Classic Wrestling Review: Halloween Havoc ’91

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

Halloween Havoc

October 27, 1991

UTC Arena

Chattanooga, Tennessee

WCW is in a rebuilding period after the departure of Ric Flair. Lex Luger is now the WCW champion and firmly a heel, so WCW decided to push Ron Simmons as his first major rival. I guess WCW was impressed with his win over Oz at the last PPV. Ron worked his way up the top ten rankings to get a shot and that match would be a 2 out of 3 Falls Match at this event.

Meanwhile, WCW looked to bolster their roster by bringing in some new talent and even some old talent. Unfortunately, Jim Herd believed that WCW needed to be more like the WWF. He started bringing in people with bodybuilder physiques and weightlifting experience. They ended up with guys like Van Hammer and Bill Kazmaier, as you will see on this show. Herd had forgotten that being different from the WWF was a strength for WCW. The two fan bases were quite different. However, not all of the additions were bad. Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) returned for a much better run than his first. He, along with Abdullah the Butcher, was almost instantly put into a feud with Sting. There was a great scene where Cactus and Abby threw a birthday party for Sting. When someone told Cactus that Sting’s birthday is in June, Cactus replied that it didn’t matter because Sting’s last birthday would be his LAST birthday! He then proceeded to sing “Happy Birthday”, with his trademark, “Bang Bang,” catchphrase thrown in for good measure. (For those who don’t know, the Bang Bang thing started when Cactus blurted it out after attacking one of his tag team partners. He says the song “Love Shack” by the B-52s was running through his head, so he said that line. Bang bang is always accompanied by the finger guns.)

In other news, Paul E. Dangerously got himself into a bit of hot water with WCW. The USWA was looking to work with WCW, which would include sending Jerry Lawler to have a match with Lex Luger. Paul E. heard about the plans and blabbed to Eddie Gilbert. When WCW found out that Paul couldn’t keep his mouth shut, they suspended him. After tensions cooled, Paul realized that they could turn this into a storyline, so he approached WCW with an idea that would manifest on this show.

The show opens with some clip-art of a graveyard and a haunted house. Ghostly images of wrestlers appear on screen, as we enter the house. Then, Jim Ross welcomes everyone to Halloween Havoc. He is joined again by Tony Schiavone. I’m not sure why they are putting two play-by-play guys together. It’s not a good fit. Ross talks about the main event, where the WCW Title will be on the line in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match between Lex Luger and Ron Simmons. He also talks about the other matches and the mysterious Halloween Phantom. Next, Tony informs everyone that Barry Windham won’t be able to compete in the Chamber of Horrors because he was attacked earlier today.

They show footage from earlier of Eric Bischoff in the parking lot. He greets wrestlers as they arrive at the arena. First, Cactus Jack and Abdullah the Butcher pull up and Cactus greets Eric with a hearty, “Bang bang!” Abby also gets out of the car, wearing a dress shirt, tie, and pocket protector, which kind of kills his mystique. He shakes his staff in Bischoff’s face and tries to look menacing, but Bischoff merely looks confused. Diamond Dallas Page and the Diamond Studd arrive next and DDP asks if Eric is working as a valet now. Then, Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes arrive in a convertible. Bischoff greets them, but the Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko) appear and attack. They close the car door on Windham’s hand and then flee the scene. Windham says his hand is broken, so Dustin climbs into the driver’s seat and heads for the hospital. I don’t know why Arn would attack Barry. This was during the period where they were slowly turning Windham into a babyface, so I guess Arn took offense to Barry associating with the good guys. Anderson apparently saw it as a betrayal.

Chamber of Horrors Match: Sting, El Gigante, & The Steiner Brothers vs. Big Van Vader, Cactus Jack, Abdullah the Butcher, & The Diamond Studd

The line-up for this match was originally quite different. If you saw the PPV poster that I put on the Facebook page, you know what I mean. The heel team was originally supposed to be Oz, The Diamond Studd, One Man Gang, & Barry Windham. However, One Man Gang was fired from WCW for refusing to lose to P.N. News. Also, Windham is legitimately injured, which is why they filmed the parking lot attack. Abdullah the Butcher replaced Gang, so WCW decided to move Cactus to this match to join him. Cactus swapped matches with Oz, who would now face Bill Kazmaier on this show. Finally, Big Van Vader was brought in to replace Windham. The Diamond Studd is the only remaining member of the original heel team. As far as why this match is happening, I have no idea. Sting has a feud with Cactus & Abby, but they weren’t originally supposed to be in this. This is merely a spectacle that WCW wanted for the Halloween theme.

The cage is already lowered. They are using the old Thunderdome Cage for this. It’s covered and filled with Halloween decorations, including a couple of caskets in the corners. The entryway is even dressed up with a haunted house backdrop. The competitors for this match enter through the doorway of the backdrop, which is a pretty cool visual. The backdrop is sadly only used for this and one other match tonight. They also have gravestones on the stage that look like they were made by kids. One reads, “Bear. He was full of hot air.” Another one reads, “Here lies Mike. He lost it on his bike.” There is even a gravestone for the Minnesota Twins because they were playing the Braves in the World Series. Gary Cappetta explains the rules of the match. He says that the cage is filled with instruments of torture and tells everyone that you win by putting one of your opponents in the chair of torture before flipping the fatal switch. He claims that this supposedly fatal switch will render the wrestler—helpless. He already implied that it would kill them, so I’m not sure why he became gun-shy about saying the word dead. Only WCW would think of a match where you win by frying your opponent in an electric chair.

