Of all the things I miss about WCW (and while you may not believe it, trust me, I miss a lot about that company), I think I miss their holiday PPV set pieces most of all. Be it Spring Stampede, Fall Brawl, Great American Bash…they always did a really nice job of tying in whatever major happening was hitting the calendar to their shows. It was such a minor thing, but man were they great at it. And WWE has never even been close.
There was no better example of this than Halloween Havoc. Oh man, how I loved Halloween Havoc. I know there are lots and lots of folks who view October 31 to be the best day out of all 365 on the calendar. While I’m not one of them (I’m a Christmas guy!), I can tell you a group who was: the folks running WCW. They always went over the top with Halloween Havoc, even back in the dark era prior to Nitro. It made the event extra special and I appreciated that. No matter how awful the show was sometimes in the ring, it was still somehow special to me.
I mean, heck, when a new WCW game would come out back in the heyday of the N64, I’d always, ALWAYS, choose Halloween Havoc as my go-to arena. Loved seeing the smoke and the crazy pumpkins and scary skulls. Just awesome stuff.
But it’s not the fact I’m penning this in October that brings us here tonight. No, instead it’s a match that happened just a few days ago. Speaking specifically about this:
Yeah, Super Show-Down. Now before I start going off the deep end about it, I need to immediately address two things about this particular promotional image for the event:
Number one, what’s the deal with the hyphen in the name? Since when has “showdown” ever been hyphenated? I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it hyphenated before this. A quick Google search shows that ELO didn’t hyphenate it, nor did Magnavox for its classic game on the Odyssey 2, Showdown in 2100 A.D..
Second, that image of Hunter is totally wrong. In fact, every photo WWE uses of Hunter now is incorrect. If you don’t believe me, just look for the next one to pop up in your browser on whatever other wrestling site you frequent these days that bombards you with ads. He’ll either have a weird body that doesn’t resemble his now at all or a tightly trimmed beard.
I know I’ve mentioned it before on social media, but the dude now for all intents and purposes looks identical to Obadiah Stane from the first Iron Man movie. It really is uncanny just how similar they look. And here a decade ago he thought he was going to get to play Thor in all those Marvel movies. Silly Hunter.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yeah, Super-Duper-HowLongTilIStartWritingforLooper-Show-Down. Coming out of that show, there was a lot of discussion about how terrible the match between Trips and the Undertaker was. You know, the one advertised as the last match ever between them. It would be the same one that is leading to a tag team match where they will be facing each other again less than a month later, which I am pretty sure disqualifies it from being their last match EVER. While I didn’t find it anything to write home about, I took it for what it was: two guys way past their prime still being featured in main events when we’d all be better off with them safely stored in retirement. I can’t help but laugh about it when I think back like twenty years ago when Hunter would rant and rave about “fossils” needing to go to the old folks home and leave those main events for younger dudes who were in their prime.
Pot, I’d like to introduce you to kettle.
It brought to mind a match that I remember everyone in the WWF deriding when it happened, that being Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan at, yes, Halloween Havoc 1997, so that ties in too. It was mocked endlessly on Raw, with Jim Cornette noting that Hogan and Piper were so old that they were “sucking wind so bad that the first three rows passed out of oxygen deprivation.”
I won’t lie – I don’t think I’ve watched this match since it originally took place over twenty years ago. Nor will I hide the fact that I am a pretty big Roddy Piper fan. In fact, one of the greatest moments of my life was being a guest on his podcast. As that happened, all I could think was, “Wait, Roddy Piper is interviewing ME? Shouldn’t this be the other way around?” And of course, there was the time he did a run-in on WrestleCrap Radio at a Days of the Dead convention we were doing. Great memories all of them.
So yeah, I doubt I am going to be unbiased here. Whatever. Let’s dive in and see if the so-called Age in the Cage was actually worse than what I witnessed last weekend with Trips and Taker.
