Mega Powers Running Wild!

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

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

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

The Birth of the nWo

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

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

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

Wrestlemania 12 Review

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

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

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

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

PPV REVIEW: WWF SUMMERSLAM 1996

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Event Poster
August 18, 1996
Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio.

If you were to believe the advertising, World Wrestling Federation's Summerslam 1996 was to be a show with only two matches on it. 

Those two matches -a WWF title match between Shawn Michaels and Vader- and a Boiler Room Brawl pitting The Undertaker against Mankind had set up at the previous month's In Your House: International Incident, and for all intents and purposes were the two main events upon which the whole show was to be based around.

But what about the undercard?

On a show which promised to save the best til last, would Summerslam 1996 deliver a host of long-since-forgotten hidden gems?

Would the Boiler Room Brawl and the World Championship match merely serve to cap off an all-round great card?






Or would this really be literally a two match show?

Let's head to Cleveland, Ohio to find out, shall we?

The Battle of the Monsters vs. The Monster Slayers 

Just in case you were in any doubt as to which bouts the WWF were focusing on tonight, the 1996 Summerslam began with a dramatic opening video in which future tag team partners Mankind and Vader were depicted as monsters, and their respective opponents Undertaker and Shawn Michaels were made out to be heroic "monster slayers."

It was videos like this that really hooked me as a kid. Some 21 years later, I still think they did a great job in making tonight's two biggest bouts seem like truly epic battles which transcended mere wrestling and took a certain an otherworldly quality.

Welcome to Summerslam 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Jim Ross, Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect are our commentary team
After another brief video introduced us to Cleveland landmarks like the Rock 'n' Roll hall of fame, we were welcomed to tonight's show by our commentary team of Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Mr. Perfect.

As per the standard, the trio quickly ran down tonight's card before taking us to our opening match.

Savio Vega vs. Owen Hart

I'd love to tell you that there was some storyline behind this one, or at least a basic reason for Savio Vega and Owen Hart wanting to fight each other.

As far as I can tell however, the two were randomly paired together in an effort to create an enjoyable opening contest on one of the biggest pay per view events of the year.

Did they succeed?

Yes and no.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Savio Vega faced Owen Hart in the opening match
In other words, the early parts of this match were entertaining: Savio worked over the supposedly "injured" arm of Owen, before Hart himself took control and returned the favour.

Eventually however, this plot point took a backseat, and what we were left with was a somewhat sloppy bout that failed to hit the mark.

Not bad, but not great either.

Of note however, is the fact that Jim Cornette did not join Owen Hart at ringside, opting instead to spend time backstage getting Vader ready for his upcoming title match.

Instead, Cornette's new legal representative (and manager of the recently returning Crush), Clarence Mason made his way to ringside to cheer on the Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart.

The ending came when Owen used his cast to knock out Vega, then applied the Sharpshooter for the win.
Your Winner: Owen Hart 

Post match, Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw and Uncle Zebekiah came out, yelled at Vince McMahon, then went after Savio, continuing on a rivalry which seemed to have no end in sight, even though I suspect most fans really wished it did.

Todd Pettengill Interviews Mankind

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Todd Pettengill interviewed Mankind in the boiler room
Taking us to the depths of the arena, Todd Pettingill gave us a guided tour of sorts around the boiler room that would serve as the battleground for tonight's Mankind vs. Undertaker bout.

After telling us that the room was "dark and ominious" about a hundred times, Pettengill stumbled -almost literally- upon Mankind himself.


In true "derranged" form, the man formerly known as Cactus Jack licked one of the pipes before warning The Undertaker not to enter the boiler room.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship Four Team Elimination Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn w/ Sunny) vs. The Body Donnas (Skip & Zip) vs. The Godwins (Henry O. & Phineas I. Godwin w/ Hillbilly Jim) vs. The New Rockers (Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy)

Call me crazy, but going into this match, I actually had, if not exactly high hopes, at least an expectation that this match would be better than most fans would be willing to admit to. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sunny led the Smoking Gunns into battle in a 4-way tag team match
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think both the Body Donnas and The Godwins were better wrestlers than their goofy gimmicks would have you believe. Give Marty Jannetty a few spots to showcase why he was still a solid in-ring performer, and let champions The Smoking Gunns prove why they were always more entertaining as heels, and you had the makings of a decent match. 

Unfortunately, this was one bout which not only failed to live up to its potential, but served to give everybody who wrote this one off before it even got started the chance to utter a very smug "I told you so."

For the most part, this was simply a match between The Smoking Gunns and The Godwins, with Skip, Zip, Leif Cassidy (Al Snow) and Jannetty all putting brief cameo appearances before being eliminated. 

Whilst this did give us a few all-too-fleeting moments of entertainment, it mostly made for a dull, sloppy, and horrible match in which the only thing worth watching was Sunny.

Finally putting us all out of our misery, Phineas looked to have the win over Billy Gunn, only for Sunny to make the necessary distraction before Bart could attack, drape his fallen partner's arm over a groggy pig farmer, and steal a win for his team.
Your Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: The Smoking Gunns 

After loitering on the outside for what felt like forever (presumably waiting for The Godwins to leave), Sunny led her boys back into the ring and invited all the girls in the audience to "take a look at what real men are supposed to look like."

Somewhere in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, Rick Rude was no doubt gearing up to file a copyright infringement lawsuit.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sunny revealed a picture of herself after her team beat the Godwins, The Body Donnas, and The New Rockers
Not that anybody would have been paying attention. All eyes were squarely fixed on the former Body Donna as she lambasted the women in the audience for being out of shape before revealing a giant picture of herself as her "gift" to the Cleveland faithful.

This, apparently, was just one step in Sunny's huge push as one of the company's top stars that year. Looking back, I'm still all in favour of it, though that may have more to do with the fact that, as a perpetually horny 12 year old kid (as I was when Summerslam 1996 was originally broadcast), I was absolutely besotted with Sunny.

Truth be told, I still have a thing for her to this day.

Looking Back at Summerslam Week 

Thankfully, your writer was given a much-needed chance to go take a cold shower and calm down from the Sunny thing, as Vince McMahon introduced us to a video package showing us some of the activities that went down in Cleveland as part of a Summerslam promo / community outreach programme.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Savio Vega worked on community outreach during SS96
This included a bizarre "race" between The Godwins and The Smoking Gunns, the latter riding a horse and carriage to the arena and the former taking the train.

This was supposed to determine which was faster - a train, or a horse and carriage. If you seriously need me to tell you who won that one, you're as stupid as this whole idea was.


Elsewhere, we also saw Jerry 'The King' Lawler failing to get members of the Cleveland Indians to show him how to throw a spitball, The Undertaker and Paul Bearer apparently giving a way a whole funeral package in some sort of morbid prize draw, The Godwins signing autographs, and a whole bunch of superstars painting over some graffiti with a bunch of little kids.

