wrestling / Columns

Top 7 WCW Halloween Havoc Moments

October 12, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
WCW Halloween Havoc, WWE Network

When the calendar hits a certain month, you think of certain wrestling events. January is obviously time for the Royal Rumble. Once you get to October…you think of Halloween Havoc. Kids looked forward to Halloween all month, and wrestling fans did as well.

Today, we look at the seven most magnificent moments from one of WCW’s most well-remembered events.

7. Ric Flair’s First Last Match

1994 saw Hulkamania make its move to WCW. Hulk Hogan made his grand debut at Bash at the Beach, defeating WCW’s longtime standard bearer Ric Flair to become World Champion. Hogan had personified the WWF for a decade, so it made perfect sense to book him against the man that had led the NWA & later WCW in opposition to Hogan & the WWF crossing all territory barriers & going national. Maybe some people up north didn’t think that Hogan vs. Flair could draw money, but WCW did some pretty good PPV business & TV ratings with it in the summer & autumn of 1994.

Once Halloween Havoc came around, it was time to wrap things up for the moment. Hogan had other people he wanted to work with, and Flair was looking forward to some time off. So they pretty much threw every stipulation they had at their blowoff match. It was in a steel cage. Mr. T was the special guest referee. The loser would retire. People were interested, as Havoc got the second highest PPV buy number in WCW history at that point, just behind Hogan & Flair’s first match at the Bash. (Fall Brawl, the show between that didn’t feature Hogan or Flair, went back to WCW’s previous numbers.)

Flair lost, as he usually did against Hogan. His retirement actually lasted a decent amount of time, as he wouldn’t return to in-ring competition until he faced Antonio Inoki at Collision in Korea just over six months after Halloween Havoc. By wrestling standards that’s quite long.

6. The WCW Halloween Phantom Debuts

If you’ve seen WCW PPV events in the early 1990s, you’ve seen some “interesting” masked gimmicks pop up from time to time to fill spots. Usually the mask was hiding the face of Jack Victory, but the Phantom was a horse of a different color. He made his debut at the 1991 edition of Halloween Havoc. The Phantom wore a black body suit and a black & white mask. All you could really tell about him was he was tall and looked in decent shape. He made pretty quick work of the Z-Man, who was getting quite the push as WCW’s Sexiest Wrestler.

Later in the night, former announcer Paul E. Dangerously came out for an interview. He was mad about getting fired from his announcing position, and promised to get revenge on WCW for how they wronged him. He still had his manager’s license, and he would recruit some talent to make life miserable for WCW fan favorites. One was the Phantom, who would unmask and reveal himself to be “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Rude immediately targeted Sting’s United States Championship, and would win that in pretty short order.

Rude would become a key cog in Paul E’s Dangerous Alliance, and would hold the US Championship & International Championship on multiple occasions. He had an impressive run in WCW, unfortunately cut short by a back injury he suffered in May 1994.

5. Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal

I’d started watching WCW in the summer of 1992, right around the time Ron Simmons beat Big Van Vader for the championship and Jake “The Snake” Roberts debuted by attacking Sting. I was a big Jake fan, and the idea of wrestlers spinning a wheel to determine what kind of match they would have appealed to me. Sting & Jake could have faced off in any of these options:

-Texas Bull Rope
-Spinners’ Choice
-Russian Chain Match
-Dog Collar Match
-“I Quit”
-Barbed Wire
-Lumber Jacks with Belts
-Prince of Darkness
-Texas Death Match
-Coal Miners Glove
-First Blood

The mystery was a big part of the appeal. Of course, since I was eight years old I had no idea that the promotion would probably gimmick the wheel to get the match they wanted anyway. Oddly enough, to this day there are varying reports on whether or not the wheel was gimmicked in 1992, mostly because Sting & Jake ended up having a Coal Miners Glove match. Easily the least interesting option on the wheel, so it’s easy to think that couldn’t have been the plan. Sting & Jake did the best they could with it, and the show got a big buyrate for the time period, but the match isn’t exactly fondly remembered.

1993’s version went a bit better since they were smart enough to put Vader & Cactus Jack in a Texas Death Match. Their feud, which involved Jack getting amnesia & moving to Cleveland, was what sunk fan interest in that one. The match was good though. WCW stopped using the Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal gimmick after 1993, and it wouldn’t return until NXT’s revival of the Halloween Havoc brand.

