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WWE DVD Review: Hard Knocks & Cheap Pops

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Guest TSMAdmin


MICK FOLEY: Hard Knocks & Cheap Pops


This is the first review of a wrestling DVD I’ve attempted, but when you see a Foley disc for $10, the decision to buy it is an easy one. I also picked up “Hulk Still Rules,” and I’ll slog my way thru that – with its four hours of extras – at some point relatively soon. This DVD covers the latter period of Foley’s WWF career, and the extras are a few of his favorite matches.


I’m going to rate the individual chapters on a simple scale: Watch It, or Skip It. For the matches, I’ll review them and break out the snowflakes; after all, if a Foley DVD isn’t a special occasion, what in this world is?


Part 1: Hard Knocks


A video montage of some of Mick’s more hardcore moments (and there are a LOT of those to choose from) plays to the “Mankind” theme.


Mick welcomes us to his DVD in typical Foley style.


We start with a look at Mick’s best friend: Al Snow. They hit a rocky period when Mick very publicly joked about Snow laughing off chairshots instead of selling them. Mick says feelings were really hurt there, and he and Snow stopped traveling and rooming together for a while. They made nice-nice eventually. Mick says interacting with him helped Snow’s career, and that’s tough to argue with. We see clips of Foley and Snow’s “Vacation in Vegas” report, where they go to a casino and get hassled by a persistent Rock fan. Mick, dressed as Santa Claus, pulls a “Best Of Al Snow” tape out of his sack of presents, only to find that the box is empty because there’s no such think as a “Best of Al Snow” tape. Pretty funny in spots, as Mick and Al have good chemistry together and riff on each other very well. Watch It.


The Rock & Sock Connection is next on the hit parade. We see clips of Mick and The Rock winning the belts, Mr. Rocko, and the infamous “This Is Your Life” segment on Raw. Mick thinks Rock threw his book in the trash, leading to Mick cutting a scathing, angry, and wonderfully withering promo on Rock, who really can’t retort. If you want to see The Rock outclassed on the stick, here you go. Mick and Al win the tag team belts – in a match so bad, Foley said he contemplated retirement – only to find out that it was Al all along-uh who threw the book in the trash. They had a Smackdown match in November of 1999 to settle the whole thing, which Mick wins with the aid of the Rock. Watch It. It’s worth it for Foley’s devastating promo on Rocky alone.


Cactus Jack returns! Mick lost a “pink slip on a pole” match to the Rock, a match set up by HHH. This was during the McMahon-Helmsley Era days, where HHH played a character a lot of people think he eventually turned into. Anyway, Mankind and HHH have a bloody Raw match on 1/10/2000. Mankind comes out on Smackdown three days later ad says he can’t fight HHH in a street fight at the Royal Rumble ... but Cactus Jack can! They show a lot of clips of the amazing Rumble street fight, interspersed with a few comments from Mick and HHH. Considering how fucking awesome the match was, and how much they talked about it, I was crestfallen that it wasn’t part of the DVD extras. Watch It.


Next is the Hell In A Cell match from No Way Out the following month, wherein HHH put his WWF Title against Mick’s career. Some clips of the match air: it was good, but not as good as the previous month’s throw-down. H wins, of course, and Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy walks off into the sunset. Or so we thought. Watch It.


WrestleMania 2000 is briefly discussed. Mick says it wasn’t his decision to wrestle that one last match, and he wasn’t sure how the fans were going to react to him. We see footage of Mick completely whiffing on a table dive onto The Rock, coming up about three feet short. Mick thought he broke his sternum. Nothing special here. Skip It.


Part 2: Cheap Pops


This basically looks at Foley’s career as Commissioner, and displays his considerable talent for both comedic skits and dramatic storytelling.


The first chapter kicks off the Commissioner Foley era, and explains the origin of “cheap pop.” It’s a term HHH used to explain Mick’s crowd pandering, and the thumbs-up he added to it was because of the HHH remarks. Watch It.


