WWE has started to announce their inductees for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame class so I have decided to feature these inductees in The Wrestling Match Review. The first WWE Hall of Fame inductee this year was Mick Foley. I had a lot of great Foley matches to choose from including my favorite match of all-time, Mankind vs. Undertaker Hell in a Cell. I want the theme of my column to be reviews of matches that are not very popular so I picked Cactus Jack vs. Randy Orton from Backlash 2004. This match is well-known, but I can think of at least four or five Foley matches that are more famous than the Cactus-Orton match. Why did I pick this match? Because it is Foley’s favorite wrestling match. Foley wrote, “I think every wrestler should have one legitimate ‘comeback’ match after retiring. After that, everything is going to be at least partially a grab for money. So, after being disappointed with my performance at WrestleMania XX – feeling like I’d played it too safe, I let it all hang out in this wild bout that did wonders for both Randy Orton’s career and my self-esteem.”

The Facts:

  • This match happened on April 18, 2004 at the Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The attendance was 13,000.
  • Randy Orton’s WWE Intercontinental Championship was on the line in this hardcore match.
  • Mick Foley wrestled as Cactus Jack, one of the three faces of Foley. The other two were Mankind and Dude Love.
  • At WrestleMania XX, the previous Pay-Per-View, Orton, Batista, and Ric Flair defeated Mick Foley and The Rock.
  • This match was ranked #10 in a Bleacher Report article called “Power Ranking the 15 Greatest Slugfests of the Past 15 Years in WWE”. It was one of seven Mick Foley matches that appeared in the article. Click HERE to read it.
  • Mick Foley said his weight for this match was “about 273” pounds coming down from 320 pounds.
  • Foley said, “Nothing about this match is good for the human body.”
  • Foley enjoys being a comedy figure, but said, “This is what I want to be remembered for…these type of matches.”
  • Foley’s arms, hands, fingers were cut up 75 times by the barbed wire board in this match.
  • Foley does an elbow drop off the entrance stage in this match. Foley said it was one of his favorite elbow drops and said, “That’s about as perfect an elbow as I can drop.”
  • Foley said Orton’s reaction to landing on the thumbtacks in this match was “as legitimate as you can get. When he’s shaking, that’s a legitimate reaction to hundreds of sharp objects.”
  • In the book My Favorite Match, Orton said this was his favorite match. Orton said, “When I look back, this match really helped set me up for my first World Heavyweight Championship run. I was the Intercontinental Champion during my feud with Foley, but the match at Backlash really gave me the momentum to get into position for that next level, and that’s one of the reasons this match is really important to me and my career.”
  • Orton made the decision that he was going to land on thumbtacks during the match. Days before the match, Orton put a thumbtack on his carpet at home and laid down on it to see what it felt like. Orton said it was awful and made him more nervous about the match.
  • Orton said the thumbtacks in his fingertips during the match hurt the most.
  • After the match, Chris Jericho asked Orton, “How did you get those thumbtacks to stick to your back like that?”
  • Orton said the crowd in Edmonton that night was “the best crowd I’ve ever had the pleasure of working in front of.”
  • Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter gave this match a ****1/2 rating.
  • Jim “JR” Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler were the announcers for this match.
  • The time length of this match was 23:03.

The Match:

Randy Orton is in the ring with a 2X4 covered with barbed wire and Cactus Jack enters the ring with a barbed wire baseball bat. Orton drops the 2X4 and picks up an empty trash can. He uses the can to block Cactus’s attacks with the bat. Cactus is able take the can away from Orton and Orton leaves the ring. Cactus leaves the ring with the bat. Cactus takes swings at Orton and Orton barely avoids them. Orton falls down, but he is able to execute a drop toe hold on Cactus who falls face first onto the steel steps. Orton picked up the bat (also known as “Barbie”) and Cactus tries to take Barbie away from Orton. Cactus pushes Barbie into Orton’s forehead. I don’t think Barbie made contact. Orton is able to get Barbie away from his head and tries to push it onto Cactus’s face. Cactus punches Orton and Orton releases Barbie. Orton picks up his trash can that Cactus had thrown out of the ring and hits Cactus on the head with it. Orton hits Cactus two more times. Orton tries to hit Cactus with the can a fourth time, but Cactus kicks the can and it hits Orton’s head. Cactus hits Orton with the can. Orton is down on the floor. Cactus tosses Orton into the ring. Cactus does some ground attacks on Orton. Jim Ross says Cactus’s current weight is his lowest since 1989. That’s an interesting fact if it’s true. Cactus does a Hogan leg drop on Orton. Cactus goes for the first pin of the match and Orton kicks out. Cactus chokes Orton with his boot by the ring apron and then knocks Orton out of the ring with a baseball slide.

