(Once again we’re at that point in the Observer Flashbacks, so here’s my 2012 Scott Sez version of Halloween Havoc 91, which is not one of my favorite shows ever to say the least. I will also pop in here and there add more thoughts if needed. This rant really needs a redo badly, but I just don’t have time this week. The Johnny B. Badd stuff in particular remains a really embarrassing remnant of a different time in my writing career, which I apologize for.)
The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Halloween Havoc 91
– Live from Chattanooga, Tennessee
– Your hosts are Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, something you don’t see everyday. (Because they HATE each other. Weird that those two guys in particular would have heat, but announcing is a cut-throat business, I guess.)
– Before we get started, Eric Bischoff is working as a parking valet outside, and welcomes various people to Havoc. When he gets to Barry Windham, Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko rush into the scene and slam the door on Windham’s hand, breaking it. This is how Larry got the “Cruncher” nickname. (And that little boy grew up to be…Roy Cohn. And now you know the rest of the story.)
– Opening match: Chamber of Horrors. Big Van Vader, Diamond Studd, Abdullah the Butcher and Cactus Jack v. Sting, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner and El Gigante.
Here’s the concept: Eight guys in a big cage, and the only way to win the match is to…wait for it…put your opponent in an electric chair and pull the lever. This match made Netcop Busts without a second thought, in case there was a doubt. Besides the obvious faults, this match suffers from several other faults. (Existing, for instance.) For instance, the lack of a flow or storyline. Also, the camera work is awful, constantly pulling back for a wide shot when there’s no way to see through the huge cage. The crowd is dead because there’s just no way to follow what’s going on. It’s a big brawl for about 10 minutes, with Sting, Cactus and Abdullah all bleeding. Abby gets put into the chair and after a contrived sequence, Cactus Jack pulls the switch and Abby is “electrocuted” to give the faces the win. I can’t even rate this, it was too weird. Jack and Sting took some nice bumps, the rest is hit-or-miss. (Some people have actually defended this mess, in what I can only assume is a bizarre case of Stockholm Syndrome.)
– The Creatures v. Big Josh & PN News.
The Creatures are Joey Maggs and someone else under masks. And this is a squash. Yo baby, yo baby, yo, this also made Netcop Busts. News gets the pin with the Big Fat-Assed Splash. DUD (There’s carrying on a Halloween gimmick and then there’s stupid fucking WCW bullshit. UPDATE: As we also learned in the Flashbacks, not only are the Creatures a stupid idea, but they were supposed to be Jim Herd’s long-simmering Hunchbacks making their debut here, so at least it could have been worse?)
– Bobby Eaton v. Terrence Taylor.
This was the continuation of the Worldwide series between the York Foundation and Eaton/Zenk. Very old school stuff, as Taylor plays the cowardly heel and they take it to the mat early and often. Hot spot as Eaton slams Taylor on the rampway and does a splash off the top. Eaton continues the bumps as he does the Bret Hart bump off the apron into the railing. Looked good. York has switched to an actual notebook computer here, it should be noted. (Not an insignificant amount of money in 1991, actually. I didn’t even get a notebook until sometime around 1997 and even then it was a bottom-of-the-line piece of crap where I had to run OS/2 on it in order to get any kind of useful performance out of it.) You know the difference between the commentary then and today? When Eaton is out of the ring, Ross notes that he has a 10-count to make it in, and if Taylor distracts the referee then the count is broken. It’s just the nuances that improve the commentary for new viewers. (They apparently don’t even care about getting new viewers today since the shows have become so dense and self-referential that Grant Morrison would watch it and go “I wish this was more accessible.”) Eaton takes another wicked bump as Taylor delivers a Doctorbomb on the rampway. Eaton takes a hellacious shitkicking, coming back with a couple of close falls of his own that get the crowd going. I’m still not sure it was a great idea to turn Eaton heel at this point, given his popularity. Taylor misses the pump splash, allowing Eaton to make the super-redneck comeback and hit the RIGHT HAND OF DOOM! Neckbreaker, Alabama Jam, it’s over. Great match. **** Eaton was a very underappreciated talent.
– Johnny B. Badd v. Jimmy Garvin.
Restructured rant feature (political correctness and all…): The Johnny B. Badd “Lenny-O-Meter”, measuring how much of a flaming queer Badd looks like. 10 would be his first appearance at Superbrawl, 1 would be the final appearance in 1996 before he was fired. This is at 9, with the Chippendales outfit, Badd Blaster, and more frills than you can shake a stick at. The Freebirds suck up to the fans by wearing Atlanta Braves jackets and encouraging the war-cry. Badd takes a good bump right off by getting hiptossed out of the ring, over the top rope. I might have to deduct a LoM point for taking it like a man. The match goes downhill with nothing much going on until Badd misses an elbow off the top rope and Garvin goes back on offense. Badd takes a wussy bump over the top rope, negating that point I took off earlier. Double noggin knocker leads to the double knockout spot. Garvin hits a vicious DDT, but the referee is distracted with Teddy Long. Badd hits the TOOTY FRUITY PUNCH OF DEATH! and gets the pin. * (They would rematch a few years later in a SuperBrawl match where Jimmy Garvin was pulled out of retirement to do a job for Badd.)
– TV Title match: Stunning Steve Austin v. Dustin Rhodes.
