Sometimes we here at Extra Mustard get tired of talking about good wrestling, and instead want to focus on the mythical, ever-present bad wrestling that’s hiding in plain sight, all over the WWE Network. So in celebration of Halloween, we’re taking a look at Halloween Havoc ’98! A show that is actually pretty good! Save for one horrible mistake looming at the end of the card.
Raven vs. Chris Jericho
If you were jobbing to WCW-era Chris Jericho, your wrestling career probably wasn’t thriving. Poor Raven – he loses this match in 10 minutes, buried at the bottom of a card, and he wouldn’t be seen for months. When he finally made his auspicious return in 1999 I believe he immediately started teaming with the Insane Clown Posse. Which, yeah, they had a stable called “The Dead Pool.” If you were in The Dead Pool you’d probably be asking to be released from your contract too.
My favorite part of this match is when Chris Jericho literally jumps into Raven’s arms so he could eat a powerbomb. You know what happens when you can’t pick people up for your own powerbombs? You start teaming with ICP.
Juventud Guerrera vs. Disco Inferno
This might be the most WCW match of all time. Jeventud, a lucha great unceremoniously poached from ECW and promptly misused all over the nWo-addicted late-‘90s, eventually exiting the company around the time he was found naked, screaming and deep in a PCP binge somewhere in an Australian hotel. And Disco Inferno, the most inexplicably over wrestler in history. Disco was journeyman Glenn Gilbertti, they told him to do Saturday Night Live and… yeah, Disco Inferno.
Here’s the thing though, this match is secretly great. It’s probably the best thing on the card other than the main event. Jeventud is awesome, and Disco could totally work his butt off when needed. Seriously, the guy slides into the Cruiserweight division with far more ease than you’d ever expect, and that’s vintage late-‘90s WCW. Two wrestlers from the middle of their talent-stacked roster put on a way better show than the Hogans and Steiners at the top of the card. Eventually, it would be their downfall.
Alex Wright vs. Fit Finlay
It’s still sort of bewildering that Fit Finlay had a career. Well, “career.” When you spend two years teaming with Hornswoggle it gets a little dubious. He’s basically out here jobbing to Alex Wright, whose whole thing was that he was German (true!) and loved house music (still unconfirmed!) The dude could actually go though, and he stomps all over Finlay in his triumphant rise up the ranks to… manage Debra? I really can’t remember what became of the Nuremburg prodigy. But I swear to god, there are moments where he looks like a less-athletic Cesaro. I swear I’m not making this up. Long live Alex Wright!
Scott Steiner and Giant vs. Rick Steiner and Buff Bagwell
Scott Steiner is proof that we need to put the late-‘90s behind us as fast as possible. A man of his caliber should’ve NEVER been this over. He could not talk, he could barely wrestle, and he made your body hurt just by looking at him. He ripened at the exact right time -- in 1998, an era where getting outworked by the Big Show is the least of your concerns.
But yeah, that dude was ripped, and sometimes that’s all you need. He could flex, and he could convince 9-year olds he was cool. Here, he’s wrestling his brother, the more talented Rick, who he puts over after accidentally eating a TOP-ROPE MISSILE DROPKICK FROM THE BIG SHOW.
Yes, you read that right, a top-rope missile dropkick from The Big Show. If there’s anything worth 10-minutes of Scott Steiner slowly losing circulation in his thighs, it’s that. Without a doubt my favorite moment of the PPV.
And to be fair, Scott Steiner had plenty of memorable moments before his catatonic, ridiculously-inflated WCW run, but then again, that’s his legacy man.
Disco Inferno vs. Billy Kidman
The deal was whoever won the Inferno/Juventud match would get a shot at Kidman’s title. Inferno won, so he got to eat Kidman’s Headscissors and submission chains.
Seriously, Billy Kidman is the truth. He’s one of the best cruiserweights of all time. I could watch him wrestle for days. He’s the quintessential vanilla midget and never got much of a main event push. It sort of makes you wish Kidman came of age in modern times, when Daniel Bryan chants rewrote an entire Mania main event.
Anyways, he gets a great match out of Disco Inferno right in the middle of the midcard before the nWo take over. This is WCW after all.
