Mick Foley Discusses The Original Halftime Heat, Empty Arena Match With The Rock

WWE is bringing back Halftime Heat this year during the Super Bowl in what will be the third incarnation of presenting an alternative halftime show during the biggest game of the year.

The original (and most famous) Halftime Heat featured WWE Champion The Rock taking on Mick Foley in an empty arena championship bout in 1999. The match saw Foley capture the championship during that match, and Foley recalled the famous encounter during a recent interview with ESPN.

"I think a year earlier MTV has had a lot of success doing Celebrity Deathmatch with claymation figures -- one of which was Stone Cold Steve Austin -- and they'd done a tremendous rating during halftime of the Super Bowl," Foley remembered. "I don't know when the idea came to Mr. McMahon to take that giant audience and kind of keep it for ourselves, but I do remember being asked about it -- and then it was my suggestion that The Rock and I do an empty arena match.

"The fact that it was so completely different than anything on television was also indicative of the chances we regularly took, whether it was on the microphone or in the ring. Later on, [that] really led to great chemistry as a tag team. We were really rolling, and it was understood that The Rock was going to go on to bigger and better things -- one of them being a WrestleMania main event with Stone Cold Steve Austin."

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This year's Halftime Heat match will actually occur live from the WWE Performance Center. The bout features Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, and Adam Cole taking on Ricochet, the Velveteen Dream, and Aleister Black. Foley's match with The Rock was taped in advance, and Foley recalled watching it as it aired in an airport lounge.

"I do remember really hustling through the airport to try to catch that match live [on USA Network], and so I walked into a lounge in the airport where some guys were watching the Super Bowl halftime," Foley said. "I convinced them to switch over to Halftime Heat. They were really getting into the match, up until I hit the Rock with a bag of popcorn. Up until that point I had been taking a pretty legitimate pounding at the hands of 'The Great One' and they were 'ooh-ing' and 'ahh-ing.' All of a sudden the popcorn [spot happens] and they turn to each other and go, 'That wouldn't hurt.' Maybe in retrospect I should've found a different devastating object to pummel him with."