Halloween Havoc 1990
Welcome to Halloween Havoc 1990. When we last left off, Sting had just defeated Ric Flair to win his first NWA Championship. With Sting having disposed of Flair, a new rival was needed for the new champion. For this particular show, Sid Vicious would fill that role. However, a larger feud was brewing. Starting in August, a mysterious figure in black robes and a mask appeared on WCW television. He called himself the Black Scorpion, and said he had come to WCW to destroy Sting. He revealed little about himself beyond implying he was someone from Sting's past. In theory, this sounds like a decent storyline. Unfortunately, the execution was quite botched as the Scorpion performed silly parlor magic tricks, like making "members of the audience" (actually plants) disappear. Sting faced the Black Scorpion at Clash of the Champions in September and tried to unmask him, but failed when another Scorpion emerged at the top of the entrance ramp and distracted Sting. Tonight, Sting defends the NWA Championship against Sid, but the Black Scorpion is sure to get involved. Let's get to the action:
Jim Ross and Paul E. Dangerously (in a vampire costume) are our announcers. This announce team would be reunited in the WWF in 2001.
Tony Schiavone (dressed as the Phantom of the Opera) interviews Ricky Morton and Tommy Rich.
Tommy Rich and Ricky Morton vs. The Midnight Express
Rich is filling in for the injured Robert Gibson. Rich briefly held the NWA Title in 1981 and is pretty far over the hill at this point. The Express are, as always, accompanied by Jim Cornette. Good fast-paced sequence to start between Morton and Eaton, including Morton busting out a Hurricanrana. Rich tags in and dominates with power moves. Cornette gets up on the apron and gets decked by Morton. Crowd loved that. Ten minutes in Eaton and Lane are still getting dominated and start getting in each other's faces. Ricky Morton tags in and unsurprisingly gets his ass kicked. The Express hit a nifty Backdrop/Powerslam combination to take over. Classic Express heat segment ensues: quick tags, double team moves, and holds. Morton gets slammed on the ramp and then hit with the Rocket Launcher. Morton gets thrown over the top to the floor, which always got great heat in these days. Morton connects with an impressive Headscissor down on the floor. Morton continues to get worked on in the ring. This heat segment has gone on for a long time, but the less Tommy Rich wrestles is definitely the better.
The Express go for the Rocket Launcher again, but Morton gets his knees up. He makes the hot tag to Rich. Rich goes up top, but Cornette tags him with the tennis racket. At this point the Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong) come out dressed as Cornette. With the ensuing distraction, Rich grabs Cornette's racket and blasts Eaton with it for the pin at 20:49.
Result: Tommy Rich and Ricky Morton by pinfall
Analysis: ***1/2. Same match we've seen a hundred times, but it's always good. Keeping Rich out of the ring was definitely the way to go as the other three worked their magic.
This would be the last night in the company for the Express, as Cornette and Eaton would leave to start Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Shame to see them go. Their work has been some of the most enjoyable stuff on these reviews so far.
Terry Taylor vs. Bill Irwin
Slow match as Taylor works a headlock. Irwin fights back with some generic brawling. Taylor just keeps going back to the headlock. Crowd is completely dead. Irwin grabs a chinlock and a "boring" chant starts. Taylor fights out with an Atomic Drop and German Suplex. Irwin hits a Tombstone Piledriver and Taylor kicks out. That's not cool. Of course, former WCW talent Mark Callous would be making his debut as the Undertaker in the WWF a few weeks after this show. Taylor comes back with a Snap Suplex. Irwin hits a Spinebuster, but Taylor rolls him into a pinning combination for the win at 11:47.
Result: Terry Taylor by pinfall
Analysis: *1/2. Got better as it went on.
Tony Schiavone interviews Sting. They're interrupted by the Black Scorpion. He drags a female "fan" into a magician's box and makes her disappear. She and he both reappear on the other side of the stage. Scorpion then runs away from Sting. Oy, this was bad. JR and Dangerously try to put this over as best as they can, but it doesn't work.
Brad Armstrong vs. J.W. Storm
Storm is a big muscleman who is newly debuted and undefeated to this point. JR mentions that Armstrong has a brother serving in the Marines stationed in Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm. That would be Brian Armstrong, better known as the Road Dogg. My tape is of poor quality here, so it's a little hard to tell what's going on. Storm is controlling with some generic big man offense. Long chinlock by Storm. He breaks the hold and hits a Powerslam. He follows that with a Gutwrench. Armstrong gets a Small Package for the win at 5:04.
Result: Brad Armstrong by pinfall
Analysis: 1/4*. Nothing there. Storm never accomplished anything and spent several years as a jobber.
