Havoc Headliners, Part 2

“All our time has come

Here but now they’re gone”

Do you feel it? Halloween is getting close. It’s officially October, the yard is filling up with leaves and candy prices are at a year-long high. With the chill of the reaper’s touch in the air, it’s time to take another look at that most vaunted of WCW pay per views, the venerable Halloween Havoc.

If you haven’t yet, please go back and check out Havoc Headliners, Part 1. which will get you up to speed with the first four Halloween Havoc main events.  Today, we’ll be looking at the 1993-1996 Havoc main events, which will plant us firmly in WCW’s Hogan Era. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  That’s up for you to decide, boys and ghouls!

Now let’s get to this!

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1993

SPIN THE WHEEL, MAKE THE DEAL MATCH

WCW World Heavyweight Champion

Big Van Vader (w/Harley Race)

vs.

Cactus Jack

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Guys, why aren’t we all still talking about Halloween Havoc 1993? I should do an entire article just on the event, it’s so Halloweeny.  I may forego horror movies and just watch Havoc ’93 on October 31st.  This may be my Ween Jam.

The show opens with a mini-movie, featuring a group of little brats finishing up their night of Trick or Treating.  One kid is dressed as Sting.  He’s my friend.  The kids start talking about how they want to get home to watch Halloween Havoc (bad news kids, that was on a week ago), but they just need to hit one more house.  The spookiest house in the whole neighborhood, which just happens to belong to the creepiest Tony Schiavone ever depicted.  Here, check it out.

If you decided to skip it, Tony Schiavone turned into a troll at the end.

As per usual, the entire announce crew was dressed up – Tony Schiavone was dressed as Jesse Ventura and Jesse Ventura was dressed as…a gynecologist?  Oh, and then there’s Eric Bischoff.

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No comment there.

Ratings-wise, Halloween Havoc 1992 was a huge success, so it was a no-brainer for WCW to bring back Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal.  If you haven’t read Part 1, the gimmick is that one participant must spin a wheel that features 12 different matches, each more deadly than the next.  Whatever match the wheel lands on is the match that will take place. Unfortunately, no one thought to rig the wheel for the first go round, leading to the absolute worst match type – a Coal Miner’s Glove Match – to come up the big “winner”.  I can only assume the WCW brain trust learned their lesson, because we got a much more exciting option in 1993 – a Texas Death Match.

Also unlike ’92, the mastermind behind the wheel this go round (wheel puns!) was none other than the sadistic Cactus Jack.  His victim? Big Van Vader.

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Vader intimidates the Wheel.

1993 was certainly the year of Vader in WCW.  After a World Title push that was halted due to injury, The Mastadon made his full-time return at Havoc ’92 and began absolutely destroying people. He won back the WCW World Heavyweight Title, he broke a jobber’s back and he punished Cactus Jack in ways that haven’t been seen since in professional wrestling.

On one episode of WCW Saturday Night, Vader left Cactus with a broken nose and 27 stitches.  Jack bled so much that TBS had to edit the tape, making for a disjointed mess of a match.  Unbelievably, Cactus Jack came back for more on the very next episode.  This time, Vader powerbombed him on the concrete floor.  The move left Cactus Jack with a concussion and loss of feeling in his left side.  It put Cactus out of wrestling for six months and helped seal Big Van Vader’s reputation as the biggest monster to maybe ever enter the squared circle.

If WCW had left it at that, the feud would already be money.  The masochistic Cactus Jack returns for vengeance against the monster who nearly killed him?  That’s booked already, people.  But WCW decided to add some extra oomph to the story.  They began airing the infamous “Cactus Jack: Lost In Cleveland” vignettes, where we find Jack beardless, suffering from amnesia, living on the streets and convinced he was a former sea captain. It was as stupid as it sounds.

Jack and his memory returned at the September Clash, attacking WCW Champion Vader and setting up for the return match, where Vader would have to Spin The Deal and Make The Deal to determine his fate. To show how serious Cactus Jack was about getting revenge on Vader’s body, the WCW World Heavyweight Title wasn’t even on the line.

I’m not going to give you a full match breakdown because that’s not my style, but this match is FAMOUSLY brutal.  If you’re a fan of Mick Foley, Vader or hardcore wrestling, seek out this match.  Cactus Jack is absolutely punished with some sick spots, and there’s also an awesome moment of a bloody Vader ascending from an open grave.

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You were dead! I saw you die!

