Some of the happenings surrounding Halloween Havoc 96 include:
- Mean Gene’s contract has run out. He is making $420,000 a year and wants a raise. WCW officially parted ways with him. Gene is attempting to jump back to the WWF but they are not interested.
- JJ Dillon quit his role working with talent contracts behind the scenes in the WWF and is expected to return to WCW for a role both in the office and in front of the camera.
- Sean Waltman finally debuted as “Syxx” and joined the nWo. Virgil also debuted as “Vincent”.
- A woman called WCW’s offices and complained that her six-year-old had spray painted “nWo” on his one-year-old sibling.
- The Giant used his rent-a-car for an angle where the nWo wrecked Lex Luger’s vehicle -using Giant’s car as a stand in for Lex’s. They went overboard on the damage done and the car company forced the Giant to buy the car from them.
- The original plan was for Savage and Hogan’s match at this PPV to end in a manner in which the title would be held up and then decided in the World War 3 battle royal.
- Jerry Lawler went on Memphis TV and told the local fans not to buy WCW Nitro tickets for their upcoming show in the city. He revealed that WCW would be offering thousands of comps but the fans should stay home and watch it on TV for free. Bischoff mockingly thanked Lawler on air for helping promote the event.
- The Nasty Boys went to Hulk Hogan to complain after Hall and Nash failed to sell much for them at house shows and thus killed their babyface heat.
- Eric Bischoff left the Nitro announce booth spontaneously after Jerry Sags was shown mocking him by making his anus talk while at a nWo party. Tony Schiavone had to be brought back out to replace him. WCW ran a bunch of vignettes from the hotel that the live audience couldn’t see and thus the fans pelted the ring with trash out of frustration for so many stars not appearing as well as frequent dead spots in between the matches.
- Hogan was vetoed at Fall Brawl when he requested that he piledrive Elizabeth to gain heel heat.
- Public Enemy briefly won the WCW tag titles but that didn’t stop WCW from advertising Harlem Heat vs. The Outsiders as being for the tag belts at this PPV anyway.
- Ric Flair will be out for months after rotator cuff surgery. Scott Steiner has a back injury and will also miss months of ring time.
- They aired a taped match of Nick Patrick refereeing without his neck brace on, because snafus = ratings.
- Vince McMahon told Bret Hart during contract negotiations that it would be “very likely” both Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan will end up back in the WWF during the 1997 calendar year.
- Hogan ended up signing a new 3-year deal with WCW only days before this PPV. He claimed McMahon offered him 5-million per year, plus promised him a win at the Royal Rumble before becoming heel world champ at Wrestlemania.
- To show the condition the ratings war is at, a recent Shawn Michaels vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin main event on RAW got beat by almost 2 full ratings points to Nitro airing a Hulk Hogan promo.
- Brakkus is in training with the WWF. He doesn’t like taking bumps so they have put a mattress down to help ease his pain. Is it any wonder he never made it in the business?
- Halloween Havoc set a new all-time gate (224K) and merchandise sales record for WCW . The nWo gear attributed greatly to the merch numbers.
- This card was to originally have a Giant vs. Kevin Nash match (changed due to Giant being turned nWo), Ric Flair vs. Scott Hall (Flair is legit injured) and Ultimo Dragon vs. Justin Liger (Dragon is booked in Japan).
Halloween Havoc 96
We see clips of Hogan’s month long mind games with Savage as he has Elizabeth somewhat kidnapped. Macho loses at every turn as Liz begs for his love while in the nWo’s den. Tony Schiavone, The Brain and Dusty Rhodes cover how badly Macho Man is going to tear Hulk Hogan up.
Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko
Malenko jumps him before the bell as he desperately wants his title back. Malenko snaps him down with a spinebuster and tries to lock on the Texas Cloverleaf. These two have faced off a ton since June and now have the chemistry to pull off a fast paced series of counter moves with the challenger acting as the base for Rey’s flying antics. Malenko takes his eyes off the prize and starts to pose with a mask he stole from the champ weeks earlier. Mysterio knocks him to the floor and steals the mask back -then switches it out with the one he’s wearing. Malenko is non-plussed by this and gets back to focusing on destroying the Mexican star. Malenko delivers a nasty back suplex from the top rope and then entraps him in a series of torture holds.
