initially appreciate.
“Mick always had that connection with the audience and I never really saw before he came here. I thought, ‘Boy, We’re never going to hire that guy,’ but he did. He had that connection and very few people have that.”
After signing with WWE in 1996, Mick Foley immediately started a feud with The Undertaker. It was a feud which would last for years, reaching a terrifying flash point at the 1998 King of the Ring. With The Hell In A Cell Match between the two now the stuff of legend, as Foley was thrown from the top of the steel structure.
Reflecting on the match, McMahon said that he thought the former Cactus Jack had gone too far.
“Everyone was freaked out, including me. This was too far. This was like, wait a minute. You’ve set yourself on fire in Japan or whatever he did, but this was moreover on my watch,”
While it was an incident that may not have endeared him to Vince McMahon, the match ensured that the Mick Foley legend will live forever.
Foley’s journey with WWE culminated in winning the WWE Championship in early 1999, before going on to the win the belt on two more occasions.
Following his retirement, Mick Foley was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.