The Law Reviews: WCW Halloween Havoc 1998

This show is everything that was great and terrible about WCW. Some great wrestling matches on the undercard, hot storylines in the main event…but (spoiler alert) none of it comes to a satisfying conclusion.

We have a double main event tonight, as Diamond Dallas Page challenges Goldberg for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and Hollywood Hogan battles The Warrior in a rematch of their epic encounter at Wrestlemania VI. You probably already know everything about how the Hogan/Warrior main event turned out, but it’s fun to look back on it anyway. The rest of this show is mostly quite good, it’s too bad that match overshadowed everything else.

Opening promo has no narration, just opera music over video of the competitors tonight.

As always for this show, the stage is cool. A giant pumpkin, a graveyard, some kind of ghoul.

Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Mike Tenay are our hosts tonight.

Gene Okerlund interviews Rick Steiner, who is interrupted by Buff Bagwell. Buff says he’s done with the NWO and wants to be in Rick’s corner tonight. Like an idiot, Rick accepts.

WCW World Television Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Raven

Watching on WWE Network, both men enter to their WWE themes. No Jimmy Hart Nirvana rip-offs here. Odd match here as both guys are heels and I don’t think there was any issue between them. Raven has been on a losing streak, including a submission loss to Jericho on Nitro. If he’s on a losing streak, why is he getting a title shot?

Raven gets on the mic and says he won’t wrestle tonight. Jericho gets on the mic and says the Jerichoholics paid to see him and then trashes Raven. That brings Raven back to the ring and they get it on. They quickly go to the floor and Raven drops Jericho onto the steps with a Front Suplex. Raven launches himself off the steps with a Dropkick. Jericho re-takes the advantage with a Springboard Dropkick that sends Raven back to the floor.

Jericho goes for a dive off the apron and smashes his head into the guardrail. That looks like it really hurt. In the ring, Jericho escapes a Sleeper Hold with a Back Suplex and follows with a Senton Splash. Jericho undoes the turnbuckle cover, charges Raven, but gets Powerbombed. Raven Catapults Jericho into the exposed steel and hits a Hart Attack. Nice exchange ends with a Raven Belly to Belly Suplex. Jericho rolls through a German Suplex attempt and locks on the Lion Tamer! Raven gets the ropes for the break and Jericho throws a fit.

Raven hits the Evenflow DDT out of nowhere, but Jericho kicks out at two. Jericho low blows Raven and hits a German Suplex. Raven goes for the Evenflow again, but Jericho reverses into the Lion Tamer and Raven immediately taps out at 7:51.

Rating: ***. Really good opening match for the time constraint. Would have loved to see them get 15 minutes. Could have been a classic. Furious pace, ton of cool stuff in there.

Hogan and Bischoff come out for a promo. Hogan says he’s not going to talk for long, not “give the Gettysburg Address.” Well, the Gettysburg Address was only a few hundred words long. Hogan talks about smashing his nephew Horace’s head with a chair, says he’ll do anything to win tonight. No need for this on the pay-per-view. We bought the show, let’s see some wrestling.

Wrath vs. Meng

Wrath has been on a months-long undefeated streak, so this is just another big notch on the belt for him. If you don’t remember, Kevin Nash ended Wrath’s streak on Nitro while on the way into Starrcade 1998 against Goldberg.

They’re fighting on the floor in the first 30 seconds. Wrath hits a pretty nice Somersault Senton off the apron. Wrath breaks out a lot of high-flying moves because he can’t go toe-to-toe with Meng. Meng takes over with a Side Kick and works Wrath over for a bit. Crowd doesn’t have much patience and the “boring” chant starts. Wrath comes back with The Meltdown (Pump Handle Slam) for the win in 4:23.

Rating: *. Not a bad hoss fight, but too short to get much of anything going.

Lee Marshall interviews WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman back at the internet location place. He will defend his title against the winner of the next match later tonight.

Disco Inferno vs. Juventud Guerrera

I love Disco Inferno. Such a great heel gimmick. Awesome theme song. Just a 90s version of the Honky Tonk Man. Juvi had gotten really over as a babyface at this point after losing his mask and getting a push as a never-say-die fighter.