Mick converses with Edge and Christian, and we learn the trio is called “Chredgeley” backstage. Well, isn’t that special? Clips air of the Conquista-Hardys, the puking segment, and the chicken suit (with guest appearance by Kurt Angle). It’s worth it for the laughs. Watch It.


Mick discusses his chemistry with Stephanie McMahon. Basically, it doesn’t matter how her back is feeling, and she’s attracted to men with gold medals. I didn’t see any sterling examples of chemistry, nor anything interesting. Skip It.


Commissioner Foley explains his agenda: be a nerd, because there are lots of nerds. We see some of Mick’s goofier and nerdier moments as Commish. A few chuckles here. Watch It.


Mick compares himself to his predecessors: they got assaulted and beaten up by the talent, but he won’t. HHH threatens him, and Mick shouts him down wonderfully, promising to book him in carnivals and gymnasiums if HHH so much as touches him. It’s worth it for Mick’s promo. Watch It.


Stone Cold Steve Austin returned after being “run over by a car,” (an angle that needed a tweener HHH going full heel again to save) and bumps head with Commish Foley over his investigative practices. Austin Stuns Mick, so Mick suspends him, and gets Stunned again for his troubles. Mick was getting booed, and discusses his rumored heel turn. He didn’t want to do it because he was happy and had no anger left. Watch It.


Mick discusses a young burn victim inspiring his Xmas Chaos book. Skip It.


Vince pressures Foley to resign. A presumptuous William Regal tries to persuade him, only to be dealt with by Steve Austin. Austin Stuns everyone, and Mick tears up the letter of resignation. Mick ended up getting “fired” anyway, but if Austin kicking ass is your bag, you’ll like this one. Watch It.


Part 2 closes with Mick describing his legacy as being twofold: ushering in the nerd era, and spitting on Al Snow. Well, it’s good to be remembered for something, isn’t it?


Part 3: Bonus Material – The Matches


These are ostensibly Mick’s favorite matches, each introduced by Foley himself. The last choice makes me seriously question his taste, but two of them are worth owning the DVD for, so I guess it all balances out. First up ...


Mankind vs. Shawn Michaels, Mind Games 1996. Mick is led down in a coffin, accompanied by Paul Bearer and The Undertaker’s contingent of druids. Mick elbows Shawn off the ropes and gets to stomping. A Cactus Clothesline takes them both out to ringside. Mick starts pulling up the mat, but Shawn dropkicks it into his face and stomps on him. Shawn planchas Mick, then shoves his head down RIGHT onto the concrete. Ouch. Back in, Shawn comes down with a double axehandle for 2. Bodyslam, and Shawn goes up, nailing the Savage Elbow. He cues up the band, so Mick wisely bails and clutches the urn at ringside, rocking back and forth. Mankind was a hella cool character before they made him a big goof, and this is a good reminder of that. Back in, Shawn gets the better end of a slugfest in the corner. He tries a snapmare, which Mick counters with something resembling a Beast Choker. Shawn elbows out but gets pounded back down quickly. Mick tosses Shawn out and sets up the Spanish announce table at a skewed angle, but Shawn dives right over it onto Mick. Shawn suplexes Mick outside, and Mick’s knee slams into the steps. Back in, Shawn chopblocks the knee and works it like a fiend, breaking out some good heel tactics. Mick tries to brawl, but Shawn does a dragon screw legwhip on the bad knee and slaps on a figure 4. To the wrong knee, of course. Mick reverses it, so Shawn dropkicks him in the leg and applies a half-crab. Mick makes the ropes. A floatover rollup gets 2 for Shawn, but Mick hangs him on the top rope. In a weird moment, he gets a pen from Paul Bearer and stabs himself in the knee, trying to get some feeling back in it. Mick hits the running knee in the corner and faceplants Shawn. Shawn gets in a back suplex, which leads to a brawl, controlled by Foley. Shawn breaks out the Flair Flip on a whip to the corner, but ends up in a Tree of Woe instead of toppling to the outside. Mick drops the elbow twice while Shawn is upside down. Mick boots Shawn out and charges him, but misses and eats the steps. Shawn drop toeholds Mick *head-first* into the steps. Damn, Foley was nuts sometimes. And I mean that in a good way. They fight over a suplex on the apron, and Mick posts himself charging Shawn. Shawn powerslams Mick for 2. He goes to toss Foley out, but Mick ends up tangled in the ropes by his head and neck. Shawn comes over, and Mick puts him in the Mandible Claw before they both tumble to the floor. Mick grabs another Mandible Claw. Shawn grabs a chair, and raises it to block Mick’s punch. Shawn then goes to work on the right hand, trying to take away the Mandible Claw. Mick backdrops Shawn out and drops an elbow from the apron. Back in, Foley hits the double-arm DDT for 2. Pulling piledriver gets 2. Mick even breaks out an amateur rollup for 2. Mankind is frustrated, and tosses a few chairs into the ring. He shows Shawn into the casket, but Shawn goes back on the offensive. He does the flying jalapeno, and a bodypress gets 2. Shawn goes up, but Mick crotches him, and superplexes both of them thru the Spanish table. Paul Bearer distracts the ref while Mick tries to use a chair for evil purposes. Shawn his Sweet Chin Music on the chair, slamming it back into Foley’s face. That gets 2. Vader then runs in, ending the match on a sour note with a DQ at 26:25. Sid Vicious goes after Vader, Bearer whacks Shawn with the urn, and Undertaker emerges from the casket. Awesome, awesome match until the silly ending, but it’s still a classic. ****3/4


