The SmarK Retro Repost – Halloween Havoc 1989

The Netcop Retro Rant for Halloween Havoc 89

– Live from Philadelphia, PA

– Your hosts are Jim Ross and Bob Caudle.

– Opening match: Tom Zenk v. Mike Rotunda. My tape is having issues so

I have to fast-forward. It’s clipped anyway. Zenk rolls through a

cross-body for the pin, and it’s **-ish.

– Okay, the tape is okay now.

– The Midnight Express & Steve “Bart WHO?” Williams v. The SST & Samoan

Savage. The Savage is former Islander Tama. This was another segment

in the never-ending feud between the Midnight Express and every other

sucky team tossed at them in 1989. Thankfully they turned heel and beat

the shit out of the Dynamic Doofuses at the next Clash. Another Turner

clip-job special, as we cut to Bobby playing Ricky Morton (oh, the

irony). The Samoans (who are the only team WORSE than the Freebirds) use

a lot of kicks and headbutts. Fatu’s ass is almost in Yokozuna

territory here. To think that these idiots would become future WWF tag

champs is frightening. Tama goes for the pump splash but Eaton gets the

knees up and makes the hot tag to Steve Williams. Philly WORSHIPS this

guy. Total destruction on everyone, then Lane comes in and botches a

neckbreaker on Tama. Enzuigiri and a pier-six erupts. Tama knocks Lane

into Cornette (standing on the apron) and pins him to officially place

the Midnights at rock bottom. * Better times were ahead.

– The Cuban Assassin v. Tommy Rich. The Cuban in question is Fidel

Sierra, the guy who would go on to form the Barrio Brothers with Ricky

Santana, not the really old one who wrestled in Stampede for years. The

crowd goes apathetic here as they trade punches and restholds. Crowd is

actively chanting “boring” as Rich armbars the Cuban. I’d make some

witty observation to pass the time but this is a horrible match and

neither guy is the least bit interesting. At least Sid is fun to mock.

Uh, let’s see…Tommy’s a drunk! No, that’s en vogue these days, so no

good. Um…he’s fat with a bad dye-job? His mother dresses him funny?

Oh, screw it. Assassin blows something and Rich gives him the big elbow

and catches him with the Thesz press for the pin to end this crap. DUD

– NWA World tag title match: The Freebirds v. The Dynamic Dudes.

Finally, something to work with. The Dudes have Jim Cornette with them

here and nearly get booed out of the building by the Philly crowd, which

is hugely ironic today considering that Shane Douglas became the

darling of Philly a few years later. The much cooler Freebirds get a

massive face pop. Welcome to Philly. I hate both teams passionately.

For some reason, Garvin is only one to bring his belt. Michael’s

moonwalk gets a good pop. We cut to Johnny Ace holding Garvin in a side

headlock and tormenting Hayes. The Dudes clear the ring with some fancy

double-teams and get a huge heel pop. They don’t know how to react.

Then, in a glorious moment, the crowd starts chanting “You suck” when

Ace gets in the ring. Hayes pops Ace from outside with a cheap shot and

gets a big face pop. This is Bizarro World, folks. This crowd has to

be heard to be believed. Ace is outside the ring and Garvin keeps

kicking him in the head to keep him out. A huge “Freebirds” chant

breaks out. Ace is caught in the corner and MAN this crowd is

bloodthirsty. Hayes with a double-whip clothesline to the corner, and

goes for the DDT but Ace blocks. Hot tag to Shane Douglas, who clears

the ring to another heel pop. Pier-six and the crowd is getting

downright hostile. Dudes go for the double-slingshot suplex on Garvin

but Hayes hooks Ace’s leg from the outside and Garvin falls on top for

the pin and it’s one of the biggest face pops I’ve ever heard. *1/2

– The Steiner Brothers v. Doom. This would be the debut of Ron Simmons

and Butch Reed as Doom, managed by Woman. They were masked at the time,

but there were only two black guys in the NWA at the time, so the

choices were pretty limited to begin with, so it was no huge secret.

