by Brett Schwan
Michael Foley was born in Bloomington, Indiana on June 7, 1965. Who would
have known that this was the birth of hardcore. Michael met Dominic Denucci,
while setting up wrestling rings. Denucci agreed to train Foley at a gym, near his
home, in Pittsburgh. Cactus Jack Manson was born! Jack made his pro debut on
June 24, 1983 defeating Kurt Kaufman.
Five years later, in August of 1988, Jack became a member of Robert Fuller's
Stud Stable in the CWA. Two months later, on October 23, Jack and Gary Young
won a tournament to capture the CWA tag team title. Fuller and Jimmy Golden
soon turned on Jack and Young, defeating them for the titles on November 7.
Finally, on November 20, Jack and Young lost a loser leaves town match.
Cactus Jack then headed to World Class where he joined Gen. Skandor Akbar's
stable. On May 30, 1989, Cactus and Zodiac II defeated the team of Jeff Jarrett
and Kerry Von Erich to capture the World Class tag team title. Unfortunately,
the belts were lost 10 days later. A second title reign began on August 4 when
Jack and Corporal Braddok beat Jarrett and Matt Bourne. After losing the belts
one week later, Cactus left World Class.
Cactus soon arrived in WCW where he hooked up with Kevin Sullivan. Together
they had a series of matches with Abdullah the Butcher and Norman. After this
he headed to the "new" UWF. He teamed with Bob Orton and feuded with Don
Muraco, Sunny Beach, and Brian Blair. Managed by John Tolos, Jack and Orton
lost to Sunny Beach and Stevie Ray at the UWF Beach Brawl PPV on June 9,
Cactus Jack was developing a "cult" following because of his growing repertoire
of high risk moves, such as the hip buster. It was during a match in July 1991 that
Cactus debuted the Double Arm DDT on J.T. Smith. This move would continue
to serve as Jack's finisher for the years to follow. In what many wrestling fans
consider "The Feud of 1991", Cactus Jack battled in a series of brutal matches
with Eddie Gilbert. On August 3, this feud came to a peak when they fought three
times in one night. The matches were: a falls count anywhere match, stretcher
match, and a steel cage.
At this point, both Jack's personal and professional life seemed to be gaining
momentum. Personally, Jack announced his engagement to Colette (with whom
he has since had two children, Dewey and Noelle). Professionally, Jack entered
the Global Wrestling Federation as part of the Boss' Cartel. The Cartel; Rip
Rogers, Muckan Singh, Scotty Anthony, and Cactus attempted to capture the tag
team titles to no avail.
After some great matches in the GWF, Cactus returned to WCW as one of the
presents sent to Sting by Lex Luger. This time Cactus allied himself with
Abdullah the Butcher. At Halloween Havoc, Cactus and Abby, along with Vader
and Diamond Studd, faced Sting, El Gigante, and the Steiners in the "Chamber
of Horrors". Cactus then began feuding with Van Hammer followed by Abdullah
through 1991 into 1992.
Tragedy struck on April 23, 1993. Cactus Jack's career came to an abrupt halt.
During a match with Vader, Jack was powerbombed onto the concrete floor,
hitting his head. He suffered a concussion. Many people feared that his career
was over. Jack returned from this injury much earlier than anticipated. He
returned, and defeated, Yoshi Kwan at Fall Brawl 93. He then went on to face
Vader in a Texas Death match on PPV. Cactus Jack, now one of WCW's most
popular wrestlers then started a feud with Paul Orndorff.
During a match against Vader overseas, Cactus Jack's head got caught in the
ropes. While trying to free himself, his ear got caught and two-thirds of it got
torn off. Cactus had to decide, reattach the ear or return to the U.S. for a tag title
match. He chose the latter. Jack and Sullivan won the WCW tag titles from the
Nasty Boys. Later, after losing the tag titles, Jack faced Sullivan in a loser leave
town match. After losing, Cactus decided to split his wrestling between Japan,
where he had been very successful, SMW, and ECW.
While in ECW, Cactus Jack had a brutal, bloody Feud with Sabu, teamed with
Mikey Whipwreck to win the tag titles from Public Enemy, had Kevin Sullivan
come in and turn on him, gave Sandman a concussion, was attacked by Sandman,
DC Drake, and Terry Funk, defeated Terry Funk and battled Sandman in several
title matches. One of these title matches was a no ropes, barbed wire match.
Cactus Jack won this match and was declared the new ECW Heavyweight
Champion, only to have referee Bill Alfonso reverse the decision.
On August 5, 1995 Cactus Jack once again showed his true colors. During a
match where he teamed with Tommy Dreamer and the Pitbulls, Cactus DDT'd
his partner Dreamer. The Cactus Jack of old, had returned!
Cactus Jack once again made history on August 28, in Kennet Square, PA. when
he became the first man ever to defeat 911!
Cactus Jack wrestled his last match in ECW in April 1996. His opponent was his
former tag team partner, Mikey Whipwreck. Cactus Jack won the match.
Afterwards, "New York, New York" began to play over the sound system. Cactus
was joined in the ring by Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie. The three men
did the Fargo strut and a kickline before leaving the ring. Cactus Jack was no
Cactus Jack will always be remembered as one of the greatest brawlers in the
history of mankind!
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