Mick Foley and Triple H | An Epic Attitude Era Rivalry. The three faces of Mick Foley have faced many enemies in his past, but none have been more influential to an opponent as Foley’s rivalry with Triple H. A rivalry that heated up at three separate periods and intensified into a personal, career-ending story arc that is filled with emotion and brutality. Each time Foley and The Game squared off, it was always to elevate Triple H to the next level, and it never missed.
Whether it was 1997, pushing Triple H to look stronger to be able to compete against the main event stars, or in 2000 to solidify him as a champion and main man in WWE. Back in May 1997, Mick Foley, working as Mankind, faced Triple H in a one-off match on Shotgun Saturday Night, but it was their rematch the following month that begun a rivalry that would last over three years.
Their rematch took place on pay-per-view as both reached the tournament finals of the 1997 King of the Ring. In a hard-hitting bout, which was a taste of things to come between both, Triple H delivered a devastating pedigree on the announcer’s desk. Chyna, behind the referee’s back, hit Mankind with a scepter, and Triple H delivered another pedigree in the middle of the ring to pick up the victory.
Mick Foley and Triple H
With the win, Triple H was crowned the 1997 King of the Ring. Whilst accepting his crown as King, he smashed it across the back of Mankind. With Hunter’s brutal assault, Mankind was out for revenge and challenged Triple H to a rematch which took place at In Your House: Canadian Stampede. Their match at the show could not be contained inside the ring, and they ended up fighting on the outside.
The referee counted both men out, but it didn’t matter to them as they continued to brawl into the crowd and backstage before being separated.
Their 1997 rivalry came to a head at SummerSlam. Both competed inside a steel cage match in the opening bout of the show. In a heated and brutal battle, Mankind defeated Triple H, which included Mankind leaping from the top of the steel cage onto Triple H in a move similar to the one Foley witnessed as a child at Madison Square Garden. By escaping the cage first, Mankind picked up the win.
Keeping Their Distance
Just a few weeks later, their feud would take an unexpected turn when, on an episode of Monday Night Raw from Madison Square Garden, Instead of Mankind, Cactus Jack made his debut in WWE to face Triple H in a falls count anywhere match. The match saw both brawl around the arena, with Cactus picking up the victory with a pile driver through a table.
As 1997 transitioned into 1998, Triple H and Mick Foley kept their distance. First, they faced off at No Way Out 1998 on either side of a 10-man tag team contest. After that, they faced each other one on one a handful of times in meaningless matches on Monday Night RAW throughout 98 and into 1999. But it wasn’t until the 31st of May 1999 Monday Night Raw, when the Cooperate Ministry angle was reaching its conclusion, that a significant moment happened.
Hardcore Rules Match
Mankind fought Triple H in a hardcore rules match, which saw Triple H blast Mankind in the knee with his sledgehammer. Mankind, hurt and in pain, was taken to hospital with a storyline injured knee that kept him off WWE television for a few months. At this point in his career, Mick Foley was struggling with knee injuries and needed time off to recuperate.
Mankind surprisingly made his return on the go-home show of Monday Night Raw before Summerslam 1999. He declared that he wanted to be included in the Summerslam main event for the WWE Championship. However, a match against Triple H for the right to face the champion at SummerSlam saw it end in a draw, meaning both men were named number one contenders for Summerslam, and Stone Cold Steve Austin would have to defend his WWE Championship against both.
At the summer’s biggest party, Mankind won the WWE Championship pinning Austin for his third reign. Unfortunately, his reign would only last one day when Triple H pinned Mankind in the main event of RAW the next evening to win his first WWE Championship.
Later on, in the month as Triple H and Mankind were on the path to Unforgiven to compete as part of the six-pack challenge for the WWE Championship, they fought in a boiler room brawl on SmackDown. It was later in the year, as Christmas approached, that Triple H, now married to Stephanie McMahon, ordered Mankind to face Santa Claus in another boiler room brawl.
The Uphill Battle of Mick Foley
As Mankind faced 5 Santa Clauses, which were the Mean Street Posse, Billy Gunn, and Road Dog. It was Triple H, appearing as the 6th Santa, that defeated Mankind. This led to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon firing Mankind from WWE. The Rock quickly gathered the WWE roster and demanded Foley be reinstated. McMahon did, and Foley made his return to challenge Triple H for the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble 2000 in a street fight.
Triple H accepted the challenge squared off with Foley as part of an 8-person tag team main event. In a brawl with Triple H, Mankind was left bloody and battered after multiple pedigrees and one through the announcer’s table.
In a memorable moment and a standout in the career of Mankind and the attitude era. Mankind informed Triple H that he doesn’t think he can compete with him at the Royal Rumble, but he does know one man who would be able too. Foley brings back his Cactus Jack persona to a huge ovation from the crowd and attacks Triple H, along with a celebratory ‘bang bang.’
Their match at Royal Rumble is a brutal affair that involves barbed wire, thumbtacks, handcuffs, and steel chairs. Both men take a beating, but it was Triple H who came out on top, defeating Cactus Jack in his hometown of New York, retaining the WWE Championship. The match is legendary and a defining moment of the attitude era. Their feud continued in an intense and brutal fashion where Cactus Jack challenged Triple H to a rematch at No Way Out, but this time, inside Hell in a Cell.
The Added Stipulation
Accepting the challenge, Triple H added on one stipulation of his own. If Triple H won, Mick Foley would have to retire. Not backing down from the challenge, Foley accepted. Their match at No Way Out was another brutal contest that included both men going to the top of the cell. With a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire, Cactus set it on fire. With the audience and crowd in disbelief thinking that Triple H was about to be piledriven onto the burning 2×4, high in the air on top of the cell.
The game shocked everyone and backdropped Cactus through the cell ceiling and into the ring below. The ring canvas broke, and Cactus Jack laid motionless in a hole in the ring. As Triple H came down, back into the ring, Cactus began to move to the horror of the champion. Triple H delivered a pedigree which kept him down and allowed Triple H to pin Cactus Jack to retire the hardcore legend.
With Triple H retaining his championship and gloating about defeating and retiring Mick Foley, they would face one more time. Triple H was set to defend his WWE Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania 2000 against The Rock and The Big Show. But Linda McMahon returned and put Mick Foley in the match, creating a four-way elimination match. Foley was eliminated second in the match by Triple H to end his career inside the ring before he made a return four years later.
Mick Foley and Triple H – Their Rivalry, Their Time
The Mick Foley and Triple H rivalry is a rivalry that elevates Triple H to the next level each time. In 1997, Triple H receives the push that helps him become a key player in WWE, just on the cusp of main event level. However, when it is Triple H is time to become the WWE Champion, it is Foley who drops the championship to him. Then, when Triple H is needed to be seen as a true main eventer and the biggest heel in the business, Mick Foley puts him over in their brutal feud.
Triple H and Mick Foley have iconic matches over their three-year period together in WWE, a rivalry that builds a star and cements a legacy.