Thursday, 29 November 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Halloween Havoc 1998

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Event poster
October 25, 1998 
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada

To this day, the first Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior contests remains one of pro wrestling's most talked about matches. 

The main event of Wrestlemania VI, the match is memorable not only for being a bayface vs. babyface match at a time when such things were rare in the World Wrestling Federation, and not only because it put the Intercontinental Champion up against the WWF Champion.

Mainly, it's so well remembered because it saw two larger-than-life superheroes collide in a dramatic, captivating battle for the ages, a compelling, well-told story that stands the test of time almost thirty years later.

On that night in April 1990, the stars had aligned and Hogan and Warrior had managed to create history together in the best possible sense of the term.

Now, eight years later, things were radically different.






Hogan was now a fully-fledged heel, riding a new wave of momentum as the crooked, cowardly leader of the New World Order. As for the Warrior, he'd just about stripped the last semblance of logic and sanity out of his character and was now an unhinged caricature of the man he'd been back in 1990.

As for their in-ring performance, while neither man had been renowned for their athletic prowess (at least not on an American stage), both were now past their prime and arguably hadn't put on a good match in years.

Still, there was money to be made in a Hogan/Warrior rematch and tonight, eight years down the line, in a different company, we got that rematch.

Hogan vs. Warrior II

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Tony Schiavone, and Iron Mike TenayTonight's show began with a reminder of the ridiculous build to Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. (Ultimate) Warrior, including that time Warrior appeared in Ho Kogan's mirror to frighten him and other such nonsense.

That took us to an introduction from Tony Schiavone and his broadcast colleagues Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and Iron Mike Tenay.

With the Hogan/Warrior match the only thing on anyone's mind, Schiavone reminded us that Bobby Heenan had been there eight years ago when the two had previously met back at Wrestlemania 6.

From there, it was down to Mean Gene Okerlund for an interview with Rick Steiner.

Buff Has Rick's Back

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Buff Bagwell begs Rick Steiner to let him be in Rick's corner against Scott Steiner
The Dog Faced Gremlin told us that his match against Scott Steiner (a do-over of the abomination that took place that the previous month's Fall Brawl 1998) was not about Brother vs. Brother but simply about him kicking Big Poppa Pump's ass.

That brought out former Steiner sidekick Buff Bagwell, who declared that he had severed all ties with Scott and the nWo and wanted to watch Rick's back tonight in order to stick it to that no-good Scott.

Abiding by the First Law of Pro Wrestling, which states that all babyfaces are naturally gullible and a bit dumb, The Dog Faced Gremlin said he was happy to have Buff in his corner.

I wouldn't say this opening segment was highly entertaining, but it served its purpose.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship Raven's Rules Match
WCW World TV Champion Chris Jericho vs. Raven

What was entertaining, however, was the opening setup to tonight's match.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Raven says he can't be bothered challenging Chris Jericho for the TV title
Previously unadvertised, Raven took to the microphone to declare that since he'd been given no notice of this match, he didn't feel much like competing and was going to leave.

After Mike Tenay quite rightly questioned why anybody would just walk out on a title shot because they didn't feel like wrestling, Chris Jericho got on the mic to declare that he didn't feel much like competing either, but that he owed it to the Jerichoholics.

Pretending to praise the former ECW star, Jericho called Raven a loser, which prompted the challenger to rush the ring and get the match underway.

And what a match it was.

Though relatively short, this was one of the best matches Raven would have in WCW, with an explosive start and a rabid crowd all the way through to the finish.

Speaking of the finish, that came when Jericho slapped on the Walls of Jericho and Raven, who had owned up to being on a losing streak, quickly tapped out.
Your Winner and Still WCW TV Champion: Chris Jericho

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - With Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan boasts about tonight's match with Warrior
After Jericho had gone, the New World Order's music struck up and despite the fact that it could have been for any member of nWo Hollywood, Tony Schiavone somehow instinctively knew that it was Hulk Hogan.

He then acted all surprised that the former champion was on his way out.

Psychic Tony's premonition came true, and Hogan came out with Eric Bischoff to gloat about 'sacrificing' his nephew, Horace Boulder.


It was a typical Ho Kogan promo, entertaining for what it was, but not exactly clear on what point he was trying to make.

Indeed, it was only after talking about being up Horace for five minutes that Ho Kogan quickly reminded us he had a match with Warrior later on in the show.

If I had to guess, I'd say the gist of the message here was that if he was prepared to do that family, imagine how much worse things were going to get for Warrior.