Malenko’s submission and wear down holds takes up much of the meat of the bout but Malenko’s diverse moves and nasty suplexes in between the holds makes for an entertaining watch compared to some guys who just sit in rest holds to devour time. Both men fall from the top rope to the floor but the crack production team misses it. Rey tries a high spot off the rails but he slips. Back in the ring the champ is reinvigorated and he and Malenko go through another awesome move-counter-move-counter sequence. A top rope hurricanrana is reversed into a brutal powerbomb. The challenger attempts a top rope stomach breaker but Rey fights out of it and tries a hurricanrana but Malenko drops him from the top with a powerbomb and snags the win at 18:26. These two delivered another fabulous match. They both were able to combine their strengths and create great matches like this one.
Jeff Jarrett is pimped up by Mean Gene’s replacement Lee Marshall but Jarrett then delivers a bland interview and is then accidently shown up by Ric Flair who comes in and delivers a cocaine-laced crazy promo.
Lord of the Ring match: Eddy Guerrero v. Diamond Dallas Page
Eddy tries to get at DDP right away but Nick Patrick runs interference. They slow things down immediately as we sit in headlocks. The two men actually work this match similarly to the Malenko/Mysterio match, with DDP acting as a bit of a base for Guerrero to bump off of. They try and mix in more brawling and power moves but the transitions between the moves are lacking. DDP likes to hit a move and then walk around. Page drives Eddy into the mat several times then just Diamond Cutters and pins him like a chump at 13:39. Huh. The announcers mentioned several times that DDP has hidden the ring but the ringside aide produces it right away. Eddy came into the match with a high fever and broke a rib during the match, leading to them toning down planned spots and we got a mediocre match as a result.
Macho Man, two hours before a world title match and after a month of psychological damage, does a comidic bit where he picks a winner in a Slim Jim contest. It was entertaining because Macho Man has crazy charisma, but it seems out of place given the circumstances.
Jeff Jarrett vs. The Giant
WCW was trying to get Jeff Jarrett over by having Ric Flair give him his endorsement week after week. Nick Patrick is the ref for yet another nWo match. Bischoff is secretly nWo at this point, so I guess I can assume he is assigning the ref duties so I can stop harping on that plot hole. Ric Flair comes out with his own entrance and gets a bigger reaction than either of the match participants. Roman Reigns comes to my mind as the Giant walks through the audience to get to the ring and Jarrett opens the match up with a Superman punch. Jarrett sticks and moves in between strutting. Flair dances at ringside to show Jarrett what a natural entertainer looks like. The Giant catches Jarrett and launches him across the ring several times. This turns him babyface to the audience. Giant no sells an Irish whip to make Double J look like a geek. Giant is locked in a sleeper and the fans chant “N-W-O!” Jarrett is downed with one punch and the fans love it.
Ric Flair takes over as the babyface of the match by trying to sneak in with a chair and screaming threats over the house mic. Giant casually smashes Jarrett for several minutes. Jarrett tries a slam like a dumbass but just gets squashed. Jarrett tries a comeback but Giant just kicks him away. The Giant accidently runs into the ring post and is locked in a figure-four on the cement. He easily escapes and prepares to choke slam Jarrett so Flair hits a nut shot to earn the DQ at 9:55. If the goal was to make Double J look helpless on all accounts, mission accomplished. It would take two more years, a haircut and Debra’s giant breasts to finally get Jeff Jarrett over.
Chris Jericho vs. Syxx
The Dungeon of Doom is sitting at ringside. These two start off with a fast paced back and forth exchange of hip tosses, flying attacks and other aerial moves. Syxx had been out injured since June, but so far he’s not showing any ring rust. Syxx takes control after flinging himself into Jericho from a high elevation. Syxx slows things down for a bit with some methodical offence before Jericho is able to mount a comeback. Jericho hits an Asai moonsault, a bridging cradle and other pinning combinations but Nick Patrick takes his time getting into position to try and count to 3. Syxx manages a spin kick and suddenly Patrick’s feeling fine and delivers a slightly fast 3-count at 9:49. Match started promising but slowed to a crawl for a bit before the booking overtook the finishing sequence.
Lex Luger lets us know he grows cactus’ not flowers.
Lex Luger vs. Arn Anderson
WCW tries to get rid of the surplus of their 90-dollar Hog Wild denim shirts by having Arn wear one to the ring. Anderson had less than twenty matches left in his career at this point as his neck injuries started to take their toll. Lex dominates the early going by working over Anderson’s back. The Enforcer takes over with a spinebuster and tries to wear away at the Total Package. The ref is bumped and Anderson tries to use a chair on Luger but Lex suplexes him and cracks him across his back several times with the object. Anderson sells a crippling injury but Luger puts him in the torture rack anyway for the submission at 12:20. He keeps the hold locked on for an extended time to avenge the Horsemen’s recent attacks on him. Flair and Jarrett come down to help the EMTs load Anderson onto a stretcher. Match was nothing special as Arn was hurting and Luger isn’t going to carry him to anything above the standard fare.
