The Man Called Tarzan

For my third Pay-Per View review, I’ll be running down Halloween Havoc 1989 which took place on October 28th at the Philadelphia Civic Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with an attendance of 7,300 rowdy people.

We start off the PPV with Jim Ross and Bob Cadule talking about the Thunderdome Cage that will be making an appearance in the main event. They introduce the newest member of the announce team, Chris Cruise who will be doing some of the interviews tonight.

Captain” Mike Rotunda vs. “Z-Man” Tom Zenk – Both men get booed during the introductions which surprised me since Z-man was a face at the time. Much like what we saw at the Rumble last weekend, the Philly crowd was not interested in the match AT ALL. Most of the crowd was dead and some were even booing. But honestly, I can’t say I blame them. The first five minutes of this match was basically just rest hold after rest hold.

Eventually the match picks up though as Rotunda starts heeling it up by getting leverage on submission holds and beating up the Z-Man outside of the ring. Eventually, Z-Man makes his comeback and wins after reversing a cross body and getting a quick pin fall; although Rotunda actually got his shoulder up before the three. Not a bad match but not the best either.

What I’m beginning to notice with the first match of these PPVs so far is that they aren’t very good. The first match of a PPV is supposed to get you pumped for things to come but I haven’t feel that yet.

Interview with Bruno Sammartino – Bruno will be the referee for the Thunderdome Cage match later on. He says it’s going to be a hard match to officiate because of the participants and the stipulation surrounding the match.

Six-Man Tag Team Match – “Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Midnight Express w/ Jim Cornette vs. The Samoan Savage & Samoan Swat Team w/ Big Kahuna – What else do I have to say about this match? You can’t go wrong when you have these six guys in the ring. The action in the match was like a see saw; neither team had control for very long. Just when you think the Samoans have the advantage, Stan Lane would use his karate to break free and tag in Dr. Death who would wreck house before getting cut short when Fatu hits him with a super kick. And everything starts again.

Eventually though the Samoans get the upper hand after Fatu hip tosses Bobby Eaton outside on the concrete followed by a big splat noise. Seriously it sounded like it really hurt. Then the Samoans proceed to beat the dirt off poor Bobby for the remainder of the match. It’s not until The Samoan Savage went for the corner headbutt that Bobby got the advantage, reversing the move with his knees and tagging in Dr. Death once again. Once Williams wrecked house, things break down pretty quickly and all six men are fighting each other. Even Jim Cornette gets into the action by wacking Big Kahuna with his tennis racket after he attempts to interfere. Unfortunately for Cornette, Sweet Stan butts heads with him by accident, allowing The Samoan Savage to get the 1, 2, 3.

I really enjoyed this match, the action and the energy within it was second to none. Everyone in the arena was up on their feet when Dr. Death came in for the save. This is definitely one six-man tag match I’ll never forget.

Interview with Terry Funk and Gary Hart – Gordon Solie asked them if they will use the electricity of the Thunderdome Cage to their advantage. Terry Funk says “I’m gonna fry me some Ric Flair”.

Wildfire” Tommy Rich vs. Cuban Assassin – Once again the crowd didn’t seem to have that much interest. They were booing the whole match and even started a “Tommy Rich Sucks” chant. I must say this was a very strange match to put on after the barn burner we saw previously.

Think about it. You have the crowd on it’s toes after that match. Then you go straight into an enhancement match the crowd has no investment in? It’s not a huge deal but booking wise that doesn’t seem to make sense.

During the match, Jim Ross referred to Tommy Rich as a “youngster” which I thought was hilarious since the guy looked like he’s in his late 30s. The match ends in the most anti-climatic fashion when Rich hits a Lou Thesz press on the Cuban Assassin for the win.

Interview with The Fabulous Freebirds – They say the Dynamic Dudes are a good team but they are going to find out why they call the Freebirds Badstreet!

NWA World Tag Team Title Match – The Fabulous Freebirds (champions) vs. Dynamic Dudes w/ Jim Cornette – It’s nice to see Cornette with the Dynamic Dudes considering they aren’t very good on the mic. Speaking of the Dynamic Dudes, the crowd didn’t seem to like them either. I can’t tell whether it’s because they are going against the Fabulous Freebirds, who are known fan favorites, or because they are goofy faces…..or because it’s a Philly crowd.

It was a decent tag team match though despite the “Cena heat” they were getting from the Philly crowd. Nonetheless, it all came to an end when the Dudes went for the Wipeout and Jimmy Garvin reversed the leverage getting a quick pin victory.

Interview with the Steiner Brothers – It was the beginning of what would become a classic Scott Steiner promo, stuttering and stammering his way through. Rick Steiner doesn’t do any better as he says if he gets a chance he’s “gonna give it to Woman”.

Steiner Brothers vs. Doom w/ Woman – The edited theme for Doom was not only horrible but the audio levels were too quiet so it was clashing with the real theme playing in the background. It almost sounded like Karen Jarrett’s theme with much more drum beats.

