DATE: October 28, 1989
VENUE: Philadelphia Civic Center (Philadelphia, PA)
COMMENTATORS: Jim Ross & Bob Caudle
The inaugural Halloween Havoc features the debut of the REAL Thunderdome of professional wrestling as Sting & Ric Flair look to settle the score with Terry Funk & The Great Muta. Also on the show Lex Luger defends the U.S. Title against newcomer Brian Pillman, The Road Warriors slap meat with The Skyscrapers, the VERY MYSTERIOUS masked duo of Doom makes their debut, and…Tommy Rich regrets ever agreeing to wrestle in Philadelphia. At least until ECW happens.
- NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair
- NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Total Package” Lex Luger
- NWA WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPION: The Great Muta
- NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin)
- Tom Zenk vs. Mike Rotunda (**1/4)
- Steve Williams & The Midnight Express vs. The Samoan SWAT Team (**3/4)
- Tommy Rich vs. The Cuban Assassin (*1/2)
- The Fabulous Freebirds [c] vs. The Dynamic Dudes for the NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (**1/2)
- The Steiner Brothers vs. Doom (***)
- “The Total Package” Lex Luger [c] vs. Brian Pillman for the NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (***1/2)
- The Road Warriors vs. The Skyscrapers (***1/4)
- THUNDERDOME CAGE MATCH: Sting & Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk & The Great Muta (***1/2)
-Ross and Caudle welcome the home audience as the camera scans the Civic Center crowd. Both competitors for the opening match are already in the ring.
–Gordon Solie checks in backstage and previews the various wrestlers he’ll be interviewing.
-Back to Ross and Caudle who hype THUNDERDOME, which hangs above the ring.
–Christopher Cruise checks in to also preview the various wrestlers he’ll be interviewing. Cruise introduces Gary Michael Cappeta for the opening match introductions.
“THE Z-MAN” TOM ZENK VS. “CAPTAIN” MIKE ROTUNDA
The Philly crowd gives both these men sh*t during their introductions, but Rotunda gets it worse because I’m assuming Syracuse University has some sort of college rivalry with Philly. Zenk is undefeated since making his NWA debut a few weeks back; he was previously seen on the national level two years prior in the WWF as part of The Can-Am Connection with Rick Martel.
Rotunda takes Zenk to the mat with a waistlock takedown, Zenk responds with a shoulderblock. Zenk grabs a side headlock, Rotunda whips him off but gets dropped with another tackle. Crowd continues chanting “SYRACUSE SUCKS”, throwing Rotunda off his rhythm and causing him to stall for time. Rotunda with a leapfrog and hip toss, Zenk dodges an elbowdrop and follows up with a dropkick, Rotunda rolls to the floor to stall once again. Zenk backs Rotunda in the corner, Rotunda with a cheap shot to the midsection followed by a taped thumb to the eye, blocking the view of the ref; a blinded Z-Man stumbles and falls out to the floor. Zenk re-enters with a sunset flip, Rotunda kicks out and immediately bails back to the floor and accuses his opponent of pulling the tights. Zenk controls Rotunda with a wristlock, Rotunda escapes but Zenk catches the arm and brings him to the mat with an armbar, transitioning into a hammerlock once they hit the mat. Zenk with a side headlock takeover, Rotunda counters into a headscissors and uses the ropes for extra torque until the ref catches him. Rotunda escapes a headlock and uses Zenk’s own momentum to send him crashing out to the floor, earning a pop from the crowd. PICK A SIDE, NERDS.
Rotunda pulls Zenk to the apron and drops him throat-first across the top rope, then kicks him back to the floor. Rotunda suplexes him back in, executed beautifully, but takes forever to cover and Zenk kicks out with emphasis at two. Rotunda wraps Zenk up in an abdominal stretch, using the ropes as he likes to do. Ref forces a break when he catches him, Rotunda switches gears to a reverse chinlock. Zenk escapes and runs right into a helluva lariat from the former Captain of the Varsity Club. Zenk dodges a dropkick, corner whip and back elbow. Rotunda comes off the middle buckle with a crossbody, Zenk rolls through for the 1…2…3!
