- WCW has decided to retire Ric Flair since they feel that as booker he won’t move himself down to the mid-card and they also hope that this will allow the Mid-Atlantic fans to get over him and accept Hulk Hogan as their savior.
- Retiring Flair wasn’t a long thought out plan as Flair has been advertised to face Sting and Hogan at house shows following Havoc, and was listed on early promotional material for Starrcade as competing.
- The Turner brass plan to attend the Thanksgiving Omni show. Since Hogan vs. Flair was the planned main event, things had to be changed. Vader will be in Japan, so WCW is scrambling to come up with a main event suitable for a 17,000 seat arena. As of now the plan is the Rhodes Family vs. The Studd Stable.
- In an effort to make people believe Hogan may actually lose the retirement match, WCW taped an angle with Ric Flair and Mr. T walking together in Chicago. T is serving as the special guest ref.
- Hogan wants WCW to find him a series of monsters to face on the top of the card, which shuns booker Ric Flair’s plans to push Steve Austin to the main event.
- Hogan has been routinely booed at WCW house shows. Even places far from WCW’s home base have been sour on Hogan.
- WCW has decided to take Jesse Ventura off the air and pay him to sit out the last five months on his contract.
- Meng was offered a spot at UFC 4 and WCW okayed it if he chose to try and compete. (He didn’t) Sgt. Craig Pittman, who wasn’t an on screen character yet but is under contract, was the next choice and WCW supposedly even offered him 60 grand just to compete win, lose or draw.
- WCW ran a TV taping in Knoxville (SMW’s main town) and gave away 90% of the tickets. Supposedly this was done to hurt Cornette, since he and Eric Bischoff still begrudge one another.
- The Knoxville show was promoted as having a double main event of Sting vs. Vader and Flair vs. Steamboat. None of the four men worked at the taping at all.
- “Thunder in Paradise” has been canceled. Hogan is trying to find funding for a second season. Turner ended up stepping in and ordering several TV movies.
- The Warlord is telling people he’s coming in. Sgt. Slaughter and Tito Santana both came to a TV taping hoping to get signed.
- Terry Funk is leaving over money issues.
- Rick Rude is suing WCW for 600K over his back injury. He is cashing in on a Lloyds of London policy and has no plans to jump to the WWF.
- Harlem Heat has a new manager named Johnny Attitude. This must have been for a real short time as I have zero recollection of him.
- Cable companies were sent ads listing Hogan vs. Flair as the main event for Starrcade
Halloween Havoc 94
Bobby Heenan, Mean Gene and Tony Schiavone cover the sports history in Detroit. Heenan picks Hogan to win the main event in a strange moment as he has resigned himself to the fact that Hogan always wins. Flair will always be the champ to him and he’d love to party with the Nature Boy win or lose.
Some jabroni whose name I missed sings the National Anthem in the worst shirt I’ve ever seen. At ringside Muhammad Ali is so touched by the rendition that he is shaking from emotion. Okay that was tasteless.
TV Champ Johnny B. Badd vs. The Honky Tonk Man
Honky looks in decent shape. He is wearing a singlet to cover his belly. Honky goes into Memphis heel mode and grabs the title and poses for cheap heat. Then he runs before a lock up can be instigated. HTM tries to use his fists and that is a bad strategy when your fighting a former boxer. When that plan goes to pot, Honky gets in some cheap shots to take control and goes right for a rest hold. We then pick up the pace with a chin lock. Badd escapes but HTM goes right back to it. He attempts the Shake, rattle and roll neckbreaker but gets flipped over before he can execute it. Badd is tossed to the floor, and is then brought back in for another chinlock. There’s only a 10 minute time limit you lazy bastard! WORK. Badd unloads with a series of fists and the two men roll around on the mat as time expires. AUGH. What a debut for Honky. An absolute stinker. Honky attacks Badd after the match but he’s repelled.
World tag champions Marcus Bagwell and The Patriot vs. Paul Orndorff and Paul Roma
All four men brawl to start, which ends poorly for the heels. Roma shows off some impressive athleticism by springing himself to the top rope, flipping around and launching on Bagwell. It doesn’t pay off though as the faces take control. Mr. Wonderful comes in and he and Bagwell blow something but quickly cover it up with a series of body slams. Roma comes in and chooses to pose rather than keep up control, that allows Bagwell to tag off to a fresh Patriot.
