Halloween Havoc 1992: Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal
After Vader's victory over Sting at The Great American Bash, it appeared he was set to be WCW's new dominant long-term heel champion. However, a funny thing happened: it turned out that wasn't the plan at all. Instead, Vader lost the title to Ron Simmons on August 2, only 21 days after winning it. Thus, Simmons became the first African-American world champion in wrestling history. Bill Watts, who was running WCW at this point, had a history of building his promotion around African-American babyfaces. He had done it with Junkyard Dog and Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd in Mid-South Wrestling, and he was trying to do it again with Simmons.
The major feud going into this show did not involve Simmons at all. Rather, it involved Sting being challenged by a new nemesis: Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Roberts was newly signed from the WWF. Roberts immediately attacked Sting and then led his team to victory over Sting's team in an elimination tag match at Clash of the Champions in September. This led to their big showdown here, in a "Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal" match. The stipulation of the match would be determined at random by a spin of a wheel with different stipulations on it.
For fun, here's a terrible mini-movie that WCW produced to promote the match:
Oscar caliber stuff there. Pretty sure they just found Roberts hanging out at that sketchy bar and decided to shoot it on the spot.
Also, Steve Williams and Terry Gordy lost the WCW Tag Team Championship to Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham in September. I only mention it because WCW had put them over huge by having them beat the Steiners and win the tag team tournament that took up almost the entire Great American Bash card, then pulled the plug in less than two months. Not totally sure what the deal was, but both Gordy and Williams would be gone shortly after this show. Let's get to the action:
Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura are our hosts. Tony Schiavone and Bruno Sammartino will be providing insight between matches.
So the opener here was Tom Zenk, Johnny Gunn, and Shane Douglas vs. Arn Anderson, Michael Hayes, and Bobby Eaton. It's clipped from the tape and I've been unable to locate it anywhere on the internet. So no review of that. Zenk, Gunn, and Douglas won in 11:02 after Gunn hit Hayes with a Thesz Press.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Brian Pillman
Pillman had turned heel a few months before this show. He's now a pretty boy with a bad attitude instead of the courageous little man he was previously. They trade chops and Steamboat hits a Shoulderblock to start. Steamboat skins the cat and rolls up Pillman for a two count. Pillman's kick out is so violent Steamboat hits the turnbuckle. Steamboat goes to work on the arm. That's fine, but I want to see these guys fly. Steamboat stays in control with a Backdrop and some slams. Nice "Brian Sucks" from the Philly crowd. Steamboat gets Pillman up for his two-handed choke. Ironic that a guy who was also such a squeaky clean babyface would use that as part of his repertoire. Pillman gets a cheap shot and then a Head Scissor Takeover. Pillman gets Steamboat up on the top, but gets thrown off while attempting a Superplex. Steamboat comes off the second rope and is Dropkicked by Pillman. Pillman argues with the referee and gets Back Suplexed. Pillman gets a Sleeper Hold. Steamboat breaks it and Pillman hits a Hangman. Pillman goes up top and gets thrown off. Everybody is Ric Flair in Bill Watts' WCW.
Pillman bails and gets beaten up down on the floor by Steamboat. Back in the ring, they exchange chops. Steamboat hits a Rib Breaker and goes up top. He does a Sunset Flip, which Pillman counters into his own pin, which Steamboat counters into his own pin for the three count at 10:34.
Result: Ricky Steamboat by pinfall
Analysis: ***. Good match, but not at the level I was expecting from those two. It was much slower than I would have anticipated. Pillman was still getting used to working as a heel here and unfortunately seemed to have phased out of a lot of his more entertaining offense.
We go to Bill Watts, who has various announcements: 1) The NWA Championship match between Masahiro Chono and Rick Rude will feature two referees, one picked by each man. One referee will be in the ring, one referee will be outside the ring. Chono picks Kensuke Sasaki, Rude picks Harley Race. 2) Terry Gordy has been "suspended" (read: fired/quit due to financial disagreements). Steve Williams has picked Steve Austin as his replacement partner tonight. 3) Rick Rude refuses to wrestle twice tonight, so Vader will defend the United States Championship for him. Also, Harley Race and Madusa are barred from ringside.
