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Ring Crew Reviews: WCW Halloween Havoc 1997

August 27, 2012 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: WCW Halloween Havoc 1997  

Scheduled Card:
1. Yugi Nagata vs. Ultimo Dragon.
2. WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (c).
3. Mongo McMichael vs. Alex Wright.
4. Disco Inferno vs. Jacqueline.
5. WCW United States Championship: Ric Flair vs. Curt Hennig (c).
6. Scott Hall vs. Lex Luger.
7. Las Vegas Sudden Death Match: Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page.
8. Steel Cage Grudge Match: Hollywood Hogan vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper.

• We start with Brain, Tony, and Dusty getting excited about Hogan and Piper in the cage tonight. Dusty says livelihoods are on the line tonight wherein Hogan has declared if Piper loses, he will eat his stinkin’ soul. He’s just scraping at the door, SCRAPING AT THE DOOR!

Yugi Nagata vs. Ultimo Dragon. Nagata has Sonny Onoo with him. Dusty: “Sonny Onoo is on the horse that’s leading the race, you know what I mean? And he really feels with this horse, he can win the race.” Brain calls Nagata, “Yogi.” Tenay joins the crew to bring facts to the party. They both avoid kicks to start before Nagata tries some CLUBBINGBLOWS and a headlock. Dragon sends him off and they collide on a shoulderblock. Nagata laughs at his weakness and tells him to try it again. Dragon does and this time knocks Yugi down. He avoids a kick and then sweeps Nagata in a nice sequence. Nagata is all FUCK THIS and ducks behind folds him up with a BEAST Gargoyle suplex. Dragon tries an up and over in the corner but Nagata sniffs it out so Dragon dropkicks him down instead and then hits a series of kicks. Dragon with a head of steam but runs into a sleeper from Nagata. Nagata releases and switches to a neck wrench and just then boots Dragon down. He sets up a backdrop but Dragon lands on his feet so he goes back to the sleeper. Dragon slides behind to counter with a back suplex. Good stuff. Yugi no sells and hits a couple brutal DR FG’s and goes to the Camel Clutch. Yugi just throws him down into the mat, boots him like he’s nothing and then taunts. I loved overenthusiastic, heel Nagata. He’s like a cross between Chris Jericho, William Regal, and Ohtani. Nagata with a piledriver and covers for 1, 2, only 2. They jockey over a suplex and Nagata hits it for only 1 this time. Back to the chinlock but then Nagata lets go just to PULVERIZE Dragon with another stiff as hell DR FG. Dragon no sells and tells him to bring it on. Dragon catches the next one and counters with the Dragon Screw Leg Whip. NOOO! NOT THE KNEE!

• He boots Nagata to the floor. Dusty: “You might see some springboardin’ goin’ on.” Sure enough, Dragon tries a plancha but Yugi hits him on the way down with the DR FG! Nice! BUT WAIT! RAVEN AND THE FLOCK HAVE ARRIVED! Meanwhile, Dragon whips Nagata into the guardrail and follows it up with the Asai moonsault. Back in, Dragon goes for the handspring back elbow but Yugi goes the boot up in the corner. He preps a superplex but Dragon counters to the Arabian Powerbomb for 1, 2, 2 ½. Dragon now with a regular moonsault for 1, 2, 2 ½. Dragon with a few Steamboat double chops and puts Nagata up top. Nagata counters and then wraps Dragon’s arm across the top rope. This has some nice puro flavor with the back-and-forth bodypart psychology cutoffs. Nagata with a few stiff kicks and an armbreaker and then an armbar TD. If you didn’t get the point already, Nagata is awesome and should be on the Mount Rushmore of evil foreigner assholes. Nagata with a belly to belly suplex for 2 and then hooks in the Nagata Lock I. Unfortunately, Dragon gets the ropes. Nagata tries a powerbomb but Dragon slides out and masterfully hooks in the DRAGON SLEEPER! Nagata in danger but throws Dragon into the ropes bad arm first. Yeah, buddy. Dragon manages to fight him off and hit an enzuigiri. They slug it out from their knees and Dragon wins and then hits a series of kicks. He puts Nagata up top again and hits the top rope rana. Dragon can’t capitalize because the arm is too hurt. Nagata seizes the moment, avoids the Sleeper again, and hooks in a deep Fujiwara armbar and Dragon taps out at 9:53. This was like a 30 minute NOAH technical display on fast forward for the benefit of the stateside storytelling constraints. Still damn near flawless execution, but a bit off as a choice for opener seeing as the crowd wasn’t really into either guy. ***1/2

• Post-match, Nagata under orders from Onoo breaks Dragon’s arm and then receives the hired assassin’s rightful bounty. Brain: “I knew it. He was going to give him a little bonus and he got it the good way. He EARNED it.” Tony: “That’s not the good way, Brain. Breaking someone’s arm? What are you talking about?” Brain: “What if Nagata broke both arms?” Tony: “I’m not going to go into that fans.”

• Meanwhile, Disco Inferno is back at the WCWwrestling.com table being interviewed by who I *think* is Mark Madden. He asks Disco about wrestling a woman tonight, Jacqueline. Disco is confident and says just like in football, “cheerleaders don’t belong on the field.” Jacqueline interrupts and they brawl off-screen.

