Saturday, October 27, 2018

Revisiting WCW Halloween Havoc 1990!

We've got the Steiners and the Nastys beating the shit out of each other, Arn Anderson and Ric Flair trying to start a race war and STAN HANSEN YELLING AT A PUMPKIN ... could you ask for anything more in a Halloween special?

By: Jimbo X
The Internet Is In America on Voat

Come on kids — after all these years, did you really expect me to let an All Hallows Eve season pass us by without at least one passing mention of the greatest defunct pro 'rasslin extravaganza of 'em all?

You don't need me to tell you how awesome Halloween Havoc was. Even on a rare off-year, the October rite remained one of the marquee World Championship Wrestling shows, and unsurprisingly, has given us some of the absolute greatest matches in WCW history. Of course, for every Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero or Vader vs. Cactus Jack masterpiece there were about three or four Hogan vs. Warrior IIs and Chamber of Horrors debacles, but even those conveyed a weird sense of seasonal charm that almost made up for their lack of in-ring quality. Even in the years WCW was sliding into oblivion, it at least felt like they gave slightly more of a shit to make the annual Havoc a more entertaining-than-normal PPV; what the yearly Treehouse of Horrors special was to The Simpsons, Halloween Havoc was unquestionably WCW's "gotta' go out of you way to see this shit" analogue.

All in all there were 11 Havocs before WCW went belly-up, and you really can't go wrong with any of them, especially as thematically appropriate late October evening viewing. Digging around in the archives, I decided to yank one of the old PPVs out at random, and what do you know, I just so happened to fish out Halloween Havoc 1990, which was the second-annual running of the event. I have virtually zero recollection of what happened at the show, so let's consider this recap a retroactive blind run ... which, as we can all agree upon, is the absolute best way to reminisce on pro 'rasslin shows of yore, can't we?

Time to fire the old Sanyo VCR up and wax nostalgic like a motherfucker, Holmes.

We are coming to you LIVE from the UIC-Pavilion in Chicago. And holy shit, Jim Ross and Paul Heyman are both in costume — apparently, J.R. is portraying a gangster with Bell's Palsy while Paul E. is portraying Jewish Dracula. From there, we toss it to Tony Schiavone — dressed as the Phantom of the Opera — who interviews Tommy Rich and Ricky Morton before their bout against The Midnight Express.

Apparently, Robert Gibson got taken out by the Freebirds, so Wildfire is stepping in as Morton's tag team partner tonight. "Of course they rock and roll in Oklahoma," J.R. states. It's "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton and Morton to begin. Morton lands a hiptoss and if you pay real close attention, you'll note the ring ropes are pained like tiger stripes. Well, at least one of them, anyway, for some reason. Eaton goes up top and Morton punches him in the gut. We get a bunch of criss-crossing and eventually Morton FRANKENSTEINERS Eaton right into Rich's crosshairs so he can cold-cock him. Goddamn, that was a better spot-sequence than anything RVD and Jerry Lynn ever did right there. Now "Sweet" Stan Lane is in. He jacks Morton's jaw and hits him with a flying clothesline. Morton goes for a shoulderblock and conks his noggin on the turnbuckle post. Eaton climbs the top turnbuckle and jumps off to the floor below but not only does he not hit Morton, he doesn't actually seem to do ANYTHING that could be construed as an offensive maneuver on his way down. Weird. Of course, Jim Cornette gets in a cheap shot with his tennis racket and Eaton stomps Morton a bajillion times before Stan karate kicks the shit out of Ricky back in the ring. Lane rakes Morton's eyes while the ref is distracted and then he tosses him to the outside. Stan slams Morton on the rampway and then they double team for the ROCKET LAUNCH and Stan makes Morton eat a fat splash. But Morton, once back in the ring, kicks out. Holy shit, you have GOT to see Eaton hit this proto-RKO on Morton. And holy shit, his top rope assisted backbreaker is just fucking ACE. Fuck, Stan Lane was about 25 years ahead of his time. Lane throws Morton over the top rope, because he's a no good sumbitch, but then Morton hits him with what Ross describes as "Japanese headscissors" on the floor below. By the way, "Japanese headscissors" might be better known by the term "hurrancanrana." You know, in case you were wondering. Eaton punches Morton in the corner while screaming "where's Robert, boy?" Fuck, I miss REAL southern tag team 'rasslin like this. I really, really do. Morton and Lane get into a good old fashioned slug fest and Eaton gets the tag. Time for another Rocket Launch, but this time Morton gets his knees up. Lane gets the tag, and Morton rolls over to this corner so Rich can get the hot tag. Wildfire goes up top and Cornette clobbers him with a racket and he sells it like he just got shot at point blank range. Then the Southern Boys come out dressed like Jim Cornette (complete with fat bellies!) and Wildfire ends up stealing Cornette's racket so he can conk Eaton over the head for the easy pinfall. Well, that was on pace to be a really great little tag match, but all of the tomfoolery at the end, unfortunately, drags this one down to a fair [** 3/4] outing.

