In the late 80’s, World Championship Wrestling were struggling to maintain their footing in the wrestling war they were embroiled in with the WWF. After the success of WrestleMania 1, 2 and 3, Survivor Series, SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble, the WWF were crushing WCW in the pay-per-view business. At the time, WCW was only operating two pay-per-view events annually; Starrcade and the Great American Bash.
While they did also run Bunkhouse Stampede in 1988 and Chi-Town Rumble in February of ’89, they still lacked another annual pillar show for fans to always look forward to.
That all changed in October of 1989. Dusty Rhodes, head booker of WCW at the time, added to his impressive resume by giving WCW one of the promotion’s most famous trademarks: Halloween Havoc.
Halloween Havoc was designed to be wrestling’s tribute to the spookiest time of the year. The marriage between Halloween’s festivities of pumpkins, ghosts, bats, costumes, graveyards and wrestling’s violence, colorful characters made all the sense in the world. Over time, Havoc became something for fans to always look forward to. It became a part of their Halloween traditions, the same as watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or John Carpenter’s Halloween. Not to mention the fact, it historically was always a good show. Hell, I’d say it even has a better track record than the Great American Bash. (Yeah, I said it, fight me.)
While the WWF was printing money hand over fist, WCW still had an amazing roster of extremely talented wrestlers. In fact, the WCW roster was superior to the WWF in just about every conceivable way. Well, every conceivable way except one… the WWF had Hulk Hogan. Aaaand that’s kind of all they needed. Hogan was Teflon, bulletproof and could do no wrong. His star power eclipsed everyone else in pro wrestling. He had cartoons, cereals, a workout tape and even a bad movie (or two). Truly, Hulkamania was running wild.
South of the Mason-Dixon line, WCW had the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, who was literally the antithesis of Hogan. Hogan was a balding, 6’8″ hero to children; Flair was a brash, cocky, arrogant hero the young adults and all the girls, if you know what I mean. Oh, and he had a lovely head of hair. Before Sting’s rise to prominence in 1991, Flair was the face of WCW/Jim Crockett Promotions. When you thought of WCW, you only thought of Ric Flair.
After the “arch-bishop of bad ideas” Jim Herd has pissed off Ric Flair a few too many times, Flair left WCW for the World Wrestling Federation. This meant that finally, by God finally, we would see the ultimate battle in pro wrestling. The face of the WWF, Hulk Hogan vs the face of WCW, Ric Flair. It was a perfect, dream match made in Heaven. It seemed obvious that Flair vs Hogan would main event WrestleMania VIII in 1992.
Of course, that didn’t happen.
The true reason Flair and Hogan never had a televised match in the WWF is something we may never truly know. Some theories have said their house show matches had poor attendance, others say that ego got in the way. No matter the reason, it’s safe to say that the WWF’s loss was WCW’s gain.
In early 1993, the WWF entered a youth movement, placing more emphasis on guys like Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, Yokozuna, Shawn Michaels and Diesel. This led to Vince McMahon allowing Ric Flair to negotiate his contract, but he ultimately returned to WCW. The youth movement also led to the WWF finally parting ways with an aging Hulk Hogan, who left wrestling for a year to star in Thunder in Paradise. Hogan didn’t stay gone for long, as Eric Bischoff, president of WCW, made the Hulkster an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Shortly after the announcement of Hulk Hogan joining WCW, came the announcement of the dream match all wrestling fans wanted to see. Bash at the Beach 1994, the WCW World Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair would be defending his title against “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Due to this long awaited match, Bash at the Beach became the most successful pay-per-view in WCW history at the time, and the most purchased wrestling pay-per-view of the year. The signing of Hulk Hogan to WCW was one of the most brilliant moves they ever made.
Hogan and Flair continued to feud over the next few months, past their initial encounter at Bash at the Beach. Eventually this led to a “final” match being made between the two at Halloween Havoc, Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair for the WCW World Championship inside of a steel cage. And more than that; the loser of the match would be forced to retire. It was a pretty smart move to sell a show by promising that one of the biggest stars in the history of pro wrestling would be retiring. Of course, knowing full well the stipulation wasn’t legitimate was kind of scummy, but hey! Wrestling!!
That brings us to tonight. October 23, 1994, live from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. With an attendance estimated at 14,000, Havoc ’94 did 220,000 pay per view buys and grossed about $2.45 million dollars between attendance and PPV revenue. This made it WCW’s second most successful show in history, only behind Bash at the Beach. Safe to say that at this point, Hulk Hogan was worth every penny he was being paid.
Now some of you may be wondering why 1994 is my choice for a review of Halloween Havoc. Well, it was the first WCW show I remember watching. Yep, this was my introduction to WCW, which makes this show hella sentimental to me. My Dad had an old VHS copy of this show,or rather the second half. Yeah, I only saw the last three matches, but this show made me fall in love with Atlanta’s favorite wrestling company.
