PPV REVIEW: WCW Halloween Havoc 1992

PPV REVIEW: WCW Halloween Havoc 1992 - Event poster

October 25, 1992
Philadelphia Civic Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It was time for Sting and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts to spin the wheel and make the deal as WCW Halloween Havoc 1992 came to Philly.

Roberts' arrival in World Championship Wrestling had been a big deal, such a big deal in fact, that the company had spent goodness knows how much promoting his first major PPV main event against Sting with a mini movie featuring a dwarf, Madusa, and even fricken' laser beams.

The movie, of course, focused on the Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal stipulation in which Sting would spin a giant roulette wheel with over 12 different match types on it.

Almost all of these matches could have given us gold, but alas, fate intervened. 
Since the wheel was about the only thing in pro wrestling that wasn't rigged, what we ended up with was not a classic cage match or an 'I quit' match for the ages, but rather a coal miner's glove match, which was the second worst outcome behind a prince of darkness match. 

22 years later, that's pretty much all anybody remembers about Halloween Havoc '92, so without further ado, let's head down to Pensylvania and check this one out:

Welcome to Halloween Havoc ‘92

And so we began with a somewhat cheesy opening credit sequence in which we were led through a cheap graphic render of a haunted house as Sting barked at the moon, Jake Roberts laughed like a crazy person, and a headless Ron Simmons floated by.
Halloween Havoc 92 Review - Tony Schiavone & Bruno Sammartino

Live in the arena, we were greeted by Tony Schiavone and Bruno Sammartino, the latter of whom had clearly had such a good time at Clash of the Champions 20 that he decided to stick around.

The pair ran down all of the possible match options for tonight’s main event, the majority of which sounded far better than the match we’d eventually get.

From there, Schiavone and Sammartino showed us clips of Cactus Jack training The Barbarian for his upcoming title match against Ron Simmons, discussed the tensions between Barry Windham and Dusty Rhodes, and ran down the rest of the card before sending it to Missy Hyatt.
Halloween Havoc 92 Review - Missy Hyatt

Hanging outside of Ravishing Rick Rude’s dressing room, Hyatt promised to bring us all the backstage gossip about Rude and his two upcoming title matches that we’d see later tonight.
Finally, Missy sent us down to ringside for a word from our announcers, Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura and Jim Ross. 
Halloween Havoc 92 Review - Jesse 'The Body' Ventura & Jim Ross

The two lavished more hype on the Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal angle, even showing us that WCW had genuinely brought in all the equipment needed tor each of the 12 possible matches, just in case.

Finally, over five minutes into the broadcast, it was time to head to the ring for our opening contest.

Six-Man Tag
Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes, Arn Anderson, and Bobby Eaton vs. Z-Man, Johnny Gunn, and Shane Douglas

For the record, Johnny Gunn was not a relative of Billy & Bart. He was Tom ‘Salvatore Sincere’ Brandi, teaming with Shane Douglas and his awesome white leather jacket, and a Z-Man who hadn’t been seen on a major event since WrestleWar '92.

WCW Halloween Havoc 92 Review - Michael 'P.S' Hayes

Meanwhile, Michael Hayes had been working as Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton’s manager, but apparently couldn’t resist climbing in the ring with them for a clash of veterans versus youngsters.

This soon turned into a fun, relatively fast-paced match with lots of frequent tags, solid wrestling, and a lively audience were clearly in favor of the heel contingent, booing the babyfaces for all they were worth and cheering in support of Eaton, Hayes, and Anderson.

Playing up to the fans, Arn Anderson flashed the Four Horsemen sign for what was genuinly one of the loudest pops of the night.

Despite the crowd working against him, Shane Douglas still stood out in this match, the Pennsylvania native putting in a strong performance that answered any questions you might have had about why he was awarded the ECW title just a year later.

Still, it wasn’t the future Franchise who got the win here.

That was Johnny Gunn.

As the match broke down into a wild six-man brawl, Gunn pounced onto Michael Hayes and beat him with a Thesz Press.
Your Winners: Shane Douglas, Johnny Gunn, and The Z-Man.

Out in the back, Missy Hyatt tried and failed to get into Rick Rude’s locker room, but did manage to grab a quick word from Harley Race
The legendary NWA star said nothing of note, other than confirming that he was here to watch a world title match.

