“Boys and girls of every age
Wouldn’t you like to see something strange?”
I’ve had a blast over the last month, going back and checking out all of the Halloween Havoc main events here on Havoc Headliners. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve seen so many fake Stings.
Sadly, there are only a dozen shows in the history of WCW’s much-lauded horror-themed PPV. After Part 3 (which you can check out right here, as well as Part 1 and Part 2), I’ve exhausted all 12 of the main events.
But with Halloween still looming like Dracula’s castle in the distance, I thought, hey, why not go back and check out a handful of other matches from the show’s history? Matches that, while not main events, were notable in some way or another.
So let’s take that last ride – here are four more!
NWA HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1990
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
(w/Theodore R. Long)
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair
& “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson
With Sid Vicious headlining against NWA Champ Sting, the Four Horsemen were all over Havoc 1990. But we already told that story in Havoc Headliners, Part 1. Today, let’s see what our favorite two Horsemen were up to on that show.
Doom made their debut as Woman’s masked associates at Havoc 1989, running through the Steiner Brothers – wrestling’s hottest tag team at that time. After several stops and starts, Doom – eventually revealed to be Ron Simmons and Butch Reed – were able to capture the NWA World Tag Titles from the Steiners at Capital Combat ’90. The pair of hard hitting heels, now managed by Theodore R. Long, ran roughshod over the NWA’s tag team division as champs. Then one day, the Four Horsemen didn’t want to dress in the same room as them. Face turn.
So at Halloween Havoc 1990, it would be Horsemen Ric Flair and Arn Anderson challenging Doom for their tag team titles. I have to admit, when I was deciding which four matches to include in this final Havoc Headliners, the other three matches were chosen quickly. I did some googling about the greatest Havoc matches of all time, and this match kept coming up. So I thought, why not?
Havoc ’90 was a very visually pleasing PPV if you like Halloween. There were orange ropes (one of them with black stripes) and a blood red canvas on the mat. Plus tons of pumpkins on the entrance way, you’ve got Paul E. Dangerously in a vampire cape, JR half-assing it in a hat. What’s not to love?
I’m watching this on the WWE Network, and I know that the original music has been altered. Even worse, whatever generic music they’re playing when The Horsemen come out JUST KEEPS PLAYING when Doom comes out. So basically, both teams get the same entrance music. It makes me wonder, was the same song playing on the original show? It can almost be forgiven in 1990, when WCW was still kind of figuring entrances out. But why didn’t WWE break it up? Or did someone just get lazy and not add another song? “It’s late, I don’t feel like going back down to the song vault. Who’s gonna watch Halloween Havoc 1990 that closely, anyway?” Me.
I can’t say that, if I were introducing someone to the greatness that is Flair and Arn, I would show them this match first. However, KNOWING the greatness of Flair and Arn, this match is amazing. All of the little nuances they throw in when they’re rolling is classic heel strategy.
This match could easily have been a styles clash, too. Doom were big, power wrestlers. They were coming at you with fists and shoulders, not trying to lock you into any holds. Here’s how intimidating Doom was – at one point in the match, Teddy Long gets in the ring and SLAPS RIC FLAIR IN THE FACE. Doom steps in front of Teddy, and Flair just has to STAND THERE AND TAKE IT while Teddy WOOS AT HIM!
This is a really well-paced match with Doom overwhelming the Horsemen at the beginning with power. Flair gets worn down and finally tags in Arn, who is just shaking his head. Arn steps in the ring like, watch how daddy does it, before Doom just totally destroys him, too. After a few minutes, the Horsemen are finally able to slow it down and work their pace in the middle.
Lots of good spots in this match, including Flair doing his signature turnbuckle flip right onto the cameraman, as well as a long section where Flair has the Figure Four on Simmons. Arn keeps coming in and nailing Ron with boots behind the ref’s back while Butch complains to the ref, keeping his back turned. All the while, Jim Ross is talking about how the Figure Four puts pressure on five different parts of the body. I wanted to just scream “THIS IS WRESTLING” at my computer screen.