Gedo vs. Chris Jericho. This is a “special unadvertised bonus match.” Gedo is from Japan and has some history with Jericho among others from the old Super J-Cup tournaments. Jericho is plucky, white bread babyface. Gedo is wearing mustard yellow pants and a mesh shirt and a karate belt. Lock up goes nowhere but Gedo smacks and then ducks under the ropes for a break. Gedo grabs a wristlock but Jericho rolls through and counters to a mild pop surprisingly. They trade the arm lock a couple more times before Jericho hits a spinkick to take him down. Jericho then ghosts him on a smack by a few inches but Gedo sells anyway. Not good. Gedo then takes a breather. Back in, Jericho with a back elbow and a hanging vertical suplex. Jericho covers for 2. Jericho with a few chops and then shoulderblocks Gedo down. Gedo tries a shitcan but Jericho steals the HBK/Steamboat skin the cat spot only to get clotheslined out anyway. This is pretty bland so far as Tenay scrambles to cover. He says Gedo has a different style than most puro workers and instead he’s inspired by “1970s style Southern brawling… a lot more punching and kicking” (translation: he kinda sucks). Gedo with a powerslam for 2. Gedo runs into a boot in the corner but then hits another powerslam for 2 to mild boos. Gedo goes to the Sleeper. Jericho counters to the Backpack Spinebuster to escape. On another note, the sound of the old wood rings is fantastic. Casual moves sound so awesome that it makes up for their commonplace nature. I know the current rings are safer and less painful but the ambiance is lacking nowadays. ANYWAY, Jericho with a clothesline and he gets the crowd fired up. Jericho with a baseball slide and hits the double Powerbomb for 1, 2, only 2. Jericho preps a superplex but then changes his mind, and if you’ve read A Lion’s Tale, you know the series of unfortunate events that follow. Jericho, instead, goes for a top rope rana but underrotates and lands flush ON HIS HEAD and almost kills himself. It’s a miracle he was able to walk away from that botch. Gedo rolls to the floor. Jericho tries a plancha to follow but eats a kick from Gedo. Back in. Gedo lands on his feet out of a German suplex. Jericho gets to his shoulders in the Electric Chair position as Gedo appears to be going for the Electric Chair drop but throws Jericho down and Jericho lands awkwardly on his knee. Jesus, I’m sure his life flashed before his eyes again after those 2 catastrophes. Gedo heads up top but Jericho just swats him away and locks in the Liontamer and Gedo taps at 7:19. A workmanlike encounter that went downhill toward the end with a life-threatening near miss. **

WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (c). This fortunately is not over custody of Dominic. If Rey loses, he has to unmask. Tony puts over how Eddie, the heel, is the best pound for pound wrestler in the world. Brain speculates about whether Rey’s mask or the cruiserweight belt is more important to him. Crowd with a HUGE EDDIE SUCKS chant to get us giong. Eddie tells Rey not to get it twisted and that HE’S THE CHAMP! Eddie catches Rey trying a Lionsault but Rey armdrags his way free anyway. Rey with a leap frog and monkey flips Eddie across the ring. Rey then takes him out with a Cactus crossbody. Rey tries teasing a tope but Eddie is all FUCK THAT and just pulls him down and slams him into the mat. Brutal. Eddie then runs him around the ring and blasts him into the stairs. Eddie with the slingshot senton and then tells the crowd to shove it. HEEL EDDIE, BABY! Rey comes back with a Bluechipper dropkick and tries a handspring but Eddie CATCHES him in a sweet German suplex. Eddie with a brainbuster and covers for 1, 2, only 2. Eddie then folds him up with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and covers for another 2 count. Edie’s all C’MON PUNTO and then tries to pull off the mask before going to an ab stretch and using the mask for leverage. Eddie then switches to a pump handle backbreaker and Rey is trashed. He still kicks out for 2 and then Eddie bridges into a few knucklelocks to try covers. Rey keeps kicking out. Tenay professes to the others on Mysterio’s history as Colibri which translates to hummingbird. Dusty, master of transitions, takes over from there: “I don’t know about hummingbirds, but Eddie has mounted a tremendous offense.” Meanwhile, Rey hits the crazy, springboard flipping DDT which is one of those moves on the video games that doesn’t even seem humanly possible, but yet he hits it anyway. That’s just… superhuman. Rey then dropkicks Eddie out of the ring. Rey tries following out with a springboard plancha but Eddie slides under and dropkicks him out now. Dusty nicely point out how Eddie has been one step ahead of Mysterio the whole match. Rey tries crawling away for mercy and Eddie goes to the Camel Clutch and keeps trying to rip the mask off. C’MONNNNNN!

