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 Mick Foley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mick Foley. Show all posts

Sunday, 19 February 2023

PPV REVIEW: WWE Armageddon 2003

December 14, 2003
TD Waterhouse Centre, Orlando, Florida
It's no secret that WWE's annual December PPVs rarely feel like anything more than a stop-gap between Survivor Series and Royal Rumble. 

It's been that way for as long as I can remember, which kind of makes you wonder why they even bother in the first place. 

Still, Armageddon 2003 did at least have one thing going for it - A chance to solidify Evolution as the most dominant force in the company, if not all of pro wrestling. 

Tonight, we'd see all four members of one of wrestling's most memorable stables compete, but would that make for a good show, or would this be another forgettable outing?

Let's dive in and find out together, shall we? 

God Bless America

Unusually for a PPV that wasn’t one of the Big 4, our show began with Lillian Garcia belting out the Star Spangled Banner in tribute to the good ol’ USA.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Lillian Garcia


Once her powerful rendition was over, Lilian joined the fans in a rousing chant of ‘USA! USA!’ before we cut to the usual opening video.

Triple H is Sick of Goldberg

The video focused exclusively on the triple threat main event between Kane, HHH, and World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg.

Mixing bible quotes with an ominous voice-over and sound bites from the three stars, the only thing that really stood out from this video was a line from The Game in which he said, “you’re Goldberg, and I’m sick of it!”

The cameras then panned the crowd as Jim Ross & Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcomed us to Armageddon 2003, and the show was officially underway.

Mark Henry (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Booker T

Mark Henry and Booker T had been feuding since the former eliminated the latter at Survivor Series ‘03.

Their match here tonight wasn’t the most exciting PPV opener ever, but Booker’s enormous popularity with the crowd helped make it marginally better than this writer imagined.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Mark Henry vs. Booker T


Henry dominated for the most part, wearing the former Five Time, Five Time, Five Time Dubya C Dubya champion down with a surfboard and a bear hug before dumping him awkwardly in a botched powerbomb attempt.

Booker recovered and pulled out a big-time scissor kick to end this fairly average match.
Your Winner: Booker T

Backstage, Eric Bischoff spoke to Christian and Chris Jericho about their upcoming ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match against Lita and Trish Stratus.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Eric Bischoff talks to Christian & Chris Jericho about their battle of the sexes match


Before Jericho could voice his displeasure at the match, Christian butted in to tell Bischoff how excited he was about the whole thing.

With a forlorn look on his face, Jericho tried to object a second time, only to be interrupted by the sound of Mick Foley’s music crashing to life in the arena.

Confused and frustrated, Bischoff turned to the tv in his office to see what was going on.

Foley Wants Stone Cold Back

What was going on was this: 

Foley was the new co-GM of Raw and had started a petition to reinstate Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Said petition had apparently surpassed 1 million signatures which, in the Hardcore Legend’s mind at least, was cause for celebration.

And how do you celebrate if you’re Mick Foley?

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Mick Foley and Stacey Keibler


Of course, you invite Stacy Keibler to come to the ring wearing a cheerleaders outfit and watch her do cartwheels to the delight of the audience.

Mick even tried one of his own but it looked more like a sack of potatoes falling off a shelf.

Eventually, the celebration was cut short by the arrival of Ric Flair and his protege, Randy Orton, the latter of whom was in the early stages of a feud with Mick.

Taking to the microphone, Orton bragged about being the man responsible for forcing Stone Cold out of WWE before reminding Foley that he had a job to do as special referee for The Legend Killer’s upcoming Intercontinental Championship match against RVD.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Randy Orton confronts Mick Foley


At that point, Foley stripped out of his suit to reveal he was already wearing his handmade referee’s shirt and declared that the match would take place right there and then.

Personally, I liked how they used this segment to transition from the Bischoff/Y2J/Christian bit into the next match. The whole thing wasn’t the most entertaining segment in the world, but it was harmless and flowed naturally.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Randy Orton (w/ Ric Flair)

Special Guest Referee: Mick Foley

This one started strong, with RVD proving himself to be the quicker of the two and out-manoeuvring his opponent at every turn.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Randy Orton puts a hurting on RVD while being admonished by referee Mick Foley


Once Orton seized the advantage, however, the match slowed considerably as the challenger clamped on a chinlock and ground both RVD’s momentum and this fan’s enjoyment to a halt.

