The SmarK Rant for WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 – 10.27.90
Well, I give up waiting for the WWE Network to upload the full PPV version of this show, so let’s redo the Turner Home Video version that they put up there because it’s very due for a redo and of course Halloween Havoc returns tonight, and ‘tis the season and all. Plus I’ve always liked this show anyway.
Live from Chicago, IL, drawing 8000 and a 1.3 buyrate. This version runs 1:54 instead of the 3 hours that the PPV ran. Also the sound is mono instead of stereo and feels pretty muffled, and the video quality is noticeably softer than other PPV releases from the same year.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Paul E. Dangerously
Tommy Rich & Ricky Morton v. The Midnight Express
With Robert Gibson out injured, Tommy Rich is taking his place, which isn’t a bad tag team at all. Meanwhile, this was the final straw for Jim Cornette and Stan Lane to leave WCW for good. In a nice touch, the ring mat is red tonight, which always made for an interest visual when watching the highlights on TV. Paul is skeptical of Tommy Rich’s ability to rock, given that he’s a redneck and all. Bobby gives Morton a clean break in the corner to start and then biels him out of the other corner, showing good sportsmanship and clean scientific wrestling. Another biel out of the corner and the Express are confident that they’ve got it under control, and then Eaton puts Ricky down with an elbow and goes up. Morton nails him on the way down and we get a criss-cross into a backdrop, and Morton takes him down with a rana. But then Stan comes in with a savate kick from behind to take over, and slingshots in with the clothesline to set up Bobby’s elbow drop for two. Morton misses a blind charge in the corner and Bobby tosses him to the floor, which sets up some shenanigans from the heels. Dangerously ragging on Tommy Rich for being “out of his element” in tag matches is pretty funny since he spent a long time managing Rich in Memphis just a couple of years before this, and in fact managed him in several successful tag teams. Lane slams Morton on the floor and then again on the ramp, which sets up a Rocket Launcher out there, and the announcers read the last rites. Back in, that gets two. Ricky with a rollup, but Lane tags Eaton to escape that, and Bobby comes in with a neckbreaker on Morton, and then a slingshot backbreaker for two. And then the ref gets distracted and Lane throws Ricky over the top rope. Eaton goes to run him into the post, but Ricky escapes and gets another rana, this time on the floor (or as JR calls it at that point, a “Japanese headscissors”) and back in a small package on Stan gets two. But then Lane immediately cuts him off again with a headbutt and Eaton goes up with the Alabama Jam, and he literally does read the last rites to Ricky! The ref actually puts a count on Ricky, but the Express let him get up again and continue the beating. Stan batters him with kicks in the corner, but Ricky is more worked up than his ex-wives on alimony day, and he fights back until Stan cuts him off. The Express set up another Rocket Launcher, but it hits knees this time and Tommy Rich finally gets tagged in for the first time 13:00 into the match! Thesz Press on Stan gets two. Tommy goes up and Cornette casually smashes him with the racket and knocks him down again. This brings out the Southern Boys, dressed as Jim Cornette in a dumb bit, and Rich uses the racket on Stan Lane and gets the pin at 14:00 to end the Midnight Express in WCW. Not exactly a high level classic to go out on, but it was fine. ***1/4
Sting is so excited about his title match tonight with Sid that he can barely even get his lines out about “letting his butt get in the way of his you know what” before correcting himself. But the BLACK SCORPION is lurking elsewhere and he does EVIL STAGE MAGIC to show his powers, making a planted fan disappear. To be fair, fans disappearing tended to happen a lot during Sting’s title reign.
(Note: At this point the home video version omits Terry Taylor v. Bill Irwin, Brad Armstrong v. JW Storm, and The Master Blasters v. The Southern Boys)
Mark & Chris Youngblood v. The Freebirds
Frankly I’m shocked that “Badstreet USA” has survived every iteration of editing and music rights trouble since they bought WCW in 2001. For those keeping track, this was during the period when the Birds were slumming it with Rocky King as “Little Richard Marley” managing them. Also Michael Hayes was on Fatstreet USA here, wearing what appears to be sparkly maternity pants. Hayes does some strutting but gets foiled by the Youngbloods with some hiptosses, so he retreats and gets his hair fixed by Garvin. Over to Jimmy as JR bemoans the injuries suffered by young rookie Indian Allan Iron Eagle at the hands of the Freebirds. Perhaps he hurt himself selling the phantom punch from Hayes. Garvin chinlocks a Youngblood, doesn’t matter which one, and the Birds switch off and work him over. JR confirms that it’s Chris. I don’t care. I’m about as invested in them as I would be in the future career trajectory of Allan Iron Eagle. Which is obviously ZERO. Hayes with another chinlock on Chris and they choke him out in the corner and the crowd is so dead it might as well be Allan Iron Eagle in there instead. Chris slugs it out with Hayes as the crowd cheers for the Freebirds, and Hayes goes to another chinlock as we’re apparently at 15:00 despite my watch saying 8:00. So they must have edited this one, which is astonishing because how terrible must it have been if this was what they left in?! They toss Chris and get some cheapshots on the floor, and back in Hayes gets an elbow for two. More chinlockery and Hayes signals for the DDT and then goes to the top instead, so Chris slams him off and makes the, ahem, “hot” tag to Mark. The crowd begs to differ, booing their comeback out of the building, and then Hayes hits a Youngblood with a DDT and Garvin pins him at 12:38. ½*
Meanwhile, the Four Horsemen are ready to challenge Doom for the tag titles tonight, because god knows that no one could buy Ric Flair as a World title contender after Sting closed the book on him! Well he can always be a tag team wrestler, or maybe a gladiator.