Meng and the Barbarian v. Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael
Mongo tries a dropkick early on. That looked as pretty as you’d expect. Benoit refuses to let Mongo stink up a match he’s involved in and tags in to deliver a series of chops and throws to his larger foes. Mongo comes back in and challenges Meng to a sumo stand off. Mongo’s NFL lineman experience should have given him a serious edge there but Meng sends him flying instead. Mongo chop blocks him in response. Mongo delivers another pair of dropkicks but Meng no sells one and side steps the other. Benoit is tagged back in, is quickly double teamed and is driven into the mat with a powerbomb. The Crippler sells Meng’s chops like he’s been shot.
The Barbarian delivers an incredible belly-to-belly suplex from the top rope that sends Benoit careening across most of the ring. The Faces of Fear deliver a pair of high impact double team moves on Benoit but Mongo uses a metal briefcase to KO Meng. A flying head butt finishes him at 9:20. I’m legit surprised by that finish considering that the Faces of Fear are in the next two months worth of PPV World tag title matches. The rest of the Dungeon of Doom run in after the bout and maul the Horsemen. This was a fairly entertaining bout considering the limitations of Mongo and the clashing size and styles of Benoit and the monsters.
World tag team champions Harlem Heat vs. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall
Hall and Booker T start things off, which is the best possible combination. Both men willfully bump around for one another before Hall spits on Stevie Ray and tags in Nash. The crowd goes absolutely bonkers for Nash before he even steps in the ring. Both men take a go at clubbing the other in the corner before Harlem Heat start to double up on Nash. This leads to a babyface pop when he mounts a comeback. Hall tags in and sells some more and Nash comes in again to play clean up hitter as he storms through the champions. Hall and Sherri get into it, with Martel being kissed. The crowd is chanting for “Razor” and “Diesel”. Harlem Heat double team Hall further and set him up for the Harlem Hangover. Col. Parker runs in to stop Nash from interfering but Nash takes his cane and KO’s Ray for the win at 13:06. The crowd roars in approval of the new champions. The match was far more fun than I anticipated as Nash came with his working boots on and held up his end as the heavy to Hall’s bumping machine.
A bizarre “World War 3” ad airs with a crazy scientist talking about the WCW factions going to war in the 3 ring battle royal. Luger and Savage are referenced to as “the alliance” which I don’t think was ever a thing. I wonder if that was a gaffe or a dropped gimmick idea?
World champion “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Hogan has a toupee or fake hair of some sort from a recent movie character he was playing. Macho Man delays his entrance and waits for a monster truck emblazoned in his logo and a giant hat. Hogan stalls to start. Then stalls some more. After Hogan gets a headlock, he bails and stalls again. Hogan finally decides to fight and he quickly downs Savage with fists. Macho fires back and strips Hogan of his shades, placing them on himself. Next the toupee is torn off and Savage puts that on himself too. Savage chases Hogan to the floor, clawing at his face and smacks him with a chair. Hogan is able to wrestle the chair away and abuses Savage with it. Liz makes her way to the ring, which doesn’t draw the audience response you’d assume it would. She is torn as to who to support. Hogan is bent out of shape and Savage is able to jump him while he’s distracted.
Hogan hides behind Liz and then successfully gets the jump on Savage. Liz climbs in the ring and covers Savage from further harm. Hogan tries to use a foreign object but Liz snatches it away. Dibiase grabs it from her as the ref is bumped. Nick Patrick and another ref run down – Patrick stays on as the official while the other ref carries off their injured comrade. Savage drops Hogan and delivers a big elbow. Patrick counts to two but then suffers a neck cramp and cannot hit the mat a third time. Savage goes after Patrick as Hogan retrieves the foreign object. Hogan is blocked and KO’d by the object by Savage. The Giant runs down and chokeslams Savage on the floor. An unconscious Hogan is dragged on top of Savage for the pin at 18:35. The crowd pops for the pin despite the shenanigans. The Giant revives Hogan with ice water as Savage is dragged off.
Hogan begins to cut a promo when bagpipes blare overhead. Roddy Piper appears and reminds Hogan he’s as big of a star as Hogan is, makes movies just like Hogan, has made millions just like Hogan, and so on. Hogan tries to make peace and Piper tells him to fuck off. They go back and forth for 10 minutes before Piper tries to leave. Hogan mocks Piper’s sexuality and that gets Hot Rod fired up. Hogan then challenges Piper and Hogan and the Giant start to leave. Piper grabs the title and they are still arguing over the mic as the PPV goes off the air.