Today we are heading back to 1996 because, not unlike in 2016, this week played host to All Hallows’ Eve and a wrestling pay per view. In today’s bonus edition of The Way We Was we take a look at the best name ever given to a wrestling PPV held in October; it’s Halloween Havoc ’96.
Heading into the event, held at The MGM Grand Garden Arena, the focus was on the main event pitting WCW/nWo Champion Hollywood Hogan against Macho Man Randy Savage. Indeed, so much focus was heaped on this age-old rivalry that it slipped announcers minds to push the fact that Halloween Havoc featured another three WCW vs. nWo matches, one of which was a title match; The Outsiders vs. Harlem Heat for the Tag Titles, The Giant vs. Jeff Jarrett and Syxx vs. Chris Jericho. Granted this fact was pushed during the show itself, but what seemed like a big selling point – bear in mind I have been following Nitro – only dawned on me during the first of these four bouts. In other big matches, former Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko received his rematch against Rey Mysterio Jr. and Arn Anderson faced Lex Luger in a grudge match stemming from The Total Package doing the job for Team WCW in the WarGames match at Fall Brawl last month.
So, what was the big news to come out of Halloween Havoc? Nothing concerning anything discussed above because over-shadowing all of that was the WCW debut of Rowdy Roddy Piper. According to reports, the show closing angle where Piper confronted Hogan was very well received at the time. Granted I may be swayed by the benefit of hindsight, but I thought it was terrible. Having held onto his title with a little help from The Giant, Hogan started cutting his usual promo about being better than Macho Man and generally boasting about being the reason why wrestling is what it is. Cue some out of tune bagpipes and an awkwardly long period of time before Piper actually made his entrance. The pop Roddy received was decent, but it could have been bigger had he come out on cue. I actually popped more for Hogan’s over the top reaction to Piper’s appearance; it was both cringeworthy and awesome at the same time. Wearing a No Fear t-shirt, Piper showed no fear by entering a ring occupied by a stunned Hogan and The Giant. Straight off the bat Piper stated that he was not representing WCW or the nWo. He actually messed up and said “NWA” but he made it work. Aside from repeatedly calling The Giant “Sprout”, Piper took exception to Hogan’s recent claims that wrestling wouldn’t be what it is today without him. Stepping on Piper’s point, Hogan admitted that he and Roddy ran neck and neck back in the day before Piper claimed that he is just as big an icon and movie star as Hogan. Much as I like Piper, and much as I hate Hogan, that statement and Hogan’s apparent agreement to it was ridiculous. Piper was an integral part of wrestling in the 1980s and just as big a part of the inaugural Wrestlemania as Hogan, but to say that he’s on the same level as the most recognisable wrestler in the world – and probably still to this day – was just a ridiculous statement to make. Thereafter both Piper and Hogan seemed to verbally meander between references to Mr. T and The War To Settle The Score. Piper did make the interesting point that Hogan has never beaten him before the PPV ended while he was still speaking. So Piper is in WCW, but isn’t representing WCW, and appears to have called out the nWo’s Hulk Hogan to finish the feud they started while in the WWF. Welcome to WCW folks!
