Fall 1991 is our setting. The WWF is building towards the dream match of Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair. Flair had left the NWA/WCW in a controversial fashion and Vince McMahon was sitting back waiting for the money to pour in with two world champions ready to square off. Bret Hart is fresh off of a Summerslam victory over Mr. Perfect making him the WWF Intercontinental Champion. He’d then go on to win the 1991 King of the Ring Tournament and start his ascension to greatness. The recently christened Legion of Doom defeated the Nasty Boys in August to become the first and only ever tag team to hold tag titles in the AWA, NWA, and WWF. Business was looking good for the WWF at that time, and it’d continue to do well for a few more years… But that’s not what we’re here to discuss.
See, guys, on the other end of the spectrum we’ve got the WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger feuding with Ron Simmons, who was being built up as an ultra good guy. The feud included a contract signing which Luger offered Ron a job as his chauffer, stay classy, Jim Herd and Company. Steve Austin is stealing shows as the WCW World Television Champion. Larry Zbysko and Arn Anderson have just won a tag team tournament for the WCW Tag Team Championships against Rick Steiner and Bill Kazmaier in a monstrosity of a match. Johnny B. Badd is shooting glitter into the air, Big Josh is dancing with live bears, Oz is literally the Wizard of Oz, and somehow Tom Zenk has a job.
I know what you’re thinking, where the hell is this going? It’s going to Chattanooga, Tennessee, damn it! It’s time for WCW’s 3rd annual Halloween Havoc and our first entry in the Doomzday Prophesies! Maybe I should explain.
I, Dany Doomzday, will be bringing you this article/editorial/column/ranting shenanigans on a bi-weekly basis. What I’ll be doing is looking at the ridiculous events, storylines, angles, matches, gimmicks, promos, just about any and every thing WCW did to give you a look at what no one picked up on at the time. You see, everyone watched this unfold on a weekly/monthly basis from this company, and what no one ever really saw was that each and every dumb thing WCW did would eventually Prophesize their Doom. Ladies and Gentlemen (probably mostly gentlemen, but hey 3 ladies reading this) I present to you, The Doomzday Prophesies.
World Championship Wrestling had this AWESOME build up to Lex Luger vs. Ron Simmons for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. If you look at the poster for WCW’s Halloween Havoc 1991 you see two matches being promoted, Luger vs. Simmons, and the first (and last) time ever Chamber of Horrors Match! That’s right, kids, before Hell in a Cell, before The Elimination Chamber, before TNA bought the cage from Battle Dome at the UPN liquidation, WCW put a twist on the modern cage match and gave us THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS!
The promotion for the show featured advertisements for a 4-on-4 match between Sting, El Gigante, Rick, and Scott Steiner and Oz, One Man Gang, Diamond “Not Yet Razor Not Yet Scott” Studd, and Barry Windham. Makes sense, right? Of course not, because none of these people have anything in common at this time. We’d come to learn that none of them having anything in common wouldn’t matter regardless because outside of Diamond Studd the second team is completely different by the time the match happens. WCW randomly threw this match together at first and as the show approached must’ve realized no one knows what the hell a chamber of horrors match is and they needed a selling point. Oh, and One Man Gang didn’t want to put P.N. News over in September, so Jim Herd fired him. That makes the bad guys down a guy.
Cactus Jack had just debuted in WCW in September by beating up Sting. He’d go on to promise Sting a present, which would turn out to be a box filled with nothing but an Abdullah the Butcher ass beating. No seriously, look at these pictures. He was a literal present in a very literal box.
So after Sting’s early Christmas from Hell, Abdullah the Butcher quietly replaces One Man Gang, who no one cared about to begin with. It wasn’t even an advertised change; WCW ran a preshow 2 days prior to the event featuring Oz, Abdullah the Butcher, Diamond Studd, and Barry Windham.
And a match I’m sure that would’ve given Flair vs. Steamboat a run for its money…
Also promoted for the card were P.N. News and Big Josh vs. The Creatures, Tom Zenk vs. The Halloween Phantom, and Beautiful Bobby Eaton vs. Terrance Taylor in a “Prince of Darkness Match”. What?
No seriously, the match was a blindfold match. I get that it’s Halloween but when they sat around in this booking meeting who pitched this idea?
