Halloween Havoc 1989
Welcome to the first Halloween Havoc! This was always one of my favorite shows, mostly because the sets were always so cool. The primary storyline bridging the Great American Bash to this show was the feud between Ric Flair, Sting, Terry Funk, and The Great Muta. Flair and Sting formed an alliance to combat the Gary Hart International stable, which was headlined by Terry Funk and The Great Muta. Sting and Muta fought for months over the vacant Television Championship until Muta finally defeated Sting in a No Disqualification Match at a house show in September. Tonight, we "settle the score" between Sting, Flair, Funk, and Muta in a Thuderdome Cage. Anyway, let's get to the action:
The Z Man vs. Mike Rotunda
Good heat for Rotunda. I loved the Varsity Club. The Z Man is Tom Zenk. Apparently he's undefeated at this point. My tape is edited and they skip from the beginning portion of the match to Rotunda applying an Abdominal Stretch. Referee Nick Patrick catches Rotunda grabbing the rope and forces him to break the hold. Rotunda applies a Sleeper Hold. Zenk breaks out and hits a Shoulderblock. He follows that with a Body Press for the three count.
Result: The Z Man by pinfall
Analysis: *. Hard to tell how good it was because of the editing. According to Wikipedia it actually went 13 minutes.
The Midnight Express and Steve Williams vs. Samoan SWAT Team and Samoan Savage
A continuation of a feud that had been going since the Tag Team Championship tournament back in the Spring. The Samoan SWAT Team comes out to a remix of the theme from "Halloween" which is awesome. They also perform a cool fire dance with torches during their entrance. Oliver Humperdink is their manager here, which is new. The Samoan Savage is the Tonga Kid. Once again, the match is clipped. We jump to Fatu working on Bobby Eaton. He then applies a long Nerve Hold. The heat segment goes on, consistent of headbutts and stomps. Samoan Savage tags in and hits a Sidewalk Slam. Samoan Savage misses a Splash and tags in Dr. Death. He slams everyone. Powerslam on Samoan Savage. Lane tags in. He hits a sloppy Neckbreaker. Enziguri. Cornette slugs Humperdink to a big pop. Samoan Savage knocks Lane into Cornette (he was standing on the apron) and rolls him up for the pin.
Result: Samoan Savage and Samoan SWAT Team by pinfall
Analysis: *1/2. Nice comeback by Dr. Death. Rest of the match was pretty dull. Not upset that they clipped it.
The Cuban Assassin vs. Tommy Rich
Tommy Rich was voted most popular wrestler in 1981, according to JR. He's pretty far over the hill. Assassin rakes the eyes and JR comments that it's a "common shortcut for people of his ilk." Does he mean heels or Cubans? This match is incredibly boring. Nothing but punches and rest holds. The crowd is chanting "boring," and they were a lot more patient back then. Rich hits the Thesz Press to win at 8:26. Why couldn't they have clipped this match?
Result: Tommy Rich by pinfall
Analysis: Dud. Total garbage.
The Steiner Brothers vs. Doom (Butch Reed and Ron Simmons)
Simmons and Reed are masked without their identities being revealed. They are managed by Woman, who is the future Nancy Sullivan and Nancy Benoit. Doom enters to a Bob Seger song, which doesn't really fit them at all. The Steiners start with stereo German Suplexes and the crowd goes crazy. Stereo Clotheslines send both members of Doom to the floor. Scott and Reed (I think) start. Scott hits a Clothesline and Doom stalls some more. Rick tags in. On commentary, JR says Scott almost became a school teacher. I find that possibility absolutely hilarious for obvious reasons. Scott tags in and hits a Flying Clothesline from the second rope. Rick tags in and gets a Stunner (basically) from Simmons. Big Clothesline from Reed. Steiner sold that with a backflip. Simmons tags in. Scott hits a German Suplex. A cheapshot by Reed (who is on the apron) allows Doom to gain the advantage. Double Ax Handle from Reed.
Doom's heat segment meanders on. They do some cheap heat segments (choke, double team, missed tag). Neckbreaker from Simmons. Rick finally manages to tag in. He beats down both guys. Scott hits an awesome Frankensteiner. Woman helps Reed load up his mask. He hits a Headbutt for the win at 15:26.
Result: Doom by pinfall
Analysis: *. Super boring. Thankfully, Doom would get worlds better.
NWA Tag Team Championship: The Fabulous Freebirds (c) vs. The Dynamic Dudes
The crowd completely shits on the Dudes and cheers the Freebirds. Hey, it's Philadelphia. Hayes and Garvin are representing the Freebirds tonight. No sign of Gordy. Jim Cornette is managing the Dudes, presumably to try to get the crowd to cheer them. Didn't work. Ace starts against Gordy. Really impressive Headlock Takeover/Headscissor combination by Ace. Despite the terrible gimmick, both Ace and Douglas could work. The crowd chants "You Suck" at Ace. Hayes hits a cheap shot on the outside and gets cheered for it. The crowd is the only entertaining thing about this match. "Freebirds" chant breaks out. Hayes tries the DDT but Ace manages to counter. The crowd is very disappointed in that. Douglas tags in. His comeback is roundly booed. The Dudes tries a Double Atomic Drop, but Garvin rolls into a bridge for the pin at 11:28.