Meng vs. Wrath

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Wrath makes his way out for a match with Meng
A solid though unspectacular outing, this one was even shorter than our opening contest, though unlike Jericho/Raven, a few short minutes was more than enough for Meng and Wrath.

Two played to their strengths to produce an OK match that only got exciting at the finish when Wrath got his large opponent over his shoulders and drilled him to the mat for the three count.
Your Winner: Wrath

Out in the Internet Location, Billy Kidman displayed all the personality of a wet teabag as he told Lee Marshall that he didn't care whether it was Disco Inferno or Juventud Guerrera that he would have to defend his cruiserweight championship against later on in the show.

Both Disco and Juvi were about to go at it, with the winner earning a title shot later that night.

Cruiserweight Championship Number One Contender's Match
Disco Inferno vs. Juventud  Guerrera

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Juventud Guerrera set for battle against Disco Inferno
There must have been something in the water tonight. Like Raven before him, Disco Inferno had probably the best match of his WCW career here in a very enjoyable effort against Juventud Guerrera.

Disco was doing the old gimmick where he was pretending to have made weight in order to compete in the cruiserweight division.

Here, both he and Juvi turned up motivated to work, and it paid off big time for them.

Whilst there may be some that will argue this wasn't a technically-solid effort, you'd have to be completely soulless not to have found this match very entertaining.

After a good back-and-forth, Disco surprised everybody but hitting a wicked piledriver to get the pin.
Your Winner and New Number One Contender to the Cruiserweight Championship: Disco Inferno

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Scott Steiner and The Giant challenge Rick Steiner & Buff Bagwell to a match
Following a short routine from the Nitro Girls (who were making their PPV debut here), Scott Steiner came out to cut one of his ever-so-eloquent promos.

Fumbling his way through every other sentence, Steiner challenged his brother and Buff Bagwell to a tag team match against himself and The Giant, with the tag team titles on the line.

This brought out J.J. Dillon, who agreed to book the match on the condition that, should Scott and The Giant lose the tag titles to Buff Bagwell and Rick Steiner, Rick would face Scott in a 15-minute match.

The nWo members agreed, and this one was on.

At no point did anybody bothers to mention that Scott Steiner wasn't even one of the tag team champions. WCW = logic.

Fit Finlay vs. Alex Wright

As the combatants made their way to ringside, the announcers told us that this was something of an old rivalry stretching back to an incident in which Fit Finlay broke the leg of Alex Wright's father.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Alex Wright has a boner
It's worth pointing out that Alex's father, Steve Wright, was also a wrestler and had wrestled some matches with Fit. This wasn't just Finlay going around being an ass and breaking people's daddy's legs.

Revenge must have really excited Das Wunderkind, which is the only reason I can think of to explain the bulk in his trunks that I can't unsee.

Either that, or he was after stealing Lex Luger's Total Package gimmick.

Proving that this was by far one of the best WCW Pay Per Views of the year (which isn't saying much), Wright and Finlay ensured Halloween Havoc 1998 had another good match, with a short and enjoyable outing which drew heavily on both men's European style.

After a good effort from both men, Wright blasted Finlay with a simple neck-breaker to steal the victory.
Your Winner: Alex Wright

Out in the back, Lee Marshall tried to get through to Ernest Miller and convince him that he couldn't call himself The Greatest because somebody else (Muhammad Ali) had already used that name.

"Who is this imposter?" quipped Miller, which was pretty funny.

The segment might not have achieved much, but it was comical.

Saturn vs. Lodi

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Lodi Rules - Lodi gets ready to face Saturn
Well, this one was kind of dumb, but in a way that you couldn't help but smile at.

In this short squash match, Lodi was far more interested in waving his signs than in competing and would do anything to get away from Saturn so that he could go and hold them.

Unamused, Saturn dismantled the former Flock member in about 20 seconds, picking up a quick win.
Your Winner: Saturn

Whilst all of these matches have been fun so far, you do get the distinct impression that most of them were mere filler.

Saturn/Lodi, Finlay/Wright and Wrath/Meng, as fun as they all were, were Nitro matches, not major PPV matches. At least the next match had some significance, even if only from a kayfabe standpoint.

Before that, however, the announcers took us back to Nitro to show us Buff Bagwell swinging a chair at Scott Steiner and giving up his nWo membership to assist Rick Steiner.

The Nitro Girls gave us a show for a few minutes, and then it was finally back to the action.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Kidman vs. Disco Inferno

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Billy Kidman gets set to defend the Cruiserweight Championship against Disco Inferno
Halloween Havoc 1998 must surely be one of Disco Inferno's favourite nights of his career.

