This week’s induction stems from WWF Raw’s highest-ever rated segment (or at least its highest-ever rated segment with no wrestling), the much-celebrated “This is Your Life” segment put on by Mankind for The Rock.
Over the past two decades, WWE has repeatedly attempted to recapture the magic of this first “This is Your Life” segment…
…with each version winding up funnier and more entertaining than the
But what most people forget is that, rather than being a total waste of time that popped a huge rating, the segment was simply a near-total waste of time that popped a huge rating, as it actually advanced two different feuds.
First, Triple H, who was set to defend his title that night against The Rock, cut the festivities short by running into the ring a mere 25 minutes into the segment with a sledgehammer…
…and proceeding to get stuck in the balloons.
Second, there was the matter of Mr. Rocko, the sock puppet Mankind had airbrushed with his Rock’n’Sock partner’s face.
The gift somehow ended up in a trash can and then, as hidden camera footage revealed later that night…
…down Val Venis’s pants.
The next Thursday on Smackdown, Mankind made some unusual demands of Val Venis, insisting that the adult film star reach into his pants and whip out that thing Mankind was looking for.
You know, the thing that was white, *this* long, with a cute little head.
Obviously, he was talking about Mr. Rocko, but to Val Venis (who never found out he was on hidden camera) and to the announcers (who obviously hadn’t been paying attention on Raw), it sounded like Mankind was making some rather forward requests.
Once Mankind threatened to grab the item in question and jam it down Val’s throat if he didn’t stick it in his hand, Val was confused. He never knew that Mankind was “like this”.
And by like this, I assume he meant a sex criminal.
But once Mankind rolled the footage, all Venis’s questions were answered… and a few new ones were raised, such as why he needed to stuff himself down there when adult video store patrons around the country already knew what he was packing.
Mankind tried to take matters (i.e. Val Venis’s nob) into his own hands…
…before Val understandably fled and promised to deliver the goods later that night.
The Rock may not have known who Val Venis was…
…but he did spur on Mankind to retrieve Rocko, using such strong language as “jabroni” and “cockamamie,” both of which ended up censored on the WWE Network.
Why, that’s completely…
That night, Venis appeared to set things right with Mankind by returning his beloved sock, but instead assaulted Foley in a manner most heinous…
…debuting his new finishing move, the testicular claw.
Yes, it was another of Val Venis’s patented unnecessary heel turns.
One month, Val was replacing Steve Blackman’s nunchaku with sex toys, and vice versa…
(truly the swords-into-plowshares metaphor of our time)
…and the next, he was using a sock puppet to squeeze another man’s testicles (without consent).
To make matters worse, he botched the joke he was supposed to make, so rather than telling Mankind, “I never used to think you were crazy, but now I feel you’re nuts!”, he told him, “I always used to think you were crazy, but now I just wanna feel your nuts!”
The Dudleyz, who had found The Rock’s brand new Rock’n’Sock jacket in a garbage can, ran in to further brutalize Foley and Stevie Richards. The Rock, who had presumably thrown away both gifts in the first place, never bothered to make the save for his tag team partner. Gee, Rock was an a**hole.
Over the next few weeks, Venis taunted Mankind and The Rock by hanging the precious sock out of the crotch of his pants.
I don’t know if anyone noticed, but it looked like it was his penis.
Val even implied that he had used Mr. Rocko as a prophylactic during his many escapades with his co-stars, which is not recommended by the CDC.
And Mankind was nearly helpless to do anything about it. Despite several attempts to physically liberate Rocko from his phallic prison…
…Mankind always ended up blindsided, allowing Venis to steal the sock right back.
Along the way, Val trounced his future Right to Censor leader Stevie Richards and incapacitated him with the claw.
Just an hour before the No Mercy pay-per-view, where the Canadian was scheduled to take on Mankind (or, as his Prime Minister likes to say, “Peoplekind”)…
…Mick Foley walked into the men’s room and gave a copy of his new book to a disembodied set of feet with jeans around his ankles that he assumed belonged to The Rock .
After stepping out of the restroom and doing a double-take – How did The Rock get out of the bathroom so quickly? And why did he change pants? –
– Foley returned to the lavatory to be ambushed by his opponent that night. See, it was actually Val on the toilet, meaning that WWF fans had now seen Venis doing…
…and, of course, #3.
This feud may have required a sudden heel turn by the fan favorite Val Venis, and may have involved countless absurdities, but it would all be worth it if he and Foley put on a killer match.
What they did do was engage in a lengthy tug of war for Mr. Rocko, which Mankind won… only to celebrate too long and lose the sock once more, allowing Val to stuff Dwayne Johnson’s face back into his crotch.
Watching Foley struggle around the ring and rely on comedy spots, it was hard to believe this was the same Mankind who had wowed the crowds by twice falling off the Hell in a Cell roof the previous year…
…or who took eleven unprotected chair shots to the head a few months after that…
…or who got his head smashed through a chair in a throw-away spot on a regular old episode of Raw…
…or who, well okay, when I list these bumps off, it starts to make more sense.
The match came down to a duel of claw holds, mandible vs. testicular, with Teddy Long allowing Val Venis to get away with it…
…as if it were as legal as his other submission move, the Porn Pretzel (or so it was called in Acclaim’s WWF Attitude).
At the Democratic Convention in 2016, Michelle Obama famously stated that “when they go low, we go high.”
At No Mercy 1999, Mick Foley exposed the flaws in that strategy.
In the end, each man passed out to the other’s claw hold, with Val landing on top and winning via pinfall.
Jim Ross pointed out that all those punishing shots that Venis had delivered to Foley’s head were wholly unnecessary to the finish of the match.
Brain damaged or not, Foley rose to his feet before the victorious Venis and stole away Mr. Rocko before attempting a double-claw on Val’s upper and lower regions.
Venis wisely bailed out of the ring (and this feud)…
…allowing Foley to reclaim his advance copy of Have A Nice Day before Val could defile it by, uh, I don’t know, highlighting in it or something.
Venis’s upper-mid card push soon petered out, with Venis reverting back to a babyface and beating the British Bulldog for the European title in late 1999, which would have been a big deal for anyone two years earlier.
Mick Foley retired shortly thereafter, coming back to the ring now and then to give the rub to Triple H, Randy Orton, and, in Foley’s last match ever, Santino Marella.
You know, after watching this Mr. Rocko angle again, that sock-duel with Santino doesn’t seem so absurd.