Halloween Havoc 1996

Standard warning: this is old.

Halloween Havoc 1996
Date: October 27, 1996
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Attendance: 10,000
Commentators: Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

The main things here are of course the NWO matches, which tonight are Hogan vs. Savage for the title and the Outsiders vs. Harlem Heat for the tag titles. Other than that there isn’t a ton here as this is a relatively unimportant show. Sting is the mystery guy now do he’s not here I don’t think. The card looks fairly good though so let’s get to it.

The opening video is about how the NWO has destroyed everyone and tonight it’s Savage’s chance. No reason is given for why he should be different or anything but then again he’s a face so it’s not like it really means anything here.

Cruiserweight Title: Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio

These two have been trading the title back and forth a bit lately. Rey is champion here and Dean has one of his old masks that he ripped off of him. Song angles never get old. Dean jumps him early and we have Mike Tenay here on commentary for the sake of sanity. Mike says that without the mask Rey is done. Nah he won two world titles after that so I’d think Mike is wrong here.

Rey’s knees are both in one piece here so he’s flying all over the place and is the most exciting thing most of the fans have ever seen in their lives. We kind of stop things for a bit here so Rey can put the old mask that Dean brought with him back on. Ok then. These two had some great matches as they did the whole technician vs. high flier thing and it almost always worked. This would be one of those times that it worked.

Dean grounding him here is the right thing to do as it fits into the psychology of the match here. I can live with it when it makes sense I guess. There’s a lot of this in Doug Williams vs. Kendrick at the moment. I love that spinning backbreaker that Dean can snap off like that. They’re doing a nice slow build here and it’s working very well as Rey is going to make his comeback and it’ll be awesome more than likely.

Ah here it comes. He starts busting out all of his big flips and cool moves and they start to work, playing into the idea that as long as Dean keeps it on the mat he can beat Rey. They hit insane speed for a reversal sequence that is just awesome. Rey starts busting out the ranas so you know he’s serious now. Dean counters West Coast Pop into a powerbomb which looks great. A gutwrench powerbomb off the top gives Dean the belt back in a cool ending. He got a BIG face pop despite being a heel here. That’s odd, but ok then.

Rating: B. Solid opener here as the crowd is very awake now. They’ve had better ones but the psychology was here more than it usually is but this worked out well. Rey did his thing and Dean did his. You combine that with good chemistry and this is what you get. Good match and great opener.

Jarrett is replacing Flair in the match vs. the Giant tonight. Any guesses on how this is going to go? Jarrett cuts a decent enough promo on Giant. Again, the guy is talented and no one is questioning that. He’s just not a main event guy, period. He’s just filling in for Flair tonight so there’s no real point to the match. Flair is here too for moral support. He hurt his shoulder so he had to drop the US Title too.

Lord of the Ring: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Eddie Guerrero

Yes, AGAIN they’re fighting over a ring that was won in a battle royal that is worthless at this point. Eddie won the ring at Clash of the Champions and DDP stole it back and now says he doesn’t know where it is. Nick Patrick is refereeing in a neckbrace. This was a feud that went on for a good while but no one remembers it because it meant nothing and went nowhere. They would be in the finals of the US Title Tournament at Starrcade and that’s about it.

Dusty thinks DDP is in the NWO. I think he’s the only big name that didn’t go NWO at some point. Page is still a heel but the pops are beginning to come. He calls Eddie girlfriend for no apparent reason. I’m not entirely sure if this is supposed to be interesting or not. It kind of is but I don’t think that’s what they’re going for here. I don’t know what I mean by that either so don’t try to make sense out of it.

The referee shoves DDP down and gets two for it somehow. DDP was getting better at this time but he still had a lot of moments where he did stuff that just looked awful. We just got one of them. He would have it smoothed out in about 8 months or so for his feud with Savage which was awesome. It’s oddly surprising how boring this match is though. They’re both good workers but this just isn’t interesting me at all. After a lot more of nothing, DDP grabs Eddie’s head and hits the Diamond Cutter to get the pin. Oh and Patrick had the ring apparently. Moving on.

