Thursday, 14 June 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Halloween Havoc 1997

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 review - Event poster
October 26, 1997
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada

There's a lot of stuff that you can claim World Championship Wrestling got wrong during their brief-yet-memorable run throughout the 1990s, but promoting major main-event attractions wasn't one of them. 

Sure, Hollywood Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper were at the peak of neither their popularity nor their physical condition, and sure, the match wasn't going to be a technical classic to rival the kind of stuff we'd see on your average WCW undercard, but look, even in late-1997, Hogan vs. Piper was still a big deal, and WCW did a fantastic job of making it feel like one.

Tonight, the two would collide in a steel cage match which, no matter how it may have transpired, felt like the biggest match in the world as we went into WCW Halloween Havoc 1997.

Here's what happened when Hogan met Piper, when Hennig met Flair, and when two all-time greats put on the greatest Cruiserweight match ever.

Tonight, it's Hogan vs. Piper in a Cage!

Months ago at Uncensored 1997, Roddy Piper led a team into battle against Team WCW and Team NWO, with a cage match against Hulk Hogan being the reward up for grabs if Piper's team won.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 review - Dusty Rhodes Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
Piper's team didn't win, but now that Piper was in charge he could -and had- booked that cage match anyway.

Our opening video tonight recapped the recent war of words between the two before taking us to the arena where Steve Blackman's theme music played and Tony Schiavone, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan were there to greet us.

The three, as usual, began by hyping tonight's main event before taking us down to ringside for our first match.

Yuji Nagata (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Ultimo Dragon

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 review - Yuji Nagata (w/ Sonny Onoo) faced Ultimo Dragon
After turning his back on Ultimo Dragon at Slamboree 1997 Sonny Onoo had been at war with his former charge, first sending in an army of luchadores to try -and fail- to take Dragon down before finally recruiting Yuji Nagata to do his bidding.

Nagata and Dragon went at it tonight in a very good opening match that really set the right tone for the rest of the show and was a pure joy to watch.

After an excellent battle, Nagata came out on top, finally giving Onoo one up on his rival.
Your Winner: Yuji Nagata

Afterwards, Nagata and Onoo attacked Dragon's arm. This one, apparently, wasn't over yet.

Disco and Jackie Hate Each Other

Out in the back, Disco Inferno bragged to WCW.com's Mark Madden about how he was going to beat Jacqueline in their upcoming mixed gender TV title match.

Jackie then ran up to tell Disco that he needed to shut up, and then chased him off for good measure.

Special Unadvertised Bonus Match
Gedo vs. Chris Jericho

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Chris Jericho beat Gedo in an unadvertised match
You've got to admire the way 'pulled together at the last minute' becomes 'Special Unadvertised Bonus Match.'

You've also got to admire the way Chris Jericho turned up the intensity in this short -though very enjoyable- bout.

Mixing lucha-style action with the hard-hitting offence of traditional puroreso, this was a very good effort from both men, apart from one moment when a top-rope hurricanrana attempt by Jericho went awry and both he and his opponent nearly died.

Somewhat predictably, Jericho got the win with the Lion Tamer.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

Out in the back, beautiful southern belle, Debra McMichael told Mean Gene Okerlund that she was the real star between her and her husband, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Debra and Steve McMichael argue backstage with Mean Gene
Though I may have this wrong (and I'm not sure it's important enough to check), it was implied that a stipulation had been put in place where Debra would have to leave WCW if her husband Mongo beat an opponent of Debra's choosing.

Speaking of Mongo, he came ranting and raving onto the scene so that he and his estranged wife could have a domestic live on air about whether or not Debra could keep her diamond ring and credit cards.

I don't care what anyone says, these two were pretty fun characters for their time, and yes it helped that Debra was more stunning than I think I ever gave her credit for back in the 90s.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship  Title vs. Mask Match
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio had the best cruiserweight match ever
Yes, it's this match, one of -if not the greatest Cruiserweight matches of all time and one of my own personal top five favourite matches ever.

I mean, seriously, from start to finish, this title vs. mask match was an absolute masterpiece, a work of art that stands the test of time as undeniable proof that Rey Mysterio Jr. and the late Eddie Guerrero are among the greatest in-ring performers of their generation.

Plus, it helped that -unlike a lot of Cruiserweight PPV bouts- the crowd were seriously into this one all the way through.

A true must-see contest, this one ended with a win for Mysterio via a sick top-top hurricanrana that looked almost as brutal as the earlier Jericho/Gedo one.
Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr.

Post-match, an irate Eddie Guerrero attacked the new Champion.

Call 1-900 909 9900

Out in the entrance way, Mean Gene told us to call the hotline to find out who was in the newest backstage clique was in WCW.

A Word With Bischoff and Hogan

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan claimed Hogan wouldn't wrestle Piper
Out in the back, Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff cut one of those edgy black and white promos in which they insisted that Hogan wouldn't wrestle tonight unless they got a contract saying that Sting wasn't allowed in the building.

