The Worst Wrestling Shows of All Time: Halloween Havoc 1995
The lamentable, early Hulk Hogan era of WCW has been the butt of many jokes, and deservedly so. In trying to create a presentation similar to Hulk Hogan’s prime years in the WWF in the 80s, WCW actually took the entire makeup of their own company far beyond anything Vince McMahon would or could do at his worst. For years, we were subjected to outrageously cartoonish superhero feats by Hogan, as he fought a neverending parade of clearly inferior opponents with stupid gimmicks in increasingly implausible scenarios.
That regrettable period of WCW hit its zenith at Halloween Havoc 1995, as Hulk Hogan took his brand of sports entertainment to a new level when he faced the Giant (known today as the Big Show) in not one, but two encounters on the same event. One would obviously be Hogan defending the WCW World Title in a wrestling match, but prior to that, Hogan and the Giant would face off in a monster truck battle on the roof of Cobo Hall, adjacent to where the main PPV was being held in the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
In case you’re confused about how a monster truck battle wound up on a wrestling PPV, or why WCW thought people would pay to see it, I think a little bit of backstory is in order. You see, this was just the latest, albeit probably the most infamous, chapter in an ongoing war between Hulk Hogan and the Dungeon of Doom.
Part I: The Background
It all started when Kevin Sullivan began hearing voices in his head...voices which he followed to a deep underground cave where he discovered the man who had been telepathically reaching out to him (over the PA in the arenas where everyone could hear him): THE MASTER. No, not the guy from Doctor Who, this was the former King Curtis Iaukea, who had previously done pretty much the same gimmick in the WWF in the 80s as the Wizard.
The Master recreated Sullivan as the Taskmaster, made him drink from goblets full of blood, and gave him a fearsome group of warriors known as the Dungeon of Doom to lead into battle:
-The Ugandan Headhunter, Kamala, whom the Master had managed when he was in the WWF in the 80s.
-Shark, who had previously been Earthquake in the WWF in the late 80s and early 90s.
-The Face of Terror, Meng, who had previously been Haku in the WWF in the 80s.
-Zodaic, who had been Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake in the WWF in the 80s. (Sensing a theme here?)
The goal of this group of misfits and freaks was simple: to destroy Hulkamania once and for all. That was it, a guy who had apparently lived in an underground ravine for centuries telepathically enslaved an aging wrestler for the express purpose of destroying a wildly successful marketing campaign. But I suppose we weren’t supposed to think too deeply about that part.
Anyway, as the war between Hulk Hogan and the Dungeon of Doom raged on, a mysterious, huge, sinister looking man in a leather jacket began appearing in the front row at WCW shows. He always looked angry, but even more so whenever Hogan appeared, even trying to grab Hogan’s manager Jimmy Hart on one occasion. Nobody knew who he was or what his problem with Hogan might be, but it was pretty clear there were some serious rage issues going on there.
Eventually, the Dungeon of Doom issued a challenge to Hogan to come face them, by himself, on their home turf. Hogan obviously accepted, since this was Hulk Hogan we were talking about, and made his way into the Dungeon of Doom’s cavern in what ended up being one of the most famously bad segments ever seen on a wrestling show.
Hogan burst through the wall and into the cave with his shirt torn open, presumably from a battle with some nightmare creature on his way in. He proceeded to yell out, “WHERE AM I?” to nobody in particular, and then famously proclaimed, “THERE’S NO HULKAMANIACS HERE!” After burning his hand in the freezing ice fountain (and exclaiming "IT'S NOT HOT!"), Hogan was confronted by the Master and Sullivan before the huge man who had been sitting at ringside also burst through the wall, choked Hogan out, and then declared himself the greatest Giant to ever walk the Earth, and the one true Immortal.
Reflecting on the incident in a later interview, Hogan said that he felt the power of Andre, and that the Giant must be Andre’s son. You’d think, given how close Hogan always claimed to have been with Andre, he would have known that Andre had a seven foot tall son with designs on following his father into the business, but we’ll gloss that over for the time being and get right to the part where the Giant commits attempted vehicular homicide on Hogan.
Yeah, you read that right: Hogan was arriving in the garage backstage at Fall Brawl and stopped to do a prematch interview with Mean Gene Okerlund, when the Giant came speeding in behind the wheel of a custom Dungeon of Doom monster truck. Hogan and Gene got out of the way just in the nick of time, but Hogan’s Harley was completely crushed under the weight of the Giant’s monster truck, which kept whizzing on by as Hogan stared after it in stunned shock.