And the answer is revealed immediately – Piper-Hogan is better. Seriously, did the match from Australia last week have a full moon and a witch flying by on a broom name dropping the location of the event?
And hey look – it’s the actual set from the N64 game I showed above! Have I mentioned how insane WCW was about Halloween? Or how much I loved it?
With that fully established, perhaps even beaten into the ground, let’s go to Michael Buffer.
I don’t remember precisely what I thought at the time of Buffer being involved with wrestling, but watching it now, I think it’s kinda cool he was there to introduce the main events. I think there being a differentiation of the main event to the rest of the card gave it a little something extra. So while 1997 RD may have thought it was lame, 2o18 RD thinks it’s a-ok.
Especially when you get into his completely over the top scripting. I watch old Nitros every now and again, and some of the stuff Buffer says is so patently absurd it begs the question as to who even wrote the dialogue for the guy. Tonight he explains to us that this is a steel cage grudge match with no rules, and the survivor…IF THERE IS A SURVIVOR!!!!…will be declared the winner.
“The winner” you say.
Hmmm…Hulk Hogan was WCW champion at the time; shouldn’t the winner be declared, you know, the champion? Especially since in the weeks leading up to the match fans were told it was for the title?
And wait, why is Hogan coming out without the belt?
And why is Piper coming out WITH the belt?
Oh WCW. You just can’t help yourselves, can you?
So Piper gets in the cage, and let me tell you – this thing is huge. HUGE I sez. It’s also like three feet from the fans, which probably ain’t the safest idea ever, but as I said, WCW gonna WCW.
The match starts, and Roddy begins by chewing on Hogan’s butt.
No, really – Roddy Piper was eating Hulk Hogan’s anus. That was literally the first “move” of the match. I kinda feel like I need to bleach my eyes.
That induction Art did last week with Professional Gay Wrestling had nothing anywhere near as lewd.
Piper follows up this act by gnawing on Hogan’s back, then his head.
For crying out loud, Roddy – even Kamala was never this much of a cannibal.
On commentary, Tony brings up something I noticed as well – there is no referee in the ring. Turns out the official in this encounter is positioned OUTSIDE the cage. I guess if this is escape the cage rules, that’s fine, but I am pretty sure WCW cage matches were contested with pitfalls and submissions. So either the guys are going to have to yell “I Quit!” really loud, or Randy Anderson better have some Reed Richard style arms.
About three minutes in, confusion continues to rear its head, as the cage door opens for no reason I could ascertain. When that happens, Tony explains that if Hogan can get out, the match is over.
Almost immediately after saying that, Hogan and Piper just kinda walk out the door and keep fighting. Poor Tony scrambles as best he can, noting, “Well, they went out together, so the match goes on.” I legit feel for Schiavone here – the rampant stupidity he had to rationalize to WCW viewers had to have him on the verge of a nervous breakdown every single time he put the headphones on.
Also, remember when I mentioned the ring was so close to the folks in the stands? Here’s photographic evidence supporting that claim. Even worse were the two dingbats on the floor, one of which pointed at Piper and exclaimed, as loud as he could, “HE’S IRISH!”
You can say all you want about WCW being stupid, and trust me, I have, but a company kinda has to cater to their audience.
So Hogan leaves the cage and starts heading to the back and runs into…STING. Well, a guy who kinda sorta somewhat looks remotely vaguely like Sting. Even the announce crew were like, “Eh, we’re not really sure that’s him.” Regardless, Hogan runs back inside the cage, which is now locked. Now please don’t ask why they lock it, but then the combatants can just go in and our whenever they want. Trying to explain the rules here will take me all night, and realistically I’m just going to fail at it anyway.
I’m the first to admit: I’m no Tony Schiavone.
So Hogan and Piper start climbing, and I suddenly realized this is not only the tallest cage ever but the rickitiest one too, wobbling all over the place every second. And it is nowhere near the ring. Not that I would have advised either of these guys take a Nestea plunge into the ring from a legit 20’ up, but potentially dropping to the concrete is a million times worse.