Rating: D+. This wasn’t bad I guess but I just couldn’t get into it at all. It just wasn’t a very interesting match at all but I’ve seen far worse. There’s a severe lack of chemistry here which is odd because they’re both good workers. Just didn’t do it for me here at all.

Savage says this is the calm before the storm. When has Savage EVER been calm? He’s going to snap into Hogan. Wow that makes me want a Slim Jim. Oh and look who the sponsor is!

We literally go straight to Dean Malenko who says he’ll fight anybody that wants a shot, including Rey. Tenay towers over him which is a weird visual.

Ted DiBiase and the Giant are in the crowd for an NWO interview. The Giant has the US Title, even though he isn’t champion. Apparently Jarrett was offered a spot and turned it down. That’s fine enough for a story. Giant tries to talk and he’s a mile ahead of his debut last year, but it’s still pretty bad.

The Giant vs. Jeff Jarrett

Dusty says some people call Jeff Jarrett the giant killer. Who in the world has ever said that? Jarrett is a country guy here but he’s not singing at least. Again, the guy is fine for stuff like this. Just don’t put him much higher. Flair is here for support and comes out to his own entrance just because he feels like it I guess. The problem was that Jarrett had two things going against him: he was a heel in WWF, and he absolutely sucks as a face. Jarrett uses hit and run tactics and has strutted three times in 60 seconds.

Heenan says this is the NEW WCW. Oh that’s funny. And now Jarrett proves why he’s an idiot by putting on a headlock. When Tony Schiavone says you’re doing something stupid, you know you’re an idiot. And then he tries a hip toss. So basically Jarrett looked smart for about 45 seconds and since then he’s looked like an idiot. We get a MASSIVE NWO chant as that’s how much Jarrett is disliked. The NWO was still pretty evil at this point and they’re getting cheered somehow.

Giant balances out the stupidity of JJ by using basic, non-power moves. Flair grabs a mic and gives Jeff a pep talk. Giant does some backbreakers. That’s about the extent of their description. Did someone think this was a good idea for a match? Jarrett was a good worker but against guys the size of the Giant there’s only so many guys that can do much with him. Jarrett hits two PERFECT dropkicks and then tries to slam him.

The problem here is apparent and to be fair this isn’t Jarrett’s fault: he can’t do much to Giant due to the size. He punches a lot and throws dropkicks but how much of a match can you have based on that? Also in a match like this it’s heavily based around building up momentum for the big face comeback. When the face is booed every time he does something though it just doesn’t work that well. Now keep in mind this was supposed to be Flair but he got hurt so they did the best they could.

Jarrett knocks him down with a high cross body but gets the strong toss off. Figure four doesn’t work and we hit the floor. Figure four out there results in Jarrett getting his throat grabbed so Flair just hits him low for the DQ. The Horsemen come out for protection. Remember Jarrett wasn’t a Horseman at this point and was just a friend of Flair’s.

Rating: D. Just not a good match here but like I said, what did you really want them to do out here? The size was just too much to deal with and the crowd HATING Jarrett didn’t help either. Also Giant was still fairly inexperienced against guys that weren’t power guys that could help carry him, so I can give him a break on that. Still just a bad match though.

DiBiase is with Vincent (Virgil) and Syxx (X-Pac/Sean Waltman). They talk way too nicely about Jericho and how they’re coming for the Cruiserweight Title.

Chris Jericho vs. Syxx

The commentators having to ignore the NWO being cheered is always funny. Patrick is the referee again which has to be leading somewhere. This is before the neck injury for Waltman so he’s incredibly fast here. The Dungeon of Doom is at ringside. This is a very fast paced match as we talk about Jericho’s dad for no apparent reason.

