Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

PPV REVIEW: WCW - Halloween Havoc 1991

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Event poster
October 27th 1991,
Chattanooga, Tennessee

I first reviewed WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 over 12 years ago.

Long before the launch of the WWE Network, the version I reviewed was the Turner Home Video VHS cassette tape which I proudly still own somewhere. 

Since that version only really omitted undercard matches of no importance, I wasn't going to bother revisiting this event even though it's exactly the point I've just reached as I work my way through WCW's early history.

However, I decided to do so for three reasons:

1. I'm a glutton for punishment and feel like this review won't be truly finished until I've discussed matches I previously didn't see like Oz vs. Bill Kazmier. 

2. I used to format my reviews completely differently, so I want to go through and reformat this one for the sake of consistency.

3. I figured the show might make more sense to me now that I've finally seen the rest of WCW's big shows of 1991 and it might also help me to put future events in a better context too.

So here's what I'm going to do:

I'm going to keep my original thoughts and commentary from my first review as they are. I'll add new comments from today's watch-through in bold red font like this. 

I'll review any matches I haven't already seen in my usual style.

I'll also add new screenshots because, to be honest, the ones originally included in this review are terrible. 

Without further ado then, let's get on with it.

Original WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review Introduction

World Championship Wrestling's third annual Halloween Havoc stands out as a memorable pay-per-view event, though probably for all the wrong reasons.  

Despite a memorable debut from none other than the late Ravishing Rick Rude, a great bout between The Artist Yet to be Known as Goldust, and the man who would go on to raise hell as Stone Cold Steve Austin (and Eric Bischoff dressed as a vampire) it was the opening Chamber of Horrors match which leaves the memory of Halloween Havoc '91 to be uttered in the same embarrassing tones as Lost in Cleveland or the legendary Shockmaster Incident7

.The Turner Home Entertainment VHS version, which remains the only lasting record of the show (other than the one sitting in WWE's video library*) omits several matches from the undercard.

*2022 update - that's the version I'll be watching today.

This is probably a good thing. After all, does anybody really need to see matches like Bill Kazmaier vs. Kevin 'Oz' Nash or Van hammer vs. Doug Sommers (who?) more than once in a lifetime? (no, but I'm going to do it anyway).

That said, there is one match not included on the tape that is certainly worth a look;  Brian Pillman defeating Richard Morton to be named WCW's first Light Heavyweight Champion.

What there is on the tape ranges from good to awful, though not necessarily in that order. Let's take a look.

Barry Windham is Attacked! 

The show opened with one of WCW's typically naff video packages in which "spooky" greyed-out pictures of tonight's star wrestlers hovered up over a graphic of a haunted house that was about as good as something you might find on a NES.

As the camera panned live into the arena, fireworks exploded and Jim Ross welcomed us to the show, telling us that no less than 11 matches had been signed.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone get set to call all the action

He and Tony Schiavone put over our big title matches and wondered who the mysterious WCW Phantom could be (spoiler alert: I already gave it away in the intro).

From there, Ross and Schiavone sent us to Eric Bischoff who was standing outside the arena waiting to talk to the stars of WCW as they arrived. 

After the pairings of Cactus Jack & Abdullah The Butcher and Diamond Dallas Page & The Diamond Studd arrived, we saw a shot of Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham pulling up at the arena. 

As Bischoff tried to get an interview, Arn Anderson and Larry Zybysko show up and slam his arm in the car door. 

Bet that was painful.

Chamber of Horrors match
El Gigante, Sting and The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. Big Van Vader, Cactus Jack, The Diamond Studd and Abdullah the Butcher  

Ah, the infamous Chamber of Horrors match.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Big Van Vader makes his way out for the Chamber of Horrors match

This one reads like a who's-who of big names from the 1990s. You had Sting and The Steiner Brothers, stars synonymous with the WCW brand.

You had Vader, a phenomenal performer who sat comfortably at the top of the card until Hulk Hogan showed up (at least he would do eventually, now that I've seen every early WCW event in chronological order, I know that Big Van Vader hadn't really done much of note in the company at this stage).

You had The Diamond Stud, later known as Razor Ramon and then by his real name, Scott 'I started the nWo' Hall and, of course, Cactus Jack, the man who would go on to be known as 'The Hardcore Legend, Mick Foley. 

Throw in wrestling institution Abdullah The Butcher (and forget about the useless El Gigante, who's only claim to fame is a poorly-received Wrestlemania 9 match against The Undertaker), and it all made for one star-studded bout.

Unfortunately, that's about all this had going for it.

The basic premise for the contest was that two teams would enter into a no-holds-barred cage match which could only end when a wrestler strapped a member of the opposing team into an electric chair, pull a lever and, you know, electrocute him.

And if the concept wasn't ridiculous enough, the execution was equally as stupid.

All eight men immediately began beating the hell out of each other with an array of weapons including chains, skulls and coffins. 

Not that you could see much. 

Half of the match was shot a long way from the ring, with the cumbersome cage obscuring pretty much all of the action. 

