411Wrestling Special: Halloween Havoc: 12 Years Of Terror - Part 3
Posted by Michael Benjamin on 10.31.2003
The special feature continues with Part 3...
What's up guys.
Today, we spare the long-winded intro, and jump right back into Halloween Havoc: 12 Years of Terror.
IX. The Steiners vs. The Nasties
Steiners vs. The Nasties Halloween Havoc 1990:
As much as I love WCW and hold it's memories and moments very close to my heart, it pains me to have to preface almost every single one of those great Havoc moments with a comment on how badly WCW would go on to screw up a potentially great thing. This situation unfortunately would prove to be no different.
Appearing seemingly out of nowhere, two legitimate tough guys from the dingy streets of North Tampa burst onto the Florida independent wrestling scene in the late 80's. These two men, known collectively as the Nasty Boys, would go on to dominate Florida Tag Team like no team had ever done, destroying every wrestler in their path. Within a year and a half, the prestigious Florida Team Team Wrestling Titles, held formerly by such legendary teams as Jerry and Jack Brisco, Dory and Terry Funk, Hiro Matsuda and Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods, and Jose Lothario and Argentina Apollo, had been captured five times by the thuggish Nasty Boys.†
They were violent, unique, and marketable, they were competent in the ring, and most importantly, they really knew how to piss off a crowd. Needless to say, it didn't take long for WCW higher-ups to catch wind of this duo that was dominating Southern tag team wrestling, and in mid-1990, the call finally came in from Dusty Rhodes. He wanted them in WCW, and he wanted them to immediately come in and feud with what many, many people, from America to Japan, consider to be the greatest tag team in wrestling history, The Steiner Brothers.
Upon entering WCW, the Nasty Boys wasted little time in making good on Dusty's wishes. Both teams immediately developed a profound hatred for one another, and it became increasingly obvious that a title match between the two teams was a foregone conclusion.
The match was set to take place at the second annual WCW Halloween Havoc PPV, live from Chicago, Illinois, but the Nasty Boys wanted to make sure the Steiners never even made it to the PPV.
Two weeks prior to Halloween Havoc, the contract signing between the Steiners and the Nasty Boys was set to take place at a house show in Cobb County, Georgia. TV cameras were on standby in case anything were to break out that evening at the small, yet historic Civic Center. Needless to say, all hell broke loose.
The Nasty Boys were the first to sign the contracts, arrogantly threatening the Steiners and promising them that there was no way they would leave Chicago with their U.S. Tag Team Championships or their health. The Steiners jawed right back, and officials had to separate the two teams so that the Steiners could sign the contracts.
As the Steiners were handing the signed contracts over to WCW officials, the Nasty Boys bummed-rushed them and gave them the beating of a lifetime. The thuggish Nasties knocked Rick and Scott Steiner out cold with the Tag Team Belts, busting them wide open in the process. To put the final punctuation mark on the assault, Jerry Sags picked Scott Steiner up and drove him straight through the table that was used for the contract signing. The crowd was absolutely STUNNED, as the year was 1990 and most had never seen anything remotely as violent as what they had just witnessed.
The Steiners Brothers were hurt, there was no doubt about that, but unfortunately for the Nasty Boys, they were now incredibly pissed off as well.
All of the violent heat and all of the mounting tension came to a head in Chicago, Illinois at Halloween Havoc: 1990. The match not only exceeded the hype, but also served to MAKE the careers of two previously unheard of Florida punks.†
From the minute the opening bell sounded, both teams came out slugging, with all four men exchanging hammers and just pounding the absolute shit out of eachother. Scott Steiner reversed a Jerry Sags superplex into a top-rope Belly-to-Belly suplex amid mass hysteria from the crowd in the attendance. Brian Knobs was dropped STRAIGHT on his head as all hell continued to break loose. Out of nowhere amid the chaos, Scott picked Saggs back up and and put him on his shoulders as Rick Steiner came flying off the top rope with a bulldog. It was complete and total insanity.†
Bodies continued to fly everywhere, as the action got more intense by the second.
Rick Steiner missed a clothesline and went flying out of the ring, allowing the Nasties the opportunity to nearly spike-piledrive Scott Steiner's skull through the canvas. Rick Steiner took offense and just BLASTED Jerry Sags over the head with a chair. Immediately, blood was just everywhere and the match grew even MORE intense.
