Back again with another Stinker Review, with today’s request coming courtesy of Adam Gray.
For those not au fait, these reviews are kind of like what the fine folk over at Wrestle Crap do, as I take a look at a show that is widely regarded to be awful and see if it truly deserves it’s stinky reputation or not. We’re going to have a short break from Stinkers after this one as I’m going to be reviewing Survivor Series and Starrcade Main Events over the coming weeks, with issue 1 of the Survivor Series reviews dropping tomorrow, but rest assured I’ve got a nice little list going made up of Stinker requests, with a special one planned for when we hit the December holiday season, so keep a look out for that.
As always, if you have any requests then please stick them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. Once the list gets big enough we’ll pick one out of the hat and review it.
Seeing as today is Old Hallows Eve and most of you will probably be bummed that you can’t attend wacky parties or take your kids trick and/or treating, I’ve decided to do a special Halloween themed addition of the Stinker Reviews, with Halloween Havoc 95 being the event in question, as it was the first HH event to be requested.
This show is mostly known for two things, one involving Ric Flair and the other Hulk Hogan. One is more fondly regarded than the other, and I’ll leave it up to you to guess which one is which. The big draw coming into this event was that Hogan would face The Giant twice, firstly in a Monster Truck contest and then in the ring with the World Title on the line. This all came about because Giant crushed Hulkies motorbike with a Monster Truck and then gurned at him like a toddler who has taken a #2 on the carpet whilst Hogan feebly tried to get at him.
The other big story was that Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman had formed a team and had been ganging up on Ric Flair. With nowhere else to turn, Flair had gone to long-time rival Sting and requested that he tag with him. Sting had of course said no at first, but Flair was persistent and Sting finally agreed, with the caveat that if Flair betrayed him then there would be heck to pay.
So yeah, that’s our two big storylines going into the show, let’s see how the show plays out as we watch some SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKY Wrestling!!!
The event is emanating from Detroit, Michigan on the 29th of October 1995
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan, with Eric Bischoff showing up at points too
We get a cheesy Halloween themed intro, and I must admit that I think it’s quite fun. I mean, the Hogan/Giant stuff is almost a literal cartoon storyline, but they’re committing to it all at least.
Tony and Bobby do the opening, as we see that Hogan and Giant are already revving their Monster Trucks on top of the nearby Cobo Hall. We also get an update from Tony that Anderson and Pillman have attacked Ric Flair.
Champ: Diamond Dallas Page w/ Max Muscle and Diamond Doll Vs Johnny B Badd
This one came about because DDP cost Badd a chance to challenge Sting for the US Title by sabotaging his car. DDP and Doll were doing a Savage and Elizabeth deal here, where DDP was the disrespectful heel man who didn’t appreciate the kind babyface woman. Badd was coming off a great match with Brian Pillman at Fall Brawl 95, and he uses a lookalike to distract DDP and comes out of the crowd to jumpstart things. Badd gets the big shine to start, with both DDP and Muscle taking bumps, and it has some decent crowd reactions as well. DDP as the goofy stooging heel was a very effective mid-card gimmick for him, but he didn’t start getting over as a higher up the card guy until he turned down the nWo and became a gritty babyface in 1997.
DDP eventually manages to cut Badd off with a Stun Gun and then works him over, doing his main heel spot of demanding that the Doll hold up cards out of 10 to show her appreciation for his skills. It’s quite a basic heat segment, but DDP has a good loud mouthed heel charisma going on, whilst Badd sells the offence well, so it’s entertaining enough to watch. Doll acts like she isn’t happy about DDP’s antics and holds up the cards reluctantly. The fans get behind Badd and pop for his hope spots, but they are pretty quiet when DDP is on offence.
This is been what Scott would call a perfectly cromulent match thus far, but it needs to pick up a little bit if they want it to get to the next tier up. The heat has gone on a bit too long for my liking and it’s bordering on dragging. I think the crowd agrees too, as they spend most of it sitting on their hands and really only seem to care when it looks like Badd will do something. Eventually Badd manages to suplex his way out of a chin lock and then starts making the comeback, with punches and some nice high flying moves.