The competitors then enter in a strange order. The members of the two teams are staggered in their introductions. Everyone enters to some generic music, except Sting, who gets his own song. Cactus Jack comes out with a chainsaw in hand, which foreshadows his future tag team partner. Vader enters in his mastodon helmet, which he removes to reveal that he has finally switched to his more traditional mask. Sting is the last person to enter and Cactus and Abby jump him on the ramp.

Everyone else enters the cage and brawls, while Sting whips Cactus into the cage wall. Jack is lucky he didn’t fall down in the gap between the ramp and the cage. Sting then enters the cage and starts hitting everyone with Abdullah’s staff, while Scott Steiner finds a random masked man in one of the caskets. He slams the man, who comically sells his pain. We get a shot of the action from the “Refer-eye Cam”, which is a helmet-mounted camera that the referee wears. It was something WCW experimented with, but they would thankfully drop it after this event. Vader starts fighting with Sting, and we see that Vader has somehow already lost his mask. That didn’t take long. The chair of torture eventually lowers from the ceiling and nearly crushes Cactus, but he moves out of the way in time. The small cage that houses the chair takes up most of the ring, which makes it hard to do spots. Vader and Rick Steiner fight and Vader nearly puts Rick in the chair, but he fights it. Then, a bunch of orderlies arrive at ringside. They’re dressed in cheap zombie makeup, so Tony jokes that they must be the ghouls. They are there to collect the person who gets fried in the chair of torture. Meanwhile, everyone seems to have a stick and Cactus is bleeding from the head. Soon, half the men in the match are bleeding from some part of their body. At this point, Cactus notices that the switch for the chair is already in the on position and goes to fix it, but the camera follows him. Jim Ross notices this and you can hear it in his voice. He sounds like he’s trying not to laugh. Eventually, Abby and Diamond Studd place Rick Steiner in the chair. Cactus sees this and gets ready to flip the switch. However, Rick fights off the Studd and reverses Abby into the chair with a belly-to-belly suplex. He then tries to strap Abby down, but it takes a while. Cactus has to stand there, not looking at the action, and wait. Finally, Rick closes the door to the small cage and Cactus flips the switch, but Jack thinks Rick Steiner is still in the chair. Sparks and fireworks fly from the chair, while Abdullah convulses. The sparks end up catching the ring-mat on fire, so the ref has to stamp out the flames. The bell then rings to signify that Sting’s team has won the match.

This was a mess, both literally and figuratively. The cage for the chair of torture made it too cramped to do anything but brawl and the stipulations were utterly ridiculous. I get that WCW wanted to do something Halloween themed, but this was stupid. It was dangerous and pointless. Everyone looked banged up by the end of it and the ring nearly caught on fire. This is peak stupidity by WCW.

Winners: Sting, Gigante, & The Steiners (12:33)

After the match, they show a close-up of Abdullah, who pretends to be unconscious. I say unconscious because he’s breathing too heavily to pull off pretending to be dead. Cactus checks on him and pokes him to see if he’s alive, so Abby’s eyes open. He freaks out and starts attacking everyone, including the ghouls. Cactus eventually has to lead him to the back. Tony jokes that Abby opened his eyes and thought he was in Heaven, but he knew he shouldn’t be there.

Ross says he’s never seen a cage match like that, but Tony looks like he’s mustering all the energy he can to not laugh. Jim then talks about how their esteemed colleagues, Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt, are backstage, but the resolve finally breaks. Ross and Tony burst into laughter.

Eric Bischoff, and Missy Hyatt are dressed in Halloween costumes. Eric is Dracula, while Missy is a burlesque dancer. It’s safe to say that one of them sucks and the other—well, I won’t go there. Eric says that neither of them have been able to find out who the masked Halloween Phantom is, but Missy takes offense to that. She says she knows who it is. Bischoff reminds her that she’s been with him all day, so she replies that she knows the identity, but she won’t tell Eric because she doesn’t like him. Based on recent comments Bischoff has made about Missy, I can understand why she doesn’t like him. Then, Eric welcomes their guests, the Young Pistols. Eric asks if they know who the Halloween Phantom is, but Tracy says they don’t give a hoot. He claims they only care about the U.S. Tag Team Titles, which are held by the Patriots. Tracy mocks the Patriots for being yellow before Steve begins drunkenly rambling. Steve says something about being the new sons of the south and claims they are baptized in 100 proof and raised on the blood of the lamb. He then makes fun of Firebreaker Chip for giving fire-safety tips to kids and calls Todd Champion a phony-baloney Desert Storm veteran. Then, he makes a fart noise before saying they’re sick and tired of playing it the good way. If you didn’t gather it from this behavior, the Young Pistols are now heels. Why? I have no idea.

Big Josh & P.N. News vs. The Creatures

Now that the Chamber of Horrors is over, maybe we can move onto something better—oh, what’s this? I have two questions. Why are Josh and News teaming and why is this jobber match on the PPV? The Creatures are Jumpin’ Joey Maggs and Johnny Rich (Tommy’s cousin). They’re wearing masks to hide their identities, but no one seems that concerned about unmasking them. You don’t see Bischoff and Missy trying to solve this mystery.

