The SmarK Rant for WCW Halloween Havoc 97 – 10.26.97
Gotta say, the build on Nitro has kinda made me want to revisit this one, main event aside. Plus I hear there’s a pretty good match on it somewhere.
Live from Las Vegas, NV, drawing a legit sellout of 12,000 and gigantic 1.1 buyrate.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan & Dusty Rhodes
Yuji Nagata v. Ultimo Dragon
This is continuation of Dragon’s feud with Sonny Onoo, with Onoo bringing Nagata in as muscle. They trade kicks to start and Dragon SWEEPS THE LEG, but Yuji drops him on his head with a release german suplex. Dragon with the headstand in the corner to put him down and he follows with the kick combo, but Nagata gets a rear naked choke to put him down again. Nagata beats him down with kicks and chinlocks him, and a piledriver gets two. They fight for a suplex and Nagata wins that for two. Nagata chokes him out on the mat and then puts him down with more stiff kicks, but Dragon catches the leg and takes him down with a dragon screw that puts Nagata on the floor. Dragon follows with a dive, but Nagata kicks him out of the air and they brawl out there while Raven leads his crew to ringside. Back in the ring, Dragon tries a handspring elbow and Nagata kicks him out of the air again and goes up for a moonsault attempt. Dragon brings him down with a powerbomb for two and goes up for his own moonsault, which gets two. He goes up again, but Nagata brings him down and just kicks the everloving shit out of his shoulder and then goes to work on that arm. Overhead suplex gets two. He goes to the Nagatalock, but Dragon quickly makes the ropes and Tenay wonders why he went for the leg after injuring the arm? Dusty thinks it’s because he’s well schooled in the art of getting to the pay winda. You tell ‘em Dusty. Dragon fights back with his own kicks and they head to the top, where Dragon brings him down with a rana and tries the dragon sleeper. But then Nagata snaps him into the Fujiwara armbar to escape and Dragon immediately taps at 9:55. Damn this was way better than I remembered at the time, with all kinds of crazy stiff kicks. **** And then Onoo rewards his man with an envelope after the win, which I can only assume is filled with genuine Trump Trading Cards, the greatest gift anyone can receive.
Meanwhile, Disco Inferno does a REAL AUDIO interview for wcw wrestling . com, but Jacqueline attacks them and Dusty thinks this is the funniest shit he’s ever seen. Also I checked to see if I could buy wcw wrestling. com and add it to my collection of domains but it’s held by some sketchy domain squatter at the moment and it would cost way too much to grab it. In fact, it’s currently a nasty malware site, so please don’t even try to go check it out. It’s weird that they blur out old phone numbers, but leave dead URLs like that one on screen for anyone to potentially go infect their computer. It’s been in the hands of a holding company since 2002 so chances of ever getting it away from there are pretty much zero, unfortunately.
UNADVERTISED BONUS MATCH: Gedo v. Chris Jericho
Oh boy, my favorite. He’s literally wearing yellow pajamas to the ring! Jericho chases him out of the ring and back in for a delayed suplex that gets two before beating on him with chops on the ropes. Gedo clotheslines him to the floor and comes back in with a powerslam for two, and then grabs a sleeper. Dusty notes that there’s a lot of signs of himself in Gedo, which is funny because he also followed Dusty’s career path and became a famous booker. Jericho with a double powerbomb for two and they fight to the top, with Jericho trying a top rope rana that goes HORRIBLY wrong, with Gedo apparently unable to do the front flip because of aerial drag caused by his stupid pajama pants. He literally looks like Ronald McDonald with a bad blond dye job. Gedo puts him down with a gutbuster and goes up, but belly flops on the mat and Jericho puts him away with the Liontamer at 7:17. I can’t even seriously hate on Gedo too much these days because he’s an awesome booker and manager now, but this was NO GOOD compared to other cruiserweight matches of the time. **
