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

Showing posts with label Halloween Havoc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Halloween Havoc. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

PPV REVIEW: WCW Halloween Havoc 1990

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 - Event poster
October 27, 1990 
UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois

According to legend, the original master tape of WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 was destroyed long ago, meaning all we're left with is the Turner Home Entertainment VHS version with omits a bunch of singles matches and gives us four tag matches, a US title bout, and the world title bout. 

While personally I typically prefer to watch a full event when I'm reviewing something for Retro Pro Wrestling, I'm not going to be too distraught about never seeing the following matches:

* Terry Taylor vs. Bill Irwin
* Master Blasters vs. The Southern Boys
* Brad Armstrong vs. J.W Storm
* The Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Rex.

Instead, I'll focus this review on the matches we can watch as we head down to Chicago one fall evening in late 1990 for Halloween Havoc: Terror Rules the Ring.

Spooky Time

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 Review - Jim Ross & Paul E. Dangerously
We began tonight's event with a short, animated introduction that zoomed in on a haunted house as spectral images of Sting and Sid Vicious drifted on and off the screen. It wasn't all that spectacular, but at least it was there.

With that over, we went live to Chicago where Jim Ross and Paul E. Dangerously welcomed us to tonight's show. 

Dangerously was dressed as a vampire, while Jim Ross went with that classic Halloween costume, "Man Wearing a Hat."

The Greatest Night of Professional Wrestling

From there, Ross sent us over to Tony "Phantom of The Opera" Schiavone who was standing by for an interview with Ricky Morton and 'Wildfire' Tommy Rich. Morton gave a shoutout to his injured partner, Robert Gibson, and promised that they'd one day get revenge on the Fabulous Freebirds for taking Gibson out of action.

For his part, Gibson ranted loudly about what a great night of professional wrestling this was going to be and, with that, it was down to ringside for our opening contest. 

Ricky Morton & 'Wildfire' Tommy Rich vs. The Midnight Expres (Sweet Stan Lane & Beautiful Bobby Eaton w/ Jim Cornette)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 Review - The Midnight Express
This was as good of an opener as you were ever going to get on a WCW show. Sweet Stan and Beautiful Bobby were always a great team and their endless series of matches with the Rock 'n' Roll Express never failed to deliver. 

Even swapping Gibson for Tommy Rich didn't change that. This was fun, exciting, with lots of big spots (a Rocket Launcher to the outside, for example) that you just didn't usually see on American TV at the turn of the 90s. 

After an exciting match, The Southern Boys came down dressed up as Jim Cornette and got stuck into an all-out mele. In the resulting fracas, Jim Cornette's tennis racket was used against his team, giving the win to the good guys.
Your Winners: Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich 

Black Magic

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 Review - Tony Schiavone Interviews Sting
Our next segment started innocently enough.

Tony Schiavone interviewed Sting about his ongoing rivalry with the Black Scorpion and his upcoming title defence against Sid Justice.

The champion had been dealing with both men since Sid issued a challenge at the end of Sting’s win over the Scorpion at Clash of the Champions 12.

The Stinger was all fired up about tonight, but before he could get very far he was interrupted by the Black Scorpion.

“Sting, Sting, let me show you an example of my black magic!” Said the Scorpion.

Except, by black magic, what he really meant was stage magic because all he did was pick a plant from the crowd and run behind a curtain.

Sting struggled to get to the frame holding the curtain on account of some random security dudes, and when he got there, there was a puff of smoke and Scorpion the girl were -shock of all shocks!- completely gone.

Except they weren’t, because they simply reappeared on the other side of the stage moments later, a move that was so obvious I’m sure even the little kids in the audience knew that they simply exited stage left, ran around, and re-entered stage right.

This was so bad it was hilarious.

Afterwards, Ross and Dangerously sold the whole thing like a much more impressive feat test than it was.