This is one of those matches that is hard to comment on as it’s pretty good. Waltman could go against small guys and this is no exception. It wasn’t until he because X-Pac and became the giant killer or whatever that he became so annoying. We crank it up after a good deal of Syxx dominance.

Tony and Heenan get in an argument over whether or not Nick Patrick made a fast count. Oh that’s funny. Allegedly he’s counting slow for Jericho and there may be something to that. Dusty wants him arrested. Even Heenan gets on him for being slow. Ok now you know it’s serious. Jericho gets what should have been a five or so and yells at Patrick about it. He walks into a spinkick for the regular speed pin.

Rating: B-. This was about Jericho vs. Patrick which would happen at WW3 and would be the first match where an NWO guy would lose on PPV since their inception. This was very fast paced and fun though, but the referee thing was just annoying by the end of things. Other than that it was good though.

Luger, looking like he has Dolph Ziggler’s poofy hair, says he’ll get back at Arn for something. Oh ok Arn blamed Lex for tapping at War Games and more or less said he’s a coward, setting this up.

Lex Luger vs. Arn Anderson

Is there anything sweeter than that Horsemen theme song? It’s just flat out awesome sounding. Luger is in all black here which never really looked right on him. Sting has been offered a spot in the NWO. Anderson has hurt Lex’s back recently so he’s not at 100%. This is just not interesting at all. Luger’s back is fine it seems and we’re totally just killing time here. I love Dusty’s ridiculous faith in WCW. It’s always very amusing.

The Dungeon is cheering for Luger. And now Arn’s back is hurt. Sure why not. This match is the epitome of average. Lex does some stuff then Arn does some stuff and then we switch off. It’s just two guys doing moves on each other with a bit of a flow to it. It’s not interesting in the slightest either as there’s barely a reason for them to be fighting but we’re seeing it anyway. Luger works on the back which makes sense for him so that’s fine.

A spinebuster from Arn gets us back to even to an extent as I’m just waiting on this match to end. The back injury for Luger flares up all of a sudden of course so at least the continuity of lack of continuity is there. DDT doesn’t hit as this is just nothing. I know I’ve said that a lot but it’s true. And there goes the referee of course. Arn nails Luger and knocks him into Mark Curtis in case you’re interested for some reason.

We’ll throw in a chair that does nothing as we pad this match out a bit more. The worst catapult in recorded history puts Arn kind of into the post. Lex hits some chair shots on Arn and the Rack ends it. Luger doesn’t let him go. Arn takes forever to get up and the Horsemen come out to help him. He leaves on a stretcher. I think this was what explained him being more or less retired other than the occasional match afterwards.

Rating: D. This wasn’t a particularly bad match, but it is perhaps the least interesting match I’ve seen in a good many months. It’s a good example of a match that’s just there. Two guys wrestled, nothing special happened, one guy used his finishing move to get the win. That’s all there is to it and there’s nothing special about it at all.

Harlem Heat call out the Outsiders.

Faces of Fear vs. Chris Benoit/Steve McMichael

Mongo has barely any experience at all so expect a heavy dose of Benoit here which is hardly a bad thing. If nothing else we get the music again for the Horsemen. This feud went on forever and there was never really a blowoff for it other than it just stopping. Meng and Mongo start and McMichael hides from a kick. Oh that looked bad. It’s always cool seeing Benoit’s mix of wrestling and brawling. Not a lot of people were as good at it as he was.

Mongo loses a sumo match to Meng. Is there a reason this is happening? Mongo wakes up and uses football moves to get Meng down. This works so well that Meng kicks him in the face. I love that. Whenever someone does something stupid, KICK THEM IN THE FACE. McMichael tries some dropkicks. This is a very sad sight. The match is only watchable when Benoit is in there so the tag can’t come fast enough.

In a NICE move, Meng backdrops Benoit into a powerbomb from Barbarian. It’s an awesome move, so Dusty starts talking about the Outsiders. Why you ask? It’s Dusty so this is normal for him. A double headbutt from the top hits Benoit as it’s a good thing that he’s in. Tony talks about an old rule called the One Save Rule, which says that if you save your partner more than once it’s a DQ. This rule isn’t in effect anymore and I’ve never heard of it.