Also featured in the preshow promoting the event is an awesome bit where Paul E. Dangerously and Missy Hyatt are in New Jersey, then Los Angeles, and then Dallas to find where the Chamber was being built. The way the segment is presented is like they’re looking for it all day. They’re in Jersey and it’s light outside, they’re in Los Angeles as the sun is going down, and they’re in Dallas in the night time. They don’t find the cage and no one at WCW headquarters is concerned with the fact that its 2 days before this event and no one knows where the cage is. Also, no one seems to mention this…
What’s that, you ask? That’s Paul E. Dangerously and Missy Hyatt being robbed in a Dallas warehouse at knifepoint, which Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross laugh about after.
Following the filmed law breaking we’re told by Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone that the pay per view is on Sunday and no one knows where or what a Chamber of Horrors is. I somehow believe this is true. I think maybe Dusty kept it quiet until the actual event because he thought he had some gigantic master plan great idea and didn’t want anyone to tell him how stupid it was and sabotage his event.
From there we get a promo from Rick Steiner with Scott Steiner standing behind him like an idiot. Rick, too, points out no one knows what a Chamber of Horrors is. Have no fear, WCW audience, because not only does Rick not know what it is, but he also “Doesn’t know where he’s been, and doesn’t know where he’s going”. Excellent build up.
Wait, what’s this? We see a door open and hear grumblings and groans as if there’s a monster in there! We’re going to see who is building the Chamber of Horrors?! What sick mastermind came up with this idea, you ask?!
Why Elvira, of course.
Not only is this entire structure her idea, but she takes credit for building it for her favorite wrestling event, “Halloween Havoc, darling”. Judging by that blow torch in her hand, she’s been hard at work for weeks making sure this structure is ready to go. She then proceeds to tell us that anything can happen at Halloween Havoc as the room she walked out of begins to groan AND SHAKE!
Let’s say for instance it’s 1991 and you’re unsure of ordering this show because you have no idea what a Chamber of Horrors match is. You’re flipping through channels and you see this show, where Elvira says she’s building the Chamber, you then see that the Chamber is ALIVE! How do you not order this? I’d have called my cable company immediately and said something along the lines of “I want to see Elvira’s monster eat Oz. Here’s my credit card number, take whatever you want, and I don’t care.” The show goes on to say that the match is a race against time.
Still no one knows a thing about it, but now we know it’s a race. Maybe the Chamber of Horrors Monster is going to chase these guys in a foot race and the one who doesn’t get eaten wins. I’d rather watch that than a Prince of Darkness match.
Flash forward to two days, and it’s show time, folks!
Halloween Havoc 1991 starts and I’m sure everyone at home is wondering what great match is going to start off the show. P.N. News and Big Josh vs. The Creatures (who I failed to mention earlier were wrestling sasquatches, but that’s another Prophecy, folks)? Tom Zenk vs. The mysterious bronzed mythological God, Halloween Phantom?! As the camera shows the ring we see the Chamber of Horrors is set up and ready to go, and quite frankly, it’s neither a monster, nor anything different, it’s just a big ass cage with a slightly rounded top.
This is the point when I call the cable company I called Friday and blow my top. “The special you guys aired basically promised Elvira’s dragon would be tearing people limb from limb and eating them whole, and you bastards air this cage match? Transfer me to Dusty.” So no one has a clue how this works, what’s going to happen or anything. Thank God for Gary Michael Cappetta. Please, “World’s Most Dangerous Announcer” tell us how this works.
“This special attraction will involve two teams, each team consisting of 4 team members. The match will be confined to the Chamber of Horrors which is equipped with several instruments of torture. The object of the match is to put a member of the opposing team in the Chamber of Horrors Chair of Torture and then to pull the FATAL Lever which will render one of the teammates helpless.”
In 1991 hearing this, you’re likely going “Okay, so torture, torture, and then you put someone in a chair and pull a lever? Seems legit.” Then the camera shows you the FATAL Lever.
Doesn’t really look too FATAL or even menacing, if you ask me, just kind of looks like a prop they bought at a Halloween store, and likely received the entryway props for free.
I get that that looks kind of awesome from far away, but as the camera zooms in you realize it’s just a house painted on a paper backdrop with Styrofoam headstones everywhere.