For those who care, Nancy Sullivan started showing up at ringside during

Rick Steiner’s matches as a nerdy fan called “Robin Green”, cheering him

on. Rick and Robin went on a date, and she began showing up in the

Steiners’ corner, despite the fact that Missy Hyatt was their manager.

Finally, Hyatt told Green to take a hike, and she got upset and dumped

Rick and changed her name to Woman, then found Doom as her revenge.

Women, go fig. This was well before Doom developed talent as a team.

Lots of stalling to start as Doom runs after every major power move.

Rick gets caught in the corner fairly soon into this and pummelled by

Simmons, er, Doom #1. Headlock on Rick, so he pushes Simmons into his

corner and Scott comes off the top with a clothesline. Rick gets

pummelled again. Scott tagged in and he goes right to ruling the earth

with a gourdbuster. He ducks a clothesline and hits a belly-to-back.

Awesome. Scott is a shell of his former greatness these days. Scott

gets tripped by Reed, leading to more double-teaming. Basic stuff from

Doom: Bodyslam, double-elbow, punches, clotheslines, etc. Scott used

to try anything, now he tries nothing. It’s like two different people,

so maybe it’s a good thing he did such a drastic image change. It’s

hard enough reconciling them as it is. The usual cheap heat heel

tactics (choke, toss over the top, Woman interferes) from Doom. How did

they ever get good? They were the DOA of 1989 and they went on to

greatness. Life is weird. The match continues dragging as Scott is

powerslammed (gee, guess which Doom guy that is?) for two. More cheap

heat segments with the false tag, leading to a spike-piledriver while

the ref’s back is turned. It only gets two. Hot tag to Rick for real,

and he cleans house with the usual, which was new back then. Scott in,

Frankensteiner on Simmons as Rick powerslams Reed. Ref is distracted

outside with Scott and Simmons, leaving Woman to load up Reed’s mask.

Reed headbutts Rick with the LOADED MASK OF DOOM! for the upset win.

Bad match from a great team. *1/4 The Steiners would squash the

Freebirds for the tag titles a few weeks later, and would eventually

lose them to this very team after they lost their masks and gained

credibility.

– US Title match: Lex Luger v. Brian Pillman. Before the injuries and

the drugs and the shoot interviews, Pillman was GOD. And speaking of

things that would never happen today, Luger gets a massive face pop here

in Philly, even as a heel. The Rock is currently doing Luger’s heel

schtick, by the way. Luger ruled it back then. Luger was even more

over as a face as a heel than as a face. Try reading that again if it

doesn’t make sense. Luger hammers on Pillman to start and trash talks

him. Pillman gets tossed, but jumps back in and spears Lex. Chops, a

6-inch whip and a backdrop, and Luger bails. Baseball slide. More

chops (whoo!) outside the ring and Luger gets tossed in. Air Pillman

attempt but Luger bails. Chase outside and Luger decks him as he comes

in. More punishment in the corner. Crowd is divided 50/50.

Cross-corner whip on Pillman leads to a flying bodyblock by Pillman for

two. Pillman works on the arm to slow things down. Luger with a

hiptoss which Pillman reverses out of mid-air and goes back to the arm.

To the corner, cross-corner whip and charge but Luger eats boot.

Pillman goes for the Money Shot and Lex moves. Luger whips him and does

the “upsy-daisy” facefirst plant. Throat-first to the top rope.

Running clothesline, which he could actually hit realistically in 89.

Pillman with chops to fight back (whoo!). But Pillman puts his head

down and gets booted and clotheslined, front and back. Crowd is 70/30

for Luger. Elbows to the head. Hanging suplex for two. Elbowdrop, but

Pillman’s fighting back again. Luger tosses him to relieve the

pressure. Pillman sunset flips him on the way in for two. Luger goes

for a lariat but Pillman ducks and Luger goes flying. Chops in the

corner by Pillman and the TEN PUNCHES OF DOOM!, but Luger atomic drops

him out and sets up for the superplex. Pillman shoves him off and

sunset flips him for two. Chops (whoo!) and a flying elbow. Chops

(whoo!) and a backdrop. Pillman nails Air Pillman but Luger’s got a

foot on the ropes. Rude Awakening and Pillman to the top, but Luger

moves. Clothesline misses, but Luger catches Pillman on a bodypress and

stun-guns him for the three count to retain the title. Bitchin’ match.