We when looped back to Jim Ross and Ventura via Schiavone & Sammartino, the latter duo adding precisely nothing interesting to the broadcast.

Flyin’ Brian vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat

If you’re anything like me, you probably got pretty excited the moment you saw this match written down.
WCW Halloween Havoc 92 Review - Ricky Steamboat vs. Brian Pillman

Let me reassure you, it didn’t disappoint.

With Brian Pillman’s metamorphosis into a full-blown heel, he was the perfect opponent for perennial babyface Ricky Steamboat, holding his own against his more seasoned opponent in a tremendous back-and-forth battle.

Mixing holds and high-flying with spontaneous bouts of aggression, the two delivered a thrilling performance which proved that you don’t necessarily need to win a match to get over in it.

Pillman looked impressive here and came across as a credible threat to the former NWA Champion, but it just wasn’t to be his night.

After a very enjoyable contest, Steamboat came off the top rope and caught Flyin’ Brian with a sunset flip.

Pillman reversed it, but The Dragon reversed the reversal and got the three count.
Your Winner: Ricky Steamboat 

Out in the back, we caught up with Teddy Long, who was standing by with current NWA Champion, Masahiro Chono.

WCW Halloween Havoc 92 Review - Teddy Long w/ Masa Chono and his entourage
In his opening line, Long completely flubbed the champion’s first name and quickly saved face by referring to him as ‘Mr. Chono.’

Flanked by Kensuke Sasaki, NWA president Seiji Sakaguchi, and NJPW spokesman, Hiro Matsuda, Chono said nothing and wasn’t even asked a question.

Instead, Long asked Matsuda who Chono had chosen to be his official for his upcoming NWA title match against Ravishing Rick Rude.

After some conferring, Matsuda confirmed that Kensuke Sasaki would be donning the zebra stripes for that match.

From there, Cowboy Bill Watts confirmed that Rude had chosen Harley Race as his official, the idea being that having one referee from each country would ensure impartiality.

Watts also took the time to clean up some of the messes WCW had booked themselves into while simultaneously making things even more confusing than they had any right to be.

First, Cowboy Bill confirmed that Terry ‘Bam Bam’ Gordy had been “indefinitely suspended for breach of contract.” (the story goes that Gordy held up WCW for more money while he and partner Steve Williams, both AJPW loyalists, refused to do business with WCW’s Japanese partners,  NJPW). 

This meant that Steve Williams would now be teaming with Stunning Steve Austin later on tonight.

Elsewhere, Watts confirmed that we would no longer be seeing Rick Rude competing in two matches tonight.

Along with the NWA title match, Rude had also been scheduled to defend his US title against Nikita Koloff.

The whole “two matches, one night,” thing had been built up throughout the start of the show, but now Watts killed it, explaining in the most convoluted way possible that Big Van Vader would now be subbing for the US Champ.

It says something about the state of your booking when you have to come on TV and spend several minutes trying to explain to fans what the hell is going on.

No DQ Match for the World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
Big Van Vader (w/ Harley Race and US Champion Ravishing Rick Rude) vs. Nikita Koloff

Madusa is Banned From Ringside

I’m not sure if I’m impressed by the heelish antics of Rude accompanying his substitute to the ring, or if it made more sense to say that the US champ was backstage preparing for the ultra-important NWA title match.
WCW Halloween Havoc 1992 - Rick Rude & Big Van Vader
Either way, it didn’t really matter as senior official Ole Anderson quickly banned Rude and Harley Race from ringside.

With the match now stripped of all possible distractions and shenanigans, Big Van Vader and Nikita Koloff were left to compete in a compelling big man battle.

Holding nothing back, both men took turns controlling the match, making limited use of the No DQ stipulation yet still producing a very good title match.

Towards the finish, the two took the fight to the outside, where Koloff hurled his opponent into the corner, only to miss a follow-up Russian Sickle and clobber his shoulder painfully into the post.

That was the beginning of the end for the challenger, who, on returning to the ring, was powerbombed and crushed by the substitute champion.
Your Winner: Big Van Vader (Rick Rude retains the US title)

Sadly, that was pretty much the end of the line for Nikita Koloff. 