Doc Hendrix Interviews Sid 

After The British Bulldog's entrance (sans Jim Cornette) for the next match, we were taken backstage, where Doc Hendrix asked Sid about the huge support he'd received from the fans since returning to the WWF. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sid addressed his popularity before beating the British Bulldog
In a true manic fashion, Sid delivered an entertaining response in which he claimed that the fans had always wanted 'The Man' to be back in the ring. 

Tonight, The Master and The Ruler of the World promised to destroy Davey Boy Smith, laughing like a crazed psychopath the whole time. 

Honestly, it saddens me that Sid only had limited runs at the top. Despite not being the most athletic of in-ring performers, he had an undeniable presence, and a charisma that was just off the charts. 

The British Bulldog  vs. Sycho Sid 

Once again, Sid was over as hell with the live audience, working the Cleveland crowd into a frenzy before stepping into the ring to face Davey Boy Smith. 

Unfortunately for the big man, his popularity was of little used to him as the Bulldog took control in the early going and dominated the bulk of this fairly average match. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sid got his ass kicked by the British Bulldog but won the match
As the man from Wigan, Greater Manchester took systematically worked over his rival, Clarence Mason returned to ringside, just as he had done in the earlier Owen / Savio match. 

Sadly, this was to be Dave Boy's undoing. Just as he hit his patented power slam, Jim Cornette rushed to ringside, apparently to ask Mason just what the hell he thought he was doing. This was enough to distract the Bulldog, preventing him from making the pinfall that would have no doubt guaranteed him a victory. 

The distraction gave Sid time enough to recover, and when Davey Boy did return, setting up for a second powerslam, Sid slipped out of harm's way, drilled his opponent with a chokeslam and powerbomb, and picked up the victory, putting this so-so match to bed once and for all.
Your Winner: Sycho Sid 

Prior to our next match, we were shown a short commercial in which two aliens visited a teenager who was watching WWF. The clip seemed to suggest that watching pro wrestling made you irresistible to smoking hot girls.

Having been a fan for 25 years, I can categorically state this absolutely not true. 

Then again, maybe that's just me. 

A Word With the Wildman 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Wildman Marc Mero and Sable talk about Mero's match with Goldust
Over the past several weeks, both Goldust and Mankind and had grown increasingly obsessed with Sable, the latter stalking her around the ring and calling her 'mommy,' and the former apparently just wanting to bang her, or something. 

Naturally, that had outraged Sable's husband, Wildman Marc Mero, and gave us a match tonight. 

Before we got there however, Mero gave a rather drab interview to Todd Pettingill in which he claimed that, whilst he didn't understand mind games, he did understand how to beat Goldust up, and would do so in their upcoming contest.

Goldust (W/ Marlena) vs. Marc Mero (w/ Sable)

Despite having a solid story behind it, despite Marc Mero's recent excellent form in pay per view matches against Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and despite Goldust being no slouch in the ring either, the two just couldn't put together an entertaining match here. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Goldust faced Marc Mero in a boring match
Rather the two engaged in a long, dull bout that not only sent the live audience to sleep but almost made your writer give up on the whole idea of following Summerslam 1996 to the end. 

Seriously, it was painfully boring, so much so that even the commentary team gave up on it at one point and began telling us about Ahmed Johnson's injury instead. 

It was also stupid too. 

At one point, Goldust was dominating Mero with -of all things- a Chinlock of Doom. It was at that point that Mankind raced to the ring to terrify Sable. The referees came out and sent Mankind packing, all of which went unnoticed by Mero. 

Honestly, would it not have made more sense to Mankind come down when Mero was winning, therefore distracting him so that Goldust could get the upperhand again? Isn't that what heels do?

Apparently not in this scenario it isn't. 

To make matters worse, Mero debuted his new shooting star press finisher (dubbed 'The Wild Thing') only for Goldust to make a complete mockery of it by kicking out, hitting the Curtain Call, and winning this dreadful, dreadful match.
Your Winner: Goldust 

Afterwards, Goldust attempted to smooch with Sable, only for Marc Mero to recover and send his nemesis packing.

About five people gave a damn.

Intercontinental Championship Tournament Announced

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Ahmed Johnson had to forfeit the Intercontinental Championship
Up next, we reminded that Ahmed Johnson had been put on the shelf with severe kidney bleeding (or something to that effect) after being attacked by Faarooq Asaad (Ron Simmons in a ridiculous Roman gladiator gimmick).

This meant that not only would Ahmed have to forefeit the Intercontinental Championship, but that he would also have to give up his WWF title shot against Shawn Michaels that he won in a recent Raw Invitational Battle Royal.

What would happen next -according to WWF President Gorilla Monsoon - is that we would have a tournament for the IC title, whilst the last four men who were in the ring before Ahmed won the battle royal would go at it again in a "Sudden Death" battle royal.


The winner of that (it was Goldust btw) would go on to face Michaels on a special Raw episode called Raw Championship Friday.

The announcement ended with a shot of Ahmed Johnson holding the Intercontinental Championship belt upside down, before cutting back to an interview in which he promised to ignore doctors orders and do whatever he wanted to ignore the fans.

Sunny and Farooq Want the Intercontinental Championship 

Ron Simmons earliest World Wrestling Federation gimmick really was a mess, wasn't it?

I just can't imagine the creative meeting where they looked at a star who just a few years prior had received a huge push as the first African American champion, then gave him an Arabic name, a weird Roman gladiator costume, and a theme that sounded like something off a Super Nintendo game.


Just to complete this hodge-podge of ideas, they gave the African Arabic Roman American Gladiator a manager in the form of Sunny, who at the time was doing her sexy cowgirl thing with the Smoking Gunns. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sunny and her new man Farooq gave an in-ring promo
All that aside, the two did put together quite the impressive heel act as they joined Todd Pettingill in the centre of the ring for a live interview. 

I say 'interview,' Farooq essentially told Todd to can it before insisting that he should be the Intercontinental Champ by virtue of beating up Ahmed Johnson.

Sunny then claimed that it didn't matter, Farooq would win the upcoming tournament and become the next champion because what Sunny wants, Sunny gets.


Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

There were times when the cartoonish, cowardly-heel act Jerry Lawler played in mid-90s WWF worked like a charm. 

Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those times. 

Immediately turning this from a match into a bad stand-up comedy routine, Lawler spent the first few minutes making jokes about Jake 'The Snake' Roberts' real life alcoholism before Roberts himself finally made it to ringside. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Mark Henry made his WWF PPV debut on commentary for Jerry Lawler vs. Jake Roberts
What followed was a few minutes of sloppy, uninspired brawling, followed by Lawler jabbing Jake in the throat with a bottle of Jim Beam, pulling his tights, and getting the win. 

More apparent hillarity followed, with Lawler pouring a bottle of Jim Beam down Roberts' throat, cracking wise about Jake wanting a beer chaser and then attempting to drown him with the second bottle, only for newcomer Mark Henry to make the save. 

Speaking of The World's Strongest Man, he was literally the only funny thing about this match, and that wasn't intentional. 

During Lawler's stand-up routine, The King pulled out two bottles of booze which he introduced as Jake Roberts' tag team partners.