But of course the question is; does Havoc ’94 hold up? In the definitive battle between the two biggest stars of the wrestling renaissance in the 1980’s, do we, the viewers come out on top? Or should Hogan and Flair have kept their battles in dream land?
We kick off with a video package chronicling the battles between Flair and Hogan so far. It lasts for literally 30 seconds. Yep, the two biggest stars in wrestling, one of whom is having their final match got about 1/8th of the time as Jerry Lawler and Tazz had for their video package prior to their match at SummerSlam 2000. You know, the one where Jim Ross smashed Tazz in the head with a damn candy jar!?
Cut to the arena, where pyro and Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the Joe Louis Arena. We see Muhammad Ali just chilling in the crowd… okay. Tony, Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan (wearing a neck collar as he had recently had surgery) are at the broadcast position. Bobby looks uncomfortable and miserable the whole show but still delivers an amazing performance as always. They talk about the history of Detroit and Bobby says that after tonight, all anyone will remember about this city is that it’s where Hulkamania died.
We then have the National Anthem (insert shitty NFL joke here) performed by a man named T. Graham Brown. Never heard of him? Me neither! It’s a pretty lousy rendition too, he mispronounces the word, “ramparts.”
Match #1: WCW World Television Championship – Johnny B. Badd (c) vs The Honky Tonk Man
Honky is using a hilarious rip-off of his Fed’ song. Johnny B. Badd is out next wearing Vampire Fangs, because Halloween. Here’s an open admission; I DETEST Johnny B. Badd. And I don’t know why. He’s not bad, he’s actually pretty good. But goddamn, he’s just so annoying. And what the hell is his gimmick? He’s a white Little Richard? What the hell is that!?
Match starts off with some shadow boxing. Badd has a spiderweb pattern on his trunks, which I actually do like. An incredible thing happens as Honky actually takes a flat back bump, a rare sight. Badd messed up HTM’s pompadour, just to piss him off.
We then cut to the back MID-MATCH where we see Mike Tenay interviewing Sting for the WCW Hotline. That tells me, the viewer, that this match isn’t worth paying attention to. Which I mean, I know it isn’t, but level with me a little here, guys.
HTM works over Mr. Sable for a while until Badd mounts a brief comeback, before Honky catches him in a headlock. Eventually Badd runs off the ropes but Honky flips him inside out with a knee. Badd gets a sunset flip and we see ALOHA HONKY! It leads to nothing as ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta tells us there are only 5 minutes left in the match, as all TV Title matches have a 10 minute time limit. Badd fights out of another headlock, then hits Honky the three scoop slams. He misses an elbow drop, HTM gets a two and the JESUS A CHINLOCK. By the way, state of Honky Tonk Man’s belly. It’s quite bulbous.
HTM teases a Shake, Rattle N’ Roll, but Badd fights out of it. Honky back on the offensive tosses Johnny B. Badd to the outside and nails him with a double ax handle. Back inside the ring we get ANOTHER CHINLOCK. Schiavone says he’s softening Badd up for his neckbreaker, which makes sense I guess but there HAS to be a better way to do it. Badd fights back yet again and rams HTM’s head into the turnbuckle before a big knee lift. Less than a minute remains as Honky hits a back suplex and then chokes Badd. The two men scrap before the time limit expires and Johnny B. Badd retains the title. Honky tries to attack Badd, but fails.
This match sucked folks. I have no other words. Jesus.
Back at the announcers table, Tony and Bobby takes us to a clip from Clash of the Champions in August, where a mystery masked man hit Hogan in the back of the knee with a lead pipe. Hogan was taken to a local hospital, but WALKED TWO BLOCKS FROM THE HOSPITAL, BACK TO THE ARENA AND STILL BEAT FLAIR. After the match, the masked man returned as he and Flair laid out Hogan. Cut to the October 9th edition of WCW Main Event where we found out there are TWO masked men. We then see “amateur footage” of Ric Flair and Mr. T together in Chicago at Michael Jordan’s restaurant. This is important as Mr. T is the special referee for Hogan vs Flair tonight.
Match #2: WCW World Tag Team Championship – Stars and Stripes (c) (Marcus Bagwell and The Patriot) vs Pretty Wonderful (“Pretty” Paul Roma and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff)
Ya know, Paul Roma gets a lot of shit, but he holds the distinction of being in two of my favorite tag teams ever. Power & Glory in the WWF with Hercules Hernandez, and here with Orndorff in WCW as Pretty Wonderful. I also love that team name.
