- It's time for some more Halloween action, and when you think Halloween, you think WCW's annual PPV held in the month of October... Thanksgiving Thumpin'! Okay, that was a terrible joke. No, it's Halloween Havoc. I won't be covering all of the PPV's, mostly because I only have access to a few, and just because I'm 'capping the 1994 edition does not mean I won't suck it up and do any of the shows from 1990-1993 (1989 is already covered). I figured this would be a great start, because it's yet another awkward time for WCW where they were trying to find their identity. I guess the option for this era is "Land of 1,000 WWF Cast-offs", as we will see with each passing match.
- Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View, on October 23rd, 1994, from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI. Tony Schiavone and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan are handling all the commentary, and Mean Gene Okerlund is hanging around doing interviews and all that other backstage garbage. I would like to point out the cheesy Halloween-style graphics for the night, with generic ghosts and witches plastered all over the place. Awesome (sarcasm).
- We take a look back at the Clash of the Champions held on August 21st, 1994. Hulk Hogan was scheduled to defend the WCW Championship against Ric Flair, but the Black Scorpion whacked Hogan's knee with a rubber lead pipe. Hogan, hero to millions, not only returned from the hospital, but he WALKED back, in his yellow panties I might add, then made his title defense against Ric Flair, and was on the verge of victory before the Black Scorpion returned, again, to beat on Hogan's leg... it's probably Arn Anderson, judging from the body build. They probably didn't know who this masked man was, either, until the day of the show. On an episode of the Main Event, Hogan and Dave Sullivan teamed up to take on Flair and "the Masked Man", but ANOTHER Black Scorpion (damn messengers...) makes the "save" and do ANOTHER beating on Hogan. Ahem... STUPID!
Bagwell tags back in, and continues to play Punk-in-Peril. Orndorff does a funky dance before dropping an elbow to a surprisingly big pop... what the fuck!? Bagwell blows an irish whip spot as Schiavone notes how old Orndorff is (yeah, smart move). Roma with an elbow from the top rope as the crowd chants U-S-A... um... yeah, we'll leave that alone. Roma is from New York and Orndorff from Tampa, so chanting U-S-A is really a dig at them. Roma with a side back breaker as Schiavone notes Tiger Stadium is one of the "last great ballparks... except for Yankee Stadium." I guess Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are just insignificant places in comparison to Tiger Stadium. Bagwell surprises Roma with a twisting cross body (called a flying head scissors by Schiavone) for a two count. Roma slaps on a bearhug to keep Bagwell grounded. Orndorff tags in and connects with a running dropkick, then drops an elbow (called a knee) between the legs. Orndorff slaps on a front facelock, and PLEASE don't do that spot... please? Orndorff releases the hold and connects with a knee, then takes Bagwell's head off with a clothesline to another pop. Who knew Mo-town was Pro-Orndorff? Orndorff goes for a suplex, but Bagwell counters with his own for a two count. Bagwell with a back slide for another close fall, but Roma breaks the attempt up. Whip to the corner, and Orndorff eats foot. Bagwell slaps on a sleeper hold, but Roma comes in and cleans his clock again. Everyone slugs it out (no hot tag?), with the champs taking the challengers down with clotheslines. Bagwell with a fisherman suplex on Orndorff, but Roma hits an elbow drop off the top rope, and Orndorff covers for the tag titles at 13:47 to another big pop. This crowd must really hate Marcus Bagwell. Match was decent, but the surprising reactions from the crowd made it more entertaining.
- We recap WCW's answer to the Hart Brothers Feud... the Sullivan "Brothers" Feud! Oh Lord, where do I begin with this one... Dave Sullivan, formerly known as the Equalizer, was very special, mentally, and his "brother", Kevin, who I guess came out from obscurity over the past few years for another run in WCW, took advantage of this. Then, suddenly Hulk Hogan became Dave Sullivan's hero, and this really upset Kevin... yeah, really stupid. The running joke seems to be that because Dave Sullivan was dyslexic, it was a surprise WCW didn't run with it and call him "Evad", because we all know the creative process of WCW writers. Take something stupid, then make it more stupid.
Back in the ring, Rhodes rams the elbow into the buckle and rolls Anderson up for a quick two count. Rhodes continues to work the arm of Anderson with a variety of holds. Anderson with a yank of the hair, but Rhodes holds on, drops a leg across the arm, and applies a cross armbar. Does anyone remember Col. Parker's time in the WWF as Tennessee Lee? No? Well, you didn't miss much. Rhodes goes for whatever, but Anderson ducks, and Rhodes goes flying over the top rope on his own momentum. Rhodes somehow cleared the ring steps leading up to the ring, too. Anderson works Rhodes over on the apron, then drives a fist to the midsection for a two count. Rhodes does a body scissors to try and counter Anderson pinning his shoulders down, but Anderson counters that with a slingshot under the bottom rope. Wow, Anderson must know the spots I really hate, cause he's making some good spots out of them all. Double clothesline spot, as I sense the match is rapidly heading for a finish. Rhodes wins a slugfest and comes off the ropes with a boot to the side of the head. Irish whip, and Rhodes with a diving clothesline. Rhodes calls for the end, but Anderson counters with a DDT attempt, and Rhodes counters THAT by holding the ropes and drops an elbow for a two count. Rhodes rips off the Stun Gun (Austin is managed by Col. Parker) and threatens to break the hand of Anderson, but misses a knee drop. Anderson goes for a piledriver, but Rhodes back drops free. Anderson holds on with a sunset flip, but only gets two. Rhodes rolls up Anderson, and gets the three count at 9:55. After the match, Anderson wipes Rhodes out with a clothesline and makes him part of the canvas with a DDT.