• Eddie goes to the Gory Special to make sure Rey feels the wrath of multiple generations of Guerreros. Rey quickly armdrags out and tries yet another dropkick but Eddie avoids and then dropkicks Rey RIGHT TO THE HEAD! BULLDOG BACKBREAKER! Eddie follows up with the half Bow and Arrow. Rey tries to get a rally going but Eddie takes him down with a leg lariat. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Rey comes back with a series or rights and chops but Eddie hooks him in a Tree of Woe and then dropkicks. Eddie tries a baseball slide but Rey sits up and Eddie crotches himself on the ringpost. Eddie takes a breather but Rey follows with the PLANCHA! Back in, Eddie tries another tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but in a nice callback, Rey sniffs it out and ranas Eddie into a bridge for 1, 2, 2.7. Eddie tries following behind Rey on a whip but Rey catches him with a 619 and then ranas him to the floor. Dusty: “What action. What unbelievable ATHLETIC-SCHISM THAT WAS!” Rey with a head of steam then goes to the tope con hilo and chains into a rana that sends Eddie reeling on the floor. AWESOME! Back in, Rey with a corkscrew moonsault and covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Rey tries an Arabian press but Eddie gets the knees up and folds him up with a BEASTTTT WILDBOMB! Cover gets 1, 2, 2.9999! Crowd tells Eddie again that he sucks. He tells them to suck it and then gets a head of steam but Rey alley oops him back into the turnbuckle. Rey with a spinwheel kick and calls for the springboard rana. He’s up for it but their timing appears to be off and they botch it and Eddie covers with a backbreaker (I think?). Eddie calls for the Frog Splash to BIG heat. Eddie flies off but rolls through and crotches Mysterio on the turnbuckle. They jockey for position and Eddie wants the SUPER Razor’s Edge/Splash Mountain but Rey counters to the rana and hooks the leg for 1, 2, 3 to win the belt at 13:50. Post-match, Rey turns his back on Eddie to celebrate and Eddie with the LATINO HEAT HAMMER from behind and shitcans him out. Thankfully, this avoids the pitfalls of a lot of WCW lucha and TNA X-Division matches of just being a lot of moves with no personality. This has Heel Eddie at his peak and wonderful callbacks with moves working the first time and then not working or not working the first time and then connecting galore. Maybe Mysterio’s best singles match ever. ****3/4

Mongo McMichael vs. Alex Wright. Alright, so this was during a period when Debra was pissed at Mongo and tried forcing various men to try and beat up her husband. Poor, Alex Wright just wanted to dance and hang out shirtless on the beach with Renegade, Joe Perez, and Jim Powers and yet somehow got roped into this. Tony ignores all of that to tease that the main event between Piper and Hogan may be cancelled unless WCW can promise Hogan that Sting will not make an appearance. Brain and Dusty go crazy talking about mind games but Tony says the whole thing is pointless because that’s why it’s a cage match: “You know, the cage keeps people out, keeps people in. The cage does that job. The cage keeps the interference out. The cage does that in and of itself. The fact that they have pulled Hogan out of this main event and that he will not wrestle unless we assure that Sting will not be there is just a bald-faced lie. It’s just averting the truth and the truth is that they’re scared to DEATH!” See, Tony used to be pretty good when he wanted to be.

• Alex and Mongo stall for a bit before Alex grabs a wristlock. Mongo takes over before Alex tries to roll through only for Mongo to slam him down. Alex bails and accosts Debra. Alex is all I THOUGHT HE COULDN’T WRESTLE AND WAS JUST HERE BECAUSE OF A SUPER BOWL RING! Debra feigns ignorance at Mongo’s suspect Greco-Roman credentials. Back in, Alex jaws with the crowd as Mongo does the Hogan ear cup to a meek response. They jockey over an Americana and now Alex Wright wins that one and Mongo is aghast. DAS WUNDERKID! Now, they trade waistlocks to out-amateur wrestle each other before Alex goes back to the wristlock as the crew continues going through the ins and outs of the nWo’s legal battles. Mongo tries to kip out only for Alex to pull him back down. Mongo now trades to his own wristlock and knees the arm. I swear, the crew hasn’t even mentioned either guy’s name or anything going on in the ring ONCE. Not even Brain. Mongo no sells some shots from Alex and then flops down for a Euro uppercut. Alex grabs a headlock only for Mongo to no sell a shoulderblock. Mongo tries one of his own and Alex pulls the matador sidestep routine but Mongo isn’t expecting it and hilariously jumps and then struts across the ring trying to cover. Mongo’s a better seller when he botches and tries to fake it then when he’s really trying. ANYWAY, Alex boots him around and they go back to the headlock. They trade hiptoss counters before Mongo wins that one and slams Wright down. Alex has decided Debra isn’t worth it and tries to take a hike but Mongo pulls him down off the top rope and slams him to the mat. Mongo runs into a boot in the corner and just tilts his fucking head back like he’s got a nosebleed and then Alex leg lariats him the rest of the way down. Mongo just because he sucks sandbags Alex on a gutwrench and then botches the reversal before Tombstoning him down. BUT WAIT! Debra distracts the ref and STILL BILL GOLDBERG HAS COME OUT! SPEAR! JACKHAMMER! Both to crickets I might add just because it’s late 97 and no one cares yet. Charles Robinson FINALLY turns but catches Goldberg still in the middle of the longest run-in ever so then he turns back around for Goldberg to slam Alex onto Mongo and then bail out. Charles now counts the 1, 2, 3 to put over Alex at 6:33. Some passionless but perversely entertaining chain wrestling started this off but then Mongo’s true colors shown through and the match went down the toilet. *

• Post-match, Debra gives Goldberg Mongo’s Super Bowl ring as a bounty. Alex is all WHERE’S MY CUT so Goldberg turns on him and leaves with the spoils.

