Tag Archives: mick foley

Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania Moments: #8 – Foley Earns His Moment

by Frank Lucci

Welcome to Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania moments! Rather than just create another generic Top 10 list, I will be discussing the greatest moments from WWE’s biggest show of the year and explaining why I consider them the cream of the crop. This is based on in-ring quality, storyline quality, meta quality, as well as my own unique bias. Be prepared to read about triumph, heartbreak, and above all else, some truly unique moments in this unique form of entertainment.

The Moment: Edge Spears Mick Foley through a Flaming Table, WrestleMania XXII

Mick Foley in all his various forms is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. Comparing his work to many greats before and during his peak reveals just how committed he was and how much he suffered for the craft. In the Spaceman’s mind, WWE and much of wrestling is pretty boring to watch until Mankind started throwing himself around violently and adding character depth that just was not in wrestling beforehand. Despite the cardinal sin of looking like a normal person, he managed to reach dizzying heights in the hottest period in WWE history. When he retired from full-time wrestling, Foley left a mark on the industry that few, if any can compete with.

Fast forward to 2006 and Foley was looking for something to cap off his stellar career that had not been completely put in the books (think of it as when older quarterbacks in the NFL get desperate to win the Super Bowl in an attempt to ensure their spot in the Hall of Fame). Thus, Foley was looking for one WrestleMania moment to put him over the edge in terms of being one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. While these days watching him move about can be a depressing sight, this was before the various ailments he has suffered from really caught up to him. It also helps that Foley had a fairly good reputation as somebody who could put over new, emerging talent.

Enter Edge.

Edge is one of those performers who tends to divide people. Depending on who you ask, he is either one of the most overrated wrestlers of all time (detractors claim he won far too numerous world championships in a bad time for the industry) or one of the most underrated (supporters suggest he earned his stripes and was one of the most consistent performers they had for a very long time). I tend to lean towards the latter, but during this time Edge was a wrestler in flux. He was the first person to use the Money in the Bank briefcase to win a world title, but lost it in three weeks. He and Lita sill earned massive heat from the fans for the infamous love triangle with Matt Hardy, but Edge needed to be more than the guy with the fluky title win and the harlot with outfits that would not fly today. Edge needed a big showing at WrestleMania, and this was a match made in heaven.

This being Foley, St. Mick couldn’t just have a regular five star match at the Show of Shows. Instead, he was going to earn it his way with plenty of blood and guts. Foley has said that his hardcore match with Randy Orton is his favorite of all time, and this follows the same story. Despite the Live Sex Celebration getting record ratings, Edge was peeved that Foley was the special referee during his rematch for the championship, so here we are. It’s not the best story, but it works. The video package shows Edge calling Foley a muppet and bashing his head in with chairs, while Mick…cuts himself open, beats up a women, and look like a muppet. Joey Styles joins the commentary booth for this match, because something something ECW! ECW!

The reasoning for this match may be flimsy on the kayfabe side and this match is low stakes in the grand scheme of things, but the meta story of Mick going for his ‘Mania moment and Edge trying to gain traction more than makes up for it. The match itself puts this feud over the top, as we see some spectacular violence that simply will not be seen again anytime soon in WWE. The only thing I would change during the match is the commentary, as Styles makes some uncomfortable references to concussions and there is a general slut shaming vibe from all the commentators.

Once the match starts things get intense quick. One of the images I mentioned earlier that we will never see again is Foley actually jogging, and he is pretty light on his feet despite looking somehow older than he does now in 2017. Some warm up spots (a.k.a. cooking sheets and road signs) leads to the first big spot that is etched in my mind. Edge goes full Goldberg and hits a spear three minutes in, but rolls away in pain as Foley reveals the barbed wire wrapped around him. Edge legitimately squirms around the ring bleeding from the arm as Foley goes from muppet to deranged.

If you think Foley was going to let the younger wrestler take all the punishment you’d be wrong. Foley takes a hip toss into the stairs followed by colliding with them at full speed right at the knee in spots that are much more brutal than the previous hits with road signs. These little bumps are made much worse knowing Foley’s knees and hip were the downfall for him ever being able to move like a healthy human again and really make you appreciate how much Foley gave to wrestling. Almost every move of this match looks like it kills one or both of the wrestlers, even the spots we’ve seen a million times before.

