Sometimes it takes more than two to tango.
On the latest episode of his Grilling JR podcast, Jim Ross chronicled WWE's hiring of Mick Foley and the introduction of his Mankind character in 1996. The commentator spoke at length about how Vince McMahon was against the idea of bringing him aboard but eventually acquiesced after JR explained why he would be an asset to the company, even if only for a short period of time.
Mick Foley and The Undertaker had been friends before either of them made it to the WWE, and that bond went a long way in easing Vince's apprehensions. JR said the following:
"Oh absolutely, and look, let's not discount the influence that Undertaker had in this whole equation. When Vince saw that one of his most iconic stars, i.e. the Taker, wanted to do this program and he was rejuvenated to a certain degree, that's magic for a promoter. Because now, both men are very much equally invested. Taker was so unselfish, that his job was to get Mick over so that somewhere down the line when the story concluded, that when Taker went over, he would have beaten somebody significant and it would have been a great win."
After weeks of vignettes, Mankind made his in-ring debut on April 1, 1996, the day after WrestleMania XII. He defeated Bob Holly, but more significantly, he was immediately inserted into a feud with The Undertaker. Mankind attacked Taker at the end of the show, hitting him with an elbow drop from off the apron. When asked what Vince's reaction was backstage and if he realized 'Holy, we have something here," JR said this:
"Well, Vince was going to be happy because Taker's going to be happy. You always want to keep your stars happy, if you can. It wasn't the fact that Taker was high maintenance or he needed the attention and all that stuff, no more than any other human being needs attention and a certain level of adulation. So I think everybody involved was happy. I mean, Taker was willing to take that elbow off the apron. Mick was more than willing to give it to him. Nobody, at least in my view, had really done anything that significantly damaging to Taker. You got a 300-plus pound guy jumping off the apron and driving his elbow into the heart of the Deadman, that's pretty strong shit. Again, it takes two to tango -- it actually takes three to tango because you still had to have the blessing, so to speak, of the owner, and the owner, he was all in at that point in time."
Jim Ross referenced his signing of Mick Foley and the positive influence that he felt Mick would bring to the WWE locker room when discussing the positive impact he believes that Christian Cage and Paul Wight will bring to the locker room of All Elite Wrestling. Learn more here.
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