Friday, May 20, 2016

Professional Wrestling Review: WCW/nWo Halloween Havoc 1998

Recently, I mentioned something about going to Massachusetts to see CHIKARA and then came up with the most excellent idea that if Wrestlemania ever comes back to Houston or somewhere we'd want to travel to in the next few years, we should go to that place but *not* see Wrestlemania and instead take in only the shows that surround it (such as the WWN supershows, ROH and even an NXT Take Over event) Gina started asking me about why so many wrestling companies (like ROH) seemingly don't come to Connecticut and I said it was probably just because they don't draw because people who live in CT and want to see quality wrestling will drive to NY, NJ or MA to see it.    Anyway, it got me to thinking of the old territory days between WWE and WCW and how when WCW came to Connecticut for the first time- for Nitro- I went to that show with my Mom and we saw the WCW debut of The Ultimate Warrior.   I also seemed to recall an awful PPV match between Hulk Hogan and the Warrior in WCW, which I then said I was going to look up and eventually watch on The WWE Network.   So, yes, this is on The WWE Network so if you have The Network (and you should) you can watch it for yourself.    And wow was this strange times for WCW.  This PPV was probably between $35 and $50 when it first aired and if I paid even $20 for it I'd be so upset after watching it from top to bottom.

Chris Jericho (c) vs. Raven (WCW World Television Title Match)

This was a really fun way to start this show.   Raven said he didn't want to be here and Jericho said he didn't either, which you have to imagine was somewhat of a shoot.   They ended up fighting back and forth anyway and Raven ended up tapping to the Walls of Jericho.   The commentators noted Raven's losing streak and I think he's on his way back to ECW.

Meng vs. Wrath

In hindsight, WCW really had some matches people who grew up watching WWE probably wanted to see.   Here we have Haku vs. Adam Bomb, who probably never faced each other in WWE as I remember Haku being from a time before Adam Bomb.   Wrath got the quick win and big guys just can't go like this any more.

Disco Inferno vs. Juventud Guerrera

It was announced that the winner of this match would go on later to face Billy Kidman for the Cruiserweight Title.  They also questioned Disco's weight even though he somehow won this match and Juventud is once again used to put over someone's idea of a good gimmick.   Man, Disco Inferno would never get over today... Right, Fandango?

Alex Wright vs. Fit Finlay

When we started watching this, my wife wasn't watching it with us.   I started telling her later on how this show didn't have a lot of key WCW names.  I mentioned that Perry Saturn was on it, but not Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero or Dean Malenko.   No Flair, Harlem Heat, Lex Luger... And yet we get Fit Finlay.    I told her we had Finlay in a match and I didn't even remember who he fought.   And Alex Wright won!  (Though I do remember them saying something about Alex Wright's father breaking someone's neck once)

Lodi vs. Saturn

Poor Lodi never really got over and Saturn was made to look strong here in his win.   You know how you cram twelve matches into a PPV?  Short, forgettable ones like this.

Kidman (c) vs. Disco Inferno (WCW World Cruiserweight Title Match)

Of course, Kidman retained even though Disco Inferno was supposedly too big to be a Cruiserweight and all of that.    This was not the height of the cruiserweight division in WCW by any means.

nWo Hollywood (Scott Steiner & The Giant) (c) vs. Buff Bagwell & Rick Steiner (WCW World Tag Team Title Match)