Doll decides to give Badd a 10 during his comeback, and that gets a good pop from the crowd. They do some good near falls, with DDP kicking out of a powerbomb whilst Badd kicks out of a swinging DDT. Badd gets the big dive onto DDP and Muscle outside the ring, and the crowd loves that, which leads to a great near fall back inside when Badd gets a springboard splash. Some heel miscommunication leads to Badd getting a roll up for another two, but Muscle eventually ends up clocking DDP by accident and that leads to Badd getting the three count to a great reaction from the crowd.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: JOHNNY B BADD
Good match overall, although it was a bit slow in the middle. The near falls were done well and the crowd loved the result
Diamond Doll doesn’t look too unhappy that DDP lost.
Zodiac Vs Randy Savage
Zodiac is the former Brutus Beefcake, who I believe was currently pretending to be a heel so he could spy on The Dungeon of Doom stable for his buddy Hulk Hogan. Savage was coming off a summer feud with Ric Flair, and the idea here was that if Savage wins this match and Lex Luger wins his, then they will face one another later on in a singles match. A fan tries to get in the ring during the beginning of the match, so Savage takes Zodiac outside for a brawl whilst security deals with the interloper. Once that is dealt with, Savage puts Zodiac back inside for the Macho Elbow and the three count.
WINNER: RANDY SAVAGE
I’m guessing they wanted Savage to preserve his energy if he was possibly going on twice tonight?
Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage, where he plugs his hotline and then brings in Johnny B Badd for a victory speech. Badd says that if you believe then you can achieve. I do like the old WCW TV Title. I’ve always felt it looks like the inside of a Crunchie Bar. Mean Gene says he’ll be heading out for Greek food with Badd later. Great, now I want kebab, cheers Geno!
Kurasawa w/ Col. Parker Vs Road Warrior Hawk
Kurasawa is Manabu Nakanishi, and he broke Hawk’s arm in storyline to set this one up. This has the potential to be a bit of a mean guy match, as Hawk is throwing bombs right from the opening stages, with Kurasawa bumping and selling for them well. Kurasawa doesn’t really get a chance to return the favour though, although he does get to throw Hawk around a bit after sending him into the ring post, and when he makes the pin Parker holds down his leg for the cheap win.
Too short and Hawk wasn’t really that cooperative. They let him take most of the match, probably to placate him over doing the job
Hawk pops right up following the three, which kind of means Kurasawa doesn’t get much from the win.
Mean Gene is with Randy Savage, where he says he’ll beat Hogan if they ever meet in the ring despite their friendship, which leads to Gene asking him about the Monster Truck battle. Savage rambles on a bit and then sprints off, probably to have some extra strong Colombian. By which I mean coffee of course!
Mr J.L. Vs Sabu w/ The Original Sheik
J.L. is a masked Jerry Lynn. Yes, that was the best name they could come up with him, why do you ask? Sabu had jumped from ECW to WCW, but it wouldn’t last very long. This one is a spot fest right from the opening, with Sabu taking out both Lynn and Sheik with a dive, only for Lynn to return the favour straight after. The action here is a tad sloppy in parts, but it’s also pretty exciting and the crowd doesn’t know what to make of it at points. Lynn is mostly there to put Sabu over, but he does get to hit some moves of his own as well. Sabu eventually picks up the win with a moonsault press.
Hot moves whilst it lasted, but it was a bit on the short side
Sheik throws fire at Lynn post-match just for ships and giggles. I wonder if the fire was approved head of time due to them not having a proper camera shot of it, or if Sheik just went into business for himself?
