Mick Foley came to the WWF fresh out of ECW, where he was known around the world as Cactus Jack. His persona in the WWF was Mankind, a deranged macissist. He made his Raw debut the day after WrestleMania XII, beating Bob Holly. Later that night, he ambushed The Undertaker, immediately putting him in a feud with The Dead Man. He was able to put UT's lights out with The Mandible Claw, and The Undertaker never had an opponent he had as much trouble with as Mankind. At IYH: Beware of Dog 2, UT was having a match with Goldust when Mankind leaped out of the casket and put the Claw on the Taker, shutting him in the casket. They met at King of the Ring. Near the end of the match, Paul Bearer seemingly accidentally struck UT with the urn, allowing Mankind to put the Claw on him and get the win. The rematch occured in the boiler room of the Gund Arena at SummerSlam. The object was to make your way out to the ring, and get the urn from Paul Bearer. At the end of a brutal match that put ECW to shame, Paul Bearer ended his six year relationship with Undertaker by smashing the urn over his head and giving it to Mankind. This win got Mankind a shot at the WWF title at IYH: Mind Games against Shawn Michaels. In another brutal classic, Mankind lost by DQ, when Vader interfered. Mankind went on to a Buried Alive match with UT at IYH: Buried Alive, which he won, due to interference from the Executioner. The Undertaker finally beat Mankind at the Survivor Series.
Mankind started teaming with Vader, and they worked their way to a tag title shot at WrestleMania XIII against Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith. Mankind got the Mandible Claw on Owen outside the ring, and both men were counted out. At IYH: Revenge of the Taker, Mankind got a title shot against Undertaker, losing in yet another brutal classic. When he did a series of interviews on Raw, everyone saw a softer side of Mankind, and he told about his childhood dreams of being a wrestler with a Shawn Michaels-like personality, Dude Love. When Steve Austin was looking for a tag partner, Mankind tried to get him to pick him, but Austin would have none of it. Austin went against Davey Boy and Owen by himself, and midway through the match, Mankind came out in a tye dye outfit and introduced himself as Dude Love. He and Austin won the titles, but had to give them up when Austin injured his neck at SummerSlam, the same card where Mankind beat Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a cage match.
On Raw, Dude was slated to meet HHH in a falls count anywhere match, but he came out as Cactus Jack, and piledrived HHH through a table for the win.
That was the only time we saw Cactus for awhile. After a brief feud with DX, Mankind became Dude for awhile, but when he was attacked by Kane, Mankind wrestled him at the Survivor Series. Mankind lost, and reverted back to Dude. When he was attacked by The New Age Outlaws, he reemerged as Cactus Jack and introduced Terry Funk as his partner, renamed Chainsaw Charlie.
All three personalities competed in the Royal Rumble that year, Cactus drawing no. 1, Mankind drawing no. 16, and Dude drawing no. 28. After that, he concentrated mostly on Cactus, but nearly had his career ended in February, when he wrestled Terry Funk. He placed Funk in a dumpster and dove into it after him. The New Age Outlaws appeared and pushed the dumpster off a ten foot stage. Cactus perservered, and he and Funk wrestled the NAO at WM XIV for the titles in a dumpster match (Kind of a tag team casket match). After brawling all over the arena, (and going through the lid of the original dumpster), Funk and Foley lifted the NAO with a forklift and dropped them into another dumpster backstage, and won the belts. Through some legal propaganda, the NAO got the titles held up, and it would be decided in a cage match the next night on Raw.
At the end, X-pac and Triple H came down and helped the NAO regain the titles, and initiating them into DX. As Cactus left the ring, it was announced that Steve Austin had been released from jail, and the fans started chanting his name. The next week, Cactus demanded an apology from the fans, and said it would be a long time before we saw Cactus Jack again. When it looked like Austin would wrestle Vince McMahon on Raw, Foley appeared as Dude Love, trying to make peace, but ended up attacking Austin. He wrestled Austin at IYH: Unforgiven and won by DQ when Austin hit Vince with a chair. A conspiracy theory had developed that Vince and Dude were in cahoots, and that was apparent over the next month, when Foley proved he was the no. 1 contender, McMahon named himself guest referee and cronies Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco announcer and time keeper. Austin got the Undertaker to watch his back and after a chaotic match, Austin won by stunning Dude and slapping an unconcious Mr. McMahon's hands to the mat three times.
The next night, Foley was berated and fired by McMahon, but he transformed to Mankind and helped Kane beat the Undertaker for the title shot against Austin. He was back with Paul Bearer, and he and UT wrestled in the second Hell in a Cell match at King of the Ring. Early in the match, Mankind was thrown over the top of the cage sixteen feet to the floor through a table. Foley whacked his face on a chair, which shoved a tooth through his nose. The cell was lifted and Mankind was carried out on a stretcher, but he got back up and started climbing the cell! UT chokeslammed him onto the lid of the cage which gave away, and Foley fell all the way to the canvas! The match itself was pretty short, although it more resembled a public execution, and somehow Mankind was able to get under the ring and produce a bag of thumbtacks, which he dumped in the middle of the ring! UT slammed him onto the tacks, and chokeslammed him onto the tacks before tombstoning him and winning the match, although Foley got the louder cheers as he exited the ring.
