When you think of Mick Foley‘s long and storied professional wrestling career, you likely think of two things. The first is the incredible punishment that Foley put his body through as a wrestler. His style was designed to be one with no loopholes, to never look fake because it wasn’t. Everything that looked like it hurt, did. Foley gave his body to his art in a way that few if any were willing or able to do. That sacrifice reached its crescendo at the 1998 King of the Ring pay-per-view when Foley was thrown off the Hell in a Cell by the Undertaker in one of the most iconic images in wrestling history.
The second thing people think about Mick Foley is his skill on the microphone. From his incredible promos as Cactus Jack in ECW and Japan, to his earnest reaction as Mankind to “Foley is God” signs in the crowd, to his late career promos where he’s just Mick; Foley has always had a way of connecting with the audience on a deeper level. A master of knowing when to turn it on and off, he was funny, too.
This Tuesday, Mick Foley is bringing the safer half of his legend to Turner Hall for a live stand-up/spoken word/storytelling show. Foley will look back on his experiences and life on the road with WWE, WCW, TNA, and ECW. Milwaukee Record spoke with the Hardcore Legend before the show about wrestling in Milwaukee, having his teeth thrown in the crowd, the A&E Biography special on his life, what to expect from the live show, and his opener, Dolph Ziggler.
Milwaukee Record: I couldn’t start this without mentioning what a lot of people think is the best match of your career that happened in Milwaukee. No disqualification match against Steve Austin at the Over The Edge PPV in ’98. You guys were all over that arena, do you have any specific memories of that match?
Mick Foley: Oh, sure. First of all, nice of you to say a lot of people think that way. I just said it last night when I was asked about my most underrated matches or a lost classic. I appreciate those who do remember it so fondly. It was definitely a great night.
I remember thinking to myself, for some reason WWE was allowing us to do occasional independent shows and I did one in Ohio the night before. I drove through most of the night to make it to Milwaukee. That’s not the way you should be preparing to wrestle Stone Cold Steve Austin because he’s like a machine. So, I remember wondering how in the world I was going to pull this off, but we did. I remember it was a wild match and I remember Steve throwing my partial flipper out to the crowd like it was a foul ball at a baseball game, but definitely one of my favorite matches.
MR: To do a drive like that and then get thrown onto a car, that probably wasn’t the best idea.
Foley: No, no, I was angry at myself for making such a bad decision. For the life of me I don’t know what I was doing wrestling Brian Knobbs in Ohio the night before I wrestled Steve Austin in the main event of a pay-per-view.
MR: I was looking through some of your other matches in Milwaukee and this one really stuck out. At the Clash Of The Champions #22 in 1993, you teamed up with Dustin Rhodes and Sting. How do you feel now when both of those guys are still wrestling on TV and you’re long retired?
Foley: [laughs] I didn’t really think about that. I’ve been retired, I haven’t been a full-time wrestler for 21 years, I haven’t had a match since 2012. I mean, it’s great that they’re still active, but I’m staying active in my own way. We all tell stories whether it’s in the ring or, in my case, I tell them on stage. Everyone’s happy that everyone’s doing what they enjoy doing, including myself.
MR: Speaking of WCW, one of the big moments in your career that was probably awful at the time, but ultimately turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to you was your release from WCW. Releases are coming a little too often these days.
Foley: Well, Vince, I didn’t get released. I gave my notice.
MR: Oh, okay, I’m sorry about that.
Foley: I mean, there may be…I know Eric Bischoff has said he released me, but he didn’t. I gave my notice two months early and went out. We, Kevin Sullivan and I, won the titles a month or so before I left. Then I had a nice little program on the way out. Look, when you lose an ear in wrestling and the powers that be can’t work a storyline behind what is basically a gift from the wrestling gods, it’s time to go and if I hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have enjoyed that great run with WWE that I had.
MR: Do you see parallels between yourself doing that and people like Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson most recently who bet on themselves like you did?
Foley: Yeah, yeah. I think, well, in their cases they had jobs secured and lined up. In my case, I was kind of entering the great wild of the wide open with the independent world and going to Japan, the wild world of IWA wrestling in Japan. But I think everyone needs to go where they feel like they’ll be given the best chance to fulfill their potential.
MR: You’re coming to Milwaukee for the live show. I know you’ve been here before and you’re doing Turner Hall this time. What can people expect if they’re on the fence about going to this show?
Foley: I usually outperform people’s expectations. It’s a really fun night, a trip down memory lane. I don’t think very many people leave wishing they had not attended. I think people have big smiles on their face and they remember it as something they’re really happy they took part in. I take pride in everything I do. I think we’re having really good shows every night. I don’t know what to tell people who are on the fence. If they’re on the fence, get off it. I probably won’t be back in the area doing shows for a number of years, so I hope they make that decision. It’s a really fun show.
MR: You also had a big thing this year with your A&E Biography episode that came out really well. WWE does these documentaries about the legends of the past and you’re always one of the best subjects. You’ve done the DVDs, how do you keep somehow topping yourself when you do these? Every one seems to get better.
Foley: That was my question for the director: how do you tell a story that I thought had already been told really well in WWE’s For All Mankind DVD and in my books as well, and the director convinced me he had a unique way of telling the story. We were all really happy with the outcome.
A few people on the crew felt like it was the best work they’d been involved with and I believe that this is the one WWE documentary that the directors will attempt to nominate for a Sports Emmy. That doesn’t mean it will be nominated, but they think that highly of it, so I’m really flattered.
MR: Before you go I should ask you about your opener, Dolph Ziggler. How did that come about?
Foley: Dolph’s a real student of stand-up comedy, he does it every chance he can get. He was supposed to do a couple shows with me a year and a half ago, and obviously that didn’t happen because of COVID. When we connected about what shows he might be able to do this was the only one he could fit into his schedule. I was like, “Dolph, are you sure you want to come out for one show?” He’s gotta take care of his own hotel and his flight, but he loves it. He wants to be part of it.
It’s going to make it a really unique show. Dolph’s going to do a great set, I have a good friend named Alia Janine who will be the host. She grew up in Milwaukee so she’s coming back to visit friends and family. It will be a really special show for me.
Dolph will do a great set on his own. You know, he does stand-up comedy. It won’t necessarily be about—I probably shouldn’t say that because that’s more of a deterrent to say, people want to hear wrestling stories—but he does a great job and he’ll join me for the Q&A and I’m really excited to have him on the bill.