This match is also rife with plant and payoff. The infamous table that leads to the end of the match is out a quarter of the way in, and the bottle of “lighter fluid” (I strongly believe Edge was dousing himself in water for the finale) follows soon after. Seeing this type of logic is welcome in matches that oftentimes just devolve into madness that seems to have no rhyme or reason. Every weapon and spot serves a purpose and it is a credit to the people involved that they planned their match out to this degree.

The carnage continues as we see many spots that would end a match in PG WWE. Piledrivers, barbed wire bat shots to the head and chest, thumbtacks, barbed wire socks to Edge and Lita. By this point, Foley ends up looking like Rambo. His face half covered in blood with a distant look in his eye as Edge looks terrified while his body is subjected to gruesome torture. Although I can see why WWE has avoided these types of matches since going PG, sometimes I wish they would allow other people (besides Brock Lesnar) to get busted open every once in awhile.

We get to the end of the match, with both Mick and Lita putting copious amounts of actual lighter fluid (you can see the second bottle of what I assume was water on the steps) on the table. Foley gets the WrestleMania exclamation point on his career by taking the spear into the flaming table that will live on in ‘Mania montages until the end of time. Edge walks away as the winner looking like the heroine at the end of Hush. This match feels much shorter than the near fifteen minutes it runs due to the quick pace and cornucopia of brutal spots. Easily the best hardcore match in Wrestlemania history and one that served its purpose not only for entertainment, but meta purposes as well. For putting on a true spectacle on a show made to showcase the best of the best, this moment gets number eight on my countdown.

For more of Spaceman Frank’s antics, check out Spacemanfrank.com and listen to our pro wrestling podcast, Manopera!

Why WWE’s Top Heel is the Universal Championship

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The biggest heel in Sports Entertainment today. Credit: WWE.com

To sum it up nicely, this year’s SummerSlam had way more valleys than peaks.

One of the deepest of those valleys was the reveal of the WWE Universal Championship, in addition to the odd placement of the match that would crown the first participant to hold that title – Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor. Besides the winner not being able to hold the title for a complete day due to an injury that would occur as a result of Rollins’ running turnbuckle powerbomb on the barricade (which should be banned as it has cut Balor’s career short while ending Sting’s completely), the title was rejected by the fans immediately. Instead of paying attention to the match, fans were focused on expressing their displeasure for the newborn belt with chants of “This belt sucks,” “Heeeyyy, we want a new belt” and even the TNA inspired “Delete.”

WWE’s reaction to the fans’ reaction, is of course, bitter – and who could blame them? They named the title after their fans – the WWE Universe. Unfortunately, what they didn’t realize was that in doing this, the WWE did what they haven’t been able to do in a very long time: create a legitimate top heel. How did they perform this often unachievable feat in an era where kayfabe is dead?

Pretty easily.

Exhibit A – The Design Is Lazy

First things first. When the title was announced the name choice, while not the best, is something fans are slowly getting used to as the logic behind the titles title made sense. With a name like the Universal Championship, fans speculated as to what it could look like. Will it have a globe on it? Could it hearken back to the days of older titles? They wouldn’t make it spin again, would they?

Instead, we got none of those things. What we did get was the same exact plates of the WWE Championship with a red strap (you know, so we didn’t forget which title was on Raw).

The design itself is boring, uninspired, and lazy. Rather than a fresh new look for a fresh new belt, The Universal Championship’s lackluster template comes off as a cheap imitation of something we already have (that we already weren’t too fond of to begin with). If the idea was to change straps all along, why not just put a blue strap on the WWE Championship, call it the SmackDown Championship and instead name the Universal title the Raw Championship? It would have made more sense both name and design name-wise. Seeing as SmackDown went that route for their Tag Team titles, it seems as if the idea had already been taken into consideration, but executed elsewhere.

A better thought: take a good look at the best looking titles; the two Women’s Championships. While both straps are white, the negative space is filled in with brand specific jewels – red for Raw’s and blue for SmackDown Live’s version. Although the designs to all heavyweight championships are identical, the extra miles gone to separate the women’s belts look great. Why not do the same for the men’s heavyweight titles but with black straps? It would have at least shown effort and continuity, things we barely get on WWE programming (NXT, on the other hand…).

