Friday, 31 March 2017

PPV REVIEW: WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1996

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Event Poster
October 27, 1996,
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada. 

By the time Halloween rolled around, the New World Order's reign of terror over World Championship Wrestling was well and truly in full flow. 

Since coming together earlier that summer, the renegade outfit had been seemingly unstoppable.

Not only did nWo leader Hollywood Hulk Hogan have the WCW world title on his shoulder, but the man he'd defeated for that belt, The Giant, was now his right-hand man, joining forces with nWo founders Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, along with recent WCW arrivals Ted Dibiase, Syxx (formerly 123 Kid) and Vince (formerly Virgil).

Together, the heel contingent had taken apart Team WCW the previous month at Fall Brawl 1996, in the process not only laying waste to arch-rival Macho Man Randy Savage, but also causing a huge falling out between WCW and its biggest franchise player, Sting. 

Tonight, Savage would have his chance for revenge as he took on Hogan for the title. Would the rest of WCW also start to fight back against the dominant New World Order? Would Sting forgive and forget, rejoining his brothers in arms in battle? Or would the men in black continue to reign supreme over WCW?

Let's head down to the MGM Grand Garden Arena to find out, shall we?

Recapping Savage vs. Hogan 

Our show tonight starts with a video documenting the story of the nWo's hostile take over from Hollywood Hulk Hogan's betrayal of WCW at Bash at the Beach 1996, past his world title victory over The Giant at Hog Wild, and on to tonight, when he would put that title on the line against former best buddy and Mega Maniac, Macho Man Randy Savage.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby Heenan hosted the event
Set to the exact same music that Marc Mero would use as his second WWF theme, the video reminded us of Hogan humiliating Savage at the previous month's Fall Brawl 1996, and how Eric Bischoff stated on a recent episode of Nitro that bringing Hogan to WCW was the biggest mistake he ever made.

The Biggest Night in the History of Our Sport 

OK, so lead announcer Tony Schiavone didn't actually use that line tonight, but we did get his standard hyperbole as he and fellow commentators The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan talked about the importance of tonight's big world championship match and how Macho Man may have taken things 'to a level that he shouldn't have,' in preparing his vengeance against Hogan.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Rey Mysterio Jr. lost the WCW Cruiserweight title to Dean Malenko
Defending his title against Dean Malenko in a bout which far outclassed their previous outing at Clash of the Champions, Rey Mysterio went after his bitter rival with a flurry of fast paced offence right from the get go, even managing to regain the mask that Malenko had stolen from him  and replacing it with the one he was currently wearing.

It didn't take long however, before the challenger took control and slowed the pace as he looked to systematically take the champion apart.

From there, both men traded the advantage several times, making for a thrilling opening contest which ended when Malenko powerbombed Mysterio off the top, made the cover, and won the title.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko 

Backstage, Lee Marshall interviewed recent WCW signee, Jeff Jarrett.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Jeff Jarrett faced The Giant
Jarrett claimed not to be impressed by anything the nWo had done so far and vowed that his upcoming opponent for tonight, The Giant, would not hit his chokslam in their upcoming match.

Nature Boy Ric Flair, who had originally been scheduled to face The Giant before suffering an nWo beat down, then came out and -I think- offered to be Jeff Jarrett's pimp or something when all the ladies wanted to celebrate Double J's victory with him.

Flair also gave his props to Macho Man, saying that despite hating him, he really believed Savage could beat Hogan.

This was a fun, straight forward piece of mic work from both men, doing its job well in adding interest to some of the bigger bouts on the show

Battle for the Lord of the Ring
Eddie Guerrero vs. Diamond Dallas Page 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: WWE Hall of Famers DDP and Eddie Guerrero
In our second Clash of the Champions rematch, Eddie Guerrero clashed with Diamond Dallas Page over a WCW Battle Bowl ring, a prize nobody -not even the commentators- seemed to know much about, or even care.