Yes, back when Austin had hair and a hot valet. Two years later, they would battle for the US title. 7 years later, and Austin would throw Rhodes into “Crapper 3:16” and go on to win the World title. Life is weird. This is your typical 1991 Worldwide TV title defense, most of which ended in 10 minute draws. The camera pans into the crowd, showing the world Dusty Rhodes’ mother for the first time I can remember. I’m scarred for life now, I swear. They compensate by showing Lady Blossom’s breasts a lot. Picture Debra McMichael with even bigger assets, if you’ve never seen Jeannie before. We go about five minutes before Dustin slices the requisite artery on the forehead and bleeds all over the place. Dull action as they build to the time-limit finish. Dustin gets the near-falls with two minutes left. Austin does a sympathy bladejob. Dustin with the 10 PUNCHES OF DOOM, the BIONIC ELBOW OF DEATH, and goes to the top for a bulldog with 3 seconds left, which doesn’t leave enough time to count a pin. Austin retains. ** (Resurrecting the 10 minute time limit for US title defenses on the 3 hour RAWs wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.)
– Bill Kazmaier v. Oz.
Shoulderblock, shoulderblock, shoulderblock. Kazmaier wins with a torture rack. –* (Oz made out OK. But damn, I don’t remember him lasting THAT long in the gimmick before the change to Vinnie Vegas.)
– Van Hammer v. Doug Somers.
Remember when Hammer was getting pushed? Squash-a-roo. Van Hammer hasn’t gotten much better since then. Hammer wins in about a minute with a slingshot suplex. DUD (Damn, Pretty Boy Doug Somers. What rock did they find him under?)
– WCW Lightheavyweight title: Richard Morton v. Brian Pillman.
This would be the tournament final for the original lightheavy title. Morton is not cut out for this type of match. Notable Japanese dignitary at ringside: Wally “Choppy-choppy-your-pee-pee” Yamaguchi. Long boring match which Pillman wins with a bodypress off the top rope. The most notable thing about this match was the “refer-eye” camera, mounted on Nick Patrick’s head. * (Morton’s heel turn was a disaster from the moment they left him with the exact same ring gear as babyface Morton. He should have chopped the mullet, grown a beard, and started wearing suits everywhere. The TNA heel version of Jeff Hardy was a perfect example of what they should have done with Morton.)
– The WCW Halloween Phantom v. Tom Zenk.
If you don’t know who the Phantom is, I won’t spoil it yet. The Phantom makes short work of Zenk, finishing it with a reverse neckbreaker. The angle would progress later in the show, so I won’t bother to rate this.
– WCW World tag team title match: Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko v. Todd Champion & Firebreaker Chip.
The Patriots were the US tag team champions at this point. A very dull match and I want to get to the next segment anyway, so we’ll fast forward to Arn hitting Chip with the spinebuster to retain the titles. *1/2 (I demand a WCW Special Forces t-shirt on WWE Shopzone!)
– Eric Bischoff brings out recently fired WCW commentator Paul E. Dangerously. He was dumped for being too controversial, but found a loophole because he still had his manager’s licence. And if there’s one thing you don’t want, it’s a pissed off Paul E. And so after more than a year of being a wimpy announcer, Paul E. brings out the WCW Halloween Phantom and swears his revenge on the federation that fired him, beginning with Sting, the franchise of WCW. Is this is a great storyline or what? To top it off, the Phantom unmasks to reveal…Ravishing Rick Rude. Big pop for that. The Dangerous Alliance would go on to terrorize WCW before the angle wrapped up at WrestleWar 92 and they self-destructed. (One of my favorite angles of all time.)
– WCW World title match, 2/3 falls: Lex Luger v. Ron Simmons.
Luger has Harley Race with him, while Simmons has Dusty Rhodes. I don’t know who to pity. Exciting headlock spot to start, Simmons takes control with several shoulderblocks, and hits a spinebuster for the first fall about 5 minutes in. Rhodes offers some inspirational words during the rest period. Simmons goes right back to the attack, getting a few two counts. Luger is either badly injured or playing someone who is, because he ain’t doing shit. The announcers talk about the Braves, thus reminding us of the colossal blunder involved in scheduling this show against the World Series. (Back when anyone cared about baseball enough that it would hurt PPV buyrates.) Luger takes advantage of a Simmons blunder to slowly go on the offense. Powerslam for two. Luger must have blown up early in the match because he’s sucking wind so noticeably that Ross points it out. A very long chinlock results as Luger tries to recouperate. Simmons comes back with the SHOULDERBLOCKS OF DEATH as the managers fight (I’m surprised one of them didn’t blade) and Luger charges but gets dumped over the top rope, thus earning Simmons a DQ and giving Luger the second fall. Simmons controls the third, doing the Angry Negro (tm Christopher Priest) House O’ Fire right off the bat and getting a two count off a clothesline. Superplex for two. Sloppy powerslam. But Simmons misses a charge and goes into the ringpost, and one piledriver later it’s over. Thank god. * Luger retains, in what was his only successful title defense on PPV. (Did I just BLOW YOUR MIND? Luger was champion for MONTHS and they just couldn’t use him very much because of the restrictive nature of his contract.)
The Bottom Line: The Dangerous Alliance angle started here, but that’s available on highlight packages the shows following. The Taylor-Eaton match was great, but they did lots of great matches on Worldwide. The rest is pretty worthless.
Not really recommended. (To say the least. That main event…)