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WCW Halloween Havoc 1999 results, live retro blog: The Russo era begins

A few weeks ago, I promised the next live retro blog would cover one of the most infamous shows in wrestling history.

Now, when I say “most infamous PPVs in wrestling history”, you would probably think of just about any PPV from 1995, the WWE version of The Great American Bash, any of the Uncensored shows, December to Dismember, or Heroes of Wrestling. I’m sure there are others that come in mind. The point is those shows and many others are remembered for the wrong reasons.

There’s one PPV that doesn’t come up often enough in these conversations. This week’s Live Retro Blog is one of those shows. Consider some of the reviews of this show from elsewhere around the Internet to get an idea of what we’re in for:

When I started watching this show, I tried to keep an open mind. I tried to push Russo's future failures out of my mind. I watched to see how many Russo moments I could see. They were everywhere. The disjointed angles, treating PPV's as an episode of television, women objectified, and a main event so overbooked no one knew what the hell was going on. This show was a disaster.

–dustbusta, Cageside Seats, June 2014

It's convoluted, frustrating, painfully nonsensical, and a great indicator of the pure WTF that WCW was going to become. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this company turned into, just hold on tight.

-Ramblemania, May 2013

Glorious Russo., November 2013

There's just nothing to say that could be considered a compliment. This might be the worst WCW PPV, ever, from every possible department. I could probably find more enjoyment out of a random show from Juggalo Championship Wrestling. Yeah, I went there.

-DaWrestlingSite, July 2016

Even though this is car wreck TV and the kind of thing any potential booker should watch as the ‘how not to do it’ version of a bad show it’s not recommended that anyone else sit through it because it’s Russofuckinrific.

-411Mania, March 2007

The show in reference (as you may have figured out by now with the header) is Halloween Havoc 1999, taking place on October 24, 1999 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. 8,464 were in attendance with 230,000 homes watching on PPV (a number WCW would never see again after this night).

The show is noted for being the first PPV of the Vince Russo-Ed Ferrara era (Eric Bischoff was relieved of his duties as WCW president prior to Fall Brawl), with both writers coming being signed the previous month from the WWF in an effort to create some buzz.

In the ring, every WCW title is on the line (no hardcore title, that came the next month), headlined by Sting defending the WCW world title against Hulk Hogan and Sid Vicious versus Goldberg for the WCW United States Championship. Plus Diamond Dallas Page and Ric Flair square off in a strap match, and new world tag team champions will be crowned in a three-team street fight.

Be there for the carnage festivities beginning at 7pm ET this Saturday night. All you need’s a broadband Internet connection and a WWE Network subscription (if you’re on this site, you’re halfway there. If you don’t have a WWE Network subscription, you can get one here. First month’s free if you’re a new subscriber).

Oh, that’s 6pm CT, 4pm PT, 1pm Hawaiian, and midnight in Britain. Everywhere else, I trust you to figure it out.

Howdy! I’m Eddie Mac. Let’s watch some retro pro wrestling together.

Ok, so before I get into the show, I’m gonna do this review a little differently. Sure you’ll have your results and things of importance in here. But I’ll also be giving a checklist of what matches had what I’d like to call Russoisms.

To keep it simple, I’ve broken it down to a series of twenty tropes I think are most common to any show booked by Vince Russo. For the purpose of this list and review, I’ll restrict this to only tropes you’ll see on-screen. Keep your eye on these traits as the show progresses.

1. Author Appeal: A single gimmick or philosophy is unusually central and widespread, per the author's tastes. In Russo’s case, pole matches or behind-the-scenes drama. More on the latter later.

2. Awesome, but Impractical: Cool, but incredibly flawed. For examples, shocking swerves that get less shocking the more times it happens. Also, swerves that make no sense or serve no purpose.

3. Brooklyn Rage: Violent or badass New Yorker. No explanation needed.

4. Diabolical Mastermind/Writer on Board: The evil overlord immune from repercussions through minions and blackmail who makes a point in the name of storytelling. Look for Russo as one of the “Powers That Be”. But don’t look for his face; he’s a Dr. Claw-like figure and is never directly seen. Plus he has henchmen known as “Creative Control”. Also likes to speak in insider terms.

5. Fleeting Demographic Rule: Your audience isn’t likely to remember your story forever, so feel free to reuse content whenever they forget. Got an idea for a story? WWF used it already? Just present it to a new audience a few years later.

