The SmarK Rant for WCW Halloween Havoc 96 – 10.27.96
Oh my god, it’s bad enough that Google’s new logo is on their website, but now it’s plastered all over my phone as well. This may be the gross miscalculation that brings them down. STOP MESSING WITH MY SERIFS!
Live from Las Vegas, NV
Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty
WCW Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Dean Malenko
Dean quickly beats him down and goes for the Cloverleaf, but Rey escapes and Dean works the arm instead. Rey reverses him to the floor and follows with a splash, then steals his mask back and manages to switch back into it on camera. Back in, Rey rolls him up for two. Dean catches him with a sideslam out of the corner and goes to work on the knee. To the top with a backdrop superplex for two. Suplex gets two. Rey catches him with a small package for two, but Dean dropkicks the knee to put him down again. Dean goes to the back and a tilt a whirl backbreaker gets two, while Dusty gives us a 2 minute speech that boils down to “Rey is tired”. And bless his heart, Mike Tenay just calmly picks up where Dusty leaves off as though he had said something coherent. Dean goes to a sleeper now and holds Rey on the mat with it, then switches to a variety of holds to keep him grounded. Finally Rey fights out and they head to the top, where Rey ends up bumping to the floor. Rey tries a wacky jump to the railing and into a rana, but he slips and it just looks silly. Back in with a somersault senton and a rollup for two. They trade good near-falls and Rey winds up with the last one for two, before Dean just clotheslines him down again. Dean bails to the floor and Rey follows with a corkscrew plancha, and back in for the West Coast Pop for two. Another try is countered into a powerbomb for two. They go up again and Rey tries a rana, but Dean blocks him and hits a Doctorbomb off the top to finish and regain the title at 18:32. Bit sloppy at times but this is a hard match to screw up. ****
Meanwhile, Jeff Jarrett and Ric Flair promise that Giant isn’t going to chokeslam anyone tonight.
Diamond Dallas Page v. Eddie Guerrero
Eddie is all fired up and attacks to start, then slows it down with a headlock before booting Page to the floor. Dusty notes that DDP is “almost in the hully gully”. I’m assuming that’s bad? One would not want to be in the hully gully, then? Back in, Eddie dropkicks him for two while Tony complains about how long it takes Nick Patrick to make counts. The man has a NECK BRACE on! He’s a goddamn hero just for showing up to work! They brawl outside and Page sends Eddie into the SLIM JIM RING POST, at which point Tony declares that they’re padded and thus don’t hurt very much. Vince would be screaming in his ear at this point if this was the WWF. Back in, Page faceplants him and drops an elbow on the “midsection”, which Nick Patrick approves of by a hilarious pantomime routine where he points to his elbow and then pats his own midsection, making sure to absolve Page of any wrongdoing. Page with an abdominal stretch and gutwrench suplex for two. Page gets into a shoving match with Patrick, however, and loses, allowing Eddie to get two. Thankfully they make up with a handshake and the match continues. Eddie with a backslide for two and a sunset flip for two. They trade near-falls and Page hits a lariat as Eddie looks like he can barely move, suffering from a really bad fever in real life. Eddie slugs away in the corner, doing an amazing job of gutting it out, and then tosses Page and follows with a plancha, at which point he breaks a rib. What a shitty night for him. Back in, Page with a flapjack piledriver for two and poor Eddie is just on the verge of death. Rotation powerbomb gets two for DDP and Eddie can barely breathe out there. And finally Page just picks him up and finishes with the Diamond Cutter at 13:49 so they can get him to the hospital. Tony, ever the professional, notes that Eddie blocked the move, thus making DDP look even weaker. This was a pretty amazing performance from Eddie given the circumstances. I mean, he’s no Nick Patrick, but still a hell of a deal. ***1/4
Meanwhile, users on the “internet” can log onto “Compuserve” and listen to a “Real Audio” version of the show on their “Netscape” browser. I feel like that segment only needed a Fresh Prince cameo to be more dated.