TOM ZENK DEFEATED MIKE ROTUNDA VIA PINFALL (13:23)
- The Philly crowd struggled to keep themselves invested except for the guy in the front row clapping VERY loudly. He paid for that seat and he’s going to get his money’s worth DAMMIT. A good match, albeit bland, Zenk pulls out the win to keep his newcomer streak going while Rotunda gets somewhat of an excuse for his loss. My tolerance for Rotunda’s slow offense varies depending on the day, but this time I was okay with it. (**1/4)
-BACKSTAGE: Chris Cruise is standing by with “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino, the guest referee for tonight’s THUNDERDOME. Sammartino says his role is pretty much to call for the bell when someone throws in the towel and puts over the intensity and danger of THUNDERDOME.
“DR. DEATH” STEVE WILLIAMS & THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (“BEAUTIFUL” BOBBY EATON & “SWEET” STAN LANE) [W/ JIM CORNETTE] VS. THE SAMOAN SWAT TEAM (SAMU, FATU, & THE SAMOAN SAVAGE) [W/ “THE BIG KAHUNA” SIR OLIVER HUMPERDINK]
The Midnight Express are babyfaces? JIM F’N CORNETTE IS A BABYFACE? What the hell was going on in 1989?!? The SST rock a fire dance for their entrance, complete with the Halloween movie theme. Watching bootleg footage is SO MUCH BETTER than the WWE Network.
Bell rings but it takes a moment for anything to happen as the SST play to the crowd for heat and both teams tease an all-out brawl on the floor while Ross brings up Cornette’s involvement with The Dynamic Dudes. Finally some action as Lane connects with a backdrop and a clothesline out to the floor, Eaton cracking off a right hook. Both teams tease chaos once more but are kept at bay, as RILED UP as Williams is to fight. Midnights drop Savage with a back elbow, Eaton and Savage trade wristlocks. Samu tags in, misses an elbow, and Eaton catches everybody with rights, all six men rush the ring and things almost fly off the handle once more. Samu misses a corner splash, Williams tags in and gives everybody who wants one a right hand. Football tackle to Fatu, SST bail to the floor as the crowd goes INSAAAAANE for Dr. Death. Fatu tags in, slugfest breaks out. Williams reverses a corner whip and connects with a lariat and football tackle. Lane tags in for some martial arts kick but gets dropped with a forearm when Fatu blocks a hip toss attempt. Samu tags in, savate kick to the side of the head followed by a standing dropkick. Lane fights back with jabs, Williams tags back in and flattens Samu in the corner with a clothesline. Snapmare and legdrop, Eaton tags in and drives Samu to the mat with a clothesline, lateral press for a two-count.
Lane and Fatu tag in for their respective teams, the former brings the latter to the mat with a drop toehold then keeps things controlled with an armbar. Fatu whips Lane off and counters a crossbody attempt with a slam but Lane dodges the elbowdrop and goes back to work on the arm. Eaton tags in, Fatu rakes the eyes and in comes the Savage. Eaton goes for a bulldog, Savage muscles him up and sends him into the buckles. Toss to the floor, ref gets distracted allowing Samu & Fatu to drop Eaton crotch-first on the guardrail. Eaton stumbles to the entrance aisle and gets thrown on the concrete for a sickening splat. Yeeeesh. Back in the ring Eaton catches Savage with a sunset flip but Samu quickly breaks it up. Fatu tags in and the bane of my existence, the nerve hold, is brought into play. Eaton drops Fatu’s head on the canvas but SAMOAN HEAD HARD and the SST are back in control within seconds. SST triple team, Lane tries to break it up but the ref pushes him back. Savage drills Eaton with a side slam, covers for the 1…2…Williams breaks it up. Eaton counters a Vader Bomb with a pair of knees, Williams gets the tag and he’s a HOUSE OF FIRE. Slams for everyone, Savage gets thrown into Samu & Fatu then eats a powerslam, Samu breaks up the pinfall attempt. Lane tags in and hits a “modified” neckbreaker. Chaos breaks out, Cornette decks Humperdink, Savage sends Lane into Cornette’s racket then covers him for the 1…2…3.
THE SAMOAN SWAT TEAM DEFEATED STEVE WILLIAMS & THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS VIA PINFALL (18:20)
- Did this need 18 minutes? Probably (definitely) not. Was it still super fun and great at waking the Philly crowd up? Absolutely. If this was the first time you’d ever seen Dr. Death you’d think he was a MEGA STAR. Super entertaining contest, lively and chaotic in a good way. (**3/4)
-Solie is standing by with Terry Funk & Gary Hart of The J-Tex Corporation. Hart says there is no quitting in their organization and for the first time “Mr. J” of J-Tex will be in the audience today. Funk says they are going to start a new dance craze in Philadelphia: the 10,000 watt boogie featuring Sting & Ric Flair.