- We flashback to Fall Brawl, where due to an unfortunate injury, Ricky Steamboat had to retire from the ring, and back out of his match with "Stunning" Steve Austin, for the United States Title. However, WCW President-Commissioner-Whatever Nick Bockwinkel orders that a title match must take place and introduces Austin's challenger... the debut of Jim Duggan? Then Duggan wins the title in about 30-seconds. WHA?!?!?! Iknow some have been around longer than others, but let's tally the WWF Cast-offs, so far... Honkytonk Man, Jim Duggan, Haku, and to lesser extents, Paul Roma and Paul Orndorff (I neglected Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan as far as on-air personalities). There's still more to come. A LOT more. All of these guys were used in high profile and prominent roles, too, while guys like Johnny B. Badd and Steve Austin were disgraced by being in the ring with thesre has-beens.
- Sting shows up to talk, because this night is all about Hulk Hogan, so Sting isn't important enough to be featured in an actual match... again, WWF Lite.
For no reason, Guardian Angel takes out Harley Race before the bell. Lockup into the corner, and Angel with a bitch slap. Repeat! Vader with his punk out punches and clubbing blows across the chest. Take that, you Big Boss Bitch! Vader with a pair of short-arm clotheslines, knocking Guardian Angel out of the ring. Angel reverses a whip into the security rail and follows in with a clothesline, then tosses Race into the ring again for more nonsensical beatings. Vader heads back in, and Angel picks Vader up and drops him on top of Race. Angel with an elbow drop, followed by a leg drop across the midsection. Whip to the corner, and Angel follows in with an avalanche. Vader fights back with rights and lefts, but Angel uses the power of Law and Order™ to take him over with a suplex. Angel with a charging big boot, but once again Vader no-sells it, and floors the Angel with a clothesline. Vader to the second rope, but the Angel catches him in midair for a slam. Angel to the top rope, and he comes down with a headbutt for a two count. Hey look, Sting is watching a WWF babyface take on the Monster Vader! Angel with an enziguri, followed by a clothesline that knocks Vader over the top rope. No DQ? Back in the ring, and Vader wipes the Angel out with a clothesline, but he sells hurting his own arm with the move. Vader slams the Angel in the corner, then heads to the second rope and crushes him with the Vader-Bomb, but that only gets a two count. Vader goes up once again, but this time meets the knees of the Guardian Angel. The Angel with a splash, and that gets a two count. Boss Man with a spinebuster for another two count. Irish whip, and the Sidewalk Slam from the Angel connects, but Race distracts him, allowing Vader time to recover. angel brings him into the ring with a suplex, but Vader crushes him with a splash instantly afterwards, and covers for the three count at 8:18... what an idiot. Match was pretty entertaining, but it's the same finish we saw in the entire recap video... Guardian Angel becomes distracted by Harley Race, loses because of it. I've never seen someone lose EVERY SINGLE MATCH in their program like this.
This might be the shortest cage ever, barely taller than the 6'6" Hulk Hogan. Hogan quickly hammers away on Flair in the corner. Whip to the corner, and Hogan with a back drop, followed by a pair of clotheslines. Hogan shoves the bandana in Flair's mouth and pounds on him some more. Mr. T argues with Hogan for not following the rules... in a No DQ Cage Match. (shakes head) Flair uses this opprotunity to take control, but Hogan is in no-sell mode right now and makes Flair taste the cage. Don't forget, this was No Blade Era of WCW, so Flair won't be wearing the crimson mask. Flair regains control, and clips the knee of Hogan. Let's see how long Hogan can remember to sell the dreaded injury tonight. I say 6-minutes. Hey look, Sting is still watching as some WWF guys hog up the card. Now Flair has problems with Mr. T's attitude. Flair rams Hogan into the cage, takes him over with a snapmare, and comes off the ropes with a knee drop. Hogan's lame over-selling is worse than his no-selling. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Hogan follows in with a clothesline. He's still selling the leg, surprisingly. Never mind... 2:16. I WIN! Hogan scoops Flair up an d uses him as a battering ram. Flair climbs the cage for whatever reason, then comes off with an axehandle. Flair with a delayed vertical suplex, but that only gets a two count. Slugfest in the corner, won by Hogan, of course. Flair climbs the cage, but gets rammed into it for his troubles. Whip to the corner, and Hogan meets a boot from Flair on the way in. Flair goes for the Figure-Four, but Hogan counters into a pinning combination for a two count. Flair with chops, but Hogan's doing the Luger/Sting no-sell of it. Whip to the corner, and Hogan takes Flair over with a back drop, then rams him into the cage. Hogan with a back suplex, and that gets a two count. Flair tries climbing out again, and if Hogan were smart, he would just chuck him over. You can't win by escaping the cage, this isn't WWF rules. Hogan with a headlock, but Flair counters with an atomic drop to the knee. Flair drops a knee across the injured leg of Hogan, and it's time to go to school! Flair tears apart the bandages on Hogan's knee and gets into it with Mr. T, just because he has to, I guess.