In Other News From Halloween Havoc –
- As mentioned, Hogan retained his title against Macho Man prior to the Piper segment. After a ref bump and some shenanigans, Savage actually had Hogan beat, but substitute referee Nick Patrick had a neck spasm just as his hand was coming down to count three – what are the chances?! Subsequently The Giant nailed Savage with a chokeslam behind Patrick’s back to allow Hogan the cheap pinfall, which Patrick had no trouble counting this time. Humorously, The Giant ‘revived’ Hogan after the bell with a bucket of ice… most of which he spilled when he bumped it off the ring apron
- Oh, I almost forgot; Hogan’s hair! Yes, he was wearing the wig he wore during filming for his newest movie. Predictably Savage removed it from him in comical fashion
- As if this match wasn’t ridiculous enough, Savage entered the arena alongside monster truck which was dressed like him
- Nick Patrick was up to his tricks in Syxx’s match with Chris Jericho too. At one point Bobby Heenan on commentary counted Syxx’s shoulders down for a count of six, but Patrick only made it to two. Syxx won the match after a very fast three count from the dodgy ref. Weirdly, Heenan defended Patrick after the match
- Ric Flair caused the cheap DQ in Jeff Jarrett’s match against The Giant. Afterwards there was stand-off between Flair, Jarrett and members of The Dungeon of Doom, who were sat at ringside
- Dean Malenko regained the Cruiserweight Title in the match of the night against Rey Mysterio. At eighteen minutes long and with the crowd fully invested this bout is essential viewing
- It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Mysterio; he did get his mask back during the match. Malenko had stolen one his masks on WCW Saturday Night a few weeks ago, but Rey nabbed it after executing a picture perfect plancha to the floor
- The Outsiders captured the Tag Titles from Harlem Heat after Kevin Nash used Colonel Parker’s cane to smack Stevie Ray
- An aggressive and motivated Lex Luger made Arn Anderson submit to the Torture Rack. Luger’s former stable mates, The Dungeon of Doom, applauded from ringside as The Total Package refused to release the hold after the bell. Ric Flair and Horsemen wannabe Jeff Jarrett came to check on Arn and would later accompany him to hospital. This angle made babyface Luger look like an absolute killer, I wonder if it’ll last?
- In what looked like an expertly executed plan, but was played off as opportunistic, Kevin Sullivan’s Dungeon of Doom battered Chris Benoit. Having seen their stable mate hospitalised by a former Dungeon member and their other allies accompany him to the hospital, Benoit and Steve McMichael should have thought twice before showing up for their match with The Faces of Fear while the rest of The Dungeon occupied front row seats. In fairness, The Horsemen duo did pick up the win, but the briefcase Mongo used to clobber Meng with also proved to be his downfall. Sullivan, Konnan and Big Bubba jumped the guardrail to attack The Horsemen contingent and KO’d Mongo with his briefcase. Benoit tried to fight back against the five Dungeon members, but finally succumbed. Sullivan then shouted at a hysterical Woman about being “the man”. This was uncomfortable to watch, and I have a feeling this angle is only going to get more uncomfortable
- Finally, someone said what needed to be said regarding the Macho Man/Liz/Hogan debacle; “which side is she on?” Finally, this angle is supposed to be confusing, I thought it was just me
- Diamond Dallas Page retained his precious ring against Eddie Guerrero in a very good match, albeit with an anticlimactic finish
Quote of the Night
“You see I am just as big an icon in this sport as you are. I am just as big a Hollywood movie star as you are”
Rowdy Roddy Piper to Hollywood Hogan
- Dean Malenko defeated Rey Misterio, Jr. to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship
- Diamond Dallas Page defeated Eddie Guerrero
- The Giant defeated Jeff Jarrett by disqualification
- Syxx defeated Chris Jericho
- Lex Luger defeated Arn Anderson
- Steve McMichael and Chris Benoit (w/ Woman and Debra McMichael) defeated The Faces of Fear
- The Outsiders defeated Harlem Heat (w/ Sister Sherri and Col. Robert Parker) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship
- Hollywood Hogan defeated Randy Savage to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship
I’ve heard other people describe this as a very good wrestling show until it falls off a cliff when it gets to the main event. From a wrestling stand point, yes, that is correct. However, the main event is so ridiculous and filled with so many comedy spots, stalling tactics and distractions that it is still entertaining in its own way. The subsequent segment with Piper is, if nothing else, interesting from a historical point of view too. Putting that match and segment aside, almost everything else on this card exceeds expectations. Mysterio vs. Malenko is world class; Syxx vs. Jericho and DDP vs. Eddie are very good also; Arn Anderson made Lex Luger look amazing; The Dungeon of Doom angle was good and Booker T ensured that the Tag Title match also entertained. I guess Jeff Jarrett vs. The Giant was the only dud, but even that wasn’t too bad because the presence of Flair kept things interesting. If you’re looking for something random to watch on The WWE Network then you won’t go far wrong with Halloween Havoc ’96.
You can read all previous ‘The Way We Was’ pieces here.