Halloween Havoc 1991: Chamber of Horrors
Welcome to Halloween Havoc 1991! We last left off with Lex Luger finally breaking through and winning the WCW Championship at the Great American Bash. In doing so, he sold his soul and turned heel. Subsequently he would be accompanied to the ring by Harley Race and adopt an arrogant persona. He switched his finisher from the Torture Rack to a Piledriver that he called the "Attitude Adjustment." So apparently that's where John Cena got the name of his finisher. Anyway, for Luger's first pay-per-view title defense the booking team selected Ron Simmons. An interesting choice, considering Simmons was just starting out as a singles wrestler. Anyway, to build the match they had Luger offer Simmons a position in his stable...as their driver. Very clear racial overtones there. Let's get to the action:
The show starts with Eric Bischoff greeting Abdullah the Butcher and Cactus Jack as they arrive at the arena. DDP and the Diamond Studd also roll in. At this point, Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes arrive. Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko show up and slam Windham's hand in the car door, taking him out of the Chamber of Horrors Match.
Chamber of Horrors Match: Sting, El Gigante, and The Steiner Brothers vs. Abdullah the Butcher, Cactus Jack, The Diamond Studd, and Big Van Vader
Vader replaces Windham. Quite a collection of talent in this match. Sting, the Steiners, Abdullah, Cactus, Hall, and Vader are all Hall of Famers in my book. And then there's El Gigante, who might be the worst professional wrestler I've ever seen. So this match takes place inside a large steel cage. The object of the match is to place one of your opponents in an electric chair, which descends from the ceiling five minutes into the match, and then throw the switch, electrocuting them. An intriguing but cartoony idea. Clearly, WCW has strayed far from the NWA days at this point. I can't imagine Gordon Solie calling this match.
Sting gets jumped by Cactus Jack during his entrance. They brawl on the ramp. Meanwhile, everyone else fights in the ring. Sting gets into the cage and beats everyone with a Kendo Stick. Notably, we have a camera shot from the referee's point of view via a helmet camera. It's helpful here because it's hard to see through the cage with the wide shot. Everyone just kinds of mills around brawling. Sting Clotheslines Vader over the top rope. Sting goes over the top rope with a Plancha on Vader. The chair very slowly lowers. That gets a slight pop from the crowd. The lever to turn the chair on is mounted on the cage, about eight feet up. Sting hits Cactus with the top of a casket (there are caskets all around ringside). Cactus gets rammed into the cage by Rick Steiner and blades. Someone in a mask popped out of a casket earlier and is now handcuffed to the cage. Not sure who it was or why it happened. Still not very much happening. The lever falls down into the "on" position and a referee climbs the cage to flip it back. This all happens in the background, but on-camera. Pretty symbolic of how this match is going. Cactus climbs the cage and the switch falls again. The camera pans away.
Rick Steiner gets double-teamed by Diamond Studd and Abdullah and thrown into the chair. Regrettably, no one throws the switch and the match goes on. Abdullah knocks him back in. This time, Cactus goes for the switch. Steiner manages to throw Abdullah into the chair as Cactus throws the switch. Abdullah gets electrocuted as sparks, fire, and smoke emerges from the chair at 12:33.
Analysis: 1/2*. Garbage match. Not a good concept for a match and especially poor execution. The entire match featured zero memorable spots as everyone just milled around the ring fighting. There was no teamwork, no story, no flow. Awful.
Abdullah wakes up and beats up Cactus and the EMTs sent to assist him.
My tape clips the following matches: Big Josh and PN News defeated The Creatures (Joey Maggs and Johnny Rich) in 5:16 and Bobby Eaton defeated Terrance Taylor in 16:00.