Flair drags Hogan to the middle of the ring, and slaps on the Figure-Four, but Hogan won't give up! Hogan feels the power of the Hulkamaniacs, wags a finger, and turns the preasure over on Flair, who quickly releases his own hold. Mr. T takes a bump courtesy of Hogan, and you have to be kidding me, that MR.T could be knocked out by that. Flair takes Hogan down with a back suplex, then Flair puts the boots to Mr. T, making him the smartest man alive. Sherri climbs the cage, but Jimmy Hart follows her up and rips off her skirt to the delight of... some people, I guess? Sherri wipes Jimmy Hart out, as well as a camera man, and now STING makes the save... and then his old nemesis the Black Scorpion returns with a lead pipe! Then he beats the crap out of Jimmy Hart with it, to my delight. How can the Black Scorpion exist when he's already in the ring?! Sherri is in the ring, Flair clips the knee of Hogan, and the Black Scorpion is hanging around, possibly taking a dump. In the mean time, Sherri handcuffs Mr. T to the ropes, and Hogan gets thrown into Scorpion's pipe. Flair attempts to cover, but that makes little sense, considering what they did to Mr. T. Flair with another delayed suplex on Hogan, but it's no-sold, and it's Hulk up Time! Hogan lays out both Flair and Sherri with clotheslines and slams. Whip to the corner, and Hogan with a back drop. Hogan then slams Sherri off the top rope, and Flair once again gets caught climbing the cage. WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THAT?! Hogan with a big boot on Sherri, and he's still Hulking Up. Irish whip, big boot, and leg drop from Hogan, and the three count is made at 19:23. Match started off perfectly fine, actually quite well, with a serious tone on commentary, recapping the career of Ric Flair, and midly touching up on Hogan's, too. Then the nonsense began and it just wouldn't stop. An awful way to end a match, especially one of such significant importance. People think that these finishes only started becoming common place during the nWo hey-days, but Hogan did it every fucking month during his reign as champion before that.
- Oh, and don't think the fun is all over... NO WAY! No, after Hogan does his celebrating for another 600 years, the Black Scorpion makes his way back to ringside, but this time, Hogan is ready for him! Hogan cleans his clock and unmasks the Black Scorpion to be... RIC FLAIR! Okay, just kidding, no, it's even lamer this time: It's BROTHER BRUTI! Yes, Hulk Hogan's best friend turned on him! Then Kevin Sullivan comes to ringisde. Then, this juicy bit of audio from Tony Schiavone, "The building is starting to rumble... it's like an Avalanche!" as the Man Formerly Known as Earthquake makes his debut and works Hogan over pretty good. Then Bobby Heenan says "that man Butcher'ed a friendship" in response to Brother Bruti. What is with all these horrible gimmick name dropping on commentary? Sting finally comes back from the dead and makes the save for the Hulkster, and that's the end of the show. Thank God. Sadly, this lead to the WORST Main Event in Starrcade History, Hulk Hogan vs. "The Butcher" for the WCW Championship. Ugh...
Final Thoughts: I'm going to try and explain this from the P.O.V. of a 9-year old watching this as it happened, and then now. As a child, I think I was attracted to this show because of the familiar WWF names, seeing as how I watched 90% WWF and 10% WCW at the time. I didn't mind it, but then I was questioning why everyone had different names and weren't quite true to who they used to be. The lure brought me in, but didn't keep me around, because the product wasn't good, no matter how familiar I was with the wrestlers.
Looking at it now, it's obvious the WCW's ploy WAS to lure in casual WWF fans with so many former stars from the WWF and using them to the maximum advantage. The quality of the matches were quite low, the booking illogical, and the main event a complete mess. The highlight of the show was just a straight up fight between Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson, and to a lesser extent, Vader and that Boss, man is he big Guardian Angel. Everything else seemed second rate, uninteresting, and dull. Things would get much worse from here, but Halloween Havoc '94 should've had the WWF name stamped somewhere on it in the credits that rolled at the end of the broadcast.