No Disqualification Match for the WCW United States Championship: Big Van Vader vs. Nikita Koloff
If you ordered the show for Rude vs. Koloff, you really got screwed here. Vader pounds on Koloff early. JR claims Vader "has a Super Bowl ring from the Los Angeles Rams." Ventura correctly points out that the Rams had never won the Super Bowl (at this time). Another case of JR exaggerating the football accomplishments of wrestlers. Vader did play in the Super Bowl with the 1980 Rams, but they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Vader's still kicking Nikita's ass. Vader poses for the crowd and Nikita jumps him from behind. Nikita immediately goes to a Chinlock. That's exactly what this match needed. They go outside and Nikita misses a Sickle attempt and slams into the ring post. Vader brings him back into the ring and hits a Powerbomb for the win at 4:34. Wikipedia says it went 11+ minutes, so this must have been edited. Koloff suffered a career-ending neck injury shortly after this, so this was his last PPV match.
Result: Big Van Vader by pinfall
Analysis: *. Nothing much happened in the part that they showed.
Teddy Long interviews Steve Williams and Steve Austin. Williams says it won't be a problem that he and Austin have never teamed before.
WCW World Tag Team Championship: Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes (c) vs. Steve Williams and Steve Austin
Austin and Williams are JR's wet dream team. Also notable that both of them are actually named "Steve Williams." Apparently there's been tension between Windham and Rhodes during the run up to this show. Jesse rags on JR about Oklahoma losing to Kansas in football. JR no-sells it, like he always did with Ventura's jokes. For two great announcers, they really didn't make a very good combination. JR just didn't work with Ventura. Rhodes suckers Williams in and hits him with a Lariat. Windham tags in and goes after Williams' arm. Rhodes comes in and gets his arm worked on. Dustin breaks out and hits a Dropkick, leading Austin to tag in. Austin quickly gets knocked out of the ring with a right hand by Windham. Rhodes tags in and works an entertaining back-and-forth segment with Austin. Windham tags in and levels Austin with a Lariat. Williams tags in and overpowers Windham. Windham misses a Lariat and falls to the floor.
Austin and Williams start a heat segment on Windham. It goes on for several minutes. Windham fights out of Superplex attempt and hits a Flying Lariat, then manages to tag out to Rhodes. Rhodes hits Bionic Elbows and the Bulldog for a two count on Austin. Williams gets a cheap shot on Rhodes to break up his comeback. Another heat segment coming up. Highlight is Austin getting Rhodes in an Argentine Backbreaker and Ventura going crazy on commentary because that used to be his finisher. Williams hits a nice Snap Suplex and rolls into a pin. Always loved the way that looked. Rhodes has been in the ring for a solid ten minutes at this point. Doc and Austin continue working on him, but he keeps kicking out. Austin tags in and applies a Half Crab. Rhodes fights out with three minutes left to time limit. Dustin makes the tag, but the referee was distracted by Williams, so he doesn't allow it.
Austin throws Rhodes over the top to the floor and the referee gets bumped. Windham gets Clotheslined and pinned by Austin as a new referee runs in. He counts the three, but the original referee corrects him that Rhodes is still the legal man. Then the bell rings again for no reason. It's getting confusing here. One minute left. Austin is still working on Rhodes with time running out. Thirty seconds left as Rhodes Tombstones Austin. Williams breaks up the pin, but it doesn't really matter anyway because time has run out.
Result: Time Limit Draw
Analysis: ***. Pretty good match undermined by poor booking. First, it was too long. The heat segments just went on forever here. Rhodes worked the last fifteen minutes of the match. Second, booking a time limit draw with face champions makes no sense. There's no drama with the clock because it doesn't matter if time runs out. If time runs out, the faces keep the belts. The crowd was sitting on their hands at the finish, whereas they would have been on fire if the roles had been reversed and Windham and Rhodes were racing the clock to try to win the belts. I did really like Austin and Williams as a tag team. Shame they never teamed up again after this.