US tag team title: The Steiner Brothers v. The Nasty Boys
Big brawl to start and the crowd is INTO this one. This was a really hot feud at the time and could have drawn some money….BUUUUUUUUUUT the Nasty Boys weren’t under contract and got scooped up soon after. Because WCW. Sags tries to do a superplex on Scott, but he escapes and brings him down with a belly to belly off the top, just hurling Sags with abandon as the crowd goes nuts. Scott beats on Sags in the corner, but catches an elbow, and then recovers with a double arm powerbomb and the Steiners clear the ring. The elevated bulldog on Sags wipes him out, but Knobs hits Scott with a chair behind the ref’s back to get the heat, and that gets two. Knobs with a sideslam and a powerslam for two. They dump Scott for some abuse and back in for a pumphandle slam from Sags as we lose some commentary for reasons I’m not clear on. Sags with a gutwrench for two. Knobs works on the back and they double-team Scott in the corner with an assisted abdominal stretch, before Sags goes to a bearhug. But of course Scott reverses the grip and turns that into a belly to belly. Rick comes in illegally and destroys Knobs with the Steinerline, but then he charges and takes a nasty (hah!) bump to the floor. This allows the Nasties to hit Scott with a spike piledriver behind the ref’s back, but then the ref escorts Knobs out and Rick uses a chair behind his back to put Sags down. Scott with a backdrop suplex as Sags is busted open, but Knobs cheats again and switches in for a bearhug on Scott to keep him in the corner. Knobs works him over in the corner, but misses a blind charge and then picks the ankle to keep Scott from tagging. Sags comes in with the Boston crab, and Scott powers out of it, but the Nasties cut off the tag again and Knobs turns Scott in the other direction with a camel clutch this time. Scott powers out of that as well, but Sags cuts him off, and this time he misses a charge and it’s HOT TAG Rick. He nails them with clotheslines and hits Sags with a belly to belly for two, and it’s BONZO GONZO. The Nasties double-team Rick and toss him out, but he comes back in with a double clothesline from the top. They all fight to the floor again, and back in Scott finishes off Knobs with the Frankensteiner at 15:28. This was the damnedest thing I had seen in a long time back in 1990 and it’s still a hellacious war, as Jim Ross would say. **** And then the Nasties continue the attack, laying them out with the US tag titles to get their heat back right away, setting up another match that never came. So this of course was one of many in a long line of boners from WCW, as the Nasties weren’t signed and they basically went out here and made themselves into the hottest free agent tag team in the business right before Wrestlemania season. Vince would have been stupid not to immediately sign them away, and he did so.
Scott Steiner joins Tony and he promised blood and guts, and it’s not his blood that’s on his tights. But then a concession worker attacks him, revealing himself as Jerry Sags, and Scott is left laying. Honestly WCW should have put a contract in front of the Nasties right before the match and given them the US tag titles once they signed it.
(Omitted here: Junkyard Dog v. Moondog Rex)
WCW World tag team title: Doom v. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson
Arn slugs it out with Simmons to start and loses that battle, bailing to the floor to talk it over with Ric. Back in, Ron grabs a headlock on AA, but Flair gets a knee from the apron and Arn suplexes him. And Simmons no-sells it and slugs away, into a powerslam for two. Flair and Arn double-team Simmons with chops, but he clotheslines them both out of the corner and then even Teddy Long comes in and slaps Flair. So I guess Doom are the babyfaces tonight, which is kind of weird. I will say, at least they immediately made a choice and went with it. Over to Reed, but Flair kicks him in the knee and then hits him with a cheapshot to the back of the head. Ric beats on Reed in the corner and offers some trashtalk, but Reed comes back with SOUPBONE rights and a press slam. And then Simmons comes in and hits AA with his own press slam. Reed with the hiptoss and clothesline on Flair as Ric works his usual broomstick match with Butch, and Reed no-sells a chop and punches Flair down again. Flair keeps trying the chops, so Reed punches him until Flair goes down, which gives us the funny visual of Flair reaching for a tag and then doing a Flair Flop before he can make it there. Flair bails to the ramp and Doom kicks his ass some more before tossing him back into the ring again. Flair takes a breather outside and it’s back to AA again, but Reed hits him with a high knee and Doom double-teams him for two. But then Simmons puts his head down and gets caught by Arn, and the Horsemen double-team him behind the ref’s back to the delight of the crowd. God bless him, Flair keeps trying to turn himself heel though. Flair chops Simmons down and Arn comes in with the spinebuster for two. Ron tosses him off on the kickout and Arn has a great shocked look on his face, but you’ll notice he doesn’t stand there with his fucking hands on his head and mouth agape for 15 seconds. He has a look, it’s great, and we move on. Flair comes in with a backdrop suplex and NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL with the figure-four, and they sucker Reed in to distract the ref, allowing Arn to come in and stomp the