The other half was shot using the ill-conceived 'Refer-eye' camera; yes, a camera attached to the referee's head which led to such awe-inspiring visuals as a close-up of Scott Steiner's backside, followed by a minute of staring at his thigh.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Abdullah The Butcher gets electrocuted in the Chamber of Horrors match

At one point, some random guy in black tights and a mask appeared. He probably came out of the coffin, though since your writer couldn't see anything and the announcers made absolutely no mention of this, it's impossible to be sure.

The whole debacle came crashing to a close when Cactus Jack (who, to be fair, worked hard in this one) pulled the lever, 'accidentally' electrocuting his own teammate, Abdullah. 

Fireworks exploded from the chair as Abbi did his best 'oh no, I'm a bit dead' impression, and absolutely nobody in the arena appeared to care.
Your Winners: Sting, El Gigante, and The Steiner Brothers

Afterward, Abdullah woke up, knocked over Mick Foley, then charged out of the ring and attacked a small army of 'ghouls' who had been charged with taking the victim away. 

Hilariously, a bloody Cactus joined in with the beatdown.

2022 Thoughts: Honestly, I think history has been a little unkind to the Chamber of Horrors match. Watching it back today, it's obvious that it wasn't just Cactus Jack that was working hard. Everyone here was doing their best to make this an entertaining brawl, but the gratuitously over-the-top gimmick kind of ruined it, and -as I said in my original write-up- the cage itself made it hard to see what was going on.

In case you're wondering, this was the same cage they used for the Thunderdome Cage Match back at Halloween Havoc 1989.

The Young Pistols are Ready for The Patriots 

Up next, we got a segment that wasn't included on the VHS tape, so I'm seeing it and reviewing it here for the first time.

The announcers sent us to Eric Bischoff who was dressed as a vampire and Missy Hyatt, who was dressed as a sexy showgirl. 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt interview The Young Pistols

Bischoff was eager to learn who the mysterious WCW Phantom was, but Missy claimed she already knew though wouldn't tell Eric because she didn't like him. 

The two then welcomed The Young Pistols (Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong) who had apparently turned heel since we last saw them at Clash 16.

One can only assume they got sick of wrestling The Fabulous Freebirds eight million times and finally snapped.

Whatever the reason for their turn, tonight they had their sites set on reclaiming the US tag team titles from The Patriots. 

Honestly, this was a decent promo from Tracy and Steve, but I was way too distracted staring at Missy's legs. 

The Creatures (Creature 1 & Creature 2?) vs. PN News & Big Josh

This match wasn't included on the VHS tape for pretty obvious reasons. 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - The Creatures faced PN News and Big Josh

The Creatures were apparently Joey Maggs and Johnny Rich who wore neon-green snakeskin masks and came out to theme later used by Retro Pro Wrestling favorite, Psychosis.

The random pairing of PN News and Big Josh then came out and some enthusiastic kid in the front row danced his heart out to News' terrible rapping.

I'm not knocking the kid either -the whole point of going to a wrestling show is to enjoy yourself, so fair play to that lad- but yeah, for saying his whole gimmick was that of a rapper, News was pretty terrible at spittin' bars.

Just as I wrote that, they showed some lady in the front row called Christine Valver who had won a "PN News rap contest" in WCW magazine. I hope the rap she wrote wasn't the one News just did at the start of this match because that would make me look like an asshole. 

Anyway, all that aside, this turned out to be a somewhat decent squash match which ended when Big Josh jumped up and sat on one of the Creature's chests. 

It was basically an Earthquake Splash, but Jim Ross told us that it was called "The Northern Exposure" which seemed somewhat gross given that it involved Josh basically putting his junk in his opponent's face.

News then hit a move that wasn't really a splash. It was basically him falling off the top rope onto his opponent for the uno, dos, tres.
Your Winners: PN News and Big Josh

Before the next match, JR and Schiavone talked about where Beautiful Bobby and Terrence Taylor were on the WCW top 10.

Beautiful Bobby Eaton vs. Terrence Taylor (w/ Alexandra York) 

Another match that is not included on the VHS which I'm reviewing for the first time.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Alexandra York leads Terrance Taylor to the ring to face Bobby Eaton

Given that this was the longest match on the show so far, I totally get why this was cut from the VHS tape, but it's a shame that it was because this was a fantastic match.

No, neither Terrence Taylor nor Bobby Eaton were the biggest stars in the company, but they were two solid wrestlers who knew how to work. 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Terrance Taylor puts a hurting on Bobby Eaton

Combine their talent with a clear heel vs. face storyline and what you had here was tremendous. 

It wasn't fancy, but it was hugely enjoyable.

After a lengthy battle that entertained from start to finish, Bobby picked up the win with the Alabama Jam.
Your Winner: Bobby Eaton

Johnny B. Badd (w/ Theodore Long) vs. Jimmy 'Jam' Garvin (w/ Michael 'PS' Hayes) 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Teddy Long leads Johnny B. Badd into action

After Jimmy 'Jam' Garvin and Michael 'P.S' Hayes got the crowd nicely fired up, future Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long led the flamboyant Johnny B. Badd to the ring for a match that seemed to serve no other purpose than to rouse the crowd from the confusion-induced silence resulting from the previous Chamber farce.

In that respect, this nifty little contest did its job well, with the Freebirds inspiring loud, repeated chants from the audience and the action itself being fun to watch.

