Didn’t we just have a PPV?
This Sunday brings us TLC, two weeks removed from Hell in a Cell. Recently we talked about how HIAC has become a watered down gimmick match that’s lost a lot of its luster now that it’s an annual tradition. TLC, as a match type, has been around for seventeen years, only three years fewer than Hell in a Cell. And even though there have only been twenty such matches (HIAC has almost double that), the match never really established the same kind of sentimental attachment with the WWE audience.
I suppose there’s a je ne sais quoi about Mick Foley flying off the top of a cage onto one table that Jeff Hardy flying off the top of a ladder onto a stack of tables lacks.
Because the match lacks that sentimental appeal, few WWE fans complain about it being an annual tradition (since 2009) the way they do about Hell in a Cell. If anything, you might hear complaints about the risk associated with the match, or the sometimes contrived plotting that happens in the weeks leading up to the event, in order to get certain feuds to the point where such a match is justified. But for the most part the event is just like any other, and has never attracted a great outpouring of support or condemnation. WWE never seemed to put much thought into it either; before this year it was their December PPV, the one show on the calendar they almost always write-off as a throwaway.
Now it comes in mid-October and it comes just a couple weeks removed from Hell in a Cell. As a result, for the first time in the event’s almost-decade long existence, I have a gripe about it. Before this year I never gave the match much thought but having it follow Hell in a Cell so quickly feels—as a viewer—like eating chocolate cake for dinner and then having ice cream for dessert. It’s too much too fast. I get the thought process here: It was likely symmetry that was on the mind of McMahon when he made this decision; SmackDown had their big car-crash match type in October so Raw should have its right after. But it ends up being two too-similar shows back to back without any buffer or palate cleanser in between.
If WWE wanted to have some symmetry with their brand-specific PPVs, there are other ways to do it, especially in the month of October, where ratings usually dip and fan interest goes into hibernation till maybe Thanksgiving for Survivor Series.
Chief among them is Halloween!
It baffles me that WWE has never embraced the celebration of this beloved Fall holiday and its many festivities. We’ve seen New Years revolutions, Valentine’s Day massacres, Great American bashes, Thanksgiving Gravy Bowl matches, and Santa Claus getting stunnered, socko’d, tombstoned and more, more times than I can count…why is Halloween not an annual staple on the WWE calendar? We don’t even get the occasional stupid skit that comes on just when a non-fan walks in the room and laughs at you for watching stupidity personified.
Is it because Vince McMahon grew up in poverty, living in a North Carolina trailer park, where trick or treaters were just as likely to get bags of meth handed out instead of bags of snickers? Did he never grow up with the enjoyment of perusing a suburban block dressed as…whatever kids would have dressed up as in 1955. Roy Rogers? Let me Google “1955 Halloween Costumes.”
Good heavens don’t do that with the lights off.
Whatever the reason, we’ve been really deprived in WWE Land of a Halloween themed month, complete with stupid skits and PPVs. WCW on the other hand went all in on the holiday every year, with their annual Halloween Havoc PPV, featuring the best non-WrestleMania stage setup in the history of our sport: Inflatable pumpkins, tombstones, mood lighting, FOG!
It was wonderful.
You can watch them on the WWE Network but the fun ends in the year 2000 (along with all the other fun things in WCW). Unlike the short-lived Great American Bash revival, and the recently-added Clash of (the) Champions, Vince has been reluctant to use WCW’s PPV concepts. He’ll bring Goldberg back but not Fall Brawl. Even Starrcade is a house-show only event that will be unaired on the Network. War Games is finally coming, but it’s an NXT exclusive so naturally I give all credit to NWA fanboi Triple H for that one.
Halloween Havoc is just sitting there begging to be used.
And if you ask around, you’ll get some song and dance about how WCW never actually owned the rights to the name, which means when Vince acquired WCW from Ted Turner (traded him a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card for it…not mint), he did not acquire the rights to Halloween Havoc. So if WWE were to feature the gimmick on a new show and market it with all its muscle, some bush league promotion (Jarrett’s most likely) could host their own show with the same name in the same market on the same weekend and Global Force Wrestling might actually trick people into attending one of their shows.
But is that really an adequate excuse? Whatever happened to “WWE’s only competition is itself” and “WWE doesn’t worry what other promotions do because they’re in the wrestling business and we’re in the sports-entertainment business.”
If you ask me, an October one-two punch of War Games from one brand and Halloween Havoc from the other would bring eyeballs to the network. It might not attract casual fans, but it’s not like Hell in a Cell or TLC attract them either. This is the entertainment era of millennial nostalgia with shows like Stranger Things and movies like IT turning into huge hits. All it takes is a wink and nod to the feelings you had in your childhood plus a little reverence for The Way Things Used To Be.
Something like Halloween Havoc has been out of sight and out of mind long enough, it’s gone from “forgotten” to “nostalgic” and is ready to be used again. Imagine a show that was combined with the old Cyber Sunday gimmick from years back, only instead of the old method of voting (on the website or via text message), you could have fans vote on match types with the WWE App. That puts the “Havoc” back in the Halloween and might even net a few extra downloads of the company’s official app. It’s win-win.
Or you could not do any of that. You could ignore the Great Pumpkin. You could run TLC and pretend Halloween doesn’t even exis—
I forgot Finn Balor was cosplaying as a demonic version of David S. Pumpkins while Bray Wyatt dresses up like the girl from The Ring if she grew up into a sad out of work former child star clinging to faded fame and selling autographs on the convention circuit in front of a sign saying “The girl from The Ring; movie star” (eh hem).
That’s Halloween-enough I guess.
Oh well, I’m Matthew Martin: I love WWE but everything sucks and I’m never watching it again.
See you next Monday.