The Creatures enter first to what would eventually become Psychosis’ theme. The shorter of the creatures looks lost. He keeps glancing around like he’s being followed. Then, Big Josh and P.N. News enter the arena and News decides to do a rap. He talks about taking care of business and having fun. He also mentions the fat lady singing. We already have the fat man rapping. Isn’t that enough? He then claims that he and Josh are the freshest when they do their thing before wrapping it up with the line, “YO, BABY! YO, BABY. YO!” After that, they show a woman in the audience named Christine Valver. She apparently won a contest by writing the best rap. I have to hear this. It can’t be any worse than P.N. News.

Josh begins the match with the shorter creature, whom Ross calls Creature #1. Josh is nice enough to let #1 get in a few punches, but Josh soon tags News. They hit Creature #2 with an assisted corner splash and an atomic drop, but News ducks and gets punched. They let the Creatures have a little more fun, but Josh then tags in and hits a flying axehandle off News’ shoulders. He follows it up with a German suplex. Then, News returns and hits a headbutt, but he misses a corner splash. The Creatures don’t seem to realize it’s their turn for offense, so Josh tags in and throws #1 into his corner for a tag. Josh then hits a belly-to-belly suplex and a crucifix bomb on the Creatures before hitting a double chop on #1. Finally, Josh hits the Northern Exposure (Butt-Drop) on #1 and tags News, who hits the Rapmaster Splash off the top for the win.

What was the point of this squash? Are they seriously pushing Josh & News as a team? This may have been Halloween themed, but it belongs on TV, not PPV.

Winners: Big Josh & P.N. News (5:16)

Ross then says that one of the greatest pure wrestling matches is coming up next. That’s a far cry from what we just saw! He says that Bobby Eaton will face Terrance Taylor. He also talks about how they’re both in the top ten and says this rivalry developed in some tag team situations. He calls this match the Alabama Jam versus the Five Arm.

Beautiful Bobby Eaton vs. Terrance Taylor (w/ Alexandra York)

Bobby enters first and waves to the fans. He also shakes hands with Gary Cappetta, while Ross talks about how Eaton wants to face the winner of the TV Title Match. Then, Taylor enters with Alexandra York. Terrance is wearing a tuxedo with sparkly lapels. Taylor and York pose for some photos before Terrance takes off the tux and consults with York.

Taylor tries to frustrate Eaton early with some arm drags and slaps, but Bobby fires back with his own arm drags and a clothesline. Taylor regroups on the outside and gets some data from Alexandra before returning. They trade punches and fight to the floor, where Taylor whips Eaton into the guardrail. However, Eaton back drops Taylor over it and punches him in the face. They head back inside and it’s Eaton’s turn to frustrate Taylor with some hammerlocks until Taylor hits a jawbreaker. He then sends Bobby to the ramp, but Eaton hits an atomic drop and goes to the top rope. Eaton hits a flying splash onto the ramp and then punches Terrance over the ropes. Taylor responds by throwing Eaton to the floor and sending him into the guardrail from the apron. He then uses the opening to get more data from Alexandra. Eaton returns and they fight to the ramp again, but this time, Taylor hits a gut-wrench powerbomb. Eaton crawls back into the ring, where Taylor hits a flying splash and begins wearing down Bobby with holds. Eaton tries to fight back and hits a springboard sunset flip, but Taylor is soon wearing him down again. Eventually, both men counter splash attempts by raising their knees and Eaton finally takes control. He hits a suplex and a swinging neckbreaker, while Taylor desperately tries to counter. Then, Eaton goes up top for the Alabama Jam, but Taylor crotches him. Terrance tries a superplex, but Eaton shoves him into the ring and then hits the Jam for the win.

This was a great match. They kept a good pace and never lost the crowd. Eaton is coming into his own as a singles competitor. They also made great use of the ramp, which is no surprise. Eaton is one of the few that has incorporated it into his offense seamlessly.

Winner: Bobby Eaton (16:00)

Next, Ross talks about the upcoming match between Jimmy Garvin and Johnny B. Badd. He talks about how Michael Hayes is injured, but he will be in Garvin’s corner. Ross calls this match the DDT of Garvin versus Badd’s left hook.

Johnny B. Badd (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Jimmy Garvin (w/ Michael Hayes)

The Freebirds have inexplicably turned babyface. I guess WCW needed more face teams, but I have a hard time wanting to cheer these guys. They made the turn by saving Rick Steiner from a beating by the Enforcers. None of that explains why this match is happening. This is simply more filler for this show.

Garvin enters first with Michael Hayes, who is wearing an Atlanta Braves jacket. This PPV took place on the same night as Game 7 of the World Series between the Braves and Twins. Even though they’re in Tennessee, some of the fans react well to his jacket and they do the tomahawk chop. Badd then enters next with Teddy Long. Johnny tells Long to get behind him while he poses, but he turns his back towards the camera to show off his cape. Long takes him literally and stands behind his back, which blocks part of the camera’s view. Badd then yells, “Happy Halloween,” at the camera before dancing in the ring. The Freebirds aren’t impressed. Then, Teddy Long dons some pads and lets Johnny do some quick boxing practice.

