Halloween Havoc 1989 – More Average Than Scary

Halloween Havoc 1989
Date: October 28, 1989
Location: Philadelphia Civic Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 7,300
Commentators: Jim Ross, Bob Caudle

Back for three more WCW shows, this time all from the earlier days, as in 1989 and 1990. This was a good year for the NWA but this show is more about furthering/ending already existing feuds. The main event is a tag team cage match with Sting/Flair vs. Funk/Muta which should be good. Other than that there isn’t much to mention so let’s get to it.

Mike Rotunda vs. Z-Man

There’s no intro and we’re immediately at the intros. This is the full version too as it’s from WWE 24/7. There’s music playing during the match for no apparent reason. Oh good it stopped. They fight for a headlock to start and Z-Man takes over quickly. He knocks Rotunda to the floor and the stalling begins. The fans are all over Rotunda for being from Syracuse. Remember that we’re in Philly here so they’re going to be crazy.

Rotunda gets back in and is immediately dropkicked back out. This time he cheats to take over which hardly ever fails. Now it’s Z-Man being sent to the floor but he gets a sunset flip for two coming back in. Mike hits the floor again and this is getting boring quickly. Z-Man works the arm and takes him down with an armdrag into the armbar. Jericho must have studied this match.

Z-Man hooks a chinlock but Rotunda sends him out to the floor and rams him into the barricade. Rotunda stalls back in as the fans keep up the Syracuse Sucks chant. A suplex brings Z-Man back in for a delayed two. There’s an abdominal stretch which is one of Rotunda’s signature moves, as is grabbing the ropes. Now it’s a chinlock by Rotunda but it doesn’t last long. Clothesline puts Z-Man down but he comes back with a dropkick. Z-Man sends him into the corner and Rotunda comes out with Christian’s spinning cross body which is rolled through for the pin for Z-Man.

Rating: C. Not a great match or anything but it was fine for an opener. The clipped version of this is down to like four minutes so you can really get an idea of what you were getting when you bought a home video from the NWA. Z-Man would hook up with I think Brian Pillman soon after this to become US Tag Champions and would also pick up the TV Title over the next year or so. Rotunda was repackaged as a sailor or something soon after this.

Bruno Sammartino, the guest referee for the main event, says this will be something difficult and unique.

Samoan Swat Team vs. Midnight Express/Steve Williams

The Samoans are Samu, Fatu (the Headshrinkers) and Samoan Savage, more famous as Tama. It spills to the floor before much contact is made and we get a staredown like West Side Story. Now they stare at each other in the ring. Ok so it’s Lane vs. Savage to start us off. Savage is the only Samoan not in white so that helps. He gets knocked to the floor where Bobby hits him and it’s ANOTHER staredown on the floor.

Off to Bobby who works on the arm. Here’s Samu and Bobby beats up the Headshrinkers. Guess what’s next? You guessed it: a six man staredown. Samu chops Lane down and we’re actually told how the Samoans are related: they’re brothers. That’s helpful as if you’re smart enough to be able to remember that family tree, you deserve an honorary degree from the university of your choice.

Dr. Death clears the ring and we reset things a bit. JR plugs Starrcade which was awful. It was a round robin tournament instead of a traditional show and it failed completely. Doc (Tor Death) runs over the Samoans and JR talks about football. Fatu comes in and it’s Bobby to work on his arm. Lane comes in and fires off his kicks but gets kicked down by Samu who is a lot more athletic than he looks.

Back to Williams who runs over more people then continues the chain of tags with one to Eaton. The Samoans come in and ram their heads into Eaton as this match is getting very long. They take him to the floor and crotch Bobby on the railing. Back in a sunset flip gets two for Bobby. Savage hooks a nerve hold and things slow down a lot. The Samoan manager, Oliver Humperdink, has some FREAKY eyes.

Bobby tries to ram some Samoan heads together and they’re like boy please. A headbutt puts Eaton down again as he’s in big trouble. Lane comes in without a tag which just makes more trouble for Eaton. Fatu hits a sideslam and it’s the nerve hold again. Eaton escapes and literally falls into the corner for the hot tag to Williams. Williams throws the Samoans around like Giant throws around cruiserweights. Everything breaks down and Lane puts I think Samu down with a superkick. Cornette gets up on the apron and Lane is rammed into him which allows Savage to steal the pin.

Rating: C+. It’s ok but did this really need 18 minutes? The Samoans were a pretty awful team at this point but as faces in the WWF they got way better. The Midnights would turn in about a month as they ended their annoying feud with the Dynamic Dudes and annoyed the Steiners for a few more months as well as winning the US Tag Titles.

Gary Hart says Terry Funk and Muta will be ready. They’re the J-Tex Corporation and whoever J is will be there tonight.