Disco looks like he’s 240 pounds, way too big to be a cruiserweight. That’s actually part of the story here that he’s been struggling to make weight for his matches. Juvi wrestles circles around Disco here for the first few minutes, including a Diving Headscissor out onto the floor. Juvi landed square on his head there, but somehow his neck isn’t broken. Disco takes over with an Inverted Atomic Drop, but Juvi turns the tide with a Hangman.

Disco bails to the floor and Juvi hits him with a Plancha. A series of reversals ends with Disco dropping Juvi on the top rope and hitting a Swinging Neckbreaker. Disco breaks out the Giant Swing. He’s no Cesaro and can only get Juvi around a few times. Disco is dizzy and falls, headbutting Juvi in the groin.

Disco goes to the top and gets crotched. Juvi hits a Frankensteiner off the top rope! Juvi goes to the top and scores with a Spinning Heel Kick. Disco comes back with a huge Piledriver and gets the three count at 9:39. Clean win for the heel.

Rating: **¾. That was good. Juvi nearly killed himself a couple times, but it was damn entertaining to watch.

Scott Steiner promo time! He challenges Rick and Buff to team up against him and The Giant…with the tag titles on the line. Giant and Scott Hall are the tag champs, so that doesn’t make any sense. JJ Dillon comes out and proposes that if Steiner and Giant lose, Scott has to face Rick tonight. Don’t really get the point of any of this.  

Alex Wright vs. Fit Finlay

Another match with no build, as far as I know. I’ll say I don’t have any problem with these kinds of matches where it’s just two good wrestlers going out there to have a good match. They do mentioned that Finlay once broke Wright’s father’s leg in a match, so there is something. I’m trying to write this, but I’m distracted by the fact that Wright has an enormous, Renee Dupree-sized boner. I’ve never heard wrestlers talk about getting erections while wrestling. Last uncovered ground in the wrestling industry.

Boring chant comes out early here. Don’t blame the crowd. It’s not a bad match, but Alex Wright never had any charisma, these guys are both heels, and there’s no build to the match. Finlay takes over and watching him beat the shit out of this prissy German pretty boy is a good time. Wright shows some fire with a Body Slam on the floor. They fight for a couple minutes and Wright hits a Neckbreaker for the win at 5:09.

Rating: *¼. Again, too short to be much.

Lee Marshall interviews Ernest “The Cat” Miller.

Perry Saturn vs. Lodi

Okay, we’re getting a little heavy on the undercard matches now. Apparently this, Wrath vs. Meng, and Finlay vs. Wright were edited out of the video release.

I think the extent of the issue here is that Saturn had recently left Raven’s Flock and Lodi was still a member. Nope, I’ve got that wrong. Saturn had already beaten Raven to free The Flock. Okay, now Tenay is explaining that back during that storyline Saturn was Lodi’s slave.

Saturn completely dominates here, Suplexing Lodi all over the ring. He hits the Death Valley Driver for the win in 3:50.

Rating: ½*. That was a TV match. This is where I’ll note that we’ve had three filler matches while Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Rey Mysterio aren’t booked tonight.

WCW World Cruiserweight Championship: Billy Kidman (c) vs. Disco Inferno

It’s definitely weird that Disco the heel is doing double duty against Kidman, the babyface. Then again, WWE just did the same thing with Seth Rollins last month.

Kidman’s quickness is too much for Disco in the early going. Disco is able to turn the tide with his superior strength. Disco does a great job of showing himself to be winded every time he hits a move. Or maybe he actually is winded. Disco dominates, but always gives Kidman a chance to make a comeback by dancing too much. Disco builds the heat trash talking Kidman and showing off a mean streak with some rough stomps.

Disco missing a Diving Elbow. Cue Kidman comeback. Kidman hits D’Lo Brown’s Sky High and then a Powerslam. Then Disco makes the mistake of trying to Powerbomb Kidman, which of course never works. But Disco catches Kidman with a Piledriver! He’s gassed out and can’t cover. Lazy cover from Disco only gets two. Disco counters Kidman’s run-up Bulldog into a Back Suplex.

Disco sets up for another Piledriver, but it turns into a Powerbomb, which Kidman naturally counters into a Facebuster. Shooting Star Press from Kidman gets the win at 10:54.