Fortunately, Hogan was able to collect himself well enough to lead his team of Sting, the Macho Man, and Lex Luger to victory over the Dungeon of Doom in Wargames later that night. By virtue of that win, Hogan got five minutes alone in the cage with Kevin Sullivan, and proceeded to gain some reveng by dishing out a vicious beating to the leader of the Dungeon of Doom.
Hogan’s party was cut short when the Giant made his way into the cage and attacked him, and while Hogan was able to lay a couple of good right hands in on the Giant, they didn’t faze the big man. Instead, the Giant beat Hogan down before twice wrenching his neck with a twisting snap move reminiscent of the one Zeus used on Hogan when they brawled in a cage in the 80s.
Hogan was forced to wear a neck brace for several weeks after the attack, but that was far from the final indignity he’d suffer at the hands of the Giant and Sullivan. Mere weeks went by before Sullivan came out of the crowd dressed as a woman and threw powder in Hogan’s face before attacking him with a cane. The Giant came out with the rest of the Dungeon of Doom in tow, tore Hogan’s neck brace off, Zeus-snapped his neck again, and proceeded to do the unthinkable by SHAVING HULK HOGAN’S MUSTACHE OFF.
Listen, Hogan’s been attacked before, he’s had friends stab him in the back, he’s even occasionally been put on the shelf, and he can deal with that. Even after the Giant crushed his Harley with a monster truck, Hogan was willing to hold his head high and fight the good fight. But mark my words: nobody, and I mean NOBODY, messes with Hulk Hogan’s mustache and gets away with it.
The Dungeon of Doom had no idea what they had unleashed with that ill-advised attack, because Hulk Hogan…started wearing black clothes and sunglasses. In what some have seen as a test run of the Hollywood Hogan character we’d see a year later during the NWO invasion, we got a harder-edged Hogan who was done playing role model, and was ready to take it out of the Giant’s hide.
In order to gain full revenge on the Giant for everything he had done to him over the preceding months, he not only challenged the Giant to a World Title Match, a rarity for a challenge like that to come from the champion, but also a Monster Truck Battle on the roof of the adjoining Cobo Hall. But while Hogan was getting ready to walk (back) into the lion’s den, his friends seemed too busy fighting each other to watch Hogan’s back like they were damn well supposed to.
After Big Van Vader was abruptly fired after a backstage brawl with Paul Orndorff, his spot on Hulk Hogan’s Wargames team was filled by Lex Luger, who had shocked the world by appearing on the first episode of Monday Nitro when everybody thought he still worked for the WWF. Luger’s old friend Sting welcomed him back with open arms, but Macho Man Randy Savage was suspicious of Luger’s motives, and made public accusations toward Luger that he would stab Hogan and the rest of them in the back given the right opportunity.
Sting finally came up with a great solution: they would face each other at Halloween Havoc, but only if each of them could beat a Dungeon of Doom member first. You see, that way they’d be forced to do their duty and protect Hogan if they wanted to get their hands on each other. Well, it made sense to all of them, anyway, and I think that’s as good as we’re going to get as we head into...
Part II: Halloween Havoc 1995
As bad as the build to the main event storylines on this show had been, there was actually some really good stuff on the undercard. For starters, Diamond Dallas Page and Johnny B. Badd had a great TV Title match, and while Johnny came out on top, this was the first chance DDP really got to show that he could go in the ring after long being dismissed as a former manager who would never sniff the big time. Obviously we all know how that went in the coming years, but this was DDP’s first breakout career moment.
Jerry Lynn and Sabu had a really fun ECW-style match, and while it was a little on the short side, it was Sabu’s first ever PPV appearance, and the only PPV he worked on during his very short time with WCW. This match was also important in laying the groundwork for the Cruiserweight Division that would be officially created the following year.
Finally, this show featured one of the all-time classic WCW angles when Ric Flair turned on Sting to reform the Horsemen with Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Flair and Anderson had had a falling out a few months earlier, and Anderson tried to pour salt in the wound by reforming the Horsemen with Brian Pillman, but without Ric Flair. Flair went to his longtime rival Sting for help, but Sting refused to trust Flair given how many times Flair had stabbed him in the back in the past.
A previous Sting/Flair vs Anderson/Pillman match saw Flair come out alone and get beaten up 2-on-1 until Sting, finally convinced that Flair was on the level this time, came out to make the save. He agreed to team with Flair, but gave him a stark warning: if Flair doublecrossed him, he would live to regret it.