The Schiavone of the Opera interviews Sting about the Black Scorpion and Sid Vicious. LOL at Sting saying he hopes Sid's butt doesn't overwrite his "you know what" then quickly correcting himself to say "his mouth" will write a check his "you know what" can't cash. Fuck, he butchered that line BAD. Then The Black Scorpion shows up, and security doesn't stop him even though he LITERALLY abducts a child out of the audience. He says he's going to demonstrate his "black magic" by teleporting but the camera pan is too wide so you actually see BOTH guys dressed up like The Black Scorpion onscreen at the same time. Shit, this stuff was even WORSE than I remembered. 

Anyhoo, up next, we've go the Renegade Warriors — apparently, wearing pink in support of breast cancer survivors — and FUCK YES IT'S TIME FOR BAD STREET ATLANTA, MOTHERFUCKERS! Goddamn, The Freebirds rule, and even better, they have ROCKY KING coming to the ring with them dressed like Robert Gibson, complete with a crutch. P.S. Hayes is literally the only person in history to ever wear pink lipstick and STILL look manly as fuck. Hayes moonwalks, then Mark Youngblood slams his head on the turnbuckle before Chris Youngblood splashes him with a flying clothesline. Hayes calls for a timeout so Jammin' Jimmy Garvin can fix his hair while Paul Heyman accuses Jim Ross of being a biased commentator. Garvin gets the tag and Heyman drops a great line about the Freebirds wanting to send the Renegade Warriors back to basket-weaving school. Garvin hits Chris with a back suplex and Hayes chops the FUCK out of him on the floor below. Rocky King gets some free shots in, too, and it is FANTASTIC. Fuck, is Rocky King the father of NFL punter Marquette King? 'Cause I'm seeing a strong resemblance here, both physically and behaviorally. Hayes gets tagged in and he hits Chris with a ton of fist drops and a chin lock. Garvin gets tagged back in and he makes Chris swallow a couple of hard right hands. Then Hayes chokes Chris' by bobbing his big ballsack on his head with his throat against the ropes. The fans chant "DDT!" even though the Freebirds are supposed to be the heels. Hayes snapmares Chris and works another chinlock. Hayes goes for the DDT, but Chris flips him over with a backdrop. Garvin's back in. He scoop slams Chris and tags Hayes back in. He lands an elbow drop coming off the ropes. Just a two-count. Hey, why not throw in another chinlock while we're at it. LOL at Jim Ross describing Paul Heyman as "pathological liar" Jon Lovitz, which yeah, is a shockingly fitting comparison, when you think about it. Hayes slams Chris again. He goes up top and the other Injun finally gets the tag. He chops the shit out of the Freebirds and then Rocky King gets thrown into the ring and Hayes hits one of the Renegade Warriors with a DDT while he's going for a schoolboy on Garvin and yeah, that spot was pretty fucking awesome, actually. Anyway, that gives Garvin the 1, 2, 3 and a fitting end to a rather adequate [** 1/2] tag team affair.

Tony S. interviews Arn Anderson and Ric Flair. Surprise! It's great. That said, it sure is weird seeing Arn and Sid Vicious NOT trying to stab each other, though ...

Leave it to Scott Steiner to make the most absurd move in lucha libre look fucking DEADLY.