Things drag on as Bagwell gets back in and takes an extended beatdown. Roma almost blows a dropkick, then Bagwell almost blows a crossbody. They beat on Bagwell for what feels like forever before a four-way brawl breaks out. Bagwell gets caught with a flying elbow and Orndorff snags a tainted win. This was bland as Hell and made me want to stop watching the PPV after two duds in a row. Alas I traverse on….
Sherri Martel is on an extra dose of cocaine as she busts a move while Flair cuts his usual quality promo.
Evad Sullivan vs. Kevin Sullivan
Oh fuck me. We see clips of Hogan, Brutus Beefcake and Evad bullying Kevin 3 on 1. What babyfaces. Kevin attacks Evad before the bell. Evad is wearing Hogan’s gear and even has the skullet – I’m not sure if he also shares Hulk’s racist tendencies. It feels like some sort of parody character the WWF would have been running instead of a real upper card gimmick. Punch, kick, punch, choke. Exciting stuff. Kevin stomps on his belly and does Hogan poses in mockery. Evad “Hulks Up” to no response from the crowd. Kevin distracts him with Hogan clothing and cheap shots him. Kevin runs Evad into the ringpost, but Evad crawls in the ring anyway and wins via count out. Horrid match followed by a worse ending. Three shit matches in a row.
Dustin Rhodes vs. Arn Anderson
Save the show boys! Arn tries to wrestle but Rhodes wants to toss fists because this is a blood feud damn it! Anderson is rattled but is able to down Rhodes with a counter shot. They brawl to the floor where The Enforcer has his arm rammed into the ring post. Rhodes then focuses on the arm for several minutes before he misses a wild charge and takes a nasty bump way over the top rope. Anderson takes advantage and drills Dustin for several minutes. Rhodes makes a comeback but focuses on trying to break Anderson’s arm instead of winning and Anderson is able to regain control. Arn tries to use the ropes to steal a win but the ref catches him, which allows Rhodes to roll him up for the win. Meng, Col. Parker and Anderson immediately beat up Dustin to nullify anything accomplished with the win. Match was fine but leaning towards disappointing considering the participants.
Hogan cuts a promo with Beefcake making silly faces in the background as Jimmy Hart stares at the camera smugly gnawing at his gum.
US Champion “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. “Stunning” Steve Austin
Austin attacks the champ before the bell and tries to stomp a mudhole in him. Austin works over Hacksaw’s legs but Duggan powers his way to his feet and atomic drops Austin to the floor. The momentum swings rapidly back and forth before Duggan is downed with a low blow. Austin drops down a flying elbow on Hacksaw’s chest but he misses a follow up leap of faith. Duggan gets wild after that, unloading with a series of punches and clotheslines. An attempt at the three point stance clothesline ends with Austin backdropping him to the floor and earning the DQ. Austin is chased away with the 2X4 after the match. This was fine but the finish didn’t do Austin any favors.
Sting comes out in a tux, stopping just long enough to inform us that Hogan vs. Flair will decide “the man who will lead us into the 90’s” It’s almost 1995 Sting.
The Guardian Angel vs. Vader
This is the 45th match in their best of 50 series. Vader has seemingly won every encounter. Harley Race gets clubbed before the match can even start. Vader watches on from the floor. I found his nonplussed reaction to be amusing. Vader mauls Bossman once things get going officially. Vader knocks him to the floor but Bubba takes over and launches Vader into the railing. He then pummels Race, chases him in the ring and lays a beating on him. Vader comes in but gets slammed on top of Race. Bossman suplexes him but Vader comes back with a plethora of quick jabs that down our hero. Bossman manages to cut him off with a power slam, then drops a flying head butt.
Vader is knocked to the floor. Back in they seem to blow a clothesline spot but Bossman takes the bump anyway. A Vader bomb earns a two count. A second try ends with Vader landing on Angel’s knees. A side slam and spinebuster down Vader but Angel goes after Race again. Race is suplexed but Vader splashes Angel when he lands and earns the pin. Good match, but that ending sure made Bossman look like a goof.
