The Undertaker looks down at medical staff checking on Mankind after he fell, unscripted, through the top of Hell in a Cell into the ring 16ft below. June 28, 1998
Foley suffered several injuries in the match: a concussion, a dislocated jaw and shoulder, bruised ribs, internal bleeding, puncture wounds, and several teeth knocked out.
Before the match, Foley and fellow wrestler Terry Funk were in Stamford, Connecticut to watch and discuss the previous year’s Hell in a Cell, brainstorming ideas about how to try and top that match, with Funk saying “maybe you should let him throw you off the top of the cage”.
“Yeah,” I shot back, “then I could climb back up – and he could throw me off again”. Man, that was a good one, and we were having a good time thinking completely ludicrous things to do inside, outside, and on top of the cage. After a while I got serious and said quietly to Terry, “I think I can do it.”
When presented with the idea of throwing Foley off the top of the cage, Calaway (The Undertaker) was hesitant, going as far as to ask Foley, “Mick, do you want to die?”
Writing in his autobiography Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Foley recalls being asked by Calaway about why he wanted to execute the plan, and his response being “I’m afraid this match gonna stink. You can’t walk, and, let’s face it, I don’t have any heat. We’ve got a heck of a legacy to live up to, and I don’t want this match to ruin it. If we can start it out hot enough, we can make people think we had a hell of a match, even if we didn’t”.
Ultimately, Calaway reluctantly agreed to perform the spot. Foley sold him on the idea by saying they could not only begin a match in a way nobody had ever done, they could then have a unique match.
Mankind came out first and once he reached the cell, he threw a steel folding chair on top of the structure and began to climb to the top.
The Undertaker then made his entrance, and followed Mankind by climbing to the top. Once on top of the cell, Foley considered aborting the planned stunt, but quickly changed his mind, later telling Ross he “wanted to create a moment” for the fans.
The pair began exchanging punches and moved towards the edge of the cell.Then, in an “unbelievable moment”, The Undertaker grabbed Mankind from behind and threw him from the top of the structure, propelling him 22 ft through the air, sending him crashing through the Spanish commentators’ table and landing on the concrete floor of the arena, which triggered Ross to famously shout, “Good God almighty! Good God almighty! They’ve killed him!”and “As God as my witness, he is broken in half!”
Ross later said his reactions were real, and Calaway said he experienced an out-of-body experience in the moment, visualizing himself watching Mankind fly off the cage. It was seen as extra surprising as stunts involving announce tables are usually telegraphed by a performer removing bulky CRT monitors to protect the recipient.
Mankind remained motionless underneath the broken table, while The Undertaker remained on top of the cell. Medical personnel came out to check on Foley, as did Funk and various others, including Vince McMahon who broke kayfabe by looking legitimately worried about someone his Mr. McMahon character was supposed to dislike.
Mankind was placed on a stretcher and began to be wheeled out of the arena. However, Mankind got up from the stretcher and fought off the officials, to climb again onto the top of the cell,with The Undertaker doing likewise. After a brief brawl, The Undertaker performed a chokeslam on Mankind which sent him through the panel of the chain-link cage.The steel chair would also fall through, hitting Mankind as it landed and knocking him unconscious; it was the first time in his career that he had been legitimately knocked out during a match.
On commentary, Ross said “Good God… good God! Will somebody stop the damn match? Enough’s enough!”, while color commentator Jerry Lawler adding, “That’s it. He’s dead”.
According to both Foley, Calaway and Prichard, the second bump through the cell roof was completely unplanned, Calaway would later say that he thought Foley was legitimately dead following the second fall and asked Funk to check if he was still alive, while Foley would describe Ross’ commentary as “not part of a wrestling match, but a legitimate cry for my well-being”.
Foley later said that the only reason he survived the fall was because he did not take the chokeslam properly, as he had been too exhausted to lift his body weight in response to the chokehold.
In his memoir Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Foley called it both the best and worst chokeslam he ever took, saying that despite its looks, he would have likely died if he had landed properly
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