Another Sting (who legit looks like a girl) comes out. Wasn’t Jim Cornette’s rule you couldn’t do the exact same angle twice for 7 years? I’m pretty sure that dual Doinks were only three years before this.
So WCW is not only ignoring Corny’s law, but RD Reynolds’ axiom as well: don’t duplicate idiotic angles.
Hogan and Piper eventually reach the top of the cage…then just kinda climb back down for no real reason. Upon doing so, we get Hogan doing that choke to the throat with his foot that all the women in the late 1990s did.
SPOILER ALERT: it looked way better when Stacy Keibler did it.
Heck, it probably looked better when Mae Young did it (but I’m not hunting down photos of that for proof).
After debilitating his foe with his tootsies, Hogan starts climbing the cage again. This, again, after we’ve established that leaving the cage isn’t a victory. Also, that there is a DOOR YOU CAN WALK OUT OF WHENEVER YOU WANT.
Hogan climbs over the top and is about to hit the floor when one of the 47 Stings that have shown up walks over and points his bat at him, which causes Hogan to climb back up and over the cage. I know both guys walked out of this match fine, but sweet Christmas is this scary watching these two old men fighting up there.
Hogan takes control, and hits not one, but two of his vaunted leg drops on Piper…and Roddy kicks out to absolutely zero reaction. I’m trying to think of any matches where people kicked out of the leg drop this “early” into Hogan’s career, and I am drawing a blank. That Piper escaped and the crowd sat on their hands you all you need to know about just how screwed up this match is.
Frustrated, Hogan calls for help from the back…and Randy Savage comes running in and just blows by two of the Stings who just stand there like statues. Can anyone explain what was the point of all these Stings?
I don’t know either, dude.
Then the insanity truly begins, as Savage climbs the cage like a complete maniac. I’ve mentioned how gigantic this cage is, how far it is from the ring, and how it looks like it’s ready to collapse, right? I mean you almost need a pair of binoculars to spot Macho up there!
But this is RANDY FREAKING SAVAGE, mad man, so you know what’s going to happen. Hogan holds Piper in place as Savage LEAPS off the top of this contraption…
…and misses both guys by a good foot and a half.
I’ll give Savage an A+++++++++++ for effort (and utter lunacy) there at least.
So Piper locks on the sleeper and gets the win.
But that’s all he gets – a win.
Because you see, unbeknownst to basically everyone, this match was made into a non-title match. This was not made clear to anyone on the broadcast, and as best I can tell, it was just done so Piper could win and Hogan could lose and we could all continue on our merry way, which would mean…
…even more Stings coming in. For whatever reason, they immediately start falling all over the place like Keystone cops. The highlight would be the first guy losing his mask to reveal himself to be an African American Stinger. Thankfully, Tony is here to tell us this man was, and I am quoting here, “obviously a bogus Sting!”
You don’t say!
Savage and Bischoff help the Hulkster to take control, double handcuffing Piper to the cage while Hogan pauses to put a Sting mask on himself.
Sadly, Tony fails to warn us that this too is obviously a bogus Sting.
And then, just because the Insano-Meter hasn’t quite popped its coil yet, a FAN climbs over the top of the cage. Does WCW have security tackle the guy? Do they mace him? No, silly – they see fit to film it, with Dusty cheering the idiot on.
Not to worry, though – the first obviously bogus Sting tackles the doofus to the ground. Or so I thought, as soon enough Hogan is also beating up the fan. Dusty, who had just been screaming for the guy to make it into the cage, now tells us the fan is a moron who is getting what he deserves.
I’ll be honest – I don’t know if that was a real fan or a plant.
I’ll be even more honest – I don’t care.
The show ends with the fans continuing to cheer for Sting…who never bothers to show up.
Whew, that was a tough one. This match was bad, kinda scary, definitely not boring. But was it better or worse than Hunter-Taker?
With this absolutely KILLER logo to end the show, is it really even a question?