There are also some great spots with the dirtiest steel chair I’ve ever seen. I hope both of these guys got a tetanus shot afterwards.  If you’re unfamiliar with Texas Death Match rules, the match is very similar to WWE’s modern Last Man Standing Match, where a competitor has to answer a referee’s ten count.  However, in a Texas Death Match, you have to first pin your opponent, THEN wait out a 30 second rest period BEFORE the 10-count begins.  Basically, they call in the coroner, because the other guy has to be DEAD for you to win.

The finish of the match would come when Vader hit Cactus Jack with a DDT on the chair on the entrance ramp.  Jack lay motionless for a long time as trainers came out to check on him.  Vader cleared the area and then finally covered for the pin.  After the 3-count, the rest period began.  Cactus miraculously revived during the rest period and hit Vader with his own DDT on the chair.  With both men down at the end of the rest period, the ref began a double 10-count.   As both competitors started to get up, Vader’s manager Harley Race tagged Cactus with a stun gun behind the ref’s back.  The shock sent Cactus back to the ground. Vader was able to make it to his feet, putting the brutal match to an end.

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Ow, have mercy!
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You should see the other guy.

Match Rating: 10.0

Spookiness Factor: 8.0.  This Havoc was low-key on the spooky match gimmicks, but it delivered more like a brutal slasher movie.  Unfortunately, Mick Foley did not make it as the Final Girl.  Add in that INSANE intro and the great stage dressing, this is the best Havoc so far.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1994

WCW World Heavyweight Title Steel Cage Career Match

Hulk Hogan (c)

(w/Jimmy Hart)

vs.

“Nature Boy” Ric Flair

(w/Sensuous Sherri)

Special Guest Referee: Mr. T

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Wow, what a difference a year makes.  Between Havoc ’93 and ’94, there was a seismic shift in World Championship Wrestling, as the entire promotion cleared way for their biggest acquirement of all time – Hulk Hogan.

Hogan had left the WWF in the spring of 1993, supposedly putting his wrestling career on hold to make the syndicated TV show Thunder In Paradise.  When that show was canceled, Hogan returned to the thing that actually made him money – wrestling.  Although Hulkamania had been waning in the WWF, Ted Turner and WCW saw this injection of a bonafide global star as nothing but a good thing for the organization.

Note: While trying to spellcheck “bonafide”, Chrome suggested “Bonerheaded.”

Hulk entered World Championship Wrestling to much fanfare in the summer of ’94, preparing to face WCW Champ Ric Flair in his first match at the inaugural Bash At The Beach PPV.  Ric Flair had defeated Vader for the WCW Title to close out 1993 and had been doing kind of a greatest hits run since, facing past opponents like Ricky Steamboat and Barry Windham.  WCW was in need of some fresh blood in 1994, and fans had infamously been denied a marquee Flair/Hogan dream match during Flair’s brief run with the WWF in 1992. It seemed like a surefire recipe for success. Hogan was able to defeat Flair at the Bash, winning his first WCW Title in his debut match.

Flair and Hogan had a rematch at the September Clash of the Champions, but Hogan was attacked before the match by a mysterious masked man and the result was inconclusive.  With tensions coming to a head, there could only be one solution – a match with the most stipulations you could ever imagine. So many stipulations that Dusty Rhodes would roll his eyes.

At Halloween Havoc ’94, Flair would challenge Hulk for the WCW Title inside of a steel cage.  The only way to win would be to make your opponent tap or submit, so a definitive winner was guaranteed.  To ensure there was no funny business, Hulk’s old Wrestlemania I buddy Mr. T would serve as special guest referee.  Not only that, but Wrestlemania I special enforcer Muhammad Ali would be seated at ringside.  If that wasn’t enough, the loser of the match would be forced to retire.

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Something tells me these three guys will be friends forever

Can I just say I’ve never seen a match where the cards were more stacked against the heel?  Hulk had his friend as special ref, another buddy at ringside, Jimmy Hart in his corner AND another one of his friends, Brother “WWF Owns The Name Brutus Beefcake” Bruti, walking him to the ring.  Flair didn’t even have one Horseman!

Speaking of Beefcake, Halloween Havoc is a good example of how anyone who was friends with Hogan flooded WCW in 1994.  Just on this card you had Honky Tonk Man, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Big Boss Man, the Nasty Boys and of course the ultimate Hogan flunky Brutus. You can say what you want about Hogan, but the dude did favors.