In the end, Badd punched out Garvin to win the bout.
Your Winner: Johnny B. Badd

So, clearly when I reviewed this the first time, I assumed that Badd/Garvin went right after the Chamber of Horrors match, hence my comment about it being used to rouse the crowd. 

The most interesting thing here was that The Freebirds were now full-blown babyfaces when they had still been heels back at the last WCW show. 

Otherwise, this was a fun little match that I enjoyed.

The Search for the Halloween Phanton 

In a respite from the action, the announcers sent cameras to Missy Hyatt, who was desperate to find the mysterious Halloween Phanton. 

When Bobby Eaton walked past, Hyatt asked if he'd seen the Phantom. Frustrated, Eaton replied that he didn't care about the Phantom, he'd just won a match. 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Missy Hyatt interviews Bobby Eaton about how much he loves his pumpkin

Now, when you're watching this as a young child and don't realize matches are missing from the card, you suddenly think 'what? No you didn't! that was Johnny B. Badd who just won a match! Bobby Eaton didn't even wrestle' 

Much like many other things WCW would do during their time on earth, it was all very confusing.

I've nothing to add to this one except to reiterate what a beauty Missy Hyatt was. Oh, and also, Bobby Eaton had a pumpkin which was surely a missed opportunity for a promo line:

'You know what Missy? If I do see the Halloween Phantom, I'm gonna carve him up like I'm about to carve up this here pumpkin!'

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
World Television Champion Steve Austin (w/ Lady Blossom) vs. Dustin Rhodes 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Lady Blossom leads Stunning Steve Austin into battle against Dustin Rhodes

Rhodes and Austin had a notable string of excellent matches during their time together, and though this one wasn't the peak of such brilliance, it was still a very good match.

The man who would go on to shave his head and call himself 'Stone Cold' held off the challenge of the man who would go on to paint his face gold in an entertaining affair, despite Rhodes numerous, dramatic attempts to capture the television title.

Ultimately, the whole thing ran to a time limit draw.
Time-Limit Draw.

Again, I've nothing much to add to that match as I agree with my much younger self that Austin/Rhodes was a great match. On a personal note though, it's nice to see how much my review writing has improved over the years as that whole match review was a disaster. I've fixed it a little, but wow, what a mess.

Oz vs. Bill Kazmaier

First time reviewing this match.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review - Oz and Bill Kazmaier go in for a test of strength

By this stage, Kevin Nash had dropped almost everything about the Oz gimmick apart from the name and the green cloak. He no longer wore that goofy rubber mask to ringside, no longer had Kevin Sullivan dress up like a goblin wizzard and accompany him to the ring, and no longer had any of the elaborate set-dressing as he made his way out.

He'd even cut off the grey ponytail he'd previously been rocking and now came out sporting a shaved crop of bleach-blonde hair.

Meanwhile, Bill Kazmaier came to the ring carrying a huge inflatable globe to show how strong he was. 

This match was...

Well, let's just say it's not hard to see why they cut it from the VHS tape. Kazmaier won the rather unexciting contest with a torture rack. I can't remember if Luger was already using that move regularly at this stage or not.
Your Winner: Bill Kazmaier

"That wasn't pretty, but it was effective," said JR afterward. 

He was half right at least.

Heavy Metal Van Hammer vs. Pretty Boy Doug Somers

You know the drill by now...a new match review that wasn't on the VHS.

Oh boy. 

As Van Hammer came to the ring, Jim Ross pointed out that construction workers were drilling the set with jackhammers just for him. You know, because when I think of heavy metal, the first thing I always think of is people drilling into fake grave sites with pneumatic drills.

Van Hammer also randomly yelled out "Rock of Ages!" which must have been the only song he knew that could have been vaguely considered metal. 

He got in the ring and locked up with Pretty Boy Doug Somers who must have been using that name ironically because he was anything but pretty.

The resulting match was a sloppy, horrible monstrosity with nary a single properly executed move in sight.

It ended when Van Hammer hit his opponent with a slingshot suplex that was so badly done it could have easily broken Somers' neck.

No wonder that got cut from the VHS tape too.
Your Winner: Van Hammer

Before the next match, we got promos from both Flyin' Brian Pillman and the duo of Richard Morton and his manager Alexandra York. 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review -  Alexandra York and Richard Morton cut a promo about Morton's match with Brian Pillman

Pillman put over what an important occasion it was to compete for the Light Heavyweight Championship and dedicated the match to both his family and the WCW fans.

Meanwhile, Morton and York simply talked about how great Morton was and how he was championship material.

Both promos were decent enough to generate a little interest in the upcoming match.

Match to Determine the first World Championship Wrestling Light Heavyweight Champion
Flyin' Brian vs. Richard Morton (w/ Alexandra York)

It's crazy that they left this one off the VHS tape given that it was kind of important.

Then again, it was such a dull match that it's not really surprising. 

It's a shame really because this could have really been something good had Richard Morton not adopted the weird heel gimmick of "Word's Most Boring Wrestler." 

Seriously, if you expected Flyin' Brian versus The Guy from Rock 'n' Roll Express,  you'd be disappointed. Since joining up with Alexandra York, Morton had decided that rather than changing anything about his appearance as most heels do, he was just going to work a style that made all of his matches utter snoozefests.

