The SmarK Rant for WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 – 10.27.91
Man, I have not done this show in a VERY long time. We’re definitely overdue for this one. Plus I never would have seen the original PPV version, since all I had access to was the home video.
Live from Chattanooga, TN, drawing 8900 and a 0.8 buyrate.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone
Meanwhile, in the parking lot, Eric Bischoff is waiting to interview Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham, but the Enforcers do a run-in and slam the car door on Barry’s hand, rendering him unable to compete in the Chamber of Horrors. Lucky bastard.
CHAMBER OF HORRORS: El Gigante, Sting, Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner v. Cactus Jack, Abdullah the Butcher, The Diamond Studd, and Big Van Vader
So the ring is surrounded by an electrified cage, and there are various “implements of torture” in the ring, with the object being to strap someone into an electric chair and pull the lever. Cards on the table here, we’re probably lucky that WCW didn’t have a legitimate electric chair installed by mistake and kill someone on live PPV. As far as the torture devices, thanks to the enhanced resolution of the WWE Network on my 88” 32K Ultra-Plasma TV, I’m now able take advantage of the visual clarity to pick out a copy of Hulk Hogan’s Wrestling Boot Band CD, a VHS copy of Wrestlemania 2, a bowl of spaghetti from Pasta-Mania, a tub of ICOPRO, Gary Strydom’s autobiography, and a Refer-Eye Camera mounted on a helmet. Oh wait, that last one was a real thing in the match. So everyone does some weak brawling with only Sting appearing to give a crap, and then a smaller cage randomly lowers itself at 3:30 and everyone stops and stands around looking at it. Vader tries to pick Rick Steiner into the chair first, but can’t. Oh and some zombie EMTs shamble down with a stretcher waiting for the finish. Meanwhile, Cactus Jack decides it’s a great idea for Sting to drop a coffin lid on his head and then he’s busted open as a result. Meanwhile Vader is using a SHARPENED STICK on El Gigante.
Well it’s an easy mistake to make. So the Studd tries to get Sting into the chair and god bless the morons in the Tennessee crowd who actually shriek in horror like this is anything to be remotely concerned about. STING MIGHT BE ELECTRI-COOTED, Y’ALL! QUICK GET MY GUN! NO, THE OTHER ONE, THE ONE IN THE GLOVE BOX! Maybe I’m needlessly stereotyping, I dunno. If only there was someone to definitively document the ways in which I might be assured that someone is a redneck before making fun of them. So the camera has to go super-wide because WCW doesn’t want to show any blood, so it’s absolutely impossible to tell what the fuck is going on while everyone randomly brawls on the outside with no discernable rhyme or reason. So finally Abby almost gets Rick into the chair while Cactus gets ready to pull the lever, but Rick escapes and puts him in the chair while poor stupid Cactus pulls the lever on his best and only friend, electrocuting him to death on live TV at 12:51 before the governor could even grant clemency. What an opener this was. -**** Sadly the fallout from this is still being felt today, as indie promotions rely all too often on the same tropes of booking Chamber of Horrors matches up and down the cards, with guys doing the same bump into the same boring electric chairs and pretending to be electrocuted while pyro shoots out from the chair’s head-piece. I don’t have to tell you, we’re all pretty sick of it and we’ve got this one to blame for starting the whole trend.
Meanwhile, Eric Bischoff has recovered from the trauma of the earlier Enforcers attack and he’s dressed like an evil heartless bloodsucking vampire now. I think he was supposed to be playing WCW legal counsel. Missy Hyatt gets the shoot comment that isn’t supposed to be a shoot comment for the show, noting coldly that she doesn’t like Bischoff very much. There’s an understatement.