The end comes when all hell breaks loose and all four guys are just going at it. Arn sets up Simmons for a piledriver, but Butch Reed nails him with a shoulder tackle from the top rope. Flair breaks up a pin attempt and the crowd is going crazy. I should note that, even though this is a match of heels vs barely faces, the crowd is cheering openly for both teams.
Arn is able to hit Reed with a NASTY DDT. Pretty much the most perfect DDT not delivered by Jake Roberts. But Simmons breaks up THAT pin attempt and we head outside.
Weeks of being mad about who can dress where boils over, and the teams end up brawling past the 10 count. The Horsemen bail to the back and this thing ends in a double countout. Doom looked a little disappointed about not exacting their revenge, but any night that you keep the belts against Ric and Arn is a good night.
Paul E. sums it up pretty well – “You wanted havoc on Halloween, you got it right here!”
These two teams were set for a rematch at Starrcade, but Flair ended up distracted by The Black Scorpion, so Barry Windham subbed. That match also ended in a no contest, and, sadly, Doom and The Horsemen left their business unfinished.
Match Rating: 8.0
Spookiness Factor: 7.0. What’s not scary about a straight up fight with subtle racial undertones? You also have to love those orange ring ropes and Tony Schiavone dressed up like the Phantom of the Opera. Oh, and also, this:
WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1991
CHAMBER OF HORRORS MATCH
United States Champion Sting, The Steiner Brothers & El Gigante
Abdullah The Butcher, Cactus Jack, Diamond Studd & Big Van Vader
And now we move from a match that was remembered as great to a match that was…well, it’s certainly remembered. 1991 WCW was a weird place. Case in point, read the list of participants written above, and then read them on the advertisement for the event. That heel team looks a little different, right?
The thing is, neither the advertised heel team nor the final team make a lot of sense. The Steiner Brothers were actually making their big return following a Scott Steiner injury at Havoc ’91, so they didn’t really have a feud. El Gigante was feuding with One Man Gang at the time, so that makes sense. Rumor has it that Gang refused to do the job for PN News and WCW President Jim Herd fired him, so he was ousted and Abdullah The Butcher took his place.
Barry Windham was an odd choice for the original. Windham was part of a double turn with Lex Luger at The Great American Bash and was in a babyface tag team with Dustin Rhodes by this time. He was written out of the match at the beginning of the show, as he was attacked by The Enforcers, with Larry Zbyszko smashing his arm in a car door. He was replaced by Vader, who unbelievably wasn’t scheduled for the show.
Cactus Jack was scheduled to face rookie strongman Bill Kazmaier on the original card, but WCW decided to switch him out with Oz (an early Kevin Nash gimmick). Rumor has it that the Oz gimmick was flopping, so WCW was burying him until they could repackage Nash as something better (well, as Vinnie Vegas).
So that just leaves the Diamond Studd (aka Scott Hall), and who the heck knows how he got on this original team.
The match entrances got big pops from the crowd. Vader came out with his awesome smoking mask, Cactus Jack sauntered out with a chainsaw. Even Rick Steiner was getting into the Halloween spirit, as his singlet randomly had the words “Guts” and “Blood” written on it. Just in case you were wondering who the main attraction was in this match, Sting was the only one to come out to his own music. The crowd was going wild. Stinger was so jacked that the US title belt actually busted off of him as he walked out.
In case you’re wondering what a Chamber of Horrors match is, let me explain. For one, the Chamber of Horrors itself you may recognize as Havoc 1989’s Thunderdome, but instead of cheap Halloween decorations on top, this one is littered with coffins. There’s a small, second cage that is lowered into the Chamber later in the match. That cage contains the Chair of Torture, which is basically an electric chair. A lever – nay, THE FATAL LEVER – exists in one corner of the Chamber. Once pulled, the poor soul sitting in the Chair of Torture is fried and the other team wins. I guess Tennessee is a death penalty state?
A lot of people crap all over this match, but on paper, it sounds like it could be fun. There were a lot of problems, though. For one, there was just too much going on. Eight guys and two cages, coffins everywhere. No one on the WCW Crew was sure where to point the camera. For two, with all the plunder, there wasn’t a lot of room for, you know, wrestling. So the match just devolved into 8 guys beating each other with sticks. Amazingly, El Gigante sucked at even this limited action.