The Renegade Warriors (Chris & Mark Youngblood) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy ‘Jam’ Garvin & Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes w/ Little Richard Marley)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 Review - The Fabulous Freebirds
Interestingly, this was Mark Youngblood’s first appearance on a major NWA/WCW event since Starrcade ‘83.

Here, it was his younger brother Chris Youngblood (who sadly passed away earlier this year) that spent the bulk of this match playing the face-in-peril for the Fabulous Freebirds.

It wasn’t a sound booking strategy for the match. Usually the tag team formula builds sympathy for the battered face and ensures a big pop when he eventually makes the hot tag, but there was none of that.

The crowd didn’t really care for The Renegade Warriors and constantly chanted for either Jimmy Garvin or Michael Hayes to end it with their DDT.

Eventually, the fans got their wish.

After Mark Youngblood tagged in to absolute silence, a big fracas ensued which also saw the Freebirds’ “Roadie,” Little Richard Marley, getting dragged into the completion.

At one point, Chris Youngblood looked to have Jimmy Jam beat with a roll-up but the ref was too busy trying to break up a fight between Mark and Little Richard.

That meant that Hayes could hit the DDT and his team could win the match.

The finish was decent, but everything else about this match was a total snore.
Your Winners: The Fabulous Freebirds

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 Review - The Four Horsemen
Out on the arena floor, Tony Schiavone interviewed Nature Boy Ric Flair, The Enforcer Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious about their upcoming matches.

Flair and Anderson promised to take the tag team titles away from Doom tonight. No offense to Butch Reed and Ron Simmons, nor to Anderson for that matter, but that match sounds like a waste for a talent of Flair’s caliber.

Anyway, when they were done, Sid shouted really angrily about being the ruler of the world and how he was going to destroy Sting once and for all.

Right on.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Tag Team Championship
NWA US Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott Steiner) vs. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 Review - The Nasty Boys vs. The Steiner Brothers
You know, given the kind of reputation The Nasty Boys would develop in later years, it still comes as a bit of a surprise to be reminded that they were once a formidable tag team capable of delivering some truly entertaining brawls.

Take this match, for example.

Here, Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags stormed out of the gate and into a wild, out-of-control fight with Rick and Scott Steiner that was a lot of fun to watch.

Eventually, things settled down with The Nasties dominating Scott Steiner before the equally as chaotic ending in which the champs retained thanks to the Frankensteiner.

Though it may have been a touch too long for some people, for this writer, any time you get two teams of people who aren’t afraid to just beat the crap out of each other, you’re in for a good time.
Your Winners and Still US Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers

Post-match, Knobbs, and Sags attacked Rick Steiner until Scotty saw them off.

This led us to Tony Schiavone interviewing Scott, only to get attacked by Jerry Sags dressed as a concession stand worker. Knobbs eventually joined in the attack before stealing the mic to yell at The Steiners.

I won’t say whether this was good or bad, but I will say that when Scott Steiner is the most coherent promo in a segment, there’s probably something up.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed w/ Terry Long)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 Review - The Four Horsemen vs. Doom
Oh look, another tag team match.

I know there were singles matches on this card that wasn’t up to much, but is it too much to ask to stick at least one on this presentation just to break up the monotony of reviewing four tag bouts in a row?

Despite this being yet another tag match, it was very good one and the best of the four so far, a lengthy, nigh-on 20 minute battle which culminated in a double count out.

That was a smart finish given the need to keep the titles on Doom while still protecting what aura Flair still had about him during this very obvious demotion.
Double Countout

Backstage, Stan Hansen spat on a pumpkin and promised to take the US title from Lex Luger.

It was a unique promo to say the least.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA United States Champion Lex Luger vs. Stan Hansen

This was a decent big man match but not something that would ever warrant repeat reviewing.

The two men battered each other in a slow and brutal fashion until the ref took a nap in the corner.

At that point, Hansen’s protege Dan Spivey ran in to hand his mentor a cowbell.