The Creatures v. Big Josh & PN News
Why is this on a PPV? The Creatures are Joey Maggs and Johnny Rich under generic masks, using the music that would eventually go to various luchadors in the Nitro era. So in the front row is a fan named Christine who apparently won tickets to the show for writing a rap and sending to the WCW magazine as part of a contest. So her prize was to go to Chattanooga, to watch a 1991 WCW PPV, featuring PN News and Big Josh as a tag team against a couple of jobbers. I wonder if they offered a chance to decline the prize and take a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni or something instead as a consolation. The Creatures double-team Josh while the announcers have to continue pretending with a straight face that Matt Borne, who had been around the wrestling business for a decade or so at that point, was a newly trained pro wrestler who was still learning and improving. Because he wore blue jeans and thus looked completely different I guess. News comes in and overpowers Comfort, and Josh hits him with a german suplex. The babyfaces work on the other creature, Habit, who I hear is still a key member of Monday Night RAW’s demographic these days. Josh gets a belly to belly for two. Back to Feature, who slugs away on Josh, but a powerbomb turns the tide again and Josh chops away on him. The butt splash sets up PN’s dying gazelle splash off the top for the pin at 5:15. Was this match any good? No baby, no baby, no. ½*
Beautiful Bobby Eaton v. Terrence Taylor
Well these two likely having a good match is no doubt gonna break up my Snark-O-Meter from getting into Super Combo territory, but I’m sure I’ll have more chances later. They have a shoving match to start and fight over the lockup in the corner, and Taylor takes him down with an armdrag. But then he gets chased outside and confers with Alexandra York and her computer. Fun fact: That’s the actual server that the WWE Network uses today! Hopefully they at least upgraded the 300 baud modem. They slug it out on the floor and Taylor retreats back into the ring to call for time, but then goes for a cheapshot and gets slugged down for two. Bobby works the arm for a bit, but Taylor elbows out of it and Bobby hangs on and puts him back in the hammerlock again. Taylor escapes with a jawbreaker, although he mostly misses it, and they fight to the ramp, but Bobby slams him out there and goes up with a flying knee from the top rope to the ramp. You could almost see Taylor’s brain trying to figure out how to take that shit without dying. I don’t think he came up with an answer. Finally Taylor tosses Bobby to the floor and then follows with a knee to send him into the railing, and he takes over. But first he checks the computer, and thanks to the boffo visual acuity of my brand new 90” Sony Trinitron 12K Rear Projection TV, we find that York is just typing “Dustin is so hawt OMG” over and over. Well that doesn’t seem helpful. Taylor gets an elbow off the top for two and goes to a chinlock, but Bobby fights out, so Terry boots him to the floor. Bobby comes back in with a sunset flip for two, but Taylor drops a knee on him for two. Back to the chinlock while Tony notes that the crowd came via plane and some even by car! What about by choo-choo? I’ve heard they have one of those in Chattanooga. Bobby goes for a splash and hits knee, but then Terry tries his own and also hits knee, and Bobby makes the comeback and slugs Terry down. He pounds away in the corner and blocks an atomic drop with a suplex, for two. Swinging neckbreaker and he goes up and finishes with the Alabama Jam at 16:30. Bobby got over big as a babyface here and the announcers built up his quest for a TV title match, so naturally he turned heel immediately afterwards and became a tag team wrestler again for the rest of his career. ***1/2
Johnny B. Badd v. Jimmy Garvin
The Freebirds go for the cheap babyface heat by doing the Braves chop, which was kind of rubbing salt into a wound because this show went up against the seventh game of the World Series and got absolutely destroyed as a result. Just like the Braves. I don’t even remember the setup for this match, but I think it was originally Badd v. Michael Hayes for whatever reason and Hayes suffered an injury and Garvin had to take his place. Maybe Larry Zbyszko slammed a car door on it to practice before the big spot with Barry, I dunno. Badd slugs away in the corner to start after only a minute and a half of stalling from Garvin, so you know he’s motivated tonight. Garvin hiptosses Badd to the floor and Hayes slugs him down before leading another Braves chant. Back in, Garvin gets a powerslam and follows with a running forearm, and Badd bails off that for some advice from Teddy Long. That advice? “You should make it a tag team match, playa!” Garvin goes to work on the arm, but Badd chokes him out on the ropes and follows with a hooking clothesline before going to a chinlock. Tony notes that you can’t just be a great athlete to succeed at wrestling, because they’ve had a lot of great athletes who tried to wrestle and then we’re like “Wow, they’re really lacking in wrestling ability!” And then WCW pushed them to the main event anyway. Badd gets a flying sunst flip for two, barely able to hit the move, and goes up with a flying elbow for two. Back to the top with a double axehandle, but Garvin hits him on the way down as this is falling apart like Trump’s re-election campaign. Garvin tosses him, but misses an elbow in the ring, and they collide for a double down. Garvin recovers first and hits the DDT, but Teddy Long takes the ref and Badd knocks him out for the pin at 8:24, with Garvin getting his foot on the rope to boot just so we REALLY know that Garvin really didn’t lose. I have no idea what the fuck this supposed to be. If you want to put the new guy over, just put him over. *1/4
Meanwhile, Missy Hyatt is still looking for the WCW Halloween Phantom and finds Bobby Eaton instead, who is taking a pumpkin to the dressing room to celebrate his win. I don’t even wanna know what that celebration was going to involve. I mean, at least there weren’t any holes carved into it.