Eventually, the brawl erupted to the floor, allowing Scott Steiner to pull Knobs back in, hit the Frankensteiner, and marginally escape with the titles.
The crowd erupted, cheering an amazing match and celebrating what was sure to be a long, epic feud. Bill Apter and PWI called it one of the greatest tag team wrestling matches in American history. Dave Meltzer and the Wrestling Observer gave the match a rave review. Old-school WCW fans loved it.
WCW had a golden opportunity to push this feud into the stratosphere, and, as I'm sure you can guess, they fucked it up royally.
Common sense would seem to dictate that if a major wrestling promotion was going to put a massive amount of time, money, and confidence in a tag team in attempting to push them to main-event status, they would be sure to sign them to a contract to make sure a rival promotion didn't sweep the tag team out from under them and capitalize on all of their hard work. Of course WCW didn't actually do this though.
Thus, less than a month after WCW had taken two nobodies from Tampa and transformed them into the hottest tag team in wrestling, the WWF simply called the Nasty Boys up, offered them a few more dollars, and took them right from under the nose of WCW.
It was an absolute nightmare for WCW, and further strengthened their stigma of disorganization and stupidity.
XI. The Greatest Match in Halloween Havoc History. Halloween Havoc 1989:
As October 1989 approached, the NWA was at an all-time high, both creatively and in the ring. Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat had spent the better half of the year engaged in what many consider to be the greatest feud in professional wrestling history. Terry Funk worked his way into the equation by attacking Ric Flair at WrestleWar, piledriving him through a table, putting him on the shelf for months, and in the process turning the company's number one heel into it's largest babyface draw. Meanwhile, Sting and the Great Muta were putting on groundbreaking matches still talked about to this day.†
All of these feuds were set to come to a boil at the inaugural Halloween Havoc PPV in historic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.†
As previously mentioned, the NWA's booking during and preceding this PPV will go in down in history as some of the greatest in wrestling history. Sure, Dusty's tainted finishes brought things down for everyone and damaged the hell out of a few cities, but the storylines themselves, as well as the sheer work ethic and genius possessed by the NWA's big six (Flair, Funk, Steamboat, Luger, Muta, Sting), made NWA 1989 my favorite year of wrestling ever.
Ric Flair and Terry Funk had been feuding for the better part of the year, and more specifically, they had been waging war ever since Flair's return to action at Great American Bash - "Glory Days" in Baltimore, MD. The feud was still red hot, and NWA fans were reveling the chance they had waited so long for to cheer The Nature Boy.
Meanwhile, Sting and The Great Muta were putting on mind blowing matches that were easily five years ahead of their time. Certain circles of the net still talk about their series of matches in the same breathe as the Flair-Luger classics of a year earlier.
In a move designed to keep heat on both feuds, yet build towards Halloween Havoc, Ric Flair and The Great Muta began fighting on the house show circuits, as did Sting and Terry Funk. Through interviews, run-ins, and NWA hype, the main feuds were able to retain a lot of heat while the mini-feuds played themselves out across the country and lent even more credence to the notion that Halloween Havoc would truly be something special.
All four of these feuds came to a head in the main event of Halloween Havoc '89.
The match: Thundercage.
A large, ominous cage (the same one used earlier in the year at Capital Combat), towering a legitimate 25+ feet in the air would house the four combatants.
The roof was slanted inwards to keep the wrestlers in, and the outsiders out.
There was one final catch: The cage was electrified. If an opponent tried to escape, the top of the cage would give them enough of a jolt to convince them that maybe it wasn't in their best interest to go any higher.
Unlike other hokey WCW gimmicks, this one worked. Maybe it's the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia playing mind tricks on me, but the electrified cage gimmick never came across as particularly absurd. I felt it equally necessary in order to keep all those not involved in the match from entering the cage.
To further hammer home the electric cage concept, a rigged fire was actually ignited early into the match near the top of the cage. Referee Tommy Young immediately put the fire out, but unfortunately, from what I hear, he injured himself very badly in the process.
For the next twenty minutes, all four men gave every ounce they had, battled for their lives, endured some brutal bumps, and in the process, put on what was quite simply the greatest match in Halloween Havoc history.