Mankind vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Raw is War 1996. Mick jumps Austin heading down the ramp, leading to a lot of brawling. Austin has no knee braces here, and this is also before his neck injury. This was the period where he could really GO, and it was a shame to watch him as a cripple in junk matches two years later. He came back pretty well after the neck surgery, but untainted Austin is still the best. Austin gets whipped into the steps, and Mick falls over them on a subsequent charge. They finally take it into the ring, where Austin stomps a mudhole. Mick ends up outside, and Austin comes off the apron with an axehandle. Austin gets introduced to the steps all personal-like, and Mick chokes him back in the ring. Austin clotheslines Mick and sends him out with a big right hand. He didn’t even need to spit in it first. Mick gets a chair, but Austin kicks it away. Mick plows him into the table, and Austin answers by sending Mick over the barricade. Back in, Austin misses a clothesline, so Mick grabs the mandible claw. Austin lowblows out of it, but Mick neckbreakers him. Austin gets the Million Dollar Dream, but Mick backs him into the corner to break it. Mick goes for a piledriver, which Austin counters with a backdrop. Mick stunguns him and goes up, but Austin pulls him down and gets to stompin’. He knocks Mick out of the ring again, and Mick gets dropped on the railing. Back in, Austin snapmares him over and gets 2 off a second-rope FU elbow. Austin shoulders Mick in the corner, and Mick ends up tumbling out before Paul Bearer leads The Executioner out for the DQ ending at 7:06. The Undertaker makes the save. Mick must have a thing for stupid endings. The match was pretty damn good until that ending, too. ***1/4