Tommy Rich vs. Cuban Assassin

Rich is allegedly on the comeback trail. JR basically says he’s nothing which makes me wonder why I’d want to watch this. Nothing to talk about so I check my e-mail to kill some time. Rich hooks the arm and the fans chant boring. Assassin comes back with jobber offense but misses an elbow so it’s back to the arm. We talk about how the cage tonight is electrified which is far more interesting than what’s going on in the ring.

Rich headbutts him which does nothing at all so Assassin high knees him to the floor where he stomps on the head. This is going nowhere. Remember that this is in Philadelphia so imagine how the fans are reacting here. Assassin goes up and gets crotched. Rich FINALLY ends this after about 8 hours with a Thesz Press.

Rating: F. I’m often asked what the worst kind of shows to watch are and this is a fine example of it: the boring kind. There was no reason for this match to exist, NO ONE was interested in it, and they weren’t even trying to do anything interesting. They were laying around for most of the 9 minutes or so that this was on and using as basic of an offense as possible. There’s no need for this and it cripples anything good the show had going for it.

The Freebirds say they’re great and that’s about it.

Tag Titles: Fabulous Freebirds vs. Dynamic Dudes

The Dudes are Johnny Ace (yes, THAT Johnny Ace) and Shane Douglas on skateboards. The Birds are champs but for some reason Hayes doesn’t have his belt with him. The Dudes have Cornette with them. This is Philadelphia, so of course the fans are confusing. The Dudes are the faces but the fans hate them while the Birds are the heels but worshiped for their showmanship.

It’s a long feeling out process to start with even more stalling as Hayes starts with Douglas. A bad neckbreaker puts Hayes down and Shane gets booed out of the building. Double tag brings in Johnny to face Garvin. Ace is huge so he’s kind of awkward at the fast paced style. Garvin takes over with an armbar and it’s off to Hayes vs. Shane again. The Dudes work over Hayes’ arm before clearing the ring via a double dropkick (not really as Ace’s missed by about 8 inches) but they were trying at least.

The Birds are cheered even more as Ace takes Hayes down at will. The fans cheer for the DDT, which is the finisher of both Birds. Ace sends Garvin to the floor again and the match comes to another halt. Ace tries a rollup but gets kicked off into a BIG right hand by Hayes with an even louder pop. Garvin kicks/knees Ace in the head to the floor and the fans erupt again. This is just strange.

Out on the floor Hayes clocks Ace and the Birds are in total control. Ace gets in some right hands to kill the crowd. Hayes hits a running clothesline in the corner and starts playing face for the crowd. The DDT doesn’t work and there’s the tag to Shane. A double knee sends Hayes out and the Dudes set for their finisher, which is a double team slingshot belly to back suplex. Hayes hooks the foot though so Garvin can fall on Ace for the pin.

Rating: D. You know how Ace is always made fun of for his in ring career? There’s a reason for that: he simply isn’t that good. I haven’t seen much of his Japanese stuff so I can’t comment on it, but if it’s at the same level as his American stuff, there’s nothing to see in it. The crowd here was really strange as Shane Douglas isn’t someone you often hear booed in Philly, but he certainly was here. Bad match too.

The Steiners say they don’t need strategy against the new team of Doom. Rick is still crazy at this point.

Steiner Brothers vs. Doom

Doom is still in masks here and the Steiners throw them to the floor very quickly. Woman brought in Doom to fight the Steiners because she turned all evil and devilish. Scott clotheslines I think Simmons down and drops a knee for two. Doom bails to the floor again as the Steiners keep control. Off to Rick who takes Simmons (I’m guessing on these guys by the way) with a chinlock. Ross summarizes Rick in one statement. Rick has a new bulldog tattoo on his arm. JR: “Why didn’t you get a wolverine tattoo Rick?” Rick: “Because I wanted a dog.”

Scott comes in with a middle rope clothesline for two. This has been totally one sided so far. Simmons gets in what we would call a Stunner and it’s off to Reed. Back to Rick who gets beaten down for a few seconds but a knee lift is enough to bring in Scott. A quick gordbuster gets two for Scott and it’s off to Simmons again. This is Doom’s debut by the way. Simmons charges at him so Scott snaps behind him and kills Simmons with a German that would make Kurt Angle jealous.

Reed pops Scott in the head to slow him down and a double ax puts Scott down. Doom double teams a lot with stuff like a double elbow. Off to a chinlock by let’s say Simmons. Rick has finally had enough and tries to come in but that just lets Doom throw Scott out. Back in a sunset flip gets two for the Big Bad Booty Daddy. Neckbreaker gets two for Reed and he’s getting frustrated.

