Tis’ the spooky season! So I’m celebrating by looking at the most ghoulish, terrifying, bone-chilling series of pay-per-views in all of wrestling – WCW’s Halloween Havoc! Every October from 1989 to 2000, wrestling fans were petrified by plastic pumpkins, terrible booking, and some of the most idiotic decisions in pro wrestling. Sure, this staple of World Championship Wrestling had plenty of memorable moments, from incredible matches such as Mysterio and Guerrero, multiple Texas Death Matches, Savage vs. DDP and the thundercage tag team match, to the wonderful little touches like beautiful seasonal sets, horror legend Elvira promoting the event, and Paul Heyman dressed as a vampire. However, Halloween Havoc is mostly remembered for the curse it cast upon those that appeared on it – the curse of fucking terrible wrestling. So, prepared to be spooked as we explore the worst moments in Halloween Havoc history.
The Curse of Bad Finishes
First of all, we journey back to 1990 – Sid Vicious vs. Sting for the WCW Championship in the main event. What starts as a pretty standard championship match, half-way through, things suddenly change. Sid, a member of The Four Horsemen at the time, had his stable buddies come out and cause a little chaos. In the midst of the confusion, Sting was abducted by Flair and Anderson, whilst a fake Sting (Barry Windham in face paint and neon pink tights), slid into the ring, did the J-O-B, and thus, Sid became the world champion. Balloons cascaded down from the ceiling, and fireworks exploded inside the arena as Sid held his belt above his massive head, that is until the real Sting came back out, with absolutely no sense of urgency whatsoever, hit the ring, rolled up Sid, the ref counted three despite already declaring Sid the winner, and mid-celebration, Sting became the champion. Although the match isn’t awful by any means, and the whole idea behind this confusing finish did have some potential, in typical WCW fashion, the plan was executed in poor and confusing fashion.
Bad finishes would be a recurring theme throughout Halloween Havoc history, as evidenced by the 1992 show’s main event – once again featuring Sting, a constant victim of WCW’s bullshit. The tagline for this year’s edition of the WCW staple was “Spin the Wheel , Make the Deal”, referring to the show’s final match, the stipulation of which was determined by, you guessed it, spinning a wheel. Now, instead of having it land on a Steel Cage Match or maybe a Hardcore/First Blood Match (you know, something good), WCW stuck to their ways and made it a ‘Coal Miner’s Glove Match’ – a stipulation that no fan in the fucking world wanted. Basically, it was a glove on a pole match. Two men fought over a ratty old glove wrapped in chains attached to a pole.
First of all, who the fuck actually thought a glove would add excitement to a match? And secondly, there has never been a good “…on a pole match” in the history of wrestling. Even if there was a World Peace on a Pole Match, it would still be hard to care. So after an okay match, Jake resorts to his dastardly ways by pulling his pet snake out of his bag. As he’s reaching into his bag of tricks though, Sting grabs the glove, and sends Jake falling to the floor with one punch, at which point, Jake’s Snake turns against him by biting his cheek as he lay on the canvas. And that was that! Rather than having these two legends feud and trade victories with each other, they had one match that finished with a smack from a glove, and a bite from a snake. WCW does it again!
A Truly Boo-ring Match
Rick Rude and Masahiro Chono, two genuinely good wrestlers with storied careers and plenty of great, memorable matches under their metaphorical belts, once had one of the most boring bouts I have ever seen back at Halloween Havoc 1992. If I had to sum up this match in one phrase, it would be, “Resthold, after resthold, after resthold, after even more restholds.” It begins as most matches do with a lock-up, and then another lock-up, and then another. This goes on, and on, and on – the two exchange restholds and submissions for a full ten minutes before Rude surprisingly hits a missile dropkick, followed by Harley Race, one of two special guest referees, getting inadvertently kicked out of the ring, and then despite tapping out to Chono’s submission, Rude wins the match via disqualification. So after enduring fifteen minutes of yawn-inducing action, the audience was also subjected to an awful finish. Great. The most horrific thing about this match is that the two had a great battle in that very same year when they met in the G1 Climax finals, so what went so wrong here?! Perhaps these two great grapplers had succumb to the curse of WCW, like so many others had before them, and so many more would in later years.
