Review: Monday Night War Episode 5

Monday Night War Episode 5

The fifth episode of the Monday Night War is all about one man; Mick Foley.

As the latest Monday Night War: WWE vs. WCW documentary began, it pretty much hit me that it appears like this documentary/mini-series will essentially take the bits from the 2004 Monday Night War DVD and expand upon them with more interviews and more details, but essentially tell the same story WWE likes to tell without really treading new water. With this edition, the series puts the focus on one Michael Francis Foley in a story that should be nothing new for any historian of the business, but still a good one to revisit even after all these years.

Very few people are more deserving of getting an episode of this series all to themselves than Mick Foley, but this story is nothing new. Spread throughout numerous autobiographies and documentaries (there’s literally like five, including one from A&E), most wrestling fans, including the casuals, know about Mick’s triumphs. It’s safe to presume even NON-wrestling fans have read his story, considering he’s a New York Times best selling author. With this episode, entitled “Have A Nice Day” (just like his first autobiography), they touch on Foley’s departure from WCW, his stint in ECW as Cactus Jack, his debut of Mankind, the INCREDIBLE quasi-shoot promo Foley did with Jim Ross, and onward.

I knew the minute that the Jim Ross interview aired, even as a 13 year old kid, that he would be a “good guy” very soon. In wrestling, once you pull back the curtain and give the people something truly personal and relatable, even if its not 100% truth, its easier to like the subject. They did the same thing with Goldust late in 1997, (which actually led to a heel turn when he tossed his wedding ring to back to his wife Terri) and again in 1999 when Triple H was about to get his monster main event push. I feel modern wrestling needs these personality profiles to really get some of these characters over.

Narrator Keith David states that Foley had to reinvent himself by going against his hardcore style, in a way to turn himself heel in front of the bloodthirsty ECW crowd. Foley was one of the most influential wrestlers of the mid-90s because he literally spawned a number of out-of-shape, overweight, indy and backyard wrestlers who assumed that they could achieve fame by mutilating their bodies. What they failed to realize is that Mick Foley was a different breed. Foley was one of the most charismatic wrestlers of all-time, delivering Dusty Rhodes-level captivating promos both as a heel and as a babyface. Foley was also a very underrated in-ring storyteller, and it’s unfortunate that for some people he’ll be remembered as a blood and guts guy.

Naturally, the episode builds to the infamous 1998 King of the Ring Hell in A Cell match where he fell off the top twice. Again – same story. This bugs me, because there’s so much amazing stuff from this era that should be talked about here that was skipped over, yet again. Foley was cutting the best promos in the ENTIRE BUSINESS during his post-Wrestlemania XIV phase of his feud with Steve Austin when he went heel. Literally some of the best TV of the boom period, and certainly the most consistent (watch Raw from April to June of 1998 and see how flawless it was week to week). Foley’s mini-team with Terry Funk should’ve also been mentioned, and it wasn’t. It bums me out, but this in no way should take away from the historical significance of the Hell in A Cell spot. As a result of that dangerous spot, Mick had to tone back his style just a little bit and get comedic. This led to the birth of Mr. Socko.

Of course, since we know the story they’re trying to tell, we know that they’re building to the infamous January 4, 1999 episode of Raw where on Nitro, Tony Schiavone announced the pre-taped title change which wound up backfiring on them by creating a monumental ratings shift that cost them the evening. Nitro promoted a HUGE Nash vs. Goldberg rematch from Starrcade and later, it was changed to a Hogan vs. Nash main event that had a legitimate interest. The Hogan/Nash match had been teased and built up for almost a full year, with both men leading separate NWO factions and was heavily anticipated.

Meanwhile Goldberg’s show-long storyline was that Elizabeth lied to the cops and said that he was stalking her. Horrible. Oh and that Nash/Hogan match? Well, that was the finger poke of doom. Horrible. In the Georgia Dome (Goldberg’s home town) with almost 40,000 people in attendance to see a live Nitro, they double fucked them. Horrible. WWF maintained their lead and never looked back until WCW closed up shop.

(By the way, the Nitro angle wasn’t told on the episode. They skipped over it entirely.)

The Royal Rumble 1999 stuff was also skipped over entirely. Too violent? Maybe. They went to the Rock N Sock Connection, which was in the fall of that year instead. I can’t really get mad at them for skipping the spring and summer of 1999 because Foley wasn’t doing anything. Rock became the company’s number 2 babyface, thrusting Foley into the number three spot who was involved in a horrible stable called “The Union” and really did nothing all summer.

Though this isn’t stated on the episode, Vince Russo and WWE’s revisionist history will tell you that Mick and Rock’s “This Is Your Life” segment was the highest rated segment in Raw history, which IS important for this series. The problem is, it wasn’t the highest rated ever. Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker from June 28, 1999 was the biggest segment in Raw history.

(On the episode, Foley said “This Is Your Life” was one of the highest, but he didn’t say it was the highest.)

This documentary series is getting so stretched out that now the same footage and same bits are being recycled. Once AGAIN they poke fun at their 1995 gimmicks. Once AGAIN we see the same Bischoff bites and clips about the New World Order and how revolutionary it was. As much as I love Mick Foley, the story has been told and it appears like this Monday Night War story is the same story WWE has always told.

To be completely honest, while these are fun, they’re becoming increasingly drawn out and really offer little to no replay-ability. You watch it once and you’re done, which is probably what I would suggest you do. I just feel there’s better documentaries on the WWE Network including the REAL full length Foley documentary.

Monday Night War reviews
Episode 1: The War Begins (by Big D)
Episode 2: The Rise Of NWO (by GG)
Episode 3: Embracing Attitude (by Big D)
Episode 4: A New D-Generation (by GG)

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