As World Championship Wrestling expanded their PPV schedule during the 90s a new October event was made, Halloween Havoc. The show embraced the holiday due to WCW’s love of all things theatrical. Seriously you think the New Generation was cheesy watch any of the PPV intros for WCW and you’ll change your tune.
WCW would go farther in the direction of stupidity for this yearly event and this is a promotion that seemingly wanted to start a feud between a man who acted like a bulldog and Chucky…yes the talking doll from the films (although I’d watch a feud between a grown man and a Rugrats character).
So I thought I’d ease us into Halloween by talking about three noteworthy matches from the events history, all ranging in importance and ridiculousness.
1991: El Giganta, Sting and the Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) vs. Abdulla the Butcher, The Diamond Studd (Scott Hall), Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) and Big Van Vader in a Chambers of Horror Match:
So remember last year, when I made fun of the concept for the Buried Alive match? This is 10 times dumber than that. This time the match features a wide variety of wrestlers, who didn’t have a place on the show, in a glorified stage play.
The point of the match was to, and I kid you not, place one of your opponents into an electric chair and electrocute them presumedly murdering them in cold blood (or in reality leading to a mid card feud). Making this match funnier in hindsight is the fact that Jim Ross is one of the commentators in the match, proving that even if you call garbage like this you can still go on to be the best in the business for years to come.
While this is a cage match of sorts the match opens with half of the wrestlers outside the cage fighting…great. As you can expect this is a hard match to follow camera wise (work wise I’m sure it was pretty easy.). But to make the director happy, we see for the first time (and hopefully the last) a ref cam called, for some reason, the refer-eye. While this would make sense today with the use of GoPro’s, in 91 this was an impressive thing. It also proves that Turner would give WCW money for anything.
Just to make the match even more confusing, the caskets that are placed around the ring are filled with more masked wrestlers. Isn’t the point of the match that these eight guys wanna fight? Why add to the madness by adding more people?
Shortly after the brawl outside, they all get into the ring and start hitting each other. No real wrestling is done here and the commentators try to sell us on the match. In short it doesn’t work.
After a seemingly random period of time the chair lowers from the ceiling and takes up about half of the ring, making it even harder for guys to wrestle.
The match goes on for another 10 minutes until the eventual finish. Abdulla tries to put Rick Steiner into the chair while Jack goes for the giant switch. However, Jack just kinda stands there almost like he’s waiting for a cue and Steiner throws Abdulla into the chair as Jack finally pulls the switch. Fake sparks fly and the match ends.
What do we get out of this? A feud with Cactus Jack and Abdulla…great. This match was painful to watch. If you’re interested in a train wreck then here’s the link to the match.
93: Cactus Jack vs. Big Van Vader in a Texas Death Match:
Here’s the match where Vader knocks off Foley’s ear. Enjoy.
How to build a big feud: step one take wrestlers that fans care about, step two: make them monsters who beat up everyone, step three: let them beat the hell out of each other. This was the formula for the Jack/Vader feud which continued at Halloween Havoc in 93
Making the feud funny, again in hindsight, were the featurettes after the two first meeting. Jack had been beaten so hard that he lost his memory and was living as a sailor…person in a hobo commune as their leader. The segments were directed by Dusty Rhodes and were painful to say the least.
Both men were monsters with Vader being a former champion and Jack being one of the bigger heels at the time after his feud with Sting making this feud bigger than the WCW Title (plus there was something about the International title at the time). To make it more interesting the match would be spin the wheel make a deal match, meaning that the stipulation would be determined at random. The match ended up being a Texas Death match.
For those who don’t know the rules of a Texas Death Match they’re simple; the match is no DQ and falls count anywhere. However, after a fall, and an odd 30 second rest period, the pinned or submitted wrestler has a 10 count to get up.
The match itself is stiff and starts early. The two just beat the piss out of each other with fists, chairs and moves to the outside. They move around the arena even moving through the cheap set. It doesn’t take long for Vader to cut open Jack. Shortly after Jack returns the favour and throws him into the high school play like set.
