Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Havoc 1991 - An Electrifying Retrospective

As I read my brother, Matt Ward’s, piece on WCW Halloween Havoc, I became immersed with an intoxicating sense of good ’ol pro wrestling nostalgia.  I sat there and said to myself, “Bah gawd (you know you just read that in Jim Ross’ voice), Halloween Havoc was a great pay per view concept.”  You’d be treated to a stage set with a Halloween motif (granted some years the presentation in the N64 classic WCW vs. NWO Revenge looked better), some cheesy yet very appropriate Halloween music, and even some backstage interviewers dressed for the occasion. There were even instances through the years when WCW would straight up terrify the audience as was the case with the Hollywood Hogan vs. The Warrior main event from the 1998 installment of the show…if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about.

Now before I continue, sure, WCW certainly had its faults and plenty of them (after all, they’d still be in business today if they didn’t) but at the same time you could always say two things about them: 1. They never had a shortage of top tier talent on their roster and 2. As outlandish or flat out ridiculous as their ideas may have been at times, they always made the attempt to put forth cutting edge match concepts. As one looks at the long history of Halloween Havoc, which ran from 1989 through 2000, there was no shortage of the aforementioned talent or match concepts. The star-studded events included such legendary performers as Sting, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Stunning Steve Austin, Diamond Dallas Page, Cactus Jack, and the list goes on and on while the match gimmicks ranged from a “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal Match” to today’s focal point, “The Chamber of Horrors Match.”

Growing up in New Jersey, I didn’t have cable and therefore didn’t watch pay per views live. As Matt had mentioned, this left us at the mercy of our local Blockbuster or Easy Video to satiate our fix. Since WCW didn’t reach its peak until the inception of the NWO, older WCW pay-per-views were a bit more difficult to come by at these now archaic establishments (unless you live in Alaska). I remember back around 2003, I was perusing the sports entertainment selection offered by the Manahawkin, New Jersey Blockbuster Video as I stumbled across the rare gem known as WCW Halloween Havoc 1991. This event boasted the dreaded Chamber of Horrors Match, which despite its predominant billing, occurred first on the telecast.

This bout pitted two teams of four against each other inside of an ominous, weapon laden, steel cage. At this point you might be saying to yourself, “This just sounds like War Games.” Well hold on because shit’s about to get weird. Not only was there a random coffin in the cage that opened halfway through the match to release a masked gimp-like individual who just started attacking the competitors, but I haven’t yet shared with you how victory would be achieved. After the combatants fought for a few minutes, another mini-cage with an electric chair within it was lowered into the center of the ring. The goal was to trap a member of the other team in the “chair of torture,” while another member of your team flipped the massive, Dr. Frankenstein-like “fatal lever” affixed to the side of the cage thereby “electrocuting” the poor soul in the chair. Yes, all of what you just read is correct…tune in to the WWE Network if you don’t believe me.

The combatants of this match were a who’s who in sports entertainment so my guess is they were paid A LOT of money to engage in this match. Team number one was comprised of El Gigante, The Steiner Brothers, and Sting, while the members of team number two included Big Van Vader, Cactus Jack, Abdullah The Butcher, and The Diamond Studd (a young Scott Hall). This match met its conclusion as Abdullah The Butcher seemingly had Rick Steiner trapped in the chair while Cactus Jack climbed the cage wall to the “fatal lever” primed to electrocute him. Unbeknownst to the man from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Rick Steiner got the upper hand on Abdullah The Butcher and strapped him into the “chair of torture.” In what ended up a comical, yet awe inspiring, spectacle, Cactus Jack pulled the lever which caused the lights to go out in the arena as sparks illuminated the ring and engulfed the “chair of torture,” while a bloodied Abdullah The Butcher gyrated in the chair. The sparks were so abundant, they even set the ring apron on fire temporarily….like I said this is 20 minutes of must see TV.

In case you’re curious of what the rest of the card was composed of, here you go:

P.N. News & Big Josh def. The Creatures

Bobby Eaton def. Terrence Taylor w/ Alexandra York (Terri Runnels)

Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) w/ Theodore Long def. Jimmy Garvin w/ Michael P.S. Hayes

WCW World Television Championship

Stunning Steve Austin (c) w/ Lady Blossom vs. Dustin Rhodes - Fought to a draw as they reached the time limit.

Bill Kazmaier def. Oz

-This was another must see moment of the event as Oz, who hailed from the Emerald City, was none other than Kevin Nash with a bleach blonde flat top squaring off with Bill Kazmaier of ESPN and World’s Stongest Man fame.

Van Hammer def. Doug Somers

WCW Light Heavyweight Championship

Brian Pillman def. Richard Morton w/ Alexandra York

The WCW Phantom def. The Z-Man

-While The Phantom was not unmasked during this contest, he did defeat The Z-Man with The Rude Awakening-I think you can figure this one out.

WCW World Tag Team Championship

The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko) (c) def. The Patriots (Todd Champion & Firebreaker Chip)

Interview Segment

Eric Bischoff (dressed up as Count Dracula) interviewed Paul E. Dangerously w/ Madusa as he revealed the WCW Phantom to be Ravishing Rick Rude.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship

Lex Luger (c) w/ Harley Race & Mr. Hughes def. Ron Simmons w/ Dusty Rhodes

-Prior to this match, highlights of Ron Simmons at his alma mater, Florida State, completing football drills, lifting weights, and running bleachers was shown. As I watched, all I could think of was how appropriate it would have been if the song “Montage” from the movie Team America played in the background.

If you’re ever in the mood for a healthy dose of early 90’s pro wrestling entertainment complete with a ref wearing a helmet called the “refer-eye cam” (almost forgot that part), then you could certainly do worse than WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 available on demand on the WWE Network. 

Happy Halloween!!!

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