That didn’t make much of a difference, but one big larriat did, proving enough to end a Lex Luger US title reign that seemed to have been going on forever.
Your Winner and New US Champion: Stan Hansen

Before the main event, Teddy Long gave an interview to Tony Schiavone in which he insisted that Doom would never again have to defend the tag team titles against The Four Horsemen.

This was followed by Missy Hyatt joining JR and Dangerously at ringside just so that Missy could boast about predicting a win for Sid before Paul did.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Sting vs. Sid Vicious

WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 Review - Sting vs. Sid Vicious
Sadly, this match was very underwhelming. Sting was finally getting a run at the top after being one of the consistently most over performers on the roster while Sid, despite not being an amazing worker, had always been the most popular wrestler in any match he was in throughout the duration of his WCW run.

Alas, that didn’t translate to a good match.

While there was some exciting moments, there were also long periods of chin locks, arm bars, and nerve holds all of which were entirely forgettable.

What wasn’t forgettable was the finish.

The Horsemen ran in and Sting ended up going to the back to fight them. Then a fake Sting (Barry Windham) came in and got pinned by Sid.

Fireworks errupted, balloons dropped from the ceiling and the fans half cheered, half wondered what the heck had just happened.

It was at that point that the real Sting returned, with the cameras missing a vital shot of him coming face to face with Windham-Sting in the isle.

That would have explained everything. Instead, we just got this confusing moment where referee Nick Patrick, despite counting the fall for Sid, simply shrugged his shoulders and counted another fall for Sting, giving him the win.

The crowds were bewildered but cheered anyway, probably because the mess was over.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Sting

Post-match, a visibly annoyed Sting promised Jim Ross that he would defend his title anywhere at any time against anyone, and that was all she wrote for WCW Halloween Havoc 1990.

The ending of the main event was disappointing because it was actually a clever idea, but it was so poorly executed that it came across as a baffling mess of calamity.

The match itself wasn’t great either, but Midnights/Morton & Rich, Horsemen/Doom, and especially Steiners/Nasties were all worth a watch.

Just skip right past the Fabulous Freebirds match. It’s utterly insane that despite cutting so many matches from their VHS presentation, Turner Home Network left in a match that was just painfully, painfully boring.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

PPV REVIEW: WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - Settling The Score

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - Event Poster
October 28, 1989 
Philadelphia Civic Center,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 was the first such event of that name, kicking off an October tradition that would remain with World Championship Wrestling for the duration of the next 11 years. 

In that time, the event became perhaps better-known for the company's unabashed Halloween-themed goofiness as for anything that actually took place in the ring. 

Sure, it gave us as much crap (Chamber of Horrors, I'm looking at you) as it did pure gold (Hello, Mysterio vs. Guerrero), but when most people think of Halloween Havoc, they think of the giant pumpkin and graveyard set, Eric Bischoff dressed as a vampire, or Tony Schiavone being a bit creepy

Yes, over the next decade, it would become abundantly obvious that WCW loved Halloween and that, in turn, made this fan (and no doubt many others), love Halloween Havoc. 

Before we got to any of that though, there was this - the first ever Halloween Havoc which sadly did not feature that epic pumpkin.

Still, despite the lack of over-sized seasonal fruits, let's head down to Philadelphia and review the show any way, shall we? 

Spooky Times

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - Spooky graphics for the main event
Tonight’s opening video wasn’t one of the longest in professional wrestling history but it was one of the most joyfully corny ones and perfectly encapsulated all that Halloween Havoc cheese we mentioned earlier.

As a ‘spooky’ theme that sounded like something off a Sega Master System game chunnered away, we zoomed in on four animated graves of Sting, Ric Flair, The Great Muta, and Terry Funk.

As if that wasn’t enough to scare you out of your wits, the ‘ghosts’ of those four men rose from their graves.

OK, so it sounds crap, and by today’s standards it was, but there was something so innocently naff about it that this fan couldn’t help but smile.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - Chris Cruise made his WCW debut here
And, if you’re wondering why it was those four men in particular that were rising from the dead, it was because they’d been involved in a huge brawl at the end of The Great American Bash and were set to settle the score here tonight.