Yet whilst the premise of this bout, and indeed the whole Guerrero/DDP rivalry may have been based on something few people gave a damn about, that didn't stop tonight's crowd from getting fully invested in what turned out to be a fun, if often quite sloppy, contest.

Indeed, while there were times that the bout came across as clumsy and a little off-kilter, both men did the best they could to show just how much they really hated each other.

In the end, it was that intensity and passion which won out, turning this into a very enjoyable bout, the highlights of which included DDP getting a full on telling off from referee Nick Patrick, and Guerrero hitting a beautiful top rope crossbody block to the outside that was a thing of sheer beauty.

Not that it seemed to help Eddie much. After a hard fought battle, it was Page who picked up the victory, and put back on his finger the battle bowl ring which the announcers told us at the start of the match had gone missing.
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Macho Man Randy Savage announced the Slim Jim Monster Truck Winner
Backstage, Macho Man Randy Savage prepared for the fight of his life against Hulk Hogan by helping Mike Tenay pick a winner of a monster truck  in the Slim Jim Sweepstake.


I mentioned in my Fall Brawl review how Savage's sponsorship duties seemed to take some of the intensity away from Macho Man's persona, and that was especially true here tonight. There was a certain sense of passion and seriousness lacking from Randy's tone as he first hyped his upcoming title bout against Hulk Hogan before goofing around in anticipation the big prize draw.

In the end, somebody called Joan from Michigan won the monster truck, and this rather dumb segment was brought to an end.

Mike Tenay Interviews Dean Malenko 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Dean Malenko agreed to Give Mysterio a rematch if he wanted one
After a brief clip of Chris Jericho being interviewed by some Compuserve geek about his upcoming clash with Syxx, we were next sent back to Mike Tenay, who was standing by with WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Dean Malenko. 

In keeping with his character, Malenko didn't have all that much to say, but did vow that he would defend his newly won title against all comers.

After a little coaxing from Tenay, the champ agreed that "all comers" would indeed include a rematch against the man he just beat for the title, Rey Mysterio Jr.

Wrapping up the interview, Tenay said that Dean Malenko himself was the "new WCW Cruiserweight Championship" before sending us to a special "nWo interview" with Ted Dibiase and The Giant. 


Ted Dibiase and The Giant Have Words for Jeff Jarrett 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: The Giant stole Ric Flair's US title for his match against Jeff Jarrett
Standing out in the crowd, the former Million Dollar Man announced that he'd given Jeff Jarrett too much credit for being smarter than he really was, insinuating that Double J couldn't be all that bright since he'd turned down a special invitation to join the New World Order. 

Continuing his verbal assault on Jarrett's intelligence, Dibiase called the former WWF Intercontinental Champion a fool for believing that substituting for an injured Ric Flair in tonight's match against The Giant was some kind of privilege or honour. Rather, he claimed, the only reason Jarrett had the match was because Flair himself was too afraid to step into the ring. 

Echo'ing his stable-mate's words, The Giant vowed to chokeslam Jeff to oblivion when the two met in our next match. 


The Giant  vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/ The Nature Boy Ric Flair)

As The Giant made his way to the ring with the WCW United States title over his shoulder, our announce team went to great efforts to remind us that this was not a championship match, mainly because The Giant wasn't actually the champion.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: The Giant vs. Jeff Jarrett was a great match
Rather, he'd injured reigning champion Ric Flair and simply stolen the title belt from him. Despite this, Nick Patrick held up the title and displayed it as though this were a top level main event championship match.

Whilst he was doing that, Ric Flair himself made his way to ringside to stand in Jarrett's corner, as he and The Giant finally went at it in what turned out to be a very entertaining match.

The story here was simple: Jarrett pitting his speed and cunning against The Giant's size and brute strength, the former getting the better of the latter for the bulk of the contest before the sheer mass of the former world champion proved too much for the would-be Horseman.

