June 28, 1998, marked a day many pro wrestling fans around the world collectively shrieked, ‘Holy shit!’ at their television screens. On this day, a Hell in a Cell match took place that now lives on in legend – a day that has since left a permanent mark on the psyche of the Undertaker, Mick Foley and pro wrestling fans alike.
The match took place at the King of the Ring pay-per-view at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It would set the model for future Hell in a Cell matches. During the match, Foley received numerous injuries and took two serious and highly influential bumps.
In the lead-up to the match, Mick Foley discussed with hardcore wrestling legend Terry Funk ways he could outdo the previous Hell in a Cell match he had with Shawn Michaels at the Badd Blood: In Your House pay-per-view the year before.
In Foley’s highly acclaimed and recommended autobiography, Have a Nice Day, Foley wrote:
“Funk said, laughing, ‘Maybe you should let him throw you off the top of the cage.’
‘Yeah,‘ I shot back, ‘then I could climb back up – and he could throw me off again.’
Man, that was a good one! We were having a good time thinking completely ludicrous things to do inside, outside, and on top of the cage.
After a while, I got serious and said quietly to Terry, ‘I think I can do it.’“
And did he ever!
Foley took his ideas to the Undertaker, who at first, was hesitant to do them. Taker even staunchly questioned, ‘Mick, do you want to die?’
But Foley, never one to back down from a beating, convinced the reluctant Undertaker to go ahead with his ideas. What we were left with is a match that no one will ever forget.
So, what was going on through the heads of the two competitors involved in what many consider being one of the most influential matches of the 90’s?
“When I tossed him off of the cage, it was like time stopped.
People say they have out of body experiences and things like that…standing on the cage and watching him fly, I could actually see him and myself standing up there.
I didn’t think Mick Foley would get up from that.
It was such a violent impact… TV doesn’t do it justice, as far as the sound…”
“I remember having two distinct thoughts…I was falling really fast and that the table looked really small…”
“The second [fall] was far worse.
That panel wasn’t supposed to break loose… I actually told Mick, ’Just stay down…’
His tooth had gone through his lip and was lodged in his nostril. He was bleeding from the mouth…
You can look in someone’s eyes and tell that they’re not there. For the next two to three minutes after that fall, Mick wasn’t there…”
“That match is an emotional roller-coaster ride. I pieced back all of the match in my memory except for about a 30-second period when I went through the cage and into the ring. There was a point where I saw a pair of sneakers in the ring and I had no idea how they had gotten there. So there were 30 or 40 seconds there that had gone by that I couldn’t remember and I’m still not aware of. The day after I had very little recollection of what actually happened…”
“Mick cared about what fans thought and felt it was his duty to perform. He stuck it out…”
“Vince McMahon came up to me [afterward] and said, ‘Mick, you have no idea how much I appreciate what you just did…but I never want to see that again…’
I guess the match really got people talking and it did lead to a lot of other things, but from a match standpoint, I’ve had a lot of other matches where I didn’t get knocked out that I’m kind of proud of as well, but that’s the match everyone always goes back to.
Kevin Sullivan, who was booking WCW at the time, later told me that once he saw that, he told people that the tide had turned. He said he knew right then that WWE was going to pass them and that they’d never catch us again…”
Kevin Sullivan was right. This match played a critical role in the then World Wrestling Federation securing higher TV ratings over WCW who, for 82 straight weeks, had a lead over WWF during the infamous Monday Night Wars. It was through matches like this one that led WWF to the top again.
After the match, Mick Foley had a long heart-to-heart with his tearful wife on the phone. This conversation almost led him to retire from pro wrestling altogether, something he eventually did on a full-time basis in 2000. Ironically enough, in his final match as a full-time wrestler at *No Way Out* in February of 2000, Foley replicated his fall through the roof of the cell during another Hell in A Cell match against Triple H, but this time, proper precautions were taken to ensure his safety performing the stunt.
Mick Foley, we salute you.
Watch the Undertaker vs Mankind Hell in a Cell match from King of the Ring 1998 here in its entirety:
SOURCE: ESPN, IGN.com, WWF Fan Axxess, Mick Foley’s autobiography, Have a Nice Day