Things eventually picked up again, with shenanigans from both Foley and Ric Flair contributing to an exciting climax in which Randy hit the RKO to capture his first title in WWE.
Your Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Randy Orton

Before the next match, we saw a recap of the story between Jericho, Christian, Trish Stratus, and Lita.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Chris Jericho & Christian vs. Trish Stratus & Lita


The boys had duped Trish and Lita into falling for them, only for Trish to overhear them joking about having a bet over one Canadian dollar about who could nail their girl first. 

This led to an in-ring confrontation and Eric Bischoff booking the following match:

Battle of the Sexes
Chris Jericho & Christian vs. Trish Stratus & Lita

This turned out to be better than I’d imagined it would.

Despite originally making the bet, Jericho had clearly developed genuine feelings for Trish and was reluctant to fight her, doing his best to hold her off without actually hurting her (including bending her over his knee for a spanking and yelling at her to calm down) until Stratus got the better of him with a head scissor takedown.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Chris Jericho stares down Trish Stratus


Lita and Christian then tagged in, with the latter showing none of his partner’s reluctance and going straight in for the attack.

After a few short minutes of entertaining action, Trish found herself back in the ring and at Christian’s mercy.

Y2J stepped in and helped her to her feet, only for Christian to roll her up for the three count.
Your Winners: Christian & Chris Jericho

Post-match, a clearly bothered Jericho was reluctant to join in with his partner’s victory celebration.

This was followed by a look at Batista costing Shawn Michaels a win at Survivor Series ‘03 and ultimately costing Stone Cold Steve Austin his career.

In the weeks that followed, Michaels had wrestled with his conscious but had bigger problems with Batista, leading to tonight’s match.

Shawn Michaels vs. Batista (w/ Ric Flair)

This wasn’t the best Shawn Michaels match you’ll ever see, but it was the best that the veteran could get out of his inexperienced opponent at this early stage in The Animal’s career.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Batista puts Shawn Michaels in a back breaker

Michaels started off in control, getting one over on Batista without too much effort and looking overly confident in the process.

The Evolution member then turned the tide by decapitating HBK with a wicked clothesline.

The resulting back-and-forth was good but, as I say, not as good as it could have been had Batista been at a later stage in his career.

In the end, Michaels countered a Batista Bomb attempt to score the three count.
Your Winner: Shawn Michaels 

Afterwards, Batista paced up and down the ring in a flurry of anger. He was still in the ring when Maven made his way out for our next contest.

Maven vs. Matt Hardy

Naturally, Maven held back from getting in the ring while a pissed-off Batista was storming about in it.

Instead, he interrupted Matt Hardy’s entrance and the two began a heated brawl that ended with Hardy getting the upper hand and tossing Maven into the ring.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Big Time Matt Hardy


There, Batista attacked and took out the Tough Enough winner with a couple of vicious Batista bombs.

Referees tended to a fallen Maven before Jack Doan informed Lillian Garcia that Maven was in no fit state to compete.

Annoyed by Lillian’s announcement that the match would no longer take place, Hardy threw the referees aside, splashed his opponent and counted his own pinfall before snatching the mic and declaring himself the winner.
No Contest

Out in the back, Ric Flair have a still enraged Batista pep talk and insisted that the two would be waking out with titles around their waists.

Tag Team Turmoil Match for the WWE World Tag Team Championship
La Resistance (Rob Conway & Rene Dupree) vs. The Hurricane & Rosey vs. Lance Storm & Val Venis vs. Garrison  Cade & Mark Jindrak vs. WWE World Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (D’Von & Bubba Ray Dudley) vs. Scott Steiner & Test vs. Batista & Ric Flair

Contested under ‘winner stays on’ rules, this one took a while to really heat up and wasn’t all that exciting until The Dudley Boyz turned up for a good exchange with Garrison Cade and Mark Jindrak.