WWF Title Match: Mankind vs. The Rock, Halftime Heat 1999. The Rock was the Corporate Champion, meaning he was a cool heel about to get over big as a face. Mankind had stolen $100,000 of the Rock’s money, and held it for ransom to get this match. The match is held at an empty arena, with Vince McMahon doing commentary there, and the uninspiring tandem of Hermy Kelly and Shane McMahon on the Heat set. This is apparently both falls count anywhere and no holds barred; today, it would just be under Hardcore rules. They brawl, and Mick gets a quick double-arm DDT for 2. Mandible claw, but Rock bails and Mick baseball slides into him and gives him a neckbreaker on the floor for 2. Rock gets tossed into the tables and the steps. Rock whips Mick into, then over the barricade, then tosses him into the first few rows of seats. The open arena part is cool here because you can hear the Rock talk trash, which he does for about the entire match. Mick ends up with a few chairs on him, so Rock pounds a chair into those chairs. Rock gets the headset from Vince and does some trash-talking, so Mick puts him in the Mandible claw. It’s funny to listen to it ... “The Rock says – Mppphhharghmppph!” Rock lowblows Mick to break the hold, and up the concourse they go. Rock hides and levels Mick with some trash can shots when he reaches the top of the concourse. Rock kicks Mick about halfway down the concrete stairs(!), talks some more trash, and then dumps trash on him. They take the brawl backstage, into the kitchen area, where Mick gets tossed into the cotton candy rack of MAIMING. Rock basically throws Mick all around the kitchen. He pauses to drink some JD – while Vince amusingly protests that it’s not real, because alcohol has never touched the Rock’s lips – and Mick seizes the opportunity to whoop some ass. He hits Rock several times with the DREADED popcorn sack. Into the dining area they go. Rock complains that the popcorn is too salty, and takes his dietary frustrations out on Mick. Rock tosses Mick all over the food tables. Mick sneaks in a lowblow for 2, but Rock attacks him with the ice tray to counter. They brawl into an office, where Rock courteously answers the ringing phone and talks some trash. Rock chokes Mick with the phone cord, then hits on a female staffer who wanders in. Mick throws Rock into the door, and they brawl outside to a loading dock. Mick locks in the mandible claw, leaving Rock near a forklift. Mick commandeers the forklift, lowering the pallet full of kegs onto Rock. Rock obviously can’t escape, so Mick covers him for 3 to win the belt at 17:20. It’s easy to see how this match inspired so many Hardcore matches that would come later. There were some neat segments, and Rock’s constant trash-talking was funny at times, but this was an awful lot of brawling and little else. **1/2


Dude Love vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Over The Edge 1998. Dude is working for the Corporation here. Vince is the referee, Pat Patterson is the ring announcer, and Gerald Brisco is the timekeeper. Patterson refuses to introduce a bum like Austin, but he doesn’t need an introduction. Undertaker comes out to make sure Vince calls this one down the middle. Dude grabs a headlock and shoulderblocks Austin for a quick 2. Dude gets a headlock takeover, and Vince counts 1 even when both of Austin’s shoulders aren’t down. The crowd chants “Vince is gay!” which JR charitably interprets as, “Vince is dead!” Austin tosses Dude down. Mick’s false teeth come out, so Austin does an amusing spot where he stomps them and tosses them away. Lou Thesz Press leads to an Austin clothesline that sends Dude out. Dude goes into the barrier, and Patterson “reminds” us that this match is no countouts. JR births kittens over the revelation, but maybe he just missed the memo. Back in, Dude gets a Russian legsweep for 2 and does some biting. Dude does the running knee for 2, but Austin rallies with a neckbreaker and clothesline. Dude ducks another clothesline and grabs the mandible claw, and Austin hangs him in the ropes to counter. Outside they go, and Austin gets tossed onto the Spanish announce table. Patterson gives us another “reminder,” that this match is no-DQ. Dude chokes Austin with the mike cable, but Austin tosses him into the time table, wiping out Brisco. Austin sends Dude over the wall in a nasty bump, then beats on him and walks on Brisco before taking it back into the ring. Austin chokes Dude on the ropes but misses the running straddle. Dude dumps him and neckbreakers him on the floor. Patterson issues his third “reminder,” that this is a falls count anywhere match, so Dude backslides Austin for 2. The ever-changing stips is a GREAT booking touch. Dude backdrops Austin onto a car for 2, then faceplants him onto the car for 2. Austin hotshots Dude onto a car for 2. Austin tries a Stunner on the car, but Dude shoves out, sending him flying over another car and onto the floor. Dude comes down with a sunset flip onto the concrete for 2. Those are pretty risky bumps considering Austin’s broken neck. Dude sort of rams Austin with an exhaust pipe, and Austin blades. Austin tries a piledriver, but gets backdropped for 2. Dude snap suplexes him over, and tries an elbowdrop from the car that misses. Austin beats Dude back to ringside and sends him into the steps. Back in, Patterson trips Austin, allowing Dude to clothesline him down and wail away on him. Dude removes a turnbuckle pad, and rams Austin’s head into the buckle. Running knee, and Austin goes into the buckle again. Dude hits the chinlock, and Austin elbows out, only to go into the buckle again for 2. Patterson gives Dude a chair, which Dude puts to immediate use by clobbering Austin with it. Double-arm DDT onto the chair gets 2. Austin kicks the chair on a charge and blasts Dude with it, but Vince refuses to count the fall. Austin jaws with him, and Dude goes to hit him with the chair from behind. Austin moves, of course, and Dude ends up waylaying Vince. Austin hits the Stunner (not yet done in the same motion as the kick), and another ref counts 2 before Patterson pulls him out. Dude locks in the mandible claw, and Patterson counts 2 before getting pulled out by the Undertaker. UT chokeslams Patterson thru the announce table. Brisco counts 2, but UT pulls him out and chokeslams him thru the Spanish announce table. Well, that was a hella cool segment. Austin hits another Stunner, drags the unconscious Vince over, and uses his arm to count the fall at 22:26. Simply a great match, with some ingenious booking and a perfect ending. The changing-stips angle has never been used as effectively as it was here. This one definitely hit on all cylinders. *****