Johnny B. Badd vs. Jimmy Garvin
Badd is still a heel here, managed by Teddy Long. The Freebirds have turned face. Rope-running starts us off, and then Garvin Hip Tosses Badd over the top rope. Garvin beats on Badd back in the ring and knocks him to the floor with a running elbow. Badd gets back in the ring and Garvin works on his arm. Teddy Long distracts the referee, allowing Badd to choke Garvin with a towel. Badd gets a very botched Sunset Flip for two. Badd goes up top and hits an Elbow Drop. He goes up top again and gets caught with a shot to the gut as he comes off. Badd tries a corner charge and ends up missing and tumbling to the floor. Back in, the do a Double KO spot. Badd misses a left hook and gets DDTed. Long distracts the referee, and Badd catches Garvin with a left hook for the pin at 8:16.
Result: Johnny B. Badd by pinfall
Analysis: *1/2. Pretty standard match with a few botches.
WCW World Television Championship: Steve Austin (c) vs. Dustin Rhodes
They prominently announce the 15 minute time-limit at the start of the match. You know what that means. They exchange basic holds and mat wrestling to start. Headlocks, Armdrags, takedowns. Dustin ends up Clotheslining Austin over the top rope. Again, I have no idea why that isn't a disqualification. Austin Suplexes his way out of Headlock. Dustin tries a Bulldog, but Austin shoots him into the corner. Long Headlock sequence follows. Dustin gets a Crossbody for a two count and we go back to Headlocks. Dustin tries another Crossbody, but misses and goes over the top to the floor. Austin follows him outside and beats on him on the floor. Dustin is busted open. Austin goes from the top rope to the floor with an Ax Handle. Back in the ring, Dustin fights back with right hands. Austin rakes the eyes and hits a Gutwrench Suplex. Austin applies a Chinlock and sits on it for awhile. JR mentions the time limit. Dustin gets out and hits a Clothesline.
The ring announcer announces three minutes left. Austin misses a dive into the ropes and Dustin hits an Atomic Drop. Dustin throws Austin to the floor. Austin gets thrown into the guardrail and blades. Two minutes left. Powerslam by Dustin gets two. Dustin mounts Austin for punches. Bionic Elbow for another two count. One minute left. Ten Punch by Dustin. 30 seconds left. Dustin goes up top and hits a Flying Clothesline. He gets the cover and three count, but time expires at 15:00.
Result: Time Limit Draw
Analysis: **3/4. Decent match. A little slow, but solid technically.
My tape clips the following: Bill Kazmaier defeated Oz in 3:59, Van Hammer defeated Doug Somers in 1:13, and Brian Pillman defeated Richard Morton in 12:45 to become the first WCW Light Heavyweight Champion. Too bad they clipped that last match. I'll have to track that down.
The WCW Phantom vs. Tom Zenk
The Halloween Phantom is an unknown masked man. The Phantom dominates and hits a Snap Neckbreaker for the pin at 1:27. Like a moron, Tony Schiavone says that the Neckbreaker looks a lot like the Rude Awakening. Good work, Tony. Way to keep that secret in the box.
Result: WCW Phantom by pinfall
Analysis: Dud. Basic squash.
WCW World Tag Team Championship: The Enforcers (Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko) (c) vs. The Patriots (Firebreaker Chip and Todd Champion)
The Patriots are United States Tag Team Champions, but those belts aren't on the line here. Larry and Chip start out. They exchange Abdominal Stretches. Chip hits a Scoop Slam. Anderson tags in. Anderson and Chip exchange some basic holds. Champion, the bigger man, tags in and hits an Ax Handle from the second rope. Anderson takes over and gets some stomps. Anderson gets thrown to the floor and Champion slams him. Jesus, these guys are ridiculously green. Back in the ring, Champion applies a Bearhug. Double Clothesline by Champion. Zbyszko tags in. Larry gets chased around the ring. Anderson makes a blind tag and that allows him to get the advantage on Chip. Zbyszko tags back in. Swinging Neckbreaker by Larry. Champion ducks a punch and hits an Atomic Drop, but Arn made a blind tag. Arn cuts Champion's legs out. Larry tags back in and gets Suplexed. Arn and Chip both tag in. Chip goes house on fire, taking out both guys with Dropkicks. Chip slams Arn, but Zbyszko breaks up the pin. Chip gets hit with the Spinebuster and the champs retain at 9:51.