WCW tried to combat the camera issues with the “Refer-Eye” camera – a camera strapped to one of the ref’s head. The only thing that ended up good for was anticipating Jim Ross or Tony Schiavone slipping up and saying “Reefer Eye”. They never did. Instead, JR was going on about how there were 2600 pounds of sweaty man in the ring. I’m sorry, that doesn’t impress me – I’ve seen bigger max capacities on elevators and they’re way smaller.
Still, you can’t say this match was a complete bust unless you’re trying to assign it stars for technical skill or believability. There were a lot of cool spots. Early in the match, Scott Steiner walked near one of the coffins and a MASKED MAN popped out to attack him. Instead of being surprised, Scott just whipped the piss out of him with a stick and handcuffed him to the cage. Another cool coffin spot came when Sting just threw a coffin lid into the air and let it land on Cactus Jack’s head.
In fact, this match was pretty much right up Cactus Jack’s alley. I’m pretty sure if you went to his house, it looked just like this. It was also surreal seeing pairings like El Gigante and Abdullah The Butcher. At one point, Abby was climbing up the cage and looked like a baby next to El Gigante. A baby getting a stick broken over his bloody face by a 7 foot man.
Another issue with the match was how random everything was. At about 3 minutes in, the cage containing the Chair of Torture was lowered for no reason. The wrestlers just kind of stood there and helped get it into position (except Jack, who was game enough to look in peril of being crushed). About 5 minutes in, some guys who looked like undead orderlies came out with a stretcher. Tony Schiavone: “What are these, the ghouls?” Yes?
No one even attempted to get to the Fatal Lever until about 10 minutes in, when a bloody Cactus Jack decided it was nearing time to put this to bed. Rick Steiner seemed in constant danger and actually ended up in the chair with Jack next to the lever. I don’t know the mechanics of the lever, but apparently Cactus couldn’t JUST PULL IT at this point. Instead, he fiddled with it for about 2 MORE MINUTES, giving the Dog Faced Gremlin time to Belly-to-Belly his way out of the chair and throw Abdullah in. Cactus THEN hit the switch, murdering his friend. Fireworks went off, setting the ring mat on fire, and Abby violently convulsed.
After the killing, everybody just kind of left the ring. All except Jack, who had a Rancor Keeper type moment with Abdullah. Thankfully, unlike the Rancor, Abby was revived by his friend’s tears. To celebrate, the two took out all of the ghoulish orderlies on their way to the back.
Match Rating: 2.5
Spookiness Factor: 10.0. It really doesn’t get more B-Movie Horror Film than the Chamber of Horrors and I love it. I don’t care that the match was garbage and not easy to view. Wrestling is just better that this awful, horror-themed match happened. Plus, Cactus Jack worked his butt off in this one.
WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1997
TITLE VS MASK MATCH
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Eddie Guerrero
Rey Mysterio Jr.
The Cruiserweight Title has a bit of history when it comes to Halloween Havoc. At Havoc ’91, Flyin’ Brian Pillman was crowned the first ever WCW Lightheavyweight Champion.
That championship went dormant in 1992 but was reintroduced as the Cruiserweight Title four years later, thanks to WCW’s influx of smaller talent. When a young luchadore named Rey Mysterio Jr. made his WCW debut in 1996, he would immediately challenge for that strap.
Mysterio won his first Cruiserweight Title from Dean Malenko a month later, but would lose it back to Malenko at Havoc ’96. A year later, Mysterio found himself in a feud over the title again, only this time it would be against hot heel Eddie Guerrero.
Mysterio had a couple of non-title victories over Eddie leading up to the PPV, but in order to get a title shot, Eddie demanded that Rey put his mask on the line. So that brings us to the big Title vs Mask match at Halloween Havoc 1997.
Rey makes his way to the ring first, pulling off his mask to reveal another mask. The mask behind the mask. Some kid in the crowd wearing an nWo shirt gets the mask as a souvenir. Is it weird that I’m always jealous of kids who get things in the crowd? I mean, you’re already sitting FRONT ROW, do you need more?