Hogan played up like WCW were the bad guys if they didn't agree to this because they'd be depriving the fans of seeing Hollywood beat Piper.

This promo was far too long for what it was, and to be honest I switched off after about two minutes.

World Championship Wrestling
Steve 'Mongo' McMichael vs. Alex Wright (w/ Alex Wright)

The more WCW I watch, the more I find myself repeating the sentence I'm about to type below:

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Debra McMichael led Alex Wright into battle against Mongo
This was a passable match with a weird finish.

After a few minutes of decent but largely forgettable action (apart from one hilarious spot where Alex Wright tapped Mongo on the back to push him into the ropes and Mongo sold it like he'd just been stabbed), McMichael looked to have the win when -get this- Bill Goldberg came out.

Debra distracted the referee whilst Goldberg first speared, then Jackhammered Mongo, and did it so close to the referee that said referee would have to be a complete moron not to realise that he was there.

Goldberg then picked up Wright and dropped him onto Mongo, the referee turned around, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Alex Wright

Afterwards, Debra thanked Goldberg by giving him Mongo's Super Bowl ring. Alex Wright -now celebrating his third straight PPV win in a row- went to shake the big man's hand, but got beat up and jackhammered instead.

So yeah, that happened. Bill Goldberg, the man who went on to become one of the biggest stars of the 90s, starting his career in a random feud with Steve McMichael in the role of Debra's errand boy.

Macho is Here Because He Wants to Be

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Macho Man Randy Savage and Elizabeth
In another nWo promo, Macho Man Randy Savage, flanked by Miss Elizabeth, rambled on about Hogan, Bischoff and the cage match before claiming that he didn't really care about that at all.

What he really cared about -in his own insane way- was his upcoming Sudden Death Match against Diamond Dallas Page.

Offering her two cents, Liz told Savage that DDP didn't belong anywhere near Savage, to which Randy replied by going on a sponsored tangent about Slim Jims.

It was a typically batshit crazy Savage promo, and, weirdly, it worked.

Non-Title Inter-Gender Match
WCW World TV Champion Disco Inferno vs. Jacquelyn

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Jacqueline Moore beat Disco Inferno
I'm never entirely sure which spelling of Jacquelyn she used, so we'll go with this one for this inter-gender match.

Things began with Jackie ready to rumble but Disco stalling for about an hour on the grounds that e didn't want to hit a woman.

'This is absurd!' he yelled, and I couldn't agree more.

In fact, the whole first half of the match was a ridiculous -and tedious- game of cat and mouse that saw Jacqueline struggle to catch Disco.

When she did, she basically kicked his ass, rolled him up and pinned him.

Nothing against the future Hall of Famer, she was always fun to watch, but either she nor Disco benefited at all from this, and those of us who had to watch it suffered the most.
Your Winner: Jacqueline

Moving on...

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW US Champion Curt Hennig vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Curt Hennig attacks Ric Flair's knee using the ring post
Ric Flair and US Champion Curt Hennig had been at war since the latter had betrayed the former the previous month at Fall Brawl 1997, turning his back on The Four Horsemen (which he'd only just joined) to become the newest member of the New World Order.

Since then, the United States title had come into the picture, with Hennig getting the belt away from Mongo, and thus we had our match tonight.

A few years earlier, this battle between Flair and his former Executive Consultant could have been an all-time classic.

Tonight, it wasn't, but it was still the very best match that both men were capable of at this stage in their careers.

That's not a criticism either, this was a very good, old-school pro wrestling match full of passion and emotion.

It ended when Flair tied Hennig up in a tree of woe, put the US Title over the champ's face, and kicked it.

The referee called for the bell, so Flair decked him one for good measure.
Your Winner via Disqualification and Still WCW US Champion: Curt Hennig

Post-match, a gaggle of referees ran down to stop Flair from destroying Hennig. When they couldn't do it, Konnan and Vincent ran down to help out their nWo buddy.

JJ Dillon Gives Hogan What He Wants

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - JJ Dillon presents Eric Bischoff with the contract saying Hogan must wrestle
After a brief clip that saw Macho Man Randy Savage taking to Mark Madden for WCW.com, we got Mean Gene Okerlund talking to JJ Dillon out in the entrance way.

JJ claimed that everyone was sick of being bullied by the New World Order, and then when Eric Bischoff came down to once again insist that Hogan wouldn't wrestle, Dillon pulled out a piece of paper which apparently was the contract saying Hogan was legally obligated to wrestle.

That caused Bischoff to rant and rave that Dillon didn't have the authority to make the match, but  Dillon did, and the match was on...

....but not yet.

Scott Hall (w/ Syxx) vs. Lex Luger
Special Referee: Larry Zybysko


WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Scott Hall and Syxx are just too sweetAfter taking it upon himself to count the winning fall in last month's DDP/Luger vs. Savage/Hall bout at Fall Brawl, Larry Zybysko was officially the erm, official, for this below average contest.