Need proof? Well, there's this match, and there's also the lifeless encounter he had with Robert Gibson back at The Great American Bash '91.

There was nothing bad about this one. It wasn't that the wrestling was sloppy or didn't work, it was just incredibly boring. 

As such, it came as a relief when Pillman finally flew onto Morton with a top-rope crossbody to win the match.
Your Winner and NEW Light Heavyweight Champion: Flyin' Brian Pillman

Before the next contest, JR and Schiavone speculated on the identity of the mysterious WCW Phantom. 

WCW Halloween Phantom vs. Tom Zenk 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review -  Rick Rude as the WCW Halloween Phantom

The whole point of the Halloween Phantom was that he was supposed to be a big mystery. Nobody knew who he was, where he came from, or what he wanted. 

All they knew was that he was big, he was dangerous, and that when he finally was revealed, it was going to be a huge surprise.

Everybody knew that it was supposed to be a surprise except for WCW announcer Tony Schiavone, who, after the 'Phantom made short work of Zenk with a Reverse Neckbreaker, ruined the whole thing by declaring "that's a move that a lot of people know as a Rude Awakening"

Yeah, thanks, Tony.
Your Winner: The WCW Halloween Phantom

To be fair to Schiavone, it was pretty obvious who was under the mask if you actually cared to look. Just check out that screenshot above. 

The Phantom's identity was only marginally better hidden than the time Ric Flair was The Black Scorpion back at Starrcade 1990.

Before the next match, we got a commercial for Starrcade 1991 with pictures of WCW stars on trading cards that fell into a bowl because, geddit? It was time for Battlebowl! 

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zybysko)vs. WCW United States Tag Team Champions The Patriots (Firebreaker Chip & Todd Champion) 

The US titles were not on the line here, not that it would have made this any more interesting if they were; Anderson and Zybysko basically wrestled circles around their rookie opponents in a boring contest so memorable this writer can't remember a single thing that happened in it, even though he only watched the tape an hour before writing this piece.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The Enforcers

To be fair, I was probably a little harsh on this match as The Enforcers did at least do their best to make it as entertaining as possible, but there was only so much they could do with Champion and Chip, and it still wasn't all that amazing.

Paul Heyman introduced Rick Rude as his new charge. 

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 Review -  Rick Rude makes his WCW debut with Paul E. Dangerously and Madusa

Paul E. Dangerously, who had previously been fired 'for being too controversial for television' returned to WCW and cut a fantastic promo in which he ranted and raved with a passion about the state of WCW whilst Madusa stood around looking good. 

Dangerously went on to announce that he had found the man who would defeat Sting. 

That man was the Halloween Phantom and, yes, just as Schiavone had hinted at, the Halloween Phantom turned out to be none other than former WWF star, 'Ravishing' Rick Rude.

My original review didn't do justice to how awesome this segment really was. Dangerously was positively pissed about being booted off WCW TV and was now using his manager's license to assemble a team who would systemically destroy the company, starting with its top star, Sting. 

Paul E.'s promo was amazing, Rude was as good as could be, and Madusa played the role of eye candy well. This was one of the best things on the whole show.

2-out-of-3 Falls for the World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship 
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger (w/ Harley Race) vs. Ron Simmons (w/ Dusty Rhodes)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 - Ron Simmons vs. Lex Luger

Until The Great Khali headlined Smackdown for a while, this main event held some sort of record for the most tedious main event on a wrestling show ever in the history of wrestling shows. Ron Simmons was an average worker at best, whilst Luger made his way to the main event based purely on his chiseled physique and a knack for over-selling everything.

Putting the two together in a 20+ minute two-out-of-three falls match, WCW presented a main event so mind-numbingly dull it's unreal. Nothing interesting happened for a while, Luger won, and then would go on to do nothing interesting for the rest of his career besides bodyslamming Yokozuna and showing up unexpectedly on Nitro that time.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Lex Luger

I honestly don't know why I hated this match so much all those year ago as it was actually pretty decent.

It's also kind of funny how angry I was about Luger, as I've grown to really appreciate his early WCW run, especially when he played the heel. 

OK, so it wasn't the greatest main event of all time, but I certainly enjoyed it a lot more the second time around.

And thus World Championship Wrestling's Halloween Havoc 1991 show came to a dismal finale. The Chamber of Horrors concept would never be used again (for good reason), the two men who had the best match on the card, or at least the tape, went to the World Wrestling Federation and became huge stars, and Tony Schiavone and other WCW announcers would continue to spoil things until the company's dying day. 

Judging by this show, it's a small miracle that day didn't come a whole lot sooner.

2022 closing comments: Remembering Halloween Havoc 1991 for little more than the Chamber of Horrors match, I came into this one expecting to hate it and came away pleasantly surprised. That's mostly because one of the best matches on the card - Taylor/Eaton was left off, and I'd completely forgotten how good Austin/Dustin was. 

Although there was still some stuff that wasn't very good, Havoc '91 was a decent show that I'm glad I watched again.

Download RPW's first book, The Complete History of NWA/WCW Starrcade - Vol 1: 1983 - 1989. Available now from Amazon.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Vengeance 2003

WWE Vengeance 2003 Review - Event Poster

July 27, 2003
Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado

By the time WWE Vengeance 2003 rolled around, the brand split was in full-effect and WWE were doing all that they could to establish two solid rosters of stars.