The U.S. Tag Team titles are on the line next, as the Nasty Boys go one-on-one — well, technically, two-on-two — with the championship strap holders, THE STEINER BROTHERS. And these fuckers ain't waiting until the bell sounds for the action, as we've got a wild brawl going on ASAP. Saggs clobbers Scott with a chair while Knobbs throws Rick into the guardrail. Saggs escapes from a superplex attempt and he belly-to-belly plexes Saggs off the top rope. The crowd is going APE SHIT for all of this. Wait, why are the fans chanting "USA!" when all four of these fuckers are native-born? Scott hits Saggs with a Tiger Driver and then Rick SUPER BULLDOGS that motherfucker off the top rope. Knobbs clocks Scott with a chair while the ref is distracted, but Scott kicks out. Knobbs with a side-slam into a backbreaker. Knobbs lands a FAT powerslam and it looks painful as all fuck. Scott gets tossed to the outside and Saggs hits him with a knee drop. Knobbs with a pumphandle slam and headbutts to Scott's spine. Knobbs hits Scott with a Saito slam (per Jim Ross, anyway) and Rick breaks up the pin attempt. Knobbs works an abdominal stretch. Now that's some psychology for you whippersnappers, right there. Saggs with more elbow shots to Scott's back, followed by a bear hug with a special emphasis on Scott's lower lumbar region. Scott counters with a belly to back suplex. Then Knobbs and Rick get into it, with Rick dropping his ass with a STEINER LINE. He goes for another one but Knobbs pulls down the top rope so Rick goes flying over the top rope. The Nasty Boys double team Scott with a spike piledriver, then Rick grabs a chair and clocks Sags with it while he's trying to pin Scott. Saggs works another bearhug and then he headbutts Scotty in the corner. Saggs is busted open pretty bad. He hooks in a Boston Crab and Scott flips him over. Saggs gets the tag and he stops Rick from getting tagged in. Knobbs locks in a camel clutch. I love how Ross describes this match as "street-style wrestling," like that's shit they actually have at the Olympics. Scott pokes Saggs in the eyes and lands an inverted atomic drop. Knobbs misses on a bodysplash and Rick FINALLY gets tagged in. He cleans house with clothesline after clothesline but his belly to back suplex on Knobbs only registers a two. The Nastys toss Rick to the outside only for Rick to hit them with a double clothesline off the top rope while they're showboating in the middle of the ring. The Nastys double slam Scott on the floor and he pulls Saggs out of the ring. Rick nearly knocks Knobbs ou of his boots with a Steiner Line and then Scott ends it all with a Frankensteiner. Of course, the Nastys being the poor sports they are, decide to Pearl Harbor the Steiners after the bell and clock 'em both with the championship belts. They show a slow-mo replay of the match-winning Frankensteiner and Saggs almost had his neck broken for real on that shit. Scott cuts a terrible promo and then a concession worker attack him with a plate of popcorn. Wait a minute, that's not a concession stand worker, it's Jerry Saggs in disguise! Anyway, he and Knobbs double team Scott some more and Jim Ross says "that was totally uncalled for." Anyway, that was some fun stuff — let's call it a respectable [*** 1/4] bout and carry on with the festivities, why don't we?