6. Fun with Acronyms: Acronym that spells something funny or significant. Examples include the TIT (Terri Invitational Tournament), SEX (Sports Entertainment Xtreme), TNA (Total Nonstop Action), PMS (Pretty Mean Sistas), the JOB Squad (Just Over Broke), and the SHIT (Saskatchewan Hardcore International Title or Superhero in Training).

7. Gimmick Matches: Matches with rules that are different from a standard one-fall-to-a-finish match. Russo shows are full of these, often with little or no setup or promotion. One of the more infamous examples is TNA’s Final Resolution in 2010. Seven of the show’s nine matches had a gimmick. That’s gimmick overload, homes.

8. Grey and Grey Morality: Opposing sides are neither good nor evil. While that describes most of the real world, wrestling has lived as the athletic version of the great morality play: good versus evil. Sure they can have shades of grey, but they have to lean one way or the other. Otherwise, it’s just two guys fighting without a purpose.

9. He-Man Woman Hater: A misogynistic man. Needs no explanation.

10. Heel-Face Revolving Door: A character switches constantly between good and bad. Also needs no explanation.

11. Loads and Loads of Characters: A work has too many cast members to count. One of the few positive Russo tropes; everyone, regardless of their place in the pecking order, has something to do. Whether you care about the lower card wrestlers and their stories will depend on your mileage and preference.

12. No Fourth Wall: A work in which the fourth wall (that sorta intangible barrier between a creative work and its audience) is frequently broken. Examples include using wrestling lingo that only those that know the business will understand, worked shoots, and actual shoots.

13. Post Modernism: Self-aware artistic reaction to modernity. One of Russo’s most common tricks is to do something and present it as real in that moment when everything that happens before and after that as fake. Russo’s defense has been people have figured out pro wrestling. Yeah, that may be true, but people still like to suspend disbelief, even if only for a few minutes.

14. Power Stable: A gang of wrestlers. Obviously.

15. Random Events Plot: The circumstances that brought on the plot occurred for no reason. Wait… what just happened? And more importantly, why? You’ll get the former, but rarely the latter.

16. Sex Sells: Using “fanservice” (usually sexually suggestive audience-pleasing material) to sell your product, regardless if it fits.

17. Take That: Offhand insults. Look for wrestlers taking digs at their former employer or the competition whenever possible.

18. Viewers are Geniuses: The creators overestimate their average viewer’s intelligence. Russo has been on record saying that everyone who watches wrestling is on the Internet. This isn’t true, not even in 2016. Not everyone reads the dirtsheets. Not everyone knows every nook and cranny of what’s going on. (Case in point: The April 10, 2000 Nitro. “What’s the matter, Sid? Can’t find your scissors?” Despite Eric Bischoff saying this twice, this went over like a lead balloon in the crowd, and probably in the home audience because not that many people knew of Sid’s incident with scissors in a hotel room in England in 1993).

19. Viewers are Goldfish: The creators underestimate their average viewer’s attention span. Basically, “crash TV” in a nutshell. For example, a storyline that could last say… three months could be done in three weeks. Another example is to cram so many stories and plots into a single show, nothing truly stands out as memorable simply because you won’t have time to remember it. Nothing is ever allowed to simmer.

20. Worked Shoot: This thing right here: real. Everything else: fake. One of the most infamous ones is the 2000 Bash at the Beach “worked shoot” that became a shoot, brother when Russo went off on Hulk Hogan.

Now free from Vince McMahon, can Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara bring some life to WCW? Let’s find out.


  • WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Sting (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
  • WCW United States Championship: Sid (c) vs. Goldberg
  • “The Total Package” Lex Luger vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
  • Diamond Dallas Page vs. Ric Flair
  • WCW World Tag Team Championship: The Filthy Animals (Konnan & Rey Mysterio, Jr.) vs. The First Family (Brian Knobbs & Hugh Morrus)
  • WCW World Television Championship: Chris Benoit (c) vs. Rick Steiner
  • WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Disco Inferno (c) vs. Lash LeRoux
  • Berlyn vs. Brad Armstrong

Yikes. I’m over 1600 words and we haven’t even gotten into the opening.

WCW bird poop logo.

Promo packages for Sid versus Goldberg and Sting versus Hogan.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1999, October 24, 1999 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

PYRO AND BALLYHOO! Halloween Havoc set looks gorgeous, especially with the huge ass pumpkin. Breaking news: Rey Mysterio has a knee injury, and he and Konnan have been stripped of the WCW tag titles they had won six days earlier. Harlem Heat versus The First Family versus The Filthy Animals’ Konnan and Billy Kidman in an anything goes falls count anywhere match for the vacated titles as ordered by the Powers That Be. Trope #7 on the board, and we haven’t even had our opening match yet.