Badd hits some body punches early, but Garvin soon reverses a hip toss and sends Badd to the floor. Hayes then pulls his arm out of the sling and punches Johnny before replacing the sling as if nothing happened. Badd returns and tries to take control with a shoulder block, but Garvin slams him. Jimmy then builds up a head of steam and hits a running forearm, so Badd bails outside for a breather. He returns, but Garvin begins working on his arm until Badd rakes the eyes and chokes him. Badd follows up with a jumping clothesline and a chinlock, so Long distracts the ref and passes Badd a towel. Johnny uses it to choke Garvin before hitting a back drop. Garvin attempts to charge him in the corner, but Badd raises his boot and goes for a flying sunset flip off the top. He kind of botches the move, so he attempts a flying elbow drop next. He also goes for a flying axehandle, but Garvin punches him. Then, Badd tries a running elbow in the corner, but Jimmy ducks and Badd falls out of the ring. Garvin brings him back inside with a slingshot and both men end up colliding. When they reach their feet, Garvin hits a DDT, but Long distracts the ref. Garvin becomes distracted, so Badd nails him with the left hook and pins him for the win. Garvin attempted to put a foot on the rope, but Long pushed it away before the ref could see it.

This match was slow and awkward. Johnny is improving, but he is still quite sloppy. There was also a lot of stalling, which I don’t like.

Winner: Johnny B. Badd (8:16)

After the match, Hayes punches Teddy Long and then complains to the ref about the finish. The ref says he never saw the foot on the ropes, so there’s nothing he can do about it.

Missy Hyatt is backstage and she says she’s still looking for the Phantom. She claims it’s not fair because she wants to be the first person to find him. Bobby Eaton then walks through the frame and he’s carrying a pumpkin, for some reason. Missy stops him and asks if he’s seen the Phantom, but he couldn’t care less. Eaton mumbles something about Dorothy, Myra, and Jack. I have no idea who they are. He then says he’s going to celebrate his win and leaves while muttering, “Women!” What’s wrong with Missy? Can’t she see he’s about to be Eaton that pumpkin!? (I’m so sorry for that pun—wait, no I’m not.)

TV Title Match: Stunning Steve Austin (c) (w/ Lady Blossom) vs. Dustin Rhodes

Around this time, rumors started circulating that Steve Austin might sign with the WWF. Could you imagine if Austin had gone to the WWF that early? He probably never would have developed the Stone Cold character. The landscape of wrestling would have been quite different if that had happened. People thought for sure that Austin would lose the TV Title here because of the rumors, but we shall see how that unfolds.

Austin enters first to some epic sounding music. He is joined by Lady Blossom. I can’t help but notice how much she looks like Debra. I see that Austin has a type. He poses with the belt in the ring before Dustin Rhodes makes his entrance. I’m guessing his music is dubbed on the network because it is way too loud. While Dustin is introduced, Ross says that Dustin’s grandmother made the trip from Austin to watch him wrestle. Then, Tony tries to talk about Rhodes, but the cameraman gets a shot of Blossom and Tony loses his train of thought.

Austin gets the early advantage with some mat wrestling and some shoulder blocks, but Dustin soon hits a jumping clothesline and a dropkick. The two of them then reverse and counter some more mat wrestling, while Grandma Rhodes yells encouragement to Dustin. The counters and reversals continue until Dustin clotheslines Austin over the top rope. Ross speculates that it might be a DQ, but he says it’s up to referee, “Randy ‘Don’t call me Pee-Wee’ Anderson.” Pee-Wee decides not to DQ him. Dustin throws Austin back inside, but Steve attacks him. Austin keeps reversing Dustin’s holds and shoves Dustin on a bulldog attempt. Eventually, Dustin grabs a long headlock, while Cappetta announces the remaining time. They’re kind of telegraphing the finish. Austin fights out, but Dustin hits a shoulder block and a cross body. He ends up going for another one, but Austin ducks and Rhodes flies out of the ring. Austin then follows and hits some mounted punches until Dustin is bleeding. Steve continues the attack with an axehandle off the apron before sending Dustin back inside. Austin hits a gut-wrench suplex and keeps cutting off Dustin’s comeback attempts. Rhodes manages to hit a running clothesline, but he misses a dropkick. Austin then distracts the ref and lets Blossom slap Rhodes. However, Austin misses a running knee attack. Dustin ends up hitting a lariat, but Austin gets a foot on the ropes. Then, Dustin sends Austin outside and into the post, so Austin is bleeding too. Time is running out, so Dustin hits a powerslam and some bionic elbows in the corner. He even hits a flying clothesline off the top, but time runs out before he can get the 3 count.

The match started slow, but it became pretty good by the end. I’m even okay with the finish because it allows this feud to continue. TV Title matches are known for the time-limit stipulation, so it was common to see draws. On a side note, Austin likes to tell the famous story about how he had Bret Hart blade him in the Mania 13 match because he had never bladed before then. I’m pretty sure I saw him blade in this match, which means he must have forgotten about this.

Winner: Time Limit Draw (15:00)

Next, they show a commercial for Starrcade. This year, they are doing Battlebowl: The Lethal Lottery, which will take up the entire show. This is the beginning of a string of gimmicked Starrcades that water down the event.