The champions soon disposed of their opponents and entered into an even more enjoyable battle with the next entrants, Test and Scott Steiner.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Scott Steiner hurts Bubba Ray Dudley


After a short but decent exchange between the two, a battered and tired Dudley Boyz got the fall and assumed they’d won the match.

At that point, however, Raw co-GM Eric Bischoff came out to announce that he’d added another team to the mix.

That team was, you guessed it, Ric Flair and Batista.

The Evolution team mates made light work of their battle-weary opponents to give their stable its second title win of the night.
Your Winners and New WWE World Tag Team Champions: Batista & Ric Flair 

After clips from a press conference announcing the first WWE Tribute to the Troops show, it was onto our next match.

WWE Women’s Championship
WWE Women’s Champion Molly Holly vs. Ivory 

In a tell-tale sign of WWE’s attitude towards women’s wrestling at the time, JR quickly put over Molly Holly as the best wrestler to hold the women’s title in years before immediately spending the rest of the match talking with Lawler about how Molly was sexually frustrated.

WWE Armageddon 2003 - Molly Holly puts Ivory in an armbar


In doing so, he and King ignored what was a decent but forgettable title defence for Holly against Ivory, who, despite being with the company the whole time, hadn't appeared on a Pay Per View since Survivor Series 2001

After a short outing, Holly reversed a roll-up attempt to retain her gold. Even after her victory, the only thing the announcers cared about was whether she was getting laid.
Your Winner and Still WWE Women’s Champion: Molly Holly

Finally, we got a look at the build up to Goldberg vs. Kane vs. Triple H and it was onto our main event. 

Triple Threat for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg vs. Kane vs. Triple H 

After a relatively average show, this final match looked pretty damn good, though it still dragged on longer than was necessary.

WWE Armageddon 2003 - Kane, HHH, and Goldberg prepare for war

Kane and Triple H began the bout working in unison to destroy Goldberg, but the champ battled back at every opportunity and took the fight to his opponents.

Predictably, The Game eventually turned on Kane, and the war waged on outside the ring, giving us the highlight of the match.

The match continued to entertain until Evolution ran in to give HHH the assist in pinning Kane for the three count.
Your Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

As Armageddon 2003 came to a close, all the members of Evolution stood at the top of the ramp holding the gold aloft. It had been a successful night for WWE’s most dominant faction.

As I mentioned a moment ago, Armageddon 2003 was a fairly average show.

Nothing was outright bad, but very little stood out as being worth repeat viewing.

Orton/RVD and the main event stood out as the highlights, but given the quality of the rest of the show, that isn’t really saying much.

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

Other WWF Armageddon reviews: 

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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.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Bad Blood 2003

June 15, 2003
Compaq Center, Houston, Texas

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Event Poster

WWE Bad Blood 2003 is often cited as the company's first Raw-only PPV. If you want to be all pedantic about it, it wasn't. Insurrextion 2002 was technically the first WWE Raw-only PPV, but since most fans don't count those UK PPVS as anything important, it's Bad Blood that usually gets the honor.

With that little bit of nit-picking out of the way, let's head down to Houston, Texas, to see Kevin Nash clash with Triple H inside Hell in a Cell, Shawn Michaels take on Ric Flair without telling him he loved him, and more.

Bad Blood Runs Deep

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called all the action

Our opening video focussed on three main raw rivalries:

Eric Bischoff and Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and Goldberg, and Triple H and Kevin Nash.

While focussing on their recent actions, the video told us that these feuds ran deep, hinting at / but never outright saying / that Austin’s beef with Eric might have something to do with the latter firing him from WCW while Goldberg and Jericho’s also had real-life issues back in their time in Turnerland.

Jim Ross then gave an impassioned welcome to Bad Blood as he and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler got set to call the action.

The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) vs.Christopher Nowinski & Rodney Mack (w/ Theodore Long)

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - The Dudley Boyz

On the pre-show episode of Heat, Theodore Long’s stable of Christopher Nowinski, Rodney Mack, and Jazz had confronted D’Von Dudley.

The former reverend hadn’t taken too kindly to it, but when Nowinski asked D’Von why he always took orders from his white brother when it came time to get the tables, Dudley did at least stop and think.