Generic rock music hits and the good guy team are out first with El Gigante leading the way. If you don’t know anything about El Gigante, he’s best known as Giant Gonzales, and best known for being tall. He’s also known for WCW’s announcers being unable to say El Gigante. Then Vader comes out, representing the bad guy team. Then Diamond Studd. Then Cactus Jack. Wait, Cactus Jack isn’t supposed to be in this match, what the hell? Better question, WHY IS HE CARRYING A CHAINSAW?!
The Steiner Brothers, from the good guy team, then come out. The reason I’m seriously just rambling these out like this is because this is exactly how it was presented. “Introducing from Team Number 1, this guy” “From team two, this guy” and they open the very real door on the very papier-mâché haunted house and stroll out. Weighing in at 465 pounds and one bad ass skull on a stick, we get Abdullah the Butcher, as Capetta would call him, or as WCW’s graphic team is calling him, “The Butcher”.
I’m not sure, but judging by his size and how crazy Abdullah’s character is, I’m assuming the head on a stick is actually just the remains of his dinner. If that’s not what it is, why the hell did no one say that just to get over the fact that he’s crazy?
Generic Rock Theme 2 turns into Generic Rock Theme 4 and DAMN IT HERE COMES THE STINGER! The crowd goes bonkers, likely confused by everyone coming out to the same theme and in an awkward order with a guy who was never promoted to be in the match coming out. The sound of Sting’s generic theme probably gave them hope as they were maybe assuming Tom Zenk could’ve potentially replaced Sting like Cactus replaced Oz. Cactus Jack (sans chainsaw) jumps up on the ramp leading to the ring to attack him and this match is on, people.
Let’s look at something honestly here. The man just walked to a ring with a chainsaw which was running and clearly in working order. This match is no holds barred and is about “torture” and “weapons of torture”, again, CACTUS JACK WALKED TO THE RING WITH A CHAINSAW… See where I’m going? This match could’ve easily been over in 20 seconds. Cut, chop, cut, cut, put the pieces in the Chamber of Horrors Chair of Torture, flip the FATAL Lever, Abdullah eats the parts off of the chair. I just booked this match better than WCW did at the time. I should change the title of this to “How Dany Doomzday Saved Halloween Havoc 91”. Not only did I rewrite the Abdullah character and give him way more meaning than WCW ever did, but I also made this abomination seem like a worthwhile match.
Anyway, Cactus hits Sting as Abdullah awkwardly climbs onto the stage, while holding his skull on a stick, and all hell breaks loose. Sting somehow gets the stick as Rick Steiner jumps up and goes at it with Abdullah. Now, in the ring, keep in mind we’re 2 seconds into this match, Scott Steiner hits a tigerbomb… A FREAKING TIGERBOMB… on Diamond Studd. Gigante and “Van Vader” as Jim Ross calls him, not to be confused with Van Hammer, awkwardly throw strikes at each other in the middle of the ring as Jim Ross declares that RICK STEINER HAS GOT THE CHAINSAW.
SHIT’S ABOUT TO GET RE… Oh he put it right back down. The proper call here would’ve probably been “RICK STEINER IS MOVING THE CHAINSAW” but that doesn’t sound as good. Sting, still wielding the skull on a stick gets into the cage, assuming Rick Steiner is following behind him chainsaw in hand; Sting is ready to go Evil Dead with Rick on all these guys. Tony Schiavone points out that the skull on a stick is actually a skull on a kendo stick and that these guys can use it. The cage door shuts and the match is officially underway as Sting uses the skull on a KENDO stick to hit Abdullah. We see caskets propped up in the corners of the cage as Jim Ross tells us how simple the object of the match is. “All you have to do is put your opponent in the chair of torture and at some point the chair of torture will be lowered down into the ring”. Jim Ross still isn’t clear what’s going on.
Scott Steiner pulls the doors off of one of the caskets revealing A MASKED MAN WIELDING A STICK!
You’ll notice those screen caps look a little bit different than usual. That’s because they’re from the prospective of the innovative Ref Cam! That’s right, folks, WCW is doing a First Person Shooter style broadcast and you get to be the referee. Why didn’t this ever get a video game spinoff? If WCW made the Ref Cam Video Game they’d still be in business today and I would have nothing to write about. I’d probably be busy playing Ref Cam ’13 anyway and wouldn’t want to write.