After that fun little intro, we went live to the arena where Mike Rotunda and Tom Zenk were stood around in the ring while announcers Jim Ross and Bob Caudle welcomed us to Halloween Havoc.

After a brief bit of patter, the pair sent it up to their other colleagues, Gordon Sollie and Chris Cruise, the latter making his debut appearance in any NWA/WCW PPV.

Neither man said anything particularly interesting other than telling us which wrestlers

Captain Mike Rotunda vs. ‘The Z-Man’

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - 'The Z-Man' Tom Zenk faced Captain Mike
Finally, after hanging around in the ring for nearly three minutes, Captain Mike and Tom Zenk were able to get their match underway.

Of course, Zenk -also making his WCW PPV debut- wasn’t actually called Tom
Zenk here. He was simply ‘The Z-Man.’

The actual match was pretty decent. Nothing fancy or overly dramatic, sure, but a competent match between two guys who just looked like they wanted to beat the other one in a wrestling match.

It was well done, with Ross telling us the story that Z-Man hadn’t really been tested since arriving in the NWA and thus the devious Rotunda (who took charge for large chunks of the bout) was his first big challenge.

Fortunately for the man of Z, he prevailed, getting the better of Rotunda at the end of a 13+ minute match.
Your Winner: The Z-Man

Out in the back, WWF Legend Bruno Sammartino told spoke to Chris Cruise about his role as the special guest referee in tonight’s Thunderdome main event.

The interview was mainly here to put over how intense that main event was going to be and, to that end, it was an effective it not necessary exciting promo.

Six Man Tag Team Match
Dr. Death Steve Williams and The Midnight Express (Sweet Stan Lane & Beautiful Bobby Eaton w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Samoan Swat Team (Fatu, Samu, and The Samoan Savage w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  The Samoan Swat Team
In case you’re wondering, The Samoan Savage was Tama/The Tonga Kid who Retro Pro Wrestling readers will have last met as part of The Islanders all the way back at the 1988 Royal Rumble.

Speaking of The Samoans, they made their entrance doing an awesome fire dance ritual thing which was actually the best part of this entire 20 minute match.

Once they got the ring, both teams kind of just wandered around for a while without doing very much before having a good old-fashioned stare down on the outside of the ring.

It was the better part of four minutes before any two wrestlers actually touched each other, and even then there was more random stalling.

Eventually, things settled down and developed into an ok match that wasn’t horrible but wasn’t terribly exciting either.

About ten minutes longer than it needed to be, this one came to an end when Jim Cornette got up on the apron and waffled The Big Kahuna Sir Oliver Humperdink with his tennis racket.

Tama then pushed Sweet Stan Lane into Cornette, knocking the manager to the floor and the manager to the mat where he was promptly pinned.
Your Winners: The Samoan Swat Team

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Terry Funk looked ripped AF
Backstage, Gordon Sollie interviewed Terry Funk as well as The Great Muta’s manager Garry Hart about tonight’s Thunderdome cage match.

No joke, Terry Funk look more ripped than this long-time fan has ever seen him before.

Flexing his six pack, The Funkster talked about starting a new dance craze in Philadelphia called the 10,000 Watt Boogie, all while Garry Hart stood around looking completely confused.

The Cuban Assassin vs. ‘Wildfire’ Tommy Rich

The WWE Network dubbed over Tommy Rich’s theme music with what sounds like something that was rejected as the theme to a daytime TV soap.

He started the match in charge, continually taking down The Cuban Assasin and locking him in an arm bar before the Assasin took over and decided he was also going to focus on his opponent's arm.

Again, it wasn’t awful or anything, but it was like watching a throw-away match from WCW Saturday Night rather than a PPV calibre contest.

At one point, they did the spot where The Cuban Assasin went for a piledriver but Rich reversed it into a back body drop. Though basic, that move almost always gets at least a mild pop but here it was met with absolute silence.