Simmons comes back in with a powerslam for two. Scott’s beating continues and a spike piledriver gets two so it’s back to the chinlock by let’s say Reed. Scott fights up and gets an elbow to bring in Rick. House is cleared and Scott is back up almost immediately with a Frankensteiner to I think Simmons. Woman gets up on the apron and in the distraction, she loads up Reed’s mask with something. A headbutt with that is enough for the pin on Rick and the huge upset.

Rating: D+. A boring match, but Doom wasn’t anything good yet. They would get MUCH better over the next few months and would go on to beat the Steiners for the world tag team titles, which would go on to be the longest reign in the history of the titles. There’s your trivia for the day. Bad match though, which is an odd result when you look at it on paper.

Luger says this is a big match and he’ll win.

US Title: Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman

This is in the middle of Luger’s huge title reign while Pillman is the young fireball that no one can keep up with. They go to the corner to start and Lex looks irritated. Lex tries to keep things slow and throws Pillman to the floor. Brian comes back in with a slingshot clothesline and knocks Luger to the floor with a dropkick. Baseball slide takes Luger down and as they come back in, Air Pillman is teased but Lex heads to the floor.

Lex gets in some kicks to take over but Pillman comes off the top with a spinning cross body. Off to the arm and Pillman has a small advantage. Lex tries to power out of it but Brian takes him right back down with the armdrag. Luger is clearly getting frustrated here so he comes back with more power striking. Crucifix gets two for Pillman and it’s back to the arm. The idea of it isn’t to get a submission but rather to frustrate the champion which is working here.

Brian goes up but misses his splash attempt and Lex takes over again. He’s all fired up and yells at the fans who seem to like him as much as Pillman. A clothesline to the back of the head puts Pillman down and Lex is all fired up. Suplex gets two and Brian is thrown to the floor. Luger brags too much and walks into a sunset flip for two. A big clothesline puts Lex over the top and out to the floor as Brian makes his comeback.

There are ten punches in the corner and an atomic drop to boot. A top rope sunset flip gets two. Pillman hits a jumping back elbow and Luger is in trouble. Air Pillman, the springboard clothesline gets two as Luger got knocked into the ropes. All Pillman at the moment but he misses a missile dropkick and both guys are down. Pillman tries to speed things up but walks into a Hot Shot for the pin and Luger retains.

Rating: B. Luger wasn’t the guy you wanted running a match, but if you give him the right guy to work with such as Pillman here, look out because you’re likely to get a great match. Pillman’s flurry at the end was great but he went too fast and tried to do too much and the more experienced champion caught him. That’s a nice little story and it worked well here, giving you a great match.

The Road Warriors say they like being the underdogs. When were the Road Warriors EVER underdogs? They say they’ll tear down the Skyscrapers tonight.

Road Warriors vs. Skyscrapers

The Skyscrapers are Sid Vicious and Dan Spivey. They’re the Brothers of Destruction of their day and literally tower over the Road Warriors. The Warriors quickly clear the ring and it’s Animal vs. Spivey at the moment. The Skyscrapers are the favorites here because they’re undefeated. I’m not sure I’d buy that but whatever. Off to Hawk and they collide to no advantage.

Hawk ducks a Sid clothesline and hits one of his own which knocks Sid to his knees, shocking the taller one. Sid misses a shoulder block and Hawk tags in Animal. Expect a lot of the words “And no one moves”, because selling isn’t much of an option here. Animal powerslams Sid and he rolls to the floor. Hawk and Sid have a test of strength and Hawk goes down but channels his inner Hulk to fight up.

Hawk busts out a freaking monkey flip and a clothesline which doesn’t take Sid down. Off to Animal vs. Spivey and Animal knocks him around a bit. Spivey knocks him into the corner and it’s off to Sid vs. Hawk. Hawk takes him to the mat but Sid NIPS UP and clotheslines Hawk (in the ribs) to the mat again. Sid hits what we would call the Eye of the Storm for two.

Back to Spivey and the move of the match, the clothesline, takes him down again. Spivey shrugs it off and hits a suplex for two. The guys are all gassed now and it’s really obvious. Hawk reverses a suplex into one of his own but still can’t make the tag. We get the unseen tag to Animal and the beating on Hawk continues. Bird Boy gets a boot and a clothesline (of course) to bring in Animal and everything breaks down. Teddy brings in the metal key for Spivey to hit Animal for the DQ. The key is some thing that was related to Norman the Lunatic but wasn’t quite ever explained I don’t think.

Rating: D+. The match sucked but the idea here was that it was fun. This was a big clash of the titans and that’s all it needed to be. They pounded on each other and barely sold a thing, but do you really need to? Sometimes just a battle of the titans is all you need and that’s what you got here. Bad match, but very fun. Then again I’m an old LOD fan so this is a sweet spot for me.

The LOD clears the ring post match.

Ole Anderson says he’ll never throw in the towel, which is the only way to lose the main event. Flair and Sting say just about what you would expect them to say.