We head to a wacky promo segment from Kevin Sullivan and King Curtis Iaukea, where Iaukea yells about the galaxies being aligned for The Giant and The Yeti to end Hulkamania once and for all. Sullivan adds that Hogan’s friends are actually vultures and that lightning will not strike twice (Which I think is a reference to Hogan defeating Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III, which happened in the same state. At the time they were pushing that Giant was Andre’s son)
Hulk Hogan (Wearing evil black gear due to feuding with the Dungeon and looking quite a bit like his Hollywood Hogan gimmick) presents a lucky competition winner with a special bike. The competition winner is called Mike, but alas it was not me I’m afraid. Hogan of course makes sure to flex, because it was a day of the week ending with a “y”
We’ve gone about ten minutes without a match now, on a pay per view event no less. This isn’t Nitro guys. Just saying
Meng w/ Kevin Sullivan Vs Lex Luger
Meng had defeated Luger previously by hitting him with a golden spike. Meng was the first time I’d seen Tonga Fifita, so I always refer to him as that name, even though to others he’ll probably be known more as Haku. They were teasing that Luger was in league with the Dungeon here, due to them never attacking him when they attacked other people. Luger had of course jumped to WCW from the WWF, just in time for the debut episode of Nitro, and he went on to have a hot couple of years in the company, eventually winning the World Title for a week in 1997.
The work isn’t bad here, with Luger working as a face and getting a shine on Meng in the early going, even managing to send him out of the ring with a clothesline. Meng is a solid worker who can make his stuff look good, but his matches can tend to plod along sometimes if he’s required to put some time in, and that happens a bit here. Luger is working at a pretty quick clip actually, which is impressive considering he’s going to possibly have to come out and wrestle again against Savage if he wins, but eventually Meng cuts him off and starts working some heat, which leads to Luger yelping in pain a lot. Curse you OSW Review, I’ll never be able to not notice that now thanks to you guys!
Meng gets a fabulous looking piledriver in the heat, but most of his offence consists of punching, kicking and rest holds. Again, it looks alright, and Meng makes an effort to rile up the crowd when he has Luger in a chin lock, but it’s just generally a bit dull and the crowd heat isn’t strong enough to make up for it. Basic matches can be fun provided the crowd is into the action, but when they aren’t they can become a bit boring if they go on for too long. They keep teasing Luger possibly joining the Dungeon by having Sullivan refuse to attack him on the floor when given the chance.
Luger eventually manages to dodge a Meng dropkick and then makes the comeback with a series of clotheslines, popping the crowd in the process. This crowd has been funny, in that they like it when the faces do stuff but they just die when the faces are selling. Meng gets out his golden spike and hits Luger in the throat with it and then makes the pin, but Kevin Sullivan comes in and stomps Luger to ensure that Luger now has to face Savage. That’s an interesting finish, but it felt super cheap after such a long match. Couldn’t Meng do a proper job of some kind for Luger? Even just a roll up would have left less of a sour taste.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: LEX LUGER
The work was fine, but the match overall felt quite flat and the finish was pretty lame, even though they had a legitimate storyline reason for doing it. Sullivan gets the two faces going at it, but his man doesn’t have to eat a pin or submission. Fine, I get the reasoning, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I actually want to see it
Mean Gene is with The Giant, who is wearing a big racing outfit that makes him look like a bit of a goober. Giant says he’s winning the Monster Truck match and then taking the belt later. Giant had pretty decent poise there for a rookie.
Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman Vs Ric Flair and Sting
Flair is selling backstage from the supposed attack by the heels, so Sting is forced to go at it alone. Despite this, Sting still gets a shine on the heels and they bump around for him in their usual excellent style. Sting looks great here, with crisp offence and great fire. In a great bit, the heels try and double team Sting outside the ring, but he still manages to foil it and bumps both of them out there. This is a fantastic babyface shine. They should show it at wrestling training school seminars. Everyone’s performance has been on point and the crowd loves watching Sting pinball the heels around like this.
