Retro Rasslin – WCW Halloween Havoc (1999)
We spun the wheel (well, JC blurted out the suggestion a few podcasts ago), and today’s Retro Rasslin takes us to 1999 WCW, specifically to one of the company’s major pay-per-views, Halloween Havoc. The 1999 Halloween Havoc was significant as it was the first WCW pay-per-view after the removal of former WCW boss Eric Bischoff from power, and the first under the regime of head writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera.
It was a mess that was going to get messier, but a challenge is a challenge.
Opening package focuses on two feuds – Goldberg vs Sid Vicious, and Hulk Hogan vs Sting. We get a lot of Sid in a suit, which is just kind of weird to me, as Sid’s always been a sweaty shirtless guy in a vest. Like, forever. We also get a shot of Goldberg hitting the spear on Sid, and an extended pause on Sid’s face as he eats the spear:
On the Sting/Hogan side, Hogan’s back to being red & yellow Hogan and not nWo Hogan, while Sting is black & white but not nWo Sting and Sting is apparently just hitting Hogan with his baseball bat on random occasions. So Sting’s the heel? Maybe? I don’t remember this at all. Oh boy.
WE ARE NOT REALLY LIVE BUT WE WERE THEN IN LAS VEGAS NEVADA at the MGM Grand where we’ve got a giant inflatable pumpkin being overseen by a smoke breathing gargoyle that when it moves it looks like the gargoyle’s gnawing away at it, so there’s that. I mean honestly, the set looks pretty cool – WCW in those days put a lot of effort into the “themes” of the pay-per-views.
Your announcers are Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan, with Mike Tenay around somewhere to come out when someone needs to know luchador backstory. Schiavone starts us off by telling us that Rey Mysterio is injured, and since Rey is part of the tag champs with Konnan, they’ve been stripped of the tag titles, with the titles to be put on the line between Konnan & a new partner (fellow Filthy Animal Billy Kidman), the First Family, and Harlem Heat, with the match being a falls count anywhere match. That won’t be confusing.
MATCH 1: DISCO FEVER (YEAH YEAH YEAH) [champion] vs LASH LEROUX [challenger]
Lash LeRoux was a guy out of the WCW Power Plant training school whose gimmick was that he had sideburns that kind of went in an “L” shape. Also, cajun. Disco Inferno was the cruiserweight champion, and that pretty much tells you how the booking was going in WCW at this point. You had some of the greatest cruiserweights in the world, including half the top luchadors, yet you put the title on a 235 pound dancing gimmick. But this was WCW at the time – the luchadors weren’t seen as marketable (so they pulled the masks off of most of them), but a guy like Disco had a gimmick, and by gum we will keep pushing him! A blah match, with Disco getting the win after hitting his Stunner finisher. Post-match, LeRoux attacks Disco and lays him out, keeping him strong, I guess?
WE TAKE YOU TO EARLIER TODAY where Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit are heading to the arena, only to be stopped by Perry Saturn, who wants to know why they’re not calling him and Shane (Douglas) back. Deano and Benoit want nothing to do with them, so it looks like this “former ECW guys” alliance is over.
Backstage, Mike Tenay interviews Harlem Heat, who just lost the tag titles on Nitro, but have an opportunity to win them back tonight. Typical Harlem Heat interview, though no one dropped the N-bomb, so that’s a positive.
MATCH 2: BOOKER T & BOOKER T’S BROTHER vs LAUGHING PUN & BLOND NASTY BOY vs CONE-EGG & MR. TORRIE WILSON
The Filthy Animals, despite Tony Schiavone telling everyone that the titles have been stripped from them due to Rey’s injury, still have the belts, with Kidman also carrying around a video camera because reasons. Kidman drops off the very important camcorder at the announcers table, and we’ve already got PLUNDAH in the ring, as trash cans and chairs are being used because not only is this “falls count anywhere” but it’s also “street fight rules”. Basic hardcore match, with lots of trash can violence. Harlem Heat ends up with Brian Knobbs in the backstage area, while the Filthy Animals have Morris in the ring. Heat slams a mannequin on top of Knobbs before a pinfall to get the win for Harlem Heat, and as they’re walking back to the ring, the Animals pin Morris. So there’s confusion as to who pinned who first, but it’s determined that Harlem Heat are your champions, again. Konnan’s selling an injury on the outside, and Bobby Heenan’s claiming it’s a dislocated shoulder. [Note: Konnan and Kidman would end up beating Harlem Heat for the titles the following night on Nitro, so if you’re keeping score at home, that’s four different champs (if you count the vacancy) in a week’s time for the world tag champs. This would be a common theme of WCW.]
