Back in 2008 Mick Foley left WWE, the company he had worked for on and off for over a decade. Disgruntled by the way he was treated by Vince McMahon during his short but enjoyable run as SmackDown’s colour commentator, Mick’s plan was to join TNA and help to establish them as an alternative to WWE.
Sadly, that didn’t happen.
As is always the case with TNA there was no long term plan in place when Foley was hired. Instead of using him, as the established star, to give their home grown stars a boost, it was decided the best use for him was to feud with Kane clone Abyss (who will never gain mainstream credibility, be the company’s top star or its top worker). This was followed a few months later by a program with Ric Flair (a man who benefitted even less from working with Foley) and a stint as an on-screen authority figure, neither of which achieved anything of note.
TNA just didn’t know how to use Foley or his skills effectively. It’s not a unique case though. The truth is that nobody, no matter their background or how good they may be in the ring, gets used properly by the promotion. Foley was just the latest in a long line of squandered opportunities.
WWE, for all its faults, does still sometimes gets things right. That bodes well for his inevitable return. It’s clearly coming: ever since Michael Cole plugged Countdown to Lockdown (Foley’s latest, non-WWE book) on RAW last year it’s been all too apparent in interviews and on his Twitter profile that he’s itching to return to McMahonland. That he requested an early release from his contact (originally set to expire in September this year) came as no surprise. The sporadic use of him during the Hogan and Bischoff era meant it was equally unsurprising when the request was granted.
What is there for Foley to do in WWE in 2011? While his old commentary spot has been satisfactorily filled by Booker T he could still be used as a manager or an on-screen authority figure. In fact there’s a certain authority position on RAW that is becoming stale due to the tedious anonymity gimmick, perhaps Foley could be of use there?
While there hasn’t been talk about revealing the RAW General Manager’s identity for a while it’s a subject that has arisen numerous times in the past year. Foley has the necessary on-screen presence and charisma, verbal skills and name value to be revealed as the GM without it being an anti-climax, and would do a sterling job of interacting with the current crop of WWE stars. His time as WWF commissioner a decade ago provided some great moments and allowed Foley to contribute to the product without risking his health: all we need is more of that.
Whether he turns out to be the GM or not I imagine he will be wrestling on a part time basis. At this point that can only be a good thing for WWE: they’re desperate for star power and new talent. Foley is not the star he was several years ago but he can still help improve the company’s flagging ratings. Perhaps more importantly, he’s been known throughout his career as a man happy to put others over and do everything he can to build new acts. Feuds with the likes of Alberto Del Rio, The Miz and R-Truth would be welcome, but the program I have my heart set on is Foley versus CM Punk. The matches would be good, but the promos would be amazing.
With this week’s RAW coming from Long Island (Foley’s place of birth) and it being promoted as an “All Star” episode there would be no better time for ‘The Hardcore Legend’ to return to WWE television. Joining WWE so soon after his release from TNA may not be possible, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed: WWE and its television product desperately need someone of Mick Foley’s calibre right now.