Eddie makes his way out second. This is when Eddie’s hair was just long, not the full-on hateable mullet that he would work as a heel years later in WWE. A huge “EDDIE SUCKS” chant gets going before the bell.
If you haven’t seen this match, see it. If I wanted to show a non-wrestling fan a match to convert them, this one would be up there.
Let me also point out that the announcing is ON POINT during this match. The announce team for Havoc ’97 was Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes – not exactly a dream team. However, they bring in Mike Tenay just to call this match. There’s a reason why they call this guy The Professor. Dusty mostly lays out during the match, and Tenay is just ON POINT the entire time. He’s so good, he raises Schiavone’s game as well. The result is an announce team that is just into the match – there’s not a single mention of the nWo or what’s happening later in the show.
Eddie starts out by just punishing Mysterio, countering any type of offense Rey Rey tries to pull out. This all crescendos into a sick spot where Eddie just throws Rey head first into the stairs outside and Rey is DEAD.
Eddie slows it down to a heel pace back in the ring, slapping Mysterio in a camel clutch and then trying to rip off his mask. Rey’s mask is actually part of his ring gear, so it’s not coming off so easy. I guess in order to win the match, Eddie will have to get Rey Mysterio completely naked.
Rey finally comes back with an insane springboard backflip DDT and tries to take it outside, but Eddie recovers. Mysterio ends up eating a NASTY chest-first irish whip to the metal barricade.
Back in the ring, Eddie is trying to rip the mask off again. Tenay postulates that Eddie’s disdain for masked wrestlers goes back generations, noting how Eddie’s dad Gory Guerrero always felt in the shadow of his legendary masked tag partner, El Santo. You are getting SCHOOLED by The Professor here, people!
Eddie continues to punish Mysterio, but Rey will not quit. Rey winds up in a tree of woe in the corner, and Guerrero just starts smiling at the brutality he’s about to visit upon the small purple man. Eddie goes for a sliding baseball kick to Rey Rey’s dome, but Rey dodges and Eddie ends up crotched on the ringpost. Mysterio follows that up with a plancha to the outside, sending Eddie into the barricade and the crowd into a frenzy.
At this point, both guys just start flying around. Rey jumps out of the ring to hit a flying headscissors on Eddie, maybe the first time anybody had done that spot on PPV. Back in the ring, Rey fairly botches a corkscrew moonsault, but it still looks cool. Eddie comes back with a HEAVY DUTY powerbomb on Rey and stacks him up for the pin. It only gets two. Crowd is letting Eddie know that he sucks some more.
Rey goes for a springboard rana, but Eddie catches him and hits a backbreaker. Both guys are looking tired at this point – the high risk moves getting a little sloppy, but it only adds to the drama of the match. Rey ends up on the top rope and Eddie is looking for some kind of Gory Special-type maneuver. Rey reverses that into a rana from the top rope and goes for the pin. 1-2-3 New Champ!!
Rey holds the belt and begins saying something inspirational to the camera, but Eddie beats him down like a prick to end the match. Tony Schiavone calls it perhaps the greatest title match in PPV history, and he’s not too far off.
There are a lot of Halloween Havoc Top 10 Matches lists, and this one is always ranked high, if not #1. I can testify to this.
Match Rating: 9.0
Spookiness Factor: 5.5. I got so caught up in the match that I wasn’t even thinking about the spookiness angle, but Rey Mysterio Jr.’s phantom-like ring gear is pretty Halloweeny. You also had the entrance AND don’t forget about the guy in the bootleg Papa Shango sweatshirt, who is in full view at one point during this match.
WCW/nWo HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1998
Call me a masochist, but I just have to see this match.
Remembered as one of the worst matches of all time, you can go back and read a lot of the problems Hogan/Warrior II caused for Halloween Havoc ’98 as a show back in Part 3.
So WAY BACK in 1990, Hulk Hogan had conquered everything there was to conquer in the WWF. He was champion for a second time and he had vanquished all of the monster heels that the Fed could send his way. With their eyes toward the future, WWF gave Hogan a new kind of rival – the young, energetic Ultimate Warrior. Warrior was a rising, musclebound face who cut crazy promos and ran to the ring. The fans loved him.