“WILDFIRE” TOMMY RICH VS. THE CUBAN ASSASSIN
Assassin attacks Rich at the bell, Rich ducks a clothesline and connects with a right hand followed by a pair of slams and an elbow that sends his foe scrambling to the floor. “TOMMY RICH SUCKS” chant from the Philly crowd, Assassin uses the power of the headbutt to daze his foe. Three guesses where he’s from. Assassin catches Rich with a crossbody but Rich kicks out at one and slows things down with an armbar out of an armdrag. Assassin escapes and sends Rich to the apron, Rich launches back in with a sloppy sunset flip for a two-count, further angering the crowd who doesn’t like him much to begin with. Must be a room full of Harley Race fans. Assassin misses a corner splash, Rich back in control with an armdrag into an armbar. Assassin slams Rich but misses an elbowdrop and we’re BACK to the armdrag/armbar 1-2 punch. Assassin escapes and grabs a wristlock much to the joy of the man yelling “BORING”. Rich escapes with a headbutt, Assassin responds with a high knee. Assassin connects with a vertical suplex and heads to the top, Rich crotches him by shaking the ropes and sends him to the floor with a series of rights. Assassin tries another crossbody but this time Rich dodges and hits the Thesz Press for the 1…2…3.
TOMMY RICH DEFEATED THE CUBAN ASSASSIN VIA PINFALL (8:26)
- Oof tough crowd, poor Tommy Rich. Not that he and Assassin helped matters by having a dull as sh*t match but still. Apparently this was Rich’s big comeback to pro wrestling after spending most of the 80s in obscurity following a brief NWA Title reign. Not much of a welcome back party it seems. (*1/2)
-Solie is with The Fabulous Freebirds. Jimmy Garvin says they’re the greatest tag team in the world tonight and tomorrow they will remain so. Michael Hayes puts over their opponents, The Dynamic Dudes, as a great team but they’re going to find out why they’re called fabulous.
THE FABULOUS FREEBIRDS (MICHAEL “P.S.” HAYES & JIMMY “JAM” GARVIN) [C] VS. THE DYNAMIC DUDES (SHANE DOUGLAS & JOHNNY ACE) [W/ JIM CORNETTE] FOR THE NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Poor Shane & Johnny; The Dynamic Dudes were a failed attempt by the NWA to appeal to the “hip” demographic, portraying the blonde duo as a couple of cool skateboarders from California. Unfortunately they were neither hip nor could skate, carrying the boards instead of ever actually riding them. Fans saw right through it and not even adding Cornette as their manager could help. Freebirds are Freebirds, you know the score. Watching the raw PPV lets me actually hear the Skynard song though for once instead of just “Badstreet USA” (also a banger) which is cool as sh*t. Buy more bootlegs, folks. As expected Philly gives the Dudes a ton of sh*t and treat the ‘Birds as ROCKSTARS, which they do come off like here.
Hayes catches Douglas with a sunset flip, Douglas turns it into a pinning combo of his own, Hayes kicks out and they reset. Ross goes into OVERDRIVE about how great it is that the Dudes have college degrees as they are a “new” type of professional wrestler. An educated one? Douglas counters a backdrop with a neckbreaker, Garvin tags in to try his luck with the now-legal Ace. Garvin lays in rights, Ace fires back and connects with a dropkick followed by an armdrag into an armbar. Douglas tags back in, keeps the armbar going as a “FREEBIRDS” chant breaks out. Hayes has no problem feeding into it because he’s not an idiot. Garvin escapes, Douglas backdrops him as he runs out of the corner. Hayes tags in and grabs a wristlock, Douglas flips out and reverses to the joy of no one. It was a cool counter though. Ace tags in, dropping an elbow across the left arm and reapplying a wristlock to try and neutralize his dominant hand. Hayes escapes, Dudes clear the ring with a couple of double-team moves. THROW SOME TRASH IN THE RING, PHILLY.