Rating: ***¼. Really good stuff there. Disco did a great job getting heat on himself and building sympathy for Kidman’s comeback. Psychology was spot-on throughout.

WCW World Tag Team Championship:  Scott Steiner and The Giant (c?) Rick Steiner and Buff Bagwell

I guess Steiner and Giant are the champs now? Not sure how that works. Hall just gave the belt to Steiner? The Giant comes out smoking a cigarette. That’s a less offensive version of the Scott Hall alcoholic storyline. Bagwell suffered a legitimate neck injury early in the year in a match against Rick and Scott on Thunder. This is his first match back from that injury and he claims he’s had a change of heart.

Giant pummels Rick. He offers Scott a tag, which Scott rejects. Doesn’t want any part of his brother. Scott eventually tags in and Rick immediately turns the tide and beats the crap out of him. Buff tags in…and immediately turns on Rick. Of course. There’s not that much heat because everyone saw it coming. If I’m remembering right, he had already turned on Rick once back at the Georgia Dome Nitro in the summer.

Scott then punts Rick right in the balls with the referee looking on and doesn’t get disqualified. Scott and Giant work on Rick for a few minutes. Rick starts a comeback and Scott hits another low blow. Apparently it was legal at this point?

Giant goes to the top rope and comes off with a Missile Dropkick…but he misses and hits Scott! He’s out and Rick hits the Steiner Bulldog on Giant for the pin at 8:26.

Rating: *. Nonsense swerve, but other than that it wasn’t terrible.

Rick Steiner vs. Scott Steiner

This has been brewing for months and months. Scott turned on Rick back at SuperBrawl in February and has been ducking him ever since.

Scott is in total cowardly shit heel mode, begging Rick for mercy. Crowd is going wild as Rick absolutely destroys his brother. Scott hits yet another low blow and follows with a T-Bone Suplex. No heat on the low blow now that we’ve seen it four times. Now someone in a suit and a Bill Clinton mask shows up. Stevie Ray hands him a slapjack and he nails Rick with it. Then he smacks the referee and the bell rings for the disqualification at 3:55.

Rating: ½*. This was probably the time to pay this storyline off.

Rick makes a comeback and beats up both Bagwell and Steiner. He hits Scott with the Steiner Bulldog and Nick Patrick runs in to count the pin. So it wasn’t a disqualification? Apparently the bell ringer from Summerslam 2015 made his debut here.

Scott Hall vs. Kevin Nash

Another slow-burning match between former tag partners. Hall turned on Nash at Slamboree to join NWO Hollywood because he needed the money. This is the point where WCW had decided to turn Hall’s real-life battle with alcoholism into a storyline, which is one of the grosser promotional tactics I can remember.

Hall comes out stumbling and holding a cup of beer and a cigarette. Hall jumps Nash before the bell and they brawl out to the floor. Hall lays out Nash on the floor and grabs a mic in the ring to talk some trash. Nash gets back in the ring and continues to get worked over. Nash gets in his first offense close to eight minutes in with a Sidewalk Slam. Hall slips out of a Jackknife attempt and takes a powder.

Now they lock-up for some reason. Guys locking up during a personal rivalry is always a pet peeve of mine. Nash takes over and does some stuff. Bossman Straddle, Knees in the corner. Just going through the motions. Nash starts mocking Hall for being an alcoholic. He beats him up for awhile longer and then hits two Jackknife Powerbombs before walking out without pinning. Hall is officially the winner by count out at 14:20.

Rating: *½. I liked the first half, it got really boring when Nash took over. This one was probably twice as long as it needed to be.

WCW United States Championship: Bret Hart (c) vs. Sting

These two had come into conflict due to Sting being in The WolfPak and Hart being in NWO Hollywood. This definitely has the feel of a dream match as the master of the Sharpshooter takes on the master of the Scorpion Deathlock.

Sting has an absolutely heinous goatee here. The announcers try to play him up as being more sinister lately, but he’s smiling and high fiving kids on the way to the ring. He’s also go the full dick ruffle going tonight.

Bret stalls for a long time refusing to get in the ring. Sting chases him into the aisle and goes to work. Bret takes control and runs through his typical offense: DDT, Russian Legsweep, Backbreaker, ect. Schiavone is actually doing some good commentary, talking about how wrestling being so popular has led to bigger money, more pressure, and that leading to the intense personal rivalries we’ve seen tonight. Bret eventually goes for a Dropkick and gets caught in the Scorpion Deathlock.