Back to the main event – for a Hogan match, it was amazing. For a Flair match, it was OK.  But if you love MASSIVELY overbooked endings, buddy, this is the show for you.  Here are some things that happened – Jimmy Hart ripped off Sherri’s dress (not exactly an Elizabeth/Summerslam moment, but Sherri wasn’t bad), Flair took out Mr. T, Sting came out to help Hogan, a MASKED MAN appeared from under the ring with a pipe,  Sherri handcuffed T to the ropes…this thing was insane. The battered Hogan was able to hulk up, take out Sherri AND Flair, and hit the legdrop, just in range of the revived but handcuffed Mr. T.

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Is Hulk Hogan gonna have to choke a b?

In the end, Flair was vanquished (for like 3 months), and Hogan, Mr. T and Muhammad Ali all had their little Wrestlemania reunion that WCW was creaming their jeans over. But that was not the end. Oh no.

The MASKED MAN returned for vengeance, only this time Hulkster was ready for him.  Hulk was able to unmask the villain – it was Brother Bruti all along! And he would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you darn kids!

havoc_bruti
Et tu Bruti?

Betrayed, Hulk watched as Bruti begged for mercy, but it was all a distraction, as Kevin Sullivan and the man formerly known as Earthquake (an AVALANCHE of a man, Tony Schiavone kept repeating as if it made sense) made their way to the ring to destroy Hulkamania for good.

havoc_fear

Sting would come out for the save, but the three men had made their point. It would be the beginning of the Three Faces Of Fear stable, which would, in one way or another, remain a part of WCW for the next few years.

Match Rating: 7.5

Spookiness Factor: 6.0.  Havoc 1994 was definitely short on the Halloween vibe, but you can’t score it too low seeing as how it was the beginning of the THREE FACES OF FEAR. Also, Johnny B. Badd was wearing vampire fangs in the opening match.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1995

Monster Truck Sumo Match / WCW World Heavyweight Title Match

Hulk Hogan (c) (w/Jimmy Hart)

vs.

The Giant (w/The Taskmaster)

halloweenhavoc199502

Amazingly, Hulk Hogan was able to vanquish the Three Faces of Fear by the beginning of 1995.  Kevin Sullivan and Brother Bruti (who became known as The Butcher) would end up having issues and Earthquake (who became known as Avalanche) went on to feud with Sting.  Meanwhile, WCW Champ Hogan kicked off a long feud with Big Van Vader and the returning Ric Flair.

Unfortunately, Kevin Sullivan’s hatred for Hulk was just too strong, and he couldn’t let the issue go.  After defeating The Man With No Name (aka former Face of Fear The Butcher) at Starrcade,  Sullivan was taken in by the mysterious Master, who christened him The Taskmaster of the Dungeon of Doom.  What was the Dungeon of Doom you ask?  It was to be the ultimate force to destroy Hulkamania once and for all.

The Taskmaster enlisted the help of several “monstrous” wrestlers to accomplish this task, including The Zodiac and The Shark.  The Zodiac, of course, being the former Man With No Name, who was the former Butcher.  And The Shark being the former Avalanche.  That’s right – Sullivan recruited the same guys who couldn’t get it done 5 months earlier and gave them new names.  Oh, there was also Kamala and Meng.

To his credit, Sullivan also turned to current Hogan foe Vader to join his Dungeon of Doom.  Sadly, the alliance was short-lived. When the Dungeon couldn’t help Vader defeat Hogan at Bash At The Beach, the Mastodon turned on the stable. Vader ended up leaving WCW shortly after.

At Fall Brawl ’95, Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Sting and Lex Luger (who subbed in for an “injured” Vader) took on the Dungeon of Doom in a WarGames match.  The stipulation was that, if Hogan’s team won, Hulk would get 5 minutes alone in the cage with The Taskmaster.  Hulkamania prevailed, but during his “5 Minutes Alone” (can we call that a Pantera stipulation?), The Giant made his big WCW debut, seemingly breaking Hogan’s neck.

With The Giant on their side, the Dungeon made Hogan’s life a living hell over the next few weeks. They ran over his Harley in a monster truck, they shaved off his mustache, all in the name of “bringing the evil out” of Hulk.

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This space is reserved for expectant mothers, brother!

And so, it was at Halloween Havoc ’95 that Hulk Hogan was booked to face the Giant in not one but TWO matches.  In one match, he would defend his WCW Title in the ring. In another, he’d go monster truck-to-monster truck in a Monster Truck Sumo Match. A MONSTER TRUCK SUMO MATCH!