Kevin Nash vs. Scott Hall
Now we’re getting to the important stuff.
I can’t watch Scott Hall matches anymore. Some people boycott Benoit stuff in light of the… well, you know. I know a few who don’t revisit Owen Hart’s greatness to protect themselves from redamaging that broken heart. For me it’s Scott Hall. Especially late-‘90s Hall, when his life was already publicly unraveling and his addiction problems were getting written into storylines. This was the big blowoff to the feud between Nash and Hall, founding members of the nWo that were destined to go at it once the creative started running out of ideas. Hall shows up to the ring kayfabe drunk, and Nash jackknifes him twice before leaving the ring and happily losing to count-out.
It’s actually a pretty great match, with lots of great, retrospectively eerie psychology. But man is it hard to watch. We saw Scott Hall show up to headline an indie show in a wheelchair not too long ago. The man has been doing better as of late, but still, 15 years later, those demons are still all too real.
Sting vs. Bret Hart
Sting has had plenty of great matches. But here I just remember a lot of clotheslines to an incredibly heelish Bret Hart who almost certainly didn’t want to be in WCW anymore. So. Many. Clotheslines. If I remember correctly this feud began because Bret Hart didn’t like how the Scorpion Deathlock was similar to the Sharpshooter, or something. Yeah, it’s not the most crucial stuff.
We’re talking about two of the best of all time, so even if they’re sleepwalking it’s at least instinctual sleepwalking. Bret Hart beats up Sting with his own bat, that’s a novelty. But, yeah. When we write up Sting’s career arc, this match will probably go unlisted.
Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior
Ah here we go.
Back at WrestleMania VI, Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior had a wrestling match. It was not a particularly good wrestling match; there was this ridiculous test-of-strength thing that went on for 20 minutes, and Ultimate Warrior was like the early '90s version of Roman Reigns-y great-look/limited-moveset archetype, but it’s still remembered as one of the most legendary moments in WWE history simply for what it meant. Hogan was passing on the title to the younger, hungrier, slightly more popular kid, and everyone in America picked a side. It was classic TV wrestling symbolism in its prototypical form, the first proof many kids had that wrestling could be as big and real and triumphant as you want it to be.
Eight years later they had a rematch where Hulk Hogan tried to distract Ultimate Warrior by lighting a match.
Well okay, he was supposed to light some flint or something but it didn’t work so there was this weird improvised ending where Hogan’s nephew hit Warrior with a chair. That’s what people remember about this bout, the botched ending and the most unsatisfying chair shot in history. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
You know what I love about that first Hogan/Warrior match? The innocence. The fact that Hogan kicks out at three, the cover on the backdrop, the handshake afterwards. It was classic stuff. Years later this rematch replaces all of that innocence with the weird bitterness of two men who simply don’t like each other. There’s just so much standing around, and arguing, and awkwardness, and decades-long animosity. Warrior barely sells anything, Hogan tries to reference that test-of-strength thing in the most cynical way possible.
I don’t want to dig into the politics of whether or not Hogan demanded to pin Warrior, or what all went down with Warrior’s alleged creative input. But what I do know is that one of the most beloved wrestling moments of all time was dug up for a 14-minute dusty ending. I don’t care who you are, that sucks.
Diamond Dallas Paige vs. Goldberg
Funny thing about this match, it didn’t actually get shown on the PPV. A lot of broadcasts ended with the Hogan/Warrior passive-aggressive wankfest, and didn’t get to see Goldberg retain the title.
Yes, Goldberg retained the title.
This actually wasn’t too long before Goldberg would lose, ending his hallowed undefeated streak, but I sorta think it should’ve happened here. You have NO IDEA how over DDP was in ’98. That guy was legit beloved, and rightfully so! He’s the best, everyone loves DDP. Everyone loves Goldberg too, whether they’re comfy admitting it yet.
It’s a great match, a very dramatic Diamond Cutter that’s Randy Orton-RKO-counter-of-Tombstone levels of OH MY GOD IS HE GOING TO DO IT? IS HE GOING TO DO IT? Which, nah. But it’s still great! I bet if more TVs carried this match maybe the Warrior/Hogan disaster would be less remembered, but of course the nWo storyline ran out the show while two of the other top guys worked for nobody.