For whatever reason Scott Steiner feels the need to continue his assault on the masked man who popped out of the casket by scoop slamming him on the casket. Let’s just say for instance they put this guy in the Chamber of Horrors Chair of Torture. Who wins? After the scoop slam Tony Schiavone points out that “He’s regretting being in that casket because Scott Steiner looks to be in great shape”. Yep. Tony Schiavone said this. Rick Steiner immediately heads to the other casket and opens it to beat up the other masked man. I’m sad WCW never made this a feud. The Steiners laid the groundwork and everything here.
Scott picks up what looks like a white broomstick the masked man in the casket was holding and proceeds to slide in the ring and start taking people out with it as El Gigante puts Diamond Studd in the corner and power humps him a couple of times. Yes, you read that write, El Gigante put Diamond Studd in the corner and thrusted his penis into Diamond Studd’s belly button with all of his might two times before choking him. With his hands. He’s choking him with his hands, I promise.
Schiavone explains that Cactus Jack wasn’t originally supposed to be in the match “but he wanted to be” makes since. So, say for instance, Jim Ross stands up and goes “Damn it, I want to be in the main event of this pay per view,” he gets in, right?
Diamond Studd attempts to climb the cage to escape this atrocious match, but El Gigante pulls him down as Jim Ross explains “this is a battle royal like concept except” and I honestly waited for him to say “nothing like this”, but he says “no pinfalls or submissions”. Bummer. Now at this point in time Vader was going by Big Van Vader, but Jim Ross just continues to call him Van Vader. Is this supposed to be a first and last name concept or what? Feel free to leave a comment below to discuss this.
Back in the ring we get another Ref Cam shot, only this time there’s something different.
That’s right, it has a name. Someone decided “Referee Cam” sounded stupid the first time Jim Ross said it, so on the fly they came up with “Refer-eye Camera” which is about a thousand times dumber. As he moves the camera becomes grainy and messed up as he watches Rick Steiner pick up Cactus Jack for what appears to be a Doomsday Device (or for the sake of this article Doomzday Device). The Refer-eye Camera turns into a mess so we cut to a wide shot and it looks like the Doomsday Device is being interrupted by the lowering of the Chamber of Horrors Chair of Torture!
Scott hits a DDT off of Rick’s shoulders as the chair continues to lower, Schiavone and Ross are completely terrified as Cactus Jack might end up “mashed by that chair”.
Cactus narrowly gets out of the way (read: No sells a top rope DDT) as everyone stares dumbfounded at the Chamber of Horrors Chair of Torture. We’re told it’ll still take a long while before anyone is put in the chair because no one is completely worn down yet, as Vader casually sets Rick Steiner down in the seat.
You also notice that there’s almost no room at all for anyone to do anything. Rick kicks Vader and Steinerlines him over the top rope as the camera cuts to Sting and Cactus Jack brawling outside. Sting picks up the lid to one of the caskets and tosses it in the air; the seemingly weightless lid takes its time falling down to land on top of Cactus’ head. Cut the entryway and we see a set of men carrying a stretcher. Schiavone asks “What are these, the ghouls?” and I’d say he’s partially correct as a bunch of out of shape middle aged men with white face paint probably lack a better name.
They all proceed to kneel on the stage. I feel the need to point out that outside of the tigerbomb and Doomsday Device DDT absolutely nothing has happened in this match. For absolutely no reason at all Abdullah the Butcher starts climbing the cage and stops midway. El Gigante holds onto him while he’s in the ring as Scott Steiner charges forward and swings one of the broomsticks at a bloodied Cactus Jack on the floor. The broomstick appears to explode as Cactus likely gets knocked out on his feet as he makes his way to the side of the cage. Sting and Cactus both start climbing. Again, no idea why. Sting slams Cactus’ bloodied face into the cage two times.
Cactus gingerly slides down the side of the cage locking his foot into it before fully falling all the way off. We see Rick Steiner handcuffing one of the masked men to the cage and going back to work on him. These guys are getting beat up more than anyone else on the other team.