Tony Schiavone interviews Jim Cornette, who is dressed as a Civil War Confederate general. He yells about the Southern Boys and Sting and then goes to join JR and Dangerously on commentary.
The Master Blasters (Blade and Steel) vs. The Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong)
Steel is Kevin Nash. The Master Blasters are blatant Road Warriors knock-offs, with the same face paint and haircuts. Nash gets handled by Armstrong, who is half his size. Blade tags in and hits some power moves. Cornette is rambling about his family tree on commentary instead of talking about the match. Blade goes for a Splash from the top rope but gets a foot to the face. Armstrong tags in for a heatless comeback. Blade gets a Missile Dropkick/Spinebuster combination, but Cornette distracts the referee and Nash hits a Clothesline for the pin at 7:17.
Result: Master Blasters by pinfall
Analysis: 1/2*. Dull, formulaic tag match. The Blasters never made another pay-per-view appearance, as Nash would soon be repackaged as Oz.
Tony Schiavone interviews Brad Armstrong about his win earlier. The crowd boos him. Tough crowd.
The Fabulous Freebirds vs. The Renegade Warriors (Chris Youngblood and Mark Youngblood)
JR spends most of this match ranting about how the Freebirds injured Robert Gibson. Meanwhile, nothing of any interest is happening in the ring. Lots of stalling and headlocks. The Freebirds get the advantage and things don't get any better. Hayes gets thrown off the top rope and one Youngblood makes a "hot" tag to the other. This might be the quietest crowd I've ever heard. Hayes gets a DDT behind the referee's back (to cheers) and Garvin gets the pin at 17:28.
Result: Fabulous Freebirds by pinfall
Analysis: 1/4*. Excruciatingly long and boring.
Tony Schiavone interviews the Horsemen. No Barry Windham, just Flair, Arn, and Sid. Arn runs down Doom, who he and Flair are facing later. Flair says they're going to win the titles and that Sid is going to beat Sting. They let Sid talk. He says he rules the world. No disaster there. Disappointing.
NWA United States Tag Team Championship: The Steiner Brothers (c) vs. The Nasty Boys
Pay-per-view debut for the Nasties. All four go at it on the floor to start. Sags hits Scott with a chairshot to the back of the head. Not something you'd see today. Sags tries a Superplex but it gets reversed into a breathtaking Belly-to-Belly off the second rope by Scott. Double Underhook Powerbomb by Scott. Steiner Bulldog! Apparently it's the first time they've done it. A chair shot behind the referee's back gets two for Knobs. Scott gets his back worked on. Pump Handle Slam by Sags. He follows that with a Gutwrench Powerbomb. Seems like we're getting a lot of innovative offense (for the time) tonight. Sags applies an Abdominal Stretch. Rick breaks it up, so Sags goes with a Bearhug. At least the restholds make sense psychologically. Scott reverses into a Belly-to-Belly Suplex and both men are down. The Nastys hit a Spike Piledriver on Steiner, but the referee is distracted. Rick blasts Knobs with a steel chair. Somehow, the referee misses all of this. Scott hits a Back Suplex but is blocked from making the tag.
Another Bearhug. Knobbs applies a Boston Crab. Once more, targeting the back. Scott breaks it, but still can't make the tag. Camel Clutch by Knobbs. Scott powers out, but once again can't make the tag. Scott gets an Inverted Atomic Drop. Scott finally makes the tag. Rick Steinerlines both Nastys. All four men brawl. Rick hits a Double Flying Clothesline. Scott hits the Frankensteiner for the pin at 15:24.
Result: Steiner Brothers by pinfall
Analysis: ***1/2. Solid match. The Nastys heat segment featured a few too many restholds, but at least they made sense in the context of the match. The Steiners were by far the best tag team in the world at this point, and it showed here.
Schiavone interviews the Freebirds. They gloat about the fact that they injured Robert Gibson.
Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Rex
Rex is a former WWF Tag Team Champion, part of the Moondogs tag team. He was also the original Smash in Demolition, but was replaced by Barry Darsow after his contract expired. Typical JYD match here: Headbutt, Shoulderblock, rinse and repeat. JYD gets the pin with a Headbutt at 3:19.
Result: Junkyard Dog by pinfall
Analysis: 1/4*. Weak. JYD couldn't work much in his prime, and he was well past it here.
Tony Schiavone interviews the Steiner Brothers. It's just Scott, and he gets jumped and beat down by the Nasty Boys. This is designed to set up a rematch that never happened because the Nastys jumped ship to the WWF in December.