Mongo pops Meng with the briefcase, thereby completely ignoring all stereotypes, and the top rope headbutt ends it. The Dungeon runs in and since the Horsemen are with Anderson at the hospital it’s Benoit vs. everyone. That only works for so long though as the Dungeon stands tall. At least there’s a feud here to explain this. Sullivan goes up to Woman and says let me show you why I’m still the man and does what we would call a punt on Benoit.

Rating: D. I know I gave the previous match the same grade but this is somewhat better. There’s a feud here which makes sense so that’s definitely a good thing. This was really bad when Mongo was in and decent when Benoit was in. Mongo always looked like he was trying, but he just didn’t ever get the hang of it. This is a great example of it.

DiBiase introduces the Outsiders.

Tag Titles: The Outsiders vs. Harlem Heat

That original NWO music is still awesome. Then again so is Harlem Heat’s. The Heat had recently lost and regained the titles from Public Enemy for a pointless reign that lasted like two weeks. The Outsiders grab the belts and hold them up to a pop. Seeing the whole rebellion against the angles is very interesting. It was clear that the fans wanted something new. WWF realized that and made Austin, the rebel character, the top guy in the company and a face. Moral: listen to the audience. They’ll never let you down.

Apparently Sherri is the quarterback of Harlem Heat. Well I wouldn’t mind seeing her in the pants I guess. Stevie knocks Hall over the top rope which they immediately explain is NOT a DQ here. Why didn’t they just drop that stupid rule? I never got a straight answer to that. Anyway, Heenan says this is the first real test for the Outsiders, because clearly fighting Luger and Sting at Hog Wild wasn’t a test right? Or Savage, Luger and Sting or any other big combination they had. I love idiotic lines like that.

The fans loudly boo Harlem Heat taking over. I feel sorry for the announcers at times and then they say something stupid enough to make me lose any and all sympathy I have for them. The Heat dominate early on which is different than what you would expect. Crowd is totally behind the Outsiders here. Hall uses a chokeslam which he used back in like 93 I think. It’s weird to think he’s been using that since Giant was in high school.

Hall kisses Sherri. Can we get a sexual harassment lawsuit from the congregation? Booker hooks a sleeper and gets booed out of the building for it. Stevie gets the hot tag and cleans house, setting up the Harlem Hangover on Hall. Parker comes in for no apparent reason at all and swings the cane at Nash. This of course doesn’t work and two cane shots from Nash to Booker give the Outsiders the tag titles.

Rating: C-. Eh nothing great here but not that bad. This is far more important for the historical aspect than anything else. The ending made sense at least and the cheating was minimal, but the heels won with nefarious activities so that’s all fine. This wasn’t terrible, but the crowd told a lot of the story here as the heels got cheered and few liked the faces.

Hogan is in the crowd where DiBiase was when he did the promos earlier and talks about his new movies. He has a blonde wig on that looks like Sting’s haircut from the old WCW days.

WCW World Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage

So basically Savage has zero chance here and everyone on the planet knows it. The Outsiders have been escorted from the building allegedly, even though Giant was also and he’s with Hogan here. They must be a bit rushed as Savage’s music starts up while Hogan’s intro is going on and they have to stop it. Savage has a massive monster truck, complete with cowboy hat on it of all things.

Savage went on a big winning streak to get the title shot and then since he was getting over again in a feud against Hogan, he stopped winning for about a month leading up to this match, hence what I said about zero chance. Savage gets a mic and wants everyone else out other than himself and Hogan. Why do I have a bad feeling that the wig is going to play a long role in this match? Giant is thrown out so it’s no longer a reenactment of Mania IV.