In the ring, the two teams delivered a decent opening contest.

The Dudley Boyz were now well behind the glory days of tearing it up with Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz, but they’d gotten their routine down to an artform now and went through it from one trademark, crowd-popping spot to the next without it ever seeming forced.

Towards the finish, Bubba Ray Dudley ordered his brother to get the wood. Long hopped up on the apron to confront DVon, who hesitated for barely a moment before scaring off the future Smackdown GM.

In the resulting confusion, Nowinski used his face mask to hit Bubba behind the referee’s back to pick up the win
Your Winners: Christopher Nowinski & Rodney Mack

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Terri declares Steve Austin the winner of a burping contest against Eric Bischoff

Out in the back, Terri officiated over round one of the Redneck Triathlon between Raw co-General Managers Stone Cold Steve Austin & Eric Bischoff.

Each man had three burps each to emerge victorious, though each of their attempts were so loud and ridiculously exaggerated that they were obviously fake.

Not that this was a bad thing, the absolute absurdity of it and the fact that the burps were clearly piped in made it funny in a “this is so dumb it’s comical”
Kind of way.

Winner Gets Stacy Keibler as a Manager
Test vs. Scott Steiner

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Stacy Keibler looks like she just smelled a fart

Stacy Keibler was more over than both of the men fighting for her services, so she got her own entrance and then sat at ringside as Test and Scott Steiner gave us the best match they were capable of delivering given their ability at the time.

Test's character work as the arrogant and misogynistic heel was on point and far surpassed his in-ring talent, while, at this stage of his career, Scott Steiner made a smart move to rely more on his Big Poppa Pumpisms than taking his opponent to suplex city.

Throw in Stacy's involvement, and what you had here was a fun match which served its purpose well and ended when Steiner hit Test with a Flatliner to secure the three-count and the services of the lovely Stacy.

This was never going to be a classic, but it certainly worked for what it was.
Your Winner: Scott Steiner

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Austin and Bischoff prepare to eat pie

Out in the back, Eric Bischoff and Steve Austin prepared for round 2 of thieir redneck triathlon; a pie-eating contest.

Bischoff had, naively, assumed this to be a traditional pie-eating contest, only for Austin to reveal that rather than blueberry, cherry, or chocolate, the type of pie they'd be eating was poontang pie.

After that revelation, Bischoff had been out and picked up four young beauties to serve as the pie, and argued that as a result, he should go first.

Offering a counter-argument, Stone Cold insisted that since they were in his home state of Texas, he should go first.

The two went back and forth on this because, you know, who wants slopppy seconds? 

Eventually, however, Austin relented and agreed that Bischoff could go first as long as he -Austin- got to pick "which flavor of pie" Uncle Eric got to eat.

I've never seen this show before as I was taking a break from wrestling in 2003, but I feel like I can almost guarantee that Austin picks some fat, ugly woman rather than one of the four beauties and we're all supposed to find it hilarious.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Booker T

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Christian takes control of Booker T

Chrisitan had "stolen" the Intercontinental Championship by cheating his way to victory in a battle royal for the vacant title back at Judgement Day 2003.

Since then, he'd been on a roll as an "underserving champion" who constantly cheated and fluked his way to victory.

Tonight was no exception.

As they often did, he and Booker T put on a good, solid match that was the best thing on the card up to this point.

Then, after an enjoyable back-and-forth contest, the champion found himself at risk of losing, so he grabbed his belt and high-tailed it up the ramp, only for referee Jack Doan to warn him that he'd forfeit the championship if he didn't make it back before the count of 10.

Begrudgingly obeying the referee's orders, Christian returned to the ring but then smashed Booker in the face with the gold, getting himself DQ'd.

It was a solid match, though it did make you wonder why Doan was happy to strip Chrsitian of the title for getting intentionally counted out but not for getting intentionally disqualified.
Your Winner via DQ: Booker T (Christian retains the title)

Out in the back, Kevin Nash taped up his wrists ready for his upcoming match with Triple H. 

As I've mentioned many times, I was a big Diesel fan back when I was 11 years-old, so a part of me popped to see him with the initials "BDC" emblazed on his top.