Henry laughed out loud at this -and several other jokes- before suddenly remembering that he was supposed to be the babyface and remarking: "Actually, that's not funny."                                                                                                
That however, wasn't the funniest part. 

Half way through the math, Lawler took a soda from a fan at ringside and threw in his opponent's face. Seeming genuinely concerned for the fan's risk of dehydration, Henry asked: 

"But what's that fan gonna do for a drink, now?"

Honestly, I can't explain it, but there was something about the earnestness in Mark's voice that was at once both endearing and hilarious.

Anyway, this sucked. Let's move on.
Your Winner: Jerry Lawler

"That wasn't an athletic contest we just witnessed," said Jim Ross as Henry helped Roberts to the back.

No shit, JR. No shit.

Meanwhile..somewhere in the crowd, Bob Backlund continued to campaign for his presidential run.

Time for the Boiler Room Bra 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - The Undertaker enters the boiler room for his match with Mankind
No, that's not a typo. Remember at Wrestlemania 12's Hollywood Backlot Brawl when Vince McMahon continually referred to it as a Hollywood Backlot Bra? 

He did the same thing here, introducing a Pettingill-narrated video package for our next match as being about "The Boiler Room Bra". 

As Paul Bearer made his way to the ring with The Urn in tow, McMahon even referenced the Hollywood Backlot Bra. 

Honeslety, I'm crying with laughter here. 

Boiler Room Bra(wl)
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Mankind 

Clocking in around the 30 minute mark, this was by far the longest bout on the card so far. 

As a 12 year-old kid watching this at the time, I thought length alone made this one of the most tedious matches I'd ever seen. So you can probably imagine how much I was dreading it, especially after what had so far turned out to be just a horribly dull show. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Undertaker and Mankind Brawl Backstage in the Boiler Room Brawl
Imagine also then, how pleasantly surprised I was to find that -on a second viewing some 21 years later- the Undertaker vs. Mankind Boiler Room Brawl was far better than I ever remembered it. 

Sure, this wasn't an instant wrestling classic, but then it was never intended to be. 

What it was, was a captivating piece of storytelling which achieved the one thing I believe all pro wrestling should be constantly trying to achieve: 

Suspension of disbelief. 

OK, so the action was mostly Undertaker and Mankind throwing each other into things and whacking each other with pipes and bits of wood, but there were times when your writer couldn't help but flinch, wince, and double over as though feeling how much this "fake" stuff must have really hurt. 

And when Mankind was thrown from the top of a ladder by Undertaker and splatted -kidneys first- onto the cold, unforgiving concrete? That was a true holy shit moment in every sense of the word. 

Having seen the direction that pro wrestling / sports entertainment would take in the years that followed this match, the move may not appear to be all that special to some, but it's worth noting that nothing like this had ever really been seen on WWF telivision before. 

What we were watching here was a first. It was different, it was groundbreaking, and it was truly engaging. 

Helping matters was the fact that commentators barely spoke a word, as if even they were stunned into silence by what they were witnessing. Only the occasional "ohh" from Vince McMahon or a sombre "amazing," from JR reminded us that they were even there. 

A personal highlight for this fan came when the two made it out of the boiler room and brawled through the backstage area, with the likes of The Godwins and the Body Donnas shown rooting for the Dead Man whilst Steve Austin and Bradshaw came out of the same locker room to cheer for Mankind.

Eventually, the two brawled to the ring, where Foley took a sick bump from the apron to the exposed concrete, allowing Undertaker to climb into the ring, kneel before his long time manager Paul Bearer, and reach out to collect the urn.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Paul Bearer turned heel on Undertaker and joined forces with MankindGaining possession of the urn, you see, was the only way to win this match. Yet just when it looked like the whole thing was over, Bearer refused to hand it over.

Instead, he walked into the corner and cackled fiendishly whilst Mankind returned and slapped on the mandible claw.

Again, Undertaker went for the urn, again, Bearer refused, this time cracking his now former charge over the skull with it to cement his heel turn.

All it took then, was for Bearer to hand over the urn, establish an alliance with the deranged Mankind, and give us the very first plot point in the story that would eventually lead - 14 months down the line - to the debut of The Undertaker's brother, Kane.
Your Winner: Mankind

Afterwards, masked druids (which were actually members of the roster in big, black, hooded cloaks) carried The Undertaker to the back to the sound of Gorean chanting. McMahon and JR sold the whole thing like Bearer had literally just murdered the man he'd managed for six years.

Jim Cornette Promises a Victory for Vader

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Jim Cornette promised a victory for Vader in the WWF title match
Backstage, Jim Cornette ranted and raved to Doc Hendrix about the upcoming main event. 

As the Mastodon huffed, and puffed and grunted, Cornette said that - just as at last month's In Your House- he promised us a victory for his man when Vader went one on one with the WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels. 

That match was next. 

World Wrestling Federation ChampionshipWWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Vader (w/ Jim Cornette)

As the two combatants made their way to the ring, our commentary team sold the defending champion Shawn Michaels as a complete underdog who seemingly had no chance of leaving Cleveland with his title.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Vader dominated his WWF Championship match against Shawn Michaels
For the majority of this truly enthralling bout, that certainly seemed to be the case.

Vader demolished HBK from pillar to post. He battered him inside the ring, he battered him outside the ring, and whilst the champ did get a few shots in (an impressive suicide dive among them), it was the challenger who dominated more or less from start to finish.

Don't mistake this for a squash of any kind however.

What we got here was a brilliant main event which made Vader look like a true monster (or as Jim Ross called him - "A Manster - half man, half monster" ) whilst eliciting a groundswell of sympathy for the babyface champion.

The Mastodon even technically beat the Heartbreak Kid not once, but twice. The first time came as a result of a countout, whilst the second saw Michaels disqualified for whipping the piss out of both Cornette and Vader with Cornette's tennis racket.

Each time however, James E. challenged Michaels to continue the match. Michaels accepted, and looked to lose his title to a Vader Bomb, only for Cornette to once again get involved, demanding that the challenger instead use his top rope moonsault to win the match.
Michaels moved, hit a moonsault of his own, and scored what was essentially an upset victory.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels.

Having survived a brutal assault, Michaels grabbed his title and celebrated, bringing this wholly disappointing show to an end.






Disappointing is just about the best word for it too. 


At the start of this review, we discussed how WWF Summerslam 1996 had been promoted mainly as a two match show. 

Whilst those two matches definitely delivered, the rest of the card ranged from dull to outright dreadful, a shame really, since bouts like the opening tag match and the Mero/Goldust match had the potential to be quite fun. 

The Boiler Room Brawl (or Bra, if you prefer) and that awesome championship match were enjoyable, but even they were not so good as to warrant sitting through what was probably one of the worst over all pay per views of 1996.