Sting slowly climbs from the cage to the ring apron. He picks up Cactus Jack and takes him into the ring as Scott Steiner begins to choke Abdullah the Butcher with a chain. We then see Sting Irish whip Cactus Jack from the middle of the ring, over the top rope and into the cage. We stay with the Refer-eye Camera as he reveals there’s about 2 feet of space around the chair in the ring. Awkward corner brawling between Sting and Diamond Studd ensues. Studd puts Sting in the chair as Scott Steiner haphazardly wraps a chain around his fist and starts hitting people with it. In an awkward moment, Steiner begins to strangle Studd with the chain. What’s so awkward about it?
Nothing unless someone being choked with one side of a chain isn’t awkward. This leads into an even more awkward moment. The infamous close up. Not sure what I’m talking about?
That’s right, kids, the switch is on and the chair should be in full electrical form! Except for the fact that Sting was, uh, just in the chair, and um, nothing happened. Jim Ross then gets completely flustered saying “There it is… When that lever is… Uhm… Uh. When it’s flipped… Uh…” solid cover-up.
More random brawling as Diamond Studd tries climbing the cage again; El Gigante grabs him by his hair and pulls him down. Everyone keeps using these half broomstick things to choke/jab each other. Abdullah is shown choking a bloodied Sting in on one of the cage bars. Rick Steiner climbs in the ring and stands like an asshole poking the chair with a kendo stick.
Seriously look, at him, he has no idea what’s going on in this match, none of us do.
For whatever reason these guys keep using these broomsticks to different degrees of selling. Rick Steiner gets hit with one and he dies, but Diamond Studd gets hit 3 times and continues to try and put Rick in the chair. In the ring Abdullah is putting Rick in the chair and Cactus is up by the switch!
But wait, Rick gets up and hugs Abdullah back into the chair! Tony Schiavone calls it a belly-to-belly, but it really looks like an awkward dance move with Rick hugging Abdullah and gingerly spinning around. It takes a good 40 seconds for Rick to get Abdullah shackled into the chair. Cactus holds onto the cage and stares into the crowd awkwardly trying to not look at the ring a minute after Rick put Abdullah in the chair. He then, without looking for over a minute, pulls the switch and it’s time for Abdullah to die!
A loud pop is heard as sparks fly from the chair… Kind of. The camera shows a side view of the chair as Abdullah shakes and twitches, and it’s fairly evident that the “electrical sparks” are somehow rigged into the cage, and nowhere near the actual chair. The cap that would technically be giving the shocks to Abdullah is nowhere near his head as the top of the cage expels fire.
The ring around the cage slowly starts to burn as the refs attempt to stomp it out without anyone noticing it. Tony Schiavone makes the awesome call that “Abdullah is getting cooked, and I think he’s well done, guys”. A man is in an electric chair, a torture device used to kill men, and we’re making cooking jokes. You stay classy, Tony. Cactus then realizes his error, and runs in the ring to try and save his friend. He unhooks Abby’s hands, and there’s no response.
Abdullah suddenly leaps up and shoulder blocks Cactus, sending him down. He’s gone crazy! He climbs out of the ring, where the ring crew is moving a piece of the stage, and kicks one of them in the head, the guy calmly no sells the hell out of it as Abby goes straight for the stretcher goblins. Schiavone makes the declaration that “He must’ve woke up and thought he was in heaven, and knew he wasn’t supposed to be there”. Sure. I’m not even sure why someone would wake up in heaven and get pissed. Cactus walks up on the stage and they both start taking out the demon crew as the ring crew attempts to wipe away all memories of this disaster.
All-in-all the Chamber of Horrors was a terribly executed terrible idea. The weapons of torture that were promised ended up being broomsticks. Elvira didn’t have a dragon monster to eat people. The rest of Halloween Havoc 91 was alright, the Halloween Phantom ended up being Rick Rude, which was an awesome surprise at the time. Brian Pillman beat Ricky Morton (or as he’s known at this time Richard Morton) to become the first WCW Light Heavyweight Champion. Ron Simmons fails to trump the evil racist Lex Luger and become WCW Champion. At the end of the day, Chamber of Horrors and thousands of other ideas would lead to WCW’s demise. I’ll be here on a biweekly basis to point out and make fun of each terrible idea that would lead up to WCW’s Doomzday.
Terrific use of pics in this!
I remember Gary Michael Cappetta talking to El Gigante in Spanish at one show.
Only got a chance to read it all now. Great column, Danny. Looking forward to next werk!
Worst idea ever!