To commemorate the most celebrated break-through moments of each passing year, the WWE Universe takes in the Slammy Awards annually. Yet, with WWE’s Extreme Rules right around the corner, WWE.com offers up its “extreme” take on WWE awards, presenting the first Hardcore Honors.
No boring acceptance speeches here, folks. Just pure, extreme action.
Most Extreme Masochist – Mick Foley
To those members of the WWE Universe unfamiliar with his storied career inside the ring, the approachable, easygoing demeanor of Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy may very well give the impression of a friendly uncle, not a masochist.
Yet, with more than 20 years of barbed wire brawls and chaotic, fiery incidents under his belt, there are very legitimate reasons why the former Cactus Jack/Mankind/Dude Love is reverentially referred to in wrestling circles to as “The Hardcore Legend.”
Now years removed from active competition, the scars on Foley’s body tell the story of an underdog-made-good. Lacking many of the physical attributes of his grappling peers, Foley more than made up for any perceived lack of cosmetic appeal with his relentless work ethic and unearthly ability to stop at nothing – even an ear-detaching run-in with ring ropes in Germany – to reach the top.
Foley has actually long since dismissed the notion that he actively enjoys pain. However, when you consider the back cover of his first book, New York Times bestseller “Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks,” maps out Foley’s body by injury, you have to wonder.
Most Extreme Promo – CM Punk’s “Pipe Bomb”
Perhaps no interview turned WWE on its head more than WWE Champion CM Punk’s infamous “Pipe Bomb” incident from the June 27, 2011, edition of Raw SuperShow. ( WATCH)
Sitting legs crossed on the stage as his Money in the Bank opponent John Cena lay writhing in pain in the ring, Punk embarked on a five-minute diatribe that sought to tear down the WWE institution, starting at the top.
“I've grabbed so many of Vincent K. McMahon’s imaginary brass rings that it’s finally dawned on me that they're just that: They're completely imaginary. The only thing that’s real is me.”
While threatening to dethrone then-WWE Champion Cena and leave WWE with the gold in his hands, Punk vented about being an overlooked talent. Proclaiming that he was the absolute best wrestler on the roster, The Second City Saint stated simply, “Nobody can touch me.”
Most Extreme Hall of Famer – Terry Funk
Mick Foley is the undisputed claimant of the moniker “Hardcore Legend,” but no WWE Hall of Famer can quite match up to Terry Funk in the category of hardcore competition.
Simply put, Funk was hardcore before hardcore was “in.” He traded blows with Abdullah the Butcher in Japan during the ‘70s, piledrove Ric Flair on a table in the ‘80s and was a major cog in ECW in the ‘90s, winning the renegade promotion’s championship at its inaugural pay-per-view, Barely Legal.
Though Funk left a lasting impression on WWE during a brief stint in the ‘80s, it was his late ‘90s return as Foley’s chainsaw-wielding madman mentor, “Chainsaw Charlie,” that cemented his place among the upper echelon of WWE’s all-time great extreme performers.
Most Extreme Moment – Kurt Angle suplexes Shane McMahon through glass
While spearheading WCW’s invasion of WWE in 2001, Shane McMahon homed in on Kurt Angle to assert his stable’s presence. Having mocked the former Olympic gold medalist, McMahon readied for the fight of his life when he took on Angle in a Street Fight at King of the Ring 2001.
Forever respected for his resiliency, McMahon kicked out of one pinfall attempt after another, before the action spilled toward the entrance stage. There, Angle set McMahon up for his patented belly-to-belly suplex. Only, instead of trying to suplex McMahon onto canvas, Angle had another idea in mind: to send the young McMahon flying through a glass door that was part of the King of the Ring entrance set. ( WATCH)
The first suplex succeeded in damaging McMahon, but it failed to break the glass. Undeterred, Angle again scooped up McMahon. His mulligan proved much more effective, shattering the glass on impact.
Most Extreme Fall – The Undertaker throws Mankind off Hell in a Cell
After traversing their way across the cell’s roof, the two combatants veered dangerously close to the edge of the cage. And then, in an instant, it happened: The Deadman hurled Mankind off the structure, sending his body barreling down through a ringside announce table. ( WATCH)
Jim Ross’ call of the action is as indelible as the tumble itself: “God as my witness, he is broken in half!”