Up next, we've got the tag team of Ric Flair and Arn Anderson taking on Ron Simmons and Butch Reed — managed by Teddy Long, of course. "If you would've named this show 'Halloween Greetings,' none of this would've happened," Heyman comments. Doom (that's the two colored fellas) are the Dubya-See-Dubya Tag Champeens, in case you were wonderin'. Wait, is Ron Simmons jersey really retired by Florida State? Hold on, I gotta' fact check that shit real quick. Holy shit, that's actually true — no only that, but he was the first defensive player on FSU history to receive the honor. Well, you learn something new every day, don't you? Anyway, it's Ron and Arn to begin. They trade manly-ass fisticuffs and Simmons suplexes that honky motherfucker out of his boots. The chalkies retreat to the outside for a breather then Arn hits a suplex of his own but Ron no sells it and starts punching the shit out of Anderson and he gets a power slam but Ric breaks up the count and starts knife-edging Ron like a runaway slave but Ron uses the power of melanin to double clothesline both of 'em then Teddy Long slaps Ric Flair like a bitch and there's a brief standstill 'cause nobody believes Long would have the gall to do such to Mr. Space Mountain himself. Reed gets tagged in and he demands Flair enter the fray. Goddamn I miss hearing Jim Ross talk about college football greats who couldn't cut it in the NFL and had to pretend to fight people for a living. Flair takes Reed to the corner and pops him with a series of jabs and chops. Then Reed rattles off a series of rights and he lands a military press slam and Simmons slams Anderson one more time. Reed gives Flair a hip toss and feeds him a clothesline. Flair with more chops in the corner. Now it's just a slugfest between these two niggas and it is just GLORIOUS. Reed punches Flair 45 times in a row and that's our cue for the FLAIR FLOP. He does the patented Flair turnbuckle bump and wipes out the cameraman in the process. LOL. Now Ron is chasing Ric down the mile-long rampway, but Flair manages to coax him back down to the ring. Arn gets tagged and Reed catches him with a big jumping knee. Doom lands a double clothesline, but Arn kicks out. Anderson with a Boston crab, and Flair drops a knee on Ron's head while he's laying prone in the ring. Arn throws Ron into Flair's knee and they double team the FUCK outta' him. Arn lands the spinebuster, but Ron kicks out. Flair gets the tag and hits Ron with a an elevated knee breaker. Huh. I don't recall seeing Flair break that one out too often. He and Arn continue to pummel Ron's knee. Flair with a back body drop. Flair has the Figure Four. Arm stomps on Simmons while the ref is distracted. Ron flips over and reverses the hold. I still have no idea how that's supposed to work, anatomically, in kayfabe. Arn gets the tag and he goes right back to working Ron's knees. This is just pure D Southern technical rasslin' goodness right here, complete with the unfortunate racial overtones. Ron wacks Anderson in the testicles and then Flair is tagged back in. Simmons drops Flair with a right hand but then Ron slams Ric head first into the guardrail. Flair gets tagged back in and Simmons drops him with a flying clothesline. Arn gets the tag and he immediately gets to stomping Ron. Simmons lands a facebuster off the ropes. Flair gets tagged in and so does Reed. Time for Hacksaw to clean house. We've got a dropkick on Arn and a flying shoulder tackle on Ric. Reed lands a flipping shoulder tackle off the top rope, then Arn hits a DDT. Now all four men are just going at it. Ron clothesline Ric and Arn and Hacksaw brawl on the outside. Now the four start brawling down to locker room, so naturally, the whole thing gets ruled a double countout. Granted, it's a bit of a underwhelming finale, but then again, it was all set-up for that AWESOME tornado tag match with Barry Windham standing in for Flair at Starrcade a couple weeks later, so I suppose we can't shit on the booking too much. Anyhoo, that was really good stuff while it lasted ... I'd feel comfortable giving it an overachieving [*** 1/4] rating, which makes it ALMOST worth going out of one's way to witness.

Yeah ... this guy definitely should've been cast as The Green Goblin, in hindsight.

Up next, it's Stan Hansen cutting a promo where he spits chaw on a pumpkin while holding it like Yorrick's skull in Hamlet and threatens to beat Luger half to death with a cowbell. Fuck, Stan Hansen is awesome. Luger, the U.S. Heavyweight Champ, comes out wearing this Creamsicle orange panties. Man, it's crazy to think just how much of Stone Cold's persona and look was stolen ... I mean, inspired ... by Hansen. We get fisticuffs to begin early, with a Luger elbow sending Hansen reeling to the outside. Hansen is still fat and he re-enters the ring to club Luger with some thick, meaty overhand blows. Hansen lands the most obese elbow drop of all-time on the outside. Luger does a shitty job eating the turnbuckle pad, then he bodyslams Hansen. Jim Ross says Luger was the youngest person to ever play in the Canadian Football League. Well, that's an accolade right there, to be sure. Hansen works a chinlock on the ground, then he starts feeding Lex some fist sandwiches. Hansen eats turnbuckle post on a splash 
and flops to the outside. We've got some brawling on the show floor now. Lex slams Stan's head on the rampway. We're back in the ring now. Luger with more punches and stomps in the corner. Luger with a hiptoss and a cocky elbow drop. Hansen lands a snap suplex, then he connects on a shoulder block. Scoop slam and a knee drop, but Luger kicks out. Hansen with some headbutts and a bulldog. Luger starting to fight back. He gets about five punches off in the corner before Hansen slams him back down to the mat. Hansen misses on an elbow drop off the top rope. Luger lands a dropkick (even though he just barely connected) and follows suit with a body slam and a standing vertical suplex. Hansen kicks out and pounds on Lex in the corner. He pushes the ref down and Luger hits Hansen with a Lariat variation of his own. Fucking heresy. Dan Spivey comes ringside and throws Hansen the cowbell. He tries to clock Lex with it but Luger back body drops him and hits him with a bulldog. He signals for the Torture Rack and Hansen hits him with the fucking LARIAT out of nowhere and we've got ourselves a NEW U.S. CHAMP. Well, it was a pretty anticlimactic ending, but at least the right dude went over. A pretty solid [** 3/4] outing in my estimates, which, yeah, is probably about as good a match as we could've expected.