Bill Kazmaier vs. Oz

This match was originally supposed to be Cactus Jack vs. Bill Kazmaier. It had to be changed because of the shuffling around the Chamber of Horrors. I’m not sure if either Oz or Cactus came out the better for the change. Neither man wins in that scenario. As for Kazmaier, he is yet another strong man gimmick. He’s one of the new talents that Jim Herd brought in to be more like the WWF. Kaz holds some legitimate weightlifting records, but that almost never equates to good wrestling ability.

Oz comes out first and most of his entrance has been changed. He no longer has the Wizard with him, which I’m sure didn’t bother Kevin Sullivan. They also ditched the castle backdrop, smoke, and eerie intro. Nash even dyed his hair blond. You can tell that this gimmick isn’t long for this world and I’m sure Nash is thrilled. Speaking of silly entrances, Kazmaier enters next and he’s carrying a large inflated globe on his back as if he were Atlas. Gary Cappetta calls him the world’s strongest human being. Then, Jim Ross talks about Kaz’s weightlifting background, but Ross sounds kind of snarky. I guess Jim isn’t impressed unless you played football.

The two men shove each other to start and then soon shoulder block each other. Oz misses a clothesline, so Kaz hits one. Oz responds by calling for a test of strength. The two of them struggle back and forth until Oz headbutts and kicks Kaz. However, Kazmaier fights back and drives Oz’s hands to the mat before stomping them. Kaz hits a hip toss, but Oz fires back with forearms. Kaz then misses a corner charge, so Oz dumps him on his head with a back suplex. He then knocks Kazmaier to the apron and hits him with Sheamus-like forearms to the chest, but he makes the mistake of walking away from him, so Kaz skins the cat back inside. Finally, Kaz hits a clothesline and puts Oz in a Torture Rack. He doesn’t move a muscle, but Oz submits anyway.

This was a slow and boring match between two men who can hardly wrestle. At least if Cactus were in this match, he would have bumped like a boss for Kaz. However, I’d rather they not feed Foley to this moron. Also, why are they letting Kaz use Luger’s finisher? They can’t possibly want to put Kazmaier in a program with Lex, can they?

Winner: Bill Kazmaier (3:59)

Ross and Tony then talk about the remaining matches, including a Van Hammer match. Ross claims that Hammer has put some dreams into the heads of young fans. I’m pretty sure those would be nightmares. Tony also talks about the hammerheads and Hammer Hysteria. Is that supposed to be a parody of Hulkamania? WCW can’t be that serious about Van Hammer, right? Then, Ross says that Hammer was supposed to face Michael Hayes. I see now why Hayes was faking an injury.

Van Hammer vs. Doug Somers

Van Hammer is the next example of Jim Herd’s quest for muscle-bound wrestlers to compete with the WWF. Hammer debuted on a Clash of the Champions as a supposed heavy metal guitarist. They had him pretend to play with a band on the show and then debut in a match. The problem is, he clearly doesn’t know how to play the guitar that he carries. It’s just as bad as when the Dynamic Dudes carried skateboards but never rode them.

Van Hammer enters the arena with a guitar around his neck. He swings it, but he doesn’t play it. Some men with jackhammers work on the stage because I guess it’s supposed to be symbolic of Hammer’s name. Van is facing an old veteran wrestler named Doug Somers, who looks like he’s seen better days. Cappetta introduces him as, “Pretty Boy Doug Somers.” That has to be a rib.

Hammer starts with a headlock, but Somers pushes him to the ropes. The problem is, Hammer hesitates on a clothesline, so Somers ducks like he’s supposed to avoid it and stumbles into Van. Hammer tries to cover his mistake with a weak clothesline and a powerslam. Then, he whips Doug into the corner hard enough to get him off balance and hits a back drop. He follows it up with an elbow drop and a leg drop before stomping and clapping to get the fans excited. Only a few play along with him. Finally, Hammer nearly kills poor Doug with a slingshot suplex because he waits too long to flip him. However, it’s enough for the win.

Van Hammer is not ready to be on TV. In fact, I don’t think he should be wrestling, period! He nearly killed Doug. This was awful and hard to watch.

Winner: Van Hammer (1:13)

Hammer celebrates after the match and Jim Ross says, “What a—response.” You could tell that Jim couldn’t finish the sentence with a straight face because barely anyone was reacting.

Next, they get a word with the participants in the Light Heavyweight Tournament Finals. First, Flyin’ Brian speaks. He says that many great athletes have gone their entire careers without having an opportunity at a world title. I’m confused because I thought he was going for the Light Heavyweight Title. Also, didn’t Pillman have a match with Flair at some point? Pillman then says that this title shot is special to him because the fans campaigned for Pillman to be reinstated to WCW. Therefore, he is dedicating this match to the fans and says he won’t let them down.

Then, Richard Morton gets a chance to speak. He’s with Alexandra York and Alexandra reminds everyone that it’s Halloween Havoc, in case you forgot. She also says that everyone will witness the York Foundation gain their first title. Then, Morton says it’s been a long hard road, but the road Pillman is taking will have a dead end. He claims that he’s been a champion all his life and he’s championship material. Finally, he says he’s going to be the Light Heavyweight Champion of the world.