Douglas dodges a kick, Ace tags in and connects with a faceslam followed by a kick from Douglas and covers for a one-count. Hayes scrambles away, Garvin tags back in. Ace grabs a side headlock, kicks Hayes’ arm away to prevent a tag. Ace has a degree in business marketing. Cool, thanks JR. Hayes runs in, Ace takes them both to the mat with a headlock/headscissors combo. Freebirds bail to the floor, crowd boos heavily even though that was a cool sequence. These poor bastards. Ace rolls Garvin up, Garvin kicks out and sends him right into a left hook from Hayes followed by a belly-to-back suplex. That’s why they’re the champs. Garvin sends Ace to the floor with a running kneelift, Hayes gets in another cheapshot and shimmies for the adoring crowd. Ace repeatedly tries to get back in but Garvin sends him flying with knees so they can play to the crowd some more. Hayes tags in, Ace fights out of the corner with a whole lot of rights but Hayes drives him to the mat with an elbow to the back of the neck. Garvin tags in, back bodydrop. Hayes tags in, Garvin whips him into Ace in the corner and goes for the DDT but Ace blocks (?) it. That was a weird thing. Garvin tags in but SO DOES DOUGLAS. Backdrop and dropkick to Garvin, dropkick to Hayes, double noggin knocker and Ace runs in for a double clothesline as the crowd REJECTS THE F*CK OUT OF IT. Hayes gets sent to the floor, Dudes try the Wipe Out but Hayes trips them up and Garvin lands on top of Douglas for the 1…2…3.
THE FABULOUS FREEBIRDS [C] DEFEATED THE DYNAMIC DUDES VIA PINFALL TO RETAIN THE NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (11:28)
- I’ve been watching low-effort Freebirds matches for Legacy of WCW (www.legacyofwcw.com ahem) so seeing the ‘Birds not only try but get probably one of the loudest reactions I’ve heard for a match was a shock to the system. Respect. The Dudes tried and their offense isn’t bad but their gimmick was a death sentence and they couldn’t conjure up ANY support from the fans. A good match made fascinating by the Philly crowd. (**1/2)
Cornette has an inaudible but heated-looking conversation with his losing team. UH OH.
-Cruise is with The Steiner Brothers. Scott Steiner says they have no strategy but they need no strategy because this mysterious team of “Doom” is going to be facing him on their terms. Rick Steiner says Woman won’t distract him the way she’s done before, but in his “simple man” way.
THE STEINER BROTHERS (RICK & SCOTT STEINER) VS. DOOM (DOOM 1 & DOOM 2) [W/ WOMAN]
Doom make their big NWA debut in cloaks and masks and are TOTALLY NOT THE ONLY TWO BLACK GUYS ON THE NWA ROSTER NO SIR. Definitely not Ron Simmons or Butch Reed. Woman “stole the heart” of Rick Steiner, evolving from superfan Robin Greene to WOMAN, turning her back on Rick.
Steiners attack Doom right at the bell, whipping Doom 1 and 2 into each other and following up with stereo German suplexes. HELL YEAH. Steiners bring Doom back in the ring, then clothesline them back out to the floor. Cue the barking from the Philly crowd. Things settle down, Scott clotheslining Doom 1 right in the back of the head after a corner whip. OUCH. Snapmare, kneedrop, lateral press but an emphatic kickout. Rick tags in, STEINERLINE for both members of Doom, the masked duo clearing the ring once more. Rick slows things down with a reverse chinlock, Doom 2 (I think?) escapes via inverted atomic drop. Doom 1 tags in and connects with a headbutt so tough he knocks himself over too! Rick counters a suplex attempt and connects with a slam/suplex of his own. Tag to Scott, STEINERLINE from the middle rope for the 1…2…kickout and we’re back to the chinlock. Rick tags in, hammerlock countered with a jawbreaker and Doom 2 tags in to drop a fist. Clothesline to Rick, Rick bellyflops to the mat. Doom 2 (Ross calls him Doom 1) covers for a two-count. Rick catches him with a kick, Scott tags in and connects with a face-first suplex for the 1…2…emphatic kickout. Doom 1 back in, Scott ducks a clothesline and connects with a beautiful release German suplex, lateral press for another two-count. Snapmare into a chinlock, a knee buried in the spine. Woman is not pleased.