Hogan stalls. I mean stalls a LOT. Savage comes at him and he runs for the ropes. Hey! A headlock! Hogan looks SMALL here, maybe weighing 260. And he stalls again, heading to the floor even longer. That headlock is all we’ve had in over four minutes so far. It’s just Hogan hiding in the ropes or in the corner or on the floor the whole time. We’re entering Zbyszko land here. So Liz, who isn’t here, is signed to the NWO but loves Savage still. Got it. Well that actually is a bit intriguing at least.

Savage takes over and steals Hogan’s sunglasses. Yeah Hogan was in sunglasses and a wig for the first seven minutes or so of the match. And there goes the wig. WOW! Hogan is BALD! Why was this supposed to be a big deal? He didn’t have hair in Rocky 3 so why is this a surprise? Savage puts the wig on and this is just bad so far. Hogan busts out a chair, marking the ONLY decent thing in the whole ten minutes so far. Seriously, THIS is the main event of one of the biggest shows of the year.

Hogan kisses Savage on the top of his head and here’s Liz. Someone actually shouts GET EM LIZ! That’s very amusing. And there’s Hogan’s ass because we all want to see that. Hogan does nothing but punch and kick and choke. Savage does those things but throws in some clotheslines too. This is one of the worst main events I can ever remember. Liz comes in to check on Savage as Hogan is going for the legdrop. Of course we can hear every word Hogan says to her as he’s on a mic.

There goes the referee and here’s Nick Patrick and then another referee at the same time. The elbow hits and Patrick gets to two before his neck starts to hurt. Savage steals an object from Hogan and nails him. Giant is back as this is beyond a mess. Chokeslam on the floor and Savage is more or less dead. Hogan is put on top and gets the pin and a face pop.

Rating: F. This was supposed to be some kind of epic showdown and it was overbooked and a comedy match that wasn’t funny. Let’s see: 5 minutes of stalling, three run-ins, a foreign object, a cheating referee, a ref bump, another ref bump, chair shots and some punching sprinkled in. Yep it’s WCW all right.

Giant brings out a bowl of ice water to wake up Hogan which is amusing for some reason. Hogan grabs a mic and says he’s the king of Hollywood and I have a bad feeling I know where this is going. Ok I do know where this is going but you get the idea. Yep, we have bagpipes. The look on Hogan’s face when Piper shows up is great.

Piper and Hogan say hi to each other and for no apparent reason Hogan and Giant are alone with Piper and do nothing but talk to him. Hogan says he and Piper used to be neck and neck for the biggest star in wrestling. Not really but this is WCW so why use facts? Piper says he’s as big an icon in wrestling as Hogan is. No, not really. He says he’s as big a movie star as Hogan is. Ok that’s true. Piper says he’s shooting here. Yes, this is Starrcade’s main event by the way.

Piper FINALLY says something very true: At Wrestlemania, they wouldn’t have been cheering for Hogan so much if they hadn’t hated Piper so much. I didn’t buy that at first but the more I’ve thought about it the more I think there’s truth in it. Piper was despised by the fans and Hogan was the guy opposing him. I know Hogan was a big deal, but it was Piper fighting Mr. T and doing the mainstream stuff. Hogan was just a wrestler fighting him. I don’t think Piper was a bigger deal, but I think equal is fine, at least for Wrestlemania and the stuff leading up to it.

Piper wants Hogan to admit that he would be nothing without the fans behind him. He also points out that Hogan has never beaten him. Piper starts to leave and Hogan makes a skirt joke. He picks up the belt as Hogan leaves and they actually keep arguing as the show goes off the air. That’s funny for some reason.

Overall Rating
: D. This was bad. The opener is good but seriously did you expect anything less? Far from their best match too. Other than that there’s more or less nothing. None of the matches other than the main event are overly bad but they all have been done better or just aren’t interesting at all. Hogan vs. Piper was a cool segment to an extent, but knowing what was coming would just suck the life out of it. Oh and World War 3 is next. Great. Avoid this one.

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