One thing I love about Doom is how you didn’t know who was who since they were both dark skinned and had the same black tights and masks. It really symbolized how their individual identity doesn’t matter because they are a unit. The only way you can tell them apart is from their voices. Even JR pointed this out, calling them “Dude #1 and #2” because I guess they didn’t know who they were yet. It was great “strength vs. strength” match but unfortunately things go sour for the Steiners when Woman puts a foreign object into one of the guys masks. Allowing him to knock out Rick Steiner with a single headbutt before getting the pin fall.

Interview with Lex Luger – Luger says it’s all on the line for Pillman. It’s not about his “exhibitions” anymore, its time for him to step up and face the US Heavyweight Champion.

NWA US Heavyweight Title Match – “Total Package” Lex Luger (champion) vs. “Flyin’” Brian Pillman – Luger was truly in the prime of his career at this point in time and his performances really reflected that, especially this one. Just when I thought you couldn’t beat the Luger v Steamboat match from last month at Great American Bash; this blow that out of the water. A great story of the “cocky champion” vs. “the tough kid” was displayed during this match. Luger was beating up Pillman while Brian used his technical skills and quickness to get the upper hand on Lex. After both men pummel each other for a good fifteen minutes, Pillman comes off the ropes and Luger hits him a brutal looking top rope hot shot for the win.

Interview with Road Warriors w/ Paul Ellering – I always enjoy a Road Warriors promo because they just scream gibberish into the camera for a minute or two. Fortunately, that’s exactly what they did here. They say that skyscrapers are built by people and can be torn down by people……makes sense right?

Skyscrapers w/ Teddy Long vs. Road Warriors w/ Paul Ellering – Exactly as advertised this was a battle of the big men. Although that doesn’t sound like the best wrestling match, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. It was nice to see Skyscrapers gel well as a team, as they dominated the Road Warriors for most of the match. Which is something that doesn’t happen very often at all. Once the Road Warriors gain a comeback and look like they are going to win, Teddy Long comes in with that big golden key and smashes Paul Ellering over the head with it before throwing it to Spivey who uses it on Animal, causing a disqualification. The Skyscrapers beat up Animal with the metal key until Hawk comes off the top rope and hits Spivey with a clothesline, getting the upper hand with the key and saving Animal.

Interview with Sting, Ric Flair and Ole Anderson – Ole Anderson has the white towel securely wrapped around his hand and he says he’ll never let it go. I’ll explain what the towel means in the next match but basically Flair and Sting are pumped and ready to kick some ass in the Thunderdome Cage match.

Thunderdome Cage Match – Ric Flair & Sting w/ Ole Anderson vs. Terry Funk & The Great Muta w/ Gary Hart – Special Guest Referee Bruno Sammartino – The rules of the match go as follows. The electrified Thunderdome Cage will be lowered once all four participants are in the ring. There are no rules and the match continues until the “Terminators” Gary Hart or Ole Anderson throw in their towel for their respective team. Indicating that their team has had enough and they submit.

For some reason they had audio of some guy grunting with thunder sound effects in the background as the cage lowered. It was quite hilarious. After the cage lowers though and everything is visible, you can see how much of a mess it is. There are lights, cables, hell even Halloween decorations hanging off this thing. Then the damn thing catches fire before the match even starts. Tommy Young and a ringside hand have to attempt to pat out the fire that started in one of the corners. Thankfully, Muta comes along and sprays out the fire with his mist which I thought was absolutely hilarious.

As JR said, this match was basically a street fight. All four guys were just beating the hell out of each other, smashing each other into the cage, fighting up the cage…it was madness. At one point, Sting uses the rope hanging in one of the corners like Tarzan and flies through the air, kicking Funk in the back…….how awesome is that? Funk turns it around on Sting though and ties the same rope around his leg so he is trapped up on the cage. Funk and Muta beat on Flair, giving him a spike piledriver before Ole Anderson helps Sting get free. Then Sting does the most awesome thing I’ve seen in a long time. From the top corner of the cage, he leaps into the ring and on to Funk as the crowd almost blows the roof of the place.The match didn’t end without controversy though as Ole Anderson punches Gary Hart making his towel fly out of his hand as he goes down. Bruno sees the towel on the mat and calls for the bell.

The Thunderdome Cage is a dumb idea but the match turned out to be pretty awesome despite the lackluster stipulation.

Overall, I really enjoyed Halloween Havoc 1989. Sure there were some matches like Z-Man vs. Rotunda or Rich vs Assassin that were borderline boring at times but I can look past that fact because we also got some absolutely phenomenal match-ups as well. The six-man tag match was a barn burner, Lex Luger and Brian Pillman will go down as one of the best US title fights in history and the main event, although clouded with the Thunderdome Cage, turned out to be pretty damn awesome. Even Road Warriors vs. Skyscrapers entertained me. Much like the previous two Pay-Per Views I’ve reviewed, Halloween Havoc 1989 is a great wrestling PPV and I would recommend it to any wrestling fan.

Pros:

+ Some top notch matches

+ Main event was awesome despite overhanging stipulation

Cons:

– First match didn’t do it’s job

– Rich / Assassin match disrupted the flow of the PPV

– Thunderdome Cage

 

 

 

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.