Cut to ringside where we have Diamond Dallas Page’s [generic theme that doesn’t sound too much like Nirvana] music, and it’s Page and Kimberly coming down to ringside to build up DDP’s match against Ric Flair later in the show. Yes, we’re cutting in-ring promos to build the matches later on in the show, so apparently this is just a Nitro you paid $40 to watch. Kimberly starts off on the mic (yikes), and tells us that while Ric Flair might have spanked her 14 times, it did nothing, and that when Page spanks her, it’s a much different situation. OH HI VINCE RUSSO.
DDP brings up the spanking, then pulls out a strap, so Page/Flair tonight is going to be a strap match. Did this not get pushed earlier? There’s another WCW issue – a stipulation that might be a selling point is only announced during the show after it’s already been bought.
Goldberg is here and he wants to know where Sid is and someone tells him and he leaves. Good of Goldberg to show up now for a PPV that has already started, asking if another worker who is on the card was there yet. This would never have happened in Bill Watts’ WCW.
Backstage again with the Filthy Animals, and Mike Tenay is grilling Eddie Guerrero on the sweet sweet watch that he’s sporting that looks a lot like Ric Flair’s watch. Eddie wants to hear none of it, and refuses to give an update to Tenay about Konnan, who’s still selling the shoulder injury. Torrie Wilson is here on the arm of Billy Kidman to remind us that Billy Kidman is totally cool and totally not that guy who was in Raven’s Flock who had the fleas or whatever his deal was. Remember kids – take a shower and wash your hair and you too can get a girl like Torrie Wilson. It worked for Alex Rodriguez (for a time.)
MATCH 3: STRANGELY NORMAL PERRY SATURN vs EDDIE GUERRERO, LEGITIMATE ROLEX OWNER
Eddie brings the watch over to Bobby Heenan because he doesn’t trust Schiavone with it, and to be fair – I probably wouldn’t have either. The two start off slow, and for the majority of the match have a slow, mat-based match, with Saturn trying to work a submission style and Eddie countering. Crowd seemed dead for most of it until near the end, when the two started to exchange rope spots for a few near falls. After Eddie hits a superplex for a near fall, we get Ric Flair trotting down to ringside in a shirt and tie (and pants, I forget I need to stress this sometimes), with crowbar (not Devon Storm) in hand. Ric casually slides into the ring and hits Eddie with the crowbar, earning Eddie the DQ victory. After a second crowbar shot, Kidman runs down to help out Guerrero, and he takes a crowbar shot for his troubles as well. Torrie Wilson, not far behind, then enters the ring (Tony: “What in the world is she going to accomplish?”) and covers up Kidman, so Flair pulls her off and threatens using the crowbar on her. Then, since Flair is Flair, he takes out his gum and begins to do FLAIR SEDUCTION DANCE around Torrie, ending in a forced kiss, which Torrie likes(?), then leaves. Torrie tends to the fallen Kidman, still smiling (because sure, why not?), then Flair returns, goes to grab his watch from Heenan (Heenan: “Here Ric – I’ve been holding this for you”), and we get a replay of Flair’s future harassment suit from a different angle, where Torrie can’t stop from corpsing knowing what Flair’s going to do to her. She’s lucky she’s pretty.
WAIT A MINUTE FANS LETS GO TO THE BACK as there’s a brawl apparently next to this pool of blood and Goldberg is hammering some poor shlub asking “IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT” over and over and as security finally pulls him away, we learn that it’s Sid, who’s busted open, asking “IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT”. We’ve got a bar fight atmosphere and I’m not really against that. I mean, it’s funny if you know how Sid really does in bar fights, but for 99% of the audience, it works.