Light Heavyweight Title Tournament Finals: Flyin’ Brian vs. Richard Morton (w/ Alexandra York)

WCW decided to add a Light Heavyweight Title to their mix because they don’t already have enough titles. They started a tournament months ago, but they waited until this PPV to hold the finals. These two men even faced each other on TV before this, but they wanted the finals to be on PPV.

Pillman enters first and Ross predictably talks about Brian’s football background. He plays up the fact that Brian was a walk-on addition to his college team and uses this fact as inspiration for young athletes. Brian enters the ring and we see that referee, Nick Patrick, is wearing the refer-eye cam, which is attached to a bicycle helmet. Patrick looks ridiculous. He is also holding the Light Heavyweight Title, which looks similar to the future design of the TV Title. Morton enters next and we get a shot of both competitors from the refer-eye cam. Patrick gets comically close to Morton’s face, but most of the shots seem to be of the competitors’ feet.

Pillman keeps getting the better of Morton early with arm drags, a slam, and a spinning wheel kick, so Richard keeps taking a breather. He consults with Alexandra, while Ross points out the international photographers, which includes Wally Yamaguchi. Thankfully, the future Kaientai leader left his katana at home. Then, Morton returns and fights back until Pillman fakes him out on a cross body and hits a flying axehandle. However, the two of them slow the match way down by reversing through some mat holds. Ross tries to explain why the match is slow by claiming they’re cautious because it’s sudden death rules. I’m pretty sure that’s most matches. They fight back and forth and go back to some headlocks until Morton catches Pillman on a leapfrog and hits an inverted atomic drop. Morton takes advantage by throwing Pillman to the floor and then going after his arm when he returns. He works over the arm for a while and Brian tries to fight back, but Morton rakes the eyes and hits a back suplex. Eventually, Brian hits an enziguri after Morton catches a kick. He follows it up with a back drop and the two men then trade kicks and chops until they collide in the middle of the ring. When they recover, Morton sends Pillman outside and into the post, but Brian recovers and hits a surprise flying cross body off the top for the win.

This match was too slow. I expected way more from these two. The finish was nice, but they had already lost me before that point. However, Ross mentioned during this match that Jushin Thunder Liger wants to face the winner and that will be a way better match!

Winner: Flyin’ Brian (New Champion) (12:45)

Jim Ross then congratulates Brian before talking about the next match. He discusses the cloud of mystery over the Halloween Phantom and Tony says he hopes they will discover his identity during this match.

The Halloween Phantom vs. Z-Man

WCW wanted to pack this show with a Halloween theme, so they hyped up a mysterious masked Halloween Phantom. The idea is that he would be revealed to be a surprise wrestler. He will be revealed, but not until later in the show.

Z-Man enters first and we see that the haunted house backdrop is back for this match. Zenk runs down the ramp and turns to the camera to yell, “Halloween Havoc! AHH!” Ross comments that Zenk looks slimmer and he’s right. I’m guessing Z-Man got off the gas for this match. He apparently got into some legal troubles, so I doubt he wanted a failed steroids test on top of that. Then, the Phantom enters to spooky organ music. He holds his cape in front of his masked face, but when you see a close-up, you can see a prominent mustache. It’s obvious who is under the mask. He enters the ring and sheds his cape and hat before attacking Zenk.

The Phantom hits a hard clothesline and a slam before raking the eyes and back. He then hits a knee strike to the gut and a gutbuster before posing for the crowd. He follows this up with some elbow drops, but he makes the mistake of ducking and Z-Man hits him with some forearms and a dropkick. However, the Phantom quickly counters with a neckbreaker for the win.

This was nothing but a quick squash. It’s a storyline to set up the later reveal, but that finisher made it pretty obvious who it is.

Winner: The Halloween Phantom (1:27)

Ross and Tony discuss the match and Tony comments that the finisher reminded him of the Rude Awakening. Ross seems caught off guard and you can almost hear him wanting to slap Tony. I don’t think Tony was supposed to say that.

Next, they show the Starrcade commercial again. The voiceover calls it the sports spectacular of the season and calls the Lethal Lottery the ultimate challenge of skill, luck, and survival. Survival? I’m pretty sure that’s dangerously close to making the WWF call their lawyers.

World Tag Team Title Match: The Enforcers (c) vs. The Patriots

I’m sure you are asking who the Patriots are. They are a couple of silly gimmicks that look like rejects from the Village People. You have the army man, Todd Champion, and the fireman, Firebreaker Chip. They look more like strippers in their entrance gear. It feels like one of those jobber teams you would see on WCW Saturday Night in the mid-90s. However, they managed to win the U.S. Tag Team Titles. I’m pretty sure that sealed the fate on those belts. It will be hard to take them seriously now. On a side note, Firebreaker Chip sounds like a brand of spicy potato chips. I’m surprised they didn’t have him do Doritos commercials.

The Patriots enter first in their stripper gear and they are billed as being from the WCW Special Forces. Wait, WCW has a spec-ops team!? Are they running secret missions to infiltrate the WWF? Hold on! Is that why Sid and Flair went to the WWF!? We’re going to need Jesse Ventura to figure out this conspiracy theory! Next, the Enforcers enter the arena to an awesome sounding theme song. It would go on to be used for a larger group, but I will discuss that in due time.

