When it comes to transitional champions in the world of WWE, Mick Foley is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.
Mick Foley is a WWE Hall of Famer known for giving his all every time he stepped into the ring. Whether it was inside Hell in a Cell in Pittsburgh at the 1998 King of the Ring event or a Tri-State Wrestling Alliance event in a small northeast venue in 1991, Mick Foley believed in giving every paying customer what they deserved. Eventually, his hard work and commitment to the craft made him one of WWE’s top performers during the Attitude Era.
It was during the Attitude Era that Mick Foley would have three runs with the WWE Championship. The runs were never very long. Mick Foley only accumulated 36 Days as the recognized WWE Champion across three title reigns in 1999, but that's okay because now, Mick Foley can call himself the best transitional champion of all time. Mick Foley calls himself “the Bret Hart of transitional champions” during the latest episode of his podcast, Foley is Pod, during a conversation about the pressures that Shawn Michaels faced as WWE Champion in 1996 potentially being a catalyst for his backstage behavior at the time.
“As an in-ring performer, [Shawn Michaels] was just exceptional, just incredible, and if anything, only went on to lay claim for what I say is “the best wrestler of his generation,” which I define by monthly pay-per-views,” says Mick Foley of Shawn Michaels. "Clearly, we were in that generation with the monthly pay-per-views. I never had a cross word with him and all my time with him. I understood that he could be a problem, other people had said that, but I had not experienced that. I think it's a credit to him that he was so open to ideas, he actually welcomed them. Because at the time, the champion was still kind of carrying the company.
“There was a lot of pressure on the champion, pressure that I didn't feel because I was a transitional champion,” Mick Foley continued. “I'll argue that I was the greatest — I was the Bret Hart of transitional champions, right? The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. But I never had to carry the company on my back, whereas Shawn was. There's a lot of mental fatigue that goes into that and if you were the champion, you were out there representing the company at appearances, early morning radio, those types of things. So when we knew we were going to work together, he was really open to outside-the-box ideas.”
Mick Foley still considers his match with Shawn Michaels at WWE In Your House: Mind Games to be the second-favorite match of his career, behind only his match against Randy Orton at WWE Backlash 2004. Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley would never work an extended program beyond that match, having only one more televised match on the August 11, 1997 episode of Monday Night Raw.
It was during that second match that Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna, and “Ravishing” Rick Rude would begin to form what would become D-Generation X. 25 years later, D-Generation X is looking to celebrate 25 years of attitudinal behavior on October 10, 2022, when Monday Night Raw emanates from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more here.
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