Hey it’s BUFF BAGWELL coming down to ringside and he’s going to do a promo and apparently he hates the “two new writers from up north” so we’re workshooting, but he also hates Jeff Jarrett who hit him with a guitar well, that’s a legit beef. Bagwell rips on on Jarrett’s “stroke” catchphrase, saying he’s got so much stroke, he wasn’t booked for tonight, but he just showed up anyway and cut a promo because he can. We’re through the looking glass, people. Bagwell yells for Heenan to start Jarrett’s music to get him down to ringside, but Jarrett’s already on his way with the guitar, and the two start to brawl. They go back and forth, and Lex Luger comes to ringside because he’s apparently feuding with Jarrett as well, goes to hit Jarrett with the guitar, but hits Bagwell instead, with the guitar not breaking (ow). Luger then breaks the guitar on a turnbuckle because damn it, these things are supposed to break, then finally follows Jarrett backstage because Jarrett already got the F out of Dodge. Bagwell’s still down in the ring, and Heenan brings up Bagwell’s past neck issues (good bit of continuity, Brain!)
BACKSTAGE AGAIN and Mike Tenay is introducing us to Surgery Theater as Sid gets stitches but as soon as the camera’s on him Sid gets pissed off and yells, scattering everyone and I guess leaving thread dangling from his head so there’s that.
IN A STAIRCASE FOR SOME REASON Eddie Guerrero calls Rey Mysterio on his cell phone and tells him to get here because he’s hurt. Rey’s hurt too, but whatever, man.
BACK TO RINGSIDE and that music can mean only one thing…
MATCH 4: AMERICAN FLAG SWEATSHIRT BRAD ARMSTRONG MERICA vs BERLYN (w/WALL)
A little backstory for this one. Alex Wright had been doing his thing with WCW for a while, and had gotten out of a run as a comedy tag with Disco Inferno. Then, he disappears for six months. When he comes back, he’s got facial hair, his head is mostly shaved, and he’s got a bodyguard. He’s a combination of a skinhead and Dieter from Sprockets. He’s doing a full anti-American angle, and he’s winning every week on Nitro. He’s going over Rick Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Norman Smiley, Jim Duggan – it’s a pretty nice push. His next target is Brad Armstrong, who is on the card solely to make Berlyn look good because Brad can work, and they’ve got nothing really for him – Brad is about six years or so from his last push, but he’s making a good living for himself making others look good. I can go on and on about Brad, but now’s not the time. Berlyn dominates the match, with Brad getting in the occasional counter, but no real offense. Berlyn, near the ropes, goes to perform his neckbreaker finisher, but Armstrong grabs the ropes on the way down, protecting himself from the move. Brad covers… and gets a three count?
A four and a half minute squash, but Brad gets the win, ending Berlyn’s undefeated streak. It does nothing to elevate Armstrong, who the Wall just starts attacking right after the pinfall. Nothing about this match made sense. Berlyn would end up feuding with Vampiro and the Misfits a little later on, then the Wall would turn on him for his own push, but yeah – it’s almost like someone made a call midway through this match to end the push. Still bizarre now.
Backstage to Mike Tenay, who has Flair. Flair cuts a Flair promo.
MATCH 5: [NAME REDACTED] (TV Champion) vs WOOF WOOF WOOF FACE
If this match took place maybe 5 years prior, this would have been a hell of a stiff battle. Instead, you had Chris Benoit working with a stiff in Rick Steiner, who was just kind of mailing it in at this point. Ref bump near the end, which sees a chair get involved and Benoit going to the top to deliver a top rope headbutt (and we all cringe watching) and Steiner just kind of throws the chair off of him, catching Benoit. Dean Malenko runs out, grabs the chair, and clocks Benoit with it, giving Rick Steiner the TV title. Malenko walks back and hugs Perry Saturn, so the “ECW Guys” stable is still together, apparently – just without Benoit.
Back to Tenay, this time with Bret Hart, who says words.
MATCH 6: THE TOTAL PACKAGE (w/Elizabeth) vs THE BEST THERE IS THE BEST THERE WAS ETC.
This was during Luger’s “Total Package” gimmick where they didn’t announce him as Luger, but just “The Total Package” and he had a logo and look like he was trying to sell workout gear. Liz looks lovely next to him but she’s doomed and I just feel sad now. Bret comes to ringside wearing a Calgary Hitmen jersey and they show a fan at ringside holding up an “OWEN — 99” Hitmen jersey and now I’m even sadder. Before the match starts we flash back to JUST EARLIER THIS WEEK when Lex interferes in a Sting/Hart match and hits Hart in the ankle with a baseball bat. Hart dominates the match, giving Luger very little offense before a hiptoss spot that knocks both wrestlers outside of the ring. Hart comes up limping badly, which allows Luger to gain the upper hand. Luger takes him down, applies a single leg Boston Crab, and gets Hart to tap out because reasons. That… was something.