Cruiserweight title, title v. mask: Eddie Guerrero v. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Rey quickly counters Eddie’s slam into a rana, putting him on the floor, but he tries a dive and Eddie yanks him off the apron and then smashes him into the stairs, much like Rey’s tribute to the Phantom SLAMS EVIL. Back in, Eddie pounds him with forearms while Tony puts over how ripped and muscular Eddie is looking now, which hopefully won’t backfire on him later in life. Thankfully we didn’t know anything about steroids or concussions back in 1997 so I’m sure it’s fine. Eddie with a backbreaker for two and he goes for the mask already, and then takes Rey down with a knucklelock while Tenay discusses Rey’s previous history as The Hummingbird. Rey fights up and gets a springboard DDT to escape, but goes to the apron and Eddie dropkicks him to the floor. Back in, Eddie goes to a rear chinlock and continues ripping at the mask to be a dick. Maybe he’s experiencing some kind of rage due to chemical imbalances. Not sure why that might be. Eddie with the Gory Special, but Rey flips out of that, so Eddie dropkicks him back down again and puts him down with a nasty backbreaker before wrapping him up with a submission hold on the mat. Rey fights out of that, so Eddie whips him into the Tree of Woe, but then charges and crotches himself on the post as a result. He bails to the floor to regroup, and Rey dives off the post, and back in the ring for a rana that gets two. Eddie puts him down with a clothesline to cut him off, but Rey does a proto-619 and takes Eddie to the floor with a headscissors, then follows with an incredible somersault plancha into a rana on the floor. IN THIS HOUSE WE DON’T DEFY THE LAWS OF PHYSICS, YOUNG MAN! Back in, a diving headbutt gets two. Rey with a slingshot moonsault, but Eddie gets the knees up and spikes him with the powerbomb for two. Eddie charges again and Rey alley-oops him into the turnbuckle, then tries to drop the dime on him, but Eddie catches him with a backbreaker instead. Frog splash misses and Rey goes up, but Eddie crotches him and they fight on top. Eddie tries Splash Mountain, but Rey turns that into a rana in mid-air and pins him to win the title at 13:55 and save his mask. And then Rey cuts a promo in the corner with his belt, and Eddie clobbers him from behind and tosses him out of the ring in the name of poor sportsmanship. Still great although you see a lot of same stuff on every indie show on YouTube these days, which just speaks to how influential of a match it was. *****
ATTENTION HOTLINE FANS! There’s a “clique” backstage who are apparently adding a new member to their ranks, but we can’t talk about it here on this show you’re paying $30 to watch. Well obviously not. I’m gonna guess that Gene was talking about D-X possibly adding the New Age Outlaws to the group, but I have no solid memory of what he was actually shilling.
Meanwhile, Uncle Eric and Hollywood Hogan have DEMANDS for the main event tonight. He wants his belt back from Piper! And he wants assurances that Sting won’t interfere! OR ELSE!
Steve McMichael v. Alex Wright
Yes, the replacement for Jeff Jarrett, and big mystery opponent for Mongo, is Das Wunderkind. Meanwhile Tony wants to stress that it’s a CAGE MATCH tonight in the main event, so we can guarantee no interference from Sting or anyone else, because it’s a CAGE MATCH and no one in the history of cage matches has ever gotten in or out of the cage. Yes he really said this stuff with a straight face. You might want to take note of everything he promised once we get to the main event. Mongo with a slam for two, but Wright goes to a wristlock and puts the boots to him on the mat. Tony notes that “the old adage is that the conman’s last line of defense is pity”. I thought it was charging $99 for superhero-themed NFT trading cards? Either way. Wright works a headlock, but Mongo gets more slams while the announcers talk about how Mongo was expecting some kind of 350 pound former NFL player or something, and thus Alex Wright is the perfect swerve to keep him off guard. 4D CHESS. Meanwhile these guys are out there flailing around and blowing spots, and Mongo thankfully hits the tombstone. But then Goldberg runs in while Debra takes the ref, and he literally spears Mongo, hits the Jackhammer, and then puts Alex on top for the pin at 6:26 while the referee is just standing there ignoring everything. So Goldberg is apparently Debra’s new assassin, but THANKFULLY they would pull the plug on that completely misguided direction by December and reboot the character again. I can’t even imagine where his career would have ended up if they had stuck with that for more than a couple of weeks. Anyway this was TERRIBLE on pretty much every level, a bad match with a stupid finish that made everyone involved look like clowns. DUD
Meanwhile, Macho Man and Elizabeth are also angry, but Randy is going to triumph over DDP and then celebrate with a Slim Jim later. I’ve never been clear on how Liz ended up back with him again over the course of 1997. But hey, evil Liz was the best Liz anyway.
