Jack of all prey
If you think plants can't be "hardcore," then you don't fully appreciate the power of the cactus. Generally leafless and visually stoic, these fleshy-stemmed members of the Cactaceae family can withstand the hottest, most arid regions throughout the Americas, distinguishing them among the toughest organisms on the planet. So it's only fitting that WWE.com plants firmly as its No. 5 Wildest Superstar none other than Cactus Jack, a glutton for punishment who flourished inside sports-entertainment's cruelest, most violent surroundings.
Before assuming the multiple personae of the masked maniac Mankind, tie-dyed tough guy Dude Love, or just Mrs. Foley's little boy Mick, Cactus Jack was born from the bone-dry climate of Truth or Consequences, N.M. He was unkempt by traditional ring garb standards—think more Oscar the Grouch than Oscar de la Renta—and not your prototypical sports-entertainment athlete by way of physique or mat skills. However, this frizzy-haired, gap-toothed wild man stored pain and suffering like a spiky xerophyte hoarding precious water in a desert. In truth, he seemed to thrive on a good beating, even when it came from the hardened hands of Vader, Sabu, Terry Funk or Triple H.
If you pricked him hard enough, Cactus Jack was sure to bleed…though wounding this Superstar ultimately made him more hazardous for your health. Over the years, he has collected more stitches than a truckload of baseballs; gushed enough blood to fill a swimming pool; felt his teeth knocked out…through his nose; and even had two-thirds of his right ear torn off by overly tightened ring ropes. Yet the physical mutilation that would reduce other men to uncontrollable weeping seemed only to fuel his frenzied state of mind. In fact, once given the choice to reattach his severed ear or team with Kevin Sullivan to compete for WCW's World Tag Team Championship, Jack chose the latter, and won the championship for his troubles. (In retrospect, it's possible that he only heard half his options.)
Whether inside the squared circle, atop a steel cage or just about anywhere else he could point his "finger-pistols" and shout "Bang! Bang!" at you, Cactus Jack's blood-soaked name became the red stuff of hardcore legend—which made it all the more reason for you not to trigger his landmine-sensitive temper. Telltale signs that you had done so included his voice going hoarse, like he had swallowed grated pieces of glass, and ranting hysterically at the very mention of your name. If he started pulling out his hair or smacking his head, angry Jack quickly became a very mean boy, and you were destined to meet some of his closest friends head-on: steel chairs, flame-engulfed tables, thumbtacks, barbed-wire baseball bats or the occasional C4 explosive.
It's not surprising why both our fans associate the prickly Cactus Jack with the most violent confrontations in sports-entertainment history, or why our Superstars respect his outrageous accomplishments. Granted, Triple H forced him into stipulated retirement after winning their crimson-drenched Hell in a Cell Match at February 2000's No Way Out (highlighted by a frightful fall that sent Jack through the roof of the cage and halfway through the canvas). However, The Game himself would tell you that particular encounter, plus their Royal Rumble Street Fight less than a month earlier, rank among the most hellacious match-ups in his own storied career.
In extreme cases, Jack breaks out the old "Wanted: Dead" T-shirt and unwashed tights to come out of retirement, though why he does so isn't always clear. Some believe that it's because of personal rivalries that occasionally brew between himself and other WWE Superstars. The hardcore legions of fans who love him know better; they know that once Jack steps into the ring, it's another opportunity for him to execute some insane stunt, all in the name of carnage and mayhem.
Still think a cactus can't be hardcore? Then you don't know Cactus, Jack.