Speaking of WCW's other legendary faction, the presence of its leader, Ric Flair, at ring side, was just about the only bad thing about this match. Not content to let Jarrett and The Giant have their moment, Flair constantly had to draw attention to himself, strutting around the ring, yelling to the crowd, and at one point even taking the microphone and encouraging a prone Double J to "kick his nWo ass!"

It was as annoying as it was distracting, and only served to take away from what was a solid effort by the two in-ring combatants.

Flair even stupidly cost his protege the match, attacking The Giant on the outside and giving the win to the nWo member as a result of a disqualification.
Your Winner by Disqualification: The Giant 

Post match, the remaining members of the Four Horsemen rushed to the ring and celebrated with Jarrett as though he'd just won the match. Meanwhile, The Giant stormed off backstage, promising that Jeff's day would come soon enough.

Dibiase and Syxx Reunite 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Syxx defeated Chris Jericho due to Dodgy Referee
Back out in the crowd, Ted Dibiase was flanked by both his one-time man servant Vince, and the last man to join his Million Dollar Corporation, Syxx.

Dibiase claimed that the New World Order would take their victories anyway they could get them, meaning a The Giant's DQ was good enough for them. After insisting that the Four Horsemen's interference was the only way Jarrett could escape the ring alive, Dibiase next turned his attentions to Chris Jericho, putting over the relative newcomer as a fine athlete with plenty of talent.

Not that said talent was going to do him much good, as Dibiase claimed that Jericho would go down at the hands of the man he called 'the best cruiserweight in the world,' Syxx.

For his part, the former 1-2-3 Kid also put over his opponent, but then insisted that Jericho would be crucified for the sins of World Championship Wrestling.

Indeed.

Syxx vs. Chris Jericho 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: WCW Babyface Chris Jericho ready to face Syxx
To be perfectly honest with you, I was expecting something truly great here; a straight up, classic cruiserweight contest from two of the best in-ring talents working on an American stage in the 1990s. 

Sadly however, there was something rather disappointing about this see-saw battle between Chris Jericho and Syxx, almost though they were merely going through the motions and ticking off a bunch of spots one by one in a half-hearted attempt to get to the finish line. 

Don't get me wrong, the spots themselves looked perfectly acceptable, and the opening exchange between both men was fairly exciting, but the rest of time, this one lacked the energy or emotion that you'd expect from a match of this calibre. 

Towards the finish, corrupt official Nick Patrick continued to thwart Jericho's attempts at gaining victory by counting slowly, only to speed up when Syxx finally made a cover, and awarding the nWo representive a quick, cheap victory.
Your Winner: Syxx 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Nick Patrick helps Syxx to the back
Post-match, an irate Chris Jericho went after Patrick with gusto, only for the official to high-tail it out of the ring and help Syxx to the back. 

Heading to the locker room, Iron Mike Tenay was standing by with WCW main event star Lex Luger, looking to get some exclusive words from Luger about his upcoming bout with Arn Anderson. 

What he got was an awkward, rambling promo from a tired and disheveled looking Lex Luger, who accepted the blame for Team WCW's loss the previous month at Fall Brawl 96, then made a strange analogy to cactus, before promising to come unglued (whatever that was supposed to mean), when he got in the ring with Double A.

Lex Luger vs. Arn Anderson

It was a rivalry that had been building up ever since War Games, when Luger submitting to a dual assault at the hands of Hulk Hogan and Fake Sting cost Team WCW the match. After that, Anderson had gone on the warpath, attacking the Total Package with a steel chair on an episode of Nitro and leaving him for dead.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Lex Luger was ready to face Arn Anderson
Tonight, with the Dungeon of Doom cheering him on from the audience for unexplained reasons, Luger was out for revenge, and boy did he get it. 

In a mediocre outing that boasted little to get truly excited about, the two men battled in and out of the ring with neither man getting the clear, dominant advantage. That was until referee Mark Curtis took a tumble in the corner and the inaction spilled to the outside. 

