Sept 1997 witnessed Mick Foley's third avtar in the WWE. He called himself Cactus Jack and was hardcore through and through. He often came to the ring accompanied by a trashcan filled with offensive objects and had only one intention in his mind, he wanted to hurt people.
Triple H was unfortunately the first one to experience Cactus Jack's exploits as he lost a barbaric street fight match to the latter on RAW. History soon caught up with the cerebral assasin three years later and this time, things were about to get more ugly.
Triple H had come to power by marrying Stephanie McMahon, and along with D-Generation X, formed the McMahon/Helmsley faction. They were control freaks who made Raw and SmackDown their own personal playground.
They were the Authority before there was the Authority. Every match and move they made favoured them, and they took every possible advantage they could.
One of the most beloved superstars at the time was Mankind. He was already in the middle of a fierce battle with Triple H over the WWE Championship. When the faction rose to power, he refused to accept them as authority figures, as he lashed out on numerous occasions.
Foley, alongside the Rock became the voice for superstars who could not stand up to Triple H and Stephanie.
For their actions, they were put in a match where the loser was fired. The Rock beat Mankind, and therefore Mankind was given his pink slip. This led to the Rock calling every superstar to the ring.
They threatened to walk out and leave if they did not rehire Mankind. The faction had no choice but to reinstate Mankind, and he was even granted a world title match with Triple H at the Royal Rumble.
Triple H wasn't happy with Mankind's return, and unleashed a brutal attack on him. On SmackDown, Mick Foley admitted that Mankind was not the man for this fight. He had to turn into his hardcore alter ego, Cactus Jack. The match at the Rumble was booked as a street fight, which played right into Cactus Jack's wheelhouse.
It was only fitting a match of this magnitude would take place at the worlds most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, in the heart of New York City. The crowd was hot and ready for a barbaric battle, as they were set for thunderous blows and bloodshed. Trust me when I say, these two men did deliver.
It was a brutal beating, to say the least. These two men used the Garden as their own personal playground. From back body drops on the entrance aisle, to pile-drivers on the announce table, the Garden could not contain them.
The real turn of the match came when Cactus brought out a 2x4 wrapped in barbed wire, amicably named Barbie. He hit her on the skull of The Game, busting his forehead wide open.
Reminiscent of prior Rumbles, Cactus found himself handcuffed with no escape. Triple H was taking advantage of a man who could get no offense in. In an ironic twist from the prior year, the Rock came to the aide of Cactus. He brought out one of New York City's finest to release Cactus.
Cactus was ready to seal the match when he grabbed a bag and proceeded to pour thousands of thumbtacks onto the canvas. This moved backfired as Triple H nailed two pedigrees onto the thumbtacks, sealing the victory.
The savagery in this match was second to none. Two men with such an intimate history and hatred for each other pulled out everything they could to tear each other apart. Even the look on Stephanie McMahon's face at the end tells the story of what we all witnessed. The match stands out as a staple of what professional wrestling was like during the early 2000s.
Triple H has stood the test of time and featured in matches that have seen him don the crimson mask on multiple occasions. But this match was an unreal test for the game.
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