Disco Inferno vs. Jacqueline. Disco is TV champ. Heenan: “Disco is in for the match of his career.” Tony says the NSAC wouldn’t OK this so the match is UNSANCTIONED! Dusty: “I have NEVER SEEN CONFUSION IN AN ARENA FOR A BIG EVENT LIKE THIS IS RIGHT HERE! I’VE NEVER SEEN IT!” Unfortunately, Big Dust is still talking about Hogan and crew. Brain decides to throw in a potshot as well: “If Hogan takes his boots off, he won’t put them back on.” I’m beginning to think he took them off during one tour of Japan and just left them over there.

• Disco begs off to start. Not because he’s a gentleman, just because he’s an artisan that traffics in the cheap heats. Disco bails out and Dusty tries to defend Disco by saying you can’t just put a “regular hold” on her. Tony says Disco should just run away from her all night. Remember, this is when WCW was GOOD! More pointless stalling from Disco though admittedly the crowd hates him. Tony: “In his career, Disco has really improved over the last 6-8 months a great deal. HE’S A CHAMP! But this is really a step back for him, this could stop any momentum for him in his TV title defenses.” Tony’s absolute commitment to maintaining the illusion of wrestling as a sport is probably my favorite part of his commentary. He consistently talks about championship pecking order, winning streaks, losing streaks, the elusive “Executive Committee”, and how current matches will affect future championship opportunities; it’s really fine commentary work from him. Unfortunately, it’s lost amid a sea of Jacqueline-Disco matches. ANYWAY, Dusty takes over and says basically the whole company is going under because Hogan is refusing to wrestle tonight. Disco’s awful stalling just goes ON AND ON AND ON! FUCK! Seriously, this has been going on for over FOUR DAMN MINUTES! Mercifully, Jackie chases him down and goes for a sunset flip for 1, 2, only 2. Disco with a drop toe hold and powders out again. Jackie tries pulling Disco in so he armdrags her and begs off some more. This is so riveting that Brain wants to know about whether or not Hogan’s limo has left the building yet. Back in, Jackie finally gets her hands on Disco and pounds him down. Disco takes the FIFTH BREATHER OF THE MATCH! He says now he’s taking a walk. YES, IT’S OVER! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Jackie runs him down as the match…. must…. go … on. Back in, they go through some wretched shoulderblock no-sells that expose the business and ruin all of Tony’s good commentary work. Disco tries shitcanning her out VERY softly but Jackie no sells and then crotches him on the ringpost even weaker than that pitiful shitcan. Tony: “THE SLIM JIM’S RINGPOST!” This is awful. On the floor, Jackie with a suplex on Disco. Back in, Disco sells some clotheslines before Jackie hits an ugly Maivia Hurricane. She heads up top for a crossbody but Disco rolls through for 2. Jackie with a school boy for 1, 2, 3 to win it at 9:42. Crowd popped for the last bit, but still this was horrendous on a level that’s hard to fathom. The last minute or so with the DDT and the snap suplex on the floor prevent this from reaching worst-match-ever levels but it’s still reserved for a special level of purgatory. -*

• However, if anything can remove the bad taste of the last few matches, it’s the NAT-CHAAA BOY!

WCW United States Championship: Ric Flair vs. Curt Hennig (c). WOOOOOOOOOOOO! See, Arn had to retire and gave his spot in the Four Horsemen to Perfect, but that proved ill-advised as Perfect turned on the Horsemen and joined the n.W.o at WarGames and SLAMMED Flair’s head in the cage. This feud as you might expect had a lot of heat and awesome promos. Unfortunately, all of it was funneled into Hogan and the n.W.o but that’s another story for another day but I covered part of it in my WW3 97 review so I’ll just refer you there (WCW World War III 1997). Instead, let’s focus on the awesome like Tony refusing to stand for what happened to Flair and walking off the show. Or Flair just going crazy.

• Perfect comes out wearing Flair’s robe with the sleeves cut off. Awesomely to sell Perfect’s rob steal, Flair doesn’t wear a different one to the ring and in fact, comes sprinting out and wants him a piece of Curt Hennig. Flair pulls Hennig to the floor and CUE THE CHOPS! WOOOOOOOOO! Flair clips the leg and Perfect cuts a flip without even getting the robe off. Perfect gets to the apron and Flair gives him the running knee that sends him flying into the guardrail. Perfect says he doesn’t need this crap and is taking a walk. Flair runs him down and hits a STYLIN’ AND PROFILIN’ HAMMER from behind. Back in, Flair grabs the leg and NOW, WE GO TO SCHOOL! Flair wraps the leg around the ringpost and grabs a chair but Heenig slides out of the way. Flair now pounds down Curt in the corner and pulls the robe off him and puts it back on himself. The places LOVES IT! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Hennig jumps into a chop and launches himself across the ring. Perfect comes running out of the corner and hits a clothesline of his own and then flipping neck snap as Dusty yammers on about Hogan and the main event. Fuckers. Perfect now goes to work on Flair’s knee and drives down on it a few times as WE GO TO SCHOOL… AGAIN, PERFECT STYLE! Dusty: “When the lead dog runs, all the little doggies run with him.” Perfect no sells some chops and comes down on the knee again. Man, what the hell is the crew doing? I get rambling about the n.W.o through a Jackie/Disco snoozefest but this is FLAIR AND PERFECT! SHUT UP AND CALL THE MATCH! Perfect weakens the hamstrings and grapevines the leg. Flair gets to his feet but Perfect blows through him with a burrito. Perfect covers for 1, 2, only 2. Perfect continues working over Flair and pounds him down as it’s degenerated into a fight. Perfect sends him across for the Flair Flip that sends Flair to the floor. Perfect stays on the leg and also punches Flair around. Flair tries a chop so Perfect goes low and sends him into the guardrail.