There, Anderson attempted to K.O Luger with a chairshot, but Luger moved, and hit a weak looking catapult on Double A into the ring post. From there, three stiff chair shots and a torture rack inside the ring were all it took for this one to be mercifully over.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Afterwards, Lex held on to the torture rack for  a long while, making sure Anderson received as much punishment as he had dished out to Luger on Nitro.

Credit where credit is due, Anderson did sell the extended torture rack for all it was worth, writhing in agony on the mat as though seriously injured. This brought out Flair and Jarrett to check on their fallen comrade, after which EMTs brought down a stretcher and wheeled an injured Anderson off to the back.

Lee Marshall Interviews Harlem Heat 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Harlem Heat lost the WCW tag titles to The Outsiders
Out in the locker room, Lee Marshall caught up with Booker T, Stevie Ray, Col. Parker and Sister Sherri to discuss Harlem Heat's upcoming WCW World Tag Team Championship defence against The Outsiders. 

Though hardly the most enthralling promo in the world, this was at least effective in establishing the fact that Harlem Heat were not intimidated by the New World Order, and that they were indeed going all out to retain their titles against Hall and Nash, now can you dig that, sucka? 

The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Four Horsemen (Chris Benoit & Steve 'Mongo' McMichael w/ Deborah and Woman) 

Though I'm not sure that this could be classed as any of the four combatants' finest hour (and that includes Mongo), I do believe that at the very least, each one turned up ready and motivated to deliver inside the ring, and for my money, that's exactly what they did. 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Chris Benoit & Mongo McMichael vs. The Faces of Fear
As you might expect given who was involved, this was a hard-hitting, no-nonsense battle which basically saw Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael, Meng, and The Barbarian go all out to literally just beat the living shit out of each other. 

All in all, such approach proved effective, and ultimately turned this match into a surprise highlight of the evening. 

After the better part of ten minutes, Chris Benoit hit his patented flying headbut to give the win to the Horsemen. 
Your Winners: Chris Benoit and Mongo McMichael 

Post match, Kevin Sullivan, Konan and Big Bubba leapt over the guard rail and assisted the Faces of Fear in laying the proverbial smackdown on Benoit and Mongo, taking advantage of the fact that the remaining Horsemen were at the hospital with Arn Anderson, and leaving both men laying for dead. 

Cutting to the crowd, Ted Dibiase put over the nWo's success in tonight's show before promising us a victory in our upcoming tag team title match. 


World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Col. Parker & Sister Sherri) vs. The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Scott Hall teamed with Kevin Nash to beat Harlem Heat
Technically perfect this match wasn't, but outstanding fun from first to last it definitely was. Say what you will about the work ethic of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash during their late-90s WCW run, both men proved that sometimes, less really is more, as both men played to their strengths in going toe-to-toe with Harlem Heart. 

The result was a very entertaining match with nary a dull moment in sight. 

Was it the fastest, most action-packed, hold-for-hold wrestling spectacular you ever saw? No, but then this was never going to be that. 

What it was, was a highly enjoyable outing which ended when Nash took Col. Parker's cane, and used it to beat up Stevie Ray. That gave hall the chance to make the cover, get the count, and win the WCW tag team titles for his team.
Your Winners and NEW WCW Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash won the WCW tag team titles
Post match, Hall and Nash gloated about their victory, celebrating in and around the ring whilst Sister Sheri yelled at the referee about what a huge injustice the whole thing had been, despite the fact that she and Col. Parker had basically cheated all the way through the match. 

From there, we were taken to a brief commercial for our next pay per view, November's WCW World War 3, before we went back to the crowd one last time for Hollywood Hogan, Ted Dibiase, and Vince. 

