This article series is me, a couch, a remote, possibly an adult beverage and some random Wrasslin’ I decide to watch. I won’t bore you with play by play, instead I’ll offer random observations and memories – and an occasional dose of arm chair re-booking.
Halloween Havoc 89: Settling the Score!
We open with a graphic of Muta, Funk, Sting and Flair’s promo pictures being super imposed over grave stone graphics.
Tom Zenk vs. Mike Rotonda
JR and Bob Caudle on the call. They put Zenk over as being a brand new acquisition of WCW. They don’t even hide the edits here as they just show a graphic and flash ahead . JR puts Rotonda over as being trained by the Destroyer. Zenk wins with a cross body that was designed to be a fluke pin to help save Mike’s credibility. Zenk’s theme is from the Batman ’89 movie. Very odd. The AWA used the same theme briefly for Derrick Dukes around this same time.
Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. Fatu, Samu and the Samoan Savage.
Cornette being a babyface shill feels so wrong. Oliver Humperdink has taken over the Samoan SWAT team from Paul E. Dangerously by this point. I believe the Savage is Tama from the Islanders. JR is putting over how much better Oliver has control of the SST than Dangerously did. They edited right into the heat segment of the match as Eaton is in full face in peril mode for an extended period. Dr. Death gets a HOT tag and tossing around the Samoans to the crowd’s delight. He had to have been a very scary man under the influence. Lane and Fatu blow a DDT spot by each going for different moves out of it. Babyface miscommunication leads to the heels winning.
Tommy “Wildfire” Rich vs. Cuban Assassin
Rich has “All my Rowdy Friends” as his theme and instantly gets over in my living room because of it. They put over Rich’s early success and note he disappeared from mainstream wrestling. We get an extended rest hold that should have been edited out if we are they worried about cutting 45 minutes off the original broadcast. Why is this on PPV? Other than foil for Ranger Ross there’s not much use for a jingoistic heel here. Philly crowd is riding these guys all match. Rich wins with a lousy looking Thesz press. The crowd doesn’t care not nor do I.
Dynamic Dudes vs. Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes
Dudes have “Fight for your Right to Party” as a theme. Cornette didn’t bother switching outfits for his role in managing the Dudes’- somewhere Jimmy Hart is crying. Hayes and Garvin get a huge ovation from the Philly crowd. Johnny Ace is put over for having a business and marketing degree. Little did we know that ass kissing and being a yes-man would serve him much better. So modern day Ace and Hayes are millionaire corporate Gomers for the WWE, Garvin is a commercial airline pilot and Shane Douglas wrestles in high school gyms and bars to supplement his retail job. Oh wrestling. This match is of course famous for the fans shitting all over the Dudes and treating the Birds as heroes. The Dudes have their finisher (some sort of double backdrop sprung off the ropes) reversed into a pin for the Birds and the crowd goes MOLTEN. I love the Garvin/Hayes act and the crowd made this far more fun than anything in-ring could have.
Rick and Scott Steiner vs. DOOM
As an 8 year old I remember DOOM being the scariest motherfuckers alive. With the masks and ill fitting music – not so much.
Steiners attack at first and send DOOM scattering. The announcers trying to put over DOOM’s size doesn’t work when Scott Steiner’s giant arms are right there to compare with. These guys are blowing quite a few spots. Scott tries to break Simmons’ neck with a vicious belly to back suplex. We get a close up shot of Simmons calling spots while trapped in a headlock. After an extended back and forth struggle, a loaded mask wins it for DOOM. I was quite underwelmed by this match and it really felt to me like there was a real lack of flow to all of this.
Lex Luger vs. “Flyin” Brian Pillman
Pillman runs down with an army of cheerleaders. Somewhere Flair is picking his next conquest out of their line up. Crowd is really hot for Luger. JR puts over Luger’s seven year career as a pro football player which to me makes him sound old. They do a great job explaining that the men are natural rivals given their college football teams, their football positions and so on. Luger is game to keep pace with Pillman here, despite a 50 plus pound weight difference. They do a good job putting over that Luger’s success in this match only comes from Pillman mistakes and his own cheating. A missed drop kick from the top leads to Pillman’s demise in a fun, up tempo affair.
