The Truth About Ric Flair And Mick Foley’s Feud

Ric Flair and Mick Foley are both among professional wrestling’s most respected performers, yet they couldn’t be more different from each other. For most of his career, Flair was known for his hard-living, promiscuous lifestyle outside the ring, which he turned up to eleven as the arrogant Nature Boy fans have (usually) loved to hate since the 1970s. Foley, on the other hand, was, and still is a devoted husband and father who’s been married to the same woman for close to three decades. Despite working his share of off-beat gimmicks through the years, he’s just as known for appearing under his real name and highlighting his nice-guy reputation — at least when he’s billed as a babyface.

In terms of in-ring style during their time as active wrestlers, the oil-and-water analogy applies as well — Flair was known for his technical proficiency, while Foley took pride in his hardcore wrestling — an especially violent style characterized by the frequent use of weapons and props and much fewer rules than standard wrestling matches. 

Given how different they are in so many ways, it may come as a surprise to some that Flair and Foley had some great matches, which is made more impressive by the fact that they were both winding down their in-ring careers when they feuded. What may be less surprising, however, is the fact that they once had an intense feud with each other that wasn’t part of any on-air storyline.

Foley and Flair traded barbs in their respective autobiographies

Sometimes, the best athletes in traditional sports don’t make the best coaches, and in the world of wrestling, something similar applies when great in-ring workers don’t make the best decisions when given authority as the head booker. That’s how Mick Foley felt about Ric Flair during his stint as World Championship Wrestling (WCW) head booker in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and he documented this in his 1999 autobiography “Have a Nice Day.” As quoted by Pro Wrestling Stories, Foley memorably wrote that “Ric Flair was every bit as bad on the booking side of things as he was great on the wrestling side of it.”

Five years later, when Flair published his own memoir, “To Be the Man,” he fired back at Foley with a pointed criticism of the hardcore wrestling he specialized in. The Nature Boy claimed never to have read what Foley had to say in “Have a Nice Day,” but take a look at these comments and you be the judge: “”Foley has a cult following because of his contribution to hardcore wrestling, but hardcore is such a small part of the history of this business. When I was training, falling off a ladder was not a prerequisite to making it as a professional wrestler.”

After upping the ante and calling Foley a “glorified stuntman,” Flair brought up the names of several wrestling legends and still-active competitors who didn’t need to put their bodies at so much risk in order to get over. He even noted that Terry Funk, a longtime mainstay of the hardcore wrestling scene, was a “great worker” before he started competing in matches with barbed wire baseball bats, thumb tacks, and other items associated with that type of wrestling.

Foley got personal with Flair while cutting a promo in Ring of Honor

Those comments from Ric Flair were far from the only ones he made about Foley in the pages of “To Be the Man.” In an even more direct criticism of the younger performer (via Pro Wrestling Stories), Flair wrote that Foley was never a “great attraction” or a “great worker” and went so far as to accuse him of “sucking up” to the WWE creative team so he could get a better push. The Nature Boy then opined that Foley was “such a fan of himself” — a nicer, jargon-free way of delivering the wrestling industry expression “mark for oneself.”

Later in 2004, Foley cut a promo while he was working for independent promotion Ring of Honor, making his feelings known about Flair and his remarks even if he wasn’t feuding with him at the time. On the lighter side, he poked fun at the Nature Boy’s tendency to cut bawdy promos where he refers to his manhood as “Space Mountain.” However, he also insinuated that unlike Flair, he actually put his body on the line and was willing to “step aside for the sake of younger, hungrier, better wrestlers.” At this point, we should remind you that Foley was only 39 years old when he cut that promo; Flair was a ripe old 55 but still very much active in the ring.

The two legends got into a physical altercation at a WWE taping

Based on what he said in that ROH promo, it was clear that Mick Foley was deeply hurt by Ric Flair’s lengthy rant about him in his autobiography, and he was still salty during a WWE “Monday Night Raw” taping on December 13, 2004. Trying to be civil as they encountered each other backstage, Flair offered to shake Foley’s hand, but when Foley refused, Flair reacted by throwing a punch. The proverbial cooler heads intervened before things could get uglier, but both men kept yelling insults at each other.

According to Pro Wrestling Stories, Foley had no intention of letting the scuffle escalate to further violence; he had no plans of getting into a legitimate brawl with a 55-year-old man. Flair, however, kept needling Foley, bragging repeatedly that he could beat the self-proclaimed “Hardcore Legend” in a real fight. After the two argued a bit about various other matters, Foley dropped a bombshell on Flair, confirming that he was indeed upset over Flair’s comments on “To Be the Man” and adding that he read the original manuscript, which was supposedly even more critical of him than the final, published version. 

Following that revelation, Flair was understandably angry, but not at Foley — instead, he allegedly threatened to sue the person who had given Foley access to what was meant to be a confidential manuscript.

Flair and Foley patched things up after a bloody in-ring feud

During their backstage altercation at the 2004 “Raw” taping, Mick Foley notably told Ric Flair that he wouldn’t want to have an on-air storyline with him because doing so would be akin to “rewarding bad behavior.” However, they did indeed feud in the squared circle in 2006, with their kayfabe rivalry heavily informed by their real-life animosity, as documented by Bleacher Report.

Although Flair won via disqualification when Foley attacked him with a trash can during their match at the Vengeance pay-per-view in July, that, at the very least, allowed their feud to culminate one month later at SummerSlam — one of WWE’s “Big Four” annual pay-per-views. Flair ended up defeating Foley in a far more satisfying fashion, winning an “I Quit” match that the Chicago Sun-Times praised as a “hardcore classic.” In 2010, while they were both working for TNA (now Impact Wrestling), they revived their storyline rivalry, that time with Foley emerging victorious in a Last Man Standing Match (via Ringside Hustle). 

Per Pro Wrestling Stories, it appears that Flair and Foley quietly buried the hatchet sometime after their WWE feud while talking things over during a plane ride. The two WWE Hall of Famers are currently on friendly terms with each other, though as Bleacher Report pointed out, it took some time before they were finally able to come to an understanding and let bygones be bygones.

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