Eventually, after ten minutes or so, Rich scored the win with a Lou Thesz press which is probably the only time anyone that wasn’t Thesz himself used that move as a finisher.
Your Winner: Tommy Rich

Backstage, The Fabulous Freebirds shouted a lot to Gordon Sollie about how they were going to destroy The Dynamic Dudes.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes & Jimmy ‘Jam’ Garvin vs. The Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace w/ Jim Cornette )

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Shane Douglas puts a hurting on Jimmy 'Jam' Garvin
The Dynamic Dudes
were the babyfaces here but the Philadelphia crowd were having none of that and loudly booed them at every opportunity.

Maybe that was because they’d seen their awful match against The Skyscrapers at The Great American Bash ‘89, maybe it was because they just hated their cheesy gimmick or maybe it was simply because they loved The Fabulous Freebirds.

Either way, watching Johnny Ace & Shane Douglas got the largest heel reaction of the night was far more entertaining than anything either team could have done in the ring.

Not that the match was bad or anything, it was pretty much as good as you were going to get from these two teams, but it was always going to be better known for the ‘bizarro world’ reactions than anything else.

In the end, Johnny & Shane picked up Jimmy Garvin but he landed on top of one of them to get the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Free Birds

Out in the back, The Steiner Brothers gave a messy interview to Chris Cruise about their upcoming match with the debuting team of Doom.

Rick Steiner’s childlike hyperactivity was, of course, left over from his way previous ‘not the sharpest tool in the box’ gimmick whereas Scott Steiner was just...well, he was Scott Steiner.

The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. Doom (Doom 1 & Doom 2 w/ Woman)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Woman led Doom into battle against The Steiner Brothers
Although I think most people probably know this by now, Doom were Ron Simmons and the late Butch Reed.

Tonight, as they stepped out onto the stage, Garry Michael Capetta called them The Tag Team Combination of Doom and I honestly think that’s an even cooler name for them.

The match itself was pretty good too. I’m not going to lie to you, dear readers, but I am partial to a bit of old school Steiner Brothers, and though this wasn’t the best match you’ll ever see them in, it was a decent effort all the same.

Not too surprisingly, Woman’s new team picked up the victory when Woman slipped one of her men an International Object which he stuck up his mask and head butted Rick with.
Your Winners: Doom

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Gordon Sollie interviewed Lex Luger about his match with Brian Pillman
Continuing the simple match-promo-match formula, Lex Luger was featured next, telling Gordon Sollie about his upcoming US title defence against Brian Pillman.

Proving that he was always at his best as a heel, Luger claimed that Pillman didn’t have what it took to compete in high profile matches.

When asked how many times he’d been champion, Luger merely replied that he would continue to hold the gold for as long as he wanted.

He’s been champion more than once, proving he can be beat” said Sollie as The Total Package walked off, meaning either Luger had flubbed his lines and there was a point they were supposed to make, or just that Sollie was feeling particularly sassy that day.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Lex Luger vs. Flyin’ Brian Pillman

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Lex Luger and Brian Pillman stole the show
The two hadn’t even locked up before Jim Ross started talking about each man’s respective football careers

To be fair, this one time when it at least kind of made sense, as Pillman came down to the ring with a harem of football cheerleaders in tow.

Once they finally did lock up, this turned into a surprisingly good match with great energy and a hot Philly crowd who cheered Luger every bit as much as they did Flyin’ Brian.

The best match on the card up to that point, this was a solid outing that saw Luger almost decapitate Pillman with a stun gun on the ropes for the win.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Lex Luger

Out in the back, Hawk and Animal told Chris Cruise that they’d been underdogs their whole lives which I somehow doubt was true.

In a typically shouty promo, the two promised to topple The Skyscrapers in our upcoming match.

