Mick Foley has taken his “20 Years of Hell” one-man show on tour throughout the United States, Australia, and Canada. This Sunday, following the Hell in a Cell pay per view, the show makes its debut on the WWE Network.
The show was filmed this past June on the 20-year anniversary of Foley’s legendary match with The Undertaker at the 1998 King of the Ring that saw Foley thrown off the top of the cage as well as thrown through the top of the cage by The Undertaker.
“I try to make the infamous 1998 cell match come alive on stage through stories and emotions and take people on the same type of emotional rollercoaster that I would go on in a match,” said Foley. “About five minutes in, people realize it’s a much better show than they’re counting on.”
Filmed in Pittsburgh—the site of ’98 King of the Ring—there is an added bonus for viewers with Nita Strauss, who played the entrance for Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34, performing Foley’s entrance for the Network special.
Foley will also be part of the Hell in a Cell pay per view, serving as the special guest referee in the main event pitting WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns against Braun Strowman in a Hell in a Cell match.
“Those guys are going to have a great match with or without me, but one of the things I talk about in my show is the element of magic that is either there—or it’s not—in a match,” said Foley. “You can’t predict it, you can’t produce it, but maybe having me in that environment will help create that element of magic to help take the great match they’re almost certain to have and give it just that little something tiny extra to help cement it in the minds of the people who see it.”
But one element of magic we won’t see is Foley recreating the scene with Strowman throwing him off the top of the cage on Sunday.
“I’ll borrow a phrase from Mr. McMahon,” said a laughing Foley. “There is no chance in hell of that happening.”
Discussions between Foley and WWE started early last spring about airing his popular one-man show on the Network. The passion and pacing on display during the show is gripping, and Foley adds the right amount of tension, uncertainty, and honesty to the most seminal moment of his Hall of Fame career.
Foley fashioned his show around famed Boston Globe writer Bob Ryan’s “48 Minutes” book that was co-written with Cleveland sportswriter Terry Pluto. The subject of the book was a seemingly random Celtics-Cavaliers game in January 1987, but the two authors combined to reveal the sublime nature of the game and its backstory.
“Some people thought that was a forgettable game in an 82-game season between the Celtics and Cavaliers, but the book was broken down second-by-second and really came alive in a way that a reader could appreciate,” said Foley. “I took a similar approach with my memorable Hell in a Cell match. My goal was to make the moments come alive. I found humor in unlikely places, and expressed the surreal nature of the evening.”
Foley did just that reliving his Hell in a Cell match, one that featured an eclectic cast of characters in The Undertaker, Terry Funk, Jim Ross on commentary, and Vince McMahon overseeing the match from the back.
“They played such a large role in that evening and my story,” said Foley. “Plus, I love the audiences’ reaction when they realize I do a pretty decent Mr. McMahon impression. And it’s surprising to me how quickly people respond to the Terry Funk stories, given that Terry hasn’t been with WWE in quite a while, but it’s one of the highlights of the night.”
The chance to share the moment that defined and forever changed his career is an opportunity Foley does not take lightly, and he is optimistic that people will tune in to “20 Years of Hell” this Sunday.
“The show took place twenty years to the day, and the atmosphere was phenomenal,” said Foley. “I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out, and it’s worth checking out.
“It’s a lot of hard work that you’ll see unveiled in the course of that hour. If people tune into the WWE Network after Hell in a Cell, I think they’ll get their money’s worth.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.