The Giant v. Jeff Jarrett
Giant is now carrying around the US title he stole from Ric Flair, although that whole angle didn’t particularly go anywhere. In fact they’ve barely even mentioned it on Nitro. Jarrett runs away and struts a lot, but tries a headlock and gets thrown around as a result. Jarrett tries a sleeper, but Giant runs him into the corner and then casually swats him down to take over. Giant works the back and goes to a bearhug, but Jarrett gets a pair of dropkicks before a slam attempt backfires on him. Jarrett keeps fighting with a pair of axehandles and a flying bodypress for two, but he can’t get the figure-four. They hit the floor and Giant stupidly charges the ringpost and misses, but Ric Flair has had enough and hits in the nuts to draw the DQ at 9:45. Jarrett was a surprisingly good babyface drawing sympathy and heat for his comebacks up until the dumb finish. ***
Syxx v. Chris Jericho
They trade headlocks to start while the Dungeon of Doom watches at ringside, probably making Ray Traylor do nacho runs. Jericho controls with armdrags and goes up, but Syxx dropkicks him to the floor and into the railing. He follows with a dive that almost misses, then pounds away in the corner to take over. Syxx chokes away and works on the neck, but Jericho makes the comeback with the springboard dive as Dusty declares it a slobberknocker. JR would like a word, I’m sure. Back elbow off the top gets two. Syxx goes up and Jericho dropkicks him coming down for two. Lionsault gets an incredibly slow one count. Bodypress gets another slow two count as the crowd is really in on the gag now. And then Jericho argues and turns around into a spinkick that finishes for Syxx at 9:38, with a fast count of course. Not much to this one outside of Nick Patrick’s clown show. **
Lex Luger v. Arn Anderson
Luger’s pre-match promo with the bizarre metaphor about planting a GARDEN OF CACTUS has to be heard to be believed. Nearing the end for AA’s career now, and I’m saddened he’s going out wearing a denim vest to the ring. At least he doesn’t formally give it up until January or so. Arn attacks and stomps him down, but Luger throws him around with press slams and a powerslam to take over. He goes to work on the back as it’s not entirely clear who the heel is supposed to be. Lex works the back for a bit, but they hit the floor and Arn cheats to take over as Dusty tells a story that goes nowhere and ends with “bulla bulla”. That’s our Dusty! Back in and now it’s Arn who goes to work on the back with an abdominal stretch, but he goes for the DDT and Luger grabs the ropes to block and makes the comeback. The ref is bumped and Arn unsuccessfully wields a chair, and Luger catapults him in the ringpost. Well, as Tony noted, they’re padded anyway. Back in the ring, the poor condition of Mark Curtis after the ref bump raises an important point that no one has made: What about the effects of concussions on all those poor referees over the years? Obviously they’ve suffered brain damages from years of getting knocked unconscious by simple collisions and clotheslines, and there’s some kind of serious CTE thing here. I mean, if it takes you five minutes to recover from getting knocked down in the corner, then obviously you’re in need of a head examination at the very least. Why no justice for them? Luger finishes with the Rack at 12:50, and Arn gets taken out on a stretcher to explain the absence of the Horsemen later in the evening. Match was OK, my worries about the well-being of Mark Curtis aside. **
The Faces of Fear v. Steve McMichael & Chris Benoit
And Mark Curtis is the referee again! They didn’t give the poor guy a few minutes off or an IMPACT test or anything. I’m assuming, by the way, that an IMPACT test is where a concussed person has to watch Impact and if they can make sense of the booking, then clearly they are still suffering from a concussion. Barbarian pounds on Benoit in the corner after some posturing, but Benoit gives him a northern lights suplex for two. Again I ponder who the faces and heels are supposed to be here, which is doubly concerning because the team who are presumably the heels are called the FACES of Fear. Next up we get the epic Meng v. Mongo clash, as I wonder why were robbed off the greatest tag team of all time, MENGO. Mongo wins a sumo battle with a chop block, but Benoit comes in and gets POWERBOMBED. With mustard. The man could take a powerbomb, you have to hand it to him. He may have had some minor flaws as a humanitarian, but if you need someone to take a crazy bump on his head, Benoit’s the guy. Speaking of which, he goes to the top and Barbarian just HURLS him off with a superplex that swear to god nearly clears the entire diameter of the ring. FOF with a double headbutt for two, and then a Barbarian suplex into a Meng flying splash, but Mongo breaks it up and nails Meng with the briefcase. Benoit follows with the diving headbutt to finish at 9:20. Benoit just decided he was going to single-handedly get this over and he nearly succeeded. **1/2 Afterwards, Barbarian gives Mongo a receipt with the briefcase and the Dungeon proceeds to beating the Horsemen down, which leads to a confrontation between Kevin Sullivan and Woman, as he makes her watch while he beats up Benoit.