• Hennig continues as it appears his heat is going to consist mainly of punches and shouts. Flair comes back with a shoulderblock but Perfect goes to the Sleeper. Flair tries driving him into the turnbuckle and then back suplexes him way free. Well, they certainly peaked early as this has gotten generic pretty quickly. Thankfully, they spice things up with Perfect going for a chairshot but whiffing and Flair chopping him down and then strutting ringside. WOOOOOOO! Flair wants Hennig to get up. Tony: “DON’T DARE HIM TO GET UP! STOMP HIM WHILE HE’S DOWN!” These guys have been on the floor just shy of 2 weeks with no count coming. Flair slingshots Perfect into the ringpost and stays on him with right hands. Tony: “SLIM JIM’S HAS PADS ON THE RINGPOST!” Back in, Hennig cuts off Flair but they botch the toss in so Flair pokes him in the eye. Perfect bails out and says he’s taking a walk and we know he means it this time, because he gets the US belt. Flair runs him down and jumps him from behind. Tony, decides to stop shilling the sponsor and one-up Dusty’s transitions by shilling the main event: “He jumped on the back of Hennig preventing him from leaving. WCW collectively should jump on the back of Hogan and Bischoff and prevent THEM from leaving!” Flair gives Perfect a knee drop on the floor. Back in, Perfect swats him down and hits a knee lift that Flair oversells. Perfect sets up the belt for a PerfectPlex on the belt. Flair blocks and gives Perfect the hanging vertical suplex on the belt. WOOOO! The crew are telling the ref to get the belt out of the ring but Flair has other ideas. Flair hooks Hennig in the Tree of Woe and puts the belt on his face. Flair with a head of steam and BATISTA KICKS THE BELT INTO PERFECT’S FACE! OHHHHH! Perfect payback for WarGames. The ref calls for the bell at 13:57 to give Perfect the victory via DQ.

• The matches between these two are a strange batch; Flair and Hennig are about 80% mirror images of each other and each one’s strength is the same as the other guy’s. But it’s hard to have a classic match where both guys specialize in flopping, bumping, and talking trash. Neither guy on offense sets the world on fire and it shows when Hennig just punches and Flair just chops. This is better than their soul-crushing, dream-killing underwhelming match at WW3 as the opening 5 minutes is HOT and the match gets awesome again in the last minute or so when it goes back to that. ***1/4

• Post-match, the ref comes out to haul off Flair. He chops a few down before Konnan and Virgil come out to save Perfect. Tony wants to know why the refs are pulling Flair off and basically proposes a no-DQ match and that’s exactly what we’d get the following month.

Scott Hall vs. Lex Luger. Larry Z is special ref. Hall has Syxx with him. Luger gets the loudest pyro of all-time and it goes on for a good 20 seconds. You’d think we were back on the Lex Fireworks Express. Apparently, in the meantime, the Executive Committee has met and now the match between Hogan and Piper is BACK ON! Dusty fears it may get cancelled again, so stay tuned. Hall taunts Larry Z and then throws the tooth pick at him. Awesome. Luger clubs him down and that gets the bell rung. Lockup goes nowhere and goes on before Larry forces a break. They go through it again and now Hall grabs a headlock. Luger tries powering out before getting the ropes. YES! THREE ROPE BREAKS! That’s true ring generaling right there. They trade wristlocks and now Luger won’t release. UHHHHHHHH, this is going to be a long match. Tony: “Scott Hall stares at Zybyzysycyko. I’m not sure if it’s a stare of hate or surprise.” Hall wants the test of strength as Luger stalls some more to crowd indifference. Hall of course boots him and goes to the anchor hold. ASK HIM, LARRY! ASK HIM! This sucks. These guys must realize they are in the presence of a master staller like Larry Z and have to step-down their games. Dusty: “A tremendous athlete. Really pulling on him right there!” Dusty then says this match has a “slow start” which is the worst commentary hosejob of his life. Tony tries to bust his balls: “I don’t know if this has been a slow start. Everyone’s been on such an emotional rollercoaster–” Dusty: “I don’t mean a slow start; sometimes when you start a ball game, you don’t throw a pass on first down. DON’T CONTRA—DICK ME!” Tony: “Well, I’m fixing to [in Dusty accent] CONTRA-DICKED YOU, A-GIN!” That was the greatest 30 seconds of my life.