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Truckin’ Crazy!

Just in case you think a Monster Truck Sumo Match is exciting, let me assure you that it is not.  The rules are as follows: the monster trucks are fused together at the front. To win the match, one truck must push the other truck (both axles) outside a circle of ROAD SIGNS.  And, just to make it fun, there are two random EXPLOSIONS (?!?) placed within the circle.

I should note that Hulk Hogan and The Giant were ACTUALLY DRIVING the monster trucks. The announcers had a lot of fun wondering if someone would run over one of the explosions, ignite their gas tank and die in a flaming hellfire.  Sadly, when one of the explosions was tripped, it just looked like weak pyro.

In the end, Hulk was able to push the Dungeon of Doom truck out of the circle and win.  But The Giant didn’t take losing so well. He hopped out of his truck to go fist to fist with Hogan.  This did not end well for the the Giant, who ended up, well, falling off the top of the arena, seemingly to his death.

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As Lex Luger faced off with Macho Man, the announce team speculated as to the condition of The Giant, with Bobby Heenan panicking over his supposed death.  To the surprise of everyone, Michael Buffer entered the ring and it was time for your scheduled main event.  First out was Hulk Hogan, dressed all in black. It appears that the Dungeon of Doom HAD brought the evil out!

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Something tells me these two will be friends forever.

Hulk addressed the crowd, letting them know something terrible had happened.  But before he could give us an update, in strolls The Giant. And he was miraculously unharmed.  He wasn’t even wet, which means I guess he landed in the parking lot and not in the river. Bumbles Bounce!

The Giant nor The Taskmaster offered an explanation for Giant no-selling the fall, so we went ahead with our regularly scheduled match.  A match that was just putridly awful, unless you REALLY like bearhugs.  Giant no-sells a bunch of Hogan offense to begin with, Hulk makes a comeback, Taskmaster tells Giant it’s time to jet.  Hulk chases them down and brings the Giant back to settle it in the ring, but eventually eats a chokeslam.  Since this is Hulk Hogan, he kicks out at two.

Hulk goes for some more unsavory offense like backrakes and eye gouges – the EVIL IS OUT and we see shades of Hollywood to come.  Hulkster is finally able to hit a big bodyslam on The Giant (just like his father – don’t ask) and hit the big legdrop.  But before the ref can count 3, Jimmy Hart smashes him with the championship belt. What the what???

With the ref down, The Giant locks Hulk in ANOTHER bear hug.  This draws out Hogan’s pals Lex Luger and Macho Man (who had just had issues minutes before) to the ring for the save.  Luger turns on Savage, then Jimmy Hart takes Macho out with the belt for good measure.  With Hulkster still powerless in the bearhug, the Dungeon of Doom’s insurance policy emerges from his block of ice (yes, that’s a real thing that happened) – IT’S THE YETI! Or, as Tony Schiavone put it, IT’S THE YETAY!!!

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Hulk Hogan vs. The Big Sandwich

Why is the Yeti dressed like a mummy? Why is he seemingly trying to hump Hulkamania into submission?  This is 1995 WCW – don’t ask questions when you don’t want to know the answer.

The bell rings as Hulk finds himself disqualified, seeing as how his manager attacked the ref.  Lex Luger puts the torture rack on Hogan for good measure, and Halloween Havoc ends with Hulkamania in a bad way.  Even worse, the next night on Nitro, the dastardly Jimmy Hart announces that he’d secretly waived the Championship Advantage clause in Hulk’s contract, meaning the title COULD change hands on a DQ and The Giant had ended Hogan’s record setting reign as WCW Champion. Oh the humanity!

Match Rating: 2.0

Spookiness Factor: 7.0. I mean, there were Halloween-themed monster trucks. And a giant man dressed as a mummy. Or a yeti. And you had The Zodiac and Meng representing the Dungeon of Doom on the undercard.  Plus, The Giant did seemingly come back from the dead.  You can’t say they didn’t try!

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1996

WCW (nWo) World Heavyweight Title Match

Hollywood Hogan (c)

(w/Ted DiBiase & The Giant)

vs.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage

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Ah, WCW. They loved nothing more than rehashing old things from the WWF heyday, and the Hulk Hogan/Macho Man feud was certainly one of them.