Zbyszko and Chip start the match, but Larry is hesitant to lock-up with him. Chip hits an early shoulder block, but then the two men reverse back and forth through an abdominal stretch attempt. Larry turns it into a hip toss, but Chip fires back with a single-leg takedown and a slam. Larry tries to respond with a neckbreaker, but Chip reverses it into a backslide for 2. This causes Larry to complain to the ref before tagging Arn. Anderson and Chip do some mat wrestling that Chip reverses, so Arn bails outside and complains that Chip is too oiled. Arn returns, but he gets in trouble and the Patriots double team him. However, Arn gains the advantage and knocks Champion to the apron before bringing him back inside with a slingshot. He tries another one, but Todd reverses it and sends Arn to the floor. Champion follows up with a bear hug, but Larry breaks it and the Enforcers attempt a double team. Champion ducks it and hits a double clothesline, so the Enforcers bail outside. Then, Larry enters the match and fights Champion to the ropes before slapping him and running. Todd chases him, but he doesn’t see Arn make a blind tag, so Arn attacks him. He throws Champion to the floor, where Larry rams him into the guardrail. He then rolls Champion inside and the Enforcers start using frequent tags to keep him under control. Todd tries to fight back, but Larry makes another blind tag and hits a flying axehandle. The attack continues until Champion finally blocks and reverses a suplex before tagging Chip. He slams and dropkicks both Enforcers. He also hits a powerslam on Arn. Larry breaks up the pin attempt, so all four men brawl. Champion hits Larry with a shoulder tackle, but he knocks Larry into Chip’s way, so Chip stumbles into Arn’s spinebuster and gets pinned.

This was a surprisingly solid match. I wasn’t expecting much from the Patriots, but they didn’t look that bad. It helps that they were in there with the Enforcers, but I will give the Patriots some credit. It’s clear who the more important team is, but I will give WCW credit for letting the Patriots have some shine in the match.

Winners: The Enforcers (9:51)

Ross calls it a tremendous victory for the Enforcers and then talks about the big match to come, but first, Eric Bischoff has a special interview.

Eric is on the ramp and he introduces his former broadcast partner, Paul E. Dangerously. He apparently has a shocking announcement to make. Paul joins Eric, and Dangerously is accompanied by Madusa (the future Alundra Blayze). Dangerously says that the WCW steering committee fired him as the co-host of World Championship Wrestling for being too controversial. However, they forgot that Paul E. still has a manager’s license, so he declares war upon the committee. Paul E. vows to bankrupt WCW by taking out their heroes and he’s going to start with Sting. He says he told Madusa to find him the one man who could take out Sting and that man is someone that Ross and Tony couldn’t unmask. He also says that Bischoff couldn’t do it because Eric was backstage watching the World Series. The man is the Halloween Phantom, whom Paul E. introduces. The Phantom joins them on the ramp and Paul says the man behind the mask will bankrupt WCW so that Paul E. can buy it. He then claims that this man will crush the hopes of the little Stingers and then tell Sting, “Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Rest in peace, Stinger. Your career is over!” Then, Paul E. introduces the man by name, as he takes off his mask. The man is—

Ravishing Rick Rude! Rude takes the mic and says that he only cares about himself, his women, and his money, and his money man has a problem with the WCW committee. Rude then says that Paul E. wants to dismantle WCW brick by brick and there’s no better place to start than the low-life scumbag, Sting. Then, Rude questions whether Sting is as small as he looks on TV before calling him a garbage collecting scumbag. He tells Sting his days are numbered because he’s going to take the U.S. Title from him. This segment was great and it is the beginning of the Dangerous Alliance. They would soon add more members to the group and this angle would help revitalize WCW in the wake of Flair leaving.

Ross and Tony talk about the implications and Tony calls it the biggest news story in WCW this year. It’s big, but I don’t know if it’s bigger than Flair leaving. Then, Ross talks about the main event and introduces a video package about Ron Simmons returning to Florida State University.

They show Simmons walking the hallways and looking at his old locker. There is a section dedicated to Ron, with memorabilia from his time on the team. They also show Ron doing football drills in the stadium and exercising. Then, they show an interview with coach, Bobby Bowden, who tells Ron to remember the things he taught him and to fight and scrap. He reassures Ron by telling him if the tides are turning in the match, Bobby will be there looking and whispering a prayer for him. Next, they show Ron lifting weights and running up the stands in the stadium. He reaches the top and poses like Rocky, as the video comes to an end.

2 out of 3 Falls for the WCW Title: Lex Luger (c) (w/ Harley Race) vs. Ron Simmons (w/ Dusty Rhodes)

The video then transitions directly into Ron’s entrance. He comes out wearing Florida State colors and he’s accompanied by Dusty Rhodes, who is acting as a mentor for Ron. Cappetta explains the rules for the match and says that there will be one minute rest periods between falls. I’m not a fan of that. It breaks up the flow of the match. Next, Luger enters through large letters that spell out his name on the stage. Harley Race and Mr. Hughes join him, but Nick Patrick makes sure to send Hughes to the back before the match. Before the match, we get our first look at the new WCW Title belt. I know I’m in the minority, but I like this design. It’s not as good as the Big Gold Belt, but I think it’s underrated.

