He did it with HBK at Mindgames 1996, Rocky at RR1999, Triple H at RR2000, Orton at Backlash 2004, and Edge at WM22. That's a who's who list of top guys from the 2000's. Foley is God. Glorified stuntman my ass.
Just came in here to post this exact thing. And the best part is that at no time did Foley end up coming off weak. I honestly struggle to think of one guy in history who has basically made more top guys than Mick. Its like, sure they were top guys by virtue of having been champion or past champions, but almost in the sense of (and I know I'll get hate for this) ADR. Now I'm not comparing any of them to ADR, but Hunter in particular really felt kind of meh as champion in late 1999, despite being presented as a top guy. Its one thing for the WWE to tell us "this is your champion", but something entirely different for the fans to truly believe it. Each of these guys' careers were catapulted into super stardom thanks to their feuds with Mick. And needless to say, after the Street Fight with Cactus, Hunter's credibility increased tenfold and that truly established him as a top contender. Same with Rock. Foley just had this ability to tap into the star potential of his opponents and bring it out, which is a rare, rare gift.
I personally believe this is the best I Quit I've ever seen. Granted, I have seen Flair/Funk and Magnum/Tully, but my viewing took place years after (as in, within the past few years) and I find them really dated. Its not necessarily because of the spots or anything, but watching them now, I just didn't see anything that truly captivated me. At the time, perhaps they were amazing, though time hasn't done them justice, I find. I find a lot of Flair's work to be like that. I recently rewatched the Steamboat trilogy from 1989 and while they were definitely good, I have trouble agreeing with some people like Meltzer who call them all 5 stars. Maybe its because they don't appeal to what I look for as a wrestling fan. There are some matches I can watch over and over and over, and some I can't. Flair's work usually falls into the latter category. Foley, on the other hand, falls into the former. And I'm not just talking about his work when he was donating his body to the business. There was no blood or jaw droppingly insane spots in his match with Shawn at Mind Games, or with Austin at Unforgiven and Over the Edge. I can still rewatch those and be quite entertained (the Mind Games match is a true underrated classic, in my mind). Foley has this very wrong reputation tacked onto him where he can only take bumps and do hardcore. Most people overlook that the guy could work a stellar match without any of that.
For the I Quit match, anyone who says it was blood and gore only clearly missed the point. Those were tools used to convey a captivating story. The story is what is the masterpiece, not the violence, but the violence was necessary to tell that story. Foley is this hardcore icon who has never quit, no matter what, and you clearly see how desperate Rock gets when he hits Foley, who won't stay down, and just continually wails on him with the chair. And it gets built up so well that when Foley tells Rock "you'll have to kill me!", I just thought, "my god, he's taken this much punishment and now fully admits he'll sacrifice his life to keep his pride safe. This is profound and yet so tragic." It really played with your emotions, and that's what wrestling is supposed to do. When a guy says he'd sooner die than admit his opponent is the better man, how can you not just get that feeling in your gut and a bit choked up?
Not only did the match do wonders for Rock and Foley, but the title looked like a million bucks because of that feud. These two guys had an absolute war, starting with this feud, where they did almost everything BUT kill each other, and it was all so they could win the belt, which in turn signifies that they are the best. It was so much more than just a belt, it was a symbol. I hold this, and I am the best. And those matches, particularly I Quit, proved how far their characters would go to prove that. They would risk and accept death (kayfabe) simply to prove that they were better than the other, or deny that proof. And the reward for this sacrifice was the belt. How does the belt NOT look incredible? Its worth dying over, for god's sake. That's why seeing Cena and company in 2013 makes me so fucking pissed. Remember in Cena's feud with Punk in the fall of 2012? Cena said "Punk, pick me or don't pick me, I don't care, I'll get another title shot at some point. I already know I'm the best and I tell myself that every day." This is the belt characters have spent their entire lives trying to attain, and some have even willingly accepted death so they could keep/win it because of what it signified, and here Cena is treating it like this ho hum prop that it really doesn't matter if he gets. How DARE he. That kind of shit is why the WWE title means nothing in 2013. That's because they've thrown around the belt so often that its lost so much meaning. Cena has 13 title reigns, why should he care if he gets another? That's why his attitude is so blase. He's spoiled. Mankind was ready to give his life just so Rock couldn't prove he was better than him in his FIRST title reign. This is also why Mick Foley's combined 29 odd days as WWF champion are way better than any of the days Cena has been champion. Those 29 days meant so fucking much, and I struggle to think of 1 Cena reign that can even scrape up a tenth of the importance.