Sunday, 16 September 2007

Mick Foley's Greatest Hits & Misses - DVD Review

To say that Mick Foley is one of the most popular wrestlers of all time wouldn’t be an understatement, and two years ago, the WWE paid tribute to Foley’s career by letting him pick some of his favourite matches for this two disc compilation, Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits & Misses. Hosted by the man himself, it takes in matches from WCW, ECW, SMW, and, of course, WWE.

We begin with an edition of WCW Saturday Night in April ‘93, as Cactus Jack faces Big Van Vader. This isn’t actually the version of the match that made it onto WCW television, as they had a strict policy about blood in their matches back then. This is an example of Vader at his best, as these two literally beat the crap out of each other, and Cactus gets busted open by Vader’s stiff shots to the face. It’s an extremely brutal match which Cactus wins by count-out, having taken a big bump on the guard rail outside. Afterwards, Vader goes ballistic.

Forward a year to WCW Spring Stampede ‘94, as Cactus teams with Maxx Payne to go up against the Nasty Boys in a Chicago Street Fight. It’s a brawl that takes in an entire arena, and we get to see early examples of table work after Payne slams Knobs through a souvenirs stand. It’s hardcore before hardcore became fashionable, with rubbish bins, more tables and shovels used, with Saggs getting the pin on Cactus after pushing him off the stage, and then clobbering him with the aforementioned shovel.

Two months later, Cactus Jack journeys to ECW’s Hostile City Showdown to take on Sabu, the first ever meeting of the two hardcore icons. It’s a hell of a match as the two brawl all around the ECW Arena, and Sabu puts Cactus through two tables. The end came when Paul Heyman clobbered Cactus with his phone as he came down on Sabu with an avalanche in the corner, with Sabu getting the groggy cover. All hell then breaks loose as Heyman, 911 and various others try to take Cactus out, and Cactus and Sabu continue their arena wide brawl, with Cactus getting put through a third table.

Cactus then travels to Smokey Mountain Wrestling in November ‘94 to take on Chris Candido. It’s a short match here, lasting under ten minutes, but packed with great action, an example of how Candido was a great wrestler. Cactus got the win in this one after a DDT, but the action continued as Tammy Sytch sprayed something in Jack’s eyes, and Brian Lee came down and saved him from a beating.

Three months later, and Mick’s headed back to ECW, facing the Sandman in a Texas Death Match in February ‘95. In his commentary before Foley describes this one as a train wreck, mainly because the Sandman gets knocked out early on and is basically out on his feet throughout the entire match. You can see the frustration on Jack’s face when the Sandman keeps getting up, having forgotten the planned finish, and Cactus only gets the win after a third DDT on the floor, with Sandman failing to beat the ten count.

Then it’s forward to ECW November 2 Remember ‘95, as Cactus teams with Raven against Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer. It’s a weapons filled brawl here as all four men bleed for the cause with the toys flying all over the place, with the referee taking a few hits for good measure, and after nearly fifteen minutes of brutality, Funk got the pin on Raven after Dreamer took him out with a DDT.

The last match on disc one takes us to ECW’s Big Ass Extreme Bash in March ‘96, with Cactus facing Mikey Whipwreck in his final ECW match. The plucky underdog and the hardcore legend put on a great contest with plenty of action that takes in the entire ECW Arena, a match worthy of Jack’s final bow in ECW, with Jack getting the win, and a standing ovation, after a piledriver in the middle of the ring.

The disc one extras are many and plentiful, and include two of the greatest promos Mick has ever given, the Cane Dewey and anti-hardcore speeches, as well as three matches, against Sting at WCW Beach Blast ‘92, a re-match with Sabu in ECW in ‘94, and his first ever WWE match, teaming with Les Thornton against the British Bulldogs in ‘86.

Moving on to disc two, which consists entirely of WWE matches, and we begin with Mankind facing Shawn Michaels for the WWE title at Mind Games in September ‘96. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this match, a match Mick rates as his best ever, and rightfully so. This match has everything, with over twenty minutes of great action by two wrestlers in their prime, with neither able to put the other out of the way, no matter what they tried, with Michaels getting the win when Vader tried to interfere, only for Psycho Sid to send him running, with the Undertaker then appearing from the casket at ringside to attack Mankind.

A year later, Cactus Jack makes a return on an edition of Raw to face Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a falls count anywhere match. It’s an all-out brawl all around Madison Square Garden, with Chyna getting in a few shots as well, with Cactus getting the win by pile driving Helmsley through a table on the stage.

Forward to Raw in April ‘98, as Mick wrestles under his own name for the first time, taking on Terry Funk in a no holds barred match. The two best friends beat the hell out of each other, fighting all over the arena, and not holding anything back before Foley eventually gets the win after pile driving the Funker onto a steel chair.

A few weeks later, Dude Love returns to challenge Steve Austin for the WWE title at Over the Edge, with Vince McMahon as special referee, and with the Undertaker also at ringside to make sure everything is above board. This is probably Dude Love’s finest hour, as with McMahon changing the rules as the match went on, Austin faced an uphill battle in retaining his title in a brutal contest with a great build-up and great dream throughout. With the Undertaker making sure the stooges Brisco and Patterson don’t have their way, and after McMahon takes a stray Dude Love chair shot, Austin takes him out with a stunner, using McMahon’s limp hand to make the count.

Just one month later, Mankind returns in THAT match, at King of the Ring ‘98, Hell in a Cell against the Undertaker. With Mankind’s two massive bumps off the top of the cage, and the sheer brutality of the match itself, it’s both compelling and difficult to watch at the same time, because we all know just how much Mick suffered through all of this. As well as bumps off the cage, there’s two more bumps onto a pile of thumb tacks, before the Undertaker finished Mankind off with the tombstone. This may be Mick Foley’s greatest moment, but it could also be his most brutal.

We move forward to Raw in January ‘99, as Mankind faces the Rock for the WWE title, in a no disqualification match, with members of D-Generation X and the Corporation at ringside. No matter what the Rock does, Mankind keeps fighting back, and almost gets the win with the mandible claw, until Ken Shamrock comes into the ring and clobbers him with a chair. All hell then breaks loose, as DX and the Corporation brawl, and Steve Austin hit’s the ring, clobbers Rock with a chair, and places Mankind on the fallen Rock for the winning pinfall and first title victory.

Finally, we go forward to year to the 2000 Royal Rumble, as Triple H defends the WWE title against Cactus Jack in a street fight. As with the Hell in a Cell match, it’s brutal, but compelling as well, as Cactus and Triple H throw everything at each other in what was probably the best match of their series. Triple H wears the crimson mask, as well as getting a deep cut on his calf after Cactus suplexed him onto two wooden pallets. The Rock also makes an appearance, as does a barbwire bat and thousands of thumb tacks, before a second pedigree, this time on the tacks, earns Triple H the title retaining victory, and after everything that’s happened, Cactus attacks the champion as he’s taken away on a stretcher, eventually attacking him with the barbwire bat again.

Sadly, the disc two extras don’t include any extra matches, but tons of skits, including the birth of Mr. Socko, and the trip to Las Vegas with Al Snow.

In conclusion - it’s always the case with these kind of compilations that matches you’d love to see aren’t included, but my disappointment didn’t last long when I saw what matches were included here. With a couple of exceptions, most notably the ECW bout against the Sandman, each bout left me feeling pleased at having watched It. As for our host, Mick’s insights and personal thoughts on the matches really added to the overall feel of this collection, something that is somewhat lacking from other WWE collections of this kind. So if, like me, you’re a huge Mick Foley fan, no matter what persona he adopts, then this collection is for you.