Last time out I listed what I believed to be the six best matches from WWF/WWE’s No Mercy event. This time I’ll be taking a look at what was traditionally WCW’s October offering in the form of Halloween Havoc.
As always, this is just my own personal picks and it isn’t supposed to be some sort of objective list or anything. If I leave out a match that you think warrants inclusion then please feel free to put it down in the comments section below. As with previous lists, I’ll be listing the matches in chronological order.
So without further to do, let’s get to it!
Halloween Havoc 1989
Lex Luger Vs Flyin’ Brian
We start out with a match that features two men who were highly touted in 1989 as being the future of WCW. Eventually injuries and real life tragedies would intervene to bring both men’s careers to an end without them truly achieving their respective potentials, but in the late 80’s the world appeared to be their oysters.
Luger had just gone heel earlier in the year and was really starting to get his arrogant jerk character down whilst also really rising to the occasion in big match settings with the likes of Ricky Steamboat. Brian had been receiving a solid mid card push and was getting over with the fans due to his handsome looks and impressive athletic abilities.
Luger does an excellent job in getting Brian over by consistently selling his high flying offence well and allowing him to have the lion’s share of offence. Indeed, it isn’t even until more than half the match has elapsed that Luger finally gets a sustained period of control. Both men put together a very engaging “Power Vs Speed” narrative and the match builds gradually to an exciting crescendo.
The fans are engaged in the contest throughout and are really into it by the bouts end as they start to think that Brian could pull off the upset and pick up the victory. Eventually Luger is able to win with a last gasp hotshot following a missed flying attack from Brian. It’s the perfect finish for the match as it makes Luger look like a resourceful champion but also gives off the impression that he was only just able to win, which serves to make Brian look like a legitimate contender.
Halloween Havoc 1991
Terrence Taylor Vs Bobby Eaton
This might be a surprising addition for some, but I really enjoy this match and think it’s a bit of a hidden gem. Both Taylor and Eaton were two established veterans at this stage who knew how to put a match together. Here they are given a good chunk of time to go out there and tell a story whilst being given free rein to bust out some big moves and they have a heck of a match as consequence.
Taylor is a great smarmy heel whilst Bobby is a good humble babyface and their ring styles mesh very well. Eaton fires off a number of his famed right hand punches and Taylor sells them with aplomb. Both men just know what to do and when to do it when it comes to putting the match together and by the bouts conclusion the Chattanooga crowd is in to everything and really rooting for Eaton to pull out the victory.
Both men are allowed to cut loose at points in the match, as Eaton hits a knee drop from the top rope onto the ramp before Taylor replies by giving him a gut wrench powerbomb out there as well. Overall the work is crisp, the selling is on point and the match is given enough time to build so that the fans are truly invested in the outcome. This is an exceedingly enjoyable match and I heartily encourage you to give it a look if you haven’t before. Head honcho Scott Keith liked it so much that he slapped a **** rating on it back in the day. If that isn’t an encouragement to watch it then I don’t know what is!
Halloween Havoc 1992
Brian Pillman Vs Ricky Steamboat
After being such a good babyface in 1989, just three years later Pillman was well on his way to being one of the better heels in WCW. His heel act is so good here that he actually manages to get the cynical Philly crowd to boo him against the ultimate babyface in the form of Ricky Steamboat. Indeed, both men’s characters gel wonderfully here, as Pillman is an excellent cocky jerk whilst Steamboat is his usual virtuous self.
Some of the chops thrown in this match are almost evil the way they are delivered with such zeal. Both men were clearly comfortable with laying things in and it makes the match all the more enjoyable and intense. This is just a superbly well worked match between two highly skilled wrestlers who play their roles in the match so well that a normally rebellious crowd have no problem with buying into the story they are telling. The finish is also well put together and leaves the door open for further matches whilst also delivering a clean finish.
Halloween Havoc 1994
Career Vs Career
Ric Flair Vs Hulk Hogan
This just edges out the Cactus Jack Vs Vader contest from Havoc 93 for me because I thought it held up a bit better as a match. I’ve also never really liked the Texas Death Match/Last Man Standing match as a concept as I feel the drama within it is often a tad too synthetic. Cactus Vs Vader is still an intense brawl between two talented men in that genre, but I just found the Flair Vs Hogan match a tad more enjoyable, so it just edged its way in. If you feel differently, then fair enough. At the end of the day both matches are great so you can’t really lose.
This was the blow off to the original Flair Vs Hogan feud in WCW, with the retirement stipulation being added to wrench the stakes up even higher. The fans are hugely into this and Hogan seems especially jazzed to be working in such a great atmosphere as he really has his working boots on for this one. To his credit, Hogan sells a lot for Flair in this match, with Flair targeting his injured knee in a vicious manner.
Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan actually add a lot to the proceedings by really selling the match as a big deal and a titanic climatic battle. This is empathised by both men’s performances, as they put over each other’s attacks and really give the contest an epic feel. It really does feel like two legends are going to war one last time. Obviously Hogan and Flair would face each other many times after this supposed feud ending collision, but that doesn’t take away from how great this match is.
In some ways I would contend that this is the best match that Flair and Hogan ever had together. Certainly off the top of my head I couldn’t really think of a better one. By the time they started wrestling each other again in the late 90’s Hogan’s general health had started to decline and the magic just wasn’t there like it is here. 1994 was probably the last time you could have done this match and had it be truly satisfying in this manner.
Halloween Havoc 1997
Title Vs Mask
Eddie Guerrero Vs Rey Mysterio Jr
This was quite the controversial match at the time as pretty much everyone was in agreement that taking Rey’s mask from him would be a ridiculous idea, save for Eric Bischoff who was pushing hard for him to lose it here. Eventually common sense prevailed here but Bischoff would eventually get his wish in 1999. WWE decided to let Rey wear the mask again when he joined Smackdown in 2002, as they were smart enough to know they could clean up selling masks to kids at the merchandise stand.
Eddie is really in his pomp here as the arrogant bully wailing on the smaller Mysterio, and he viciously pummels him throughout the match. Eddie even busts out the classic Rudo antics by ripping at Rey’s mask throughout the contest and just generally being an absolute dick at all times. This is the one Eddie Vs Rey match where almost everything goes right. The psychology is there, the heat is there and all the big spots are executed perfectly.
Eddie and Rey would go the rest of Eddie’s career trying to match this outing with one another but they just never were able to do it. This night was the perfect night where everything went how it was supposed to and the end result was possibly the best match in the history of the WCW Cruiserweight Title. This match is an all-time classic and a genuine contender for Match of the Year in 1997. It was certainly the best match WCW put on that year in my opinion.
Halloween Havoc 1998
Diamond Dallas Page Vs Goldberg
Not only is this a very good match but it also managed to salvage the event itself following a truly horrible Hogan Vs Warrior match. DDP is someone whose work has really grown on me over the years. I know some people rag on him because he used to plan his matches out in advance, but to me a good match is a good match regardless of how much prior planning goes towards putting it together.
Certainly in this case it made sense for DDP to tightly script things seeing as Goldberg had only been wrestling on television for just over a year at this point. This was one of the longer matches that Goldberg had been it at this point and he carries his end of things well. If you were going to book Goldberg in a longish match during this stage of his career then this was absolutely the best way to do it.
The story of DDP not being intimidated by Goldberg and trying to overcome him with veteran smarts is a good one and Page certainly comes out of it with an enhanced reputation despite losing in the end. The match really is structured perfectly, with Goldberg getting to kick out of the Diamond Cutter towards the end but in a way that gives DDP an out, as he pauses for a moment before making the cover. This really is an enjoyable match and it still holds up after all these years.
Nasty Boys Vs The Steiner Brothers (Halloween Havoc 1990), Ric Flair and Arn Anderson Vs Doom (Halloween Havoc 1990), Steve Williams and Steve Austin Vs Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham (Halloween Havoc 1992), Cactus Jack Vs Vader (Halloween Havoc 1993), Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman Vs Ric Flair and Sting (Halloween Havoc 1995), Dean Malenko Vs Rey Mysterio Jr (Halloween Havoc 1996), Yuji Nagata Vs Ultimo Dragon (Halloween Havoc 1997), Juventud Guerrera Vs Disco Inferno (Halloween Havoc 1998), Booker T Vs Scott Steiner (Halloween Havoc 2000)
Well thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and please feel free to add your own opinions in the comments section below.
I also write for a website called Gaming Respawn. My latest article a recap of ECW Heatwave 1995 and you can read about it by clicking right HERE. The site is always looking for new writers and are especially looking for more wrestling content, so if you’d like to stick your oar in the river then you can find out more by clicking HERE.
There’s also other great content here on the blog that you should consider giving a goosey gander.
For instance, Brian Bayless has recently uploaded a recap of WWF Wrestling Challenge from the 28th of June 1992 and you can read about what he thought by clicking right HERE.
Logan Scisco takes a dip into the WCW archives by recapping an episode of WCW Pro from the 11th of March 1995. You can read about how much he disliked it by clicking right HERE.
And finally, La Grand Fromage himself Mr. Scott Keith has starting recapping WWF Raw is War from late 1999. You can read his thoughts on the episode from the 6th of December 1999 by clicking right HERE.
That’s all I’ve got for this time out. I wish you all the best and thanks for reading!