Growing up as a WWE fan, summer pay-per-views were always great. Having no school the next day meant you could stay up late and watch it live on Sky Sports. Anyone who watched King of the Ring live on 28th June 1998 remembers it for the craziest match in WWE history.
The second ever 'Hell in a Cell' match featured The Undertaker against Mick Foley, wrestling as Mankind. Both men started the match on top of the cage and about two minutes in, Foley was thrown from almost twenty feet in the air and crashed through the Spanish announcers' table at ringside. Those poor Spanish announcers always had the worst luck.
Wrestling in 1998 had become much edgier than the Hulk Hogan era of the previous decade. WWE was now appealing to a new fan-base by telling people to "Suck It" and having Stone Cold Steve Austin dish out some middle fingers and ass-whoopings before he knocked back a few cans. But nothing was more shocking than seeing the near 300-pound Foley sail through the air and crash through the table. It was the original 'Holy Shit' moment before 'Holy Shit' became a popular chant.
It was a defining moment for the career of not only Foley, but also Jim Ross in commentary who's cries of "Good God almighty! They've killed him!" and "As God as my witness, he is broken in half!" are the stuff of wrestling legend.
Incredibly, the match resumed back on top of the cage minutes later and Foley was choke-slammed through the roof of the cell, this time landing in the ring. The second fall, while slightly less spectacular than the first, was even more brutal and unforgiving.
A harder landing was compounded by a stray steel chair that fell through the cage with Foley, hitting him in the face on the way down, dislocating his jaw and knocking some of his teeth through his top lip. This led to the memorable shot of a concussed Foley smiling into the camera with a loose tooth sitting in his beard below his nose.
In his book 'Have a Nice Day', Foley discusses Vince McMahon's reaction backstage later that night: "You have no idea how much I appreciate what you have just done for this company, but I never want to see anything like that again."
Mick's work wasn't done after the second fall and they continued the match inside the cage for a further ten minutes, where he was slammed onto a bed of thumbtacks. The match makes for pretty awkward viewing in light of recent concussion studies. Foley later revealed he was so out of it backstage after the match, that he asked The Undertaker if they had used the thumbtacks, to which he replied "Look at your arm Mick", where a number of them were still lodged.
Undertaker himself was secretly nursing a broken foot throughout the match. Luckily enough, walking slowly wasn't an issue for him what with being a member of the 'un-dead.'
Unsurprisingly Foley's physical state deteriorated to the point where his days as a full-time wrestler were done less than two years later, although he made a number of returns to the ring in later years. Thankfully twenty years on, he is still alive and well (for the most part), touring his one-man show where he shares stories from his Hall of Fame career, including the night in question.
Almost 40 Hell in a Cell matches have taken place since 1997, but none of them come close to the night that made Mick Foley famous.
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) June 23, 2018