Halloween Havoc came, only this time, Sting was the one fighting a 2-on-1 battle because Anderson and Pillman had attacked and injured Flair backstage before the match. Flair eventually came out and stood on the apron, but when Sting tagged Flair in, Flair started putting the boots to him and was soon joined by Anderson and Pillman. They revealed it had been a plan all along, they were all in on it together, and the now reformed Horsemen had left Sting laying once again.
However, for as good as those matches were, I know you realize they’re not the reason you're here, and that we have more fabulously bad stuff to get to. First up were the Macho Man and Lex Luger’s “qualifying” matches they’d have to win to get a match with each other. Macho Man won a quick and easy squash match over Zodiac, and then came Luger’s match against Meng.
Luger vs Meng was a very strangely booked match since Meng spent most of it beating the tar out of Luger. In fact, Meng was so dominant that he was on the verge of victory over Luger after hitting him with the steel spike he used as a weapon. Meng made the cover, but then Kevin Sullivan jumped in the ring and kicked Luger in the head, causing the referee to disqualify Meng.
Now, when someone not participating in a match comes in to break a pinfall attempt, the person being covered is usually the one who gets disqualified since they’re the one who was “saved” from defeat. I get that they tried to get around it by having Sullivan kick Luger, but the finish came off as awkward, Meng looked confused, the referee looked confused, the announcers were clearly confused about how to sell it, and I’m pretty sure even Sullivan was lost by that point.
Regardless, Luger won and moved on to the match with Savage, but before we got there, we were subjected to the Hogan-Giant monster truck fiasco. Listen, I don’t know thing one about monster truck other than the annual commercials I see when Gravedigger is coming to town. I’ve never met anyone who likes monster trucks, and I have no idea what happens at monster truck events.
What I *DO* know is that this monster truck battle at Halloween Havoc was five of the longest minutes of my life. The trucks were attached grill-to-grill, and the winner would be whoever pushed their opponent out of the circle first. For several monotonous minutes, the monster trucks pushed and pulled while footage of Hogan and the Giant in the trucks was spliced in to make it seem like they were actually the ones driving them (they weren't).
Finally, after what can only loosely be described as a series of false finishes, Hogan’s truck pushed the Giant’s out of the circle to claim victory. A furious Giant got out of his truck and went after Hogan, and the two of them started brawling right there on the roof of Cobo Hall. For some reason, they both climbed up on the low wall circling the edge of the roof and traded punches until Hogan hit the Giant with a shot that knocked him off balance and clear off the roof of the building.
An astonished Hogan looked down after the Giant as he plummeted, then went running off to get help for the Giant. For a tense hour, the show continued on while the announcers lamented the fate of the Giant and wondered what would happen now that the main event was apparently off. I don’t think anyone would have complained if they just decided to end the PPV early, but (perhaps surprisingly) the worst was yet to come.
Before we got there, however, we had the long-awaited Macho Man-Lex Luger match that both men had worked so hard to make happen. Jimmy Hart came down to ringside during the match and immediately began telegraphing the heel turn he was going to make in the main event by acting shady and distracting the referee. The distraction actually allowed Savage to get the win by shoving him into Hart and knocking him off the apron, then hitting the flying elbow for the win.
Savage’s celebration would be short lived, but before we got to that, Hulk Hogan came out to the ring with a sullen look on his face to inform the live crowd that there had been an accident, and the match wasn’t going to happen. He started to talk about how it wasn’t supposed to go down like this, but he was cut off when the Dungeon of Doom music hit and the Giant came stalking out of the back with bad intentions in his eyes and a laughing Kevin Sullivan by his side.
I remind you, this is a man who had apparently fallen HUNDREDS OF FEET off the roof of Cobo Hall only an hour earlier. Not only was he apparently 100% healthy after his near-death experience, but he had even taken the time to change out of his monster truck driving suit and into his wrestling gear before coming out to the ring.
Now, most men would turn and run as fast as they could from someone who was apparently impossible to destroy, but I remind you that this is Hulk Hogan we’re talking about. Plummeting off the roof of an arena may not hurt the Giant, but he still hadn’t been tested by the might of Hulkamania. They did battle and, sure enough, Hogan survived the Giant’s onslaught and began to take the fight to the big man.
Hogan did the usual routine with the bodyslam and the legdrop, but just as he went to make a cover, his manager Jimmy Hart suddenly jumped on the ring apron and knocked the referee out with his megaphone. Hogan had no idea what happened, but figured it out pretty quickly when he turned his back and Jimmy gave him a shot with the megaphone too. Hogan finally realized what was going on, and prepared to give Jimmy Hart a good thrashing when the Dungeon of Doom hit the ring.