Marcus Bagwell gets a USA chant started. It’s good to know New York and Virginia aren’t in the US, but ok. Patriot and Orndorff start off as Heenan theorizes that The Patriot is actually Al Gore. Now THAT’S a political conspiracy I can get behind. Paul tags in Paul as the Patriot applies a wristlock before tagging in the future Buff Bagwell. Roma then leaps up the goddamn ropes in a single bound. Hella impressive. He comes down with a giant punch, ala Jerry Lawler. Crossbody from Bagwell, reminding me how athletic he was in his youth. Patriot’s back in as he and Bagwell isolate Roma. Roma cuts off Bagwell as “Mr. Wonderful” comes in before being immediately caught in a wristlock and two scoop slams from Bagwell. A clothesline sends Orndorff to the outside. Headlock takedown to Bagwell as Roma is tagged back in.
The match slows a little as the heels continue to double team Bagwell. Of course all it takes is two measly punches from Bagwell in order for him to be able to tag the Patriot back in, as he splashes Roma for a two count. The fourteenth wristlock in this match leads to Bagwell being tagged back in. Roma drives Buff into the turnbuckle as Orndorff gets tagged back in. It’s at this point it becomes apparent the crowd is firmly behind Pretty Wonderful, as they damn well should be. Back and forth between Roma and Bagwell until Buff hits a springboard crossbody for a two count. It doesn’t last as the heels cut off Bagwell yet again. Detroit loves the heels. Bagwell finally counters a suplex from Orndorff with one of his own for a two count. He hops on Orndorff’s back with a sleeper before Roma breaks it up. The Patriot makes the save as all hell breaks loose. Double clothesline followed by a fisherman’s suplex from Bagwell to Orndorff. As Buff has Mr. Wonderful pinned, Roma comes off the top rope with a beautiful elbow drop. Orndorff rolls over and gets a three count! Pretty Wonderful are the new tag team champions!
A complete 180 from the opener. This match was great! The Patriot was only in the ring for like maybe two of the thirteen minutes this match lasted and honestly, that worked in this matches favor! The Patriot looked terrible while he was in there! Roma and Bagwell were great, which is interesting seeing as how history looks back negatively on both men.
Cut backstage where Mean Gene is standing by with Ric Flair and Sherri Martel, who was, um, managing Flair at the time… I guess. In theory, if this stipulation were legit, this could have been the final interview of the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s career. He says tonight will be the end of Hulk Hogan. He says the winner will definitively be the greatest of all time. He and Sherri then go nuts, and it’s awesome. At the announcers table, Tony speculates if Flair has gotten to Mr T. Heenan says Flair is going to win, which means he won’t.
We then see a video of Kevin Sullivan yelling at his brother Dave, who is the world’s biggest Hulkamaniac. The two men go back and forth before Dave punches Kevin right in the mush. Later that night, Kevin attacks Dave during his tag match with Hogan against Flair and the Masked Man.
Match #3: Brother vs Brother – Kevin Sullivan vs Dave Sullivan
Kevin out first and is yelling, “HEY” on his way to the ring. O…kay? Hello? Dave Sullivan out next to the amazing song, “I Want to Be a Hulkamaniac”. Seriously, look that up. It’s some of the cheesiest, hokiest shit I’ve ever heard.
Kevin tries to jump Dave before the bell, but Dave counters with a punch and sends his brother outside. As he rolls back in after failing to catch his brother, Kevin drops an elbow on him and goes on the offensive. Dave counters Kevin trying to send his head into the turnbuckle by uh, sending his brother’s head into the turnbuckle. Big back body drop before Kevin Sullivan once again sends Dave outside and rams him into the post.
So, Dave Sullivan’s whole gimmick is that he is the #1 Hulkamaniac, right? It’s so weird. Was Hogan really okay with having a man who, quite frankly, acts mentally impaired be his biggest fan? Was Kevin Sullivan really okay with having this oaf be his kayfabe brother? Yeah, they’re not even real brothers! Where the hell did they find this guy!? Where’d he come from!? And, where the hell did he go after Hogan turned heel in ’96!? Why wasn’t he The Disciple instead of Brutus f’n Beefcake!?!? Please, can someone explain Dave Sullivan to me? He’s goddamn fascinating.
Anyhow, back to the match and holy crap… nothing’s happening. Just punch… kick… punch… kick… punch. And the crowd is dead for the entirety of it. Dave catches a boot in the face as he charges the future Taskmaster in the corner. On the outside, Kevin grabs a Hogan bandanna and shoves it down Dave’s throat. Kevin hits two double footstomps and heads to the top rope only to be yanked down. Dave Sullivan then does what I can only describe as…”Daving Up.” He hits Kevin with a big boot to ZERO reaction.