Doom 1 escapes the headlock, Doom 2 clobbers Scott from behind and the heels are in control. Doom 2 tags in, Scott sent to the floor so Doom 1 can drop him throat-first on the guardrail. Doom 1 tags in, double back elbow off the Irish whip and Doom 1 covers for the 1…2…Scott kicks out. Doom 1 tries again, Scott kicks out again so we move to a chinlock. Scott escapes, runs into a kneelift. Doom 2 tags in, distracts the ref so Doom 1 can choke Scott. Rick tries to get involved, gets held at bay for more double teaming, including a toss out to the floor. Apparently that’d be a DQ but Steiners JUST clotheslined Doom out like five minutes ago sooo. Scott flies in with a sunset flip for the 1…2…not yet. Doom 2 connects with a swinging neckbreaker, lateral press for the 1…2…shoulder goes up. Doom 1 tags in, Scott tries to fight out of the corner but gets his eyes raked, Doom 1 hitting a powerslam for the 1…2…Rick breaks it up. Doom with a double hip toss behind the ref’s back, Doom 1 covers for the 1…2…Scott kicks out, Doom 2 tags in and applies a front facelock. Scott makes the tag but the ref doesn’t see it so he forces Rick back to the corner, giving Doom the opening to hit a spike piledriver, Doom 1 covers for the 1…2…Scott kicks out once more.
Scott counters a backdrop with a kick, Doom 2 tags in but SO DOES RICK STEINER. Steinerlines for Doom, Scott runs in and hits a Frankensteiner on Doom 1 to pop the crowd. Scott and Doom 1 brawl to the floor, Rick powerslams Doom 2 and Woman climbs the apron. Rick fights off a sneak attack, Woman loads Doom 2’s mask. Headbutt, Rick goes down like a sack of potatoes for the 1…2…3.
DOOM DEFEATED THE STEINER BROTHERS VIA PINFALL (15:25)
- Hope you like Steiner Bros/Doom matches because that’s going to be the bulk of 1990 WCW PPV. Luckily for me I do and this was great, big meaty men slappin’ meat. Pretending not to know the men behind the masks is a little dumb, glaringly obvious to anyone watching, but I appreciate the attempt and I also appreciate a LOADED MASK getting the win. I miss dumb sh*t like that. (***)
-Solie is with U.S. Champ “The Total Package” Lex Luger. Luger tells Brian Pillman that this is the real deal and not like his exhibition skirmishes. Luger says Pillman will see why he’s the premier wrestler alive today and stands above the wrestling world. He is the champion of the 90s. Luger vows to be champion as long as he wants to be. Solie reminds everyone that he’s been champ more than once which means he can be beat.
–Brian Pillman makes his way to the ring, trailed by a group of cheerleaders to harken back to his days of college/professional football.
“THE TOTAL PACKAGE” LEX LUGER [C] VS. “FLYIN” BRIAN PILLMAN FOR THE NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Luger muscles Pillman to the corner, Pillman narrowly escapes. Next lockup Pillman is the one who backs Luger in the corner, ref separates the two. Luger clobbers Pillman with forearms, buckle shot in the corner. Scoop slam from the champ who taunts Pillman to get up and slaps him. Pillman tossed to the floor, he lands on his feet and immediately goes after Luger with a chop and a back bodydrop followed by a dropkick. Luger takes a moment to breathe, Pillman sends him into the guardrail with a dropkick between the ropes. Pillman chases Luger back in the ring, Luger attacks him on the way in and rakes his eyes across the top rope. Pillman floats over Luger in one corner, hits a flying crossbody from the other for the 1…2…Luger kicks out, Pillman slows it down with an armdrag/armbar combo. Pillman transitions into a wristlock, keeping the champ on his knees. Luger finally creates separation and hammers away at Pillman, Pillman counters a hip toss by landing on his feet and connects with a dropkick followed by a pair of armdrags and back to the armbar. Luger escapes with a right hand and a big ol’ shoulderblock. Pillman reverses a whip and gets dropped again, Luger charges and Pillman hits a hip toss followed by a dropkick and we’re back to the armbar! Good stuff, even if it reads dry. Pillman’s cheerleaders are now in the crowd, continuing to cheer their man on.