4. Five legends put Halloween Havoc on the map

A good way to establish a PPV brand is to deliver with a big time main event the first time out. If you don’t have star power or wrestlers that can go, it’s going to be tough to establish your promotion and its shows as something that people need to see. Maybe WrestleMania would have been the same success without a tag team match with wrestling & entertainment’s top stars on top of the first event, but it’s not likely.

WCW didn’t have access to a big Hollywood star like Mr. T (not at this point anyway), but they did have a hot feud going with wrestlers that were either already or eventually would be legends of pro wrestling. Ric Flair had been going at it with Terry Funk and his buddies in Gary Hart’s J-Tex Corporation during the summer months of 1989. Among Funk’s allies was a man known as the Great Muta, who took North America by storm at this time and would become one of Japan’s greatest wrestlers. Flair was the “good guy” in this feud, which earned him the friendship of the man called Sting. Of course, Sting was on his way up and would become a name people would forever identify with WCW.

Four legends would face off in the Thunderdome, an electrified steel cage that was curved at top and included enough of ringside to allow Gary Hart & Ole Anderson in with towels to throw if their men couldn’t continue. As if that wasn’t enough, why not have a special guest referee? Why not make it Bruno Sammartino, one of the biggest legends in wrestling history? Havoc ended up doing the most PPV buys of all WCW’s 1989 offerings, which is saying something since the three PPVs before were outstanding shows with main events that all got five snowflakes.

3. We’re Outta Time?

The 1998 edition of Halloween Havoc was loaded. Twelve matches were booked, including matches pitting the Steiner Brothers against each other, the Outsiders against each other, Bret Hart vs. Sting and the long-awaited WrestleMania VI rematch between Hollywood Hogan & The Warrior. Unfortunately, none of the matches really lived up to the billing, with Hogan vs. Warrior standing out as one of the worst matches in WCW history. It would be on Goldberg & Diamond Dallas Page to save the show in the main event.

It turned out that Goldberg & DDP had an outstanding match. Probably Goldberg’s best, and it further established DDP as one of WCW’s major players. 14 year old Steve Cook was very impressed, and would have given the match a bunch of stars if he was aware that assigning star ratings to matches was a thing people did. (I envy 14 year old Steve Cook, he had things much better than he thought.)

Unfortunately, not everybody got to see it. My cable provider was one of those cable providers that knew that Halloween Havoc was going three & a half hours instead of the usual three, so I was surprised to learn that the event had cut off for most viewers in the early moments of Goldberg vs. DDP. WCW did the best they could do in the situation, airing the main event match on the next night’s Nitro. They also had to refund a ton of customers. Experts would bash WCW years later for showing Goldberg vs. DDP on Nitro, but it wasn’t like they showed the whole darn show for free. Probably a good thing they didn’t, as more fans seeing that Hogan vs. Warrior match may have decided the Monday Night War for the WWF months before Raw took the permanent lead.

2. The first time somebody dressed up as Sting

Sting had won his first NWA World Championship back at the 1990 Great American Bash, temporarily accepting the torch from Ric Flair. He would face some formidiable opposition at WCW’s next PPV event, in the form of Sid Vicious. Sid was seen as one of the future top stars in wrestling, as he had a million dollar physique, stood 6’9 and had a unique charisma about him. Fans loved the big guy! It seemed like a matter of time before he would become a world champion, and for a few seconds it seemed like it happened at Halloween Havoc.

Some hinjiks at ringside led to Sid backing away from Sting and heading towards the back. Once they came back to the ring, Sid was able to reverse a bodyslam attempt, falling on top of Sting for the three count. We would learn that Sid didn’t actually pin Sting, as somebody else had managed to switch places with the Stinger. Sting came out, breaking free of the backstage trap, and would pin Sid to retain the title. Turned out that the fake Sting was Barry Windham, one of Sid’s co-horts in the Four Horsemen.