Dave is about to put Kevin away when Kevin grabs the Hogan bandanna from earlier and puts it on, in a sign of solidarity. Dave Sullivan, being an idiot, falls for it. He gets punched in the mouth for his troubles. Both men roll outside, before Kevin throws Dave into the ring post. This somehow ricochets Dave Sullivan back into the ring. Referee Nick Patrick counts to a ten-count a mere second before Kevin Sullivan can make it back into the ring. Therefore, your winner via countout is Hulkamaniac #1, Dave Sullivan.
Another absolute stinker. You don’t realize how talented Hulk Hogan is until you see someone copy his shtick, and do it infinitely worse.
Almost IMMEDIATELY we cut back to Tony and Bobby, who talk about Hogan’s bad knee heading into the cage match tonight. They then send us to a video package for out next match; Dustin Rhodes vs Arn Anderson.
Dustin was looking for a tag team partner and asked Arn Anderson to join him as he battled Colonel Robert Parker’s men, Bunkhouse Buck and Terry Funk. At Clash of the Champions, Arn accepted. Jump to Bash at the Beach where GASP, Arn, Buck, Funk, Meng and Parker beat the shit out of Dustin. This injured his arm. We see an interview backstage that night where Parker’s men are celebrating and Arn get beer dumped on his head, which shockingly startles him.
Match #4: Arn Anderson vs Dustin Rhodes
Arn is out first wearing a vest along with Col. Parker and Meng. Randy Anderson is also the referee, so this is the greatest combination of talent in history. Dustin out next to his amazing theme, with the lyrics, “YEAH THEY CALL HIM THE NATURAL.”
Dustin is wearing some hideous purple trunks. Though to be honest, it’s weird to see him in anything other than a gold jumpsuit. Early on, the two men go back and fourth continuously. Arn, frustrated, punches Dustin and gets a big ol’ uppercut which knocks him on his rear end. Anderson crotches Rhodes who was attempting to go up top. Dustin knocks Arn down to the canvas and nails a top rope lariat for a two count.
Back on offense, Arn comes off the second rope and catches Dustin’s leg, who was attempting to block Arn’s move. Schiavone mentions at this point that Dustin should have known better than to ask Arn Anderson to be his partner. After all, Arn did help break Dusty Rhodes leg in 1985 and his arm in 1986. Fair point, Tony. What a dumbass that Dustin turned out to be, huh?
On the outside, Arn goes to punch Dustin, who moves out of the way causing the Enforcer to hit the ring post. In the ring, Rhodes works over Arn’s arm. Ha, Arn’s arm. Why’s that funny? Armbar by Dustin and Jesus, the state of it. Eat your heart out, Jon Jones.
Dustin goes for a lariat, but Arn moves and Rhodes FLYS 10 feet away from the ring. Arn pulls Dustin back in and punches him in the gut for a two count. Anderson catapults Dustin’s throat into the bottom rope. After Rhodes screams, “SHIT,” he rakes Arn’s eyes across the top rope. Both men punch the crap out of each other before a double clothesline knocks them both down.
Rhodes is able to get the upper hand, hitting Arn with another lariat for a two. Dustin goes for a backdrop, but Arn grabs him for a DDT! Swerve! Rhodes hangs on to the top rope! Yeah, wrestling! Rhodes gives Anderson a Stun Gun, then goes to drop a knee on Arn’s previously injured arm, but misses. Anderson capitalizes and goes for a piledriver. Dustin back drops the Enforcer however, but Arn rolls him and grabs the ropes for the advantage. Randy Anderson stops counting, allowing Dustin to counter with a roll up of his own and he gets the win!
Arn Anderson jumps him immediately following the bell and hits a DDT. He beats down Rhodes further, but ultimately, Dustin Rhodes was still victorious.
This was a good match, but I was kinda expecting more from these two. Seems like they could have produced a classic, but instead put out a solid, ultimately forgettable bout.
In the back, we have Gene Okerlund standing by with Brother Bruti, Jimmy Hart and the champion himself, Hulk Hogan. Hulkster babbles on about slamming Andre in Detroit and how he was going to put Flair out to pasture. Gene then brings up Mr. T being seen with Flair, but Hogan assures us he still trusts T. Hulk talks about how he’s not worried about the celebrities in attendance and he’s going to end Flair’s career, once and for all.
We then see that at Fall Brawl last month, Stunning Steve Austin was originally going to defend the US Title against Ricky Steamboat, but Steamboat pulled out due to injury. Austin says it was the best thing Steamboat has ever done and, “You saved yourself a hell of an ass kicking!”
This might sound weird considering that dude is Stone Cold… but yeah, that sounded just like Stone Cold! It was awesome. WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel tells Austin that he is still going to defend the US Title… against Hacksaw Jim Duggan. And thus, mid-90’s WCW continued to become 1980’s-WWF.