Luger clobbers his way out of a wristlock, Pillman leapfrogs the champ and rolls him up with a crucifix for the 1…2…Luger kicks out, Pillman with an armdrag and once more we gots an armbar. Eyyyy HAT GUY is in the crowd. Why am I not surprised? Pillman catches Luger charging with a pair of boots but misses a top rope splash and he bellyflops on the canvas. Luger follows up with a pop-up, sending Pillman crashing to the mat once again in a show of strength. Luger counters a backdrop with a kick and connects with a running clothesline to the front and one to the back of the head. Outback Jack would be proud. Luger angrily stomps Pillman and drops forearms to the back and side of the head, his frustration showing through. Standing delayed vertical suplex, another show of strength, but he takes too long to gloat and arrogantly covers for the 1…2…Pillman kicks out to no one’s surprise. Luger drops a pair of elbows (sorta, his arm like real straight on impact), Pillman tries to fight back but gets launched out to the floor. Pillman flies back in with a sunset flip for the 1…2…Luger kicks out and misses a clothesline, sending himself out to the floor. Pillman brings him in, count along rights in the corner until it’s countered with a sorta inverted atomic drop. Luger sets him up for a superplex, Pillman pushes him off and hits a flying sunset flip for the 1…2…Luger muscles out. Pillman snaps off a string of offense, Luger begging for peace. Instead he gets a backdrop and Pillman follows up with AIR PILLMAN (springboard clothesline) for the 1…2…Luger gets his foot on the bottom rope. Pillman connects with a neckbreaker and heads to the top, Luger dodges a missile dropkick and hits a Hot Shot for the 1…2…3!
LEX LUGER [C] DEFEATED BRIAN PILLMAN VIA PINFALL TO RETAIN THE NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (16:49)
- Not the prettiest match, Pillman and Luger were both still relatively new at the time, but I f*cking loved it regardless. Pillman going toe to toe with the dominant U.S. Champ made him look like a true new superstar and should have been a springboard for a long singles push. Should have being the operative words, unfortunately. Luger was great here too, flipping between arrogant and desperate well, and I liked seeing him get the win with a quick move instead of a labored set-up for the Torture Rack. In a just world this would have been a PPV main event in the 90s. Match of the night without question so far. (***1/2)
Luger quickly grabs his belt and bails, happy to have snuck one out to remain champion.
-Cruise is with The Road Warriors and Paul Ellering. Hawk says they’ve been underdogs all their lives (WHO? WHO SAID THAT?) and are underdogs tonight (again WHO SAID THAT). People build skyscrapers, people destroy them, snack on danger and dine on death and dead man don’t make money. Rock ‘n’ roll.
THE ROAD WARRIORS (HAWK & ANIMAL) [W/ “PRECIOUS” PAUL ELLERING] VS. THE SKYSCRAPERS (SID VICIOUS & “DANGEROUS” DAN SPIVEY) [W/ THEODORE R. LONG]
The team of the 80s vs. the potential team of the 90s, THICC BOYS BEATING ON THICC BOYS hell yeah. Road Warriors get pyro for their entrance and the Philly crowd treat them like absolute rock stars. Gave me goosebumps. They are f*cking IT.
Spivey with lefts to Animal, Animal reverses an Irish whip and belts him with a pair of clotheslines that send him to the floor (not over the top as expected but he got there). Animal grabs a wristlock, Hawk tags in and keeps working the arm. Spivey whips him off, neither man budge when they collide. Hawk tries again and NOTHING. Hawk tries a third time, leaping for extra force, and this time Spivey goes down, rolling back to the floor in a state of shock. Or insanity. Spivey’s eyes are terrifying either way. Sid tags in and the crowd is OH SO READY to see him collide with the Warriors. Hawk ducks a clothesline and belts Sid with one of his own, but it only sends him to one knee for his scrapes the sky. Corner whip, Sid misses a flying shoulder. Animal tags in, double back elbow from the Warriors but Sid pops RIGHT back up. Animal and Sid collide, no one budges (THE RING DOES THOUGH, very much so). Animal tries again, like hitting a brick wall. Sid charges, Animal connects with a series of fists and finally takes him down with a leaping shoulderblock, Sid rolling to the floor quickly to get some advice from Long. Test of strength, Hawk and Sid locking knuckles and jockeying for dominance. Sid almost brings Hawk to his knees but Hawk powers back to his feet and to the corner, bringing him out with a catapult. Animal tags in, controlling things with an armbar, Sid backs him into the Skyscraper corner and tags in to Spivey. Irish whip reversed, Animal clotheslines Spivey and grabs a full-twist wristlock.