You have to wonder how different WCW’s success may have went had Flair put Luger over at either Great American Bash ’88 or Starrcade ’88. Flair could have done the Steamboat and Funk series yet as top tier feuds and Luger could have gotten the title rub as he challenged Windham and others until a heel turn would have opened up Steamboat and ultimately Sting to work on top with. Then you can have Sting beat Luger at Starrcade ’89 in a battle of young guns – then Luger can eventually turn face again and he and Sting can meet in a big rematch as the two most popular men in WCW and then Luger can reclaim the title and they can hug.
As it was Luger looked like a choke artist, then Flair had to bring guys in to work on top with because no one was really built up that he hadn’t worked with the prior 4 years (minus Sting) and by the time Flair was really going to put over Luger, it was mid 1991 and Luger’s personal will to try had been killed off . Flair of course quit instead while champion and Luger beat Barry Windham (who had been a tag worker mostly in that period) and Lex was turned heel at the same time and went right into neutral mentally as he only had X amount of dates left to work before he could just sit home and collect on his guaranteed money contract. Oh WCW.
The Road Warriors vs The Skyscrapers (Dan Spivey and Sid Vicious)
It’s a testament to the depth of the mid-80’s WWF roster that a guy that looked like Dan Spivey could be on the roster for 3 years and never sniff a push. JR and Caudle basically say the Warriors are yesterday’s news and the Skyscrapers are going to take over as the power team of the 90’s. This does have a “big time” feel to it as the fans are jacked and the teams do a fantastic stare down. Both Hawk and Animal struggle to drop Spivey with clotheslines and shoulderblocks. Sid does a “kip-up”!! Hawk takes a helicopter slam, which may be the first time anyone tossed Hawk around like that. This turns into a pier 6 brawl and the Road Warriors are beat down after the Sky Scrapers are DQ’d. Hawk finally makes the comeback and clears the ring to a big pop. This was fun and makes the short life of the Sid and Spivey team quite sad in retrospect.
Terry Funk and The Great Muta vs. Ric Flair and Sting
Bruno Sammartino gets a nice pop as the special guest ref. Muta was such a phenom in 1989 I don’t know if it can be properly put in perspective in modern standards. Had Vince just given Owen Hart a proper push in late 1988 then maybe he could have had his own version of what Muta brought to the table instead of just another job guy. Funk is fantastic here harassing the fans and getting a few fans to swipe at him. This is a cage match where the cage is about 20 feet tall, surrounds the ring side like a Hell in the Cell and is electrified to boot. You can’t say they didn’t go all out with the gimmick blow off here. The décor on the cage starts on fire before we can begin and the refs can’t get it out. Muta climbs up and uses his mist to extinguish the flames. Ole Anderson and Gary Hart are in each corner to toss in the towel when they feel their team can’t take anymore.
Sting flings Funk into the cage but the cage holes are too wide for Funk to get his neck stuck as was the intention. JR buries the Ultimate Warrior for not progressing as much as Sting. JR then brings up Chris Taylor as breaking in with Flair in 1972 – that reference was probably too obscure for most – even then. Sting jams Muta into the cage as Funk climbs up the cage with Flair in pursuit – wild stuff. Funk tries to get his leg stuck in the cage bars to do a hanging spot but fails and takes a nasty bump. All four guys are up and down the cage now working spots to add to the spectacle of the bout. Funk hangs upside down in the cage as Flair uses a hanging rope to swing into Funk like a battering ram. Sting tries to do the same thing and ends up caught in the cage and Funk ties Sting to it. Flair is double teamed with a spike piledriver and then hung by a rope. The faces mount a comeback and things go south for the heels leading to Muta going after Bruno and getting floored because of it. Gary Hart is then nailed by Ole and he loses his towel – giving Sting and Flair the win. Wild match!
Final Thoughts: After the Great American Bash proved to be an all time great pay per view offering the previous July, WCW offered this solid effort which would be the end of a mini-era of sorts as Funk would turn to broadcasting soon after this and Muta would head back to Japan early into 1990. This meant once again Ric Flair would be on top as a heel and names like Arn, Windham, Sting, Luger would remain on top of the card.
Meanwhile Starrcade would be butchered as a mega event with gimmick cards taking over for grudge matches from 89 – 92. Overall business began collapsing upon itself until things got so bad that Eric Bischoff was forced to throw a Hail Mary in 1994 and sign Hulk Hogan, which killed off the heart and soul of what JCP/NWA/WCW represented to millions of fans. It was fun while it lasted though…