****

– The Skyscrapers v. The Road Warriors. Ah, for the days when all was

right with the world. Before Sid convinced himself that he was a draw,

before Hawk got old and fat, before Ellering lost his personality. The

Skyscrapers literally dwarf the Warriors. This would be what JR would

call a Slobberknocker. Nobody’s selling nothin’. Spivey and Hawk trade

shoulderblocks before Hawk does a diving one to get him off his feet and

out of the ring. Sid blows his first move, a clothesline, which Hawk

pretends to have ducked in order to cover. Double-slam by the Warriors

but Sid no-sells. Shoulderblock exchange by Animal and Sid. Again, a

flying shoulderblock takes him down and out. Okay, we’re going nowhere

here. Test of strength gives Hawk and Sid plenty of time to plan spots.

Hawk pushes him to the corner and monkey flips him. WHOA, A WRESTLING

MOVE! Sid no-sells. Animal dominates Spivey, but Hawk tags in and gets

caught in the corner. Sid wipes out Hawk with a clothesline and a

helicopter slam. Sidewalk slam by Spivey for two. Spivey no-sells a

clothesline and baseball slides Hawk. Double-whip clothesline on Hawk

that looks terrible. Sid scowls a lot. Spivey puts his head down but

it doesn’t matter because he no-sells the kick to the head. He no-sells

a suplex and tags Sid back in. I’m surprised someone didn’t shoot on

these punks. Hot tag to Animal, not seen of course. Avalanche by

Spivey, but he eats boot on the second one. Real hot tag to Animal, who

dropkicks Spivey and shoulderblocks him, then gets into a melee with

Sid. Pier-six erupts. Powerslam on Sid but Teddy Long tosses in the

GOLD KEY OF DEATH! for the weak DQ. Don’t even ask about the key, I

don’t even remember what it was for. 1/2*

– Thundercage match: Terry Funk & Great Muta v. Ric Flair & Sting.

Bruno Sammartino is the guest ref. This was a true Thundercage, as the

cage is electrified on top and the only way to win is by having your

second throw in the towel. Gary Hart represents the heels, Ole Anderson

represents the faces. The cage is a Hell in the Cell type deal,

covering all of ringside and going about 30 feet in the air. No roof,

but the top is slanted inwards and electrified to prevent escape. It

starts out as a regular tag match that happens to be inside a cage.

Flair and Funk start, and Flair dumps Funk over the top rope, just

because he can. Sting gets in and follows suit. Flair nearly takes the

skin off Funk’s chest with a chop. OUUUUUUUUCH! Muta gets some too.

Sting ranks on Muta. Flair in with the rapid-fire punches to the head

and a nasty atomic drop. Then it finally turns into a psychotic brawl.

Flair and Funk ram each other into the cage while Sting and Muta try

some wrestling. Sting with the flying head-smash on both heels. They

try some more wrestling then everyone starts climbing the cage. Funk is

hanging off the top and Flair starts chopping away on him. What a dick.

They switch off as Sting beats on Funk and Flair figure-fours Muta in

the ring. Flair gets distracted by Funk and Muta gives him an enzuigiri

while Flair is on the second rope. Vicious kick, too. Funk ties Sting

up on the cage as Muta applies the bridged deathlock to Flair. Stuff

piledriver on Flair. Sting is still having problems getting free. He

gets loose and dives off the cage onto Funk. Whoa. More brawling and

Muta goes for the moonsault but gets crotched by Sting. Flair gets the

figure-four on Funk and Sting dives off with splashes to add to the

move. Brutal. Gary Hart gets into a fight with Ole Anderson as Bruno

decks Muta. Ole nails Hart and the towel goes flying, which Bruno sees,

and stops the match. Some brutal spots but pretty disappointing

overall. **1/2

The Bottom Line: I liked this show, but not as much as the incredible

WrestleWar/Bash double-shot that came before it. Still, some good stuff

wraps up a good year for the NWA, if we assume that Starrcade 89 didn’t

happen. 😉

Mildly recommended.