Match 1: Disco Inferno defeated Lash LeRoux to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship at 7:35. Disco wins with the Last Dance, which is basically the Stone Cold Stunner. I kinda recall that move once being called the Chartbuster. Post-match, Lash hits the Whiplash on the title belt. Not a vocal majority of boos, but a significant number of people not happy. I’ll go ahead with Tropes 2, 8, and 10 for the post-match.

Earlier today, The Revolution’s Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn have a chat. Dean and Chris tell Perry to take the Revolution and shove it up their ass.

Backstage, Mike Tenay’s with Harlem Heat. Booker T is and always the better promo of the duo. But it is Stevie that delivers the "Can you dig that?" line.

Penzer struggling with the rules of the second contest, a three-team falls count anywhere match for the tag titles. One of the three teams, Harlem Heat, weren’t even in the match when the day began. Filthy Animals wearing the tag title belts they were stripped of. Why? Who knows. Trope 15. And Trope 5 for the Kid-Cam, a rehash of GTV.

Match 2: Harlem Heat defeated The First Family and The Filthy Animals in 5:05 to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship. Booker T beat Brian Knobbs after KOing him with a mummy. No, seriously. That’s how Harlem Heat won their tenth—and last—WCW world tag titles. Moments later, Kidman pinned Hugh Morrus. A pin we didn’t see, by the way because the director missed it. The milestone win should have been a bigger deal than this, but the crowd was dead for it. (Future Eddie Mac Alert: their last title reign didn’t last long: they would lose it to Konnan and Kidman the next night on Nitro. So, if you’re scoring at home, the tag titles changed hands four times in eight days.) Konnan favoring his shoulder as he leaves.

Backstage is Ric Flair with a crowbar and his son David. Almost forgot to mention this trope: the "walk and talk", where characters walk from one end of a set to the other while a cam follows them.

A wild Diamond Dallas Page and his wife Kimberly appear. Trope 16 for Kimberly, who is looking lovely in green this evening. Kimberly cuts a promo about 14 times, as in the number of times Flair spanked her bottom in a hotel room on Nitro the prior week (it would have been 16 if it were on RAW—Flair’s two WWF title reigns didn’t count in WCW). Apparently, it’s just a warm-up in the Page household. Well… damn. Many spanking references. Anyway, DDP versus Ric Flair in a strap match later. Trope 15. The match wasn’t a strap match before this broadcast.

Walk ‘n talk! Goldberg’s looking for Sid Vicious.

Mike Tenay with Eddie Guerrero, Kidman, and Torrie Wilson. Animals are banned from ringside for the next match. Konnan’s heading to the hospital, and Eddie Guerrero has Ric Flair’s Rolex for some reason. Tenay stops short of calling Eddie a thief.

Match 3: Eddie Guerrero defeated Perry Saturn by disqualification at 11:12. Following a superplex by Saturn to Guerrero (and a return superplex by Eddie), Flair appears with the crowbar and… well, nobody’s stopping a man with a crowbar. Flair puts a beating on Guerrero and that’s your DQ. Kidman gets crowbared too. Torrie comes out. She didn’t get crowbared, but gives Torrie an unwanted kiss that Torrie apparently liked. Ric comes back for his watch. CONTINUITY!

Backstage, Goldberg apparently has found Sid Vicious and is beating him bloody until he has to be physically restrained. Sid screaming at Goldberg, "IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?"

We barely have time to process what is probably one of the biggest plot points of the show (Trope 19) before Buff Bagwell’s music hits. Buff’s got a problem with the two writers up north and he calls out Jeff Jarrett. Oh, Buff’s not even supposed to be here tonight. HE’S SHOOTING, BROTHER! Tropes 12 and 20. Jeff Jarrett (literally a walkingTrope 9) rushes in with guitar, but Bagwell’s ready. Bagwell’s advantage is quickly erased when the fight goes outside. Impromptu brawl ensues and Lex Luger is out. Luger with guitar in hand looks to hit Jarrett, but hits Buff WITH THE HANDLE instead. Ouch.

Mike Tenay with Sid Vicious, who is getting stitched up. Sid screams and clears the room, demanding it to LET IT BLEED! LET IT BLEED! GET OUTTA HERE! LET IT BLEED! No, Sid. You should not let it bleed. You should get it stitched up.

Eddie Guerrero still stinging from the crowbar beating dials up Rey Mysterio and tells him to come back to the arena. Filthy Animal business has to be done.

