Spooks and frights and pro wrestling go together like zucchini in a chocolate cake. You wouldn’t expect one to be in the other, but it’s great when it is. However the weird and wonderful world of grappling doesn’t tie the macabre to any given season. That doesn’t mean things don’t get dark and strange special for Hallowe’en. These aren’t just when interesting stuff in wrestling happened on Hallowe’en, but when the holiday and the entertainment merged to create something truly of the season. There’s a history connecting the two that goes back decades and some of it has shaped not only wrestling but pop-culture… And some of it uses an electrified steel cage. All of it entertaining though. Speaking of which:
Halloween Havoc 1989: The Thunderdome Match:
Our first stop takes us to the always… interesting world of WCW. At a time when seemingly every creative idea was being tried WCW decided to make a show special for the Hallowe’en season. But a simple wrestling show wouldn’t be enough. Enter the main event the “Thunderdome” Cage match. On paper you couldn’t have dreamed a bigger match. World Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair and his friend/rival Sting Vs Hardcore legend Terry Funk and Japanese wrestling royalty The Great Muta. These four men alone would have pulled in thousands to see the show. But it wasn’t enough for the creatives at WCW. Why not add longest reigning WWE Champion of all time Bruno Sammartino as a referee in a major steal? Why not make the match something no one had even seen, a gigantic domed cage covered in “scary” Hallowe’en decorations with Tarzan ropes hanging down.
And why the hell not make it electrified?
This match promised brutality and violence, the warriors entered the ring and very shortly afterwards started… climbing the cage. Wasn’t it meant to be electrified? Shouldn’t even being near it shock them? Before the match started the very power being turned on caused sparks to rain down. The fireworks used to make the effect setting the Hallowe’en decorations on fire. Unfortunately some wires got crossed, the commentators then say only the domed top was electrified, to stop escapes. Well then the wrestlers must have forgot about that as they grabbed that too so they could use the ropes to Tarzan swing. This made the actual moment in the match where Muta was “shocked” by the cage a bit more silly than deadly.
Not quite Hallowe’en enough I think… Fortunately there was always next year…
Halloween Havoc 1990: The Chamber of Horrors
It’s definitely more Hallowe’en. However, it’s also one of the grandest disasters wrestling has ever presented.
This match came about after WCW looked at the over booked Thunderdome and decided the only way to fix it would be to add even more. Instead of ending the show WCW also decided this should be the viewers first match seen. Instead of a tag match with an electrified cage The Chamber Of Horrors had two teams of four brawl in and around the ring. Around the ring were coffins that contained creeps in masks for some reason who did next to nothing. The goal was to lower another smaller cage down from the ceiling (Making everything even more cramped), inside would be an electric chair. One team would then place an opponent in the chair, pull the fatal lever and render their opponent “helpless”. Which kind of ignores how “fatal” this match would be if done for real.
But can it be more Hallowe’en?
In case the apparent threat of death for the loser wasn’t spooky enough WCW crammed even more Hallowe’en into this. At the start of the match competitor Rick Steiner pulled out a chainsaw! It didn’t work so he just dumped it by the cage. Then Zombie Orderlies came out with a stretcher to take away the victim… Only for said victim Abdullah the Butcher to spring out of the chair and attack them. After he kind of, jostled in the chair a bit as fireworks went off.
It is amazing the amount of former or future world champions subjected to this match. Sting, Mick Foley, Sid Vicious, The Steiner Brothers. Along with some clunkers like the very tall but notoriously bad El Gigante. But Wrestling just couldn’t get enough of the very silly
Halloween Havoc 1995: Sumo Monster Trucks!
By 1995 Eric Bischoff had taken over the running of WCW. When you’re a hot shot exec trying to impress the Turner board of directors you go looking for any brand deals you can find. What better than Monster trucks! Wrestling and Monster Trucks shared this macho over the top blood in the 90’s, so put some wrestlers on the trucks and instant cash! There was the perfect feud cooked up. Hulk Hogan had been lured over to WCW from the WWF and needed monsters to slay. Enter the Dungeon of Doom, comic book villain characters put on top of pretty good wrestlers. Their crowning jewel was The Giant, the first showing of who most would know as The Big Show in WWE, the legit seven-foot monster claiming to be the son of mythical wrestler Andre The Giant.
The match was on but to raise the stakes The Giant ran over Hogans beloved motorcycle with a Dungeon of Doom monster truck! It’s a little strange for a group of seemingly mystical monsters to be interested in giant trucks but it does look very cool. Not one but two terrifying Hallowe’en approved matches were confirmed. Hulk Hogan, who’s fights against the Dungeon had been slowly turning him to the dark side, would fight The Giant first on the roof of Cobo Hall in Detroit in a Custom Monster Truck Sumo Match. Then immediately afterwards the two would lock horns in the ring to fight for Hogans world title.