At Wrestlemania VI, Hogan “passed the torch”, losing the WWF Title in one of the most beloved matches of all time to the Ultimate Warrior. The shot of Hogan crying as he was carted to the back while Warrior celebrated in the ring is legendary.
Unfortunately, Warrior did not take the torch and run. In spite of a fairly successful turn as champion, Warrior’s relationship with the WWF became rocky. He was suspended, fired and brought back multiple times over the years, but his stints as an active performer never lasted long.
In 1998, Hulk Hogan (now Hollywood Hogan) was on a tear in WCW. Ever since becoming the leader of heel faction the nWo, Hogan had found a way to relive the glory days by feuding with some of his greatest rivals of the past. Heck, just look at the previous Halloween Havocs – Hogan vs Roddy Piper, Hogan vs the Macho Man. They even tried to relive Hogan vs Andre with Hogan vs The Giant!
So it’s only natural that WCW would bring back Hogan’s opponent from perhaps his greatest match of all time – the Ultimate Warrior. Well, Warrior. WWF owned the “Ultimate” part.
Warrior, who hadn’t been seen on TV in over two years at this point, made his WCW debut on the August 17, 1998 edition of Nitro. Warrior jumped right into a feud that was, well, strange. Hogan/Warrior already had so much history behind it, you’d think WCW could’ve simply sold it as “the one man Hogan could never beat back to knock him from his throne.”
While there was certainly an element of that in the feud, there was also a strong element of, well, total crap. Warrior – who deemed himself the leader of the One Warrior Nation (GET IT? O-W-N!) – would use a kind of supernatural smoke to knock out everyone in the nWo but Hogan. He’d appear in mirrors as an apparition that only Hogan could see. I can only assume he learned these tricks from his feud with Papa Shango.
Warrior teamed with Roddy Piper and Diamond Dallas Page in a WarGames match against the nWo at FallBrawl ’98. More magic smoke was involved and Hogan and Warrior ended up brawling to the back. A definitive confrontation was set for Halloween Havoc.
The week before Havoc on Nitro, Hollywood’s long lost nephew Horace appeared and thought that his uncle could get him in the nWo. Instead, Hollywood took a chair to his head and sent him to the hospital for 12 stitches. I wish this wasn’t important for later, but it is.
And that brings us to Halloween Havoc. I know that’s a lot of preamble, but I think it goes a long way in explaining why this match is remembered as one of the worst matches ever. Not because it was so terrible – I mean, it IS terrible, but barely more offensive than any of Hogan’s other big WCW matches. But less about match quality than expectations – this was HOGAN/WARRIOR II! Sure, the build-up was awful, but in the end, it was these two guys back in the ring again. How could it go wrong?
Well, the first thing that went wrong was the 10 minute stretcher job that Sting did following the match prior. I’m fine with post-match shenanigans to sell the storylines, but on PPV, you have to keep that tight. 10 minutes of watching trainers roll a guy out of the ring, put him on a stretcher and then load him into an ambulance is a crowd killer.
Hogan makes his way out to the ring first, then Warrior. Let me say again how awesome that Havoc ’98 set is.
Warrior is announced from “one warrior nation”, and his entrance music contains some weird Shield-sounding chatter, “target acquired” garbage. I was about to pan it, but then the fast guitar riff stuff kicks in and Warrior does his high energy run to the ring and shakes the ropes. That gets the crowd going. Warrior is all decked out in Halloween colors with a ring jacket that looks like it was designed by Rob Zombie. I approve.
Warrior poses while Hogan tells the camera, “I don’t have to take that, I can kill this guy.” It’s an odd statement that Hogan reiterates like four times before the match starts. Crowd starts a “WARRIOR” chant. Tony Schiavone notes that “Hogan will try to really slow this down.” You think?