Judging by tonight's card, which featured the likes of The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, and emerging stars like future face-of-the-company John Cena, the Smackdown brand weren't doing too badly at all in terms of star power, but would that be enough to produce a quality Smackdown-exclusive PPV?

Let's head to Denver, Colorado to find out.

We’ve Earned This..

Tonight’s opening video was a two-parter.

In the first part, stars like Brock Lesnar, Zach Gowan, and Stephanie McMahon spoke about how much they’d always wanted to be at the top of the game since they were little kids and had worked damn hard to make it happen.

I suppose that would’ve been more believable had the boss’s daughter not been featured.

Speaking or the boss, Vince McMahon himself took over the second part of the video, telling us that tonight was all about control and since he was the uber-lord of everything, he was going to control his business and kick Zach Gowan and his one-leg out of WWE.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Michael Cole and Tazz called the action

As opening videos went, it wasn’t the greatest, but it did at least give you some idea of what to expect from Tonight.

With that over, we got crowd shots and pyro galore before Michael Cole and Tazz welcomed us to Vengeance and sent it down to ringside for our opening contest.

WWE United States Championship Tournament Final
Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit

WWE Vengeance 2003 - The referee lays down the law to Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit

As the company continued to fine-fine the whole brand extension thing, they had recently reintroduced secondary titles, bringing the Intercontinental Championship back at Judgement Day 2003 and now reviving the same US title (in lineage at least, it was a new belt) that we’d last seen being merged with the IC title at Survivor Series 2001.

A tournament has been held to crown a new champion, and what better way to wrap up that tournament than with an Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit match.

The two former Radicalz teammates pretty much always delivered, and this match was no exception.

Now playing a heel, Eddie arrived in a low-rider and tore it up with Benoit for a
solid 20 minutes in a match that was every bit as good -if not better- than their bout at Armageddon 2002.

Toward the end, there was a hilarious spot where the referee had been bumped so Guerrero took out Benoit and lay the title belt on his chest, then played dead, hoping that when the referee woke up, he’d see Benoit with the belt, Guerrero on the floor, put two and two together and give Eddie the win.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Chris Benoit puts Eddie Guerrero in the Crippler Crossface

The problem was that the ref was knocked so goofy he didn’t wake up, frustrating Eddie and resulting in him tapping to a crossface.

The referee didn’t see that either, neither did he see Benoit’s former buddy and tag team partner run in and hit the Canadian Crippler with a gore, though he did see Guerrero’s subsequent match-winning pin fall.

Man, that was so, so good.
Your Winner and New US Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Out in the back, Vince McMahon had apparently summoned daughter Stephanie to his office.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Vince McMahon tricks Stephanie McMahon

Doing his best to get a rise out of the Smackdown GM, Vince first feigned concern for his incapacitated wife Linda and promised to go to Raw and confront Kane, who had taken Linda out.

He then claimed to have bought Steph some flowers as a way of mending fences with her, only to reveal that the flowers he got weren’t the big bouquet of roses on his desk (those were for Sable), but a weedy bouquet of nothing.

This wasn’t the greatest segment, but the flower switcharoo was kind of funny.

Indecent Proposal Match
Billy Gunn (w/ Torrie Wilson) vs. Jamie Noble

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Billy Gunn and Torrie Wilson

Long after the whole gay wedding thing was over, Billy Gunn had proven that he was straight after all by starting to date Torrie Wilson, a relationship that seemed to be founded entirely on the fact that both of them had good bums.

Then, Jamie Noble had come along, ignoring his girlfriend Nidia as he pursued Torrie, leading the blonde beauty to issue a challenge:

If Noble could best Billy tonight, she’d sleep with him on Smackdown.

The match itself was pretty entertaining. Not a classic by any stretch but perfectly enjoyable enough for a PPV undercard match.

Nidia even made an appearance and sided against her man, but even with two women on his side, Gunn couldn’t get the job done.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Torrie is shocked that she has to sleep with Jamie Noble

Noble pushed him into the ropes where Torrie was standing on the apron, so the chivalrous ass man grabbed his lady to stop her from crashing to the floor.

This gave Big Bad Jamie a chance to roll-up Gunn and earn himself some sexy time.
Your Winner: Jamie Noble

As the reality of the situation set in, a clearly distraught Torrie Wilson let out a loud and very visible “holy sh*t!”

“It’s not funny, but it kind of is,” said Tazz, summing up my thoughts exactly.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Funaki interviews Farooq & Bradshaw

Out in the back, Smackdown’s number one announcer Funaki wanted to ask Farooq and Bradshaw about getting beaten up by The Brooklyn Brawler ahead of tonight’s bar room brawl, but the APA instead decided to ignore that question and invite Funaki to the brawl.

That was next.

Bar Room Brawl

Given that I wasn’t watching wrestling during this time, I had no idea that The Full Blooded Italians’ theme music was basically a take on No Sleep Til Brooklyn by The Beastie Boys.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Bar Room Brawl

What I do know is that watching Spanky dance to that theme on top of the makeshift bar was very funny.