The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dangerous Dan Spivey w/ Teddy Long) vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  The Skyscrapers faced The Road Warriors
Though there were a couple of dodgy spots here and there, this was nevertheless a good big man match in which big Sid clearly shone as a main-event-star-in-waiting.

Things came to an end when The Skyscrapers used a giant key that Teddy Long had been carrying with him for unknown reasons and beat up their opponents with it.

Before that it was a very good showing.

Your Winners via Disqualification: The Road Warriors

Out in the back, Chris Cruise caught up with Sting, Ric Flair, and Ole Anderson for their thoughts about tonight’s main event.

While Ole promised not to throw the towel in for his team, an over excited Flair JUST....SHOUTED...WORDS...LIKE THUNDERDOME...YES! And Sting confirmed that it was indeed Halloween and it was going to be HAMMOCK!

He probably meant Havoc though, right?

Thunderdome Cage Match
National Wrestling Alliance World Television Champion The Great Muta & Terry Funk (w/ Garry Hart) vs. National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair & Sting (w/ Ole Anderson)

Special Guest Referee: Bruno Sammartino

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Ric Flair teamed with Sting to face The Great Muta and Terry Funk
I wanted so much to like this match, I really did.

Flair, Sting, Muta and Funk, four legends and awesome workers, one unique cage match concept. It could have been epic.

Sadly it was too convoluted and nothing that happened made no sense.

The Thunderdome cage match was basically a huge cage that, not unlike the Hell in a Cell structure we all know today, went all the way around the outside of the ring rather than around the apron like normal wrestling cages.

The top of the cage curved inwards so that nobody could escape that way and if they tried they would get electrocuted because we were told the top of the cage was electrified.

Not that any of the wrestlers needed to bother climbing out of the cage anyway, as to win, one of the ‘Terminators’ (Anderson and Hart) had to throw the towel in for their team.

Oh, and there was all kinds of decorations around the cage-like trees and Halloween masks and a hangman’s noose that they’d take turns swinging on like it was a Tarzan rope.

So far, so interesting, right?

But it all started to feel off right from the beginning.

Remember, this was a match between people who hated each other so much that they’d been unable to stop brawling at the last PPV and couldn’t be separated.

Tonight, however, all four men came to the ring and happily waited patiently without touching each other while the cage was lowered and put into place.

Then, one of the decorations at the top of the cage immediately caught fire but this was OK because it played into the whole ‘the cage is electric’ real.

Amazingly, The Great Muta sprinted up to the top of the cage and put the fire out with his green mist.

It was legitimately the coolest moment in the entire match.

Things then got underway properly and gave us some decent action but I found myself distracted by the fact that the competitors started randomly climbing the cage.

It wasn’t even as though they were trying to escape because they wanted to get away from their opponents or anything like that. It seemed simply a case of “well this cage is here abs it’s got some cool stuff on it, we better use it.”

Ok, so it was silly but you could sort of understand them wanting to make the most of the gimmick, but what was really dumb was the whole electric cage thing.

At one point, Muta got two-thirds of the way up the cage and acted like he’d been shocked but then later he was hanging right off the top seemingly impervious to all that deadly electricity.

Lack of consistency aside, I will say that the finish was pretty cool.

Flair put Funk in the figure four while Sting lept off the top with a couple of splashes onto the Funkster.

Meanwhile, Muta went to swipe at Sammartino, but Big Bruno planted the Japanese star with a big right. Garry Hart got on the apron to protest but Ole Anderson tackled him abs Hart’s towel flew into the ring, ending the match.
Your Winners: Sting and Ric Flair

Again, there was some decent action in this match, it was just dragged down by making no sense at all.

Perhaps the best thing you could say about Halloween Havoc 1989 is that it was underwhelming.

The main event had so much promise but was nowhere near as good as it could have been. Meanwhile, most of the undercard could be described as “OK” at best, with only Luger/Pillman really standing out as a compelling bout.

Watch for the novelty of seeing the first Halloween Havoc show, but don’t expect to be blown away by the wrestling.

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.