Yes, I am writing something other than Nitro reviews! Of course, it’s in my comfort zone (WCW) and we’re talking about my favorite series of Pay-Per-Views of all time: Halloween Havoc. Without a doubt, some of my fondest memories came from watching the Halloween Havoc events, even if I could only see a scrambled version of Halloween Havoc 1992. The first video I ever rented from Blockbuster was Halloween Havoc 1990, heck the first wrestling article I ever wrote was about Halloween Havoc. Over the next month or so, I’ll cover every event from 1989 to 2000. I’ll be covering three events at the time, this week it is 1989-1991.
I had Halloween Havoc 1989 on tape with SummerSlam 1989 (Helluva combo) and what I believe was a Spanish version of BeetleJuice. The big feud going into this card was The J-Tex Corporation which was comprised of Gary Hart, Terry Funk, The Great Muta and Dick Slater as back-up Terry Funk against Sting and Ric Flair. Many people talk up the NWA in 1989 as the best thing to hit wrestling and I actually have to agree, the roster is loaded, they used licensed music, the TV is great and man those PPV’s are great. Sting and Muta put on some great matches, but Ric Flair against Terry Funk was a feud that was built on two men trying to kill each other. Funk piledrove Flair on a table, Flair beat the snot out of him at Bash ’89 and then TERRY FUNK TRIED TO MURDER RIC FLAIR.
Funk tried to suffocate Flair with a plastic bag at the September Clash of the Champions and Slater took a branding iron to the knee of Sting. Something had to be done, so Flair called in Ole Anderson to back him up to counter Gary Hart. A match was also announced, The Thunderdome cage match. The rules were that the only way to win would be if a designated terminator (Hart for J-Tex, Ole for Sting/Flair) would throw the towel in. No rules, no pins could end it and the goddamn cage would be electrified on top. Also, Bruno Sammartino was made special guest referee, starting a trend of WCW bringing Bruno in whenever they held a card in Philadelphia.
The other big feud was The Skyscrapers vs The Road Warriors and the feud was simple. The Skyscrapers were tall monsters that killed everything in their path and naturally the only team that had a hope in hell of taking them out was The Road Warriors. This was an interesting concept since the Road Warriors rarely went up against monster tag teams (Rare exception being The Powers of Pain), so people actually thought that these guys might take out The Road Warriors. Heck, it wasn’t even billed as a normal tag match; this was a Tag Team Challenge. The other big match was the upstart Brian Pillman going against Lex Luger for the US Title and Doom with Woman against The Steiner Brothers.
So, how is the card you may ask? Well, it may not be on the same level as The 1989 Great American Bash, but it’s still a damn good card. The main event is great with plenty of drama and they worked around the normal tag rules and delivered a great match. The Thunderdome is the drunken and beautiful love child of Hell in a Cell and the blue-bar cage and the opening to War Pigs playing is just an awesome moment. That guitar riff with drums and the siren blaring as the cage slowly lowers as we see the cage for the first is amazing. Road Warriors against Skyscrapers is pretty ugly but it tells a good story in that this is the first time that any time has dominated The Road Warriors. The crowd is hot and the stare down between the two teams is great. Pillman vs Luger is great, another great Luger PPV match and the six man tag between The Midnight Express/Steve Williams vs. The Samoans is a really good match that sneaks up on you.
Halloween Havoc 1990
While this edition didn’t have a blood-feud headlining, it did have an intriguing match headlining. WCW was in a bind, they couldn’t go with a Sting/Flair rematch, so they went with Sid vs Sting. This presented a problem; Sid was over because of his squash matches but was rather limited in the ring and Sting’s reign wasn’t going so well. Going into one of the bigger pay-per-views, you’d think the company would put all their might behind turning the reign around. They tried, and they promptly fell on their face. They introduced The Black Scorpion, a potentially interesting character that was quickly ruined by Ole Anderson who would later blame Dusty Rhodes. Would the distraction of The Black Scorpion lead to a new champion or would we see something really really stupid happening?
Besides that, there wasn’t a big number two feud going into the show, it was comprised of good feuds but nothing really stood out. The company was trying to push Flair down the card, so he was stuck in a feud teaming with Arn against Doom. Stan Hansen and Lex Luger were feuding, but The Steiner Brothers against The Nasty Boys had some hype. I have to give WCW credit; they used a house show at the UIC Pavilion to hype the card by having contract signings for the big matches as a way to hype the card. The Nasty Boys put a beating on the Steiners to build up their match, the Sting and Sid signing went smoothly, but Sid hit Sting with an absolutely awful piledriver on a chair after the Sting/Scorpion match.
So, how is the card? Well, you do have some pretty bad matches (Par for the course for WCW PPVs in this period), but damn this card has great matches. If you’re a tag team wrestling fan, this card is for you since this card has three great tag matches. The Midnight Express against Ricky Morton and Tommy Rich is a great opener, Doom against Flair and Anderson is good despite the crappy finish and The Steiner Brothers against Nasty Boys is an all-out classic is you love watching The Steiners killing fat guys with suplexes.
Lex Luger against Stan Hansen is another good Luger PPV match and I realize that I’m of the few guys in the Luger was a good worker boat. As for the main event, well it wasn’t a great sign that the crowd was an even 50/50 and Sting wasn’t up for carrying Sid to a good match. The finish, despite its stupidity was at-least creative and it seemed like something the Horsemen would hatch up to get the belt off Sting. It still wasn’t a good sign that the crowd popped when Sid “won”. If they wanted a heel that could get heat on Sting, I would have went with Windham in this spot and Sid at a Clash card. Still, give this one a watch on the Network.
Halloween Havoc 1991
WCW Pay per Views in 1991 started off rather well with SuperBrawl and Wrestle War, but went on a nosedive after the Great American Bash. Halloween Havoc keeps the trend going as the company stumbles and falls badly.
The Chamber of Horrors….I have no words for how badly WCW messed this match up. First, it could have been much worse as the heel team was Oz, Barry Windham, One Man Gang and The Diamond Studd. Luckily, Gang quit, Windham turned face and they benched Oz. They added Cactus Jack, Abdullah The Butcher, and Vader to face Sting, The Steiners and El Gigante. What slays me is that the concept of the match is just so bad. You have the ThunderCage (Renamed after WB’s lawyers got lawsuit-y), a whole bunch of weapons and workers that could thrive in this type of match. So, how do you win the match? You put a member of the opposing team in the Chair of Torture, and yes it’s as stupid as it sounds. The chair is encased in a cage that is lowered into the middle of the ring, cutting off any action that could take place in the ring. Add in the ref with a goofy ass helmet camera, stupid weapons, ghoul medics and you have yourself a Gooker Award winner. How about this for the Chamber of Horrors: You have handcuffs around ringside (shackles to go with the Halloween theme) and the first team to successfully cuff the opposing team to the cage wins. It’s not much, but it’s better a lame electric chair gimmick. Yet, you should watch it for one reason.
Cactus frigging Jack.
The best part about Halloween Havoc 1991 is the debut of Rick Rude. Besides a killer promo from Dangerously and Rude, it sets the stage for The Dangerous Alliance. It also set the stage for the greatness that is WCW 1992. Until Bill Watts forces WCW by gunpoint into a time machine and turns it into 1977 Mid-South.