In one of the most boneheaded moves in the history of pro wrestling, Hacksaw Jim Duggan beat Steve Austin for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship in thirty-five seconds. Fuck off with that nonsense. Let’s be honest folks, Jim Duggan sucked in the WWF. But now, Jim Duggan sucks in his 40’s and is beating the future biggest star in wrestling in less than a minute. Hooray!
Match #5: WCW United States Heavyweight Championship – “Stunning” Steve Austin vs “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (c)
Austin out first and let me just say that I’m very proud of the fact that I currently have the same hair as 1994 Steve Austin. Let’s just hope I’m not bald in two years. Duggan out next, and I hate him already. What the hell is his character? Mentally impaired patriot? Yeah, put that on a shirt! Duggan 3:16 says, “I Just HOOOOOOed Your Ass!”
Austin jumps Hacksaw before the bell, thank God. If he’s going to lose, at least make him look like a badass in the process. Duggan gets the upper hand and slams Austin, yelling annoyingly the whole time. Hacksaw grabs a headlock and looks exhausted. Keep in mine, we’re only three minutes in! Yeah, put a title on the old, stupid guy with shitty cardio!
Austin flips over Duggan and starts stomping his knee. Stunning Steve goes for an Indian Deathlock, but Hacksaw kicks him in the ass and sends him to the corner. He rolls Austin up, briefly exposing the world’s toughest butt-crack, but only gets a two count. Remember that knee that Austin worked over the first four minutes of the match? Well, Duggan sells it by… not selling it at all! Good on ya, Jim. Austin rakes Duggan’s eyes and forces him to sell by going back to attacking his knee. Austin goes the jump on Hacksaw’s leg, but ol’ Duggers moves out of the way.
Duggan hits a lackadaisical, shitty atomic drop, sending Austin to the outside. He then starts a “USA” chant. Funny, I always thought Victoria, Texas was IN the United States. Austin crawls back into the ring and asks Duggan for a handshake, but instead Hacksaw punches him. What a dick. I’d also like to point out that if you think I’m being harsh to Hacksaw, listen to Heenan’s commentary on this match. It’s much harsher.
Side headlock on Austin as Duggan says, “Ho.” Ha. Austin catches Duggan with a boot off the ropes, and gives Duggers a double ax handle off the second rope. He goes for another and connects. He goes for a third, but Duggan catches him with a clothesline. Hacksaw punches “Stunning” Steve, as it’s the only thing he can do well. Austin hugs the referee in the corner, but as Hacksaw comes from behind to break it up, the Rattlesnake kicks him right in the 2×4.
Austin stomps a mudhole in Duggan’s ass and walks it dry. As the dumb crowd chants “USA,” Duggan pushes Steve down. The two men trade punches, until Austin gets him down. He goes for a cover and cunt Duggan kicks out at 1. Seriously, dude? You can’t even give him a two!? Austin heads back to the second rope and nails Hacksaw with an elbow, shades of Bret Hart here. Huh, interesting. Austin goes for a cover and AGAIN cunt Duggan kicks out a 1! Get outta here.
Austin goes for another elbow, this time off the top, but Duggan moves. Austin gets a punch to the face, his head ran into the turnbuckle and a backbody drop. Duggan goes for a 3-Point-Stance, but Austin throws him over the top, resulting in a DQ. Despite the DQ, Austin beats down Hacksaw on the outside. But Duggan gets his revenge on the inside as he runs Austin off with his 2×4.
Good God, Steve Austin is a miracle worker. The fact he was able to get a decent match out of Duggan is remarkable. Hacksaw was absolutely useless. He was simply a body in the ring that Steve Austin worked around for ten minutes.
Fun fact; Halloween Havoc ’94 was the last time Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan would be on the same pay per view until WWF No Way Out in February, 2002.
We see Gene Okerlund standing by the entrance way plugging the WCW Hotline. It was this point in the show that my VHS copy from childhood started. So, everything from this point was my introduction to WCW.
Gene brings out Sting, who was conspicuous by his absence on this show. He’s wearing a tux and awesome sunglasses. He tells us he’s going to be sitting ringside next to Muhammad Ali for the rest of the show. Wonder why?
Cut to a video package recapping the feud between Vader and the Guardian Angel. The Guardian Angel, of course, was the Big Boss Man in the WWF. I will continue to refer to him as Boss Man from this point. We see at Bash at the Beach, Vader got Boss Man disqualified by giving him a nightstick, even though he never hit Vader with it. At Fall Brawl, Vader’s manager Harley Race headbutted Boss Man, allowing Vader to hit the Vader-bomb to win. On an episode of WCW Saturday Night, Boss Man got his hands on Race but Vader and Race double team to injure Boss Man. The next week, Boss Man interfered in Vader’s match with Sting, costing Vader the match. He handcuffed Race to the ring post and grabbed a chair but before he could strike him, Doug Dellinger, head of WCW Security, stopped him.