I'll be back again soon with the In Your House Mind Games review. Until then, thanks for reading, and be sure to join me on Twitter for more Retro Pro Wrestling - @Retropwrestling

Sunday, 9 April 2017

PPV REVIEW: WWF IN YOUR HOUSE 9 - INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Event Poster
July 21, 1996, 
General Motors Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

It's been a long time since I last reviewed a World Wrestling Federation pay per view. 

As my attempt at reviewing every event from Wrestlemania 1 - Wrestlemania 30 hit the second half of the 1990s, I admit I was lured away -like many fans at the time were- by the excitement of the New World Order and the awesome in-ring action offered by World Championship Wrestling.

Yet whilst all of that was going on, whilst Hulk Hogan was being revealed as the 'Third Man' and sewing the seeds of the nWo, I had to remember that the WWF were still putting a product out too.

That product was this: In Your House 9: International Incident.

Taking place just a few short weeks after Hogan's memorable heel turn over in WCW, tonight's show was originally designed to serve as little more than a bridge between the previous month's King of the Ring, and August's Summerslam.






Ultimately however, the work of the in-ring competitors managed to elevate this show from B-level filler to a thoroughly entertaining event in its own right.

Not convinced?

Read on to find out just what went down when WWF In Your House came to Canada.

Welcome to the In Your House Free For All 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Free for All
Not only is this the first WWF review I've done in a while, it's also the first review I've produced in ages from my original copy of the event rather than the WWE Network.

As such, we get ourselves a Free for All, which our announcers Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

promise us will feature not only a match between Savio Vega and Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw, but also a much anticipated showdown between James E. Cornette and Jose Lothario.

I'm sure I can't wait. Can you?


Savio Vega vs. Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw (w/ Uncle Zebekiah) 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Savio Vega was 'branded' after his match with Bradshaw
According to Vince McMahon and a couple of flashbacks to previous shows, the story here was that these two hated each

other for no clearly identifiable reason, and had spent much of their previous two matches whipping the hell out of each other using a bull rope (Bradshaw) and a Caribbean strap.

Such was the animosity between these two, that Savio Vega arrived for his heated battle with his sworn enemy by dancing and strutting his way down to ring side.

As for the match itself, this one was very much like scores of bouts that I've reviewed here over the years:

It was entertaining, it served its purpose, but it was almost instantly forgettable.

Whilst you might not think it to read the names on paper, both Savio and Bradshaw did a good job of getting the crowd worked up, before the latter pinned the former thanks to the assist from manager Uncle Zebekiah and a crafty foot placed on the second rope for leverage.

Truthfully, it was good enough for what it was, though hardly the kind of match anyone would ever recommend you track down just to see it.
Your Winner: Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw 

Post match, Savio looked to extract a measure of revenge on Zebekiah, only to receive a 'Clothesline From Hell' for his troubles courtesy of the future JBL.

From there, both Bradshaw and his manager proceeded to beat down on their fallen adversary before Zeb "branded" Vega with a shitty looking ink stamp that smudged all over Savio's arm the minute it touched the skin and looked fake as hell.


Goldust Arrives

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Undertaker faced Goldust
Turning our attentions away from Vega's rubber-stamp "branding," Vince McMahon next began to talk up the hotly anticipated match between The Undertaker and Goldust.

As the latter then began to make his way towards the ring, McMahon acted completely surprised, as though it were some great coincidence that The Bizarre One should happen to arrive just as his name was being mentioned.

Before we heard from Goldust however, we first saw a music video for The Undertaker, cutting a bunch of in-ring shots of The Deadman chokeslamming all and sundry with promo shots of him standing in graveyards beneath full moons and looking creepy as hell.

Actually, you don't need me to tell you about the video, here it is:


When that finished, we heard from Goldust as he sat at the commentary table, flanked as ever by the ever-beautiful Marlena.

Goldie had some choice words for his opponent, it's just a shame that he chose to make those words mostly nonsense. The gist of the promo was the champion acting weird and claiming to have felt The Undertaker's pain.

An odd segment, but then for a match pitting two of the World Wrestling Federation's most 'out there' characters, would you really expect anything less?

Let's Take a Look at Tonight's Main Event

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Six Man Tag Team Main Event
As we've already touched on, In Your House: International Incident was set to be headlined by a six man tag team match pitting British Bulldog, Owen Hart, and Vader against WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson, and the recently returning Sycho Sid, but it hadn't always been that way.

Tonight's main event had its origins in the previous month's WWF King of The Ring 1996 where, after defeating Davey Boy Smith in a championship match, HBK was beat up by the entire Camp Cornette.

Ahmed Johnson and The Ultimate Warrior had made the save, originally setting up Warrior, Michaels, and Ahmed as the babyface team.

Not long after however, Gorilla Monsoon had 'indefinitely suspended' the Warrior for missing a bunch of house shows, leading to a replacement being sought.

On an episode of Raw, Michaels and Johnson had revealed Sycho Sid to be their replacement.

Cornette had then gone on to question Sid's sanity, though personally I would question the sanity of The Heartbreak Kid.

After all, wasn't this the very same Sid who had powerbombed him all the way to hell on the Raw after Wrestlemania XI?

It was but hey, this was mid-90s WWF, a time when all babyfaces were friends and all heels had an understanding based purely on which side of the good guy/bad guy line they stood.

Jose Lothario Faces Jim Cornette

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Jim Cornette was angry at Jose Lothario
The aforementioned video package led us nicely to an in-ring confrontation between Shawn's manager Jose Lothario and the leader of Camp Cornette, good old James E. himself.

This was a segment I doubt anybody really wanted to see, particularly since babyface manager Lothario was loudly booed when introduced by mediator, Jim Ross.

In fairness, the crowd were not too thrilled to see Cornette either, not that this seemed to bother him much.

Taking to the podium, Cornette launched a verbal tirade against Lothario, lambasting the wrestling legend for punching him in the teeth a few weeks ago.

The argument grew so heated that both men moved away from the microphone and got right up in each other's face. Cornette swung for Jose, Jose landed a punch right in Jimmy's face, and Vader ran out, seemingly to seek revenge.

Before he had the chance to do anything however, Shawn Michaels ran out for the save.

Watching this today, what's interesting is that there's no way WWE would have its two biggest stars appear before the crowd on today's Kick Off shows.

Can you imagine Brock Lesnar running to the ring to save Paul Heyman, only for John Cena to run out before the show even got started?


Kevin Kelly Interviews Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Kevin Kelly interviews Steve Austin about his match with Marc Mero
Still a fully fledged heel, Stone Cold Steve Austin was visibly pissed at Marc Mero for kicking him in the face last month.

Here, he vowed that not only would he kick Mero's ass, but that he'd kick the ass of anyone who tried to stop him en route to the top of the WWF.

Cornette Promises a Refund 


Meanwhile, elsewhere in the building, an irate Jim Cornette stood by with Vader, Owen Hart, and Davey Boy & Diana Smith.

In a move that would basically telegraph the result of tonight's main event, Cornette promised to refund every ticket holder and every PPV purchaser if Camp Cornette didn't win tonight.

With that, the Free for All was over and it was on to the main show.