Both men just beat the hell out of each other and try to win, but the 30 second rest period seems to be enough for each man to return to their feet. Each man take some scary bumps but none worse than one near the end of the match.
With Jack on Vader’s back, Vader falls back and more or less squashes him. On Mick Foley’s (AKA Cactus Jack) last DVD he mentions this moment as he was hoping he could cash in his Lloyds of London insurance only to be slightly disappointed once he could move and wasn’t that injured.
The finish comes after the squash as Vader hits a DDT to a chair and scores the pin. During the rest period Jack gets up and tries to fight back hitting a DDT of his own. However, before he can make it to his feet during the 10 count Vader’s manager, legendary wrestler Harley Race hits Jack with a taser to win the match.
This one is brutal, but fun to watch. Here’s the link.
98: Hulk Hogan vs The Warrior
It’s two of the late 80s early 90s greatest WWF personalities facing each other for the second time. The Warrior had made his debut to WCW to torment his former rival Hollywood Hulk Hogan earlier that year. He formed his own faction and started scaring Hogan by knocking out the rest of the NWO with smoke, appearing in mirror’s reflections and by brainwashing Beefcake (or whatever he was called in WCW, don’t act like you cared).
The feud would see the two involved in that years Fall Brawl’s War Games the month before. But Warrior didn’t really do anything other than show up and break a cage. Instead this match at Halloween Havoc in 98 would be the first time these two fought (in a ring at least) since WrestleMania VI at the Skydome in Toronto.
This match starts not like you’d expect. While the whole feud was based around Hogan being afraid of Warrior, he starts the match like Warrior just some other guy using arm-wrenches and punches. Much like the feud with Sting, which left a hot year and a half storyline to fizzle due to Hogan’s ego.
Heel Hogan spends most of the opening hammering on Warrior stopping him from gaining momentum. Warrior starts rallying back after no selling some of Hogan’s offence, but Hulk gets the advantage again by racking Warrior’s eyes.
After maybe only seven minutes the referee is already knocked down by Hogan and the Giant (Big Show) comes out to help Hogan. Giant goes to kick Warrior but misses hitting his NWO leader and is sent to the floor by Warrior. He continues to beat down the other NWO members who later come down and tries to pin Hogan but can’t due to the ref being down.
Hogan then goes full heel and uses his weight belt to beat down Warrior taking advantage. After some rolling tackles Warrior takes the belt and returns the beating.
The major botch that comes from the match happens when Hogan tries to throw a fire ball. Instead of lighting the paper anywhere close to Warrior he does it near his own chest burning more his hands than anything else. The sound you hear afterwords was the Original Sheik’s disapproval.
After a short beat down from Warrior, Hogan blades himself (cause that’s how he sold anything near the end) and low blows him right in the now woken ref’s face, making his presence as a ref really useless in the end.
Hogan hits a leg drop and Horace Hogan comes out with a chair. Warrior hulks up and hits a series of clotheslines. While he goes for the big splash Eric Bischoff enters the arena and distracts the ref while Horace (shocking heel turn) hits Warrior with the chair letting Hogan get the victory.
This is shocking to the commentators cause Hulk had beaten down his nephew Horace on Nitro. This isn’t shocking to anyone else cause this is WCW and this shit happened all the time. The heels then try to set Warrior on fire (I wish I was kidding) but security steps in.
What makes this match depressing is the fact that is was Warrior’s last big match as he’d retire from WCW shortly after and only did one other match in Nu-Wrestling Evolution before his death in 2014.
While this match was fine by old school wrestling standards, it was over booked as pretty much all WCW main events were at the time. Add onto that, that most people didn’t get to see the full match as the PPV was greatly over on time and the feed was cut around the half-way point in the match in some areas and this one is kinda depressing.
But it’s good for some Warrior nostalgia in the end. If you’re interested here’s the link for the match.
So there it is, three different matches from three different times in WCW’s history. Some where good like the Vader/Cactus match, some was painful like the Chamber match but in the end it’s what made Halloween Havoc so memorable. Shine on WCW, you crazy diamond…shine on.