The Redneck Triathlon: Round 2

OK, so I was wrong about the big, fat heffer thing.

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff

Jerry Lawler announced that we'd have the pie-eating contest right here in the middle of the ring and brought out both men for the proceedings to begin.

Austin then teased Bischoff about liking "mature women," which -if you'd ever seen any wrestling in the last 5 years leading up to Badd Blood '03- immedietly told you that we'd be getting an appearance from Mae Young.

Not that she appeared right away. Austin teased some more, drawing this out for much longer than necessary before bringing out the grappling granny.

Naturally, Bischoff was reluctant to go down on Mae, but also didn't want to forfeit. 

Not that he'd have a choice.

As Sleazy E psyched himself up in the corner, Young kicked him in the bollocks, stripped down to a thong and suspenders, and gave Bischoff a bronco buster for the ages.

When it was his turn, Stone Cold simply forfeited by booting Mae in the tummy and giving her a stunner.

This whole thing went far too long and was nowhere near as entertaining as it was meant to be, though I did laugh out loud at Austin stunning Mae Young.

A word with La Resistance

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Coach interviews La Resistance

After a look back at Raw, when Kane failed to come to the aid of his fellow tag champion Rob Van Dam, Jonathan Coachman interviewed the duo's upcoming opponents, La Resistance.

Sylvain Grenier and René Duprée said nothing about the match itself, instead telling Coach that George W. Bush was a buffoon but French president Jacques Chirac was awesome.

Alright then, way to get me excited about your tag match, I suppose.

WWE World Tag Team Championship
WWE World Tag Team Champions Kane & Rob Van Dam vs. La Resistance (Sylvain Grenier & René Duprée)

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - La Resistance won the tag team titles

Kane and RVD may not have been on the page, but they still gave a good effort against the young La Resistance.

This wasn't a bad match by any stretch, but it wasn't all that impressive either. It felt more like a reasonable attempt at a time-filler on Raw than a high-quality pay per view match, but if that's the worst I have to say about it then it can't have been too terrible.

After just under 10 minutes of average-at-best action, RVD went flying over the top rope looking to hit the challengers but nailing his own partner instead.

At that point, La Resistance dragged Van Dam back in the ring, hit him with a double-flapjack and won the titles.
Your Winners and New World Tag Team Champions: La Resitance

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Goldberg vs. Chris Jericho

I'm including this Goldberg/Jericho graphic here because I just want to show you how poorly done the graphics were for Bad Blood 2003.

WWE normally excelled in the presentation department. 

Say what you want about the quality of their product, their presentation was usually better than any other wrestling company around, but these graphics -and indeed the entire visual appearance of this show- made it look like a low-rent indie fed with graphics done by the time-keeper's brother on Gimp.

Anyway, this graphic led us to a look back at how the rivalry between Goldberg and Chris Jericho.

This all started with Lance Storm trying to run Goldberg over, only to be forced by Austin to face him in a match. Goldberg naturally destroyed Storm, who threw his former Thrillseeker's buddy under the bus and confessed that Jericho had put him up to the attack.

Jericho admitted that yes, he hated Golberg, and his reasons all dated back to their time together in WCW when Big Bill thought himself too big of a star to face The Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla.

The two would finally meet next.

Chris Jericho vs. Goldberg

There's no getting away from the fact that Goldberg's first run in WWE was a disaster.

Despite being pushed as a superstar babyface, the fans had booed him out of the building when he faced The Rock back at Backlash, a reception that was so hostile and -to WWE Creative at least- so unexpected that he hadn't been seen on PPV again until tonight.

Not that it made much difference.

The fans still hated Big Bad Bill, partly because he was a WCW guy, but mostly because his limited ability was more exposed in WWE than it ever had been in WCW.

Thankfully, the ever-talented Chris Jericho was on hand to help Goldberg through, and the result was the best match you were going to get out of a monster babyface who had not much to offer and even less appeal.

After a reasonably good match, Goldberg got the win by hitting Jericho with a jackhammer.

It was a result that was never in question, and it certainly didn't harm Y2J's career much, but didn't do much to endear Billy Boy to the WWE faithful either.
Your Winner: Bill Goldberg

After the match, Goldberg argued with a Jericho fan at ringside before cameras showed us a pig pen that had been set up at ringside.