He had sustained a herniated disc during the match and would ultimately be forced to retire.

Back to the show, we next saw a commercial for Starrcade ‘92, featuring the rerun of Battlebowl.

Tag Team Title Build Up 

Returning to the backstage area, Teddy Ling stood by for an interview with Dr. Death Steve Williams and his stand-in tag team partner, Stunning Steve Austin.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1992 - Steve Austin & Dr. Death Steve Wiliams

Long asked Williams if he felt as confident teaming with Austin as he did with his former partner, Terry Gordy. Williams, however, simply ignored the question, yelling ‘Trick or treat’ like a maniac and instead asking Austin how he felt about things.

Stunning Steve didn’t have much to say either, only confirming that he and Williams would soon be heading to the ring.

That could’ve been a great promo.

Instead, it wasn’t really anything.

Across the way, Missy Hyatt spoke with champions Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham for a response.

Speaking on behalf of his partner, confident Barry Windham dispelled the rumors that he and Dustin weren’t getting along before putting over Austin as the perfect choice for Williams to partner with.

That match was next.

World Championship Wrestling Unified World  Tag Team Championship
WCW Unified World Tag Team Champions Barry Windham & ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes vs. ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams & ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin

Other than a brief chant of “we want Flair!," the crowds were mostly silent for this lengthy tag team title match, which was a shame because most of it was pretty good.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1992 - Steve Austin puts a hurting on Dustin Rhodes

Wrestling for the full half-hour allotted to them, the two teams didn’t do anything fancy and dramatic moments were certainly few and far between, so I understand that this match might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

However, it was a very solid display of pro wrestling, mixing power moves and submissions with a play on the standard tag team formula which saw both Windham and Rhodes cut off from their corner at various points.

My only complaint about this one is that the drama didn’t even pick up after the ring announcer declared there were only five minutes on the clock.

After failing to make him submit in a half-Boston, Austin sent Dustin to the outside, inadvertently taking referee Randy Anderson along for the ride.

 As Anderson played dead on the outside, Stunning Steve rolled up Barry Windham. Nick Patrick ran in to make the three count and declare The Steves our new champions. However, he was quickly overruled by Anderson, who noted that it was Rhodes, not Windham, who was the legal man.

Dustin quickly got a cover of his own on Austin but, despite the bell ringing, could only manage a two.

From there, Windham and Williams brawled while Rhodes repeatedly tried to put Austin away without any real sense of urgency.

Before long, the bell rang for good and this lengthy but enjoyable contest came to an end.
Time Limit Draw (Windham & Rhodes retain)

Up on the stage, Tony Schiavone stood by for an interview with Paul E. Dangerously, Big Van Vader and Harley Race.

Ever the egomaniac, Dangerously claimed all the credit for orchestrating the plan to have Vader deputize for Ravishing Rick Rude in our earlier US title match.

However, before he could say much more, Madusa arrived on the scene, shoved him out of the way and congratulated Vader herself.

Naturally, this angered Dangerously, who immediately turned full on misogynist , lambasting The First Lady of WCW for being a stupid worthless woman whose only skill was satisfying Rick Rude’s every move.

Madusa stood by and took it, but when Paul E. told her that she’d only been hired because “the other hooker had a previous engagement” and fired her from The Dangerous Alliance, she snapped, kicking him upside the head and pouncing on top of him until a gaggle of officials could pull them apart.

As Madusa was dragged away, an enraged and embarrassed Paul E. declared that he could beat her with one hand tied behind his back.

Cutting back to the ringside, Jim Ross dashed all hopes of that being a throwaway line by discussing it with Ventura, meaning we’d end up seeing that match somewhere whether we wanted to or not.

Sting Spins The Wheel, Makes The Deal 

After much hype, Sting was brought out to the stage where he stood around awkwardly as a giant, horror-inspired roulette wheel was raised onto the stage.
Halloween Havoc 1992 Review - Sting Spins the wheel and makes the deal

The wheel moved slowly, a menacing bust of a ghoul with the Halloween Havoc logo sitting atop of it as ominous music played and smoke bellowed, creating suspense and tension.

Then, somebody realized that the lever was out of place and a stage hand had to run in and fix it, shattering the illusion.

Tony Schiavone invited Sting to do his thing and round the wheel went.