Sting dove from the cage walls into the ring.
Ric Flair and Terry Funk exchanged absolutely vicious chops 10 feet in the air on the cage.
Special guest referee Bruno Sammartino did everything in his power to keep order.
So much happened in this match, but I don't want to spoil it for you if you've yet to see it. We'll just say that the match 20 minutes of the most explosive action many of these fans have ever seen. The storyline was great, the execution was great, and the match was amazing.
Sting and Flair won of course, but that's beside the point. Hunt this match down. Not only was it the first main event in Halloween Havoc history, but it was also the best match in the short life of the epic PPV.
XII. An Imposter Sting?. Halloween Havoc 1990:
As Halloween Havoc 1990 approached, Sting was deeply involved in his feud with The Black Scorpion. Unfortunately, no suitable Scorpion existed, so WCW had to go with plan B until they could get their heads out of their asses and decide who would best fit the part of the creepy magician.
Meanwhile, Sid Vicious was arguably the hottest heel in WCW at the time, drawing massive babyface cheers despite being a part of the hated Four Horsemen stable. Regardless of his heelish ties, Sid's combination of size, charisma, and wacky catchphrases ("I rule the world") were more than enough to endear himself to many fans, both casual and smart alike.
Due to process of elimination more than anything else, Sid was plugged into an intermediary feud with Sting, primarily so Sting would have a hot challenger at the upcoming Halloween Havoc PPV.
Although the bout looked great on paper, one major problem existed: neither man could afford to lose the match. Sting was the company's number one babyface, and, despite weak gates at recent house show events, was still the most valuable wrestler to WCW at the time and still needed the WCW title around his waste in order to even attempt to salvage the Black Scorpion fiasco. On the flip-side, Sid Vicious was picking up steam by the day, and all in WCW knew that it was only a matter of time before the belt was around his waste. He couldn't afford to be pinned cleanly by a man much smaller than himself.
The two squared off live from Chicago, Illinois at the second annual Halloween Havoc PPV. Knowing that neither man could be allowed a clean pinfall on the other, Ole Anderson came up with yet another idiotic way to screw the paying customer out of each and every penny of their hard earned money that they plunked down for the show. His solution: A Fake Sting.
Near the end of the match, both men fought back to the entranceway. The first sign that something right happened when both men wrestled into the back, yet the cameras were "unable" to follow them. The second sign that something was wrong was of course when a man looking nothing like Sting (Barry Windham) waddled out to the ring and allowed Sid to pin him.
For a fleeting moment, it appeared as if a new NWA/WCW World Heavyweight Champion had been crowned. Before the party get under way though, Sting came running from the backstage area with tape still hanging from his body. Apparantly, the Horsemen had jumped him in the back, tied him down, and sent out Windham in his place.
Sting had enough of the bullshit, and quickly rolled up Sid Vicious for the victory, although it was admittedly tainted.
The ending pissed a lot of people off, including Turner executives, and Ole's stupid booking would come to cost him his job a few months later.
X. The Rise of the Scorpion. Halloween Havoc 1990:
With Sting's coronation at the Great American Bash came the ending of the greatest era in the history of the NWA. From the mid-80's, through the heyday of the Horseman in the late 80's, to the greatest year any wrestling promotion has ever experienced in 1989, to the epic battles that 1990 saw between Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Ricky Steamboat, and Sting, the NWA took us all on the ride of a lifetime and battled head-to-head with the WWF in a time period when the perception of competition was a taboo subject by both companies. As unfortunate as it is, the old saying tends to ring true time and time again...
All good things...
From this point forward, WCW started it's gradual transition from old-school mentality to new-school "sports entertainment." What followed was what will undoubtedly go down in history as the single worst angle in the history of the wrestling: The Black Scorpion.
While the myth of the Scorpion has been beaten to death by just about every major site on the 'net, there's no way that we can't delve just a little bit deeper into the monstrosity known as "Ole's booking." Here's how it happened...