Hawk tags in and gets driven into the ‘Scraper corner, Sid tags in and kips up out of a headscissors, dropping Hawk with a clothesline. NICE. Sid follows up with a helicopter throw, Spivey tags in for a sidewalk slam into a lateral press but Hawk gets the shoulder up. Hawk ducks a clothesline and drives Spivey to the mat, but Spivey quickly gets back to his feet and sends him to the floor with a baseball slide. Ref distracted, Sid drops Hawk across the guardrail. Delayed vertical suplex from Spivey for the 1…2…Hawk kicks out once more. Sid tags in, Sid whips Spivey into Hawk in the corner and follows up with a running knee. Hawk tries to fight back, Sid swings a clothesline at the skull and down he goes. Spivey tags in, Hawk counters a backdrop with a kick but Spivey quickly shakes it off and connects with a clothesline. Hawk blocks a suplex and connects with one of his own, both men down. Spivey tags Sid and waistlocks Hawk to prevent a tag on the Warriors end. TEDDY LONG HAS NORMAN THE LUNATIC’S GIANT KEY WITH HIM. Amazing. Hawk picks Sid up and makes the tag but the ref didn’t see it so he forces Animal back to the apron. Corner whip, avalanche by Spivey. Spivey tries again but eats a big ol’ foot and Hawk follows up with a clothesline. ANIMAL GETS THE HOT TAG, dropkick and flying shoulderblock to Spivey. All four men brawl in the ring, Animal hits a powerslam on Sid and covers. Long tries to enter, Ellering grabs at him. Long throws the key at Spivey who hits Hawk and the ref calls for the bell.
THE ROAD WARRIORS DEFEATED THE SKYSCRAPERS VIA DQ (11:38)
- Admittedly cheap ending but it feels like these two teams are destined to battle A LOT so it made sense for it not to be conclusive. Helluva match though, Skyscrapers were made to look very much on the level of the Warriors and were impressive doing so. I f*cking loved this. Unfortunately Sid would get injured mid-feud and replaced by “Mean” Mark Callous and by the time this feud ended in 1990 the Warriors didn’t even beat anyone from the ORIGINAL Skyscrapers team. Real shame. This feud had money written all over it. (***1/4)
Skyscrapers continue the post-match assault, using the giant key to do some damage on Animal. Hawk drops Spivey with a top rope clothesline and grabs the key, clearing the ring and saving his partner.
-Cruise is standing by with Sting, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and Ole Anderson. Anderson says there’s no way he’s throwing in the towel for his team, guaranteeing Gary Hart’s towel will be dropped in the ring. Flair says this is the Thunderdome, the big time, the National Wrestling Alliance. They stand for a cause tonight: the end of Terry Funk & The Great Muta. Sting says the Thunderdome will be full of Havoc, WOOs from both men.
-Special guest referee Bruno Sammartino is introduced and given a warm welcome from his second home. Well warm-ish, I think I heard some boos. Guess they don’t like Pittsburgh. Great Muta and Terry Funk get their own entrances which is fine by me because Muta’s NWA theme F*CKING SLAAAAAAPS. Sting and Ric Flair get their own entrances as well.
THUNDERDOME CAGE MATCH
STING & “THE NATURE BOY” RIC FLAIR [W/ OLE ANDERSON] VS. TERRY FUNK & THE GREAT MUTA [W/ GARY HART]
The “Thunderdome” is a flimsy-looking semi-electrified cage with various Halloween decorations on it. Match can only won by the towel being thrown in by one of the team’s designated “terminators” (Anderson or Hart). Sammartino is somehow the only person the NWA deemed able to handle the chaos, despite Sammartino participating in precisely 0 Thunderdome matches in his life. I think. Maybe he and Spiros Arion had one in Rio de Janeiro or something. The cage gets its own ominous theme/light show, and once it lowers LIGHTS ON GODDAMN FIRE RESULTING IN THE GREAT MUTA USING HIS MIST TO PUT IT OUT. F*ck yeah. One of my favorite improv moments in pro wrestling history.
Flair and Funk, who have been feuding since the spring, start the match off. Nothing pretty about it, forearms from Funk and chops from Flair, Flair whips him into Sting who boxes his ears. All four men get in the ring, Sammartino keeps things under control as only he can. Funk slams Flair, Flair responds with chops and slams, the final slam out to the floor. Sting tags in and brings the match to the floor, sending him into the cage like a lawn dart and raking the back. Funk goes after Ole for some reason and Sting immediately puts a stop to that. Back in the ring Flair tags in and they connect with a double clothesline. Corner whips and a hard chop that Funk sells by falling like a chopped tree. Flair follows up with a kneedrop and a right hand to Muta. Muta runs in and attacks, Sting grabs him from behind and Flair lights him up with a chop. Ross brings up Sting’s beginnings as part of The Blade Runners and throws shade at his former partner (unnamed but it’s The Ultimate Warrior) for not progressing as far. Muta tags in, Sting throws him into Funk with a military press and follows up with a snap release suplex. Flair tags in, kneedrop to the forehead of Muta. Sting tags in and tosses Muta to the floor, ramming him into the cage like he’s trying to push him through the whole. Funk tries to intervene, Flair lights him up with chops and they brawl. Back in the ring Muta connects with a series of rights, Funk getting in forearms of his own from the apron. Snapmare, MUTA ELBOW.