The cut off is fantastic too, as Arn flings Sting head first into his own partner whilst Pillman is on the apron, sacrificing him in order to get head in the match, because he’s such a despicable heel that he’ll even hurt an ally if the ends justifies the means. This is Ric Flair’s cue to come down to the ring in his street clothes with a bandage on his head, and he fires the crowd up whilst waiting for the tag. Flair’s performance here is just great, as he works the crowd into a frenzy and almost throws every punch with Sting whilst he tries to fight back. I can’t get over how “on it” everyone is in this match, it really is magnificent. Some of the hot tag teases are great too; with Sting getting super close more than once before getting cut off. We reach the point that the fans are gagging for the tag to be made.
One fantastic spot sees Sting locked in an abdominal stretch by Anderson and reaching out in the direction of Flair whilst Flair encourages him to keep going. It’s the perfect mix of selling the hold, getting across worry at not being able to break out and also showing the will to get out of it to rescue the match. Sting keeps fighting, with the crowd getting louder every time it looks like he might make the tag, only for it to get snatched away from them each time. Sting yells out to Flair at points and Flair encourages him by saying “I’m here buddy”, and even Heenan wants to see the tag on commentary because Flair is so hyped. You so rarely get such strong story telling matches like this anymore. In a nice call back, Sting ends up throwing Pillman into Anderson in the same spot that led to the cut off before finally making the tag to Flair, who promptly turns on him and the Horsemen pile on for the DQ.
This match is absolutely fantastic, and if you’ve never seen it then you need to. Great work, great storytelling and an all-time “Flair cheats Sting” moment, that actually led to Sting getting his revenge at the next pay per view in a good match, so it all had a point and a payoff.
The Horsemen lay Sting out and head over to Mean Gene in the entrance way for a promo. Eventually they’d add Chris Benoit to the act to create possibly the best in-ring version of The Horsemen, even though it ended up going a bit pear shaped when Pillman went all Loose Cannon and managed to convince Eric Bischoff to give him a real release from his contract.
Lex Luger has a backstage promo with Mike Tenay. Luger questions what happened in his match, saying people clearly want him to wrestle Savage for whatever reason. He says he’ll be all over Savage in the match, because his goal is to become WCW Champ.
We get the big video package to hype up the Giant and Hogan feud. The Giant showed up claiming to be the son of Andre The Giant, and attacked Hogan a bunch of times, including squishing his prized motor bike under a Monster Truck. Thus we have a double shot of Hogan Vs Giant tonight, with the Monster Truck challenge first and then the WCW Title match. Hogan also had his moustache shaved off by Sullivan, and has since started wearing black gear to show off that he’s indulging his dark side. Finally, on the Nitro before this event, a new Dungeon member called “The Yeti” broke out of a block of ice. Whether he is under the control of the Great Intelligence is yet to be confirmed. Hopefully Hogan has the Brigadier on speed-dial, because he might need him to tackle this foe!
Eric Bischoff has decided that he will call the Monster Truck challenge, because it’s his company and he’ll do what he wants. A chap called Bob Chandler has joined the desk as well, as he’s the guy who supposedly built the truck for Hogan. Bobby Heenan makes sure to ask Chandler about all of the technical aspects such as size and weight of the tyres etc so that Chandler can reveal how big and impressive it is, because Bobby is a professional who knows how to get stuff over.
Monster Truck Challenge
The Giant Vs Hulk Hogan
In a funny moment, they have a guy at the start who looks like Dick Slater giving the two men instructions, and Hogan has a look on his face that suggests he doesn’t understand the rules of this at all. It’s like when my Dad goes to Subway and makes me order for him because he just can’t get his head around the whole ordering process. To win you need to push your opponent’s truck out of the sumo circle, with both axis’ crossing the line. They weld the two trucks together, which makes it a bit less exciting for me. Let em drive around and ram into one another like it’s the Death Bowl in Destruction Derby if you ask me!