Cactus slides out of the ring and hits Orton with a swinging neck breaker. Cactus climbs to the middle turnbuckle and it looks like he’s going to hit Orton with an elbow drop. Orton starts to crawl away. Orton is now walking up the entrance ramp, but Cactus grabs him from behind. Orton is able to do a side suplex and Cactus’s head hits the ramp. Orton goes for a pin and Cactus kicks out. Backslide and Cactus kicks out again. Orton slams Cactus’s head and the back of Cactus’s head hits the ramp hard. Cactus kicks out of another pin. Orton tosses Cactus back into the ring. Orton has Barbie and tries to put the barbed wire on Cactus’s face. Cactus blocks it and gives Orton a low blow with his boot. Orton drops Barbie. Cactus pulls out Socko and asks the crowd if they want to see him use Socko or Barbie. The fans pick Barbie. Cactus hits Orton’s face with Barbie and Orton is busted open! The blood is flowing on Orton’s face. Cactus attacks Orton in the ring corner. Cactus picks up Barbie and he pushes Barbie onto Orton’s face. Orton is on the mat and Cactus places Barbie on Orton’s groin. Cactus does a leg drop on Barbie! Jerry Lawler says Cactus is sick and perverted. Cactus goes out of the ring and gets a gasoline can. Cactus pours gasoline on Barbie. Cactus has a lighter in his hand and Eric Bischoff comes out telling Cactus that if he sets that barbed wire bat on fire, Cactus will lose the match and the show will be shut down by the fire marshall. Cactus tosses Barbie and the lighter out of the ring.

Cactus hits Orton on the head with a cooking sheet. Cactus goes outside the ring and gets a barbed wire board. The fans start chanting “holy shit”. Cactus tries to knock Orton onto the board, but Orton throws powder into Cactus’s eyes. Orton then slams Cactus onto the barbed wire board! Orton goes for the pin and Cactus kicks out. Orton puts the board in the corner and whips Cactus into the board! Orton dropkicks Cactus into the board. This is how Cactus got the 75 cuts I mentioned in The Facts. Orton gets a bag of thumbtacks and empties the bag onto the mat. Orton tries to RKO Cactus onto the tacks, but Cactus is able to push Orton onto the tacks! Orton is in shock and the thumbtacks are stuck to Orton’s body! Cactus pins Orton and he kicks out. Orton leaves the ring and goes to the back. Cactus follows him and they go out of the view of the camera men. Cactus brings Orton back and they are on top of the entrance ramp. Cactus throws Orton off the stage and Orton goes through a table! Cactus jumps off the stage and hits Orton with an elbow drop! Cactus pins Orton and Orton kicks out at two. Great near-fall.  Cactus gets Orton back into the ring. Cactus hits Orton with the double-arm DDT. Orton kicks out of Cactus’s pin and it is another great near-fall. Orton leaves the ring and when Cactus tries to go get him, Orton hits Cactus with Barbie. Cactus is down and he is bleeding. Orton is back in the ring and hits Cactus a few times with Barbie. Orton tries to hit Cactus with Barbie again and Cactus applies the Mandible Claw. Orton hits Cactus with a low blow, but Cactus applies the Mandible Claw again. RKO out of nowhere! Cover by Orton and Cactus kicks out of the RKO! Orton hits Cactus with the RKO onto Barbie! Orton pins Cactus and the referee counts to three.

Winner: Randy Orton

Rating: ****1/2

The first time I saw this match was when I bought the Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits & Misses Hardcore Edition DVD. I think it was in 2008 or 2009. I didn’t watch much of WWE after they purchased WCW so I missed the beginning of Orton’s career. I have read that a lot of people think this was a career changing match for Orton. He went from a pretty boy to a tough guy bad ass. Orton had never been a world champion when this match happened, but when I was watching the match, Orton looked like a main event superstar. Mick Foley did a great job making Orton look good and I would have loved to see how much he could help someone like Dolph Ziggler if Foley was in good enough shape to wrestle a 20+ minute match. I love this match and it’s not just because I’m a Foley fan. This is a very entertaining match. Not only is it one of the best Foley matches since the WWF became WWE, but it is one of the best matches of Foley’s entire wrestling career. Foley was worthy of being a WWE Hall of Famer when he retired in 2000 and Foley proved it by having a classic match four years later at the age of 38. Foley wasn’t an out of shape and washed up legend having one more match. Foley was in better shape than he was during the Attitude Era and had one of the greatest performances of his career.

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