Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson took to their Something to Wrestle podcast and unpacked Mick Foley’s very first WWE Championship victory, which occurred on December 29, 1998, but aired on the January 4, 1999 episode of RAW. Foley defeated none other than The Rock to become WWE Champion, but received a little help from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the process, who made his way to Foley’s side and was the recipient of one of the biggest pops in wrestling history. Bruce Prichard is quoted below.
(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone)
Why Vince McMahon Changed His Mind About Mick Foley:
First of all, the mask thing, that was a combination of both Jim Ross and my ideas. It was a way to soften that pitch to Vince a little bit, since he didn’t like the face. OK, well, we can cover up a face. That’s easy to do, but the bell rang and you saw every single night Mankind was going out and stealing the show, no matter the opponent and Vince seeing what he did with Undertaker and seeing what he did with Shawn [Michaels] and seeing how no matter what situation you put him in he excelled, so again here was Mankind who he had as part of the dad and all that sh*t with Austin prior to this. The audience loved him. The audience fell in love with him and they kinda felt that he’s not the stereotypical guy. It was perfect. I mean it really was perfect. If you would ask or poll anyone in the locker room, ‘Who do you think is more deserving of that championship?,’ I think to the man everyone would have told you Mick Foley was and the audience felt the same way.
On Whether The ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin ‘Pop’ Is The Loudest In WWE History:
I think that it will go down probably as – when you declare pops ‘the pop’ – that’s the pop. I mean, Jesus, that was insane.
On His Own Reaction To The Austin Pop:
Goosebumps. It’s just so cool to hear that and feel it. It was just goosebumps.
On When Mick Foley Found Out He Would Become WWE Champion:
I believe it was that night. He may have known a few days ahead of time, but I think it was that night and he was honored. To guys like Mick Foley and me and people that have grown up in the wrestling business, that’s a big deal and it’s a prop. It is all the things that it is. You don’t win it, but still, being asked to carry it for awhile it is a big deal.
On Mick Foley Winning A TIME Magazine Popularity Vote:
Well, why wouldn’t he win? That’s a testament to his popularity and to the power of that audience. I think so many times people discount that wrestling audience. Man, they’re loud, they’re vocal, and they’re loyal and that’s what I love about them. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, whether they love you or hate you, they’re passionate and they’re vocal, so I think that’s pretty good sh*t.
On Mick Foley’s Post-match Speech:
We knew he was gonna do that. He wanted to do the ‘Yo Adrian’ spot. ‘[Foley impression] Can I cut a promo?’ ‘F*ck yeah, absolutely.’
I have [talked with Schiavone] subsequently over the years and I think they did hurt Mick Foley’s feelings initially, but after awhile I think that he was vindicated in the rating that came back and the end result after everything was all said and done and I know you’ll scream bullsh*t, but there was a bigger concern with the National Championship than there was with Nitro. We were beating them on a regular basis at this time. There was no looking back; we were beating them with taped shows and live shows. If there was any concern as to what else was on TV, it was the National Championship more than it was Nitro. We really didn’t give a sh*t what was on Nitro.
On Who Is Responsible For Schiavone’s ‘Put Some Butts In The Seats’ Nitro Comment:
I think it was [the beginning of the end]. I mean, the end was coming anyway. It was on the downhill slope, regardless, at that time. They just weren’t doing anything to take the momentum back the other way. When you look at all the decisions at that time, Eric [Bischoff] has to take it all. If he was the one that was making the decisions and he was the one that was making the final approval for whatever matches and finishes that were going on, and if he was the one delivering them – it’s not an Annette Yother’s decision, what the f*ck? Now you’re killing the messenger. To even suggest that it was Annette Yother that gave it to Shiavone, it was a note sent by Eric and it was delivered by Tony and if Tony had the leeway on how he was gonna deliver it, then maybe not the best decision in how he delivered it.
There’s more on the next page including what Prichard believes Tony Schiavone could have said instead & why he believes people tuned into this particular episode of RAW despite knowing the results in advance.