Most Extreme Diva – Lita
Every step of the way to becoming one of WWE’s most memorable Divas, Lita let her extreme attitude speak for itself. From her humble start as an extreme valet in the original ECW to her time beside “The R-Rated Superstar” Edge, Lita always chose the path less traveled.
Unlike so many valets and managers before her, Lita repeatedly threw caution to the wind, moonsaulting downed opponents to the excitement of the masses. She later developed into one of the fiercest Divas to compete in the ring, capturing the WWE Women’s Championship four times.
She was even brazen enough to turn against Kane en route to aligning herself with Edge. If that doesn’t qualify her as extreme, what does? ( WATCH)
Most Extreme High Flyer – Jeff Hardy
Far from acrophobic, Hardy’s daredevil stunts over the years produced countless memories of his 6-foot-1 frame gracefully gliding through the air onto opponents – or, in a worse-case scenario, the hard, unforgiving canvas.
Almost as often as his high-flying maneuvers hit the mark, they missed. Ingrained in the collective memory of the WWE Universe is the sight of Hardy during the second-ever TLC Match, held at WrestleMania X-Seven. Dangling in the air and left clinging to championship gold, Hardy ended up being speared more than 20 feet to the mat by Edge, who was perched atop a nearby ladder.
Most Extreme Manager – Paul Heyman
As Paul E. Dangerously, Paul Heyman masterminded the Dangerous Alliance stable in the early ‘90s WCW. In 2001, Heyman briefly joined the announce team in WWE before transitioning back to his role as manager, taking on Brock Lesnar as his charge.
In between, he took a little Philadelphia outcast of a promotion named Eastern Championship Wrestling to new heights by swapping out “Eastern” for “Extreme” and birthing a new, supremely hardcore, approach to wrestling.
As a manager, Heyman was without peer when it came to generating interest in his clients’ endeavors. Heyman’s extreme constitution, meanwhile, was on display in 2002 when he suffered an F-5 at the hands of a disgruntled Lesnar.
Most Extreme Announcer – Joey Styles
One can almost hear how Joey Styles might react to receiving this hardcore honor: “Oh, my God!”
As the head announcer for the original ECW, Styles called some of the most gruesome fights in squared-circle history. Just as frequently, however, he gave play-by-play accounts of technical wrestling masterpieces and high-flying battles between little-known imports from Japan and Mexico. Far from simply describing obscure maneuvers in a general sense, the silver-tongued Styles kept fans abreast of the specifics of breakneck action, dissecting holds and educating audiences on the differences between a hurricanrana and a Frankensteiner.
“I never wanted him to be part of the hype or part of the show,” Heyman recalled in the 2006 book, “The Rise & Fall of ECW.” “I wanted him to be the Rock of Gibraltar. In the middle of all this insanity is the voice of reason, Joey Styles.
The WWE Universe was introduced to Styles in 2005, first when he announced the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view and later when he joined the Raw broadcast team. Less than a year later, Styles very publicly quit WWE, and in the process, he delivered one of the most heartfelt, and extreme, kiss-offs in history. ( WATCH)
Styles eventually returned to WWE, taking over the announcer reins as part of the reborn ECW brand.
Most Extreme Submission – Alberto Del Rio’s ladder-assisted cross armbreaker
In his first singles WWE Ladder Match – a World Heavyweight Title contest against Christian at Extreme Rules 2011 – Alberto Del Rio proved that he is nothing if not inventive. With Captain Charisma’s arm lodged in a ladder, The Mexican Aristocrat pounced and applied his dreaded cross armbreaker, using the steel ladder as a fulcrum. Although Christian did not submit to the hold, the added torque of the ladder ratcheted up Del Rio’s armbreaker to extreme proportions.
Most Extreme WrestleMania – WrestleMania X-Seven
The entire landscape of wrestling had changed drastically just weeks before WrestleMania X-Seven, with both ECW and WCW falling by the wayside.
Despite the choppy waters, WrestleMania X-Seven stands above the rest in the way it embraced hardcore wrestling. The card – a stocked lineup featuring then-WWE Champion The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and a father-son showdown between Mr. and Shane McMahon – included the second-ever TLC Match, a Triple Threat Hardcore TItle bout and the first brutal battle between The Undertaker and Triple H.