NWA Tag Team Championship: Doom (c) vs. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson
This is really heel vs. heel, but the Horsemen are default faces in that case. Simmons overpowers Arn to start. Flair catches Reed with a cheapshot and takes over. Reed quickly fights pack with punches and a Military Press. Flair gets absolutely worked over by Reed, as he decks him with big jabs. Arn tags in and doesn't fare much better. Flair and Arn cheat to get the advantage and take over on Simmons. Arn hits his signature Spinebuster, but Simmons kicks out at two. Flair gets a Back Suplex and locks on the Figure Four. Simmons eventually turns it over and Flair tags out to Arn. Arn applies a leg hold of some kind. Heyman points out on commentary that no matter how much you work out, you can't build up your knees. Got to say, Heyman has been a huge improvement from Bob Caudle on commentary tonight. He and JR have had some good banter going and he's been solid at calling the match and putting over the performers.
The Horsemen continue to use their wily veteran tactics to beat on Simmons. Anderson distracts the referee while Flair attacks Simmons on the floor. Simmons gets a Sunset Flip, but Flair tags in so the pin doesn't count. The PA announcer calls "20 minutes," which isn't correct. However, that's apparently the signal for Simmons to take Flair down and tag in Reed, who levels both Horsemen. Arn goes for a Piledriver, but Reed comes from the top rope with a Shoulderblock to break it up. That gets a two count. Arn catches Reed with the DDT, but Simmons breaks it up. All four men brawl out on the floor, where they are counted out at 18:20.
Result: Double count out
Analysis: ****. Fantastic match. Great example of storytelling and psychology: The Horsemen were overmatched physically, but they were able to keep the advantage with superior ring savvy. Unfortunate that it didn't have a better ending.
We hear pre-recorded comments from Stan Hansen, who will challenge Lex Luger for the United States Championship next.
NWA United States Championship: Lex Luger (c) vs. Stan Hansen
Luger's held the title for approximately 18 months at this point. Hansen is a legend in Japan but never really got over in America. Slugfest to start. Not much action to call here as it's really all punches. Luger mostly controls, although Hansen gets some shots in. Hansen gets control and hits a Suplex and more punches. Hansen hits a Bulldog for two. Hansen misses an elbow off the second rope and Luger starts his comeback. The referee gets bumped as they do a double KO. Dan Spivey (who is a tag team partner of Hansen's in Japan) runs in and throws Hansen his bull rope. Luger catches him with a Clothesline. Luger goes for another Clothesline, but Hansen counters with his signature Lariat for the pin at 9:30.
Result: Stan Hansen by pinfall (new United States Champion)
Analysis: **. Decent brawl. Hansen was pretty limited in the ring, but they did the best they could with it.
Tony Schiavone interviews Teddy Long, manager of Doom. He says Doom proved they are the best tag team in the world tonight.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Sting (c) vs. Sid Vicious
Sid is introduced as being "from anywhere he darn well pleases." Not clear if anyone has pinned Sid to this point in his career. Sting goes for a Figure Four early and Sid bails. They brawl on the floor. Back in the ring Sting goes to work on Sid's arm. Sid comes back with a Clothesline. Sid applies a Nerve Hold. Sting gets out of it and misses a Stinger Splash. Sid gets a chinlock. The guy might have been over, but he really couldn't do anything in the ring at this point. Sting hits a Bulldog. Sting charges, but eats a boot. They fight out to the ramp. Sid goes back to the ring to break the count and Sting charges down the ramp and hits a Flying Clothesline into the ring. They fight back outside and end up brawling backstage. No cameras back there, so we can't see what's going on. They come back and Sting goes for a Scoop Slam, but he collapses and Sid pins him to win the championship.
Or not. The real Sting emerges from the locker room. Turns out it was an imposter Sting that Sid pinned there. I believe it was Barry Windham playing him. The Horsemen's plan was for Sid to fight backstage with Sting, where they would switch places with their fake Sting. Not a bad idea. Anyway, Sting gets back in the ring, hits Sting with the championship belt (right in front of the referee), and then hits the Stinger Splash followed by a Small Package for the pin at 12:38.
Result: Sting by pinfall
Analysis: 1/2*. Pretty miserable match. Sid really didn't know how to work at this point (he didn't get that much better as the years passed). This was almost entirely punches and restholds.
JR does a quick interview with Sting, who calls out the Black Scorpion.
Overall: Average show. A couple nice tag matches, as per usual. But the main event was weak and the Black Scorpion stuff overshadowed the rest of the show. When the main event is bad, it really drags everything else down with it. Unfortunately, things weren't about to get better as Starrcade would feature the showdown between Sting and the Black Scorpion.