Mick Foley had a lot of success in WWE as Mankind, but that wasn’t the name that Vince McMahon originally had for him.
When Mick Foley signed with WWE in 1996, he was already a well-known wrestler due to his success in WCW and ECW as Cactus Jack.
In a story that has been told many times, former WWE Chairman Vince McMahon wasn’t a big fan of the Cactus Jack gimmick. Jim Ross, who was running Talent Relations for WWE, had to convince Vince to sign Foley. Vince agreed to it, but he wanted to put a mask on Foley’s face.
This eventually led to the birth of Mankind, who became a dangerous heel character who wore a brown mask and used the Mandible Claw finishing move that would see him press his fingers against the tongue of an opponent to make them pass out.
WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley was a guest on Hot Ones where he spoke about Vince McMahon pitching his name as “Mason The Mutilator.”
“Mr. McMahon [went], ‘Have you heard your name yet?’ This is only like the third time I met him and I actually had heard the name. It was supposed to be Mason The Mutilator, which I thought ‘That’s the death knell of a career right there.’ So I had a chance. He goes ‘In this business, we’ve had crushers, we’ve had destroyers. We’ve had executioners, but we’ve never had…a mutilator’ and I looked at him and I said, ‘I like it. I like it a lot. But what if…’ and what if were the two best words, ‘What if instead of Mason, I was Mankind The Mutilator?'”
Mick Foley pitched Mankind as a character that had a double meaning
In Mick Foley’s opinion, there would be no Mankind if Vince didn’t pitch Mason The Mutilator because it made Foley change his thinking, and that led to the name being simplified to just Mankind.
“I started telling him it [the name] can be a double meaning, the destruction of mankind, the future of mankind. That’s again going back to Mary Shelley, is the creature who is made evil by society, not necessarily created to be that way. He took it all down, and sure enough when I debuted, there was no mutilator. It was just Mankind.”
“And I’ll go on the record as good as…I’ll go so far as to say it turned out to be pretty iconic. I don’t think I’m here with Mason The Mutilator.”
While Foley had a lot of success as Mankind with some big wins over The Undertaker including at SummerSlam 1996, he also did get to be Cactus Jack in WWE as well. Foley also portrayed the fun-loving (and sometimes) Dude Love persona as well.