Pro wrestling and Halloween have always had a natural simpatico— whether it’s themed gimmick matches, fun costumes, or accepting millions of dollars in blood money from a corrupt government in exchange for creating propaganda to smooth over its staggering record of human rights abuses, it’s the perfect season for bringing horror and wrestling together. Here are five of the most spooktacularly weird matches from WCW’s Halloween Havoc pay-per-view to watch this year to get into the Halloween spirit.
Ed note: All of these matches can be watched on the Award-Winning WWE Network, which we definitely recommend doing instead of watching the clips embedded in this article. : ) : ) : ) : )
1. The Chamber of Horrors Match, Halloween Havoc 1991
This match has everything: chainsaws, a crude GoPro mounted to the referee’s head, caskets, a lack of ethical concerns about the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a pubescent-sounding Jim Ross on commentary, and THE CHAIR OF TORTURE. The object of the match is to strap your opponent into THE CHAIR OF TORTURE, which will nuke them like a Hot Pocket in front of a live crowd, all of whom are excited to witness the life leaving a man’s eyes in a sports entertainment setting. The match is between two teams comprised of roughly the entire 1991 WCW locker room, and it’s Abdullah The Butcher who finally gets strapped into THE CHAIR OF TORTURE by Dog Faced Gremlin Rick Steiner before Cactus Jack pulls the big Wile E. Coyote-ass switch that triggers a pretty impressive fireworks display and ends Abdullah’s life for roughly five minutes. Eventually, Abdullah staggers away from THE CHAIR OF TORTURE and punches Cactus Jack in the mouth, proving that the true spirit of Halloween is dogged perseverance.
2. Sting vs. Jake Roberts, Halloween Havoc 1992
Jake “The Snake” Roberts had something to prove heading into his feud with Sting, and that thing was “You have to agree to hang out with me if a roomful of mean drunks are telling you to.” In a vignette leading up to Halloween Havoc 1992, Roberts invites Sting to his home, which is a bar run by Hannibal Lecter and a gang of bikers that only know how to chant “spin the wheel, make the deal” like Tod Browning is filming an episode of Wheel of Fortune with Madusa moonlighting as a satanic Vanna White. The Wheel is a giant buzzsaw with different match types on it, like Russian Chain and Prince of Darkness, and whichever one Sting lands on, that’s the one they’re going to do. Unfortunately, it lands on Coal Miner’s Glove Match, and we get a pole match where the first person to reach what looks like a kitchen glove gets to glove their opponent a lot with a glove. Did they gimmick the wheel to land on Coal Miner’s Glove? If not, why DIDN’T they gimmick the wheel to land on something they actually wanted?
The match is a fascinating case of watching two great wrestlers failing to make lemonade. Jake Roberts, who thus far has not agreed to come out of retirement and wrestle Hacksaw Jim Duggan at King Fahd International Stadium because an obscenely powerful Mohammed bin Salman remembers the two wrestlers from his childhood, didn’t last long in WCW after that.
3. Cactus Jack vs. Big Van Vader, Halloween Havoc 1993
Having learned and grown from the previous year’s “spin the wheel, make the deal” fiasco with the glove, the big buzzsaw wheel was rigged for 1993’s main event: a Texas Deathmatch between Cactus Jack and Big Van Vader. This is less of a match and more of a very sleepy snuff film as Jack and Vader hurt each other very slowly but very gruesomely over the course of the deathmatch, including a spot called “Let’s disappear into the grave together so that we can blade off-camera as a fun couple’s date.” According to Mick Foley’s autobiography, he was trying his level best to become legitimately injured during the match in order to end his in-ring career and get some insurance money. He arranged with Vader to drop him onto his back so that he could get crushed beneath the hoss’s 450-pound frame, but “There was only one problem. Me. My body had become so conditioned to taking punishment that it had somehow managed to take this. So I did the only thing I knew how. I got up. Slowly. And then […] I went on as best I could.”
Many wrestlers have to decide whether to continue using their bodies as currency in an industry that sees their personhood as a disposable asset, or whether to swallow their misgivings and collect a paycheck from a government that tortures and executes members of the LGBT community as a matter of policy, and the main event of Halloween Havoc 1993 is a stark reminder of the sacrifices that our favorite wrestlers have to make.
4. Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Warrior, Halloween Havoc 1998
The PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE of wrestling matches. An absolute masterpiece in photo-negative. The universe conspired for every element of this match to suck, from conception to execution, and it stands unparalleled in botchedness and pure transcendent stupidity. Hollywood Hulk Hogan, looking to recoup his loss to The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI because he thinks that wrestling is real, arranged for The Warrior to make his debut at Halloween Havoc. Warrior, the second-worst person in wrestling, was a combination of rusty and never that-good-in-the-first-place by the time the two met up for their rematch. The two begin their bout by promptly getting damp and sleepy and yelling at each other, and it gets worse: years-long rest holds, hideous ref bumps, a Horace Hogan run-in, and a flash-paper fireball that backfires and scorches off Hulk Hogan’s disgusting mustache.
It’s not an atrocity on par with massacring men, women, and children in Yemen with endless airstrikes, but it did famously get negative five stars from Dave Meltzer for being one of the worst matches of all time.
5. Jeff Jarrett vs. Sting, Halloween Havoc 2000
I think that one of the spookiest nightmares one can have is to be harassed by a committee of your former selves, all of whom coordinated their embarrassing outfits beforehand. At Halloween Havoc 2000, a year in which WCW was deeply and passionately on its bullshit with overbooked matches, Sting faced Jeff Jarrett and also a parade of fake Stings that emerged during the match to remind him that he used to look like different things, like a surfer, and a surfer in a drum major’s jacket, and a tomato with a baseball bat. Jeff Jarrett is also there. Every time Sting starts to gain some momentum during the match, another Sting pops out through the ring or rappels down from the rafters, and Sting’s expression every single time is so tired, like “Ah, fuck, not me again.” He dispatches all of them with a Scorpion Death Drop, but eventually Jeff Jarrett, whose thing is that he has a guitar, whacks Sting with a guitar to pick up the pinfall.
Honestly, being unable to defeat even a mediocre opponent because you can’t stop getting fucked over by different past versions of you is the most relatable booking I’ve ever seen in a wrestling match.Vince Russo’s booking usually deserves to be officially denounced by the United Nations, but this surrealist nightmare sequence? I’ll allow it.