I think they actually had stunt men driving the trucks, with some pre-taped footage of Hogan and Giant grimacing spliced in here and there to make it look like they’re actually driving. I’ll give Chandler credit; he’s actually not a bad commentator at getting across the technical aspects of it whilst not slipping into jargon. Heenan continues to ask him good questions about how impressive each machine is too, which is what you need to do with one of these segments. I have to be honest, as a skit on a TV show this isn’t entirely awful. It’s a bit dull if you’re like me and don’t give two walnuts on an Easter Sunday about cars, trucks or motor-racing, but they at least try and present it in a serious manner. Hogan eventually manages to push Giant out and that’s enough for the win.
WINNER: HULK HOGAN
RATING: MONSTER TRUCK MADNESS ON THE N64
I mean, it was a Monster Truck sumo match. There’s not much you can really do with that and I certainly wouldn’t have added it to the pay per view, but the execution of it all wasn’t terrible
What follows next however is terrible, as Hogan and Giant get into a brawl and Hogan ends up accidentally knocking Giant off the roof to his supposed death. Apparently he was supposed to have fallen into the river, with them even sticking fish in his pants when he next appeared in order to sell it, but I believe it actually isn’t possible to fall into the water from atop of Cobo Hall anyway.
In a moment now immortalised on Botchamania, Heenan again tries to be a professional by asking whether Giant fell into the water in order to plant that seed for the audience and thus explain why Giant can come out to wrestle later, but Bischoff just blows him off and he gets a look on his face that screams “I hate working here, these people don’t have a clue”
Lex Luger Vs Randy Savage
So yeah, someone just fell off the roof and we immediately follow it with another match. Tony and Bobby at least acknowledge that it happened, unlike when the WWF hung Big Boss Man at WrestleMania XV and they didn’t mention it again for the rest of the night. Luger and Savage had been having problems pretty much since Luger debuted on the first Nitro, although Luger tries to calm things down with a handshake. The crowd seems to have sided with Savage on the issue though, as they boo Luger when he’s on offence and cheer when Savage attacks him. Jimmy Hart comes down to ringside, despite the fact he doesn’t manage either man, whilst Luger viciously goes after Savage to boo’s from the crowd.
It’s so weird that Heenan, the heel, is the one who is all shook up about someone possibly falling to their death, whilst Tony is coldly telling him to just do his job. This match is a lot of Savage selling, and he sells well so it’s watchable, but it doesn’t really live up to the promise of seeing two big stars from the 80’s going at it, especially as I don’t think they ever did a match between the two when they were in the WWF together in the 90’s, so this was a fresh first time match-up that you’d think they’d really put some effort into, rather than just doing a kick and punch fest like this has been. Savage eventually throws Luger into Hart, who is on the apron for some reason, and then follows up with the Macho Elbow for the pin.
WINNER: RANDY SAVAGE
Not actively bad, but really disappointing for something that was supposed to be a bit of Dream Match. Just rushed and lot of kicking and punching whilst Savage sold until getting his finisher
Tony and Bobby continue to argue, with Bobby storming off because they still haven’t given an update on The Giant, before meekly coming back. This is a Tour De Force performance from Heenan, as he’s absolutely busting his hump to try and get this silly storyline over. No wonder he ended up mentally checking out by the time 2000 had rolled around.
Champ: Hulk Hogan w/ Jimmy Hart Vs The Giant w/ Kevin Sullivan
Hogan comes out first, to some audible boo’s, and takes the mic to say what happened to The Giant wasn’t supposed to happen and he’s sorry. However, The Giant is fine and comes out with nary a scratch on him to start the match. I mean, they couldn’t wet his hair or something to make it look like he’d fallen into the river? Couldn’t they at least come up with some sort of stupid magic from Iaukea? Like, just say he created a portal that transported Giant back to the Dungeon right before he hit the ground? Just come up with something, ANYTHING, other than “Oh, he’s just fine with no explanation. Let’s have a wrestling match!”
Hogan actually flees from Giant once he sees him, which sure is a strange way to book a babyface, but I’m guessing this was all about highlighting that dark side Hogan wasn’t as effective as regular Hogan in an effort to make us want him to get over it and go back to being Classic Hogan again? Hogan even has face paint on his forehead to make him look like Sullivan. Hogan’s attire here is horrible by the way, wearing prototypical Hollywood Hogan black tights with a black vest and red cowboy boots.