Tony S. is interviewing Teddy Long. He said "Homie Don't Play That" to Tony S. and says Doom don't have to 'rassle the Four Horseman ever again. And by "ever again," I mean "until Starrcade about two months later."

Missy Hyatt says Sid is going to beat Sting for the World Heavyweight Championship. Well, shit, I can' think of any reasons to not believe her, can you? Sid comes out first for our main event, with Gary Michael Cappetta stating his hometown is "from anywhere he darn well pleases." Hooray for TV-PG wrestling, ya'll! Sting, of course, gets a pretty big pop even though his music back then was absolute dog shit. Heyman says "look how much bigger Sid is than Sting," and it's like a difference of two or three inches. Sting goes for a flying crossbody and Sid hits him with a backbreaker. Sting no sells it and goes for a Figure Four, leading to Sid rolling outside for a breather. Sid goes for a clothesline and he flies over the top rope. Time for some outside brawling. Sting applies a standing arm wrench. I love listening to Ross put over Sting as a good role model for the young 'uns. Sid finally scores his first major offensive maneuver of the night, a pretty mean looking clothesline. Sting goes for a sunset flip, but Sid goes dead-weight. Sid works on  neck pinch. Sting lands some chops and Sid stops his offensive putsch with a powerslam off the ropes. Sid with a blatant choke, because he just don't give a fuck. Sid with a clubbing forearm, but Sting can't connect on the Stinger Splash. Sid with more clubbing blows. He turns his back on Sting and Sting uses the opportunity to hit him with a flying crossbody splash. Alas, the Stinger can only get a one count before Sid kicks out. Sid with more stomps, and Sting rolls to the outside. Sid hits Sting with a clotheslines on the apron. Sting kicks out at two, so Sid reverts to plan B — an extended chinlock. Sid with a snapmare, but he misses on the follow-up elbow drop. Sting with a flurry of kicks and a facebuster. Sid with a big boot, and Sting rolls to the ramp. Sid clothesline Sting and punches him down the ramp. We get an awesome spot where Sting runs about 20 miles an hour and clears the ring on a huge flying clothesline. Sid rolls to the outside and Sting hits him with a beautiful crossbody to the outside. Arn and Ric come down to the ring and distract the ref. Sting comes back into the ring, he goes for a bodyslam only for Sid to go dead-weight on him again to secure the 1, 2, 3 on the reversal. But wait a minute, that wasn't the real Sting, it was an impostor portrayed by Barry Windham! Well, the real Sting comes back out with a rope tied around his wrist. He clocks Sid with a foreign object of some kind, rolls him up, and gets the REAL three-count to retain the title. LOL at the camera totally missing the two Stings encountering each other. Jim Ross tries his best to salvage a busted play as orange and black balloons fall from the rafters. Unsurprisingly, all you can hear on the soundtrack during the final thirty seconds of the show is one loud latex explosion after another; all I can say is, that's the Jim Herd era in a nutshell right there.

Knowing Paul Heyman, he'd probably make the blood bank go bankrupt, too.

Well, that was shaping up to be a mildly better than mediocre match prior to the legendarily bullshit ending, so the best I can afford the main event is a ho-hum [**]. Really, it's the only match on the card I'd consider below average in any respect, but since none of the matches are really anywhere close to being MOTY caliber candidates, it's also easy to see why this one tends to be one of the less-mentioned Havocs.

Also, I 'spose I should mention that there's a lot of bouts from the PPV that were cut from this VHS home release, including such obvious mat classics as Tim Horner vs. Barry Horowitz and Brad Armstrong vs. J.W. Storm (although to be honest with, I'm at least a wee bit morbidly curious about the Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Rex contest.) While there weren't any truly great bouts on the card, at least the bulk of the card was above average to surprisingly solid, and I'd still rather watch this than just about any WWF PPV from 1990. In the grand scheme of things I guess this is one of the weaker entries in the Havoc omnibus, but it definitely has its moments. 

By no means a must-watch, HH '90 is nonetheless a fairly enjoyable little PPV, with enough nostalgia appeal to power it through the weak spots. There really aren't any major doldrums throughout the card, and even the main event, as crappy as the ending may be, isn't anywhere as bad as its purported to be. Indeed, if you're looking for some off-the-beaten path, hokey fun from yesteryear, this is primo material for the season ... I mean, fuck all, where ELSE are you ever going to get an opportunity to watch Stan Hansen berate a Jack-o'-lantern?


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