Disco Inferno v. Jacquelyn
Stevie Richards offers a “Girl v. Girl” sign to sum up the match, and I remember his snark was pretty on point with those signs before he got fired again. So this of course stemmed from various excellent storyline reasons that made tons of sense, but you have to call my special Blog of Doom Hotline to find out the answer because the info is too hot to talk about here on the website. $5 for the first minute, $6.50 for every second thereafter. Disco runs away from her to start as they avoid having them make contact for as long as possible despite spending months bending over backwards to force Disco into the match in real life. Disco hides behind the ref and hides in the ropes and then runs to the floor again and runs around ringside, and finally Jackie catches him with a sunset flip after 4:00 of that. Sadly they don’t just make that the finish and we continue on, with Disco running away again. Back in, she tries an armdrag, but Disco runs away to the floor and runs into the ropes and then runs to the floor again. Finally Jackie catches him and beats him down for a few seconds, and Disco runs away again and thankfully decides to walk out on the match. Sadly she catches up to him and Disco flees back to the ring. He tries a hiptoss and she lands on her feet, so Disco sends her to the floor. She pulls him into the post and they “fight” on the floor, with poor Disco just working as light as humanly possible and taking all the bumps as punishment for whatever slight he committed against Eric Bischoff, and she gets a DDT and goes up with a flying bodypress. Disco rolls through for two, but she rolls him up for the pin at 9:39. This meant nothing and led to nothing, but I can actually save it: They should have had Disco reluctantly fight back against her and then win the match by cheating, which would have caused Booker T to challenge him to a match to get revenge for his manager, and he could have won the TV title there and kicked off his singles push. DUD, although Disco was actually working really hard to make it entertaining with a super green Jacquelyn so I can’t fault him too much.
US title: Curt Hennig v. Ric Flair
In classic WCW fashion, the US title is absent and Hennig brings the Cruiserweight belt with him instead. Flair attacks and Hennig bumps to the railing immediately, and they brawl in the aisle, as Flair takes him down and wraps the knee around the post. Hennig then takes out Flair’s leg and he also goes to work on it. They slug it out while Dusty Rhodes tells us about how the lead doggie has all the little doggies running after him in a backdoor pilot for the Doggie Whisperer. Now I need a show where Dusty Rhodes tries to train dogs. Meanwhile Hennig beats on Flair in the corner, which sets up a Flair Flip to put Ric on the floor. Flair is clearly not 100% here and probably came back way too soon from the surgery that wrote him out after Fall Brawl. They fight on the floor and trade chops while Dusty explains concussions to us, and Hennig necks him on the way in and puts the boots to him. Hennig with a sleeper while I contemplate what we missed out on because Dusty Rhodes died and thus never was able to launch a YouTube channel where he explains simple medical concepts to us in his own words. Curt lets go of the sleeper and grabs a chair, but Flair dodges that and they fight on the floor again. Hennig decides to grab his Cruiserweight belt and call it a night. Flair hauls him back to the ring and tries to suplex him on the belt, but misses. So next he hangs Hennig in the Tree of Woe and kicks the belt into his face for the DQ at 13:54. This was a HUGE disappointment after the whole build with the nWo v. Horsemen feud and everything surrounding it. Just kind of a match. **1/4
Meanwhile, back on REAL AUDIO, Macho Man is on the INTERNET, YEAH.
JJ Dillon joins Mean Gene to stress that he’s not a quitter and he’s got a job to do. Well he had a job with the WWF and he sure quit that. JJ stresses that the advertised main event will happen as advertised and the crowd pops. YAY! THE MATCH ADVERTISED AS HAPPENING WILL HAPPEN! This is huge news for a WCW PPV. Mean Gene has checked the document and it’s NOTORIZED. I’m surprised he didn’t make Eric Bischoff call his hotline to reveal that information.
