Former WCW Champions recall Halloween Havoc
Former WCW Champion Diamond Dallas Page remembers Halloween Havoc as second only to Starrcade.
“All the competitors knew the importance of Halloween Havoc,” DDP said. “It was the WCW equivalent to SummerSlam. We held the last five Havocs in Las Vegas and the fans were electric. There were celebrities visiting us backstage. It was the closest we got to the feeling of today’s SummerSlam without being at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.”
Full of high-caliber competition and memorable set designs, the Atlanta-based organization’s annual October event is still fondly remembered by the WWE Universe.
“The elaborate sets and the theme of Halloween Havoc as a whole is what I think really caught the attention of the fans,” Page explained. “Add in the explosive contests we had every year at the event and it was definitely the perfect precursor to Starrcade.”
From the very beginning, Halloween Havoc pitted WCW’s top competitors against one another in matches with a variety of stipulations. The first main event in 1989 featured Ric Flair & Sting battling The Great Muta & Terry Funk in a domed steel enclosure known as Thunderdome. That event also featured a memorable tag team contest between The Steiner Brothers and Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed). ( WATCH)
The competitiveness of the event was highlighted in 1991 when WCW TV Champion “Stunning” Steve Austin battled Dustin Rhodes in a brutal battle. The match set the tone of Halloween Havoc for years to come as both competitors battled to a time-limit draw. ( WATCH)
In 1992 and 1993, the stipulations of Halloween Havoc’s main event were decided by “Spin the Wheel, Make a Deal,” a precursor to WWE’s Raw Roulette. No matter the match type, Halloween Havoc was a must-see event throughout the 1990s.
“When I battled Eddie at Havoc ’96, I learned what it took to be a top competitor,” Page recalled. "Eddie was one of the very best and he pushed me to the limit in that match. He proved the importance and competitiveness that comes with Halloween Havoc, because he actually got injured during the match and kept on coming!”
“I had some great matches with ‘Macho Man,’ but the one at Halloween Havoc in 1997 was intense, and Havoc was the perfect venue for a Last Man Standing Match,” DDP reminisced about his friend and rival, Randy Savage. “I ended up losing because Hulk Hogan came out dressed-up like Sting for Halloween and hit me with a baseball bat.” ( WATCH)
In 1998, Halloween Havoc was marred with controversy. Following the WrestleMania VI rematch of Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, thousands of viewers lost the WCW World Title Match between Goldberg and DDP because time had run out with pay-per-view providers. Although the match aired for free the next night on Nitro, Page affirms that there was good reason to show the match in its entirety.
“I challenge anyone to find a better match than me and Goldberg at Havoc ’98. There are few matches that were as physical, exhausting and psychological as that one. I just remember us both hurting and visiting the chiropractor after that.”
DDP also recalled how electric the fans were, especially following Hogan vs. Warrior.
“I thought the crowd would be dead after that match. But when Goldberg and I locked up and went at it, the fans went nuts. We knew that the event was bigger than a regular pay-per-view, especially given its history.”
Halloween Havoc is often brought up among the WWE Universe when discussing the best events from WCW and the 1990s as a whole. Diamond Dallas Page certainly attributes the high-octane matches and fan interest as the major factors in making it WCW’s second biggest event of the year from 1989 to 2000.
“It was a great show for everyone involved, fans and competitors alike,” DDP said. “I say WWE should bring it back!”
“Halloween Havoc was a time when you got to see stuff you wouldn’t see during the regular events of the year,” the five-time WCW Champion Booker T said of the match variety and production of the October extravaganza. ( PHOTOS)
With unique matches such as the Thunderdome and the Coal Miner’s Glove Match, it was certainly one of WCW’s most popular and unpredictable events. The early Havocs also featured “Spin the Wheel, Make a Deal,” a precursor to Raw Roulette that determined match stipulations. Based on the WWE Universe’s comments on Facebook and Twitter, the theme and memorable set designs of Halloween Havoc are still fondly remembered.
“From that standpoint, it was definitely like SummerSlam,” Booker added, “all the big stars of that time in WCW were always there. Havoc was definitely one of our biggest events of the year, so the competitors wanted to lay everything on the line.”
The master of the Spinaroonie remembered his WCW Tag Team Championship Match against The Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) at Halloween Havoc 1996 as one of the “most competitive matches at Havoc.” As half of Harlem Heat with his brother Stevie Ray, Booker recalled the intensity of the match with the titles on the line. ( WATCH)
Booker also specifically reminisced about being at Halloween Havoc early in his career and how taking part of that event helped mold him as a competitor.
“When I was just a small fry, I looked at Havoc as an opportunity to be a fly on the wall, watch everything that transpired on such a big stage and see what made Superstars,” he said. “It was like on the job training.”
Although he defeated Hogan for the title, The Hulkster decided to have a little bit of fun at Big Show’s expense following the match. “Hogan congratulated me and told me I had to wear the title in the airport on the way to Nitro. I was the new guy in WCW, so I didn’t realize it was a big joke. So I’m walking through the airport proud to be the champion, but people are looking at me like I’m crazy.”
Big Show added, “I’ll always remember Havoc for that — my first match, my first title and defeating a legend like Hulk Hogan was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
A year later at Havoc ’96 as a member of The nWo, Big Show assisted Hogan in retaining the WCW World Title. WWE.com asked The World’s Largest Athlete if he thought that was strange, or if his loyalties were solely with The New World Order at that point.
“The WWE Universe always remembers The nWo as Hogan, Hall and Nash,” Big Show said. “Some people forget that I was their fourth guy. In 1996, it was still early in my career and I joined The nWo to learn from those guys and find my place. A big stage like Halloween Havoc was the perfect place to learn from them. So I did what I had to do.”
The World’s Largest Athlete also agreed with his former WCW colleagues DDP and Booker T, saying Havoc was indeed WCW’s equivalent to SummerSlam in terms of importance and production, especially for him.
“Both WCW and WWE performed in front of huge crowds, and at Halloween Havoc I was thrown right into the fire,” Big Show recalled. The World’s Largest Athlete left WCW and joined WWE in 1999 and, having experienced both organizations biggest events, noticed Havoc’s festive theme couldn’t compare with the Biggest Part of the Summer. “For WCW, Havoc was definitely on par with SummerSlam, but even it couldn’t match the energies of WWE’s biggest events like SummerSlam and WrestleMania.”
Throughout its history, Havoc always featured some bizarre incidents and matches, even without “Spin the Wheel, Make a Deal.” For example, in 1994 The Nasty Boys defeated Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck after Funk was piledrived onto a jack-o-lantern. Another instance saw Rick Rude performing as The WCW Halloween Phantom. Even after Big Show defeated Hogan, a bizarre competitor called The Yeti assisted in a post-match attack. These strange occurrences only took place WCW’s October event.
Thinking about these wild instances helped Big Show recall his favorite memory of Halloween Havoc. Before he battled Hogan for the WCW Title in the main event, the two competitors squared off in a Sumo Monster Truck challenge. ( WATCH)
“Believe it or not, that Monster Truck Challenge was a lot of fun for me,” Big Show reminisced. “I remember being on the roof of that arena. It was freezing cold and wet. I could barely feel my fingers, then I fell off the side of the building and I just remember thinking, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ ”
Halloween Havoc has become an unforgettable memory for the WWE Universe and former WCW Champions, including some of the biggest names in WWE today. Through tricks and treats, there is no denying the importance for everyone involved and those who witnessed it every October for more than a decade.