knee and hold Flair’s hands from the apron. Honestly, who could boo these motherfuckers? Simmons reverses the figure-four, but Arn stomps him on the head and goes back to the knee again, but Simmons fights back, and misses a dropkick. Arn gets two and does the knucklelock spot where he lands on the knees, but recovers and the Horsemen keep Ron in their corner. Ric has another tremendous small moment, running at Ron and going “WOO!” but then failing to knock him over with a shoulderblock, flying down with a confused look on his face. Arn sends Simmons out and Flair tries to ambush him, but Ron fights back with a sunset flip on Arn, and Flair tags in and cuts it off to save BECAUSE THE HORSEMEN ARE FUCKING AWESOME. They keep Simmons in the corner, but Simmons rams Arn into the mat and it’s hot tag Reed. He cleans house and it’s SOUPBONES FOR EVERYONE and he’s even throwing dropkicks. Everyone slugs it out and Arn tries a piledriver on Simmons, but Reed comes in with a flying shoulder for two, but Flair saves. So Arn gets a DDT on Reed for two but Simmons saves this time and then gets two on Arn. Reed hits Flair with a clotheslines out of the corner and everyone brawls to the floor, and that’s where it ends up at 18:18. This was setting up a rematch at Starrcade that was going to see Flair and Anderson win the belts, but Flair ended up doing other stuff that night. This was a true hidden gem and a great match. ****
US title match: Lex Luger v. Stan Hansen
Lex had been US champion since just after Wrestlewar 89 at this point, an astonishingly long title reign that lasted through multiple booker changes, a heel and face turn by Luger, and even the company itself changing identities. Slugfest to start and Luger elbows him out of the ring right away. Back in, Stan pounds on Lex in the corner and drops an elbow for two. They fight on the floor, but Luger comes back with a slam in the ring before Stan beats him down again. Hansen takes him down with a headlock, but misses a blind charge and goes tumbling to the floor. So Lex slugs away in the corner and drops an elbow for two, but Hansen comes back with a suplex and drops an elbow for two. These guys are on VASTLY different pages here. Hansen drops a knee for two. Stan works the neck and goes up, but misses an elbow from the middle rope, and Lex comes back with a DROPKICK?!? Lex slugs away and drops an elbow for two, and a suplex gets two. Hansen comes back with a corner clothesline and the ref is bumped, as Lex hits Stan with a clothesline out of the corner. So Dan Spivey comes out and throws the bullrope to Hansen, but Lex gets rid of it. And then he misses a charge and walks into the lariat, and Stan Hansen wins the US title at 9:28. That was a mostly pointless title change, to be honest, as Stan didn’t really put him over at Starrcade on the way out in return. Pretty average match at best. **
Teddy Long announces that there’s no more title matches for Flair and Anderson. Because HOMIE DON’T PLAY DAT.
NWA (WCW?) World title: Sting v. Sid Vicious
We’re getting into the nebulous period of time where all the branding for the company was WCW and Sting was kind of representing both NWA and WCW championships at the same time, although they never use the phrase “NWA” at any point. For instance, they don’t announce him as champion of any particular organization here, just calling him “World heavyweight champion”. Of course the official first WCW World champion was Ric Flair when he won it from Sting at the beginning of 1991. Sid attacks Sting from behind to start and gives Sting a backbreaker, but Sting no-sells it and chases him out of the ring. Back in, Sting works the arm with a wristlock, which Sid immediately confuses with his wristwatch, but he fights out and takes Sting down for the devastating nerve hold. Sting somehow fights out of the neck massage, but misses the Stinger splash and Sid pounds him on the apron. Sid turns his back like a moron (convincing acting job, I know) and Sting comes in with a flying bodypress for two. Sid completely forgets what comes next and then just kind of stomps Sting to the floor for lack of anything else, then clotheslines him on the apron for two. Good lord how can you take prime World champion Sting, and Sid at the peak of his overness, and make it so fucking boring? Sting comes back with a bulldog, but Sid boots him out to the ramp and they head up the ramp, but Sting dives back in with a clothesline and makes the comeback. Back to the floor and the Horsemen run interference with the ref while Sid and Sting “fight” back to the dressing room, but then they head back and “Sting” tries to slam Sid and falls back, with Sid getting the pin and the title at 11:41. However, the real Sting emerges from the dressing room with a rope around his wrist, hits Sid with the Stinger splash, and gets the pin at retain the title at 12:45 for real this time. Of course, the fake Sting was Barry Windham with his new short haircut, and from then on we never had to worry about fake Stings ever again. The match was TERRIBLE, although the finish was clever in a Russo kind of way, but didn’t end up leading anywhere or paying off in the future. It was just kind of a wacky deal to get out of having someone lose clean. ½*
I still really enjoy this show, but I wish the version on the Network wasn’t so half-assed. But this is probably the one we’re stuck with, so it is what it is. It’s a strong thumbs up show regardless, aside from the crappy main event.