Match #6: The Guardian Angel vs Big Van Vader w/ Harley Race
The Guardian Angel out first, flanked by four other members of the Guardian Angels. Did you know Vampiro is a Guardian Angel? It’s true, look it up. Boss Man actually had really cool music too. But not as cool as the music of BIG VAN VADER. Vader, with no elephant mask sadly, is out next with Harley Race. This was right at the beginning of Vader becoming more obese than muscular. He walks by Ali and Sting, barking at them and telling Ali that he’s the man.
Inside the ring, Boss Man attacks Race before the bell. It’s funny, Vader kinda chuckles when he walks over and sees Race down, and he’s in no rush to get in the ring. Vader shows Boss Man his guns before they lock horns. Race hops on the apron, distracting the ref, leading to nothing. Vader then gives his patented nose breaking punches. Three short-standing-clotheslines send Boss Man to the outside, a trend on this show. Boss Man sends Vader into the barricade and nails Race for good measure. Boss Man freaking slams Race inside the ring. Vader tries to sneak attack, but Boss Man nails him first and SLAMS VADER ON TOP OF HARLEY RACE. MY GOD.
Vader yanks his mask off which BLEW MY MIND this first time I saw this as he never took it off in his Fed’ run. Boss Man gives Vader a split-legged legdrop, like he’s a Hardy Boy. Irish whip followed by a Boss Man splash in the corner. Vader fights back however and goes for a suplex, but Boss Man counters with one of his own. He follows that up with a big boot but the OH MY GOD. VADER STRAIGHT UP PUNCHES THIS S.O.B IN THE MOUTH AS HARD AS HE CAN, FIVE TIMES. This obviously knocks Boss Man down, and Vader climbs the second rope and goes for a crossbody but Boss Man counters with a damn powerslam. Boss Man is amazing.
Boss Man then heads up top and hits, unfortunately, a pretty bad headbutt which gets him a two count. Boss Man chops Vader in the throat and clotheslines him to the outside. He yanks him back inside, headbutts Vader and sends him into the ropes, but Vader catches him with a lariat, that seemingly hurts Vader’s bicep. Vader slams Boss Man down and goes for the Vader bomb and connects for ONLY a two count. He goes for another, but Boss Man gets his knees in Vader’s midsection. Boss Man hits Vader with a spinebuster for a two count.
Boss Man hits Vader with the Boss Man-slam, but Race distracts him from pinning Vader. Boss Man suplexes Race from the outside into the ring, but as he lands Vader splashes him for the three and the win. I’m happy Vader won, mostly because I get to hear his song again.
This. Match. Ruled. And the first time I saw it, it blew my mind. I had only ever seen these two during their run in the WWF during the Attitude Era, well after their primes. If only I knew what I was missing. I love this match, and have, for like, twelve years since I first saw it. Though it makes me sad. It makes me sad these two guys aren’t wrestling today. Could you imagine Boss Man or Vader in ’94 against Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman or Roman Reigns!? God, I need a time machine.
Mean Gene interviews boxing legend and Detroit native, Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns. One wonders if Bret got the name “Hitman” from Tommy Hearns? Though, I’m sure Bret would say his name came first. (It didn’t.) He says he is looking forward to Flair vs Hogan and that all they are thinking about is winning. This was harmless; seems like a nice fella.
We cut to a video of Dusty Rhodes recruiting his team for WarGames in a bar. His team was himself, Dustin Rhodes and the Nasty Boys. Dream had his top button buttoned, and his head looked like it was about to pop. After the match, the Nasty Boys were attacked while shirtless (AHH) by Colonel Parker and his men. The Nasties retaliated by attacking Funk and Brown on Saturday Night. Meng nearly got in the ring to fight them, but Parker restrained him.
Match #7: The Nasty Boys vs Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck w/ Colonel Robert Parker & Meng
Funk, Buck, Parker and Meng are out first and look badass. This was only the second Terry Funk match I’d ever seen, the other was that damn Dumpster Match at WrestleMania. Knobbs and Saggs are out next with a jack-o-lantern and Beavis and Butthead masks. I haaated the Nasty Boys when I first saw them. I think it was because of that episode of Hogan Knows Best where Knobbs lived with Hogan and was HELLA annoying.
The bell sounds as Knobbs and Funk pair off in one corner, while Saggs and Buck are brawling in the other. The Nasties throw Funk and Buck into each other as they fumble out of the ring. It’s funnier on video. Funk throws his entrance chaps at Ali and Sting.
Some order is restored as we have Knobbs and Funk properly start. Knobbs punches Terry to the outside as he throws a tantrum. Back in the ring, Saggs is tagged in and rubs his ass in Funk’s face, then throws him into Knobbs armpit. Terry responds by screaming, “You son of a bitch! Damn you!” Heenan says Funk probably has “black lung” now, like a coal miner.