Somewhere in the back, Triple H was probably having traumatic flashbacks about Henry Godwin.

JR told us that the pig pen was for the third and final round of the Redneck Triathlon, which was weird because when Austin and Bischoff spun the wheel backstage, it revealed that the tie-breaker round would be a sing off.

This made Bischoff happy and Austin mad because everyone -including Stone Cold himself- agreed that The Texas Rattlesnake was not a very good singer.

Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair

Prior to the match, we got a look back at the rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair.

It was an emotionally charged video which really made this match seem like a huge deal, and that can only be a good thing.

Flair came out first, followed by Michaels who, wrestling in his home state of Texas, wore the very same tights we’d last seen him wear at the 1997 Royal Rumble.

OK, so they may not have been the exact same pair, but they certainly had the exact same design.

The match was excellent, and I don’t know why anybody would say otherwise.

Michaels -who had grown up idolising Flair before going on to become just as big of a star in his own right- took the fight to Nature Boy in the early going, slapping him around the ring with gusto and getting the better of him at every opportunity.

As the intensity built, Flair managed to take out HBK’s leg and worked over that for a while before the action spilled to the outside.

There, Randy Orton popped up but immediately got decapitated by a Michaels super kick before The Showstopper put Flair on a table and lept off the top rope onto him.

That proved to be the spot of the match, especially when Naitch’ sold it like it he’d just been shot.

As the match kept getting better and better, Earl Hebner took a tumble.

HBK went for the sweet chin music (albeit without confessing his love for Nature Boy) but Orton re-emerged, drilled Shawn with a chair and draped a lifeless Nature Boy over him.

Three seconds later, this one was done.
Your Winner: Ric Flair

That was a great match and I don’t even mind the interference finish if it allowed the HBK vs. Evolution feud to continue.

Redneck Triathlon: Round 3

This was supposed to be the singing contest, with Bischoff first Milli Vinillying to his own theme song before Austin demanded he sang for real.

It turned out Eric was just as bad at singing as Austin was, so Stone Cold decided they were going to have “pig pen fun,” which equated to Austin hitting his co-gm with a stunner and throwing him in the pig pen.

I’m normally pretty lenient with WWE comedy stuff, but this whole Redneck Triathlon stuff was pretty awful.

Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Kevin Nash

Special referee: Mick Foley

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Mick Foley refereed the Hell in a Cell match between Kevin Nash and Triple H

Prior to the match, we got a look back at the build up to this match which involved all the referees refusing to officiate it because Triple H always destroyed them like the time he ended Tim White’s career back at Judgement Day 2002.

This led to Mick Foley being introduced as the special referee because he was the only person crazy enough to do it.

This led to a big brawl between HHH and Foley because apparently, that was more interesting than anything The Game was doing with Nash.

I can see why people may have written this match off because the first half was pretty tedious.

Eventually, however, it picked up and became a compelling blood match for the ages.

That’s exactly what I liked about this one.

Unlike other Hell in a Cell encounters, it didn’t rely on huge stunts and insane spots.

It just involved the champ and challenger beating each other -and the referee- to a bloody pulp.

It was captivating, it was compelling, and it was brutally entertaining.

By the end, all three men (yes, Foley included) looked like they’d been involved in a car wreck and it was kind of a miracle that a battered and bloody HHH was able to hit the match-winning pedigree.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

Post-match, The Game’s Evolution buddies Ric Flair and Randy Orton came down to help the lifeless Champion out of the ring as Badd Blood 2003 went off the air.

This show wasn’t as bad as some people might have you believe but it wasn’t that great either.

The Redneck Triathlon stuff started humorously enough but soon descended into a never-ending dumbness that was beneath both men. Honestly, I’m a fan of both Austin and Bischoff, but what they gave us here was embarrassingly painful.

Match-wise, only the blood-soaked main event and the HBK/Flair match really stood out, with the latter earning match of the night honours.

If you’re going to watch this show, maybe don’t set your expectations too high but be sure to enjoy the last two matches.

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

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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.