The Black Scorpion
The days following the Great American Bash were a mixed bag for WCW. While they were elated to have the title on the hottest young wrestler their roster had seen for years, they were also well aware of the fact that a babyface champion needed credible heel threats in order to be taken seriously. This, coupled with the fact that Sting's initial house show tours as champion didn't quite draw the numbers that WCW was expecting, pushed Ole Anderson to concoct an idea so poorly conceived and so TERRIBLY enacted that it ultimately ending up costing him his job and his good name.††
Shortly after the Great American Bash PPV, a mysterious masked wrestler appeared and began giving creepy monologues directed towards Sting. Each week, a vignette of the Black Scorpion would air, and each week it would be more over the top than the week preceding it. The Scorpion would appear each week in a dark cloudy room and give a long soliloquy to Sting. Each week the promos would get more and more bizarre. The Black Scorpion claimed to be a figure from Sting's past, and made repeated threats towards Sting. They weren't your everyday threats though, not from the Scorpion. They were the always family-friendly death threats. Such gems as "Stingggggggggggg.... Sid Vicious..... he wants your title.... I..... I want your LIFE" and the always appropriate "Prepare to die Sting," rattled the airwaves as long time wrestling fans turned their heads in shame from the nonsense that was the Black Scorpion. †
All over the wrestling world, the true identity of the Black Scorpion was hotly debated. Everyone from the Ultimate Warrior to Scott Wolf to independent wrestler The Angel of Death was believed to be the man behind the mask, but in typical WCW fashion, there was one major, unresolved problem: Ole had no fucking idea who the Black Scorpion was either. He had NO ONE to plug into the role of the Black Scorpion.
Ok, so let's review shall we... Ole goes on television each week with a dark hood and a voice box and gives promos as the Scorpion, making more and more obscure references each week and narrowing down the true possible identity of the true Scorpion further and further with each inane soliloquy. Ole repeatedly made absurd statements like "Remember California... in '86" and didn't even take the time to say, "Hmmm, who's this guy gonna be." Strange booking to say the least.††
In late September and early October, Sting would go on to have several matches with who he thought to be the Black Scorpion. Each time Sting would have the Scorpion pinned, the REAL Scorpion would emerge from the curtains, or appear over the arena intercom to heckle Sting. Not only did the Black Scorpion's body size change on a daily basis, varying from bone-thin to decidedly chunky, but even more ridiculously, his RACE changed from black to white without even a passing mention from the announce team. A match was finally made between the two at the December Starrcade show, but by this point, three months was sounding like a mighty long time to wait for this feud to wind down.
The legend of the Scorpion continued to get stranger as time passed, eventually culminating in some ridiculously asinine stuff so hokey that you're almost missing out if you haven't seen it. With this in mind, we pressed forward to the November edition of the hot TBS series, The Clash of the Champions.
Sting was set to be interviewed early into the broadcast, discussing his upcoming Starrcade match with The Black Scorpion. As Sting was set to be interviewed though, the Scorpion's voice mysteriously appeared over the arena's loudspeakers. Sting was threatened heavily, with the Scorpion claiming that the worst was yet to come tonight. How ironic, yet sadly true that very statement would prove to be.
Later on into the broadcast, Paul E Dangerously came out to once again interview Sting. This is where things turn laughably bad. The Scorpion emerged from the crowd, donning a black mask and a long black cape.
Does the Scorpion attack Sting you ask ??? Of course not silly mark.
Does the Scorpion try to steal Sting's title belt ??? Don't be ridiculous.
The Scorpion has something FAR more insidious up his sleeve.
Our friend the Scorpion snatched a "terrified" member from the crowd and sat him down in a chair. As the man looked on helpless and "frightened," The Scorpion removed a MAGIC BOX from his sac of tricks and heinously placed it on the man's head. What next you ask ??? He spun the man's head in circles of course!!! After the trick was complete, the kids clapped, the man laughed and shook his head as if to say, "Good one Scorp!", and the Black Scorpion made balloon animals for the kids. Actually, after the trick was completed, the audience laughed and Sting did a questionable (at best) acting job trying to convey the extreme terror that the cheaply costumed magician turned wrestler had instilled in his heart.††
While the last trick was awe-inspiring in every sense of the word, the Black Scorpion was FAR from a one-trick pony. What he had in store next for our friend with the twisted head was far more malicious... far more insipid... and far more asinine. The Scorpion proceeded to walk over to a nearby ANIMAL CAGE that had been MAGICALLY sitting near the ramp for the entire broadcast. Why no one questioned the exact logistics of having an ANIMAL CAGE at ringside early on in the show is beyond me, but let's face it, it was probably MUCH better that way. The Scorpion held the hand of the lucky audience member and placed him inside of the conveniently placed ANIMAL CAGE. The curtain was drawn upwards, rapid movement was seen behind the curtain, as if to hint that something MAGICAL was going on, and suddenly the curtain dropped, revealing a TIGER in the place of the man. OOOOOOOOOOH.............. MYSTICAL.