Going up against Kidman, the mid-card comedy act turned it up a notch to deliver his second strong performance of the night.

Sure, his trash talking may have left a lot to be desired (who calls anybody a 'pipsqueak' seriously?) but the challenger worked well with reigning champion Kidman to really capture the fan's attention and hold it throughout the duration of a good pro wrestling match.

Alas, tonight wasn't to be Disco's night. Despite dominating proceedings, the former TV champion was flattened by Kidman's shooting star press and pinned.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Kidman

Up next, the one you've all been waiting for.

Kinda.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Giant & Scott Steiner vs. Rick Steiner & Buff Bagwell

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Buff Bagwell tricked Rick Steiner
So, despite having never won the title, Scott Steiner was now one-half of the WCW tag team champions and was all set to defend the belts with The Giant against his brother and former best friend.

From a pure wrestling standpoint, this one wasn't much to write home about, but from a storyline and entertainment standpoint, it was golden.

After going back and forth with his brother and The Giant, Rick Steiner looked to have the whole match sewn up, only for Buff Bagwell to call for the tag.

Rick obliged and got kicked in the nuts by his partner.

Apparently, trusting Buff had been a dumb move all along (whodathunkit?). His work accomplished, Buff ran off, leaving Scotty and Giant to do the double-team on Steiner.

The two battered their opponent, then Scotty held Rick in place as Giant scaled the top rope. While the resulting missile dropkick which followed was admittedly very impressive, Giant took so long getting his position atop the ropes that it completely took you out of the moment.

Anyway, Steiner moved, Giant's dropkick hit Big Poppa Pump, and one top-rope bulldog to Giant later, Rick Steiner was the tag team champions.
Your Winner and New WCW Tag Team Champion: Rick Steiner

Scott tried to run, but Rick attacked and brought him back to the ring.

Rick Steiner vs. Scott Steiner

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Scott Steiner got beat up by Rick Steiner
The drama continued, with the crowds getting fully behind Rick as he gave his brother a long overdue, and well-deserved ass kicking.

Unfortunately for the Dog Faced Gremlin, his moment was ruined by the arrival of a man disguised as President Bill Clinton (complete with rubber Clinton mask).

Stevie Ray ran out and handed Clinton a Slapjack, which he used to take out Rick and referee Charles Robinson before revealing himself to be not the United States President but, of course, Buff Bagwell.

The bell sounded, but this one was not over yet.

Scott made the cover on his brother and Buff used an unconscious Charles Robinson's hand to make the count. One...two...Rick kicked out!

Scotty gave his brother a top rope frankensteiner...One..two...Rick kicked out!

Then Rick made a comeback, floored both Buff and Big Poppa pump and made the cover. Nick Patrick ran in to make the count, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Rick Steiner

Afterwards, a battered and bewildered Buff Bagwell was seen calling out for 'Monica.'

Get it?

Because he was Bill Clinton!

*Insert eye-roll emoji here*

Finally, the feud that had started way back at Superbrawl VIII (when Scott first turned on Rick) was over, and it couldn't have ended in better fashion.

Again, it wasn't great technical wrestling, but it was fantastic storytelling that had the crowd completely invested. That blow off was well worth the wait.

Speaking of matches that were a while in the making, we next got a video package looking at the time Scott Hall turned on Kevin Nash at Slamboree 1998 and Scott Hall's descent into alcoholism. The two former best friends would meet next.

Scott Hall vs. Kevin Nash

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Scott Hall vs. Kevin Nash
Very much the same as the earlier Steiner vs. Steiner stuff, this was less about great wrestling and more about great storytelling. With Scott Hall playing drunk but then revealing he was actually just joking, The Bad Guy annihilated his friend in the early going and even took to the microphone to mock him.

Just when you thought Kevin Nash was out for the count, he staged a comeback and just beat Hall to a pulp, right up to the point that he could no longer stand up under his own strength.

The crowd were into every last move, giving one of the loudest reactions of the night just because Nash lowered his singlet. This, of course, was a precursor to not one, but two Jackknife Powerbombs.

The story here was that Nash was merely trying to beat some sense into his buddy and wasn't interested in actually beating him, in a wrestling match.

This explains why he then walked off, leaving a barely-conscious Hall to pick up the win via count out.
Your Winner via Countout: Scott Hall

More Nitro Girls followed. Damn, those were some good-looking women.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Sting

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Wolfpac Sting looks terrible with a goatee
Sharpshooter vs. Scorpion Death Lock.

As a kid, Sting vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart was always one of those dream matches that I always longed to see.

