WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley on Curtis Axel's debut, what Vince McMahon told before he delivered his HOF speech, whether he knew Dean Ambrose would be a star
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On if Triple H squashed Curtis Axel’s debut: "This is not a knock on Triple H, but Triple H talked about retiring me after I already came back three times. At that point it was a big deal in 2000 for Triple H to talk about retiring me. If Triple H has had his last match, which is a good possibility, then I see Paul Heyman bragging for the next three years that Curtis Axel retired Triple H. Which is much bigger than beating him and much more meaningful or whether or not he was slapped or made to look weak momentarily. For people who ask me if I think this guy has a chance.
"Not only is he talented and waited his turn and lived through the Michael McGillicutty indignity. I asked him about that and obviously he didn’t want to say anything bad about the company, but he said 'It hurt a little, it stung when you get your name and it’s Michael Mcgillicutty.'Short term you can say 'well why didn’t he beat Triple H?' But like I said me being on the outside looking in, depending how this thing plays out, never underestimate the verbal skills of Paul Heyman or the skills of Michael McGillicutty. As a fan it has me hooked. Even if you’re not saying Curtis Axel right now, I believe that Paul is the master. I call him the master gardener. He knows how much water and sunshine to give his project and then they have to grow on their own."
On his Hall of Fame speech: "I think they intentionally had a smaller class this year and the only guideline Vince McMahon gave us was to have fun and enjoy it. That was the only critique of me when I came back to the WWE because I had left with the words 'You’ll never speak to me this way again.' Then I came back with the words 'can I come back now?' So I was a little tentative. Vince even said to me 'Mick you look like you’re not enjoying yourself' and I wasn’t. I did throw a minor little fit over the rumor that Donald Trump’s speech was going to air and not mine on television. I specifically remembered that I had told Stephanie McMahon a week or two earlier. I said 'Stephanie the moment you guys mentioned my book on the air ‘Countdown to Lockdown’, I said at that moment I promised myself that if I was ever asked to be in the Hall of Fame that I would say yes unconditionally.
"I wouldn’t ask to be on at a certain point, it would be unconditionally. 'Then all of a sudden I hear about Donald Trump and I’m placing conditions on it. I said that’s not the way I feel. This is going to be a great night. I really apologized in front of the entire McMahon family. Because I did feel it wasn’t my place to say that and most importantly, now I was lying to what I had said to Stephanie. This came from the heart. It was supposed to be unconditional. Now I’m actually thinking about going out there and throwing my ring in the audience. These were the thoughts going through my head. By the time I got to the Garden, I’m just going to enjoy this. I went out on stage and realized I would probably never have the opportunity to address 17,000 people in THAT arena. The most important one in the country to me. I consider it maybe the best highlight of my career because I was able to recognize it."
On how he felt he did with his speech: I dissect my speech like this. I knew it as I was giving the speech, the moment I dropped that elbow on Jericho, and I heard that pop, I should have said time to go home, because this as high as it was going to get. But I had a couple of things I wanted to say. I wish I had written out a conclusion and talk about how I wanted to be remembered, and as a guy who gave back. I was going to use Randy Orton as an example. I was the right guy at the right time and hope that other superstars could be that guy in that place for someone else down the line. I rambled on for ten minutes too long."
On TNA: "I really enjoyed the people there. But once you had five non-wrestling talkers in the company…my role now is what it should be. The guy who occasionally comes back. I love doing the Saturday Morning Slam. If a different GM opportunity comes up, I would appreciate being considered. But I don’t need to be a big part of any show ever again. I probably outstayed my welcome by a little while. One nice little story about Dixie Carter. I never should have said that tweet about the empty arena match with the Rock, aka a TNA House show. That was the one that rubbed people the wrong way, because it was a slap in the face to everyone who works there, even though it was kind of funny.
"I was doing a show in Nashville, so I reached out to Dixie. I texted her 'hey I’ve got this show in Nashville, it would be really nice to see you and Serge and maybe you could come along. ' I get back in my car about an hour later and I see a text from Dixie and it says 'that’s ok.' I thought to myself well that bridge has burned. That relationship is unsolvable. It wasn’t until an hour after, that I saw the 'that’s ok' was just on the tail end of a much longer message that said ' I really appreciate you thinking of us. We would love to go, but I may have to be somewhere. Can I get back to you if' and then the last line 'that’s ok.' She did come to the show and honestly she was the first person to message me after they put me in the Hall of Fame. I wish I could have done more for them. I really do."
Did he know Dean Ambrose would be a major star: "I knew they were really high on him. Dean was probably happier with the break with the Shield and I was the second happiest to see him get that break. I cannot physically wrestle anymore. That break that I thought I was going to be a part of, was just not going to happen. Dean would be at every tv taping, so I would see him and say 'hey how are things going? Anything on the horizon?' and he would be like 'no man, not yet.' I felt personally responsible. So when he said 'yeah they had something', I asked 'is it pretty good?' He said 'Yeah it’s pretty good'.
"Ironically his career would have really suffered had he done the run with me. It would have been a nice boost, but then he would have been on his own from that point. Getting over long term is really, really difficult. These guys not only did they come up slowly, by the time they had their first match at TLC they blew everybody away at the Barclay’s Center. All three guys have the potential to be major stars. I couldn’t be happier for Ambrose. He is kind of a weird dude, but it works to his advantage. I’ve described his style as disturbingly poetic. The way that he moves, he is so fluid. William Regal was the guy that was so high on him. He said 'he is everyone’s perfect opponent for the next ten years.'"
On being there the night Dolph Ziggler cashed his Money in the Bank briefcase: "When I heard the audience eruption, I asked 'what just happened?' They said 'Ziggler is cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase.' I ran because I really wanted to be a part of that experience in the arena. We all know it’s a pretty good percentage rate when it comes to cashing in. I’m not saying this to put myself over, but I had a talk with Dolph earlier and I said 'man I got to be honest Dolph I thought I was going to see you cash in last night.'Dolph then said to me 'yeah you and me both brother.' I said 'take it from someone who knows, when you get that chance and you will, and when you become world champion, and you will, don’t let the place or the time or the circumstances dictate to you how special that moment is going to feel.
"Take it from a guy who won his first WWE title on a taped show in Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s going to be every bit as special as it would have been at Mania.' So when I heard he was cashing in ,I ran to be part of the arena. I could see my arms pumping, and then I looked down at my legs and they weren’t running. I wandered out into the crowd and saw Ziggler win the world title. When he came back he said' that was my Wrestlemania moment.'It was really cool to be there. Clearly this guy is going to be the cornerstone of the company. I feel really good about the direction this company is headed."
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