Sting gets tossed to the floor, Flair runs in to attack Muta but gets his eyes raked and that puts a stop to things. Funk works over Sting on the floor, Muta and Flair brawl on the other side. Flair runs in and sends Flair into the cage. Back in the ring Muta connects with a snap vertical suplex, then takes turns dropping ‘bows with Funk. Flair runs in and tosses Muta out then goes at Funk with right hands aimed directly at the jaw and a vertical suplex. Sting ducks a kick and connects with a one-handed bulldog to both Muta and Funk. Flair with an atomic drop, sending Muta into Sting for a clothesline. Sting goes for the Scorpion Death Lock, Funk breaks it up just as he turns it over. Sammartino tries to keep it a regular tag team match but can’t seem to do it and I think he’s going to give up. Funk rolls Sting into Muta, who works him over then Flair and Funk battle ON THE CAGE. Flair rams Funk repeatedly into the cage, Muta now climbs the cage with Sting in pursuit. Muta gets shocked by the top of the electrified portion of the cage, sparks flying. Funk tries to climb the cage again, Flair pulls him back down, Caudle rightfully points out that neither man should be doing this as it makes no sense. BOB, DON’T BLOW UP THEIR SPOT.
Funk dangles from the top of the cage, Flair lights him up with chops that the camera can’t see because there’s a Halloween decoration in the way. Flair then SWINGS FROM A ROPE LIKE TARZAN INTO FUNK while Sting holds Muta up forever before dropping him with a military press. Should’ve been to the floor, nerd. Sting and Funk fight near the top of the cage, Muta sends Flair into the cage then they trade HARD chops. SLAPFIIIIIGHT. Flair connects with a belly-to-back suplex in the ring and locks in the Figure Four as Sting GOES FULL TARZAN AT FUNK. Flair gives up the Figure Four for some reason and tosses Muta out. Muta quickly slides back in and connects with an enzuigiri to the back of the head. Sting swings at Funk, Funk catches him and ties him up against the cage, Muta cinches in his own hold (the Muta Lock). Anderson climbs the cage to help break Sting free, Funk and Muta spike Flair with a piledriver. Sting gets untied and catches Funk WITH A FLYING CROSSBODY FROM THE CAGE GODDAMN. Muta climbs the cage for some reason as Sting follows, Flair works Funk’s leg over to weaken him for the Figure Four. Sting & Muta end up back in the ring and we’re back to a tornado. Muta goes for the Moonsault but gets crotched and he falls to the floor. Flair locks in the Figure Four on Funk, Sting adding insult to injury with a series of top rope splashes. Muta runs in and SAMMARTINO DECKS HIM WITH A RIGHT HAND FOR SOME REASON. RUDE. Hart runs in, Anderson decks him with a right and the towel goes flying which Sammartino counts!
STING & RIC FLAIR DEFEATED TERRY FUNK & THE GREAT MUTA (21:55)
- Unmitigated chaos that tried to be a regular tag team match before they all realized how dumb that was, and full of decisions that didn’t make sense just so cool spots could happen. And you know what? IT F*CKING RULED. A full-on donnybrook featuring four of the NWA’s top guys with a hot crowd and some insane for its time stuff. Gotta love it, even with its problems and dumb finish. This show ruled. (***1/2)
-Cut to Ross and Caudle to close the show, discussing the night of action and also putting over Sting as a future World Champion. Ross hypes the post-match show on the WCW Hotline and the next PPV, Starrcade, in December which will be the most unique Starrcade of all. Cue end credits, WHICH ALL WRESTLING SHOWS SHOULD HAVE.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Halloween Havoc ‘89 gets a definite recommendation from me. It has some skippable matches but the last three in particular are excellent either in quality or its insanity. I love this show so much.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: The Great Muta prevents an emergency by extinguishing a fire with his EVIL ASIAN MIST