The Easter Bunny was also involved, and it was the exact same costume they’d use years later for that whole thing with Adam Rose.

Man, WWE really got some mileage out of that costume.

Other notable competitors included Brother Love, Doink The Clown, Chris Kanyon, Matt Capotelli, The Basham Brothers, John Hennigan, Sean O’ Haire, Matt Hardy, and Shannon Moore, Brooklyn Brawler, Orlando Jordan, Funaki, and, of course, the APA themselves.

Things started with Brother Lobe encouraging everyone to bow their heads while he delivered a message of love, only to crack a bar stool over the head of two random masked dudes.

What followed wasn’t a match as much it was just a lighthearted bit of sports entertainment, the highlights of which included Spanky getting thrown off the bar through a table, Sean O’Haire going ape sh*t with some pool cues like a bar-room ninja and Funaki striking not a single
Blow but drinking the whole way through until he was drunk off his ass and fell backwards off his stool.

In the end, only The APA and Brother Love were left standing.

Bradshaw hit Love over the head with a glass bottle and somehow that was that.

Honestly, if you didn’t enjoy that, you need to lighten up.

Not everything in pro wrestling has to be about five-star work rate and impressing Dave Meltzer.

Sometimes it can just be big, dumb fun, and that’s exactly what this was.
Your Winner: Bradshaw

Out in the back, Jamie Noble lusted over Torrie Wilson’s Playboy shoot as he boasted to a random dude about what he’d get to do to her.

When the dude asked Noble about Nidia, the former Cruiserweight champion didn’t seem to care, insisting that his missus would get over it.

Speaking of Cruiserweight champions…

WWE Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag Team Champions The World’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) vs. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman

WWE Vengeance 2003 - The World's Greatest Tag Team Prepare to Face Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio Jr.

Reuniting as a duo from their days in WCW, we’d last seen Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman compete as a tag team back at WCW Greed.

Tonight, the pair took on Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas in an absolutely tremendous match that had the potential to steal the show by a large margin.

Combining mat wrestling with high flying and good old-fashioned storytelling, this one built and built and got better and better the longer it went on.

For this fan, the highlight was Kidman hitting an impressive shooting star press and taking out all three of the other combatants on the outside.

Towards the end, Rey got a top rope hurricanrana on Charlie Haas and got such a close near fall that the crowds were convinced it was a three count and loudly chanted “bullsh*t!” When the match continued.

Moments later, The World’s Greatest Tag Team hit Mysterio with a powerbomb/clothesline attack to retain their titles.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The World’s Greatest Tag Team

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Sable vs. Stephanie McMahon

Prior to the next match, we were shown a clip of Stephanie McMahon chasing Sable on Smackdown and ripping her top off before Sable ran off in a limo.

Those two would fight next.

No Count Out Cat Fight
Stephanie McMahon vs. Sable

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Stephanie McMahon gets ready to face Sable

To be honest, I didn’t hate this.

I mean, I didn’t love it but it wasn’t sloppy or horrible or anything, it was just two non-wrestlers doing their best to have a decent match and, to that end, they succeeded as best as they could.

At one point, I legitimately looked away to cough (I was crazy sick while writing this review, in case you care), and when I looked back, Brian Hebner had his top off for some reason then A-Train ran in and belly-bumped Stephanie into oblivion.

Sable made the cover, Topless Hebner made the count, and that was that.
Your Winner: Sable

Afterwards, Steph sold The Hairy Belly Bump of Death like she’d just been murdered and had to be helped to the back.

John Cena vs. The Undertaker

Before the match, a video package showed us a cocky John Cena boasting that he was a veteran and the biggest legend in the company, a claim which naturally raised the ire of legitimate legend The Undertaker.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - John Cena calls out The Undertaker

Tonight, the two would fight in a battle for respect.

And man, what a battle it was.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that, when it comes to getting someone over, actual wins and losses matter far less than a wrestler’s actual performance and the way they’re presented.

This match was absolute proof of that.

The Undertaker technically won with the Last Ride, but The move came across as a desperate attempt from a struggling warrior rather than a dominating move from a man in control of the action.

Up until that point, John Cena definitely had ‘Taker’s number and pushed Big Evil to his absolute limit in an utterly enthralling contest.

Seriously, this was excellent and I highly recommend you check it out for proof that ‘Taker could put somebody over without losing a match as he came out of this one looking battered, broken, and defeated whereas Cena, despite the loss, came away looking like a legit superstar:
Your Winner: John Cena

Before the next contest, we were shown a video package of Vince McMahon being an ableist asshole to one-legged wunderkind Zach Gowan.

The two would meet next.

Mr. McMahon vs. Zach Gowan

I was all ready to write this one off as a horrible and horribly distasteful match that shouldn’t have been allowed to take place.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - The referee lays down the law to Vince McMahon and Zack Gowan

However, that was when McMahon was in control and bullying his opponent around the ring by attacking his one leg.

When Gowan inevitably made a spirited comeback, however, this writer found himself totally gripped by the match. Make no mistake about it, suspension of disbelief was in full effect.

Seriously, this may not have been a classic wrestling match, but it was a perfect example of pro wrestling as a storytelling art form.

A match that was way better than anyone could have imagined, my only problem with it was that Vince won after moving out of the way of a Gowan top-rope attack and scoring the pinfall.