Non-Title Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn w/ Sunny) vs. The Body Donnas (Skip & Zip) 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Sunny led the Smoking Gunns into battle against the Body Donnas
Tonight's pay per view went straight into the action with a tag team championship match in which Sunny led Billy & Bart Gunn into battle against her former team, Skip and Zip. 

Prior to this one getting under way properly, The Body Donnas gave a short, pre-match promo in which they addressed the absence of Kloudi, the tattooed transvestite they brought into replace Sunny for a brief period.

According to Skip & Zip, Kloudie had taught both men that they didn't actually need a manager after all. They simply needed the fans to cheer them on.

And cheer them on they did, in a fun opening contest that saw both teams working hard to entertain the Vancouver crowd.

The Body Donnas had what I like to think of as I.R.S Syndrome; an over-the-top gimmick which overshadowed the fact that, when they got in the ring, they were actually really very good.

Combined with a Smoking Gunns team who were finally finding their feet as nefarious heels, this one had all the makings of a decent match.

The end came when Bart set up one of the Body Donnas for the Gunns' finishing move, the Sidewinder, only to find that Billy Gunn was still on the outside cavorting with Sunny.

That gave Skip and Zip the opportunity they needed to get the better of Bart, scoring a big victory over the champions that would lead to a tag team title shot down the line.
Your Winners: The Body Donnas

Post match, Sunny threw a temper tantrum as Bart wondered allowed how his team had managed to lose.

The end of The Smoking Gunns was nigh.

Jim Cornette Loses His Mind

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Camp Cornette promised victory against HBK, Ahmed Johnson, and Sid
Backstage, Mr. Perfect stood by for an interview with Jim Cornette and his camp.

As footage played of his earlier in-ring altercation with Jose Lothario, Jim Cornette hillarious watched the same footage that we did but saw it an entirely different way, claiming that what we were actually watching was Lothario pulling a switch blade on Jim, Shawn Micahels attempting to attack him, and Vader making the save.

Trust me, it was funnier than it sounded.

To finish, James E. once again vowed to refund the money of both the live audience and those watching the PPV at home if his team lost. The British Bulldog then claimed that the match would be so gruesome that he was leaving his wife, Diana backstage, whilst Owen Hart vowed to destroy Sycho Sid.

All the while, Vader paced around the locker room, throwing trash cans around and barking like a dog.

As promos go, this was hardly the greatest of all time, but it was certainly entertaining and effective, and I suppose that's all that really counts.


Mankind vs. Henry O. Godwin (w/ Hillbilly Jim)

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Mankind Beat Henry Godwin in a boring match
This one had originally been set to see Mankind taking on Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, but for reasons that I'm not sure have ever been fully explained (probably because nobody cares), Roberts was replaced with Henry O. Godwin at the last minute.

Whilst a Mankind / Roberts encounter could have been something special had The Snake been on form, this one like exactly what it was:

A throw-away undercard bout which mattered very little.

The sole highlight saw Mankind pull up the protective padding around ringside, and then promptly no-sell a sick looking back bodydrop onto the concrete.

Taking things back into the ring, Foley countered the Slop Drop with the Mandible Claw, and this insanely boring match was over.
Your Winner: Mankind 

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Marc Mero (w/ Sable)

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Marc Mero and Sable before Mero's match with Stone Cold Steve Austin
Last month, Austin and Mero's King of the Ring quarter final match had been one of the highlights of the show.

In tonight's rematch, both men went all out to top their previous effort. Whether they succeeded or not is probably a matter of personal taste, but what is certainly undeniable, is that this was a thrilling contest that served was one of -if not the- best matches on the card.

Following a solid back-and-forth, it was Steve Austin (who was still playing the heel at this point) for the win courtesy of an early version of his Stone Cold Stunner. 
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin 

I should also mention that, during the Austin / Mero bout, Marlena came to ringside and handed a golden envelope to Jerry Lawler. 

Whilst we were shown several shots of Marlena continuing to watch Austin vs. Mero, neither Lawler nor Vince McMahon bothered to address the contents of the envelope, which makes you wonder what the hell the point was. 


Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - The Undertaker prepares for battle against Goldust
The Undertaker had so far spent much of the spring and summer of 1996 feuding with both Mankind and Goldust, alternating between the two bizare characters in a series of pay per view matches. 

Tonight, it was the turn of Goldust to face off with the Phenom in a return bout from their Intercontinental Championship match back at In Your House 8: Beware of Dog

Whilst your writer may have been highly critical of that previous match (I believe the best I could do was to call it "mostly tedious"), tonight's outing faired much better. 

After a great degree of stalling in the opening moments which actually proved to be far more entertaining than it should have done, the two went at it in a highly competitive match in which The Dead Man did his damnedest to make Godie look amazing without ever once sacrificing his own unique aura. 

More or less repeating the finish from their first match, Undertaker looked to have the win, only for Mankind to tear through the canvas from under the ring, lock the mandible claw on his rival, and drag him down beneath the ring. 
Your Winner by Disqualification: The Undertaker 

Afterwards, Mankind returned to the ring as the lights flickered, smoke flooded up from beneath the ring, and ominous bells tolled.

Had we finally seen the last of the Undertaker? Did Mankind really have The Dead Man's number?

Not by a long shot.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Mankind drags Undertaker underneath the ringUndertaker pulled himself up from the opposite side of the ring, brawling to the back with Foley in the latest chapter of one of the most engaging feuds of 1996.


The Good Guys Are Ready

Backstage, Doc Hendrix stood by to get a word with our main event babyface trio of WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, WWF Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson, and future champion, Sycho Sid.

In an entertaining promo, all three insisted that they were not worried about Vader, Bulldog, and Owen Hart.

In the words of Big Sid, it was real simple

Six men enter, only three men survive.

Six Man Team Team Main Event
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson, and Sycho Sid (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Camp Cornette (Vader, The British Bulldog, and Owen Hart w/ Jim Cornette) 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Sycho Sid was the most popular wrestler in the main event
Appearing in his first WWF pay per view since December 1995's In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings, Sycho Sid was by far the most popular man in this entire six man match. 

That includes champion Shawn Michaels, who was so over with the Canadian audience that they broke part of the barriers separating them from the ilse as HBK made his entrance. 

Whenever Michaels was getting his ass handed to him in the ring, it was Sid the fans chanted for. When it was Johnson in the ring, it was Sid they wanted.

And when Sid himself stepped between the ropes?

The crowds -as the old saying goes- went wild.

But make no mistake about it; this was far from a one man show.

For the better part of thirty minutes, all six men put on their working boots and went to war in what was undeniably a solid, highly entertaining main event with nary a dull moment in sight.

Though there would be much better matches held in WWF rings in future years, this one was certainly far superior to some of the main events we'd been subject to over the course of the past year.

That includes those featuring Shawn and Sid.

After a lengthy battle, the Heartbreak Kid looked to have control of the match, and began "tuning up the band" in the corner, ready to knock Vader down and pick up the win for his team.