Would it be an I quit match? 
A first blood match?
A cage match perhaps?


The wheel -which for some bizarre reason hadn’t been rigged- landed on a Coal Miner’s Glove match.

Sting said nothing, simply walking backstage as Jesse Ventura explained to us that a Coal Miner’s Glove match was basically a “steel plated glove on a pole” match.

We’d see more of that later, but first, this:

The Pageantry and Formalities of a Major Title Match

The one thing I can’t fault WCW for is that, at least back in this era, they did a great job of making big title matches seem super important.

Here, the battle over the NWA title between an NJPW star (Masa Chono) and a WCW wrestler (Rick Rude) had been treated like a super serious special occasion, and so it made sense that, before said title match began, we were introduced to a number of dignitaries.

First, NWA President Seiji Sakaguchi was shown, having left the backstage area to take his seat on the front row.

Sitting behind him in the second row (not a very dignified place for a so-called dignitary,  but there you go) was Japanese Olympian Manabu Nakanishi, who had competed in that year’s Barcelona Olympics in the freestyle wrestling and would now spend most of his career as a pro wrestler for New Japan.

As a side note, Nakanishi would return briefly to WCW as Kurasawa as part of The Studd Stable.

Next, we’re introduced to our two referees - Rude’s pick Harley Race and Chono’s pick, Kensuke Sasaki, before the combatants themselves made their way to the ring.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Masahiro Chono (w/ Hiro Matsuda) vs. Ravishing Rick Rude (w/ Madusa)

Special Referees: Harley Race & Kensuke Sasaki

With Rude, Chono, and their seconds ready to go, both referees were checked over by senior official Ole Anderson before a coin toss declared that Harley Race would officiate inside the ring while Kensuke Sasaki took the outside.

Halloween Havoc 1992 Review - Rick Rude vs. Masa Chono

Then, this much-hyped, all-important international contest for the prestigious NWA championship began…

…and soon became one of the most disappointing matches I’ve ever seen in my 30+ years of being a fan.

Rude was a great wrestler. Chono was a great wrestler, and yet this match bored the arse of me.

The two men spent 90% of a 20+ minute contest on the mat, Rude grabbing Chono in a headlock, the champion retaliating with arm bars, Boston crabs, and unsuccessful STF attempts, only for the challenger to regain the advantage with a sleeper.

On and on this went, and every time you thought they might switch things up and do something other than submissions, it was back to the mat for another lengthy hold.

On the one hand; this did lend a certain sense of legitimacy and realism to the match.
On the other hand, it was tedious to watch.

The fans must have thought so too.

As the bout plodded towards the 20 minute mark, the audience facing the hard camera all gave up on watching Rude and Chono, instead turning their attentions to something going on in the audience.

It was one of those moments where the fans turn their head and you assume it’s because they’ve seen someone coming down to do a run in, but nobody ever came to save them from this snooze fest.

The only genuinely entertaining moment came at the finish, and even that was convoluted.

Chono went to kick Rude in the mush, but missed and got Race instead, inadvertently booting the NWA legend to the outside.

Halloween Havoc 1992 - Masa Chono puts Rick Rude in a submission hold

 Not long after, the champion sent Rude over the top rope, where he crashed into Kensuke Sasaki and took him out.

Undeterred, the challenger returned to the ring and drilled his opponent with the Rude Awakening, making the cover for what would have been a three count had both officials not been KO’d on the outside.

The champ recovered and soon locked Rude in the STF.

He’d tried  and failed to apply this move several times over the course of the match, each unsuccessful attempt coming complete with a warning from Jim Ross that the match would be over as soon as he got it Inez us that this would all be over as soon as he got it in.

Sure enough, Rude quickly gave up within earshot of a revived Sasaki, and this one was over…

…or was it?

While Sasaki declared Chono the winner by submission, Race returned to the ring to argue that Chono was disqualified for throwing Rude over the top rope.

Not that it mattered anyway. Rude still wouldn’t get the title that way so what was the point? 

TL;DR: this was a boring match with a stupid finish.
Your Winner Via DQ: Rick Rude

Afterwards, Kensuke Sasaki unleashed hellfire and fury on Harley Race, taking him out with a drop kick and throwing him out of the ring.