• Tony blames the match’s horrible Zbyzyychscko stalling homage on them being all worked up over the Hogan-Piper drama and then imitates Dusty’s accent. Luger and Hall tease reversing the anchor hold for a solid minute before Luger reverses only for Hall to get the ropes. That’s like 10 rope breaks so far. Luger tries mounting in the corner but Hall with an atomic drop and clotheslines him down. Tony: “HALL WITH A RUNNING START… OF A LARIAT!” Hall goes to the BLATANTCHOKE and Larry Z is none too pleased. Hall with a running clothesline and covers for 1, 2, only 2. Hall and Syxx argue about the count. Hall with the snap ab suplex for another 2 count. Syxx: “THREETHREETHREETHREE!” Hall now goes to the Sleeper to really pick up the pace. Larry Z is working harder as a ref than either of these guys are at wrestling. Think about THAT. Luger drops to one knee in the Sleeper and reads the Sports Page and drinks his Starbucks while Larry raises his arm a few times to crickets. No one cares and this is awful. Luger finally Narcissicists up and counters to a back suplex. Hall recovers first and drapes the arm for 2. Hall now boots Luger to the floor. Luger gets to the apron only to get knocked off again. Luger: “AHHHHHHOHHHHHHHHHHUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Hall pounds down Luger some more only for Larry Z to call for a break and Luger goes down like a sack of shit. Hall tries to waffle Larry but Larry shitcans him out. BUT WAIT! ERIC BISCHOFF HAS COME OUT! Larry softly boots him off the apron to a pop. Hall and Luger recover and slug it out. Luger with the Bionic, Steel Plate Forearm of Death and a few atomic drops. Larry tries to keep Bischoff at bay as Luger calls for the Rack. BUT WAIT! SYXX WAFFLES LUGER FROM BEHIND! Larry didn’t see it and Hall recovers for the Razor’s Edge. He covers for 1, 2, 3 to win it at 12:44. Fifteen minutes for that? However, Larry being the pioneer of refereeing as well wants to see the instant replay. It shows Syxx ghosting Luger on the run-in. You’ve got ONE SPOT and you blow that? Seriously? Everyone sucks. Larry decides the restart the match and starts the count to get Hall back to the ring. Hall trots back and gets in his face. Larry shoves him and Luger catches Hall in The Rack. Larry calls for the bell as Syxx slides in and waffles him from behind for the DQ at 14:39.

• Post-match, Syxx tries to clear the ring and Larry catches him in a triangle choke and transitions to the guillotine. Hall then jumps Larry from behind and holds him so Eric can hit him with a front kick to the face.

• These two pioneers of guaranteed contracts, favored nation clauses, and half-assing it put on quite the shitfest ode to their mentor Larry. Future generations will examine this spectacle and write hundreds of lines of epic poetry about their ability to appear disinterested and unmotivated all while making millions of dollars. Serious contender for worst match of the night, if not for Larry’s BJJ. At least the crowd was into the last minute or so. -*

Las Vegas Sudden Death Match: Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page. If that stip sounds wonky, it’s just a last man standing match. Macho has Ms. Elizabeth with him. Brain puts over Macho and his illustrious career on commentary only like he can. YES! DDP came as he was in denim and has the ever treacherous “bruised ribs” that plagued Ken Shamrock for 2 years in his prime and DDP for even longer. Macho bails out to start so DDP follows him and they slug it out with Dallas winning that one. DDP tries working over the arm in a street fight and the wise sage, Macho pokes him in the eye and promptly kicks him in the ribs. OHHH YEAH! DDP counters and sends Macho into the guardrail and tears off his shirt and snapmares Macho over with it. Nice. Back in, Macho cuts off DDP at the pass and hotshots him into the ropes ON THE RIBS! Macho works over the ribs with rights and boots. Macho plays to the crowd so DDP now pounds him down in the corner. Dusty: “A ONE MAN CLUBBERIN’!” DDP tries a charge but runs into a boot. They collide on a double clothesline and both go down. Dusty tries to ruin the match and the show yet again: “Both guys down right there. Double clothesline. That means each guy clotheslined the other guy at the same time…” [Silence] Dusty: “Hello?… HELLO?” Tony: “Don’t worry. If I don’t answer you, I’m still sitting here.” DDP up first with a swinging neckbreaker. He goes for the Cutter but Macho flies out of the ring trying to avoid it. He goes to Ms. Elizabeth for sympathy but DDP follows out with the plancha and.. wait for it… SELL THE RIBS! He recovers enough to send Macho into the guardrail. Back in, Macho cuts him off with a desperation Stun Gun. Macho piles on with the SLIM JIM’S HAMMER TO THE FLOOR! Macho with a head of steam and LARIATOS DDP into the crowd. Macho then leaps onto him with a burrito into the crowd. YEAHHH! Awesome. They brawl on the floor for a bit and you can’t tell what’s going on. However, Macho perks up to shout GETOUTTATHAWAY at some kids. Classic Macho. He waffles Page and sends him into the guardrail. Page counters with a whip that sends Macho reeling into the tombstone set near the entranceway. DDP gives him a World’s Strongest Slam on a wooden crate and waffles him with.. well I’ll let Dusty take over. Dusty: “HE WOBBLE LEGGED HIM! DIDN’T HE WOBBLE LEG HIM?! HE PICKED UP… THE WAITRESS TRAY AND BUSTED HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH IT!”