World TV title: Stunning Steve Austin v. Dustin Rhodes
I would like to once again put into perspective how crazy it is that here we are 29 (!!!) years later and Dustin Rhodes is still going strong and appearing on a weekly nationally televised wrestling program. I’d offer a deeper breakdown of my feelings, but Lady Blossom’s cleavage distracted me and now I can’t remember anything I was going to say. Austin takes him down with a shoulderblock, but Dustin gets a lariat and a dropkick for two, then goes to a headlock, which Steve reverses to a headscissors. And then Austin does his own headlock and Dustin reverses to a headscissors. Austin misses an elbow and Dustin clotheslines him to the floor, which is not a DQ under the little-known “My father is the booker” rule. Back in, Dustin tries for the bulldog, but misses it, so he takes Austin down with another headlock instead. Dustin gets a crossbody for two and goes back to the headlock, but Austin reverses to the headscissors again. Dustin fights up, but Austin gives him a cheapshot to put him on the floor and then follows with a double axehandle to the floor. Meanwhile Dustin is bleeding, also under the “My father is the booker” rule. It’s a very effective and far-reaching rule. They trade near-falls and Dustin makes the comeback with a lariat as time is running out, but Austin is in the ropes. They fight to the floor and Austin gets rammed into the post and he’s bleeding as well. Back in, Dustin with a powerslam for two as it’s finally getting really good with the draw imminent. Dustin slugs away on the cut and shoves away the referee, who apparently hasn’t heard who the booker is. Dustin with a bionic elbow for two and he pounds on Austin’s cut in the corner and then makes the Dusty Jr. Comeback for two, before going to the top with a flying clothesline as time expires at 15:00. Mostly dull and technically fine for the first half, but it turned into a super hot match in the last five minutes. ***1/2
Coming December 29: Starrcade: Battlebowl: The Lethal Lottery: CSI: New York: Special Victims Unit!
Oz v. Bill Kazmaier
I would be remiss in not mentioning Oz’s entrance music, a spectacularly terrible ripoff of “Another One Bites the Dust” as they have literally jettisoned every vestige of the original gimmick and now he’s just a guy in green tights with a bad dye job. Meanwhile Kazmaier literally carries the world on his shoulders on the way to the ring. I can relate, big guy. Kaz gets a slam on Oz and goes “Yeah!” really demonstrating the emotion and drive to be a top level star in WCW. So Oz wants a test of strength with the person literally just announced as “The Strongest Human Being on the Planet”, so I have to dispute his later reputation as the smartest man in wrestling. Kazmaier whips him into the corner, but Oz slugs him down and out to the apron while the announcers put over the upcoming New Japan show at the Tokyo Dome, which had apparently sold $1.3 million in tickets in the first day. Clearly the only rational explanation is that New Japan announced that Kevin Nash would not be in the main event. Kazmaier skins the cat back in and finishes with a torture rack at 4:00. -*
Van Hammer v. Doug Somers
So they have some guy with a jackhammer on the stage breaking up concrete blocks, which is supposed to tie into Van Hammer getting over somehow. Shouldn’t his name be Jack Hammer then? Which come to think of it would be a far better name. Hammer somehow fucks up a kneelift and gets a powerslam on Somers, nearly hurling him to the apron in the process, and follows with a legdrop, then finishes it off with a slingshot suplex at 1:02, nearly fucking up his own finisher in the process and dropping Doug on his head. You’d think that WCW would have learned the lesson about pushing guys who look vaguely like the Ultimate Warrior on the FIRST try, but sadly they did not. -**
Meanwhile, Brian Pillman is dedicating his match tonight to the great fans of WCW.
WCW Light Heavyweight title finals: Brian Pillman v. Richard Morton
Having not learned their lesson in the opener, the Refer-Eye Camera returns here. How can I sum up the stupidity of this monstrosity using a pop culture reference…?