They get going and Bret re-takes the advantage after a feigned knee injury. Bret pulls brass knuckles out of his tights. Sting gets them away from Bret, but Bret scores with a low blow while the referee is distracted trying to get the knuckles away from Sting. As Sting tries to get back into the ring he gets jumped by Bret and accidentally elbows the referee. Bret hits the referee with a Leg Drop to make sure he stays down and the crowd pops in appreciation.

Bret goes to the top, gets crotched, and Sting hits a Superplex. Jesus, they landed on the referee’s legs. That’s not good for anyone involved. Sting goes for a Stinger Splash but hits the corner post. Bret grabs Sting’s bat and hits him with it over and over. Bret locks on the Sharpshooter after waking up the referee. Sting is out and the referee stops the match at 15:07.

Rating: ***. That was ridiculous but fun. Let’s count Bret’s heel tactics: stalling, attacking Sting from behind, low blow, feigned knee injury, attacking the referee, using the bat. Just super heel work from Bret.

They stretcher Sting out in a segment that goes on forever. So this wrote Sting out for a few months. They built Bret up to do absolutely nothing, he didn’t even have a match at Starrcade this year.

Hollywood Hogan vs. The Warrior

Here we are. Nearly a decade in the making. Warrior returned on Nitro out of absolutely nowhere to challenge Hogan. He rambled for like 20 minutes during that promo, setting the stage for an abysmal build. Warrior did all kinds of magic tricks, Hogan saw Warrior in the mirror, you’ve probably heard about it. So the build was awful, but I think there’s a myth that this match wasn’t a big deal. Hogan vs. Warrior at Wrestlemania VI was one of the biggest matches ever in wrestling, and there was never a rematch until here.

Hogan makes his typical entrance and they show the replay of him smashing Horace with a chair again. Pretty good pop for Warrior’s entrance.

Hogan gets in Warrior’s face and gets knocked to the ground with a right hand. Hogan gets a brief advantage off a lock-up, but Warrior turns it around and Hogan bails. Hogan refuses a test of strength and gets some cheap shots in. Hogan goes to a Knuckle Lock and holds it forever. They finally break and do the old criss-cross spot, ending with a Hogan Scoop Slam. Warrior pops right back up and slams Hogan.

Hogan gets knocked to the floor. No momentum or pace at all to this match. Now there’s some dull brawling out on the floor. They somehow botch a drop down spot as Warrior times it wrong and Hogan almost trips over him. Hogan knocks down the referee and drops a knee on him. Cool, expect that’s the exact same spot Bret did in the last match. Hogan calls for the NWO and Giant jogs down to the ring. Giant misses a kick and hits Hogan. Warrior takes out Stevie Ray and Vincent.

Hogan sneaks up behind Warrior to hit a Back Suplex. That gets a close two count to no reaction. Hogan beats and chokes Warrior with his weight belt. They try that spot where Hogan keeps missing elbow drops, but Warrior fucks up and rolls under Hogan, tripping him. These are some of the simplest spots imaginable that they’ve screwed up. Warrior misses a Splash to silence from the crowd. Warrior gets Hogan’s belt and whips him with it.

Now we get to the real good stuff. Warrior argues with the referee, allowing Hogan to get some flash paper out. Hogan botches lighting it and it literally blows up in his face. Nowhere near Warrior. The crowd is laughing their ass off at this and the announcers have no idea what is going on. Warrior hits two Ax Handles off the top. Hogan counters with a low blow. Hogan hits a Leg Drop, at which point Horace Hogan comes down with a chair. Warrior fires up and mounts his comeback.

Bischoff shows up to distract the referee, allowing Horace to hit Warrior with a chair and Hogan to get the pin.

Rating: Dud. Absolutely abysmal. Deservedly remembered as one of the worst wrestling matches ever. No action, no intensity, no physicality, no drama, no psychology. And several big botches. This huge match is decided by the interference of Horace Hogan, a jobber? They never had any plans for him. Hogan gets his win back from eight years ago. This was basically it for Warrior in WCW, and I have no complaints about that.