• Tony and Brain both make fun of him for that call. Page now kicks Macho’s ass back toward the ring and boots him around. Back ringside, Macho counters a whip and sends Page into the guardrail. Macho then tosses him into the stairs and Page collapses in pain selling the ribs. This is great. Mickey starts the count but only gets to 4 before Macho kicks him back down. Macho commandeers a camera from a camera man and goes for the waffle but DDP gets the boot up and kicks it back into his face. Great sound effect on that. Mickey Jay starts the count but Miss Elizabeth gets to the apron and sure enough waffles him with a DRINK TRAY! DUSTY THE PROPHET! Dusty: “I told y’all about the waitress with the tray and ya’ll didn’t want to believe me.” Elizabeth then makes her way over to Page and gouges his eye and starts choking him with the camera cable! My kind of woman that’ll help you in a street fight! BUT WAIT! KIMBERLY PAGE HAS COME OUT! She attacks Elisabeth and it’s a CATFIGHT! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! This is just awesome on every level right now even if it is aping ECW. Kimberly pulls Miss Elisabeth to the back to her hair. A trainer comes out from the back to pull Mickey Jay out and East Bound and Down Nick Patrick is your new ref. Nick starts the count and gets to 7 before Macho gets up first. Page up too and they slug it out. Page with a couple haymakers and an inverted atomic drop. DDP with the face-first piledriver and calls for the DiamondCutter! He goes for it but Macho puts the brakes on by grabbing the top rope. Macho heads up top and hits the Macho Elbow ON THE RIBS! Though he slipped a bit but I don’t care. Macho answers the count at 5 and Page gets to his feet at 7. Macho slams him down but wonderfully sells exhaustion at the same time. And now he wants another MACHO ELBOW! Page struggles and gets up at 9. Macho knees him into the turnbuckle and wants another slam but they bump the ref in the process. DIAMOND CUTTER! Nick recovers and starts the count. 1! 2! 3! 4! 5! 6! 7! Page is up! 8! Savage is up! ANOTHER DIAMOND CUTTER! NO! Macho counters to a LOW BLOW! Nick starts the count again and DDP bails out to recover. BUT WAIT! THIS IS STING (not really) HAS COME OUT! It’s pretty obvious it’s not Sting and the imposter waffles DDP in the ribs with a bat. Savage beats the count at 9 and wins it at 18:11.

• Man, this fucking RULES! This match is awesome in too many ways to count. Psychology, heat, drama, timing. It might be the best “sports entertainment” match in the history of WCW, very much in the vein of Stone Cold-Dude Love and every ECW main event ever. Mildly overbooked with the ref bumps, seconds interefence, and the Stink run-in, but again everything clicking and it’s wonderful. Macho’s last great match? I might even like this a tad better than Eddie-Rey and I don’t care if anyone agrees with me. ****3/4

Steel Cage Grudge Match: Hollywood Hogan vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper. Buffer does the intro. He says this has been sanctioned by the NSAC and the survivor, “if there is one” [CUE OMINOUS MUSIC] will be declared the winner. That’s right, the athletic commission won’t sanction a mixed, intergender match but it will sanction a DEATH match where someone might die. Big Dust points out how all this started last year at Havoc 96. For a minute, I’m confused because I can’t remember a match between Hogan and Piper then. Tony: “Over one year in the making.” Dusty: “What a blockbuster they had to get us here to this point.” Tony: “It’ll go down as one of the greatest verbal confrontations EVER!” Oh, THAT’S RIGHT! Hogan and Macho had that epic craptacular match at that PPV and then Piper and Hogan were cut off mid promo by the PPV company. And you can read more about that here — WCW Halloween Havoc 1996

• Hogan tears a sign away from a fan that translates WWF to Why Wrestle For (McMahon) and seems really pleased with himself. Hogan then does one of my favorite wrestling oddities and shakes the cage to prove that it’s real and won’t fall down like a house of cards. Tony mentions how this is no ordinary cage; it’s the huge Chamber of Horrors cage that Luger wrestled Flair in back at Capital Combat. Piper comes out with Hogan’s n.W.o belt that he stole. Dusty: “WHAT A SHHHHPECKTACLE!”

• Hogan bails out to show he’s afraid of the maniac Piper. Piper throws his shirt at him and gives chase. The bell hasn’t rang but let’s start the count anyway. Hogan tries climbing out so Piper whips him with a belt and then bites his ass. Yes, bites his ass. Dusty: “HE’S A BITIN’ HIM RIGHT WHERE HE SITS, BOYS!” Hogan comically oversells some right hands and then Piper bites his lower back and bites his nose. Piper weakly sends him into the apron and Hogan begs off and wants to stop the match now before he works up a sweat. Piper pokes Hogan in the eye in one of those spots that I always find funny as Tony calls him the “greatest fighter ever.” Piper with an atomic drop and a Mongolian chop to crickets. Tony finally notices that there’s NO DAMN REF but no one seems overly concerned because there’s a ref on the outside even though he didn’t have enough authority to get the ball rang. Unfortunately, Buffer didn’t say anything about how to win the match but I’m guessing escape won’t cut it. Hogan tries climbing out so Piper low blows him. Hogan sleepwalks his way to the cage at the behest of Piper’s rather waiterly delivery (Right this way, sir). They both block before Piper “slams” Hogan into it and then both flop down anyway. These guys look a thousand years old. Hogan tells the ref to open the door because he’s talking a walk. IN A CAGE MATCH!? Tony: “Hogan’s going to try and get out of the cage. If he can, it’s over.” Piper chases him down and then “tackles” Hogan as both take a stroll out and down ringside. What. The. Fuck. The entire match has fallen apart inside of 5 minutes and no one knows what to do. Brain at least tries to show some carny and chastises the ref: “GET THEM BACK IN THERE!” Tony thinks differently: “They have gone out of the parameters of the steel cage.” Apparently, they have escaped the cage’s tractor beam and are thus able to roam the building. Hogan slams the door back into Piper’s face a couple times. Well, with no real ref and no stipulation, it only figures they can’t have a real finish. However, Buffer did say NO RULES! Hogan whiffs and botches the third cage door smash. This sucks.