"The next day, we were all in the catering room of the arena watching the tape, and all the wrestlers gave me a standing ovation. I don't think I've ever felt that good in my life."
Soon after that, Mankind teamed with Kane and beat the New Age Outlaws to win the tag belts. They lost them at IYH: Fully Loaded to the dysfunctional team of Steve Austin and the Undertaker, and as the rumors of Kane and UT being in cahoots set in, Mankind grew more estranged from his partner, they regained them in a four corners match. When Kane and UT revealed their partnership, Mankind defended the titles by himself, losing to the New Age Outlaws, and getting hit in the face with a sledge hammer by Kane. He returned a few weeks later, and was thrown into a Triple Threat Cage Match at IYH: Breakdown against The Rock and Ken Shamrock. The Rock won, and Mankind got an IC title shot against Shamrock at IYH: Judgement Day. He also introduced us to his sock puppet, Mr. Socko, who he had used to beat Mark Henry , before losing to X-pac in the semi finals. At Judgement Day, when he was trapped in the Ankle Lock, instead of submitting, he put himself in the Mandible Claw and gave up.
He was awarded the new Hardcore Title by Vince McMahon a few weeks before the Survivor Series. He seemed to be McMahon's pick as the new Corporate Champion. His first opponent in the tournament was Duayne Gill, who he easily beat. He then beat Al Snow. When he was about to be beaten by Austin, Shane McMahon double crossed Austin and Mankind won in a fluke. He then wrestled The Rock. The Rock put him in the Sharpshooter, and McMahon signaled for the bell to ring, and awarded the belt to The Rock. Mankind was double crossed, and he lost the Hardcore Title to The Big Bossman a week later. He beat The Rock at IYH: Rock Bottom with the Mandible Sock, but Vince reversed the decision. After Shane was given to him as a New Year's gift by Triple H, Mankind threatened to break his arm if The Rock didn't give him the title shot on Raw. He won the WWF title with help from Austin, but lost it to the Rock in an "I Quit" match at the Royal Rumble. Shane had played a recording from earlier in the evening of Mankind saying "I Quit!" over the PA. Mankind pointed this out the next night on Raw, and challenged the Rock to yet another match.
He beat the Rock the next night, in an empty arena, in a match that was aired during halftime of the Super Bowl. He pinned The Rock to win the belt again. They went to a no contest in a Last Man Standing Match at IYH: St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but he dropped the belt to the Rock the next night on Raw, after interference from Paul Wight. He began to campaign for the right to referee the main event at WrestleMania XV. Vince McMahon said if he could beat Paul Wight at WM, the winner would get to be the ref. Mankind won by DQ, but was sent to the hospital after a chokeslam through two chairs. He returned to ref the main event however, and beat Paul Wight in a Boiler Room Brawl at IYH: Backlash. When The Corporate Ministry was formed, he teamed with Wight, Ken Shamrock, and Test to form The Union, and they won an eight man tag at Over the Edge against Mideon, The Acolytes, and The Big Bossman. A few weeks later, Triple H challenged him to a match and put him out of action when he took a sledgehammer to Mick's knee. He returned just before SummerSlam, beating Chyna for the number one contender's spot against Austin for the title. Triple H wanted his spot back, so he challenged Mankind later in the night. Dual referees Shawn Michaels and Shane McMahon declared the match a no contest when they couldn't agree on a winner and it became a Triple Threat Match. Mankind won the title at SummerSlam but lost it the next night to Triple H because of referee Shane McMahon. Mankind had his problems with The Undertaker and The Big Show, and The Rock agreed to team with him for one match. They ended up winning the tag team titles from then, and The Rock & Sock Connection was born. They lost the belts back to Show and Undertaker, but regained them against The Big Show and replacements for UT, Mideon and Viscera. They also traded them back and forth with the New Age Outlaws. The Rock barely tolerated having Mankind around, but he couldn't see that, and thought of the Rock as his best friend. When Al Snow found Rock's copy of Mankind's autobiography in the trash, Mankind was enraged and sat out on their match with Crash & Hardcore Holly and The Rock lost the belts to them. Al Snow and Mankind started teaming, and they had a brief reign as tag champs before losing to The New Age Outlaws. When The Rock revealed that he had actually read Mankind's book, Mankind started teaming with him again, and Al started to feel left out. He attacked The Rock, and revealed to Mankind that it was he who threw away Mankind's book because of all the Al Snow jokes in it, and to show him what kind of a friend the Rock really was. Because of Al, The Rock & Sock Connection were unsuccessful in regaining the tag titles at Armageddon.
Mick was then retired after a match on Raw, but the other wrestlers threatened to walk out if Mick wasn't reinstated. HHH and Stephanie McMahon reinstated him, and he demanded a title shot at the Royal Rumble. It was No Holds Barred, so Mick once again became Cactus Jack. He lost the match after being given the Pedigree on thumbtacks. Mick asked for one more title match, and if he lost, he would retire for good. The catch was it was to be a Hell in a Cell match. HHH agreed, and they met at No Way Out. Mick lost, however, but was reinstated for one night only by Linda McMahon as part of the Fatal Four Way title match at WrestleMania with Foley, The Rock, The Big Show, and HHH. Though Mick was the second one eliminated, he had achieved his dream to be in the main event at WrestleMania.