Now, this is a pretty creative finish. I love the idea of a fake Sting being utilized years before the NWO used a fake Sting to make people think Sting had joined them. The Horsemen involvement makes sense, of course. Sting ended up getting his hand raised at the end for the happy ending. It would have been great…if they hadn’t rushed the whole story into the span of a minute. If Sid had more time to celebrate, the fans had more time to digest what had just happened, and Sting’s return to the ring been a bit delayed, it might have been one of the best finishes to a WCW PPV ever. Instead, it’s something that sounds a lot cooler in words than on television. WCW would go back to the Fake Sting at Halloween Havoc well in 1999 when Jeff Jarrett had several different people dress up as phases of Sting’s career. It was a thing that happened.

DisHonorable Mention: Monster Trucks & Yehtays

See, I can’t really list anything involving this as a “top moment”, as it was pretty awful. But it was definitely memorable! This 1995 Halloween Havoc main event build…my goodness. They brought out a giant that they teased as Andre’s son. Then the giant ran over Hulk Hogan’s motorcycle with a monster truck. So, obviously, they needed to have a Monster Truck Sumo Match and a wrestling match at Halloween Havoc. Because duh. Then Hulk Hogan needed to knock the giant off of the roof of the building after the monster truck match so the giant could come back later for the wrestling match. Then this could happen:

As much as we scream about bad things on WWE & AEW shows these days, I don’t think we’ve seen anything that bad in quite awhile.

Honorable Mention: Shotzi Blackheart Hosting the first NXT Edition

One of the best things Cody Rhodes did while employed by AEW was bring back some old WCW ideas that his father came up with. For far too long, people within wrestling assumed that fans had more nostalgia for ECW than WCW. Once Cody got that Bash at the Beach trademark, WWE realized that they better clamp down on things or miss out on that WCW nostalgia market. So NXT got some WCW names to work with, one of them being Halloween Havoc. I’m shocked WWE didn’t bring it back earlier. Everybody loves holidays, and there’s no better name for a late-October show than Halloween Havoc.

To me, the highlight of NXT’s Halloween Havoc shows to this point took place in 2020, when Shotzi Blackheart was the host. 2021 saw a cross-promotion with Chucky that was kinda awkward since Bron Breakker still wasn’t a Steiner. Shotzi was tremendous in the role though, and still hasn’t been highlighted as well since that 2020 edition of Halloween Havoc.

What I’m saying is Let Shotzi Cook.

1. Title vs. Mask

The 1997 edition of Halloween Havoc got the most PPV buys of the lot. It became WCW’s largest grossing event in history, a record which lasted one month because the company was incredibly hot. I’m not going to lie to you about what the main draw of the show was. Hollywood Hogan facing Roddy Piper in a steel cage generated a lot of interest from the casual observers WCW was winning over at the time. I’d also have to give credit to Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page, as that feud was hot with the audience all year. However, when you mention “Halloween Havoc 1997” to any wrestling fan of tenure today, there’s only one thing that people remember about it.

Eddie Guerrero won the Cruiserweight Championship a month & a half earlier at Fall Brawl. Before that, he’d had a brief clash with Mysterio on a Nitro episode that pretty much set the world on fire. Rey won, so Eddie had a ready-made #1 contender after defeating Chris Jericho for the title. While Eddie & Rey had some interactions on television, the whole “title vs. mask” thing felt a bit rushed. As it turned out, the stipulation was basically made because WCW management wanted Rey to lose the mask. They felt Rey would be more popular with the fans without the mask, as fans would be able to see his face and connect with him. The un-masking would also make for good television.

Rey refused to lose the match. It was nothing against Eddie, he just didn’t want to lose his identity. Eddie agreed with Rey on this, and eventually a proper match result was worked out. They then went out there and completely stole the show with an incredible match that people still talk about today. Some of these incredible matches that happened early on WCW PPVs during their golden era slide under the radar today, but both Eddie & Rey went on to become folk heroes during their time with WWE. WWE still hasn’t found somebody that could replace Eddie & Rey with the Hispanic audience, and they’ve tried many times. I suppose that’s the thing, a folk hero has to be something that happens naturally.

Eddie & Rey had countless matches after this one, but none of them quite stuck with the people like Halloween Havoc 1997.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment down in that section below with your favorite Halloween Havoc moments, and hit me up on the social media with thoughts, concerns and requests for fantasy sports advice.

article topics :

WCW, WCW Halloween Havoc, Steve Cook