Match 4: Brad Armstrong defeated Berlyn in 4:23. Hey, it’s Trope 11 in action. Despite that, Berlyn was DOA after the Columbine school massacre since he shared similarities to the perpetrators of that tragedy. Then Fall Brawlhappened, when Hacksaw Jim Duggan no-sold Berlyn’s offense. As for this match, nothing special. Post-match, Berlyn and The Wall (haha) but the beating on Brad.

Tenay with Ric Flair, still with crowbar. Don’t fuck with Flair. Also, Torrie, Kimberly, and a Space Mountain reference. And he’s ready for the strap match. I feel like this is Trope 9, but Flair loves the ladies. A little too much, I think.

Match 5: Rick Steiner defeats Chris Benoit in 12:50 to win the WCW World Television Championship. Paging Tropes 2 and 10. Malenko motions to nail Rick Steiner, but he waffles Benoit with the steel chair instead. Saturn and Malenko share a hug. The Revolution is alive after all, but Chris has been voted off the island.

Mike Tenay with Bret "Hitman" Hart. Hart’s got a bum ankle thanks to his opponent tonight, Lex Luger, but nothing’s stopping him from excellently executing Luger. And so forth and so on.

Match 6: "The Total Package" Lex Luger defeated Bret Hart via submission in 7:46. I feel dirty for even typing these words. I don’t care if it made sense, it’s just wrong. IT’S WRONG.

A thought most random: a lot of mention of what happened this past Monday, not just with this match, but throughout the show. Makes me think a lot of this show was made on six days build.

/Future Eddie Mac checks the Internet.

/Sees Russo and Ferrara signed with WCW on 10/5/1999.

/Sees a +0.7 uptick in WCW’s ratings from the 10/11/1999 episode to the 10/18/1999 episode.

/Sees DDT Digest mention that Russo and Ferrara made their debut on the 10/18/1999 episode.

Huh. So they did make this PPV on six days build. That explains it then.

Also, there was a Sting crotch chop on the 10/18/1999 episode. I has a sad now.

Tenay’s with Bill Goldberg. You see that pile of blood there, Tenay? I get paid to kick ass. And later, I’m gonna separate his head from the rest of his body. Live decapitation on PPV? You have my attention.

Madusa out in a patriotic red and white bikini with the new Nitro Cologne for Men. Trope 16. Obviously. Heenan hates the smell. Madusa tells off the "superpowers" and the "higher echelons from New York" (which means she’s butchered the Power Stable name TWICE in five seconds) that having her out here doing this is BULLSHIT. Trope 20. Madusa dumps the stinky cologne before storming off. You may love your job, Schiavone, but you’re sitting next to a stinky Heenan for about an hour. Good luck with that.

Promo package for Hogan-Sting. Wait… the world title match is now? Like… right now? This… this is odd. Trope 15.

Match 7: Sting defeated Hulk Hogan in just three seconds to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Ok, let’s talk through this, as it will need some context. Hogan’s music plays, but Hogan doesn’t show up. Many crowd shots. Metallica’s "Seek and Destroy" (dubbed over on the WWE Network version, obviously) brings in the WCW world champion Sting. Hogan’s music plays again. Many more crowd shots. Mind you, this is on PPV. People paid dozens of dollars for this. Hogan’s out in his street clothes and NOT in ring gear. Well… this is weird

Hogan whispers something to Sting… then lays down. Sting covers, Nick Patrick counts three, and Sting, looking very pissed, retains the title. Crowd chants bullshit. Can’t blame them. This was the marquee match of the second biggest show of the year for your company. Tropes 18 and 19 at work here. 19 as we have literally no time to process before the video cuts immediately to a promo package for the United States title match.

18 because if you’ve followed professional wrestling on more than a casual level around this time, you knew that Hogan had creative control in his contract for WCW, and it was probably assumed that you knew it was Hogan going to his creative control card YET AGAIN, but this time it’s not working. Russo wanted to write Hogan off—and he did. But when Russo was out of power just a few months later, Hogan came back.

Oh, and also Trope 1.

FUTURE EDDIE ALERT! And a similar scenario happens again in July 2000 in what would turn out to be Hogan’s last night in WCW.

Oh, and we get a live shot of the arena during the Sid-Goldberg promo. Heenan said we should find out tomorrow on Nitro what the deal was with that match. Spoiler: Trope 15. We don’t find out why.