Scott Hall v. Lex Luger
So special referee Larry Zbyszko is using Marvelous Marc Mero’s entrance music for this, which I presume was royalty-free stuff. They fight for the lockup to start and Larry breaks that up when neither guy will give a clean break. Thank god he didn’t allow that to continue, I’ve seen too many good people lost to lockups in the corner. Hall grabs a headlock and Larry breaks that up as well. Hall goes to the arm and offers a test of strength, but then goes to a surfboard instead. Luger reverses out of that, but Hall puts him down with a lariat and puts the boots to him. Hall chokes away on the ropes while Larry threatens Syxx outside. Yeah, that punk better be careful or he might get fired from WCW and then his career would be over! Hall with a sack of shit slam for two. Hall with a sleeper, but Luger suplexes out of that and Hall ends up on top for two. Hall gets in Larry’s face and gets thrown over the top as a result, and Luger makes the comeback as this drags on. Now Eric Bischoff joins us at ringside because MORE overbooking is what this needed apparently, and Luger goes for the torture rack while Syxx runs in and takes him out. This sets up the Razor’s Edge for the pin at 12:00, with reluctant count from Zbyszko. And again WCW babyfaces look like morons who can’t even win when they have refs in their own pockets. But then Larry demands to see the replay on the big screens, and restarts the match.
Scott Hall v. Lex Luger, Part 2
Luger gets the torture rack, and Syxx and Bischoff run in for the immediate DQ or whatever, and they beat Larry down as WCW continues to look like ineffective goofs. * Also a sign of the times in WCW and what was ahead for the company, as these guys who are pushed to the top and making huge guaranteed money go out and do what can at best be charitably called “half-assing it” on what is supposed to be one of the biggest PPVs of the year. Meanwhile Guerrero and Mysterio have a legendary match that tears the house down and they get mired in the undercard for years following.
NEVADA DEATH MATCH: Randy Savage v. Diamond Dallas Page
DAMN, Elizabeth in the nWo gear here. This would be the WCW version of a Last Man Standing match with a 10 count to end the match. They immediately brawl on the floor and Savage goes right for the famous taped ribs, but DDP rips off Savage’s own shirt and chokes him out with it. Oh man, Savage going shirtless after 1995 was a no-no. Actually he looks fine here but we know that Macho was a tad touchy about the subject at the time. They slug it out in the corner and DDP delivers a “one man clubbering”, but Savage comes out with a clothesline and they’re both down. Dusty goes on some wacky run and Tony just kind of ignores him and lets him go, and then Dusty gets all concerned and goes “Um, hello?” and Tony clarifies that yes, he’s listening. That man had the patience of a saint, up until he stopped having patience two years later. Savage bails and Page hits him with a dive, but Savage necks him on the top rope while Dusty bemoans the lack of plunder thus far. Too much action in the ring for him! Page hits the floor and Savage drops the axehandle on him, which gives us our first count on DDP and he’s up at 4. Savage dumps him into the front row, where Raven’s group is watching, and they head into the crowd. “They out amongst ‘em now!” notes Dusty, never at a loss for words, even if the words don’t make any sense. Page takes a clown bump over the railing and they continue to brawl in the entrance area, but Page whips Savage into a tombstone, and then slams him onto a fake coffin and smashes a tray on his head for another count. “HE WOBBLE-LEGGED HIM!” declares Dusty, happier about this development than anyone else in the world has ever been happier about anything, and he helpfully points out that there’s another graveyard set that they can destroy if needed. Sadly, they do not, and Page hauls him back to ringside, but Savage runs him into the railing again. Macho sends him into the stairs in a pretty impressive headfirst spot and we get another count off that. Next up, Savage mugs Jackie Crockett and steals the camera, which could have made for some wacky comedy, but Page just kicks it back in his face and they’re both down.