BTW, typing “Dude” all those times definitely gave me some flashbacks to “The Big Leibowski.” Every time I went to type “Mick,” it was like I was hearing this voice that said, “No, man, I’m THE DUDE!” Those who have seen the movie will understand. Anyway.


If you watch the bonus matches, STOP WATCHING NOW. You’ll be glad you did. For you brave souls who soldier onward, you’ll be “rewarded” with:


Kennel From Hell Match: Al Snow vs., The Big Bossman, Unforgiven 1999. This is when Bossman kidnapped Snow’s dog Pepper, then cooked and fed the dog to Snow in a motel room. Bossman was on a run of being a dick here; this was around the same time he desecrated the funeral of The Big Slow’s father and revealed him as a bastard child. The setup: the silly blue cage is around the ring, and the Hell In A Cell cage is lowered atop that. A pack of “trained Rottweilers” is brought in to run the gap between cages. Believe me, it’s REALLY stupid, and no description does its sheer idiocy proper justice. Snow holds the door shut so Bossman can’t get in as the dogs and their handlers come down. What high drama. Bossman tries to climb in, so Snow holds him at bay with a poop shovel. Yes, you read that right. The poop shovel is really appropriate, since this match is full of shit on SO many levels. Snow ends up in the kennel and climbs, coming down via a Bossman superplex. Snow has a bag of goodies, and Bossman has wire cutters, which he uses to try and escape. The DVD, incidentally, has Kelly and Foley on commentary. Foley’s remarks are completely and deliberately over the top, and are the best part about this worthless match. Powder and other sundry objects get involved, and both guys have bladed. Snow ends up handcuffed to the top rope, and Bossman tries to climb out thru the hole he’d started to cut earlier. Snow SNAPS THE CUFFS, though (who does he think he is, Kane?), pulls Bossman down, and clubs him with Head. Snow escapes first at 11:21, and the misery is finally over. All the dogs did was pee on the mats and growl at each other, so their involvement was completely pointless. I know handlers had to be there for safety concerns, but that takes away from any pretense of danger the match may otherwise have. I hope whoever thought of this abortion was ravaged by the Rottweilers after the show went off the air. –***


Overall: The last match aside, the extras are solid. If this DVD were made this year, I think we’d get more matches, but the first and fourth alone are worth the price of the disc. The main feature itself is good, only earning three “Skip It” ratings, and it shows Foley as both insane, tenacious hardcore wrestler and entertaining comedy act. With the extras, the whole thing clocks in at 206 minutes, and there are certainly far worse ways to kill an afternoon than to watch this one. Definitely recommended. 8/10


Dr. Tom

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