@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
My mind is blown as I write this blog. On the Halloween Havoc 97 episode of What Happened When with Tony Schiavone, he made the statement that Halloween Havoc was a bigger event for WCW than Starrcade. I found this hard to believe. For more than 30 years I've compared Starrcade to the WWE's WrestleMania event. Havoc I would have ranked third or fourth, putting it more in line with Royal Rumble or Survivor Series.
But boy was I wrong. I hopped online and did some research, pulling buy rate numbers that had been listed on several websites, so I'm not comparing apples to oranges, at least I don't think I am. Of the 12 years that Halloween Havoc and Starrcade ran, Havoc actually won the buy rate battle. Six times fans chose Havoc over Starrcade. Five times Starrcade won and in 1990 it was a tie. That was an interesting year because Ric Flair was no longer champion or challenger at either event. I know he was technically in the main event at Starrcade as the Black Scorpion, but you get my point.
The biggest difference in events was in 1997 (assuming I've done my math right). Starrcade that year earned a 1.90 to Halloween Havoc's 1.10. The difference: Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper was the main event of Havoc, while Starrcade saw the much-anticipated return of Sting as he faced Hogan.
When Havoc debuted in 1989, the event had a 1.77 to Starrcade's 1.30. Not only was the event new, but that was the year they tweaked Starrcade for the first time and went with the Iron Man and Iron Team Tournament. Those were the only matches on the card, featuring Sting, Flair, Lex Luger, The Great Muta, The Road Warriors, The Steiner Brothers, Doom and The Wild Samons. I actually loved the concept, but in my 1-2-3 cents it probably hurt the company's biggest event of the year.
There could be a few things that hurt Starrcade with the fans. WWF in 1987 introduced Survivor Series on the same night (Thanksgiving). This lead to Crockett Promotions to moving its event to December the following year after five years of happening on Thanksgiving night. The two years the event went without Flair, they changed it to Battle Bowl: Lethal Lottery. That was an idea that sounded good but was poorly executed.
While Havoc didn't necessarily dominate Starrcade in any particular year, as I just sit and think of the past events for each, the Havoc main events stand out more to me. I credit that to the silliness tied in with the event, but they could get away with that because of the Halloween theme. Between Spin the Wheel Make the Deal in '92, Southern Fried Abby in '91 and the "death by Monster Truck" by the Giant followed up by the debut of the Yeti in '95 it's hard to deny the pay per view's impact on the business.
It's still hard for me to consider that Halloween Havoc was more over than Starrcade. But I get it. It just took nearly two decades for it to finally sink in and accept. This further leads to my desire to see Halloween Havoc as a WWE event.