Elizabeth casually jumps up and smashes something on the ref’s head to knock him out and then chokes out Page with a TV cable, and that brings out Kimberly for the CATFIGHT and you fucking know that Dusty is all about it. Not gonna lie, the whole thing was pretty hot. I’m man enough to admit it. So they fight back to the dressing room and Nick Patrick takes over refereeing and makes the count, but Page makes the comeback with the pancake piledriver. Macho blocks the cutter by holding the top rope and goes up with a flying elbow that was more “elbow” and less “flying”, and that draws another count on DDP. Savage goes up again and drops the elbow in proper form this time, RIGHT on the taped ribs, and Page is up at 9. So Savage hits him in the ribs again, but the ref is bumped again and Page hits the Diamond Cutter. The ref is up fast and counts both guys down, but Savage is up first and kicks him right in the yam bag to put him on the floor. I was just thinking one of them should do that! Great minds think alike I guess. But then this brings “Sting” down to the ring and he nails Page in the ribs with his “bat”, and even Tony isn’t fooled by this one. Actually I don’t know why I put bat in quotes because it was clearly a real bat, but it’s funnier that way. And this time Page can’t beat the count, with Savage making it up first at 18:18. Honestly the finish would have been better if it was just the nutshot from Savage that won the match because the fake Sting looked nothing like the real one and it wasn’t needed. Anyway this was a lot of fun and mostly woke up the crowd again, and Dusty’s clear appreciation of the match made it even better. ***1/2
AGE IN THE CAGE: Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Hollywood Hogan
The internet snark at the time about the ages of the participants was legendary, but today’s Saudi shows are like “Hold my government-approved non-alcoholic beverage”. See, they don’t allow beer, so…never mind. Michael Buffer declares that there are no rules to the match, and the survivor (if THERE IS a survivor!) will be declared the winner. That sounds like RULES to me. Piper chases Hulk around the floor and bites him on the ass when he tries to climb out. Into the ring, Piper puts the boots to him and Hogan runs away, here in this match with a giant cage around the ring so that no one can run away. They fight on the floor and Piper gently sends him into the cage but somehow manages to be the one who gets hurt. Oh and then they just leave the cage and fight outside of the cage and no one seems to be able to explain what’s happening. Hulk drops him on the railing and decides that he’s now leaving the match, but then another possible Sting shows up and points the bat at him until he turns around. Back into the cage and apparently the door is locked this time, but Hulk retreats again as Tony notes that it’s their intense hatred for each other and brutal cage beatings that explain why neither man can stand. I thought it was their deteriorating hip joints. So they fight on the cage while Sting multiplies at ringside, and then just climb back down again as this match meanders from spot to spot with no actual storyline to it. Back into the ring, where Hulk whips him with the weight belt, almost making contact once so you know he means business. And then Hulk leaves and decides to climb out again as I’m not really clear on what the conditions for winning the match even are. Hulk gets halfway down the cage, but a Sting waves his bat at him and Hulk somehow can’t find a way to avoid him and decides to climb back into the cage again. Oh and more Stings head down to the ring while they just stand around on the cage and occasionally make contact with each other while pretending to fight. There’s more Stings and normally I’d make a joke about Stings outnumbering fans but this show was a legit sellout and huge success. Back in the ring, because why not, and Hulk drops the leg on him for two. Oh yeah now there’s a referee in the match. Because why not. This brings out Randy Savage, who leaps from the top of the cage and he’s nowhere near Piper, hitting Hogan by mistake, although even saying “hitting” in this case is being generous, and Piper finishes with the sleeper at 13:20. And no one even cares. So the Megapowers handcuff Piper to the cage and beat him down, which prompts an idiot fan in a Sting mask to climb the cage and try to run in, resulting in a beating from the nWo as we call it a night. A legendarily bad Hogan match, only topped by the NEXT year’s effort. -**
Did we ever get clarification on what the deal with the fan was? There were conspiracy theories at the time that WCW planted him in order to create a news story or something, but I can’t remember if we ever found out for sure.
Well this was…quite the show. Strong start, a whole bunch of crap in the middle, and then it kind of revived with the Savage-DDP match and then went off a cliff with the main event. I can’t be TOO harsh on anything with the first few matches on it, so overall I’d call it thumbs in the middle, leaning down, and the Rey-Eddie classic absolutely deserves awards for saving this thing from all-time terrible status.