The Best, Worst and Most Ridiculous Moments in WCW Halloween Havoc History
WCW Halloween Havoc was one of the company's signature events, a fall classic of sorts for Ted Turner's pro wrestling empire and the sight of some of the most unforgettable matches and moments.
For better or worse.
There were classic encounters between the ropes, ridiculous battles outside them and booking decisions more horrifying than anything Wes Craven or John Carpenter could dream up.
With WWE resuscitating the event Wednesday night on NXT, relive these moments that helped define the show and make it one of the guilty pleasures of wrestling faithful during its 11-year run.
Best: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero
Halloween Havoc is a pay-per-view rich with strong in-ring content.
From its beginnings in 1989 with Sting and Ric Flair vs. Great Muta and Terry Funk inside Thunderdome and Brian Pillman vs. Lex Luger for the United States Championship, through 1990 with The Steiner Brothers vs. The Nasty Boys and 1993 with Big Van Vader's world title defense against Cactus Jack, it is home to some above-average wrestling.
The tradition continued in 1997 with a match widely considered to be among the best of all-time.
With his mask and all of the tradition that came with it on the line, Rey Mysterio challenged for Eddie Guerrero's WCW Cruiserweight Championship in a dramatic and emotional encounter. The in-ring chemistry of the two competitors was superb, their transitions flawless. They did things throughout the course of their match that, on any other given night, may not have landed as perfectly as they did that evening.
There was not a single flaw or blemish to speak of. Everything was seamless, and the result was a match that has come to define both men in the 23 years since.
It is also synonymous with the long history of the event, for a mere mention of "Halloween Havoc" invokes vivid memories of Guerrero, Mysterio and the instant classic they delivered on October 26, 1997.
Worst: Monster Truck Mayhem
For a company fresh off the debut of Monday Nitro and riding a wave of momentum as the first real competition WWE had seen since its rise to national dominance, WCW sure did pick an awful time to produce what might be the worst of its Halloween Havoc pay-per-views on October 29, 1995.
While Hulk Hogan would defend the WCW World Championship against The Giant in the night's main event, they would first compete in a Monster Truck Sumo battle atop the Joe Louis Arena in which the only way to win was to knock your opponent over the edge and a hundred feet to the ground below.
Yes, the goal of the competition was vehicular homicide.
Hogan would win, because it apparently made sense to have the babyface seemingly decimate his opponent ahead of the main event, but the real loser was the embattled wrestling fan who had been presented such garbage for so long with no end in sight.
That would change within a year, though, as Ted Turner's wrestling empire set aside the over-the-top goofiness in favor of a much better (and more successful) product.
Most Ridiculous: The OG Fake Sting
Long before Eric Bischoff and the New World Order perpetrated a plan to deceive the fans by introducing a fake Sting that would beat down the likes of Lex Luger and The Four Horsemen in the name of creating division within the WCW ranks, an imposter Sting created controversy in the main event of the 1990 Halloween Havoc.
At that event, Sting defended the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Sid Vicious in the night's headline bout. Sid, a member of the dastardly Four Horsemen, sought to dethrone the man who had defeated Ric Flair back at the Great American Bash for the title.
To do so, the heel faction would concoct a plan that saw Sting and Vicious fight to the locker room area. When they emerged, Sting would appear noticeably different than he did before, but still similar enough for the referee not to notice as he counted his shoulders to the mat and awarded the title to Vicious.
To everyone's surprise, Sting would emerge from the locker room and reveal that the man who had been pinned was Horseman Barry Windham under facepaint. The match was restarted and Sting retained his title.
The idea that the referee could not tell that Windham was not the real Sting, despite a physique not at all like the champion's, was bad enough. That WCW went to those lengths to book a finish that semi-protected both men was absolutely ridiculous.
Best: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper Stuns the World
"Hollywood" Hogan and the New World Order had a stranglehold on WCW by the time the 1996 edition of Halloween Havoc rolled around. The heel faction was in the midst of revolutionizing the industry, so it was no surprise when Hogan retained his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against "Macho Man" Randy Savage in the main event.
What was a surprise, though, was the debut of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper immediately after.