The match itself isn’t great from a wrestling standpoint, but from a storytelling perspective it’s what they need it to be, as they have Giant dominate for large parts of it in order to make him look like a wrestler on Hogan’s level. Just walking in and getting beat by the Leg Drop of DOOM™ in a standard Hogan match would only make Giant look like another big goof right out the gate, but by structuring the match this way they’ve made him look like a monster that Hogan needs to be worried about. Giant eventually misses his own Leg Drop, and that leads to Hogan doing the Hulk Up, with ten punches in the corner followed by some biting and back scratches.
Giant looks inexperienced to a certain degree, especially when it comes to selling, but in general he enters a good performance here for a guy with his level of training. Ultimately with a guy that size you have to move him up the card, otherwise you end up turning him into Kurrgan or Eli Cottonwood type big man who can never get rid of the stink of being a lower card guy. A guy like Giant shouldn’t be taking arm drags from Brad Armstrong on Saturday Night you know? If he’s going to be on the show then it has to be in a role like this, and if he’s green then it means he’ll just have to learn on the job. It’s not ideal, but needs must, and Giant does a far better job in this role than many others likely would.
Giant brings an end to Hogan’s comeback by going to a bear hug, and then goes to the Choke Slam once Hogan breaks out of that hold. You fool! Never hit Hulk Hogan with your Finisher! It’s like the first seminar you take at Heel University after “Never go up to the second rope and come down with an unspecified move when the babyface is in a great position to raise their foot in the air”. Hogan does the full Hulk Up routine and even gets the slam and Leg Drop of DOOM™, but Jimmy Hart of all people clocks the ref, meaning there is no one to count. Hart hits Hogan with the belt after that, which is good as face Hogan having a manager never really fit anyway.
With the ref down, Giant, Sullivan and Hart attack Hogan. Luger and Savage ostensibly run down for the save, but Luger turns on Savage to reveal that Jimmy Hart is now his manager. The Yeti (Pronounced “YET-AY” by Tony for some reason) comes down to the ring as well, although he looks more like a giant Mummy to be honest. We then get one of the more suggestive scenes in a mid-90’s mainstream wrestling event, as Giant and Yeti both grab Hogan in a bear hug and start essentially dry humping him. The referee awakens and awards Giant the win, as Hart was Hogan’s manager and attacked the ref.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: THE GIANT
Giant entered a strong effort there for a guy with his level of experience, but they probably went a bit too long and the match wasn’t great from an in-ring perspective. Still, they did the right thing to not have Giant get pinned, and Hart attacking the ref just after Hogan dropped the leg meant that they gave Giant an out, as he could have always claimed that he would have kicked out anyway
The big twist was that Hart had it written into the contract that the belt could change hands on a DQ, which led to the belt being put up in a Battle Royal at the next pay per view event.
Is It Really A Stinker?
The silliness with Giant falling off the roof is infamous, and deservedly so, as it was utterly stupid and they made zero attempt to explain it. The show itself didn’t exactly feature a lot of good wrestling, but that stuff with Flair and Sting was so good that I think it’d be almost unjust to mark the show overall as a full on Stinker.
It’s definitely not a show to watch if you’re into your wrestling and work rate, but most of the “meh” matches are reasonably short at least and there is a certain comedy value to how cartoonish and gimmicky the whole Dungeon of Doom storyline was. It’s so weird seeing that ridiculous stuff and contrasting it with the old school pro wrestling storytelling from Flair and, to a lesser extent, the likes of DDP and Badd.
So yeah, this show has its fair share of Stinker tendencies, and that stuff following the Monster Truck challenge threatened to derail the whole show entirely, but there’s enough good stuff on it to prevent it from being a full on Stinker in my view.
Overall Rating: Stinky