Sting/Ric Flair vs. Great Muta/Terry Funk

This is the Thunderdome Cage Match. It’s an electrified cage and Bruno Sammartino is refereeing. You know he gets a big pop in the northeast. This is a combination of two feuds: Sting vs. Muta and Flair vs. Funk. The latter was the top feud of the summer with the former just a step behind. When it’s likely that Sting is the worst wrestler in a match, you know you’ve got some talent in the ring. You win by having your opponent’s team throwing in a towel and it’s Ole Anderson and Gary Hart as the towel bearers.

This isn’t a regular cage but rather a Cell type one. There’s no roof but it slants in and that’s the electrified part so no one is getting in or out. Funk tries to escape because he’s a little nuts. Something catches on fire so Muta spits Green Mist to put it out. Ok so it’s Flair vs. Funk to get us going. Flair chops away and Funk is in trouble early. Everyone comes in and Muta goes after Bruno which doesn’t work at all.

Flair throws Funk to the floor which isn’t a DQ because it’s a cage of course. Off to Sting who takes it to the space between the ring and the cage. Back to the Flair who slams Funk down and rolls forward, slapping Muta in the process. Awesome. Sting comes in with a perfect dropkick and the announcers blast Ultimate Warrior (Sting’s old partner). Off to Muta who is thrown back into Funk with ease. Muta is undefeated and I think TV Champion at this point. JR’s next sentence: “Suplex by Sting on the undefeated television champion of the world.” Thanks JR.

Sting and Flair have dominated so far. Everything breaks down and they head out to the floor. Muta and Sting wind up in the ring with the Great One taking over for the first time. Funk stomps on Sting outside and I think the tagging part is gone. Muta and Funk double team Sting in the ring with a bunch of elbow drops but Flair comes back in for the save. Muta misses a high kick and Sting bulldogs him down.

Funk takes one as well and Flair is standing on the apron again. He comes in to break up a double team though and climbs the cage with Funk. Sting suplexes Muta and now everyone but Funk is climbing. Muta goes up high enough that his feet are above the top rope. He might have gotten electrocuted also. Flair chops Funk so hard that Funk starts climbing the cage.

Flair chases Funk and in a SCARY spot, Funk is hanging from the top of the cage while Flair chops him. Funk’s knee is caught in the cage as Sting slams Muta. Everyone but Funk is back in the ring now and Muta is tossed out. Muta goes under the ring as Funk climbs up again. Sting goes after him as Flair puts the Figure Four on Muta. Is there any need for Bruno in this match?

For no apparent reason, Flair lets the hold go. There was no Funk or anything anywhere near him and he just let it go. Muta gets a HARD kick to Flair as Sting swings on a rope like Tarzan but crotches himself in the process. Muta hooks a modified Indian Deathlock on Flair and hooks a bridging neck crank at the same time. Funk tied Sting to the cage and goes in to spike piledrive Flair.

Sting finally gets loose, climbs even high and DIVES onto Funk. He would have been three feet above the top rope for that. Muta climbs up and Funk has a bad leg. You can feel Flair smiling from here. There’s the knee crusher as Sting goes after Muta. Muta goes for the moonsault but Sting crotches him. Figure Four to Funk and Sting splashes him from the top. There’s a second splash and Bruno clocks Muta. Ole punches Hart which sends the towel flying and that’s good enough for Bruno to call for the bell.

Rating: B. It’s good but it’s definitely not a classic. With Muta and Funk climbing the cage for absolutely no apparent reason and having no point for Bruno being in there, it’s kind of a puzzling match. It’s not bad but at the end of the day, there’s not much of a point to a lot of this. Fun match and it gets awesome at times, but it’s not something worth going out of your way to see.

JR and Caudle wrap it up.

Overall Rating: C. That’s exactly what you call this show: average. It’s not a bad show but there’s absolutely nothing on it worth seeing. Pillman and Luger have a good match but they would both have better ones. 1989 was a good year, but it ran out of steam after a great Clash in September. This and the horrible Starrcade put a bad ending on probably the best year the NWA ever had from an in ring perspective. Nothing to see here, but it’s certainly not a bad show.

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1 comment

  1. X says:

    Ace’s Japan work was very much like his US work—average at best. The only reason he was successful/had a fondly remembered Japanese career was because he was Steve Williams tag team partner when Dr. Death was destroying shit left and right in All Japan. Ace was in a few *****-ish star matches over there entirely because he was always teaming with Dr. Death against teams involving the likes of Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Akira Taue, etc, AKA some of the best workers in the world at the time. He’s like Dusty Rhodes in late 80s NWA, it didn’t matter how shitty of a wrestler he was because he was surrounded by so much awesome talent it would be virtually impossible to have a bad main event match.