Funk tags in Buck and Knobbs tags in Saggs. The two of the Nasties work Buck over in the corner, before Irish whipping Funk into Buck, ass first (of course). Lot of asses on this show. Funk grabs a chair on the outside and hits himself in the skull with it. Repeatedly. He walks by Muhammad Ali and Sting. Ali looks concerned, Sting looks amused.
Back in the match (remember that?), Funk and Saggs do a lockup. Because wrestling! Back to the outside again! Bunkhouse strangles Saggs with a noose (!) then throws him back inside. Funk and Buck throw him into the ropes, but Saggs hits both men with a face buster. He gives the hot tag to Knobbs who beats down the Stud Stable. Buck trips Knobbs however, then goes to nail Knobbs with brass knuckles, but Nick Patrick catches him.
Funk has Knobbs by the arms, Meng jumps on the apron while Saggs grabs the pumpkin from earlier. Meng goes to hit Knobbs, but gets Funk instead. Knobbs takes out Buck, while SAGGS GIVES FUNK A PILEDRIVER ON A PUMPKIN. The Nasty Boys get the win.
This match was fine. Pretty basic and maybe went to the outside one too many times.
At the announcer’s table, Tony informs us a part of the proceeds from tonight’s even will be donated to the Muhammad Ali Future Foundation, a foundation which helps troubled youths. Let it be known, WCW was partnered with this foundation and UNICEF, yeeeears before WWE was taping the middle rope pink for a Breast Cancer Awareness foundation where the CEO makes in the high six figures.
In the ring, Gene Okerlund is standing by with the president of WCW, Bill Shaw, the E.V.P of WCW, Eric Bischoff (you may have heard of him) and Muhammad Ali. Shaw presents Ali with a check from Turner Broadcasting for his foundation. We then have Eric Bischoff presenting Ali with a beautiful plaque. This segment was great. However, it was also pretty sad, as Ali’s Parkinson’s Disease had already taken over to the point where he could no longer speak. It’s honestly amazing he was around for another 22 years after this.
The announcer’s then pick their winner for the main event. Tony Schiavone picks Hulk Hogan and Bobby Heenan picks Ric Flair. They truly treated this match like it was the most important that either man had ever seen. Tony and Bobby were selling this match as the last match of either Hogan or Flair’s career. They were so good. I love Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan; but damnit, Schiavone and Heenan were better. (editor’s note: !!!?!)
Match #8: WCW World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match – Career vs Career – Hulk Hogan (c) w/ Jimmy Hart vs Ric Flair w/ Sherri Martel – Special Guest Referee; Mr. T
Michael Buffer doing ring introductions. Once again, this felt important. You can hear both Tony and Bobby clapping for Flair as he enters first with Sherri. The pop Flair gets is gigantic. Hogan out next to the song “American Made”. A song that is better than Real American. Yeah, I said it. Tweet me your hate mail. He’s accompanied by Jimmy Hart and Brother Bruti. Bruti leaves after they enter. Heenan says he hopes this is the last time he ever sees Hulk Hogan rip his shirt off. Spoiler, it wasn’t. Unfortunately. Both men are in the ring and the bell has rung, but the cage isn’t lowered and Buffer is still doing his ring introduction. The state of this cage. It’s barely taller than Hogan. The bell sounds… again.
Hogan starts hot, taking Flair to the corner but for some reason, Mr. T breaks it up. Hogan shoves his bandanna down Flair’s throat, like he’s Dave Sullivan. T shoves Hogan for doing so, but gladly lets Flair poke Hogan in the eyes. T is a babyface, by the way. Jimmy Hart is so damn loud, Heenan even yells at him to shut up. We see that Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel is at ringside, and we get a cool shot of Sting’s sunglasses with the reflection of the cage on them.
Flair begins to target Hogan’s previously injured knee. We have shots of Tommy Hearns and Muhammad Ali looking on. WCW did a fantastic job of making this feel important. That was really a skill they lost during the rushed, chaotic days of the Monday Night War. Hogan gets back on the offensive and rams Flair into the cage. He and T get into a shoving match, but Flair jumps off the top rope and nails Hogan. Flair with a vertical suplex to Hogan gets a two count. Flair pelvic thrusts at the crowd, as well he should.
The Hulkster mounts a comeback as he and the Nature Boy brawl on the top rope, before Flair falls on it, crotch first. Hulk gives Flair an Irish Whip, but Flair gets the boot up as Hogan charges. Hulk gets a roll up for a two. Hogan the no-sells Flair’s chops and mounts another comeback, throwing Flair into the cage. As Hogan and T argue, Flair tries to leave the cage. It’s worth mentioning that the only way to win this match is by pinfall or submission. Hogan yanks him down, but Flair attacks the knee once again. As Flair tears at the wrapping on Hogan’s knee, Mr. T pulls him off and the two men shout at each other. Hogan does a much better job selling the knee that Duggan. Hulk Hogan is a better wrestler than Jim Duggan. Breaking news, I know.