Back to Tenay, who has Goldberg, who points out the puddle of blood (really, that’s unsanitary) and tells Mike that he “gets paid to kick peoples’ ass”, which I guess is accurate. He’s going to rip Sid’s head off (which he doesn’t get paid for, but oh well).
Back to ringside where it’s now MEDUSA in a bikini carrying WCW Nitro cologne, which Bobby Heenan is ripping apart, saying it smells like liquid kitty litter. Medusa struts over to the announce table, references Russo and Ferrera without mentioning their name (more “up north” references), and yells out “bullshit” (no really, on the mic – it’s gonzo TV!) and throws the Nitro cologne all over Heenan, who reacts like he’s been sprayed with urine. Schiavone enjoys this. He’s the only one.
Package to build up Sting v. Hogan. Hogan’s in red & yellow, so he’s good I guess, and Sting attacked him with a bat and is apparently friends with Lex Luger, who’s bad, so he’s bad. Package ends and we go live to a crowd shot of a little kid wearing a Sting mask.
I’m so confused.
MATCH 7: HULK HOGAN’S THEME MUSIC vs… um…
Hogan’s cheesy red & yellow theme plays (“American Made”) but no Hogan. We get shots of every single fan in the audience with Hogan signs or gear but still no Hogan. You never realize how bad and repetitive wrestling themes are until you have to listen to them for more than 30 seconds. Finally, the theme stops and Sting’s music hits
MATCH 7: DARK AND BROODING STING vs HES AMERICAN MAAAAAADE
Man I hate this theme song. Sting shows up and he’s ready to go, and they go back to Hogan’s music, introducing him again. Still nothing. Schiavone mentions possible travel issues, while Heenan chalks it up to wanting to be introduced second, which kinda sounds like a Hogan thing to do. Hogan finally comes out, but he’s not dressed to wrestle. Sleeveless work shirt, jeans, and boots – looks like he just came off his motorcycle. He comes into the ring, gets up in Sting’s face, talks to Sting, then proceeds to lay down in the ring. Sting covers, three count, and Sting wins. Hogan just gets up to walk out. Before we get much explanation, we cut to the Goldberg/Sid package. Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhh.
MATCH 8: SID VICIOUS (US Champion, w/blood) vs GOLDBERG GOLDBERG GOLDBERG (w/pyro)
Sid’s still got the blood in his hair, so no showers once you get stitches, apparently. Goldberg was led to the ramp by Las Vegas cops, which is funny to me since he was the one who jumped Vicious earlier, but whatever. Goldberg comes down the ramp and is ATTACKED by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, and I guess that’s why he needed the cops. They run off and Sid starts the attack and the bell rings to start the action. Brawling outside for longer than ten seconds, then Sid manages to get Goldberg back in the ring, but not before getting re-busted open. This is a punch and kick-fest, mainly building to see how far Sid can get on the Muta Scale. By the time Sid hits about an 8.5, the ref stops the match and awards it (and the belt) to Goldberg. Sid’s pissed (as would be any wrestler from the 80s and previously) but it’s over. The oddest thing about the match is that Sid, who’s been the total heel up to this point, was treated like a total babyface, with the attack before hand, constantly kicking out of pins, and the screwjob finish, with Goldberg attacking the cut and going for the blood and acting in a heelish way, but it didn’t really work – the crowd still popped for Goldberg (probably more than before). They tried to pull an Austin/Hart double-turn like in Wrestlemania, but it didn’t work.
Build to the Flair/DDP strap match, as we flashback to Nitro where Kimberly met Ric Flair in a hotel room and we cut back to ringside because, well, we got to see Kimberly nearly busting out of her top and that’s all anyone cared about I guess. BUT WAIT THATS STINGS MUSIC. Sting didn’t come here for a night off, and wants a match later tonight. OK. But not now. I mean, I guess courtesy means going to the back of the line after the other matches have finished. Sting can be dark and brooding, but damn it, he’s polite.
