At NXT Takeover 31, WWE announced that for the first time in 20 years Halloween Havoc would be returning as a NXT TV special on October 28th. Hosted by Shotzi Blackheart, this event will reintroduce one of WCW’s most popular and long-missed PPVs. With that excellent news, there’s no better time for us to delve into the history of the Halloween Havoc Pay per view!
1989 – The First Halloween Havoc
The very first Halloween Havoc event was a joint event held by WCW and NWA in 1989, and came from the Philadelphia Civic Centre. The show’s main event saw Ric Flair and Sting, managed by Ole Anderson, defeat the team of The Great Muta and Terry Funk, managed by Gary Hart, in an exciting Thunderdome match.
1991 saw the first WCW held Halloween Havoc without NWA being part of the event. It also saw one of the coolest TV adverts for a wrestling PPV at the time starring the Mistress of the Dark herself: Elvira! A great start to a Halloween event, right? The rest of the show didn’t go down so well…
Unfortunately, this PPV featured one of the worst wrestling match gimmicks in the History of pro-wrestling with the inception of the ‘Chamber of Horrors’ match. The match saw two teams of four wrestlers with an electric chair in the middle of the ring, the object being to place someone from the opposing team into the chair and – yes – electrocute them. The match resulted in Team EL Gigante, Sting and the Steiner brothers defeating the team of Abdullah the Butcher, The Diamond Studd, Cactus Jack and Big Van Vader. The whole match didn’t go well… The finish saw Cactus Jack trying to put Rick Steiner in the chair, but a switcharoo saw Abdullah the Butcher placed in the electric chair, ending the complete farce.
The main event of the 1992 Halloween Havoc event featured Lex Luger, managed by WWE hall-of-famer Harley Race, defeat Ron Simmons, managed by fellow WWE hall-of-famer Dusty Rhodes for the WCW World Heavyweight Title.
Compared to the previous year, the 1992 PPV was a little more forgettable, but matches included Ron Simmons defeating The Barbarian for the WCW World Heavyweight title, and Sting defeating Jake Roberts in a ‘Cole Miners Glove’ match in the main event.
Headlined by a brutal Death match, 1993’s Halloween Havoc saw Big Van Vader defeat Cactus Jack in a Texas Death Match, as well as Rick Rude defeat Ric Flair by DQ for the WCW World Heavyweight Title. Again, this event was a rather so-so PPV without decent booking.
Halloween Havoc 1994 saw Hulk Hogan wrestle at the PPV for the first time, facing Ric Flair in a retirement cage match – with the addition of Mr T as a special guest referee and the WCW world heavyweight title on the line. During the match, Sensational Sherri climbed the cage in an attempt to hand Flair the title, but this was halted by Jimmy Hart who actually pulled off Sherri’s skirt. Sting was then to come to ringside and help the outside interference, but was quickly attacked by a masked man. Hogan eventually won the match, but was also attacked by the masked man – later revealed to be Brother Bruti, Hogan’s real life friend Edward Leslie. Leslie had followed Hogan to WCW after his run in WWF as Brutus the Barber Beefcake. This attack was to continue with Kevin Sullivan and the debuting Avalanche joining in, which then led to Hogan’s long feud with the Dungeon of Doom.
Well, where does one even begin to start with Halloween Havoc 1995?
This PPV came at a time where Nitro had just begun airing and Eric Bischoff was competing head-to-head against Vince McMahon and WWF Raw. In a shoddy attempt to make WCW appear more ‘edgy’, the main event was scheduled to be Hogan vs The Giant who had recently joined the Dungeon of Doom. The match was for the WCW World Heavyweight Title, but before the main event was to start, the pair squared off in a ‘Monster Truck Match’, held on the rooftop of Cobo Hall, not far from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit where the main show was being held.
This match saw the two wrestlers each driving a personalised monster truck, with Hogan eventually winning the match by pushing The Giant’s monster truck over a line. Post match, the pair came to blows, resulting in Hogan launching The Giant off the top of the roof of Cobo Hall. Yes you read that correctly, viewers were actually lead to believe that maybe just maybe – WCW’s biggest babyface may have actually murdered the company’s biggest heel…
But that wasn’t the end of the drama. A distraught Hogan, believing he has killed the Giant, came to the ring to address the situation – only for The Giant to storm in and take him on for the title. That’s right, the man we thought was dead had somehow survived the massive fall from the roof, and was now fighting Hogan for the title. However, the match was quickly interrupted by ‘The Yeti’, a seven foot man covered in gauze (who was clearly a mummy?) who had previously busted out of a frozen prison during the previous Nitro.