WCW World tag titles: Harlem Heat v. The Outsiders
The crowd alternates chants of “Razor” and “Diesel”, so I guess Vince’s fakes really are getting over! The Heat control Hall while fights in the stands distract the crowd, presumably between members of the WCW and WWF legal teams who happened to be attending the show in the same section and just couldn’t resist suing each other over who got the last hot dog. Finally they settle down after a lot of nothing in the ring, and Nash throws elbows in the corner on Stevie Ray. Stevie fires back and Booker comes in with an axe kick for two. Over to Hall with a bulldog on Stevie for two, but Booker comes in with a flying forearm for two. Finally a cheapshot from Nash turns the tide, and Hall gets a lariat for two off that. The big scary Outsiders are so clearly the babyfaces to the casual fanbase here. Snake Eyes on Booker, and Hall adds a chokeslam for two. Sherri gets involved and Hall distracts her with his machismo, allowing Booker to hit him with a spinkick. They trade sleepers and Hall drops him on the top rope to break, which as Dusty notes, “You’re nuts if you don’t think that hurts.” Nice. Hot tag Stevie and he presses Hall onto Nash and cleans house, and the Harlem Hangover on Hall follows, but Col. Parker comes in and loses the cane to Nash, which results in Hall pinning Stevie to win the titles to a gigantic babyface reaction at 13:13. Pretty good showing for the Heat, who had been struggling to break ** in the months leading up to this on Nitro. **3/4
WCW World title: Hollywood Hogan v. Randy Savage
Hogan is still wearing his wig from the Three Ninjas movie and he looks even more ridiculous than usual here, looking like Zack Ryder’s racist dad. Speaking of ridiculous, despite this being supposedly a blood feud based on Savage discovering long lost feelings for his ex-wife and wanting to kill Hogan, Savage is dressed like a human Slim Jim and brings a monster truck out as part of a cross-promotion with his beefy spicy masters. At this point we should have known the deal was going to go bad. Hogan does a whole lot of stalling to start, not even taking off his glasses and wig, and there’s basically no contact beyond punches and kicks until almost 10:00 in. Hogan takes control of his supposedly enraged opponent as they do comedy spots and Hogan clowns around on simple bumps, resulting in Macho stealing the wig and wearing it. So they brawl around on the floor and Hogan takes over again with a chairshot. This brings out Elizabeth, wearing what appears to be a duster for a dress, and Macho gets a rollup for two off that. Finally Hogan just has to escape this onslaught and goes to hide behind Liz. Hogan gets the big boot and Liz throws herself on Savage in terror, but Hogan misses the legdrop. Tony astutely notes that badmouthing a woman between the big boot and the legdrop may have been a tactical error on his part. Oh, and there’s a ref bump too. So now Nick Patrick heroically volunteers to continue on as the new ref while Savage drops the big elbow, but sadly his neck paralyzes him after the two count. What an oddly specific injury. And then we get a foreign object involved, as Savage steals one from Ted Dibiase and knocks Hogan out, but still no ref. Finally the Giant comes out and chokeslams Savage, and Hogan gets the pin to retain at 18:34 of hot buttered ass. -* Seriously, they had a ref bump, an evil ref, multiple interference, foreign objects and three managers and couldn’t even break DUD? And this wasn’t even the worst match they would have in WCW!
But wait, there’s more! Hogan proceeds to go on a rambling tirade, but he’s interrupted by Rowdy Roddy Piper, who was apparently signed to replace Randy Savage. Unfortunately they both rambled so long and aimlessly here that WCW ran out of PPV time in the middle of the segment and they just cut (with the directors in a panic trying to communicate time cues to them) without any point or payoff. Like really, having Piper come out at the end and stare down Hogan wouldn’t have been good enough?
A really good, entertaining show that was almost completely sunk by the main event, which quickly became standard operating procedure for WCW PPV. I’d still call it an easy thumbs up for the rest of the show, however.
Tags: 1996, Halloween Havoc, Hulk Hogan v. Randy Savage, Rowdy Roddy Piper, SmarK Rants, SmarK WWE Network Rant, The Outsiders v. Harlem Heat