Yet with the referee distracted by the other four combatants all brawling around the ring, Jim Cornette was able to hold onto HBK's leg. This gave Vader just enough time to recover, squash the champion, and land the Vader Bomb for the cover, the count, and the win.
Your Winners: Camp Cornette

Whilst Cornette must have breathed a sigh of relief at avoiding the millions of dollars he'd have to refund if his team had lost, he can't have been too happy about the beat down his men received in the post match fracas.

With Sid and Ahmed cleaning house in the ring, Michaels launched himself over the ropes onto Vader, drilling him with a flurry of fists to set up a rivalry that would take us to the main event of next month's Summerslam.

Monsoon Confirms Summerslam's Main Event 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Vader Demands a title shot against Shawn Michaels
Before we signed off tonight, Doc Hendrix gave us an exclusive word with WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. 

Just as Monsoon was done confirming that Undertaker would face Mankind in a boiler at Summerslam, Jim Cornette and Vader arrived on the scene, demanding a title shot against The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels.

Until then, all that's left for me to do is to give you my overall verdict on this show. 

That verdict?

It's definitely worth watching.






With the seeds planted for both Michaels/Vader and the Taker/Mankind Boiler Room Brawl, this show may have only existed to set the stage for Summerslam, but it actually succeeded in doing more than that. 

With the majority of matches ranging from decent (Gunns/Donnas, Taker/Goldust) to very good (Austin/Mero, the main event), In Your House: International Incident is proof that nothing everything about mid-90s WWF sucked as bad as you may have heard. 

I'll be back again soon with the Summerslam 1996 review. Until then, thanks for reading, and be sure to join me on Twitter for more Retro Pro Wrestling - @Retropwrestling

Friday, 31 March 2017

PPV REVIEW: WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1996

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Event Poster
October 27, 1996,
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada. 

By the time Halloween rolled around, the New World Order's reign of terror over World Championship Wrestling was well and truly in full flow. 

Since coming together earlier that summer, the renegade outfit had been seemingly unstoppable.

Not only did nWo leader Hollywood Hulk Hogan have the WCW world title on his shoulder, but the man he'd defeated for that belt, The Giant, was now his right-hand man, joining forces with nWo founders Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, along with recent WCW arrivals Ted Dibiase, Syxx (formerly 123 Kid) and Vince (formerly Virgil).

Together, the heel contingent had taken apart Team WCW the previous month at Fall Brawl 1996, in the process not only laying waste to arch-rival Macho Man Randy Savage, but also causing a huge falling out between WCW and its biggest franchise player, Sting. 

Tonight, Savage would have his chance for revenge as he took on Hogan for the title. Would the rest of WCW also start to fight back against the dominant New World Order? Would Sting forgive and forget, rejoining his brothers in arms in battle? Or would the men in black continue to reign supreme over WCW?

Let's head down to the MGM Grand Garden Arena to find out, shall we?

Recapping Savage vs. Hogan 

Our show tonight starts with a video documenting the story of the nWo's hostile take over from Hollywood Hulk Hogan's betrayal of WCW at Bash at the Beach 1996, past his world title victory over The Giant at Hog Wild, and on to tonight, when he would put that title on the line against former best buddy and Mega Maniac, Macho Man Randy Savage.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby Heenan hosted the event
Set to the exact same music that Marc Mero would use as his second WWF theme, the video reminded us of Hogan humiliating Savage at the previous month's Fall Brawl 1996, and how Eric Bischoff stated on a recent episode of Nitro that bringing Hogan to WCW was the biggest mistake he ever made.

The Biggest Night in the History of Our Sport 

OK, so lead announcer Tony Schiavone didn't actually use that line tonight, but we did get his standard hyperbole as he and fellow commentators The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan talked about the importance of tonight's big world championship match and how Macho Man may have taken things 'to a level that he shouldn't have,' in preparing his vengeance against Hogan.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Rey Mysterio Jr. lost the WCW Cruiserweight title to Dean Malenko
Defending his title against Dean Malenko in a bout which far outclassed their previous outing at Clash of the Champions, Rey Mysterio went after his bitter rival with a flurry of fast paced offence right from the get go, even managing to regain the mask that Malenko had stolen from him  and replacing it with the one he was currently wearing.

It didn't take long however, before the challenger took control and slowed the pace as he looked to systematically take the champion apart.

From there, both men traded the advantage several times, making for a thrilling opening contest which ended when Malenko powerbombed Mysterio off the top, made the cover, and won the title.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko 

Backstage, Lee Marshall interviewed recent WCW signee, Jeff Jarrett.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Jeff Jarrett faced The Giant
Jarrett claimed not to be impressed by anything the nWo had done so far and vowed that his upcoming opponent for tonight, The Giant, would not hit his chokslam in their upcoming match.

Nature Boy Ric Flair, who had originally been scheduled to face The Giant before suffering an nWo beat down, then came out and -I think- offered to be Jeff Jarrett's pimp or something when all the ladies wanted to celebrate Double J's victory with him.

Flair also gave his props to Macho Man, saying that despite hating him, he really believed Savage could beat Hogan.

This was a fun, straight forward piece of mic work from both men, doing its job well in adding interest to some of the bigger bouts on the show

Battle for the Lord of the Ring
Eddie Guerrero vs. Diamond Dallas Page 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: WWE Hall of Famers DDP and Eddie Guerrero
In our second Clash of the Champions rematch, Eddie Guerrero clashed with Diamond Dallas Page over a WCW Battle Bowl ring, a prize nobody -not even the commentators- seemed to know much about, or even care.

Yet whilst the premise of this bout, and indeed the whole Guerrero/DDP rivalry may have been based on something few people gave a damn about, that didn't stop tonight's crowd from getting fully invested in what turned out to be a fun, if often quite sloppy, contest.

Indeed, while there were times that the bout came across as clumsy and a little off-kilter, both men did the best they could to show just how much they really hated each other.

In the end, it was that intensity and passion which won out, turning this into a very enjoyable bout, the highlights of which included DDP getting a full on telling off from referee Nick Patrick, and Guerrero hitting a beautiful top rope crossbody block to the outside that was a thing of sheer beauty.

Not that it seemed to help Eddie much. After a hard fought battle, it was Page who picked up the victory, and put back on his finger the battle bowl ring which the announcers told us at the start of the match had gone missing.
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Macho Man Randy Savage announced the Slim Jim Monster Truck Winner
Backstage, Macho Man Randy Savage prepared for the fight of his life against Hulk Hogan by helping Mike Tenay pick a winner of a monster truck  in the Slim Jim Sweepstake.


I mentioned in my Fall Brawl review how Savage's sponsorship duties seemed to take some of the intensity away from Macho Man's persona, and that was especially true here tonight. There was a certain sense of passion and seriousness lacking from Randy's tone as he first hyped his upcoming title bout against Hulk Hogan before goofing around in anticipation the big prize draw.

In the end, somebody called Joan from Michigan won the monster truck, and this rather dumb segment was brought to an end.