I know I just said moments ago that it was possible to lose a match and still get over, but this story lent itself so well to the courageous youngster getting the better of the sadistic old man that it was just a shame to see him lose.
Your Winner: Mr. McMahon

Out in the back, Josh Matthews’ caught up with Eddie Guerrero as the new US champion made his exit from the arena.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Josh Matthews interviews Eddie Guerrero

Guerrero boasted that what happened to Chris Benoit (getting attacked by Rhyno) would never happen to him because he was smart enough not to have any friends and gloated that Benoit got what was coming to him.

With that done, it was time for our final match of the evening:

Triple Threat for the WWE Championship
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show vs. Kurt Angle

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Kurt Angle vs. Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar match graphic

This was another excellent match on a night full of excellent matches.

Managing to stand out from anything that had gone before it, this was hard-hitting, brutal, and bloody, with all three men waging absolute war on one another for the better part of 20 minutes.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Kurt Angle vs. Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar

After an incredible effort from all involved, Kurt Angle finally took out both men with Angle Slams before pinning Lesnar to become the champion.
Your Winner and New WWE Champion: Kurt Angle

As the show went off the air, Angle celebrated with the title and jubilantly boasted that he’d done it again.

I don’t exaggerate at all when I say that WWE Vengeance 2003 was one of the best PPVs I’ve seen in a long time and probably ranks up there as one of my favourite PPVs ever.

The opening US title match, the tag team championship, and the main event world title event were all awesome, with the Angle/Lesnar/Show match in particular standing out as something extra special.

Even the stuff in between like the Gunn/Noble and Steph/Sable was decent enough while McMahon/Gowan was a master class in pro wrestling storytelling.

All in all then, an excellent show that is well worth a watch.

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

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Sunday, 18 September 2022

EVENT REVIEW: WCCW Parade of Champions 1984

WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 Review
May 6th, 1984
Texas Stadium, Irvin, Texas

Held to pay tribute to the then-recently deceased David Von Erich,  WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 drew what was said to be -at the time- the largest ever crowd for a professional wrestling show in the United States.

Sadly, with David -then the company's biggest attraction- gone, WCCW would never quite draw a crowd like this one again, but for now, the jam-packed Texas Stadium was fired up and ready for some good old professional wrestling.

I'm basing this review off this YouTube video, so I believe that there are some parts of the show (including a tribute to David Von Erich) that aren't included. 

Regardless, let's review what's in the video, shall we?

Welcome to Parade of Champions 

Our show tonight began with a shot of Planet Earth from space. Every now and again, a little animated yellow spaceship would fly around the planet and shoot a laser at Texas which would cause a clip of WCCW stars fighting to blast off into space.

Now, it looks a little cheesy, but I imagine this was a pretty cool visual for 1984. 

With that out of the way, announcer Marc Lowrance welcomed us to what he promised would be 'the greatest wrestling card in the world.' 

As you'll see in a moment, that proved not to be true at all. Lowrance was as excited about tonight's card as he was about the television premier of The Fabulous Freebirds' Bad Street USA video, but before we got to that, there was this:

Mixed Tag Team Match
Gentleman Chris Adams & Sunshine vs. Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin & Precious

This was actually the last match on the card, but for some reason we get it first on the home video release shown on YouTube.

WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 - Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin

Prior to the bell, Gino Hernandez stormed the ring, referred to both Precious and Sunshine as 'deranged' and then challenged the winner of the match, whether that be Chris Adams or Jimmy Garvin.

The match got underway and was perfectly fine if not exactly outstanding.

Naturally, both Adams and Garvin did the bulk of the work, engaging in some basic back-and-forth that was only interrupted by the occasional sloppy cat-fight between the women. 

Eventually, things broke down as most tag team matches tend to do, and as the cameras focused on Precious and Sunshine, Adams got the pin over Garvin.
Your Winners: Chris Adams & Sunshine

Post match, Precious returned to the ring and walloped Sunshine over the back of the head with her purse but then she and Garvin were chased off to the back by Sunshine and Adams.

'Hacksaw' Butch Reed vs. Chick Donovan 

WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 - Hacksaw Butch Reed vs. Chick Donovan

This one started with a lot of stalling as Hacksaw Butch Reed strutted around the ring, flexing his muscles and boasting about how big, strong, and wonderful he was. 

That backfired when Chick Donovan caught him by surprise with a quick flurry of offence which, unfortunately for him, didn't last long.

Reed soon regained the advantage and began to throw Donovan around like a rag doll, trash talking him with every move before finally putting him out of his misery with a sloppy shoulder tackle.

A great match that was not, but it was a decent squash-type effort that made Reed look like a star. 
Your Winner: Hacksaw Butch Reed

Up next, this: 

Kimala The Ugandan Giant (w/ Skandor Akbar) vs. The Great Kabuki (w/ Garry Hart)

WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 - The Great Kabuki

Kamala was billed as Kimala in the title graphic during his introduction, but whatever you call him, his match here with The Great Kabuki was pretty bad.

