Saturday, October 8, 2011

Boo: Southern Fried Butcher

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

By the time Halloween Havoc '91 rolled around, WCW was without it's longest running wrestler.  Ric Flair had left the company that summer and moved to the WWF.  Lex Luger was now carrying the banner for WCW and defending the world title against Ron Simmons.  This was actually the only Halloween Havoc I ever watched.  I think my roommate in college had recorded it for us to see.

The show opened up with video of Barry Windham being injured by the Enforcers (Arn Anderson and Larry Zybysko).  That forced Windham off the pay per view.

Sting vs. Jack
The first match of the night, the Chamber of Horrors.  It was a giant cage, much like Thunder Dome from two years earlier.  There were all kinds of "Instruments of Torture" in the cage.  Random people popped out of caskets.  There were handcuffs on the cage.  Kendo sticks.  All kinds of gimmicks. The whole goal in the match was to put an opponent into the Chamber of Horrors Chair of Torture and pull the "fatal level."  There were no pins, no submissions.  Just a lot of brawling.

The two teams: Diamond Studd (Scott Hall), Big Van Vader, Abdullah the Butcher, and Cactus Jack
battled Sting, the Steiner Brothers, and El Gigante.  The match also featured a first, the "Refer-eye Cam."  The ref wore a camera on his head for the match that the director took throughout.  Actually a pretty cool concept.  Not crazy about the name though.

Stick a fork in him...
As you can image, this wasn't a pretty match.  There were several times were a guy was placed in the chair, but no one was there to throw the switch and "shock" the opponent.  Jack and Abby juiced early on in the match, no shock there either.  But the shock did come when Rick Steiner belly to bellied Abby into the chair and an unaware Jack pulled the switch.  Lots of sparks flew and the lights were turned down.  The Butcher looked like a guy on death row who had just been put into the chair.  His reaction was priceless as he sat unconcscious, bleeding and sweating all over the place.  When Abby came to he attacked Cactus and all the guys brought to ringside to help him with a stretcher.

Probably the highlight of this pay per view was the WCW Halloween Phantom.  He had been teased as being a part of the show.  Remember, this was pre-Internet, so we didn't really know who was under the mask.  I was surprised to see it was "Ravishing" Rick Rude, returning to WCW after spending about 3 and a half years in WWF.  He had been "suspended" by WWF for making comments about the Big Bossman's mother and fans hadn't seen nor heard from him in almost a year.

Wait for it...
Rude may have been one of the most under appreciated guys in the business.  While he had a brief run as Intercontinental champion in WWF, he was largely overlooked.  I think it was because back then Vince focused more on the faces, as it was Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, and Randy Savage with the belt during Rude's stint with WWF.

Anyway, Rude beat the Z-Man, Tom Zenk at the show.  The fans were sitting on their hands as he came to the ring.  Once he got into the ring and started attacking, it was pretty clear it was Rude. He even ended the match with the Rude Awakening. Of course Tony Schiavone even called the move that.

Rude awakening...
I'm not sure why, but for some reason they waited until after the tag team title match to unmask Rude along with Paul E. Dangerously and Madusa.  This was the night the foundation was laid for the Dangerous Alliance.  Rude declared war on WCW U.S. Champion Sting.  He vowed to win the title, and sure enough, eventually he did.

After the announcement, Schiavone called it the biggest thing to happen to WCW all year.  While I think it was ONE of the biggest things to happen, I'd say the company stripping Ric Flair of the title and not resigning him was the biggest game changer that year.

Other notes:

  • The set for this show looked more like a high school drama club built it.  And that's not a knock on high school drama clubs.  But come on, by this time WCW was under the Turner banner and you'd think some dough could be spent on a better set.
  • "Stunning" Steve Austin defended against Dustin Rhodes.  The two went to a 15 minute time limit draw. Who knew within a few years both men would have radically different personas in the WWF
  • Lex Luger beat Ron Simmons in the title match.  It was best two out of three falls.  One of the falls Luger won was by disqualification.  This match helped to propel Simmons, and about nine months later, he'd actually win the title.
  • One Man Gang, Barry Windham, and Oz (Kevin Nash) were all supposed to be on Diamond Studd's team in the cage.  Gang left WCW, Windham turned face and got hurt, and I'm not sure what happened to Oz.
So this pay per view was memorable for me because of the frying of Abby and the debut of Rude.  Other than that, a lot of it seemed like something you'd see on free TV.

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