Okay, so there’s something we have to cover before the main event: Most people didn’t see it. Or at least not all of it. Bischoff decided to run this show extra long and they ended up going about three hours and fifteen minutes instead of the normal three hours. Fine, except he didn’t tell the pay-per-view companies and they cut the feed to go the replay in the middle of the main event. Thousands of people missed out on the end of the match. As a result, they aired the match in its entirety on Nitro the next night. One more of the great moments of WCW stupidity.

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

DDP won the title shot by winning WarGames the month before this at Fall Brawl. No personal beef between them, they’re just fighting for the title.

Michael Buffer is out to handle introductions. Always loved this. Made this main events feel so much bigger. My only complaint is they don’t do the introductions in the ring.

Page enters through the crowd. He’s the People’s Champ. Going into this match I thought there was a real chance he would be the one to end Goldberg’s streak. According to DDP, that was something that was actually considered. DDP was old, but he was a homegrown WCW star.

Goldberg does the long walk, coming from his locker room, all the way through the arena and into the concourse. We can’t see it, but Heenan says DDP has his head down so he can’t see Goldberg’s entrance on the screens. Great work from DDP to do that and Heenan to mention it. Goldberg is billed as 154-0. He is the undefeated, undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World.

They lock up three times and each time Goldberg drives Page back into the corner. The fourth time DDP takes him down with an Arm Drag, and the fifth time they tumble to the floor. Goldberg takes over and works on Page’s arm. Page gets the ropes and then goes for the Diamond Cutter. Goldberg powers out and throws DDP out to the floor. Back in the ring Page tries to grapple, but Goldberg just overpowers him. Page comes back with a Swinging Neckbreaker and a Russian Legsweep. 

Goldberg comes back with a Suplex and a Sidewalk Slam. Goldberg goes back to the arm, but DDP makes the ropes again. Goldberg goes for another Sidewalk Slam, but Page reverses with a Headscissor! Nice move from a guy who’s 6’4. Goldberg hits a Side Kick and goes for the Spear…but Page moves and he hits the ring post!

Goldberg legitimately knocked himself out hitting the post. Page comes off the top with a Flying Clothesline. Goldberg responds with a slam and they’re both down. Page is up first and he signals for the Diamond Cutter…but Goldberg levels him with a Spear! Goldberg is slow to get up because he led with his injured shoulder. Goldberg struggles to get Page up for the Jackhammer. He does on the second try…but DDP REVERSES INTO THE DIAMOND CUTTER!

Jesus, the pop. Page is slow to cover. He finally does…and Goldberg gets the shoulder up at two. He kicks out too early, but he was concussed so it’s understandable. Page goes for a Suplex, but Goldberg reverses into the Jackhammer for the win at 10:29.

Rating: ****. Awesome match. Especially after the trash that preceded it. Goldberg’s best match ever. Great carry job by DDP. Goldberg had only been wrestling for like two years at this point, so a ten minute pay-per-view main event was a lot to ask. DDP choreographed every single move of the match in advance and they put together a great one. A psychological battle between the unstoppable force of Goldberg and Page’s ring savvy. Really, my only complaint is that Goldberg kicked out right at two on the Diamond Cutter.

Goldberg and Page embrace. Page stumbles to the back in pain and despair. Love that he’s selling both the physical toll the match took on him and also the emotional pain of losing the biggest match of his career.

Goldberg celebrates and they have to cut out because they’re out of time. Schiavonne does get in a great line: “All I can think right is ‘God, I love this sport.’” I go out of my way to praise Schiavonne because so many people shit on him so much. He wasn’t as bad as people make him out to be.

Overall: Well, that’s a WCW show. Except it had a great main event instead of the usual trash. Lots of shit booking and terrible wrestling at the top of the card, good work from the guys on the bottom. It’s a weird show. The undercard had no build, but the matches were good for the most part. Then we get into a trash portion of the show with the Steiner stuff, Hall/Nash, a brief rebound with Sting/Bret, and then one of the worst matches ever in Hogan vs. Warrior. But then a classic main event that should have been a crowning moment for Goldberg. I’d say that the good probably outweighed the bad, but not by much. It just sort of sums up what was great and terrible about WCW in this period.

Grade: C+

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