Match 8: Goldberg defeated Sid Vicious via referee stoppage at 7:11 to win the WCW United States Championship. We got a Trope 8 special here. Goldberg acted heelish in attacking Sid’s open wound, and Sid acting babyfaceish when he walks out under his own power. Pretty sure that’s not Russo was going for here, but that’s how it came across. Match ends when Mickey Jay declares Sid unable to continue. Oh, we get a random appearance from The Outsiders at the start of the match. I will say this: crowd was hot for it.

Sting’s back out. He didn’t come out here for a night off, he came for a fight, and he offers one up for the WCW world title later.

Match 9: Diamond Dallas Page defeated Ric Flair at 12:49 in a strap match. Finish seemed botched with Flair tried to reach for a rope after a Diamond Cutter, but found no rope. Post-match, David Flair tries to rush in with a crowbar, but is cut off by Lime Green Kim and a knee to the Jesus zipper area. Then Ric gets the crowbar to the ribs and the groin. David gets elbowed in the groin and two Diamond Cutters. TWO. Charles Robinson also gets a Diamond Cutter because reasons. David and Lil Naitch check on Big Naitch and Big Naitch, who is a bloody mess (of course), gets stretchered out.

CONTINUNITY! The Filthy Animals rush the stretcher and the Animals kidnap Ric. David tries to fight them off, but he’s no match for the Animals as they drive off in the ambulance.

Sting comes out, and he wants to know who, if anyone, will challenge him for the title, and… ohhhhhhhh dear. The drums. The horns. It’s William Scott Goldberg.

UNADVERTISED Match 10: Sting vs. Goldberg for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Charles Robinson, fresh from his beating at the hands of DDP not even ten minutes prior, is the ref simply because he’s the only one available. Or something. Schiavone announces on commentary it’s a non-title match.

Bobby Heenan at 2 hours, 40 minutes, speaks for all of us: "I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m losing my mind." Word. Another fight to the outside, by the way. I might be wrong, but this may be 10 out of 10 bouts going outside at some point. Trope 19. Goldberg no-sells a spear then kicks Sting in the face. I chuckled a bit. Goldberg misses a spear of his own. Stinger splash. Stinger splash. And a triple. But Goldberg gets his spear eventually. Then jackhammer. Goldberg defeats Sting in just 3:08 and is your new WCW World Heavyweight Champion. Trope 15? Anyway, Goldberg is a double champion AGAIN (He won the US title earlier in the evening). Sting Scorpion Deathdrops Charles Robinson, and that’s a wrap.


There are many reasons why the Russo era didn't work in WCW, but I can tell you one for sure that isn't pointed out enough: WCW's fanbase. I know you're looking at me like I'm crazy, but let me explain.

WCW has always played to a Southern audience, who like their "rasslin'" a certain way: athletic, gritty, no-nonsense. This is why those audiences rejected the WWF back in 1984 when Georgia Championship Wrestling had their timeslot jacked by the WWF. This is why those audiences rejected Hulk Hogan by 1995, just months into his WCW run. Not just because Hogan was unlikable both on- and off-screen, it's because Hogan represented everything WCW was not. While his presence legitimized WCW in the eyes of a wider audience (a legitimacy that was cemented by the summer of 1996), the company basically had to sell their identity to do it.

With the house of cards crumbling by 1999, once again WCW turned to the WWF for their answer. It didn't work. Yes, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara brought a new energy to WCW, but they brought the wrong kind of energy to WCW. A lot of people watched WCW because it wasn't the sex-filled, violence-laden WWF. It was family-friendly. Ish. When people saw WCW become basically WWF-lite, viewers left either for the real thing or stopped watching altogether. After all, why watch a cheap knockoff when you can just watch the real thing?

As for the show itself, even without the context of Russo and Ferrara putting their handprints all over the show, it's... it's not good. A lot of stuff happens, but most of it you probably won't remember. It assumes you know both too much and too little. It assumes you won't pay attention to the little stuff. It assumes too much. It's basically RAW is WAR without the little things that made RAW is WAR worked.

Oh, and as for the title: it was vacated the next night, to be contested in a month-long 32-man tournament. Bret Hart won the whole thing, defeating Chris Benoit in the final at the next PPV, Mayhem. Of note, Bret beat both Goldberg and Sting along the way (Goldberg in the first round, Sting in the semifinals).

I want to be nice to Halloween Havoc 1999, so I will: it wasn't the worst PPV that month. This show is still awful though. 3 out of 10 from yours truly.

FUTURE EDDIE ALERT! No Live Retro Blog next week. Clash of Champions weekend. Back in two weeks with a better show. Honest.

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