The John Report: Why Mick Foley’s WWE Return Needs to Happen

The John Report: Why Mick Foley’s WWE Return Needs to Happen
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport



On the May 12th edition of TNA Impact (not yet known as Impact Wrestling), Mick Foley was introduced as the babyface “Network Representative” to combat the evil heels Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff that were running the show in Total Nonstop Action wrestling. Foley cut a fired up promo against Hogan while the crowd cheered for everything he said. Three weeks later, on the June 2nd edition of Impact Wrestling (taped last Monday) Foley was fired by the Network. Apparently that’s the last we’ll see of Foley in TNA.

“I pushed hard for changes I felt would benefit Impact Wrestling. I can understand how some would interpret that as difficult to work with.” – Mick Foley via Twitter (@RealMickFoley) Sunday June 5, 2011 at 11:17am ET.

The word came out this week that Foley’s TNA deal was going to be up in September, but that he asked for a release and it’s only a matter of time until he’s contractually free from TNA. He wrote on his Twitter on Sunday night “I don’t work there” in reference to TNA. I’m not writing this to bury TNA. If they have creative differences with Foley then so be it. Frankly, the TNA creative team has a lot of issues and they’re the main reason why TNA’s TV ratings have stayed at 1.1 every week for several years now. They’re also why their PPVs get about 10,000 buys a month, which is a money loser for them. That column can be written another time and at some point soon I will write it, but for now I’ll focus on Foley.

If you’re not familiar with the incredible work that Foley has done with the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) organization check out the recent works that my TJR colleagues Jacob Lindsey and Andrew Johnson (twice in fact) did about him. I share the same opinion as them when they talk about the kind of classy man that Foley is. I respect Foley as much as anybody I’ve ever followed in the history of the wrestling business. He’s a father of four that has done a lot of charity work through the years specifically for children. As much as I love Foley the man, it’s Foley the performer that I’ve always been a huge fan of.

What could Foley do in WWE? A lot. He’s one of the most versatile performers in the history of the business. We have to be realistic, though. He’s turning 46 years old this week (on Tuesday to be exact), his list of injuries is long and he retired as a full time performer 11 years ago at age 35 because of all the pain he went through during his in ring career. Of course he did wrestle a handful of times in WWE (memorable feuds with Randy Orton and Edge come to mind) and throughout his three years in TNA he wrestled a bit too, even winning the TNA World Title. Some of his TNA run was really good. I really enjoyed his heel run against Sting, which was the focus of his very good Countdown to Lockdown book. Half of his TNA run was before the Hogan-Bischoff era. Half of it was after they got there. Guess what part was better? Before Hogan and Bischoff got there, of course.

The last run for Foley in WWE came as a color commentator on the Smackdown brand. He did the job from April 2008 to August 2008. I always thought he was pretty good at it and was likely to become great at it over time, but it wasn’t an easy job either. As he talked about following his departure from WWE, it was tough to get used to all the yelling that Vince McMahon would do in his ear. Foley has money. He doesn’t NEED the job, but pro wrestling is all he’s ever wanted to do since he was a kid and his heart will always be in it.

Odds that Foley comes back to WWE this year? I’d say very likely. A 90% chance at least. That’s the percent of fans he said told him to come back, according to a Twitter post. I think there’s definitely a part of Foley that still has that itch and it’s likely that he’ll want to add another chapter to the book that has been his life in WWE since he started there in 1996.

Now what’s the WWE role that most people would look at for Foley to fill? The GM of Raw, of course. I’ve had people on my Facebook page talk about how unrealistic it would be for Foley to be in the spot because people know that he was in TNA. Do they? Look at TNA’s audience. It’s small. You also have to credit WWE for never mentioning them or acknowledging them in any way. When Christian came back they never said where he was. When Booker T. came back they never said where he was. And why should they? They have nothing to do with them. In TNA they always seem to mention WWE, which only hurts their own product.

The anonymous GM “character” has been on Raw since June 21, 2010. We are coming up to the one year anniversary of that announcement by Vince McMahon. Wouldn’t it be nice if, one of these weeks, they announce that the GM will be in the building? Then they hype it up huge for two or three weeks saying it’s a “name from the past” or something to that effect. Then the car crashes, the music starts up and there’s a smiling Mick Foley rocking the flannel shirt to take the role as General Manager of Raw.

With Raw ratings staying stagnant in the low 3’s, a guy like Foley being in charge of things could add some freshness to it. Yes, I know it’s a little weird to say that an overweight man in his mid 40s with horrible fashion sense (hey, he would laugh at that!) would add freshness to a show, but it’s true. The role of legends on a wrestling show are vital because they “give the rub” to the younger talent. With the likes of Michaels, Undertaker and Triple H missing in action from WWE TV there is no legendary name on the show every week. Yes, WWE caters to kids and teenagers, but there are older fans out there (the parents of the kids, namely) that wouldn’t mind seeing a familiar face once in a while.

If the GM role doesn’t work they could always give him a contract similar to what Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart have where they show up every once in a while. It’s the legends role. Maybe he can work an angle or two, or maybe he’ll just be on the show sporadically. If there’s another season of Tough Enough maybe he could be one of the trainers along with Austin. Either way, to have him under the WWE umbrella again would be a great thing for WWE. Plus, with all the charity work he does it’s not a bad thing for WWE to help promote it and spread the word out even more for a good cause whether it’s RAINN or something else close to Foley’s heart. If he didn’t love announcing then keep him away from it. They have others to fill that role. He’s a man of many gifts, so if you have him at your disposal you should use him.

Personally I’d love for Foley to work on the creative team or as a backstage agent because he’s one of the smartest men in the history of wrestling. Does he need to do all that? No. I don’t think he wants to travel all that much. That’s why his role as the Raw GM would work because it would only be a once a week travel schedule, he’d make decent money and he’d be able to promote whatever charitable work he is done. On top of that, he’s an above average talker that will put over the talent on the show rather than himself.

To me the value of Mick Foley in WWE in 2011 is very high. The show could benefit from him in a great way from the moment his music hits. His best run as an authoritative figure was as the commissioner in 2000. That was 11 years ago. There’s a freshness to it should he be placed in the GM role.

There is something else that has to be on Foley’s mind as he contemplates a WWE return: the WWE Hall of Fame. He’s obviously a Hall of Famer. I’m sure there are some wondering if he is on good terms with WWE. I’m pretty sure that he is considering they plugged his book, Countdown to Lockdown, on WWE TV as well as their website where they did an interview with him. I bet there’s a part of Vince McMahon that regrets the fact that Foley ever left in the first place and he wants to make things right. The feeling’s likely mutual. Apparently McMahon donated money for Foley’s RAINN campaign as well, which is not only a great thing for a worthy cause, but shows how close they might be. It will be cool to see Mick honored at the Hall of Fame whether it’s as soon as next year in Miami or down the road. He deserves all the accolades based on the work he’s done in the ring as well as outside the ring as a representative of the wrestling business.

Come back home to World Wrestling Entertainment, Mick. The fans miss you. Did I say fans? I meant WWE Universe. Remember that when you’re in the ring cutting a promo. Don’t want to say a bad word on television. No matter what you call us I think you sincerely miss us too. You may not NEED WWE and WWE may not NEED you, but we all know that together you’re better than you are apart. As an author you know that every happy story needs a strong ending. It’s time to write yours, Mr. Foley.

On behalf of the dozens…and dozens of Mick Foley fans we hope to see you soon.

Oh and one more thing…

Have a Nice Day! (I had to end this on a cheap pop. Had to!)

John Canton – [email protected]
Twitter @johnreport

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