There was more energy and excitement in this 30 second post-match but then there’d been in the entire 22 minutes of the match itself.

Another Starrcade commercial aired, after which we were shown clips of Cactus Jack training Barbarian for his WCW title match against Ron Simmons by smashing cinderblocks over Barb’s back.

This, supposedly, was to reinforce the training clip we’d seen earlier in which Barbarian attempted to make himself impervious to Simmon’s power slam finisher by having a bunch of trainees hit the move on him over and over.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ron Simmons vs. The Barbarian (w/ Cactus Jack)

The most interesting thing about this match was that Jim Ross got all the way through it without once mentioning that Ron Simmon’s jersey had been retired at Florida state.

WCW Halloween Havoc 92 - Cactus Jack & The Barbarian

That may well have been the one and only time he accomplished such a feat.

Although the match wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it was incredibly dull.

For all his merit, Ron Simmons was not the most exciting world champion and, let’s be honest, nobody really wanted to see Barbarian competing in a major title match, did they?

It didn’t help that a large portion of this match was taken up by Big Bad Barb locking his opponent in a sleeper hold variation, which wouldn’t have been so bad had we not just had 22 minutes of similar stuff from Rick Rude and Masa Chono.

Even the supposedly wild and unpredictable Cactus Jack did little to liven things up, getting involved only briefly to help swing the momentum in his man’s favor.

Eventually, despite all that training to make himself immune to the move, Barbarian succumbed to the champion’s first and only powerslam and was beaten clean in the middle of the ring.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: Ron Simmons 

Up on the stage, Bruno Sammartino talked to Tony Schiavone about the WCW youth movement, putting over stars such as Dustin Rhodes, Brian Pillman, and our next guest, Erik Watts.

WCW Halloween Havoc 92 - Bruno Sammartino, Tony Schiavone, Erik Watts, and Ron Simmons

Cowboy Bill’s kid headed to the stage as the crowd welcomed him with a strong chorus of boos and jeers.

He said little of note, only waxing enthusiastically about how great WCW was until he was relived from promo duty by a sweaty Ron Simmons.

The victorious champion put Barbarian over as a tough, quick dude he was sure to meet again before turning his attentions to young Erik, advising him to work hard if he ever wanted to be WCW champion.

With all that over and done with, it was time for our main event.

Non-Sanctioned Coal Miner’s Glove Match
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs. Sting 

And so, weeks of build, an expensive promotional mini movie, and an elaborate and probably equally as expensive prop wheel all came down to this:

WCW Halloween Havoc 92 - The Coal Miner's Glove

A solitary suede glove sitting on top of a black and white striped pole.

I mean seriously. Isn’t that the most ridiculous looking thing you’ve ever seen? 

To be fair

Ahem. To be fair, both men did actually try and sell the stupid glove as something worth having, starting the match by taking turns to make a mad dash for it, only to be pulled down to the mat by their opponent.

Other than that, it was just another standard signees match which, though better than the previous two bouts, still featured it’s own fair share of boring holds.

That’s all the more disappointing when you consider that we could have been watching f a cage match or a last man standing match or, well, anything other than what we were watching had only that damn wheel spun for a split second longer.

In the end, it was Sting who grabbed the coal miner’s glove, probably because he was the only one who seemed capable of climbing the pole to get it.

As he did so, Cactus Jack returned, handing Jake his snake. However, before Roberts could set it on his opponent, Sting popped him in the ribs with the glove and pinned him as the snake bit into Robert’s face.
Your Winner: Sting 

Post-match, Cactus dragged an agonized Jake Roberts to the back and we didn’t see a single second of Sting celebrating his win.

Finally, Schiavone and Sammartino said their goodbyes before Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura plugged Starrcade ‘92 and signed off.

Halloween Havoc 1992 started fairly well but by the end proved to be a lifeless slog that required serious effort to finish.
I tend to have a higher tolerance for matches with lots of “rest holds” than some fans, but by the end of that 30-minute tag match I’d had enough of them, making the final three matches a boring chore.
Steamboat/Pillman was undoubtedly the match of the night, though the underwhelming Chono/Rude bout and a main event that got saddled with the least interesting gimmick option meant that this show was overall a big disappointment. 

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