The Vampire vs. The 70s Giant
Nothing was more scary, more bone-chillingly horrifying back in the year 2000 than the WCW product. At the time, WCW’s hair-raising booking had Mike Awesome, a former ECW Champion with tonnes of potential, working with a gimmick that was entirely about him really like the 1970s. Come October, the 70s guy had somehow landed himself a WCW title shot, and a certain little vampire wanted it. This Halloween Havoc match begins with an awful promo from Vampiro, coupled with various shots of Awesome’s beautifully coiffed hair. Within less than three minutes in, the duo have managed to stumble their way into the crowd, at which point some idiotic, disrespectful fan leaps out of his seat in order to headbutt the almost 300 pound Awesome. Rightfully so, all kayfabe is thrown out of the window as the rivals decide to join together to defeat this possibly drunken force of idiocy. Once the rogue mark is dealt with, the match continues, and it is a cavalcade of botches until the end. Sadly, 2000 was the final edition of this beloved WCW pay-per-view, and rather than going out with a bang, it went out with a yawn and an overly excited dickhead in the crowd.
The Horror!!!!…A Whole Chamber of It!
Out of all of these sinister moments, this is the only one that’s actually supposed to be spooky! But rather than a good old, intentionally blood-curdling scare, this match was terrifying simply because it was absolutely fucking awful.
WCW seemed to have a habit of spending stupid amounts of money on terrible ideas – case in point, the Chamber of Horrors match. Two teams of four competed against each other in a specially designed cage that surrounded the ring, with another separate cage enclosed within, which housed an electric chair. The aim of the match was to strap one member of the other team into the chair, flip the switch, and electrify a human being in the name of victory. The chamber’s structure itself isn’t too bad, except that it does make actually watching the in-ring action a little difficult at times, it’s the ridiculous electric chair stipulation that makes this so horrific. So the two teams battle inside the cage, with 90% of the brawling hidden by the thick bars of the chamber. As the two teams go to war with each other, the camera at one point cuts to a long shot of the chair’s ominous switch, which, of course, is accidentally set to “ON” despite absolutely no electricity surging through at the time. It remains in this position for an embarrassingly long time, but it was early 90s WCW, so what do you expect?
Towards the end of the match, Cactus Jack hangs beside the switch, awaiting the call from his teammate, Abdullah the Butcher, to give him the call to engage the electricity. Just as Abdullah places Rick Steiner onto the throne ready for shocking, and gives Cactus Jack the all clear, Steiner hits a belly-to-belly suplex, placing Abdullah into the electrified chair, and thus, Steiner’s team wins. The final visual of this match is the image of an over 300 pound man sat inside a little cage gyrating his topless body as sparks fly around him. If you’re into those horror films that are so bad they’re brilliant, look no further than the Chamber of Horrors this Halloween.
The Clash of the Egos
When your own boss publically refers to a match as being one of the worst of all time, you know it’s bad. There are a lot of bad matches in the history of this pay-per-view, most of which involve Disco Inferno, but this is by far the worst.
At Wrestlemania VI, an extremely rare babyface vs. babyface bout main-evented the show. The PPV was built around the clash between two of the biggest stars in the world, the up-and-coming colourful megastar, The Ultimate Warrior, facing the established American hero, Hulk Hogan. Far from a technical masterpiece, the match had fans in the arena and across the world jumping out of their seats due to how much infectious exhilaration Warrior and Hogan created together. When Warrior pinned Hogan for the three-count, his status as a main-eventer was cemented for life. As face vs. face matches were barely ever seen at the time, a rematch never took place, so the two biggest stars of their time would never face again in the WWF. However, in 1997, both men found themselves across the ring from each other once again, this time in WCW, in arguably the most anticipated, and highly publicised rematch to ever take place at that point. Unfortunately though, what fans got was an absolute car wreck.