The match starts and, ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready for punches. It’s all punches, all the time in this thing. Warrior calls for the test of strength – a nice callback to the big WM VI match. The crowd is surprisingly weak. Hogan goes for a lock up instead and beats Warrior down in the corner. The camera gives us a shot of Warrior’s weird tattoos, which include the planet Saturn.
Hollywood pulls Warrior out of the corner and then locks hands like he won the test of strength. Just a bizarre, long spot. Warrior pops up and the two do the “run the ropes criss cross” thing. Hogan scoops up Warrior for the bodyslam, then turns around to brag as Warrior pops up and no-sells in another callback to WM VI.
Hogan bails and then can be clearly seen yelling at Warrior to come out of the ring while Warrior just stands around in the ring looking confused. More punches. They punch outside the ring then punch some more inside the ring. The ref gets bumped in all of this punching confusion and Hollywood drops a knee on him for good measure.
And now it’s nWo time! The Giant is out as Hollywood holds Warrior to eat a big boot – Giant misses and Hogan eats it instead. Warrior clotheslines Giant out of the ring, which draws out more nWo-ites. Stevie Ray gets knocked off of the apron and then is all, F this, and walks back. Vincent gets hammered too. Clearly the nWo is not what it used to be.
Warrior goes for the cover but the ref is still dead. Hogan revives and actually hits a belly-to-back suplex – WRESTLING! Hollywood goes for the pin and the ref is awake, but Warrior won’t stay down. Hogan goes for one of his signature nWo-era moves – taking his belt off and whipping his opponent. Ref starts pulling Hogan’s hair to get him to start, because that’s what officials do. Hogan goes for an elbow drop, but Warrior rolls out of the way. Hulk goes for another and Warrior rolls again. Hogan up again and Warrior rolls the other way, taking out Hollywood’s legs. That’s either the most ingenious or laziest wrestling I’ve ever seen.
Warrior goes for the big splash and misses. The crowd gives NO POP WHATSOEVER for Warrior’s signature move. This is going great. Crowd is actively booing the match at this point. Warrior takes off Hogan’s belt and starts beating him with it – oh the irony!!
Ref tries to get the belt away from Warrior and Hogan takes the opportunity to pull something out of his pants. It’s a baggie with a lighter and some other stuff in it – I can only assume Hollywood Hogan is getting ready to smoke crack.
So with the crowd booing the match quality, Hogan attempts to throw a “fireball” in Warrior’s face, but he only throws some paper. Warrior sells it anyway while Hogan tries to light the fireball again. It lights this time but burns up immediately in Hollywood’s hand. The two kind of just shrug and start punching each other some more. The announcers try to sell the danger Warrior narrowly escaped. Heenan – “he tried to blind him! He was going to burn that man! Boy is the Warrior ever lucky!”. You got to hand it to The Brain for trying.
Warrior hits a couple of terrible top rope ax handles and Hollywood is now bleeding for some reason. Hogan hits a low blow IN PLAIN VIEW OF THE REF but there’s no DQ. This match is incredibly sloppy for two veterans. Hogan hits the leg drop but that draws out Horace Hogan…you know, Hogan’s nephew from Nitro last week.
A distracted Hogan goes for a second leg drop but Warrior is Warrioring Up! The ropes start shaking and the crowd is trying their best to get excited. Eric Bischoff is out to grab the ref by his head, but Horace is in the ring with a chair. In the most nonsensical swerve of all time, Horace waffles Warrior with the chair and Hogan covers for the 1-2-3. The announcers shout “WHY?” which is what we’re all kind of thinking. Hollywood Hogan tells Horace “you passed the test, brother!” Horace starts dousing the Warrior in lighter fluid, prepping to light him on fire and murder him.
WCW Security comes out and, instead of murder, Hogan and his cronies just gloat and leave the ring. And THAT my friends, is how you have a terrible match.
Match Rating: -10.0. It really is that bad
Spookiness Factor: 6.5. This match will scare the daylights out of you, that’s for sure, but not in the good way. 6.5 is just from that SICK entrance and the attempted cremation.
Well, that wraps up Havoc Headliners and our look back at WCW Halloween Havoc. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was almost always Halloweeny.
Happy Halloween everybody!
Thanks to LegitShook.com for the gifs!