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The card itself looked a bit ropey going in. With the main event ultimately filling the final hour of the show, and two matches dedicated to showcasing Japanese talent and Chris Benoit ahead of Starrcade, it was left to Savage vs Luger and Flair vs Sting as the two bankable matches on the card.
As if Halloween Havoc wasn't bizarre enough, we start with an opening promo where Hulk Hogan snaps out of his "dark side" trip and returns to the red and yellow. Sting throws Hogan's black shirt into a bin, which then gets pyro'd and set on fire, which appears to cause a legitimate fire which eventually gets put out. More bizarre still is Hogan referencing "the rag sheets", before saying "Observe this" and chucking presumably the latest copy of the Wrestling Observer onto the fire.
Diamond Dallas Page (w/ The Diamond Doll) vs Johnny B Badd © for the WCW TV Title
The Doll, who on TV in recent weeks had finally found her voice, offered herself up as a prize in this match, quite why I'm not exactly sure. That being said for the second show in a row these two both prove they deserve more than the opening match, working a very believable matchup that got the crowd invested. The Doll continues her turn here, but looks a bit shocked when Badd gets the job done with a slingshot leg drop to retain the title.
Big Bubba vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a taped fist match
I'm sure many people will dislike this match, I didn't. The triangular formation of the three rings got their first outing in this match with action spilling across them. These two worked a solid, hard hitting matchup that didn't outstay its welcome. In the end, VK Wallstreet (IRS – the third wheel in this feud) chucks a chain to Bubba, who levels Duggan with it. Duggan cannot answer the count and Bubba wins.
Cutie Susuki and Mayumi Ozaki vs Bull Nakano and Akiri Hokuto (w/ Sonny Ono)
As part of preparations for Starrcade, WCW have some Japanese talent here and this was the women's tag match on the show. Whether you enjoyed it or not very much depends on how much you're willing to suspend your disbelief, this match bought unbelievable offense and at times questionable psychology when it came to selling that offence (which is more the style of Japanese women’s wrestling than anything the quartet did wrong). The action was intense, but the choreographed routines that these women walk through to get from spot to spot after a big move does take the edge off.
That being said... if you can look past that this is an excellent exhibition of women's action. Bull Nakano works a brute of a match, a level or two up from her WWF outings in the couple of years prior. Hokuto does a flip dive from the top to the outside, before Nakano drops an impressive leg drop onto Ozaki for the win. For me, the lack of selling undercuts this match this match, but that is the style.
We get a promo from Lex Luger on the interview stage, noteworthy for the fact Luger is looking down the entire time, reading from an auto-cue. Not the best.
Chris Benoit vs Kensuki Sasaki © (w/ Sonny Ono) for the WCW United States Title
If you're wondering, Sting lost the title to Sasaki on a tour of Japan, this has barely been mentioned. The action from these two is very strong, but this match suffers for two reasons. Firstly, both men are new to the crowd (this match had no heat, Duggan/Bubba had a lot more). Secondly, Japanese babyfaces just don't wrestle the emotive style that WCW and presumably most North American's like.
The spots are excellent (we get the second tombstone piledriver of the night, the first from Badd, neither ended the match). Benoit whips out some German suplexes, and a diving headbutt, Sasaki looks fantastically smooth with his power-moves, including a one armed powerbomb. In the end the brainbuster does the job.
Randy Savage vs Lex Luger (w/ Jimmy Hart)
It's hard to work out how WCW have managed to take a match between two big names and make it so meaningless. They managed it at Havoc and they managed it here too. Another short match, Savage hits a top rope elbow drop but Hart distracts the referee. Luger locks in a torture rack, then an arm submission which Savage passes out in – Savage is carrying a legit injury. After the match, Sting comes out and reverses the spot from Nitro from a couple of weeks before, talking Luger out of the submission.
Ric Flair vs Sting
Two guys at the top of their games, this unsurprisingly was a lot of fun. Flair tried chopping Sting throughout the match, but Sting no sold them all. Flair sought sanctuary in the second ring, then the third, in the best match of the night for exploiting the triangular formation. Sting eventually rallies back in ring one, hits a superplex, then locks in the Scorpion Deathlock. Despite saying he'd never let go of the hold, he does after Flair submits. Nothing you haven't seen from these two before, but still excellent.
Scott Armstrong, Steve Armstrong, Arn Anderson, Johnny B. Badd, Marcus Bagwell, Chris Benoit, Big Train Bart, Bunkhouse Buck, Cobra, Disco Inferno, Jim Duggan, Bobby Eaton, Ric Flair, The Giant, Eddy Guerrero, Hulk Hogan, Mr. JL, Chris Kanyon, Brian Knobs, Kurasawa, Lex Luger, Joey Maggs, Meng, Hugh Morrus, Max Muscle, Scott Norton, One Man Gang, Paul Orndorff, Diamond Dallas Page, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, Brian Pillman, Sgt. Craig Pittman, Lord Steven Regal, Scotty Riggs, Road Warrior Hawk, Big Bubba Rogers, Jerry Sags, Ricky Santana, Kensuke Sasaki, Randy Savage, Shark, Fidel Sierra, Dick Slater, Mark Starr, Stevie Ray, Sting, Dave Sullivan, The Taskmaster, Super Assassin #1, Super Assassin #2, Booker T, Squire David Taylor, Bobby Walker, VK Wallstreet, Pez Whatley, Mike Winner, Alex Wright, James Earl Wright, The Yeti, and The Zodiac. in a 60 Man Three Ring Battle Royal for the WCW World Heavyweight Title
Yeah... take that in. This match is an absolute mess to follow. WCW add three commentary teams to the three way split screen, which means viewers at home while technically now being able to see everything cannot actually see a thing. It was probably better in person, but the small viewing windows in addition of the litany of brawls that happened out side of one of the rings really devalued this.
The final six is Hogan, Savage, Sting, Giant, Luger and One Man Gang. Luger and Sting go to eliminate Giant – Hogan dumps all three of them over the top, before being pulled under the top rope by Giant. Despite this, the ref thinks Hogan has been eliminated and awards Savage the title. Hogan isn't happy.
Score Rating: 6.5/10
Go Back And Watch: The main event is a real drag, it lasts the better part of an hour. But the action before that should have something in it to impress everybody. I'm more picky than most when it comes to lack of selling, but I get the feeling the two Japanese matches will be enjoyed more by many. Good show, stinker of a main event.