Hogan wound up on the receiving end of a 6-on-1 attack, but rescue was soon on the way when the Macho Man and Lex Luger ran out together, apparently putting their differences aside to come to the aid of the Hulkster. Well, actually Luger immediately turned on Savage the instant they got in the ring, and joined the Dungeon of Doom in the assault. This was now a 7-on-2 beating, but the odds soon went completely off the charts when the Yeti lumbered out to join the party.
Wait, I forgot to mention the Yeti when I was talking about the build to the show, didn’t I? Okay, quick flashback: on the last episode of Nitro before Halloween Havoc, the Dungeon of Doom brought a giant block of ice out and just left it sitting in the arena for the entire show. Finally at the end, the block of ice exploded, and out popped a seven foot tall mummy that Sullivan and the Master identified as the Yeti.
This Yeti was actually even taller than the Giant, and when he got into the ring, the Yeti and the Giant grabbed Hogan in a weird kind of sandwich double bearhug and…well, they started grinding their hips into him from both sides. It was super creepy actually, so much so that Hogan collapsed to the mat unconscious from the sheer grossness of being humped by a pair of seven footers.
The damage was done: Hogan had been thoroughly betrayed, beaten up, and humiliated by the Dungeon of Doom, and as a final insult, the Giant picked up the WCW World Title belt and took it with him when he left.
Part III: The Aftermath
We’ve seen heels (and even some babyfaces) steal title belts a hundred times, but as we all well know, that doesn’t make them the champion, merely an opportunistic thief. Well, as it turned out, this wasn’t one of those situations, thanks to a bit of backstabbing legal chicanery by Hogan’s now former manager Jimmy Hart, who was now a full-fledged member of the Dungeon of Doom.
After carrying around the WCW World Title belt for several weeks, the Giant and Kevin Sullivan revealed that Jimmy had written a clause into the Halloween Havoc contract stating that Hogan would lose the title if he were disqualified. Since Jimmy Hart was Hogan’s manager at the time, by knocking the referee out with the megaphone, he had actually gotten Hogan disqualified, meaning that the Giant really was the legitimate WCW World Champion.
In spite of the impressive acrobatics WCW went through to get the title off of Hogan without making him, you know, LOSE A MATCH or anything, the Giant’s title reign ended almost immediately after this revelation. Jimmy Hart’s diabolical plan was barely out of his mouth before WCW attorney Nick Lambros came out and informed the bunch of them that this abuse of Jimmy’s power of attorney would not be tolerated, and that the WCW World Title was now vacant.
Lex Luger had obviously turned heel, but other than a desire to be the WCW World Champion, we never exactly found out why. He took on Jimmy Hart as his manager, but didn’t officially join the Dungeon of Doom. He also kept teaming with Sting, eventually winning the WCW World Tag Team Title with him. He danced the line between babyface and heel for months before the NWO invaded, and the angle never got resolved.
Ric Flair celebrated the reformation of the Four Horsemen by losing to Sting. Then losing to him again. And then a third time. Then he got beat up by Hogan some more. Then he won the WCW World Title at Starrcade 95 in a shock finish before almost immediately losing it again. As for the Horsemen, Pillman was gone from WCW shortly into 1996, and the rest of the squad was filled out with Chris Benoit (a great pick) and former football player Steve McMichael (an unabashedly horrible one).
Speaking of the WCW World Title, all roads led to World War III, where the vacant title was put on the line in the first ever three ring, 60 man World War III battle royal. A match like that sounds like an awesome idea except when you consider that they needed to include every WCW Saturday Night jobber they had AND a bunch of outside talent the fans didn't know or care about just to fill out the roster for the match. Plus, it was almost impossible to follow the action taking place in three different rings at the same time.
Hey, remember when Hogan wouldn’t get pinned to lose the title to the Giant? Well, he wouldn’t even do an over the top rope job in this match despite the fact that he was against 59 other guys. He eliminated the Giant, of course, but then the Giant dragged him under the bottom rope and the referees were too busy directing their attention elsewhere to notice. They turned around and saw Hogan on the floor, assumed he went over the top, and declared him eliminated.
The Macho Man ended up winning the match and becoming the champion, leading to even more “CAN HULK HOGAN TRUST HIS FRIENDS???” storylines on top of the ones he already had with Luger, and also now with Sting since he kept sticking up for Luger. Of course, HE was the one who ended up turning on all three of THEM when he joined up with the Outsiders at Bash At The Beach 1996, but that’s another story for another day.