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   November 23, 2014



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Happy Halloween Havoc!
By BLAINE VAN DER GRIEND - SLAM! Wrestling


Happy Halloween! It wasn't always such a happy time of year though, for the stars of WCW between 1989 and 2000. But it was surely always fun.

Halloween has always been recognized as the scariest day of the year. And WCW took full advantage of that with its October pay per view, Halloween Havoc. There were graveyards, vampires, mummies, giants and just about every monster from in the closet or under the bed; you name it, they had it.

Halloween Havoc might have also been the event that brought out the darker side of Sting. Before the Stinger ever descended from the rafters with the use of a cable, he was swinging from a rope like Tarzan in the main event of the very first Halloween Havoc.

That year, Sting teamed with long-time rival Ric Flair against the team of Terry Funk and The Great Muta. As odd as both of those combinations seemed, it wasn't nearly as odd as the fact that four highly-skilled grapplers were locked inside what looked like a gorilla cage.

The rule book was certainly thrown out the window that night, but that didn't prevent any of the four combatants from utilizing the traditional wrestling holds that they became famous for.


Despite the fact that the event was always heavy on the gimmicks, the wrestling never really left the building. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio proved that point in their 1997 bout, as did Ricky Steamboat and Brian Pillman in '92.

"People still talk about the bout we had in WCW at Halloween Havoc," Eddie Guerrero told Simon Rothstein of The Sun (UK) in 2005. In the WWE book, My Favorite Match, that was the choice of Rey Mysterio.

However, wrestling seemed to be a foreign term in the opening match of the '91 Halloween Havoc; it was a brawl. While butcher knives may be used to carve scary images into pumpkins, it's no secret that Abdullah the Butcher's utensil of choice was a fork. But there was too much metal as it was in the now infamous Chamber of Horrors match. And if the cage itself wasn't bad enough, there was also an electric chair inside of it, which more than likely brings back some eerie memories for Abdullah; then again, he might just consider himself lucky that he can remember it at all.

"I thought it was great. Somebody else was actually supposed to do it and turned it down, so I stepped up and said I'd do it. They had the electric chair set up and I had somebody in it and we were supposed to make the switch, and then Cactus Jack flipped the switch," Abdullah said. "People actually thought it was real. I had people from Japan calling me to ask if I'm okay. It was great."

Abdullah sure was fortunate to have survived that electrocution. But perhaps not as fortunate as The Giant, who got knocked off the roof of Cobo Hall at Halloween Havoc 95, and then seemingly returned from the dead without a scratch on him, for his World Championship match that same night against Hulk Hogan. Not only did Paul Wight survive that ordeal and live to tell about it, but he also went on to become one of the top stars in the WWE as The Big Show.

He told journalist Brian Fritz how he survived the fall in 2010:"I fell off of Cobo Hall onto some kind of crazy, airbag suspension thing. If you want to know the truth. The fictitious answer would be I fell into the river there and crawled out. So there you go."

But the shocking moments of the '95 Halloween Havoc didn't even end there, as fans then witnessed the entrance of the gigantic, mummified Yeti.

By the end of 1996, Sting had morphed into the 'Crow' character; a gimmick that he has portrayed since then. The Crow was a very popular movie in the mid '90s, originally starring Bruce Lee's son Brandon. So naturally, WCW made an attempt to capitalize on that success, and may have even surpassed it. In fact, there were multiple Sting impersonators at the '97 Halloween Havoc.

The last five Halloween Havoc events took place in Las Vegas, and while some might say it's appropriate for an event of this nature to happen in Sin City, a point can certainly be made that those last few events were not nearly as memorable as the early years.


WCW also introduced a concept at Halloween Havoc, known as Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal. Basically, there was a roulette wheel with a number of different gimmick matches on it. One of the match participants would spin the wheel, and whatever gimmick match it landed on would be the kind of match that would be had. Oddly enough, these matches happened outside of Vegas.

This concept was only around for two years in WCW, and only four men participated in these matches. But there was certainly a lot of excitement, as well as shocking brutality that occurred in both matches. The first Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal match in '92 was between Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Sting in a Coal Miner's Glove match, where a loaded glove was hanging at the end of a pole, and the first man to grab got to use it on his opponent. Fans were stunned by the fact that Jake Roberts' own snake sunk its teeth into Roberts' face. The following year, it was Cactus Jack and Vader in a Texas Death match. They brawled all over the arena, and actually fell inside one of the gimmicked graves in the entranceway.

Whether loved or hated, Halloween Havoc remains one of the most talked about pay per view concepts of all time. Everyone loves a good scare once in a while, and this event certainly gave them that. But the event also provided great wrestling, crazy gimmicks and plenty of other memories to last a lifetime.

RELATED LINK

  • October 31, 2006: Havoc and other Halloween memories

    Blaine van der Griend wishes everyone a safe and Happy Halloween...