Piper made his way to the ring and cut a scathing promo on the Hulkster, reminding him that Hot Rod was one of few icons of the industry over whom Hollywood did not have a pinfall victory.
The look on Hogan's face, one of utter shock, sold the moment and enhanced a buzz about the WCW product that had steadily grown with every passing week of New World Order antics.
Worst: Hogan-Warrior II
Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior from WrestleMania VI is an utterly perfect match that should have been left alone. In typical wrestling fashion, a promoter saw dollar signs at the prospect of a rematch, and in 1998, WCW booked Hogan-Warrior II as part of a massive double-header at Halloween Havoc.
In short, it should not have.
The match was an abysmal exposure of the business that featured botches, stalling, boring strikes and the worst fireball spot in the history of pro wrestling.
Oh, and Hogan getting his elusive win back against one of the few stars to have beaten him clean in the center of the ring.
It was a putrid main event that, unfortunately, would be the last full match fans got to see on what was an otherwise solid entry in Havoc lore.
Most Ridiculous: The YETTTTAY!
There is a special place in WrestleCrap hell for The Yeti.
A product of the dreaded Dungeon of Doom vs. Hulk Hogan rivalry that engulfed WCW in 1995, the monstrous enigma made his debut at the Halloween Havoc pay-per-view, attacking The Hulkster during his WCW Championship defense against The Giant.
If the idea of a yeti attacking a pro wrestler in 1995 isn't ridiculous enough, perhaps the fact that he looked more like a mummy than an abominable snow-thing is.
Not to mention the incredibly awkward double bear hug of Hogan that he joined The Giant in.
The entire ordeal was right out of 1969 Scooby Doo to the point that you half expected Hogan to unmask him to reveal Eric Bischoff, who would then blame "meddling kid" Jimmy Hart for getting caught.
It was insulting to one's intelligence and proof of just how far south pro wrestling had sunk from a creative standpoint before Hogan, Bischoff and a certain New World Order changed history.
Best: Cactus Jack and Big Van Vader Tear the House Down
Vader and Cactus Jack had a long history of violent encounters, but none were higher profile than their Halloween Havoc 1993 match for the former's WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
The Texas Death Match—as determined by the fateful Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal gimmick—was a brutal, violent, hard-hitting affair that saw Jack push Vader to the limit and nearly become the most unlikely champion in the long history of Ted Turner's wrestling empire.
It was not meant to be, though, as Vader emerged with his title reign intact and a greater appreciation for just how badass a competitor Jack was.
It was also the best pay-per-view main event WCW produced in 1993, proof positive that stars besides those named "Flair," "Luger," and "Sting" could perform at the highest levels.
Worst: And...We're Outta Time
On the same night that Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan delivered an all-time stinker, WCW flubbed monumentally with the presentation of its main event.
In a hotly anticipated bout, Diamond Dallas Page challenged Goldberg for the WCW Championship. Unfortunately, the show ran long and fans missed the entire match. To make up for it, the company issued refunds and aired the match for free on Monday Nitro.
The miscue cost the company millions, and why?
Because Alex Wright vs. Finlay and Saturn vs. Lodi needed to be on the card?
It was a colossal misstep for a company that had made more and more of them as the year advanced, a year that saw WWE explode back into mainstream pop-culture consciousness.
Goldberg retained his title, in case you wondered, in what was a damn good match between the relative rookie and his veteran opponent.
Too bad it was too little, too late to matter.
Most Ridiculous-ly Awesome: The 1993 Opening
There is something nostalgic about the 1993 Halloween Havoc opening.
It takes one back to simpler times, to the days when you and your friends would trick-or-treat and still believed in monsters, ghosts and goblins.
The pay-per-view started with kids arriving to a frightening mansion and knocking on the door, only to encounter WCW announcer Tony Schiavone. Before long, it was revealed that Tony was actually a monster, leaving the kids screaming in horror.
It was good, innocent fun that played up the holiday and hammered home the Halloween theme—much like the sets would later in the event's history.
WCW's devotion to playing up the Halloween themes and creating wholly unique atmospheres for its annual October pay-per-view is likely why it remains such a fan-favorite all these years later.