Mike Tenay Interviews Dean Malenko 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Dean Malenko agreed to Give Mysterio a rematch if he wanted one
After a brief clip of Chris Jericho being interviewed by some Compuserve geek about his upcoming clash with Syxx, we were next sent back to Mike Tenay, who was standing by with WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Dean Malenko. 

In keeping with his character, Malenko didn't have all that much to say, but did vow that he would defend his newly won title against all comers.

After a little coaxing from Tenay, the champ agreed that "all comers" would indeed include a rematch against the man he just beat for the title, Rey Mysterio Jr.

Wrapping up the interview, Tenay said that Dean Malenko himself was the "new WCW Cruiserweight Championship" before sending us to a special "nWo interview" with Ted Dibiase and The Giant. 


Ted Dibiase and The Giant Have Words for Jeff Jarrett 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: The Giant stole Ric Flair's US title for his match against Jeff Jarrett
Standing out in the crowd, the former Million Dollar Man announced that he'd given Jeff Jarrett too much credit for being smarter than he really was, insinuating that Double J couldn't be all that bright since he'd turned down a special invitation to join the New World Order. 

Continuing his verbal assault on Jarrett's intelligence, Dibiase called the former WWF Intercontinental Champion a fool for believing that substituting for an injured Ric Flair in tonight's match against The Giant was some kind of privilege or honour. Rather, he claimed, the only reason Jarrett had the match was because Flair himself was too afraid to step into the ring. 

Echo'ing his stable-mate's words, The Giant vowed to chokeslam Jeff to oblivion when the two met in our next match. 


The Giant  vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/ The Nature Boy Ric Flair)

As The Giant made his way to the ring with the WCW United States title over his shoulder, our announce team went to great efforts to remind us that this was not a championship match, mainly because The Giant wasn't actually the champion.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: The Giant vs. Jeff Jarrett was a great match
Rather, he'd injured reigning champion Ric Flair and simply stolen the title belt from him. Despite this, Nick Patrick held up the title and displayed it as though this were a top level main event championship match.

Whilst he was doing that, Ric Flair himself made his way to ringside to stand in Jarrett's corner, as he and The Giant finally went at it in what turned out to be a very entertaining match.

The story here was simple: Jarrett pitting his speed and cunning against The Giant's size and brute strength, the former getting the better of the latter for the bulk of the contest before the sheer mass of the former world champion proved too much for the would-be Horseman.

Speaking of WCW's other legendary faction, the presence of its leader, Ric Flair, at ring side, was just about the only bad thing about this match. Not content to let Jarrett and The Giant have their moment, Flair constantly had to draw attention to himself, strutting around the ring, yelling to the crowd, and at one point even taking the microphone and encouraging a prone Double J to "kick his nWo ass!"

It was as annoying as it was distracting, and only served to take away from what was a solid effort by the two in-ring combatants.

Flair even stupidly cost his protege the match, attacking The Giant on the outside and giving the win to the nWo member as a result of a disqualification.
Your Winner by Disqualification: The Giant 

Post match, the remaining members of the Four Horsemen rushed to the ring and celebrated with Jarrett as though he'd just won the match. Meanwhile, The Giant stormed off backstage, promising that Jeff's day would come soon enough.

Dibiase and Syxx Reunite 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Syxx defeated Chris Jericho due to Dodgy Referee
Back out in the crowd, Ted Dibiase was flanked by both his one-time man servant Vince, and the last man to join his Million Dollar Corporation, Syxx.

Dibiase claimed that the New World Order would take their victories anyway they could get them, meaning a The Giant's DQ was good enough for them. After insisting that the Four Horsemen's interference was the only way Jarrett could escape the ring alive, Dibiase next turned his attentions to Chris Jericho, putting over the relative newcomer as a fine athlete with plenty of talent.

Not that said talent was going to do him much good, as Dibiase claimed that Jericho would go down at the hands of the man he called 'the best cruiserweight in the world,' Syxx.

For his part, the former 1-2-3 Kid also put over his opponent, but then insisted that Jericho would be crucified for the sins of World Championship Wrestling.

Indeed.

Syxx vs. Chris Jericho 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: WCW Babyface Chris Jericho ready to face Syxx
To be perfectly honest with you, I was expecting something truly great here; a straight up, classic cruiserweight contest from two of the best in-ring talents working on an American stage in the 1990s. 

Sadly however, there was something rather disappointing about this see-saw battle between Chris Jericho and Syxx, almost though they were merely going through the motions and ticking off a bunch of spots one by one in a half-hearted attempt to get to the finish line. 

Don't get me wrong, the spots themselves looked perfectly acceptable, and the opening exchange between both men was fairly exciting, but the rest of time, this one lacked the energy or emotion that you'd expect from a match of this calibre. 

Towards the finish, corrupt official Nick Patrick continued to thwart Jericho's attempts at gaining victory by counting slowly, only to speed up when Syxx finally made a cover, and awarding the nWo representive a quick, cheap victory.
Your Winner: Syxx 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Nick Patrick helps Syxx to the back
Post-match, an irate Chris Jericho went after Patrick with gusto, only for the official to high-tail it out of the ring and help Syxx to the back. 

Heading to the locker room, Iron Mike Tenay was standing by with WCW main event star Lex Luger, looking to get some exclusive words from Luger about his upcoming bout with Arn Anderson. 

What he got was an awkward, rambling promo from a tired and disheveled looking Lex Luger, who accepted the blame for Team WCW's loss the previous month at Fall Brawl 96, then made a strange analogy to cactus, before promising to come unglued (whatever that was supposed to mean), when he got in the ring with Double A.

Lex Luger vs. Arn Anderson

It was a rivalry that had been building up ever since War Games, when Luger submitting to a dual assault at the hands of Hulk Hogan and Fake Sting cost Team WCW the match. After that, Anderson had gone on the warpath, attacking the Total Package with a steel chair on an episode of Nitro and leaving him for dead.

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Lex Luger was ready to face Arn Anderson
Tonight, with the Dungeon of Doom cheering him on from the audience for unexplained reasons, Luger was out for revenge, and boy did he get it. 

In a mediocre outing that boasted little to get truly excited about, the two men battled in and out of the ring with neither man getting the clear, dominant advantage. That was until referee Mark Curtis took a tumble in the corner and the inaction spilled to the outside. 

There, Anderson attempted to K.O Luger with a chairshot, but Luger moved, and hit a weak looking catapult on Double A into the ring post. From there, three stiff chair shots and a torture rack inside the ring were all it took for this one to be mercifully over.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Afterwards, Lex held on to the torture rack for  a long while, making sure Anderson received as much punishment as he had dished out to Luger on Nitro.

Credit where credit is due, Anderson did sell the extended torture rack for all it was worth, writhing in agony on the mat as though seriously injured. This brought out Flair and Jarrett to check on their fallen comrade, after which EMTs brought down a stretcher and wheeled an injured Anderson off to the back.