Following Havoc ’95, Hulk Hogan would continue his feud with The Giant and the Dungeon of Doom.  Unable to get the job done, members of the Dungeon merged with members of the Four Horsemen to form The Alliance To End Hulkamania.  To combat The Alliance, Hulk joined up with his old pal Macho Man to reform the Mega Powers, though their partnership was rocky to say the least. This all came to a head at Uncensored 1996, when Hogan and Savage defeated 8 Alliance members in a Doomsday Cage Match with help from The Booty Man (who was formerly known as The Zodiac).

Note: Yes, in this article that covers a THREE YEAR SPAN in WCW, Brutus Beefcake has had FOUR different gimmicks.  And he’s not even done!

Following their victory, Hogan would fade into the background for a while. During this time, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash made their jump from the WWF to WCW, promising a hostile takeover of the whole company.  At Bash At The Beach ’96, Hall, Nash and a mystery partner were set to take on WCW loyalists Savage, Lex Luger and Sting.  During their main event match, Hulk Hogan made his way to the ring and proceeded to take out the good guys.  The nWo was born, brother!

Renaming himself Hollywood, Hogan and The Outsiders began running roughshod over WCW. At the inaugural Hog Wild event, Hogan defeated The Giant for the WCW Title, renaming it the nWo Title.  The Giant, as well as Ted DiBiase, would join the nWo a short time later.

As the nWo attempted to destroy WCW, their main opposition was Lex Luger and Randy Savage.  As such, Savage was set to challenge Hollywood Hogan for the title at Halloween Havoc ’96.

Hollywood Hogan starts things off in the crowd, flanked by DiBiase, The Giant and Vincent (aka WWF’s Virgil).  Hogan talks about how great he is at movies and wrestling and blah blah blah. There’s something different about Hulk, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

wcw_halloween_havoc_96_hogan
I just rolled out of the bed this way, brother!

Savage is out next and he pauses to introduce his OWN monster truck.  Randy, that was last year’s gimmick!  Did I mention this show was brought to you by Slim Jim?

wcw_halloween_havoc_96_savage
Macho looking like a Halloween Piñata full of Slim Jims.

The ref insists The Giant return to the back, and Macho and Hogan stall for the first 75 minutes of the match, pretty much playing the whole thing as an over the top comedy.  Savage steals Hollywood’s wig, Hogan runs away, it’s all pretty brutal.  Especially considering we’re having a rematch of one of the most beloved Wrestlemania main events of all time.

The Mega Powers eventually explode and Miss Elizabeth – Savage’s former manager turned Four Horsemen manager turned nWo-ite – came to the ring to beg Hogan not to hurt her one-time lover.  Hollywood decided Liz worked really well as a human shield.

So let’s just cut to the end, which again, if you love overbooked messes, then BUDDY!  The ref gets taken out, so another ref comes down to check on him.  Macho goes for the cover and a third ref – Nick Patrick – comes to the ring for the count.  Patrick hits two and then hilariously pretends to sprain his arm.  That traitorous snake was in with the nWo the whole time!

havoc_patrick
Sorry man, it’s for my worker’s comp claim.

Savage goes ballistic, taking out Patrick, Hogan and finally going for DiBiase. The Giant makes his way back down to the ring and hits a vicious chokeslam on Macho on the floor.  Giant hauls Macho’s lifeless body into the ring, drags Hogan’s lifeless body over top of it, and Nick Patrick counts the 1-2-3.

After the match, the Giant retrieves a comically huge, ornate bowl of ice water from backstage and dumps it on Hollywood to wake him up.  Hogan goes right into bragging mode, which prompts “Rowdy” Roddy Piper to make his WCW debut.

Piper makes some good points about being just as big of an icon as Hogan.  Hogan kind of agrees, but then things threaten to get physical.  Instead, Piper continues to talk for so long that the PPV literally goes off the air while he’s in mid-sentence.

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He may still be talking.

Match Rating: 1.0

Spookiness Factor: 4.0. Other than the set, which was always spot on, there isn’t much Halloween fun to be had on Halloween Havoc 1996. Not much of any kind of fun actually.  I mean, there was a random monster truck, and the Faces of Fear were in a match (the Meng/Barbarian tag team, not the 3 Faces of Fear…of course the Faces of Fear were part of the Dungeon of the Doom, which was the successor to the 3 Faces of Fear so…WCW, man).  Kudos to Macho Man for the orange and black ring gear, though.

Sucks to end on a stinker, but that wraps up Part 2 of our look back at the Halloween Havoc main events.  We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a look at 1997-2000, as the nWo gives way to Goldberg!

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