The Scorpion cast one more decidedly SPOOKY look in the direction of the champ before jumping into the cage, pulling the curtain, and disappearing himself, not to be seen again until Starrcade.
The time had come.
This was it: Zero Hour. Starrcade 1990 was upon us, and up until the very last minute, there just was NO ONE suitable to play the part of the Black Scorpion. How's that for booking yourself into a corner? It's hard to accurately convey just how strange this whole situation really was. WCW had been building and hyping a match between Sting and the mysterious Black Scorpion for nearly SIX MONTHS, with the catch being that if the Scorpion lost, he'd have to unmask. The final blowoff was just days away, and WCW still had NO IDEA who was going to play the Black Scorpion.
With D-Day day upon them, Ole Anderson and Jim Herd were forced to do the last thing on earth that they ever wanted to do: Go to Ric Flair with their tails between their legs and beg him to bail them out once again. Flair was NOT happy about the situation and felt that the angle would further do what Herd and Anderson had been secretly attempting to do for the better part of the year -- bury Ric Flair. Nevertheless, Flair did what was necessary for the company. Flair did what his promotion needed him to do. Ric Flair took a hit for the team, because he loved WCW and lived and died by it's success. In return for taking part in the stupidity, Flair was promised a title reign in the future, and the wheels were set in motion for WCW's biggest PPV of the calendar year... Starrcade.
The final blowoff between Sting and the Black Scorpion was much worse than could ever be imagined. The live crowd did not buy this nonsense for ONE second, especially after the match introductions. Sting made his way to the ring slowly and more methodically than he had ever done before, obviously looking a little shaken by the masked magician.
The Black Scorpion had the worst entrance in wrestling history this night, floating to the ring in a FLYING SPACESHIP of ludicrous proportions. In a scene so ridiculous that WCW has edited it out of the commercial releases of Starrcade 90, four CARDBOARD UFO'S lowered from the ceiling of the once sacred Kiel Auditorium. After the four crudely spraypainted space vessels fell from the ceiling, THE MOTHER SHIP emerged from the entranceway, carrying none other than the real Black Scorpion. As the steel cage finally locked behind both men, one of the worst main events in the history of Starrcade was set to begin.
The match was pretty one-sided, with the Scorpion getting his ass kicked all over the ring and managing to oh-so-subtly perform EVERY SINGLE Ric Flair trademark spot. Sting eventually pinned the Scorpion following a cross body block off the top rope, but as Sting attempted to unmask the Black Scorpion, several other Black Scorpions climbed the cage to attack Sting. As Sting battled the imposter scorpions, Arn Anderson and Barry Windham rushed the ring to lock the cage, trapping Sting inside with five hungry masked men. Seemingly out of nowhere, Sting casually rips the mask off of the real Black Scorpion, revealing Ric Flair was behind the magic tricks all along. That guy!!!!!!!
Believe it or not, immediately after Flair was unmasked, the entire fiasco was never again mentioned on WCW programming. NEVER.
Well guys, I know the column was originally intended to cover the 13 Spookiest Moments in Halloween Havoc history over the course of three parts, but truth be told, I've been struggling profusely with narrowing my favorite moments down to just 13. Several moments needed to be cut due to space constraints, but I just couldn't bring myself to do so.
What I'm trying to say is, the column has officially been extended to a four-part series. Tommorow, we'll wrap things up by looking at the final batch of hard-hitting Havoc moments, as well as ranking the ten greatest matches in Halloween Havoc history. I'll have promotional art from all 12 Havocs, closing thoughts, and information on my next mega-column here at 411Wrestling.
Until then, Happy Halloween everyone, stay safe, and don't forget to make a special Saturday visit to 411Mania tommorow in order to relive the magic of your favorite Havoc moments and see where your favorite Halloween Havoc matches rank amongst the very best in the history of the series.