Kabuki was super over with the Texas faithful thanks to his colorful mask, nun-chuck prowess and green mist, but all of that wasn't enough to stop him being dominated by The Ugandan Giant in a slow plodder of a match in which almost nothing happened.
For the longest time, Kamala held Kabuki in what Lowrance told us was a nerve hold, though it actually just looked like Kamala was grabbing his opponents tits for five minutes and giving them a gentle play.

The only time anything exciting happened was at the finish when Garry Hart and Skandor Akbar both ran in, causing the double disqualification.
Double DQ

The two sides continued to brawl after the bell until it was eventually broken up. 

Junkyard Dog vs. The Missing Link (w/ Skandor Akbar)

WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 - The Missing Link

This wasn't much of a great match either.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

I get that Junkyard Dog was a hugely popular character, but I've yet to see a match of his that I genuinely enjoyed. 

That includes this one, which was basically a messy series of kick-punch-clobber-headbutt-repeat until The Missing Link fell on top of JYD and pinned him while Akbar held the leg down.

Just when the referee was about to award the match to Link, a second official came into alert him about Akbar's nefarious interference. 

That was enough for the decision to be reversed and the whole thing was officially over.
Your Winner via Disqualification: The Junkyard Dog

If you hadn't seen enough of Skandor Akbar, you'd be getting more of him next.

WCCW American Tag Team Championship
WCCW American Tag Team Champions The Super Destroyers (w/ Skandor Akbar) vs. Buck Zumhofe and Iceman King Parsons

WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 - American Tag Team Championship

After a couple of lackluster performances, we got our first genuinely good match of the night as 'Rock 'n' Roll' Buck Zumhofe and Iceman King Parsons took the fight to reigning champions The Super Destroyers.

Zumhofe and Parsons came to the ring carrying a boombox which was apparently playing We Are Family by Sister Sledge. 

It was an odd choice for a song a little cheesy, but once that was over with, the two challengers put in a spirited performance, going up against a championship team who themselves looked impressive in the ring.

After a very enjoyable back and forth, Parsons took down one of the destroyers with a flying forearm to capture the titles for his team.
Your Winners: Buck Zumhofe & King Parsons

Prior to the next match, we got the debut of a song that would forever become a part of wrestling history, Bad Street USA.

Like much from around this time, the video itself looks kind of corny now, but it was full of the kind of excursiveness that made up most 1980's rock videos, and there's no denying that it worked. 

The Fabulous Freebirds would be in action next.

WCCW Six Man Tag Team Match
WCCW Six Man Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael 'P.S' Hayes, Buddy Rogers, and Terry Gordy) vs. The Von Erichs (Fritz, Kerry, and Mike Von Erich) 

Prior to the match, the referee took to the microphone to announce that even though there were no rules in this match, he was going to enforce the rule that only two men could be in the ring at once and that tags were necessarily.

Unfortunately for the overwhelmed official, he had little success in enforcing this rule.

The Freebirds vs. The Von Erichs was one of -if not the- hottest feuds of the time, and the intensity and passion displayed by all six men truly made you believe that they hated each other.

Fought under traditional Six Man rules (albeit with the caveat that you could take your boot or belt off and whack your opponent with it), any attempt to stick to the rules was only ever in vein as multiple men rushed the ring on several occasions to take each other out.

Though it wasn't a classic from an action standpoint, the believability and the white-hot crowd made this a truly fantastic spectacle to watch.

After an intense battle, Kevin Von Erich planted Buddy Rodgers with a flying crossbody off the top to capture the win.
Your Winners and New WCCW Six Man Champions: The Von Erichs
The fierce brawl continued after the bell with Killer Khan rushing in to attack The Von Erichs. Apparently, Marc Lowrance had no idea who Khan was, so he kept referring to him as a 'huge, deadly oriental,' which I'm sure wouldn't fly today.

Eventually, the smoke cleared, the dust settled, and t was time for our main event of the evening.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich

WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 - Kerry Von Erich vs. Ric Flair

Just months after beating Harley Race for the title back at Starrcade '83, Flair put the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on the line against Kerry Von Erich in what would become one of the most famous NWA title matches of all time. 

This NWA title match was originally supposed to be David Von Erich's opportunity, but since he wasno longer with us, the second most popular Von Erich, Kerry, stepped in to face Flair in an emotionally-charged match for the ages. 
With every single member of the audience firmly on his side, the future Texas Tornado got the better of Flair several times during the match, and it was only when The Dirtiest Player in the Game struck with a blow below the belt that he was able to put together a modicum of offence.

Unfortunately for Flair, it wasn't enough. 

After a wildly entertaining back-and-forth battle, Von Erich scored the three count over Flair thanks to a simple backslide.
Your Winner and NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Kerry Von Erich

Sadly for Kerry, he wouldn't hold the title for too long and would drop it back to Flair sooner rather than later.

For now though, he was embraced as a hero both in the ring and in the show-closing backstage interview where he dedicated his win to both his brother David and the state of texas.

For all intents and purposes, WCCW Parade of Champions 1984 wasn't the greatest show on earth. The undercard bouts ranged from decent to dreadful, and it was only with the tag team, six man, and world title fights that the show began delivering performances befitting an event of this magnitude.

This isn't necessarily an event I'd recommend checking out for in-ring action, but for historical significance, it's certainly worth a quick glance

More 1984 events:
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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.