Result: The Enforcers by pinfall
Analysis: *1/2. Pretty boring tag match. I like the idea of Arn and Larry as a tag team, but they really need some better opponents to work with than those two jabronis.
Eric Bischoff interviews Paul E. Dangerously at ringside. Bischoff is dressed as Dracula, by the way. Dangerously comes out with Madusa. He reveals that he was recently fired as a commentator for being too "controversial." Dangerously declares war on WCW. He says he still has his manager's license and he's going to bankrupt WCW by destroying its top stars: Sting is singled out in particular. He says he told Madusa to find the man to destroy Sting. The Phantom comes out. He unmasks, revealing himself as RICK RUDE. Awesome debut for Rude, and a great start to the Dangerous Alliance Storyline. This was basically the NWO before the NWO.
They show a montage of Ron Simmons training before the main event.
2 out of 3 Falls Match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger (c) vs. Ron Simmons
Luger is accompanied by Harley Race, Simmons by Dusty Rhodes. If you think that it seems to be a little soon for Simmons to be getting a title shot in the main event of a pay-per-view, you're probably right. JR, always one to talk football, mentions that Luger and Simmons were teammates for the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL. Lots of stalling to start. Luger telegraphs a Backdrop and gets his face slammed into the mat. Powerslam by Simmons. Spinebuster! Simmons gets the first fall at a quick 4:54. Simmons 1, Luger 0.
Simmons is one fall from the championship. They impose a one minute rest period. Simmons gets a Snap Suplex. He gets a Backdrop. Luger sends Simmons into the corner, but gets hit with a Back Elbow. Simmons gets a Small Package for two. Luger throws Simmons to the floor. He's doing a suspiciously good job of selling his back. I think he might be hurt legit. Simmons gets a Sunset Flip and then a Clothesline. Simmons goes for another Clothesline, but misses and falls to the floor. Luger takes over. Mostly chokes from Luger. He hits a Powerslam for a two count. Luger shuts down a Simmons comeback with a Big Boot. Suplex by Luger. Luger applies a Chinlock. Simmons fights out and hits a Clothesline. Luger misses a charge to the corner and gets rolled up for a good near fall. Race distracts Simmons and gets decked by Dusty. Luger charges Simmons and gets Backdropped over the top rope. Simmons is disqualified and Luger wins the second fall at 16:26. Simmons 1, Luger 1.
Next fall wins. Luger plays possum and gets a cheap shot. Luger wails on Simmons, but he stops selling. Simmons beats down Luger with a Ten Punch. Luger tries an Inverted Atomic Drop, but Simmons blocks it and hits a Clothesline. Backdrop by Simmons. Simmons gets an Inverted Atomic Drop. Simmons puts Luger on the top rope and hits a Superplex! Luger kicks out at two. Powerslam by Simmons. Simmons goes the to the second rope and hits a Diving Shoulderblock, but Luger rolls out to the floor. Simmons follows him out and puts Luger into the guardrail. Simmons tries a three point stance charge, but Luger ducks and Simmons hits the post. Back in the ring, Luger hits the Attitude Ajdustment Piledriver and gets the pin at 21:59.
Result: Lex Luger 2-1
Analysis: ***. Pretty good match. Third fall was especially exciting. Interesting that Luger went over clean. I won't complain, it's nice to see a heel champion be booked strongly. Simmons took Luger to the limit, so he doesn't come out looking bad.
JR and Schiavone recap the match to end the show.
Overall: Bad show. The main event was okay, nothing else was much above average. Dusty's run as booker was not good, and this show is prime example of that. Simmons really wasn't ready to be champion, so there isn't a ton of sense in putting him in a championship match. The Chamber of Horrors match took up a ton of talent and put them in a situation they couldn't succeed. Poor show, the second one in a row.