Tony Schiavone is with Paul E. Dangerously. He brags out having the idea for Vader to substitute for Rude. Madusa interrupts him and Dangerously flips out. Paul E. says he's in charge of the Dangerous Alliance because he's a MAN. He says he only hired her because "the other hooker I had in mind had a previous obligation." Wow. His misogynistic rant goes on for awhile until he slaps her. She responds by kicking him right in his fat fucking face and beating him down! That's amazing. The crowd goes absolutely wild for that. Dangerously challenges her to a fight while she's being held back by security, then she breaks away and he makes a run for it. Phenomenal segment.
And now it's time for Sting to spin the wheel and make the deal. The wheel rises from the floor while ominous music plays and smoke is emitted. There are even fireworks. Sting pulls a giant cartoonish lever and the wheel spins. Fireworks continue to explode as it spins. And it stops on... a Coal Miner's Glove Match. Ventura repeats that disbelievingly. Everyone at home shakes their collective head. That's absolutely hilarious. For comparison, the other choices on the wheel were: Russian Chain Match, "I Quit Match," Dog Collar Match, Steel Cage Match, Barbwire Match, Lumberjack Match, Prince of Darkness Match, Texas Death Match, First Blood Match, Texas Bull Rope Match, and Spinner's Choice. So basically, it landed on by far the worst possibility. According to internet legend, the wheel was ungimmicked and actually just landed on Coal Miner's Glove. I don't know whether to believe that or not. On one hand, it's hard to believe they would leave it to chance and some of the matches seem like unlikely choices (what the hell is a "Prince of Darkness" match?). On the other hand, it's hard to believe they chose Coal Miner's Glove.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Masahiro Chono (c) vs. Ric Rude
Chono defeated Rude in the finals of a tournament to win the title. He was the first champion since Flair was stripped of the title when he left for the WWF last year. Both guys got to pick a referee. Chono choose Kensuki Sasake, Rude chose Harley Race. Race wins the coin toss to determine who gets to be the referee in the ring. Sasake has to referee on the outside. Rude talks trash to Chono despite the fact that he doesn't speak much of any English. Jesse claims that all Minnesotans speak Japanese. Long feeling out process to kick things off. We're a couple minutes in and nothing has really happened. Just lots of generic holds. Rude grabs a Chinlock and holds it for awhile. Chono tries an STF but can't get it hooked in. Instead he just holds the Toe Hold for awhile. Rude gets out and Piledrives Chono!
Alright, here we go. Rude goes to the top rope and misses a chop. Rude takes him down and... applies another Chinlock. Sigh. Rude eventually locks on a Sleeper. He holds it for awhile and suddenly the crowd starts going crazy. There must have been a fight in the crowd or something. This Sleeper Hold has been going on for almost five minutes. Rude breaks it and goes to the top rope. He...misses a Missile Dropkick? Can't really tell. Rude sells it like he missed, but Chono sells it too. Hmmm. Chono goes off the ropes and tries a Yakuza Kick, but Rude dodges and Race gets hit. Race is knocked out of the ring.
Chono throws Rude over the top to the floor. Rude reverses a Suplex attempt into the Rude Awakening. He has Chono beat, but there's no referee. Rude misses a Knee Drop from the top rope. Chono locks in the STF. Sasaki calls for the bell. He's supposed to be the outside ref, but he came into the ring. Not clear who the winner is here. Race says Chono is disqualified for throwing Rude over the top rope.
That seems to be the official decision. It was a DQ win or a submission loss by the challenger. Again, who cares which way it goes? Sasaki slams Race and hits Rude with a Dropkick. Match ran 22:23.
Result: Rick Rude by disqualification
Analysis: 1/2*. Absolute shit. 20 minutes of restholds and a bullshit finish. The crowd doesn't care about Chono because they have no idea who he is. It's the same mistake they made with Flair and Fujinami at SuperBrawl last year. If you're going to bring in a guy from overseas, he either has to be a Liger type that the crowd can quickly get behind because of his style, or he has to work heel. They're not going to cheer a guy they don't know. Here, it was a guy they hated against a guy they didn't care about, but were negatively inclined towards because he was Japanese. The illogic of that booking really makes my head hurt.
We get a montage of the Barbarian training for the next match. He breaks lots of concrete blocks. As Bruce Lee once said, “Boards don’t hit back.”
WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Ron Simmons (c) vs. The Barbarian
Barbarian is best known for being part of the Powers of Pain, a mediocre WWF tag team. So he's getting a world title match on PPV because... I don't really know. Cactus Jack accompanies Barbarian to the ring here. Cactus would have been a much better choice to challenge Simmons here. Simmons has an entourage with him for his entrance years before Goldberg did it. He doesn't get much of a response. Teddy Long appears to be managing him. Barbarian controls with power to start. Simmons fights back and Barbarian bails. He comes back in and drops Simmons on the top rope. Barbarian puts Simmons into the post outside the ring. Back in the ring, Simmons gets a Sunset Flip for a two count. Barbarian grabs a Chinlock. He slams Simmons and goes up top. He misses an Elbow Drop. No mention of the fact that he would have been disqualified if he had hit it. Simmons hits a Spinebuster for a two count. Simmons is distracted by Cactus and is kicked to the outside. Barbarian goes up top and hits a Diving Headbutt. Apparently they've rescinded the no top rope rule. Simmons kicks out at two. Barbarian charges Simmons and he hits a Powerslam for the pin at 7:24.
Result: Ron Simmons by pinfall
Analysis: 1/4*. Yeah, that really sucked. Just a lot of punching and generic power moves. They really should have put Simmons in there with someone who could work for his first PPV defense.
Coal Miner’s Glove Match: Sting vs. Jake Roberts
Okay, so the coal miner’s glove is hanging from a post in the corner of the ring. If you pull it down, you can punch your opponent with it and it would really hurt. As terrible as Vince Russo was in WCW, not even he ever did an On a Pole match in the main event of a pay-per-view. Jake is looking pretty pale here. His personal demons were starting to catch up to him. Jake goes straight for the glove and gets thrown off the top rope. The pole is really, really tall. Like, they're really going to have to shimmy up it to get to the glove. Sting misses a Dropkick and Roberts work on the back. Roberts throws Sting over the top to the floor. No disqualifications here. Sting slams Roberts into the ring post. Sting goes for the glove, but Roberts gets there and hits a Back Suplex. Jesse rhetorically asks if either man would have chosen the Coal Miner's Glove Match. I can tell you no wrestling fan would have.
Roberts gets a Hip Toss and climbs again. Sting crotches him. They fight outside and Roberts hits Sting in the back with a chair. Roberts chokes Sting with his wrist tape. The referee breaks that up despite this being an unsanctioned match. Roberts misses a Knee Lift. Sting misses the Stinger Splash and Roberts hits his signature Short Arm Clothesline. He hits the DDT! Big pop for that. Roberts starts to climb, but Sting comes from the apron, swings around the pole, and headbutts him. That was pretty cool. Cactus Jack appears and throws Jake's snake bag into the ring. Sting has climbed the pole and retrieved the glove, but Jake has his cobra. Sting gets a shot with the glove and rolls Jake into the pin at 10:36.
Result: Sting by pinfall
Analysis: *. That was pretty miserable. These two probably could have had a decent match with the right gimmick, but this was definitely not it. Roberts was sluggish and the crowd was pretty silent for most of the match.
Roberts gets bitten in the face by the cobra. They mostly use long shots, so it's hard to say if it's actually biting him. Jake stumbles to the back, and that's the last we would ever see of him in WCW. Bill Watts canned him shortly afterward. It's worth noting that this show is said to have done a tremendous buyrate, WCW's best ever pre-Hogan. People were definitely pumped to see Roberts and Sting, and they were probably intrigued by the wheel concept. Too bad they got totally screwed over by either bookers or random chance.
Overall: This is one of the worst booked shows I've ever seen. Whether it was the decision for the tag match to go 30 minutes and have the faces retain by time limit draw, or the decision to have Barbarian face Simmons instead of Cactus Jack, or the decision to have a Coal Miners Glove Match (or not rig the wheel) be the main event, there were just terrible decisions all around. The tag match and the Steamboat/Pillman match were good, but everything else was so offensively bad and stupid that I'm giving this show an F. It wasn't as bad match-wise as Great American Bash 1991, but it was terrible in a whole different way.