MATCH 9: GOOD GAWD SELF HIGH FIVE (w/Nipples McGee) vs WOOO RIC WOO WOO WOOOOOO FL WOOO AIR
Tony lets us know that despite this being a strap match (which we didn’t know going into tonight), it will NOT be fought under strap match rules, which usually requires the opponent to touch all four corners. Instead, it’s a regular pin/submission match, just, you know, with a strap. As strap matches go, it was fine, I guess. Basically a brawl, with Flair getting color because, well, Ric Flair. Finish comes when DDP wraps the strap around Flair’s neck, then gives him the slowest Diamond Cutter imaginable without really using the strap, and getting the almost three count, as ref Charles “Lil’ Naich” Robinson stops just short of the three count, but signals for the bell anyway, which pisses off DDP and Robinson eats a Diamond Cutter for his troubles. Announce team still sells it as a pinfall, and DDP continues to attack Flair, causing David Flair to run out with a crowbar (again, not Devon Storm), but Kimberly stops him, hits him with a low blow, then Page comes out and destroys him, rolling him back in the ring to give him a Diamond Cutter, then takes the crowbar to Ric’s crotch. EMTs rush in, not to tend to Ric’s destroyed manhood, but to take care of his neck, wrapping a neck brace around him before doing a stretcher job. So that’s done.
BUT WAIT NO ITS NOT as we do the extended roll of Ric Flair on the stretcher to the ambulance, the Filthy Animals jump the EMTs and attack both Flairs, eventually taking Ric off the stretcher and throwing him into the ambulance, then getting in the ambulance and driving away. Well, maybe they’re taking him to the hospital. Tony and Heenan ponder if the Animals are going to throw Flair out in the middle of the highway or throw him off the Hoover Dam.
Sting’s back, looking for his opponent. He’s set his open challenge, and now he’s just waiting for someone to accept. Tony suggests Sid Vicious, saying he could stitch himself up and come out, sealing his face push. It gets awkward for a minute or so as Sting paces until finally the production truck hits Goldberg’s music, and we all realize what’s going to happen.
MATCH 10: DARK AND BROODING STING (World Champion) vs GOLDBERG GOLDBERG GOLDBERG (w/o pyro or US Championship belt)
Somehow, Goldberg is soaking wet, yet still has Sid’s blood on him, so ew.
Tony tells us that apparently the World title is NOT on the line, so we know this at home (if we were paying attention, and I had to play it back to catch it), but no one in the audience has any idea, since there was no ring announcement. So hold on a second.
MATCH 10: DARK AND BROODING STING
(World Champion) vs GOLDBERG GOLDBERG GOLDBERG (w/o pyro or US Championship belt)
Sting goes out of the ring and lets the camera (and us) know that he’s not stalling – there’s no ref. Tony and Heenan joke that maybe Charles Robinson can come down to ringside, since he took a Diamond Cutter from DDP earlier, then was beat up by the Filthy Animals when they attacked Flair in the back.
NATURALLY, CHARLES ROBINSON RUNS TO RINGSIDE.
We’re finally underway, and Goldberg gets the upper hand to start (naturally), and controls most of the offense. They go to the outside, where Sting ducks a clothesline into the post, allowing Sting to mount a little offense. Getting Goldberg back in the ring, Sting comes off the top with a splash for a two count. Then, Sting hits a spear on Goldberg, which Goldberg sells the impact, then immediately gets up and does a spin kick on Sting, and just looks offended that Sting would dare to use his move. Goldberg then misses a charge into the corner, and Sting hits not one not two but three Stinger Splashes in the corner, which causes Goldberg to drop to one knee. Sting sends him into the ropes, Goldberg ducks a clothesline, leap frogs, then SPEAR JACKHAMMER THREE COUNT.
Charles Robinson grabs the World Title belt, then the ring announcer (who shows up now, I guess) announces the winner and NEW CHAMPION… oh FFS.
MATCH 10: DARK AND BROODING STING
(World Champion) (World Champion) vs GOLDBERG GOLDBERG GOLDBERG (w/o pyro or US Championship belt)
Goldberg makes the Goldberg faces and leaves the ring with the Big Gold Belt, while Sting sells the impact of the Jackhammer before eventually asking Charles Robinson what happened. Robinson does a wonderful Jackhammer pantomime before adding “he got you, man”. So of course, Sting grabs him and gives him the Scorpion Death Drop and leaves.