Result: Freebirds by pinfall
Analysis: **. Entirely for the crowd. Watching them shit on the Dudes and cheer the Freebirds was awesome. The announcers refused to acknowledge it because this was before fan rebellions were allowed.
NWA United States Championship: Lex Luger (c) vs. Brian Pillman
This should be good. Luger was on fire in 1989 and Pillman was a beast before injuries. Pillman gets a big entrance with cheerleaders as JR recaps his football career: two time All American at Miami, Ohio and special teamer for the Cincinnati Bengals. The crowd chants for Luger even though he's a heel. That's not a Philly thing, he was getting cheered everywhere. Pillman pops the crowd with his tenacity early. He hits a Dropkick and Luger bails. He follows that with a Baseball Slide. Pillman continues to control with high-flying offense and then gets an Armdrag and an Armbar. Pillman misses a top rope Splash and Luger takes over. Luger drops him across the top rope. Luger hits a series of Clotheslines. He follows that with an impressive Stalling Suplex. Pillman manages a Sunset Flip for a near fall.
Pillman tries a Ten Punch but Luger counters with an Inverted Atomic Drop. Pillman counters a Superplex attempt and hits a Sunset Flip for two. Pillman hits his Springboard Diving Clothesline, but Luger gets the rope to break up the pin. Pillman misses a Dropkick off the top. Luger drops Pillman across the top rope and gets the pin at 16:48.
Winner: Lex Luger by pinfall
Analysis: ***3/4. Really good match. Both of these guys were at their peak and their styles worked very well together. Pillman put up a great fight but his recklessness and inexperience cost him. Luger just barely survived Pillman's onslaught. I like Luger going over clean, too. Luger is a top guy and Pillman isn't there yet. He shouldn't have to cheat to beat him.
The Road Warriors vs. The Skyscrapers
Not expecting a classic here. Spivey starts against Animal. They botch a Clothesline that was supposed to send Spivey over the top. Animal manages to knock him down with a diving Shoulderblock. Not much selling in this match. All four guys just kind of shrug off the others' offense. A test of strength results in a Monkey Flip from Hawk to Sid. More boring offense follows. Sid hits an interest Spiral Bomb type maneuver. The match continues for several more minutes until Teddy throws a metal key to Spivey. He hits Hawk with it for the disqualification at 11:39.
Result: Road Warriors by disqualification
Analysis: 1/4*. Super slow and boring. Went on far too long. Bad combination.
Thunderdome Cage Match: Ric Flair and Sting vs. Terry Funk and The Great Muta
Okay, so here's how this works:
-The Thunderdome cage is huge. They claim it's 30 feet high. It surrounds the ring and ringside. It has no top, but it slants inward and the upper portion is "electrified."
-The match is won when the cornerman for one of the teams throws in the towel. No pinfalls, submissions, or disqualifications. Gary Hart is the cornerman for the heels, Ole Anderson for the faces.
Bruno Sammartino is the referee. Not that he's needed, since the match is only won by surrender. Flair and Funk start. Apparently, they're going to observe normal tag team rules here even though there are no disqualifications. Not much of interest happens in the first few minutes. Flair and Sting work over Funk. Flair hits some of the hardest chops I've ever seen (or heard) on Muta and Funk. Sting Military Presses Muta onto Funk. This is one of those cages that doesn't make any sound when someone hits it but probably hurts like hell to get thrown into. Worst of both worlds. Muta and Funk double team Sting in the ring after Funk takes out Flair on the outside. Sting hits a nice one-handed Bulldog on Funk.
Everyone starts climbing the cage, for some reason. Muta gets "shocked" by the electrified portion of the cage. Flair and Funk fight outside while Sting and Muta are in the ring. Sting holds Muta up for a Military Press for a solid minute. Not really sure if someone was supposed to happen there. Funk is still climbing the cage for no particular reason. Flair locks Muta in the Figure Four in the ring. Sting swings on a rope connected to the cage and Dropkicks Funk. Flair breaks the hold on Muta, inexplicably. Funk ties Sting to the cage while Muta hits Flair with an Enziguri. Muta gets Flair in an Indian Deathlock. Muta and Flair work on Funk while Ole tries to untie Sting from the cage. Spike Piledriver on Flair. Sting dives from the cage into the ring! Huge Crossbody. Great spot, highlight of the match so far.
Muta climbs all the way to the top of the cage. Why? Flair hits the Kneebreaker on Funk. Flair applies the Figure Four. Sting Splashes Funk from the top rope. He does it again. Muta goes after Bruno and gets decked. Hart throws in the towel to prevent further injury to Funk at 21:55.
Result: Ric Flair and Sting by surrender
Analysis: **1/2. Disappointing. A few decent spots, but ultimately not very good. They didn't use the cage very much or effectively. The climbing of the cage made no sense because you couldn't win by escape. Pretty much the worst match those four could possibly have.
Overall: Bad show. One good match (Luger vs. Pillman) and nothing else of any note. Huge letdown after the amazing Great American Bash show. The cage match probably ended up detracting from the main event because they didn't know what to do with it and there were no near falls. A straight-up tag match probably would have been better.