• Hogan tries to cover by atomic dropping Piper on the guardrail and then says he’s taking a walk. Hogan: “THAT’S IT! I’M OUTTA HERE! I DON’T NEED THIS CRAP!” Tony: “What do you mean, ‘YOU’RE OUTTA HERE!’ ?!” Is that how you win? Escape the arena? That could make for an interesting match, however, this ain’t it. BUT WAIT! Hogan’s stopped dead in his tracks by Sting, or perhaps another imposter. I will say this, the prospect of it being a fake has KILLED his heat with the crowd as they don’t care about these Cobra/Hogan encounters. Hogan begs off and then Piper drags him back to the cage and NOW Randy Anderson locks it with a chain. Hogan, in the words of Dusty, is “disorientated” and thus falls out of the ring. These two specimens are blown the hell up. They can barely stand and Brain puts Hogan on blast: “I don’t think Hogan can climb up to the top.” Tony tries to cover a little more tactfully: “You’re talking about emotion, adrenaline, the physical attribution of the men combined with the repeated batterings into the cage and the safety rail. That’s why these two men can barely stand.” Good stuff but completely in a different realm of reality. This has been 6 minutes of nothing and Piper needs an oxygen tank and Hogan needs a pay increase. Hogan cuts off a few pitiful rights from Piper with an eye poke and sends him into the cage. They both try to climb up but neither makes it. Another Sting appears. Dusty: “STINGS GALORE! STINGS GALORE!” Piper and Hogan continue killing the business by giving each other low blows near the top of the cage and then just saying fuck it and start climbing back down. Back in, Hogan with a few belt whips and chokes Piper. Hogan piefaces Piper around and poses to boos. Hogan: “I CAN DO THIS ALL NIGHT LONG!”

• Hogan now tries to climb out but Stink I is there to hold him off. Hogan now climbs back up and Piper meets him. They both straddle the top of the cage and just kind of wait out for the rest of this overbooked debacle to unfold. BUT WAIT! STINK III! STINK IV! AND V! The crowd is dead as a doornail for all the mass confusion and apathy surrounding them. Piper finally gets Hogan back to the ring and chokes him with the shirt. Hogan no sells and waffles Piper with the belt. It is beyond belief how wretched this is. Hogan now smashes Piper’s head into the belt a few times and hits the Nuclear Legdrop. WHO’S THE MAN?! Hogan hits another and calls for the ref. Hogan covers for 1, 2, 2.99999. Piper kicks out to ZERO reaction. ZERO. Amazing. Hogan calls out the troops and Macho, after having one of the best matches of his career, comes out and blows right past the multiple Stinks who have been stricken with Renegade syndrome of just standing there and trying to look intimidating. And just because Macho is a hero to you, me, and everyone and such a team player and neither of these two oafs can be bothered to take a bump, Macho climbs ALL THE WAY UP AND FLIES OFF WITH A SAVAGE HAMMER! Unfortunately, Hogan and Piper botch the landing and Macho wipes out and then Piper shitcans him. FUCKERS! Piper applies the Sleeper and Hogan can’t answer the count and Piper wins at 13:30.

• Post-match, Macho takes out Piper. Bischoff files in to give Hogan the master plan which is to waffle Piper with the belt. Hogan and Macho handcuff Piper to the cage as the crowd chants for the real Sting. A “fan”/fan climbs over the cage and then promptly gets tackled and then potatoed by Hogan and Macho.

• This match was so bad it inspired this epic Jim Cornette rant and he forever christened Hogan with this phrase: “Hulk Hogan, you may be a household word but so is garbage. And it stinks when it gets old too.”

• How many awful WCW main events can there be where it seems that Hogan is actively try to out-awful himself? This is FOUR crimes against humanity that he had at back-to-back-to-back-to-back Havocs, against Giant, Macho, Piper, and Warrior. This is no flow, no logic, and barely any heat to the match. It’s such a colossal waste. Why were there like 10 Stinks out there? Why were supposed to be good guys or bad guys? If n.W.o plants designed to fool Piper and the fans, why not let Hogan ESCAPE? If WCW plants designed to fool Hogan, why not HELP PIPER and STOP MACHO? Why just let them walk out of the cage in the middle of the match? There is no hell, there is only Hogan’s WCW main events. -***

The 411: I don't know what to do here. You've got two matches that are MOTYC contenders for 97 and two other very solid matches but the other HALF of the card is horrific. I could just put it down the middle but wrestling doesn't work that way, at least not for me. It's more akin to golf -- one good shot can keep you coming back, and one good match can keep you coming back. In this case, two classic matches carry the day.
 
Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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