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A much better design for both titles. Credit: UltraAimG/Cleveland.com

Exhibit B – The Presentation Was Awful

While the build was initially not bad with two Fatal Four-Way matches, a singles match between the two winners and a match against handpicked contender Seth Rollins, it didn’t keep the fans eyes on the prize. Over the next few weeks, WWE slowly started to show us that even if Roman Reigns isn’t in the main event, he’s still in the main event. Rather than revolve the last segment of every three-hour Raw around the Rollins/Balor title match, we instead got Reigns and Rusev or Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton in that spot.

The Universal Championship hadn’t even been officially called up to the main roster and it was already floundering in the midcard.

Lesnar is a special attraction, but when you’re trying to introduce your new biggest championship to your audience, you don’t make him top priority – especially after said special attraction was caught doping after his now unrecognized UFC victory against Mark Hunt.

This goes triple for Reigns, who continues to be booed out of the building no matter where he is on the card.

It also doesn’t help that there was barely any interaction between Balor and Rollins. Aside from the initial encounter and Balor awakening The Demon King, there was nothing. Just vignettes that while good, didn’t carry the build by themselves. We really needed those in-ring segments with both competitors there to make this title feel like a big deal – and they had to go on last. It is very important that your Heavyweight Championship interactions go on last – even when they don’t revolve around John Cena.

When the big day finally arrived, there had been no contract signing, no title hype and more importantly, no unveiling ceremony for the star of the match that should have gone on last. Even on the big show, the title was again shuffled down the card in favor of Reigns and Lesnar – who’s matches were a) for lesser championships or none at all and b) had no legitimate finish (heck, Reign’s match didn’t even officially start). What happened was a casual uncovering of the brand new belt right before the match. It was essentially WWE telling it’s universe, “Here’s you go, don’t you like it?” like a relative who gets a seven year-old clothes for Christmas.

With hype like that, what did they think was going to happen? But it gets worse. Like Jesus Christ, the Universal Championship was betrayed by one of it’s own before being condemned by its many followers.

Exhibit C – WWE Told Us Not to Like it

In the month leading up to the red belt of disaster’s debut, all SmackDown Live did was trash the title.

Brand Manager Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan poked fun at the Universal Championship’s name every second they got, both on and off-screen. From jabs in interviews saying it should be called the” Galaxy Championship” because a galaxy is bigger than a universe to tweeting mock designs in the form of a giant “U” with a strap (which actually looks better) to lambasting the title on TV, SmackDown basically told us the title was stupid from the get-go.

The idea was to create a sense of competition between brands, but this can only work if the new design blows everyone’s expectations out of the water. Since this was obviously not the case as evidenced by Exhibit A, the plan backfired completely. In Exhibit B, WWE showed us that despite being Raw’s new main title and that the crowning of its first champion would take place at SummerSlam, it still had less importance than both the United States title (which is considered the SECONDARY championship) and a beast that cheated in a legitimate sport when he didn’t have to. Finally, in Exhibit C, WWE goes on to tell us it doesn’t mean anything and we should treat it as such.

But it’s the fans that are in the wrong.

Conclusion

Was the WWE Universes behavior disrespectful? Absolutely. Balor and Rollins put on a stellar bout and should not have been overshadowed by a mediocre title. The problem is that it’s not the just the Universal Championship’s concept that caused fans to riot in their seats. It’s the overall carelessness that went into the belt, its match placement and overall booking itself that really did the damage.

At the end of the day, no matter how much WWE wants to blame smarks, the IWC and the rest of their “beloved” Universe, Mick Foley (who used to agree with the internet and slam the company on a regular basis before he and his family suddenly started working there), Vince McMahon and the rest of his glad-handing “Yes” men have no one to blame for The Passion of the Universal Championship but themselves.

Manopera! Episode 15: ‘Mania Week Part 2 – WrestleMania 32 SuperShow

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What did Chris and “Spaceman” Frank think of ‘Mania 32 and the aftermath on Raw? Find out in the second and final part of this leviathan podcast as they are joined by Nicholas Jason Lopez of ProWrestlingOpinion.com.