Yeah. But slightly more awkward. Speaking of awkward, I must once again register my disgust and annoyance at Richard Morton supposedly turning heel but still not bothering to change his goddamn tights to something without bandanas tied around his calves. Morton quickly bails for advice from the computer. And thanks to the wonderfully enriched visual quality of the WWE Network on my 97” 64K Super-AMOLED TV, we can finally read the screen on the computer and make out the advice:
I am glad to know you, but God knows you better and he knows why he
has directed me to you at this point in time so do not be surprised at
all. My name is Mrs. Donna Louise McInnes, a widow, i have been
suffering from ovarian cancer disease. At this moment i am about to
end the race like this because the illness has gotten to a very bad
stage, without any family members and no child. I hope that you will
not expose or betray this trust and confidence that I am about to
entrust to you for the mutual benefit of the orphans and the less
privileged ones. I have some funds I inherited from my late husband,
the sum of ($11.000.000 Eleven million dollars.) deposited in the
Bank. Having known my present health status, I decided to entrust
this fund to you believing that you will utilize it the way i am going
to instruct herein.
Therefore I need you to assist me and reclaim this money and use it
for Charity works, for orphanages and giving justice and help to the
poor, needy and to promote the words of God and the effort that the
house of God will be maintained says The Lord.” Jeremiah 22:15-16.“
It will be my great pleasure to compensate you with 35 % percent of
the total money for your personal use, 5 % percent for any expenses
that may occur during the international transfer process while 60% of
the money will go to the charity project.
All I require from you is sincerity and the ability to complete God’s
task without any failure. It will be my pleasure to see that the bank
has finally released and transferred the fund into your bank account
therein your country even before I die here in the hospital, because
of my present health status everything needs to be processed rapidly
as soon as possible. I am waiting for your immediate reply, if only
you are interested for further details of the transaction and
execution of this charitable project.
Best Regards your friend Mrs.
Donna Louise McInnes”
I think that one might have been spam, Richard. Back in the ring, Morton slugs away, but Pillman slams him and follows with a leg lariat to put him on the floor again. York gives him a really good offer for millions of dollars from some guy in Nigeria who just e-mailed her on the computer, but Morton doesn’t have time to send a cheque because he has to beat the count. Back in the ring, Pillman catches him with a double axehandle for two and goes to a chinlock as Tony notes he’s never seen Morton get fooled before. What about when his various ex-girlfriends promised him that they were on birth control? Pillman switches to a side headlock on the mat as this thing is the exact opposite of what you’d think a Light Heavyweight tournament final would be. Pillman gets a rollup for two, but Morton clotheslines him for two and starts working the arm to take over. The announcers wonder if wrestling will follow in the footsteps of the Bengals and name an award for determination after Pillman. I dunno, but based on the stories that Tom Zenk used to tell, they should probably name some kind of award for freaky shit with ring rats after him. The Sleaze Bowl! Morton continues working the arm, really showing off the high-flying, fast-paced style of the division, and a suplex gets two. Pillman finally makes the comeback, but Morton dodges him like an alimony payment and sends him into the ringpost outside. But then Pillman comes in off the top with a flying bodypress and wins the title at 12:44. *
Tom Zenk v. THE WCW HALLOWEEN PHANTOM
Amazingly, the combined brain power of Eric Bischoff AND Missy Hyatt were unable to crack the code of the Phantom’s mysterious identity, although they WERE able to get, like, three numbers in a Sudoku puzzle by working it together, so we’ll just have to hope that we can get a clue here. The Phantom attacks to start, which is really…what’s the word I’m looking for here…disrespectful and ill-mannered of him, let’s say. He pounds away with forearms, but Zenk makes a comeback with a dropkick, only to fall victim to the dreaded Audacious Arousing neckbreaker. I dunno, it’s on the tip of my tongue for some reason. Well hopefully someone can figure it out.