Hollywood Hogan vs. The Warrior from Halloween Havoc may just be the most painful fourteen minutes of wrestling you will ever see. Not even the awesome looking Halloween Havoc ringmat could save this one. The story goes that Hogan was adamant to bring Warrior into WCW just so he could claw back the biggest blemish on his unstoppable career. Hogan’s professional ego was so uncontrollably large that he couldn’t handle having lost to another man without evening the playing field with a win of his own. But then we’ve also got The Warrior, another hulking behemoth with an ego and reputation bigger than his muscles, well-known for being difficult to work with in the later years of his career. So here we have ego vs. ego, a battle that was doomed from the start. Neither man could seem to agree on a sensible and entertaining solution to the match, and as such, paying customers were subjected to an uncontrollable mess.
Without question the most memorable calamity from this match was Hogan attempting to throw a fireball into the face of his opponent (Hogan was obsessed with flames at this point for some reason), but he failed to light the paper in time, so Warrior flinched at absolutely nothing, followed shortly by Hogan singeing his own eyebrows off when his beloved fire spot went up in smokes. This moment is a perfect metaphor for the entire match: what was expected to go so well ended up going so spectacularly wrong. And then, just to put the icing on this clusterfuck of a metaphorical cake, the match finished when Horace Hogan, the perfect addition to this match judging by the quality of it, hit Warrior from behind with a chair whilst the referee was distracted. A terrible end to an equally terrible match.
This was a Wrestlemania rematch involving two of the most popular wrestlers of all time, taking place on a pay-per-view hosted by the biggest company in the wrestling world at the time. All these two veterans had to do was have a passible match, and the crowd would have loved it. Nobody would expect these two to have a technical masterpiece, but much like their Wrestlemania match, it didn’t have to be in order to be exciting and memorable. Hogan vs. Warrior should have been a classic, but all it ended up being was an insult to everybody watching due to two of the biggest egos ever to step into a ring not being able to get onto the same page.
What’s more, this confrontation, including entrances and post-match, ran way over time, and as such, the live pay-per-view broadcast cut before the end of the show, meaning very few actually got to see the championship main-event that followed. Paying customers around the world were outraged and demanded refunds, so because of this match, the company’s reputation, viewership and bank accounts all took a big hit. This contest was that bad, it even caused a domino effect of misery!
Purely from a technical standpoint, this is not the worst match of all time, that honour has to go to the likes of Sharmell vs. Jenna Morasca purely because of their lack of experience, and that they really shouldn’t have been in that ring without experienced veterans to help carry them to an acceptable match, but taking into consideration the history these two had, the platform it took place on, and the years of hype it had, this has got to be the most insulting match in pro wrestling history. Not only is it terrible, it’s a big slap in the face to everyone who paid for it, and everyone who waited for it, which is why Dave Meltzer gave it a minus five-star rating back in 1998 (something which you can read more about here). Two legends put their egos before everything else, to the detriment of everything else. These two men were known for their huge personalities, massive connection with their fans, and overwhelming charismas, all of which were the key to the success of their Wrestlemania IV match, yet when all of those are taken away due to their clouding sense of self-worth, their in-ring skills were not enough to carry them to even an average match. The crowd chanted boring during the match, and fans are still discussing how bad it was almost twenty years later. If there was ever a perfect example of a minus five-star match in every sense of the word, look no further than this abomination.
The Yeti Monster Truck Party
As awful as Hogan vs. Warrior was, nothing can come close to the ridiculousness that was Halloween Havoc 1995. When you read this part, or you watch the footage itself back, always keep this in mind: somebody actually got paid to think of this.
So, in 1995, the state of pro wrestling was absolutely terrible. WWF was relying on out-dated, career-based gimmicks that didn’t resonate with the mid-90s fanbase, and they lacked the established stars that had brought them so much success just a decade earlier. However, down in WCW, things were somehow even worse. You thought Mantaur was bad? Wait until you see the Dungeon of Doom.