The only interesting thing here was the mounting tension between Zybysko and Scott Hall, Syxx, and Bischoff, the latter of whom came down towards the finish.

The rest of the bout was so boring that I honestly stopped watching at one point.

The end came when Bischoff distracted Zybysko and Syxx kicked Luger in the head.

Despite not wanting to, Larry was forced to count the fall and this one was over...
Your Winner: Scott Hall

...or was it.

Suspecting something was up, Zybysko called for a replay on the big screen and, after seeing that shenanigans had been involved, restarted the bout.

Hall returned to the ring, walked straight into a Torture Rack and lost the match.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Afterwards, Hall and Bischoff beat up Zybysko and, adding insult to injury, Bischoff put his foot on Larry's chest whilst Hall counted to three.

A commercial for next month's World War 3 1997 followed, and then it was onto our next match.

Las Vegas Sudden Death Match
Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Miss. Elizabeth) vs. Diamond Dallas Page

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Randy Savage and DDP beat each other senseless
Using some hitherto unknown definition of the term 'sudden death,' this was basically your typical Last Man Standing / Texas Death Match in which the only way to lose was to fail to meet the referee's count of ten.

Diamond Dallas Page came dressed for war in jeans, boots, and ribs bandaged up to sell the recent injuries to that area caused by the nWo, Savage wore a walking advertisement for Slim Jim, which was weird given how anti-establishment the New World Order were supposed to be.

Though this wasn't as good as their memorable outing at Spring Stampede 1997 it was still a decent effort from both men, and both women.

A surprising highlight came when Elizabeth smashed some kind of pizza tray over the referee's head and knocked him out, then began choking out Page with a TV cable.

Kimberly then rushed out and dragged Liz to the back by her hair. After that, the match, which had been pretty mediocre up to this point, finally got good.

At least it did until the finish, when a fake Sting (later claimed to be Hogan) came out and blasted Page with a bat.

Dallas couldn't beat the ten count, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner: Randy Savage 

Cue Michael Buffer, it was time for our main event of the evening...

Cage Match
Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Piper vs. Hogan in a steel cage
Piper came out carrying Hogan's title belt despite not being the champion and this not being a title match.

I've tried not to rag on WCW for being, well, WCW, but the more I review these late-90s shows, the more I find myself seriously scratching my head.

Meanwhile, the cage was the old-school WWF style rather than the mesh style preferred by the company in usual matches, with the bars so far apart that Rey Mysterio and his fellow Cruiserweights could have easily have slipped through them and still had room to wear a backpack.

I mention this because it was more interesting than anything that happened in the ring for the first couple of minutes.

That was until the door came open and the action spilled outside of the cage.

With no referee on the inside of the ring, I'd assumed that the only way to win was to escape,  but that clearly wasn't the case, so at this point, I was both bored and confused.

Hogan tried to walk to the back, but Sting -or at least another, pro-WCW Fake Sting, arrived, pointed his bat at him, and kept him distracted long enough for Piper to come and beat Hollywood back into the ring.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 - Piper vs. Hogan in a cage 2
As both Piper and Hogan tried to climb out of the cage (despite showing us they could go out of the door), another Sting arrived.

A bunch more also got involved, each one looking more like they bought a knock-off Sting costume from the Dollar Store than the last.

The only highlight came when Randy Savage rushed down and leapt from the top of the cage, which was legitimately tall as hell, but missed Piper and nailed Hogan.

Piper then slapped the sleeper on, and Randy Anderson, who had randomly decided to enter the ring despite the announcers earlier making a big deal out of there being no referee, called it.
Your Winner: Rowdy Roddy Piper

Afterwards, Bischoff ran to the ring whilst Savage and Hogan handcuffed Piper to the cage and destroyed him.

To finish, a 'fan,' clearly a plant, climbed into the cage and got his Ass handed to him by Hogan and Savage before Doug Dillinger and a bunch of officials dragged him away to end this mess once and for all.



When I say mess, I really do mean it. That main event was god awful, and was exactly why people so heavily criticise some of the decisions WCW made back in the day.

That, and a couple of other weird booking choices made Halloween Havoc 1997 a disappointing show, especially given how awesome Fall Brawl and Road Wild 97 had turned out to be.

Still, this was the show that gave us the classic Guerrero vs. Mysterio Match, and for that alone it was worth sitting through whatever I just sat through for the last three hours.

Honestly, if you only do one thing after reading this review, make it watching that match.





1997 events reviewed so far:
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
  11. WWF - King of the Ring 1997
  12. WCW - Great American Bash 1997 
  13. WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede 
  14. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1997 
  15. WWF - Summerslam 1997
  16. WCW - Road Wild 1997
  17. WWF - In Your House 17: Ground Zero
  18. WCW - Fall Brawl 1997
  19. WWF - One Night Only 1997
  20. WWF - In Your House 18: Badd Blood 
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

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.