Wednesday, October 30, 2019

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997

Happy Halloween, ladies and gentlemen.

Fancy a wrestling show tomorrow, but don't want to subject yourselves to WWE Blood Money IV or whatever the fuck it's called? Well, I've got a treat for you, for today, we'll be looking at a truly horrifying PPV event called Halloween Havoc, brought to you by our dearly departed friends at World Championship Wrestling. Today's musings will be covering the 1997 iteration of the show, which features Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan in a steel cage match.

Yes, kids. This show is home to the infamous AGE IN THE CAGE!

Yuji Nagata defeated Ultimo Dragon via submission. A nicely-paced ten minute match that had Nagata focus on Dragon's bad arm and using that to eventually win with an armbar submission. This was perfectly fine.

Future Le Champion du AEW Chris Jericho defeated future New Japan booker Gedo via liontamer submission. The Network edit replaces Jericho's old Evenflow knock-off music with his WWE music, which sounds off-putting and odd. This match wasn't quite as "clean" as the first one, but felt like more of a brawl with cruiserweights with anything. It's basically a different flavor of match and one that I actually enjoyed, so good job.

Rey Misterio Jr. defeated Cruiserweight Champion Eddy Guerrero in a title vs. mask match to win the title. Fun times with this match; fast-paced, basic storytelling with Eddy being the arrogant asshole to Rey's never-say-die resilient hero. These was touted as one of the best matches of the year and if you watch this, it's very easy to see why. Tremendous action going on here.

Alex Wright (with Debra) defeated Steve "Mongo" McMichael with an assist from GOLDBERG of all people. Why is GOLDBERG helping Alex Wright win? Why did Debra give GOLDBERG a Super Bowl ring? Why is GOLDBERG punching out Alex Wright afterwards? Why is GOLDBERG hanging out with Debra? What the fuck is going on here?

Oh yeah, the match sucked. Mongo was a thing that happened and Wright tried. I always liked Mongo's tombstone, though. Just a thing.

Jacqueline defeated WCW Television Champion Disco Inferno in a non-title match. I suppose if I had been watching Nitro regularly, I'd understand the context behind this match, but since I don't, I'm just left with a look of befuddlement. All I got out of this was Disco getting his ass kicked by a woman in a horrible match and almost two decades later, nothing has changed much. Oh well.

U.S. Champion Curt Hennig defeated Ric Flair via DQ when Flair stomped the title belt into Hennig's face while he was hung in the corner... and then a bunch of refs and nWo B-team members show up to split the brawl apart of  This wasn't pretty, but considering this came a month after Hennig's turn on the Horseman on a prior PPV event, I didn't want it to be pretty. Mind you, had this been in the heyday of the NWA, there probably would've been a bit of color that would've added to this, but

Lex Luger defeated Scott Hall via submission. Larry Zbsyzko is your special ref for this match and he made sure you knew it. The less said, the better... by a considerably margin.

Randy Savage (with Elizabeth) defeated DDP in a Las Vegas Sudden Death match (basically a Last Man Standing where whoever doesn't make the ten count loses) via interference from Hogan as fake Sting. The match itself was fun stuff, with a brawl in the crowd, a brawl with styrofoam bits and bobs, and there was also a hair-pulling fight between Elizabeth and Kimberly (DDP's then-wife) for a bit of side appeal. If the show had ended here, it would've been fine... but the show continues.

Okay, and now, we begin Le Show De Merde.

Rowdy Roddy Piper defeated WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan via sleeper submission in an Age In The Cage match. I like how Piper has had two wins over Hogan during the hot nWo run and yet neither match was for the title... I thought that was kind of stupid, but whatever. This cage is a weird custom set-up made of pipes and with huge holes that a small child could fit through. What made this even worse was that the cage was almost worthless in the long run; sure, they fought around the cage and even hung on top of the cage while it was teetering on the edge of collapse, but the cage felt superfluous in a match that felt like their Starrcade match; slow, plodding, some elicit tactics used, and Piper winning with a sleeper of all things.

I went into this match expecting a cavalcade of comedy. I had heard some many bad things about this thing (notably a rather famous Jim Cornette promo on WWF TV as well as Piper's own podcast where he would mention this match on a number of occasions) and expected this to be a glorious disaster. What I got was a slow match with two old match in a rinky-dink steel cage that wouldn't be good enough for a backyard fed while a bunch of Sting stand-ins were watching. And then after the match, a fan got beat up. So, clearly, the match failed to live up to the legend, but it did confirm one thing; it exists and it did seem like the first few rows passed out as it happened. In that regard, I don't regret watching this... but I never need to see this again.

Look, as a whole, Halloween Havoc 1997 was the stereotypical WCW PPV of its hottest period; a mostly solid undercard with some great matches capped off with a main event or two that shits the bed on a monumental level. Age In The Cage is a spectacle to be witnessed at least once to prove such a thing exists, the first three matches are fine affairs, and the Savage/DDP death match is fun stuff, too. For what it's worth, this was a perfectly fine little wrestling show with highs and lows, but I can't say that I wasn't entertained.

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