Mick Foley spoke with Sky Sports about his memorable first WWE Championship title win against The Rock on Monday Night Raw in January of 1999. At this point, in the Monday Night Wars, WCW was winning handily in the ratings as their live weekly show, Nitro, outpaced the pre-taped, Raw.
On that night, WCW Announcer Tony Schiavone (via Eric Bischoff) gave away the Raw ending, “We understand Mick Foley, who wrestled here as Cactus Jack, is going to win their world title. That’ll put a lot of butts in seats.” Around 600,000 fans switched over to Raw to see the finish. A finish that in the big picture helped turn the tide in WWE’s favor was seen as a mistake by Mick Foley, at that time.
“It meant so much to me on a personal level and I think I’m right in saying the fans have voted it the best ever Raw moment,” Foley said. “I’m excited to have been part of so many big matches on Raw. But I saw me as champion as a mistake. I didn’t think it was a good idea. I always thought the challenger should be chasing the champion, and The Rock was a great champion. But it turned out to be the best thing for everybody. We were going up against a massive live WCW show at the Georgia Dome in front of 40,000 people and nobody thought we’d be celebrating a big victory that night.”
On a personal level, Foley considered it a big moment, but in terms of the company’s future, he didn’t realize how big of an impact it would make, until they saw the ratings.
“It was not seen as a big moment at the time,” Foley said. “I saw it as a big moment for myself because I’d never dreamed of being champion, but we all thought it had been an exciting conclusion to a good show. We didn’t realize the force of the show until the ratings were revealed the next day.”
On that same Monday night, WCW also had a title match between “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash in the infamous “Fingerpoke of Doom” match where Hogan literally poked Nash to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship back. Foley was asked if he ever watched that night’s Nitro ending, and he did, calling it a “dreadful creative decision.”
“I did watch Nitro later that night and the ‘Fingerpoke of Doom’ was a dreadful creative decision, but the even worse decision was to give away the ending to our show,” Foley replied. “It obviously backfired. It’s interesting to talk to Eric Bischoff these days and he says he was doing what he thought he had to do to make his show better. He miscalculated and ended up kind of giving us a huge victory.”
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