WCW World tag team titles: The Enforcers v. The Patriots
Yes, the glory days of the US tag team titles, when they were held by Curtis Thompson and Todd Champion while dressed like a pair of discount male strippers who got their gear at the pop-up Halloween Costume Emporium at the mall. Larry starts with Firebreaker Chip, who I might remind you BREAKS FIRES, so clearly he’s someone not to be fucked with. Larry is unable to gain the advantage while JR is unable to figure out if it’s “Firebreaker Chip” or “Chip the Firebreaker”. THOSE ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. It completely changes the character, dammit! Can you even imagine a World champion named “Chip the Firebreaker”? Of course not, that’s stupid. Before we can be any more confused about his name, Todd Champion comes in, proudly representing some kind of non-denominational branch of the US military that is never specified, and fights to the floor with AA before reversing a piledriver attempt out there. Back in for a bearhug, but Larry breaks it up and decides to give it a try. He uses his specialty, running away from a fight, and that allows Arn to get a cheapshot on the floor when Champion follows him like a moron. The Enforcers take control and cut off the ring, but Todd has so little ring presence that I’m pretty sure he needs a roadmap back to his own corner anyway. Luckily, he’s able to crawl back and make the HOT tag to Firebreaker Chip. See, it was a hot tag because he’s…you know what, never mind. You’re just going to criticize my genius anyway. Arn breaks Chip like a fire with the spinebuster at 9:55 to retain the titles. *
Meanwhile, Eric Bischoff brings out Paul E. Dangerously, who returns from WCW’s various efforts to fire him and he’s too controversial to be a broadcaster any longer, so now he’s going to be a manager again. But that’s OK with him, because he’s still got his license and he’s happy to take away WCW’s heroes, starting with Sting. So he signed Madusa and tasked her with finding the man to destroy Sting, who happens to be the WCW Halloween Phantom. And of course he unmasks to kick off the epic Dangerous Alliance storyline and it’s Ravishing Rick Rude! He cuts a hell of a promo on Sting, and this was one of the all-time great unmasking payoffs in wrestling history. Well, until Slapjack reveals his true face, I bet that one’s gonna fuck with everyone’s shit when it happens.
WCW World title, 2/3 pfohls: Lex Luger v. Ron Simmons
Ron has Dusty Rhodes in his corner because it’s been 2.5 hours of a WCW show without Dusty on camera and we might have forgotten him. You think having his son in a featured title match and his mother in the crowd for a cameo is enough? That’s not how the Dream rolls, babe.
ROUND ONE! FIGHT!
They fight for the lockup to start and trade hammerlocks, so Luger hides in the ropes to break as JR notes that the Seminoles and Hurricanes have the most heated rivalry in sports. What about Dusty Rhodes vs. Other People Who Want TV Time? Because that one raged on for like 20 years. Simmons tries a dropkick and misses, and Lex puts the boots to him, but Ron gives him a face jam and follows with a clothesline. Powerslam and spinebuster finish at 4:52 and Ron is up 1-0.
ROUND TWO! FIGHT!
Dusty offers some advice to Ron in the corner before the fall begins, and through the enhanced clarity of the WWE Network on my 112” 128K Mega-OLED TV we now can hear that he advises Simmons to make himself the booker of the territory and then push all his friends. Solid advice, really. Lex misses a charge and Ron bulldogs him out of the corner for two. Small package gets two and Luger backs off to the ropes and then suckers Ron in before throwing him out. Ron comes back in with a sunset flip for two and a clothesline, but then Luger dodges him like Dusty avoiding a clean finish, and Ron hits the floor to put Luger in control. Back in, Luger drops an elbow for two and follows with a powerslam for two. Luger with the chinlock and that goes on for a while, but Ron fights out and gets a rollup for two. Lex beats him down with axehandles, but Ron gets a backslide for two. But then Harley Race trips him up, so Dusty comes over and takes out Harley, while Ron accidentally backdrops Lex over the top rope for the DQ at 16:26 thanks to shenanigans from Race. If only they had a second referee who could come out and reverse that bad decision! Never mind, the original ref would probably just change it back the next day on TV anyway.
ROUND THREE! FIGHT!
“It’s the fourth quarter!” declares Dusty. Man he’s really bad at math. Luger hides behind the ref and gets a cheapshot to start, then pounds on Simmons in the corner to take over. Simmons comes back and slugs away in the corner, but Lex gets an atomic drop, which Simmons no-sells and hits a clothesline for two. Backdrop gets two. Ron with the atomic drop and they head to the top rope, where Ron brings him down with a superplex for two. They head to the floor, but Simmons charges and hits the post, and it’s back in for the ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT from Lex for the pin at 22:00 to retain. Wait, what? The champion just hit his finish cleanly in the main event and got the pin? How’s that ever going to draw money? What bizarroworld parallel universe have we fallen into here? ***1/2
Well hopefully the next PPV I redo gives me something better to work with than this humdrum show.