Joe Vallee, CBS Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mick Foley has heard the loud crowds before.

They were once part of his everyday life for quite some time.

Foley, of course, is a wrestling legend. He’s sometimes known as Mankind, to others he’s Cactus Jack. For a brief time, he was even called Dude Love. He’s won multiple championships in several wrestling affiliations too numerous to mention. In his day, Foley indeed suffered for his art, mainly for the sake of trying to win over an audience. Known as a physical performer, it’s not an understatement to say the magnitude of physical beatings Foley has taken as a wrestler surpasses those of anyone in the history of the sport.

At 49 years of age, he clearly has difficulty walking, and he once finished a match with one of his front teeth lodged in his nose. Last but not least, nobody will forget the time Foley lost his right ear in a match against the ferocious Vader during his days in the WCW.

It’s been several years since Foley last appeared in the ring. For most athletes or celebrities who’ve experienced the limelight, a life away from their former professions can get dark and lonely if the transition isn’t handled properly.

That being said, Mick Foley’s life is anything but dark or lonely. He is a married family man with four kids, and his natural charisma and everyman appeal have earned him the respect and admiration of fans all over the world. He currently has over one million followers on Twitter, and has maintained his status as one of wrestling’s most fascinating, colorful, wild, and at times unpredictable personalities. He’s authored multiple children’s books as well as several novels.

Foley also reinvented himself by dabbling in color commentary, acting in several television shows and films, as well as producing “I Am Santa Claus,” a documentary directed by WIP’s own Tommy Avallone. Foley, a notorious lover of Christmas, reportedly has one of the rooms of his house dedicated to the festive holiday.

GALLERY: Mick Foley At Wing Bowl 23

Yes, most men or women wouldn’t be able to spend two lifetimes trying to accomplishing what Mick Foley has done in his life. And last Friday, he crossed yet another item off his bucket list.

Wing Bowl contestant.

Sure, maybe it’s not as physically dangerous as stepping into the ring against the likes of such legendary wrestlers as The Rock, The Undertaker or Triple H, but let’s be honest here: Wing Bowl, a WIP tradition of for almost a quarter of a century, has brutally chewed up and spit out (no pun intended) some of the most accomplished eaters in the world. And despite the fact that less-able bodied men (and women) than Foley have been put to the task and failed, Wing Bowl is not for the faint of heart, which Foley acknowledged with some slight trepidation.

“This sounded like a win-win situation. I’m all for new experiences, and this is a new experience. Part of the secret is not to form preconceived notions and to take the challenges on as they occur, but this is pure craziness. I’m scared to death,” Foley admitted just moments prior to the start of the contest while sipping his Monster Energy drink.

“There’s 20,000 people watching competitive eating. I’ve never been in this situation like this before in my life, and I’m just hoping to make it out of here alive. I was thrown off a massive steel structure, and I think I’m more intimidated by this type of atmosphere.”

After reading the above statement, one could easily be compelled to question whether Foley’s apparent trepidation was just an act. Perhaps a ruse from a man who has made a living playing to an audience for the better part of the last three decades. Besides, having been previously disqualified from the International Fruitcake Eating Championship in Santa Claus, Indiana for questionable behavior, it was apparent that Foley might have a trick up his sleeve.

On the eve of Wing Bowl, word was out that a possible fix, orchestrated by Foley himself, was in the works. In fact, he made no effort to hide this, stating on his Twitter page that he was going to follow the “wrestler’s creed,” which according to him, is to “win if I can, lose if I must, but always cheat!”

Foley is no stranger to the City of Brotherly Love, having been a member of the Philadelphia-based ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) decades ago. He has his share of loyal followers in the area as well as inside the Wells Fargo Center, where he refereed the Main Event at WrestleMania XV back in 1999. He soon entered the arena on a float adorned with Christmas-style decorations, along with a posse dressed like elves who led the procession.

As the float approached the stage, confetti was thrown, and the fans’ overwhelming chants of “Foley! Foley! Foley!” became deafening (including one from some random fan named “Little Robby” Centerfold Man). Foley, who triumphantly gave the thumbs up to the crowd, appeared to be enjoying every second of it.

With only minutes to go before the moment of truth, however, lingering questions remained. In the wake of deflate-gate, would there be a Wing-Gate controversy? What did Mick Foley have up his flannel sleeve?

The sold out Wing Bowl crowd was about to find out.

As the contest began, Foley seemed to have found a groove and comfortably finished around two dozen wings. Then suddenly, a Wing Bowl referee caught him stuffing uneaten wings into his fanny pack, which he blatantly left unzippered. Foley was immediately disqualified from the competition.

Game over.

He was done.

WATCH: Mick Foley Gets Ejected From Wing Bowl 23

A mere seconds after his dismissal, Foley shared his immediate thoughts of what transpired at the podium, yet showed no remorse for his actions. The sarcasm was palpable.

“I didn’t want my legacy to be that I threw up on national television, and I decided my only recourse was to cheat and be thrown out with dignity, and I achieved my goal,” he deadpanned.

However, no sarcasm was evident when Foley praised the devoted Wing Bowl faithful.

“You know, it’s adrenaline, but it’s also a fear,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever entered a wrestling match, with the very real fear of vomiting in front of 20,000 people. Not that it hasn’t happened to others in the industry, but that was never even a thought in my mind until, A. I saw the video of somebody doing it in a previous Wing Bowl, and B. I saw Molly (Schuyler) next to me apparently devouring those wings. I realised I was out of my league.

“It’s a spectacle, like the Gathering of the Juggalos. It’s one of those things that you have to do, and I’m glad I did it. Even though Philadelphia’s always known as the wildest city, it’s one thing to be wild at 10 pm. It’s another to be wild at 6:45 am and see the Wells Fargo Center sold out. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

An awestruck Foley was then ushered back to a lounge area for some much needed rest and relaxation. After arriving on a flight from Florida the day before, Foley was exhausted. He wasn’t kidding about being grossed out from the possibility of vomiting, as he turned off the television that was relaying the broadcast in the lounge.

Shortly after Patrick Bertoletti ate a record-setting 444 wings and was crowned the champion of Wing Bowl 23, Foley arrived at the Wing Bowl after-party at SugarHouse Casino. Even though some time had passed since his premature exit from the competition, which he shamelessly predicted, Foley reiterated on the Mike and Ike show that he indeed had no regrets about his actions which resulted in Wing Gate.

In the end, Foley’s legacy wasn’t really tarnished, everybody seemed to be in on the joke, and the sanctity of Wing Bowl was never truly violated. At the end of the day, you really have to sit back and tip your cap to him. In the hours that followed, Foley’s name was trending on every major social media site.

In a nutshell, Mick Foley had the entire country taking notice of how he was tossed out of a wing eating contest. Simply because he made no attempt to hide some chicken wings he placed inside his fanny pack.

That is impressive.

Then again, he’s not known as ‘The Hardcore Legend’ for nothing.


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