Since we didn't get WCW PPVs over here in the UK 20 years ago, this is literally the first time I've seen this "dream match," and man, was I ever disappointed.

Rather than the absolute masterpiece these two could have put on just a year or two earlier, we got a slow, sluggish outing with Bret, in particular, doing the bare minimum.

In the end, the ref took a tumble and Bret beat up Sting with a foam baseball bat until he was unconscious. He then revived the referee, slapped on the Sharpshooter and when an unconscious Sting couldn't answer the count of three, this one was over.

What a waste.
Your Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Sting

The next ten minutes was dedicated to Sting been wheeled off on a stretcher, so whilst that's going on, I'll take the time to point out two (mostly irrelevant) things that I noticed in this match:

1: Sting had a full on goatee beard which, with his red Wolfpac facepaint made him look a bit like Satan. That's not a compliment.

2: I'm pretty sure Bret Hart had different theme music every time he appeared on PPV.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Warrior

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - (Ultimate) Warrior faced Hollywood Hulk Hogan in a Wrestlemania 6 Rematch
And so ladies and gentlemen, here we have it: The long-awaited rematch between (Ultimate) Warrior and Ho Kogan that was eight and a half years in the making.

Having apparently relocated from Parts Unknown, Warrior was build as coming from the One Warrior Nation.

This was a nation which also included The Disciple, technically making it a Two Warrior Nation.

The man looked great, probably not as physically impressive as he'd done the previous month at Fall Brawl 1998, but then that was partly due to the novelty value of having not seen the man on a PPV since King of the Ring 1996.

Sadly, whilst he may have looked great, nothing he and Hogan did actually was great.

Though some spots weren't quite as bad as you'd expect, so many others were so horribly done, and so horribly botched, that the whole thing became laughable.

At one point, Hogan was supposed to leap over a prone Warrior and knock into Nick Patrick, but Patrick wasn't quite in position, so Hogan jumped over Warrior, stopped, turned, and then mowed down Patrick, making for our third ref bump of the night.

Just for good measure, Hogan then dropped a knee on the referee's head, the exact same spot we'd just seen in the earlier Bret/Sting outing.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Hogan later went to throw a fireball at Warrior but something went awry.

Warrior sold the fireball before it had even been thrown, and then it basically blew up in Ho Kogan's face.

Seriously, it was so comically bad that it was almost a relief when Horace Hogan came down and decked Warrior with a chair, finally giving Ho Kogan the chance to avenge his loss at Wrestlemania 6.
Your Winner: Hollywood Hogan

Post-match, Horace embraced his Uncle Hulk then doused a defeated Warrior in lighter fluid. Fortunately, Doug Dillinger and Random Security Man came down before the evil Hogans could set Warrior on fire.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg vs. Diamond Dallas Page

WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 - Champion Bill Goldberg defended the titel against Diamond Dallas Page
In his 2018 WWE Hall of Fame speech, Goldberg mentioned Diamond Dallas Page bringing him "15 pages" of an outlined plan for the match. Clearly, such meticulous planning paid off because this was arguably Goldberg's best WCW matches, if not one of the best of his entire career.

Without losing any of the aurae that had made Goldberg a star in the first place, both he and Page came out of this dramatic main event looking like true superstars, and whilst the reigning champion may have gone an alleged 155-0 thanks to a Jackhammer, he did so only after helping cement the idea that DDP truly belonged in the main event.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: Goldberg

And that was just about that.






After a run of utterly dismal shows, World Championship Wrestling appeared to have corrected course with Halloween Havoc 1998 and gotten back to their usual PPV formula: 

An enjoyable undercard followed by a lacklustre main event.

Of course, whilst Goldberg/Page was technically the main event (and a very good one to boot) we still got the hilariously terrible Hogan/Warrior clash that also constituted as a main event, and has since gone down in history as one of the worst main events of all time. 

Apart from that and the disappointing Hart/Sting match (which I've actually seen a lot of other people praise), this was actually an enjoyable show, though not one that's going to be on your Must-Watch list. 

Track down Hogan/Warrior just to see pro wrestling at its absolute worst, but otherwise, maybe watch Halloween Havoc 1998 if you simply need to kill time for a while. 



1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
  3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
  8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
  9. WCW Slamboree 1998
  10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
  11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
  12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
  13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
  14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
  15. WCW - Road Wild 1998
  16. WWF - Summerslam 1998
  17. WCW - Fall Brawl 1998
  18. WWF - In Your House 24: Breakdown
  19. WWF - In Your House 25: Judgement Day 
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