After this complete mess of a match, The Giant was to go and win by DQ, yet stated he was the world champion by defeating Hogan – only for the title to then become vacant. During this time, WCW was in a transition period, moving from the over-the-top cartoonish story-lines and into more realistic story-lines which made Nitro the success it was. However, this certainly was not the best example of the two meshing together well and left viewers wanting the PPV to be over and done with.
The NWO had formed over the summer of 1996, and WCW was quickly becoming the must-watch wrestling promotion on the planet by the time Halloween Havoc 1996 rolled round. This year saw no gimmick matches, but instead the further takeover of WCW by the NWO. The Outsiders Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, who had recently jumped ship from the WWF, defeated Harlem Heat for the WCW Tag Team Titles. Hulk Hogan then defeated Randy Savage in the main event for the World Heavyweight Title after The Giant (who had recently joined forces with the NWO) interfered in the match to help Hogan retain the title. Roddy Piper then went on to confront Hogan after the match, making his WCW debut.
Halloween Havoc 1997 saw the best and the worst WCW had to offer at the time. Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Eddie Guerrero in a ‘Title vs Mask’ cruiserweight match which was easily the most incredible match anyone had witnessed throughout that entire year, and is still regarded as possibly one of the greatest of all time by fans today.
However, the main event saw Hogan take on Piper in a ‘Steel Cage’ match – which was completely trash from start to finish. In a desperate attempt from WCW to prolong a feud that should have ended at the first Wrestlemania, both Hogan and Piper looked years past their prime. Piper would go on to win, defeating Hogan for the second time since his debut at the previous Halloween Havoc PPV. The match was flat and left a sour taste in many fan’s mouths after what had been a decently booked PPV up until that point.
Where to start with Halloween Havoc 1998? We were treated to what was easily match of the year material between Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page, as well as one of the worst wrestling matches between Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. And if that wasn’t enough to digest, everyone who paid to watch the PPV live didn’t even get to see the Goldberg DDP match. The PPV overran a half hour, which meant shortly after Goldberg v DDP begun their match, the feed went black. WCW were forced to show the whole match for free the next night on Nitro.
What people did get to watch was Hogan vs Warrior, which was the result of Hogan wanting revenge on Warrior after losing to him way back at Wrestlemania 6 in Torontonto. The match was garbage in every aspect, nothing worked and Hogan ended up getting the win that he thought his legacy needed. Warrior would later open up about his time in WCW, apparently stating that Bischoff had used Ted Turner’s chequebook to throw enough money at him to get him through the door and put Hogan over. He also is said to have stated that if he could go back in time, he would give all the money back and stay as far away from WCW as he could.
By the time Halloween Havoc 1999 rolled around, WCW was truly in decline, and so was the quality of it’s PPVs. Halloween Havoc was unfortunately no exception. Sting defeated Hulk Hogan in 3 seconds for WCW World Heavyweight Title after Hogan came out in street clothes, whispered something in Sting’s ear, and then lay down for the 3 count.
Sting later went on to face Goldberg in the main event, which many believing was a non-title match. This then turned out to be squash match, with Goldberg winning the title from Sting.
All in all, Halloween Havoc 1999 had two world title matches that lasted a total of 3 minutes 11 seconds. The less said about the event the better…
The death of WCW was around the corner at the time of Halloween Havoc 2000, and it showed. On a PPV that delivered little, Booker T defeated Scott Steiner for the World Heavyweight Title and then Goldberg defeated Kronik in a handicapped match for the main event.
20 years have now passed, and as we reflect on the good and bad of Halloween Havoc, it’s exciting to find out what Triple H and NXT can give us from this TV special. Will we have a Chamber of Horrors match? I highly doubt it, but I do see one or two matches possibly having some kind of stipulation added to them. For nostalgia’s sake, at the very least? Hopefully no monster trucks will be involved. With the vibrant Shotzi Blackheart hosting the event, we are at least sure to find Robert Stone hiding in a costume somewhere.
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