This was a strange match because Buff Bagwell was friends with Scott Steiner but now he's seen the light and is helping out Rick Steiner.   Whatever.   Buff Bagwell comes out to wrestle in jeans and doesn't do a whole lot in this match which also features The Giant for some reason.    If you were for some reason unaware that the tag team titles were part of this match, you wouldn't know it based upon Scott Steiner's promo before the match.    He said he has the biggest arms in the world so he found a tag team partner who is the biggest wrestler.  It felt a lot like, "I'm picking him as my partner because we have to make this tag team match or whatever and we used to team 'cause we're brothers but now we're fighting each other, so whatever, here's The Giant".   Imagine Ryback in (somewhat) current WWE being beaten up by the League of Nations.   So Ryback needs help and says since he is "The Big Guy" his help will be The Big Show.  That's what this felt like, a little bit on the spot, even though Scott Steiner and The Giant are tag champs.    This match was a mess, obviously, and Rick Steiner won though now even the commentators wondered who his partner would be for the titles since Buff Bagwell is pretty much useless.   There was also a stipulation that if Rick won he'd get Scott alone in a no DQ match so naturally that followed.  Man, the late 1990's were guilty of a lot of "If you win this match then this happens" and then the person always wins that match so the second thing can happen matches.

Rick Steiner vs. Scott Steiner (No Disqualification Match)

I'd still rather see these two team, but this match was what it was and I suppose it was a bit of revenge for Rick Steiner.  I don't know if WCW doesn't have the Hardcore Title yet or if it's just not on this show, but this was a far cry from anything ECW was doing in '98.

Kevin Nash vs. Scott Hall

This match started with Scott Hall jumping Kevin Nash and as was the case with Scott vs. Rick Steiner, it's just never easy watching two guys you associate as being on the same side fighting each other.   People will always want to see The Dudleys vs. another tag team and won't look back as fondly on Buh Buh v. D-Von.     Anyway, yeah, this match was a trainwreck and it ended with a Scott Hall win via count out.     I'm not sure how people watched this (and paid for it) in 1998 and felt good about it afterwards, but whatever.  

Bret Hart (c) vs. Sting (WCW United States Heavyweight Title Match)

There are two things I will remember most about this match: Sting had a weird gotee and Bret Hart was playing a massive heel.    I feel like this could have been a better match, but for WCW at this time it was acceptable.  

Hollywood Hogan vs. The Warrior

This was why I put this PPV on and boy was it worth it-- in the way that if you want to see an awful match you should watch this one.   There was a lot of stalling, just feats of strength and stuff like that.   Hulk Hogan put boots to Warrior that barely looked like they were touching him.   In perhaps the most infamous moment of this match, Hulk Hogan tried to hit Warrior with a fireball and it just kind of blew up closer to Hogan's face and was such a mess.   As pointed out on commentary, these two men only met one time before this and Ultimate Warrior went on record to say this match likely only happened so that Hogan could get his win back and I fully agree with that idea.    If you ever want to see how not to book a match of this magnitude, simply watch this.   I was expecting this to be a bad match but this is even worse than what I thought and I loved how terrible every second of it was.   Again, apologies if you actually paid for this PPV some almost twenty years ago.  

Goldberg (c) vs. Diamond Dallas Page (WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match)

This was not that bad of a match, but as soon as the commentators pointed out that Goldberg was undefeated I knew he'd be winning because his streak doesn't end with DDP.  I spent a lot of this match trying to get Quentin to watch it by asking him if he wanted a DDP figure.   We have a DDP figure, but Quentin doesn't really know who DDP is and so that was my point, to kind of show him who the figure is of that he doesn't really know, but he was coloring and didn't care.   Eh, DDP lives on a shelf anyway.     After the match the commentators said that this was how a match was supposed to end and it felt like they were taking jabs at the Warrior-Hogan and Hall-Nash matches which was kind of funny because why would you insult your own product?     In any case, this match wasn't even as great as it was made out to be or that you think it might be on paper (because neither Goldberg nor DDP are affiliated with the nWo and as such both are kind of mega-faces in WCW at this time, so it's kind of like the first meeting between Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior) and DDP just couldn't carry Goldberg to fight outside of his comfort zone.  

Overall, watching WCW Halloween Havoc 1998 is going to depend upon how big of a wrestling fan that you are and how much you want to suffer.   If you're going into this thinking it's going to be bad, you should brace yourself for the worst because I think it is much worse than you probably think it is going to be.   I'd say only watch this one if you're really bored, like on a sick day or something.  

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