The Dungeon of Doom was a stable of wrestlers that were intent on destroying Hulkamania once and for all. In true WCW fashion, the group consisted of old WWF and NWA talents that had a ridiculous new villainous gimmick slapped onto them straight out of a bad Saturday morning superhero cartoon. They abducted the Hulkster, brought him into their dungeon (yes, they lived in an actual dungeon), and issued him a challenge at Halloween Havoc, to face their newest member, The Giant. Standing at seven-feet tall, the future Big Show was immediately an intimidating presence. Without even having one professional wrestling match under his belt at this point, The Giant was granted a WCW World Heavyweight Title match in his debut against Hogan, filled with an absurd amount of hype and promotion due to the rookie’s inhuman size. In fact, WCW deemed this match to be of such high importance, that it couldn’t be contained within just a regular ring, it required something much bigger……A MONSTER TRUCK SUMO MATCH ON THE ARENA ROOFTOP!!!
And now, we have the most WCW thing to ever happen in history. Whilst stood atop the Joe Louis Arena, the two men stared each other down as their own customised monster trucks (money well spent there, guys) loomed in the background. Hogan, sporting a surprising choice of black attire before he became all Hollywood, and wait for it….no facial hair! Yes, Hogan did the unthinkable and shaved off the signature handlebar! You can see why he quickly grew it back afterwards though because he looked exactly like John Cleese on steroids. As his top lip began to grow cold, Hogan stepped into his vehicle, and the two men went at war in a Monster Truck Sumo Match because….90s! After a bit of pushing and shoving with their big boy trucks, Hogan and Giant exited their vehicles and began to brawl across the roof. Suddenly, Hulk had The Giant teetering towards the edge of the building, and despite his efforts to try and save him, the rookie fell from the very top of the Joe Louis Arena! A fall that no man can survive! What did this mean for the main event?!,,,,Well…..
Hogan stood in the ring, looking concerned and confused, wondering if the main event match will even take place after he sort of basically killed a man. But in true WCW fashion, The Giant walked down the ramp towards the ring to fight for the title without one single mark on his body. The story goes that The Giant actually landed in a lake, which explains why he didn’t die, yet it does not explain why he was COMPLETELY FUCKING BONE DRY STRAIGHT AFTER IT HAPPENED (unless Jimmy Hart had a nuclear-powered hairdryer backstage or something). Keep in mind – somebody got paid to think of this. The overhyped match began in unspectacular fashion. Hogan tried to topple his behemoth opponent all through the match, yet his size disadvantage meant he was dominated throughout, that is until he hulked up, body slammed The Giant in a throwback to Wrestlemania 3, and then hit the almighty leg drop – pretty standard stuff. That’s when things get a little bat-shit crazy.
For some reason, Hogan’s manager, Jimmy Hart, knocked out the ref, turned on Hogan, and thus began the greatest moment in the history of television. As The Giant locked in a bearhug weaker than a Bray Wyatt world title push, out walked the most ingenious creation to ever spawn from the human mind – THE YETIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!! For those that don’t know, The Yeti was a seven-foot man with tiny arms wrapped head to toe in toilet paper that strode down to the ring, put his arms around the back of Hogan to create some kind of super bearhug with The Giant, and then proceeded to dry-hump the Hulkster in order to help his fellow DOD member win the match. Once again, somebody got paid real money to come up this abomination. And then, to top it all off, the referee woke up, disqualified Hogan, and then it was revealed the next week that The Giant won the title because there was a secret stipulation in the match where the title could change hands via DQ, something which was not mentioned once before, or during the match. Lovely.
For a team of people with millions of dollars to think that customised monster trucks and a man in a six year old’s Halloween costume gyrating against a moustache-less Hulk Hogan were good enough ideas to headline one of their flagship pay-per-views, that’s scarier than any horror film or ghost story you could experience this spooky season. If you’re thirsty for a real fright on October 31st, look no further than Halloween Havoc 1995 – it’s enough to scare your blonde handlebar moustache straight off your face.
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