This time, it was Hogan who did the talking. Still wearing the ridiculous wig he wore for his latest movie, 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain Hollywood bragged about both that film and the upcoming release of Santa With Muscles

To be honest, I haven't seen either of those films, but from what I gather, neither were exactly worth bragging about. Still, brag he did, before insisting that he was no bored "bodyslamming Hollywood" for the week and was now going to bodyslam Randy Savage instead. 

That match was next. 

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan (w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Randy Savage challenged Hulk Hogan for the WCW title
Truth be told, whilst I wasn't expecting this main event match to deliver the same kind of intensity and emotion Hogan and Savage displayed when they met in their classic encounter back at WWF Wrestlemania IV, I certainly didn't expect it to be this damn fun either. 

OK, so there were a couple of sloppy spots here and there (Savage lifting Hogan for a straight forward bodyslam at one point looked like Macho Man was literally trying to lift up a sloppy sack of shit), and OK, so Hogan played the "heel stalls so fans can't wait to see him get his ass kicked thing" for just a little longer than was probably necessary, but on the whole, this delivered everything you'd expect from a main event bout from two of the industry's biggest ever stars. 

Things were entertaining right from the get go, with Hollywood coming to the ring through the crowd and keeping his sunglasses and spiked blonde wig on for as long as possible ("That's the same haircut Sting used to have" declared Shiavone). Savage countered this in true over-the-top style by bringing out his monster truck for no apparent reason. 

From there, the match was on, and after all the aforementioned stalling, Macho Man finally got his hands on the cowardly champion, first ripping off his sunglasses and then yanking off his wig before putting them on himself. 

"He looks like the world's most vicious skunk!," cried Heenan, causing your writer to laugh out louder than such a gag really warranted, all whilst Savage paraded around the ring wearing the wig and glasses. 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Hulk Hogan, his wig, and The Giant
Unfortunately for Randy, such merriment was short lived. 

Following a back-and-forth battle with Hogan, Miss. Elizabeth, a foreign object, and a whole bunch of shenanigans came into play, causing one referee to get take a bump and Nick Patrick to take his place. 

In the most dramatic moment of the match, Savage hit his famous elbow drop and looked to have the title won, only for Patrick to "hurt his neck" on the count of two and end up unable to finish the count.

From there, it only took the interference of The Giant to turn the tide back in the New World Order's favour, pummeling Savage on the outside before rolling him in the ring, and draping the arm of an unconcious Hulk Hogan over the top of him. A quick Nick Patrick three count later, and this one was over.
Your Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hulk Hogan 

Post-match, The Giant returned to the back, grabbed a huge silver bowl full of ice water, accidentally spilled most of it when he got to the ring, the poured the rest all over Hogan to wake him up. 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Rowdy Roddy Piper made his WCW debut
Fully revived, Hogan bragged about his victory before declaring himself bored of Ted Turner, whatever that was supposed to mean. 

Then, just when the show looked to be over, it happened. The bagpipes sounded, the crowds turned their attention to the entrance, and out walked Hogan's Wrestlemania 1 rival, Rowdy Roddy Piper. 

Trying way to hard to make what was obviously a work seem like a legit shoot (even going so far as to tell us "I'm shooting here," Piper reminded Hogan of their glory days working for Vince, and boasted of being just as big a wrestling icon and -ahem- Hollywood movie star as Hogan himself. 

Hogan agreed, not once but twice, presumably in an effort to get Piper to wrap up the segment before they went off air. 

Piper didn't exactly take the hint, and this argument raged on, even as WCW Halloween Havoc 1996 went off the air.

For the most part, this show felt like it mattered more its place in the history of the nWo and the Monday Night Wars than it did for anything majorly significant that happened in the ring, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Besides, when it came down to the actual action, this was a mostly enjoyable affair. There was nothing here that was actually terrible, and whilst bouts like Syxx/Jericho may have undelivered in this writer's eyes, there was much to appreciate about basically the entire card. 

Until we meet again, thanks for reading, and be sure to join me on Twitter for more Retro Pro Wrestling - @Retropwrestling

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.