The two men circle each other, while Dusty shouts encouragement. Then, they do some mat wrestling before fighting into a corner. Luger is slow to make a clean break and tries to punch Ron, but he blocks it. Simmons then attempts a dropkick, but Luger stops short. He then attacks Simmons with a running elbow, some axehandles, and some forearms, all while yelling at the top of his lungs in true Luger fashion. Ross starts talking about Luger’s piledriver, which he apparently calls the Attitude Adjustment. A young John Cena makes note of that. Then, Luger makes the mistake of ducking, so Simmons hits a facebuster, clothesline, powerslam, and finally a spinebuster for the first fall! (First Fall: Simmons)

They take a one-minute break, so Dusty gives Simmons a pep-talk. However, Luger is already out of breath and says he needs more time. Dusty continues talking strategy and Simmons claims he saw something in Luger’s tights, but Dusty says there’s nothing there. Was that a rib on Luger? After the break, Luger is slow to rise and claims his back is hurt. Lex manages to hit a knee-strike, but Ron blocks and reverses a suplex. He then whips Lex from corner to corner and hits a back drop, so Luger responds with an eye-poke. Simmons fires back with a back elbow and a facebuster for 2, but Luger headbutts him in the gut and goes for a slam. Ron reverses it into a roll-up for another 2 and Luger can barely stand. He keeps asking the ref for a break and uses it to lure in Simmons and throw him to the floor. However, Ron catches him at the ropes and hits a sunset flip before giving Lex a clothesline. He tries another one, but Luger side-steps him and Simmons hits the floor. Luger finally takes control and cuts off Simmons’ comeback attempts. Lex is out of breath, so he locks Ron in a long chinlock and uses the ropes for leverage. Ron finally fights back when Luger misses a corner charge. He gets a few 2 counts on Lex until Race trips Simmons. Luger capitalizes with a cross body that almost takes both men over the ropes, but Race holds Simmons in place. Luger goes over the top and the ref didn’t see Race’s interference, so he calls for a DQ for an over-the-top throw. (Second Fall: Luger by DQ)

They take another one-minute break and Dusty tells Ron to forget about the controversy. He tells him to focus because this is the 4th quarter. The break then ends and Luger has to lean on the ropes because he’s so tired. He asks the ref to give him some space and then cheap shots Simmons. We then see that Luger is bleeding above his eye, but I’m not sure how it happened. Luger starts hitting Simmons with forearms, but Ron hulks-up and hits 10 punches in the corner. Luger tries to reverse it, but Ron hits a clothesline and a back drop for a pair of 2 counts. Luger tries to fight back, but Ron hits an inverted atomic drop and then sets Luger on the top for a superplex. He hits it, but he only gets a 2. Then, he continues with a powerslam and a shoulder block off the turnbuckles, but Luger rolls to the floor. Ron follows and rams Lex into the guardrail. He then goes for a three-point stance into a shoulder block, but Luger moves and Ron hits the post. Lex quickly rolls him into the ring and hits the Attitude Adjustment piledriver for the final fall. (Final Fall: Luger)

The match started hot, but it slowed way down. The finish was okay, but it wasn’t thrilling. This match ended up falling kind of flat. Luger seemed legitimately out of breath. I say that because I’ve never known Luger to be that good of an actor. It’s clear that he’s sacrificed his conditioning for a bigger body and it will only get worse over the next few months as he gets the call to join Vince McMahon’s WBF. We will talk about that soon enough.

Winner: Lex Luger (18:59)

They show a replay and Tony claims that this match will go down as one of the greatest matches of all-time. I disagree with that statement. I see that Schiavone was already starting his penchant for hyperbole. Then, Ross and Tony recap the match and Jim calls the second fall controversial. They also recap the debut of Rick Rude and Tony calls the pairing of Rude and Dangerously one of the strongest forces they’ve seen in a long time. Finally, Ross plugs Starrcade and tells everyone goodnight.

The Good:

– Eaton/Taylor was good.

– Austin/Rhodes was good.

– The Tag Title Match was even good.

– The formation of the Dangerous Alliance was great and a step in the right direction.

The Bad:

– The Chamber of Horrors was awful.

– Too many filler matches.

– Oz/Kazmaier and Hammer/Somers were terrible.

– The main event was disappointing.

Performer of the Night:

I’m going to give it to Bobby Eaton. He was great in his match and was pulling out some pretty good spots.

Final thoughts:

I’m not nearly as negative about this show as some people are, but that’s not to say it was great. There were enough decent stuff and steps in the right direction for me not to hate it. However, the stuff that was bad was incredibly bad. This rebuilding period is two steps forward and five steps back for WCW. Unfortunately, their next show is a big step back again.

Thank you for reading. You can follow the Facebook page for this blog here and the Twitter account here. I post all sorts of updates and goodies on the Facebook page, so I hope to see you there and hear your feedback.

My next review will be Survivor Series ‘91. Look for it next Saturday.

 

Written by Paul Matthews

I chronologically review NWA/WCW and WWF/WWE PPVs on the WWE Network. I put out a new review every Saturday. Like and Follow the Facebook page for this blog here: https://www.facebook.com/ClassicWrestlingReview. Also, follow me on twitter @PaulDMatthews78

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