Lee Marshall Interviews Harlem Heat 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Harlem Heat lost the WCW tag titles to The Outsiders
Out in the locker room, Lee Marshall caught up with Booker T, Stevie Ray, Col. Parker and Sister Sherri to discuss Harlem Heat's upcoming WCW World Tag Team Championship defence against The Outsiders. 

Though hardly the most enthralling promo in the world, this was at least effective in establishing the fact that Harlem Heat were not intimidated by the New World Order, and that they were indeed going all out to retain their titles against Hall and Nash, now can you dig that, sucka? 

The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Four Horsemen (Chris Benoit & Steve 'Mongo' McMichael w/ Deborah and Woman) 

Though I'm not sure that this could be classed as any of the four combatants' finest hour (and that includes Mongo), I do believe that at the very least, each one turned up ready and motivated to deliver inside the ring, and for my money, that's exactly what they did. 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Chris Benoit & Mongo McMichael vs. The Faces of Fear
As you might expect given who was involved, this was a hard-hitting, no-nonsense battle which basically saw Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael, Meng, and The Barbarian go all out to literally just beat the living shit out of each other. 

All in all, such approach proved effective, and ultimately turned this match into a surprise highlight of the evening. 

After the better part of ten minutes, Chris Benoit hit his patented flying headbut to give the win to the Horsemen. 
Your Winners: Chris Benoit and Mongo McMichael 

Post match, Kevin Sullivan, Konan and Big Bubba leapt over the guard rail and assisted the Faces of Fear in laying the proverbial smackdown on Benoit and Mongo, taking advantage of the fact that the remaining Horsemen were at the hospital with Arn Anderson, and leaving both men laying for dead. 

Cutting to the crowd, Ted Dibiase put over the nWo's success in tonight's show before promising us a victory in our upcoming tag team title match. 


World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Col. Parker & Sister Sherri) vs. The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Scott Hall teamed with Kevin Nash to beat Harlem Heat
Technically perfect this match wasn't, but outstanding fun from first to last it definitely was. Say what you will about the work ethic of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash during their late-90s WCW run, both men proved that sometimes, less really is more, as both men played to their strengths in going toe-to-toe with Harlem Heart. 

The result was a very entertaining match with nary a dull moment in sight. 

Was it the fastest, most action-packed, hold-for-hold wrestling spectacular you ever saw? No, but then this was never going to be that. 

What it was, was a highly enjoyable outing which ended when Nash took Col. Parker's cane, and used it to beat up Stevie Ray. That gave hall the chance to make the cover, get the count, and win the WCW tag team titles for his team.
Your Winners and NEW WCW Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash won the WCW tag team titles
Post match, Hall and Nash gloated about their victory, celebrating in and around the ring whilst Sister Sheri yelled at the referee about what a huge injustice the whole thing had been, despite the fact that she and Col. Parker had basically cheated all the way through the match. 

From there, we were taken to a brief commercial for our next pay per view, November's WCW World War 3, before we went back to the crowd one last time for Hollywood Hogan, Ted Dibiase, and Vince. 

This time, it was Hogan who did the talking. Still wearing the ridiculous wig he wore for his latest movie, 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain Hollywood bragged about both that film and the upcoming release of Santa With Muscles

To be honest, I haven't seen either of those films, but from what I gather, neither were exactly worth bragging about. Still, brag he did, before insisting that he was no bored "bodyslamming Hollywood" for the week and was now going to bodyslam Randy Savage instead. 

That match was next. 

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan (w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Randy Savage challenged Hulk Hogan for the WCW title
Truth be told, whilst I wasn't expecting this main event match to deliver the same kind of intensity and emotion Hogan and Savage displayed when they met in their classic encounter back at WWF Wrestlemania IV, I certainly didn't expect it to be this damn fun either. 

OK, so there were a couple of sloppy spots here and there (Savage lifting Hogan for a straight forward bodyslam at one point looked like Macho Man was literally trying to lift up a sloppy sack of shit), and OK, so Hogan played the "heel stalls so fans can't wait to see him get his ass kicked thing" for just a little longer than was probably necessary, but on the whole, this delivered everything you'd expect from a main event bout from two of the industry's biggest ever stars. 

Things were entertaining right from the get go, with Hollywood coming to the ring through the crowd and keeping his sunglasses and spiked blonde wig on for as long as possible ("That's the same haircut Sting used to have" declared Shiavone). Savage countered this in true over-the-top style by bringing out his monster truck for no apparent reason. 

From there, the match was on, and after all the aforementioned stalling, Macho Man finally got his hands on the cowardly champion, first ripping off his sunglasses and then yanking off his wig before putting them on himself. 

"He looks like the world's most vicious skunk!," cried Heenan, causing your writer to laugh out louder than such a gag really warranted, all whilst Savage paraded around the ring wearing the wig and glasses. 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Hulk Hogan, his wig, and The Giant
Unfortunately for Randy, such merriment was short lived. 

Following a back-and-forth battle with Hogan, Miss. Elizabeth, a foreign object, and a whole bunch of shenanigans came into play, causing one referee to get take a bump and Nick Patrick to take his place. 

In the most dramatic moment of the match, Savage hit his famous elbow drop and looked to have the title won, only for Patrick to "hurt his neck" on the count of two and end up unable to finish the count.

From there, it only took the interference of The Giant to turn the tide back in the New World Order's favour, pummeling Savage on the outside before rolling him in the ring, and draping the arm of an unconcious Hulk Hogan over the top of him. A quick Nick Patrick three count later, and this one was over.
Your Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hulk Hogan 

Post-match, The Giant returned to the back, grabbed a huge silver bowl full of ice water, accidentally spilled most of it when he got to the ring, the poured the rest all over Hogan to wake him up. 

WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 96 REVIEW: Rowdy Roddy Piper made his WCW debut
Fully revived, Hogan bragged about his victory before declaring himself bored of Ted Turner, whatever that was supposed to mean. 

Then, just when the show looked to be over, it happened. The bagpipes sounded, the crowds turned their attention to the entrance, and out walked Hogan's Wrestlemania 1 rival, Rowdy Roddy Piper. 

Trying way to hard to make what was obviously a work seem like a legit shoot (even going so far as to tell us "I'm shooting here," Piper reminded Hogan of their glory days working for Vince, and boasted of being just as big a wrestling icon and -ahem- Hollywood movie star as Hogan himself. 

Hogan agreed, not once but twice, presumably in an effort to get Piper to wrap up the segment before they went off air. 

Piper didn't exactly take the hint, and this argument raged on, even as WCW Halloween Havoc 1996 went off the air.


For the most part, this show felt like it mattered more its place in the history of the nWo and the Monday Night Wars than it did for anything majorly significant that happened in the ring, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Besides, when it came down to the actual action, this was a mostly enjoyable affair. There was nothing here that was actually terrible, and whilst bouts like Syxx/Jericho may have undelivered in this writer's eyes, there was much to appreciate about basically the entire card. 

Until we meet again, thanks for reading, and be sure to join me on Twitter for more Retro Pro Wrestling - @Retropwrestling

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.