To Hell and back: The oral history of Foley's famous fall

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October 24, 2014

Each and every day, Mick Foley hears the same question from wrestling fans around the globe: “Did it hurt going through that table?” Ever since the fateful night of June 28, 1998, The Hardcore Legend is still feeling the repercussions of being flung from the top of the Hell in a Cell by The Undertaker and plunging to the concrete below. For many spectators – both fans and those in the locker room – the visual of Mankind’s body crashing through the ringside announce table represents the height of ring brutality and still resonates today.

To discuss a moment that defined an era, sat down with Foley, announcer Jim Ross, former referee Tim White and more of the men who experienced WWE’s most punishing match in person. What does the match mean to Mick now? What did the guys in the locker room think? And did it really hurt going through that table?

Watch the famous match in its entirety on WWE Network

View never-before-seen photos of the in-ring action and the aftermath backstage

WWE.COM: When you look at that match now, do you think the moment of you going off the top of the cell defines your career? And if so, do you regret or embrace that?

MICK FOLEY: I feel kind of like Adam West in his views towards being Batman. For so many years, he fought it. Just like for so many years it really felt like I had other matches that were worth talking about that seldom got mentioned. You either go on being frustrated about it or you learn to embrace it. I had a breakthrough moment at the WWE Hall of Fame [Induction Ceremony this year], when I heard the story being told from Terry Funk’s point of view. I came to see that match in a whole new light and I came to better appreciate how much it affected people.

WWE.COM: In your book, “Have a Nice Day,” you mention that your opponent was originally supposed to be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, not The Undertaker. How do you think the match would have been different against Austin? Would the famous fall have ever happened?

FOLEY: Who knows? It may have been a completely different match. At a certain point, [WWE officials] were almost making it a “Thunderdome”-type match like in “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome,” where you would have different objects that would be attached to the cell. There was an idea for some sort of bungee that would allow us to propel ourselves to the top of the cell to allow us to recover the objects.

WWE.COM: Once you knew you were wrestling The Undertaker, you knew you wanted to start the match on top of the cell?

FOLEY: That was Terry Funk’s brainchild. After Terry and I watched the first Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, I looked at Terry and said, “What am I going to do?” I was never really a great cage match wrestler. I didn’t have the athleticism to do a lot of the climbing. I certainly didn’t have any of Shawn Michaels’ athleticism and I did not think I could live up to the standards that they had set. Terry thought about it for a while and said, “It’s going to be tough, but maybe you ought to start the match on top of the cell.” He jokingly mentioned “Hey, maybe you get thrown off and climb back up on top of the cell.” As he was laughing, I said, “I think I can do that.” I wasn’t serious, but at that point I had that seed in my mind and I had a vision of what I wanted to accomplish.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Did that vision include being tossed off by your opponent?

FOLEY: In my original plan, I wanted to drop an elbow off the top of that cage. But that’s not what worked out.

WWE.COM: The mindset of Mick Foley seems to be that you were always trying to top yourself. When you took that fall, did you inadvertently create a moment that was impossible to top?

FOLEY: I think that I created a moment that was impossible to top and I think I created a moment that shouldn’t be topped. [Mr. McMahon] talked about “placing a governor on me” and then explained to me that a governor is a device that does not allow a car to exceed a certain speed.  That governor needed to be placed not only on me, but on other Superstars that wanted to top me. So many of the Superstars want to give people moments that they’ll never forget, but we don’t want to give them moments that could end Superstars’ careers. Mine easily could have ended that night in Pittsburgh.

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