The two epic clashes!(?)
How did the tremendous clash between trucks go? This just about sums things up. For safety reasons the two trucks were welded together and did what is the truck version of leaning on each other for a few minutes before Hogan won. The two scrapped across the roof until The Giant did a Looney Tunes worthy fall off of the building. The broadcast responded to this like the greatest tragedy to befall the sport. It sucks the fun out of the whole giant men in giant trucks fight. But no worry, later on Hogan would come down to the ring to declare himself the winner. After all, there’s no way The Giant could have possibly survived. Except he did, without a scratch on him because he was so spooky.
Finally the actual match could happen, but not for long as everyone in the Dungeon interfered. This came along with a betrayal by Hogan’s manager and another wrestler, Lex Luger. The match and the show ended in pandemonium as colourful costumed goons attacked Hogan. But all else pales in comparison to the long teased debut of THE YETAY!
Hallowe’en monsters in wrestling are actually common. But calling that a Yeti (Sorry a YETAY) and then having him do the… “friendliest” offence ever seen in wrestling tips this from just silly to complete hilarity.
Hallowe’en 1998: Chucky the Killer Doll… Yes Really
That monster may have been more funny than terrifying, but what about one of the true icons of terror? Surprisingly this may have been actually worse. Wrestling was the hottest thing on earth in 1998 and some projects jumped on board for the advertising opportunities. This is what lead to famed horror comedy puppet Chucky appearing on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro right in time to promote Bride of Chucky. Just before Hallowe’en Rick Steiner who was about to face off against his turned evil brother Scott was interrupted during a promo by the doll himself. Well, a pre-recorded message from him that Rick had to sell as if it was live, it didn’t work out.
Chucky’s main goal was to protect Scott as he was apparently eyeing up Big Poppa Pump to be the star in the next Child’s Play film (Also didn’t work out). While as brilliantly performed by Brad Dourif as ever, the entire thing just left Rick looking a bit of an idiot. The big wrestler went up verbally against a doll and lost and couldn’t get his revenge. That would have been it except…
WWE Brought The Doll Back!
That’s right, in 2020 WWE brought back the Halloween Havoc show for developmental brand NXT, owning it after buying out WCW. In 2021 to help promote the show they even went back to this rather (in)famous piece of television history and brought Chucky to the show. His hosting duties, helping to promote the Chucky TV series, fit better to the fun Hallowe’en vibes WWE wanted. He would still get involved on the show though, hosting the “Spin the Wheel make the Deal” segments. Itself an old WCW Halloween Havoc idea where a wheel would be spun and wherever it landed would be the match type the competitors would face each other in. This crossover was definitely less awkward than the characters previous appearance.
Conveniently though he showed up as Bron Breakker became the brands champion, who is actually the son of Rick Steiner. Strange how these things work out, almost eerie.
Hallowe’en 2002: The day that gave us John Cena
Any talk about wrestling and Hallowe’en has to talk about one of potentially the most important moments in wrestling history. Not only did it not happen in the ring however the man involved wasn’t even booked on the show outside of a background character.
The title is a bit misleading. Cena had been around for a few months at this point. One look at the muscle bound monster makes it very clear why WWE would want to bring him in. Unfortunately as “The Prototype” his lack of experience and personality was really making it hard for people to get on board with him. This all changed on one fateful episode of Smackdown. Falling on October 31st the episode had a framing device of a Hallowe’en party where everyone on the brand was dressed in costumes. Cena was particularly noticeable as he went as Vanilla Ice.
Not one to let a bit go to waste, WWE had Cena rap a few times. It was never as the focus of a segment, he just would do it. Not only did it not sink into cringe immediately, Cena actually showed that he actually had some skills, especially as he was freestyling for a bit of it. The result can be seen here. Showing more charisma than ever before it was decided that the Protorype was to be no more and Cena would lean all the way into his rapping talents. This lead to the heel white boy rapper gimmick, that eventually turned face followed by… Well you know the rest.
A star made, but does he still rap?
Cena’s rapping is less important to his career now of course, but he still gives a few verses every now and then when he returns to WWE and of course his ever memeable theme song is actually a single off his solo album that WWE heavily promoted. While it may not be wrestling trying to spook the audience with crazy horror filled matches, it is crazy to think that Peacemaker exists because of a scripted Hallowe’en party allowing a future mega star to cut loose.
Need some more for the most macabre of seasons? Then you should read GNN’s Halloween Pizza and Movie Guide!