Boxer “Hitman” Hearnes gives a punch drunk interview regarding the main event.
The Nasty Boyz vs. Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Bunk
All four men throw down right away as you’d imagine. The heels bail out in a mass of wrapped limbs as they end up intertwined. Funk throws chairs in frustration. Saggs does a modified stink face as he sits on Funk’s face and grinds. Actually, if I look that up on Urban Dictionary that will provide a whole different name for it…
Funk is then dragged over for a “Pit Stop” where his face is shoved in Knobbs’ armpit. He waddles backwards from the smell and screams obscenities at the faces. The heels try and double team but end up once again piled up on each other in the corner as the Nasties lay in the punches. This sends them to the floor to regroup again and Funk takes the opportunity to slam a chair into his own head 10 times and then wobbles past Ali. Sting laughs at the spectacle from his ringside seat. Funk next takes a walk into the stands to challenge hecklers.
Funk takes a back bump over the ropes once he finally gets in the ring, but it turns out to only be a trap as the heels double team Saggs on the floor. Saggs makes his own save and fights over to tag in Knobbs who goes wild on both Studd Stable members. Bunk loads up his glove, which ties up the ref. Meng tries to cheap shot Knobbs but cracks Funk instead. Saggs piledrives Funk on a pumpkin and Knobbs snags the win. This was a brisk brawl and a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I believe this was the send off to Funk, who won’t be back till late 1999.
Eric Bischoff and Bill Shaw do a presentation giving Ali a trophy and a check for his charity.
Steel Cage – Career vs. Career: World Champ Hulk Hogan vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
Loud “Hogan sucks” chant and were way out of the South. Hogan does get a big ovation once he is formally announced. Hogan attacks Flair with punches and eye rakes. Flair bumps all around for Hogan as he strangles Flair with his bandanna and then chokes the challenger with his boot. Mr. T puts a stop to this and Hogan gets indignant over being told to stop cheating. Flair is sent into the cage face first but finally cheap shots Hogan to stop the barrage.
Hogan’s knee is immediately the target. Flair then slams Hogan into the cage. Hogan rallies and javelins Flair into the cage before going back to choking. Flair takes back control with a suplex and jackhammers his fists into Hogan’s bald spot. Hogan slams Flair in the cage, then chokes and bites him. Flair tries to chop at him but Hogan no sells that and slams Flair into the cage again. He grates Flair’s face into the mesh before slamming his face into the cage.
Flair takes focus on the knee again to slow down the Hulk steamroller. Hogan is trapped in the figure-four. Hogan powers out and Mr. T is knocked down and out in the process. Flair puts the boots to T as Sherri scales the cage. Jimmy Hart tries to stop her and accidentally strips off her dress to a huge reaction. Sherri takes care of Hart by herself and tries to scale the cage again prompting Sting to jump the rail and stop her. The Masked Man springs from out from under the ring and destroys Sting with a lead pipe. He then scales into the cage as Sherri climbs to the top and leaps off at Hogan! That gal is dedicated!
Mr. T is handcuffed. Sherri and Flair slam Hogan into the steel pipe and then try to pin Hogan. You just beat up the ref genius! Hogan takes a suplex, but that only wakes him up and he lays out Sherri and Flair with a double clothesline. He clotheslines Sherri again, like a gentleman. That’s enough for Sherri and she starts to escape, so Hogan press slams her. Good gravy, our hero! Flair is sent into the cage yet again and then Hogan drives the big boot into Sherri. Ok that’s fucked up and even the fans didn’t pop for that. Hogan Hulks up in excitement over beating on a 170 pound woman, boots Flair and legdrops him to end his career.
Hogan celebrates with T and Ali before the Masked Man runs in with the pipe and waits forever for Hogan to turn around. Hogan blocks the shot and unmasks him as Brutus Beefcake, Hogan’s friend to the end. Kevin Sullivan and John Tenta charge in and Hogan is given a group beat down for several minutes before Sting runs down to clear the ring. Overall this was a fun, over booked mess of a match. Ric Flair’s career ended in an after thought of a moment and all the cage blows lead to zero blood, which is a downer.
Final thoughts: The first hour nearly made me pass out from sheer boredom, but the last hour was pure chaotic mayhem and basically salvaged the show.