Ric Flair the puts Hogan in the figure-four leg lock. Bobby and Tony hammer home how the damage to Hulk’s knee is too much for him to survive this. Hogan somehow turns Flair around, but Ric quickly fights out of it. Back on their feet, Flair throws Hogan into Mr. T. Sherri then starts climbing the cage but Jimmy Hart stops her, yanking her dress off in the process, revealing her surprisingly whopper arse. Sherri shoves Hart into the camera man as retaliation.
Sherri attempts climbing again, but this time Sting hops the guardrail and stops her. As Sting scolds Sherri, the Masked Man comes from underneath the ring a waffles Sting with a pipe. He then take out Jimmy Hart as well.
Sherri finally scales to the top of the cage and jumps on Hogan, who no sells her attack. The Masked Man also climbs up and dangles the pipe over the side of the cage. Meanwhile, Sherri and Flair are handcuffing T to the bottom rope. Why? I have no idea, but Heenan does allude to its kinkiness. Flair then rams Hogan headfirst into the pipe, as the Masked Man flees. Sherri and Ric continue to work over Hogan, leading to a vertical suplex, which Hogan pops right back up from.
Hulk gives both Flair and Sherri a clothesline, a suplex and another suplex. Sherri goes to leave but Hogan slams her back in. Hogan gives Sherri a big boot for, like, no reason, she was still down. After a couple of chops, The Hulkster “Hulks Up” one more time. He nails a big boot and a leg drop on Ric Flair and Mr T counts the three count! Hogan retains! Flair’s career is over!
My God, what a match. This is probably my favorite Hulk Hogan match ever. And to me, this is the best match that Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan ever had. It’s their definitive battle.
As Hogan’s music plays, Muhammad Ali hands him the WCW World Title and Hulk hotdogs and grandstands inside of the ring. It’s weird though. It’s almost like the end of Ric Flair’s career was an afterthought to all of this. Thank God, it wasn’t legitimate.
Just as it looks like we’re about to sign out and roll credits, the Masked Man sneaks back down to ringside. He tries to jump Hogan, but the Hulkster catches him. After a few punches, Hogan grabs his and takes off his mask to reveal… Brother Bruti! Heenan almost immediately gets out the line, “That man has BUTCHERED a friendship!!”
Kevin Sullivan the saunters his way down to ringside, and he is followed by John Tenta, Earthquake from the WWF! Now known as Avalanche, he slams and crushes Hogan. Bruti then shows us exactly why he shouldn’t be a main eventer. He can’t help himself and makes over the top, goofy, fake faces. It’s just silly. Suddenly, Sting runs down to the ring and is able to run off the attackers of Hulkamania.
Tony, Bobby and Gene sign off, as Heenan thanks Flair through tears. The spooky Halloween credits roll, and just like that, Halloween Havoc 1994 has came to an end.
Dude, I love this show. I’m so glad that this show was my introduction to WCW. I firmly believe the quality of this show is the reason that I fell in love with the brand. By this point in my life, I had only seen clips of WCW. Highlight reels. I knew what it was, but I didn’t truly appreciate how different it was than the WWF, which I was so used to.
My question was, does this show hold up? Well, hell yeah it does. It’s probably even better now, especially since I can watch the whole thing. Sure there were a couple of stinkers, but the overall quality cannot be denied. Flair vs Hogan and Vader vs Guardian Angel are worth the price of admission all by themselves.
Now of course, the aftermath of this show isn’t as great. Brother Bruti, Kevin Sullivan and Avalanche formed the group that eventually became known as… The Dungeon of Doom. Yes, this show is responsible for the goddamn Dungeon of Doom. So with that in mind, it’s not all great. It also led to that year’s Starrcade main event; Hulk Hogan vs Brother Bruti.
Yes. Brutus Beefcake…main-evented Starrcade. The horror. The horror.
Regardless of the aftermath and the poor quality of a few of the matches, this show will always hold a very special place in my heart. I make it a tradition to always watch this show around Halloween every year. It’s become a part of my life, and I’ll always appreciate it for that.
Join me, and make this show a part of your All Hallow’s Eve this year.
Happy Halloween, folks!
White hummer enthusiast, Tony Schiavone super-fan and the youngest WCW fan on the internet! Though my memories of watching WCW live are very few, my love and admiration for the company and brand run deep. I’ll be writing all sorts of interesting (hopefully) columns and opinion pieces about various WCW shows, many of which I may be watching for the first time. Proud to be on the website, where the big boys play!