On Halloween week we were historically treated to tremendous cruiserweight action and treacherous turncoats.
Where else can we possibly start other than October 26, 1997, and the all-time classic encounter between Rey Misterio Jr (Mysterio) and Eddie Guerrero at WCW Halloween Havoc?
This is as perfect a high flying match you will ever see, an opinion that is shared by numerous members of the wrestling world. At a little over 13 minutes long, this encounter for the WCW Cruiserweight title was not only non-stop action from bell-to-bell, but it was also non-stop gravity-defying action that left you gazing in amazement at what you were watching. I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I think quite highly of this match.
The backstory to this was built around Eddie Guerrero beating and removing the masks of different WCW cruiserweights at the time, so Misterio’s mask was brought into play here and the stipulation of mask vs title was added. In a little insight into the backstage goings-on in WCW at the time- Eric Bischoff was dead-set on Guerrero winning this one and Misterio losing his mask. Both Rey and Eddie both eventually won their over with their argument and with only minutes remaining until their match was set to begin, the finish was changed and Rey ended up winning the title and keeping his mask. Bischoff would, of course, get his wish in the end and Rey Misterio did wrestle for large parts of his WCW run unmasked. Bischoff’s reason for unmasking? He didn’t see a masked Misterio (or anyone really) having any marketing opportunities… Just saying (typing) that sounds ridiculous. WCW missed out on a major merchandising avenue there, one that WWE picked up and has run with ever since Mysterio joined WWE in 2002.
But let’s not make this week’s WCW’s nonsense take away from the in-ring action on this one. This match deserves to take up a huge part of this week’s article as it is head and shoulders over anything else mentioned. Misterio was a tiny shell of what we know of him these days. The smaller and skinnier Misterio could defy gravity and flip, land on opponents and twist himself in ways I didn’t think was possible. Does a running tope-con-hilo to the floor onto a standing opponent sound impressive? Well, when Misterio landed on Guerrero on the outside he then continued the move and hit a picture-perfect hurricanrana, sending Guerrero flying. (Remember Misterio flipped in midair before landing on Guerrero’s shoulders.) Misterio finished Eddie off by reversing an avalanche powerbomb off the top rope into a hurricanrana to pick up the win.
I did mention WCW nonsense earlier didn’t I? Well at Halloween Havoc in 1995 there was plenty of it as the Giant took on Hulk Hogan for the WCW world title, in the Giant’s first-ever televised wrestling match. But no, WCW didn’t stop there. They also booked a Monster Truck battle between the Giant and Hogan to take place on the roof of the building before their main event match. And to make matters even more bizarre, the Giant (aka Paul Wight, aka The Big Show) ended up scuffling with the Hulkster and FALLING OFF THE SIDE OF THE BUILDING. In what should have been the end for the Giant, the show continued and minutes later here he comes walking out unscathed, wearing not a scratch or showing any markings whatsoever after his multi-story drop to the ground, and his match with Hogan continues like nothing had ever happened. Do you want more? The Giant won the match with Hogan after a Yeti (yes, a YEAH-TAY as Tony Schiavone famously pronounced it) dressed as a mummy, walked to the ring and hugged Hogan until he fell limp to the floor. The “hug” was supposed to be some sort of bear-hug but it just looked like three drunken uncles hugging on the dance floor before one passed out and fell down.
Earlier in the night, WCW did redeem itself with a great moment in a tag match between babyface’s Ric Flair and Sting vs Horsemen members Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. Flair had been taken out before the match so the majority of this was Sting in a handicap match against Pillman and Anderson. Flair eventually heroically made his way ringside and stood on the apron desperate to make the tag to help his partner out. When that magical moment eventually came the crowd were ready to see the Horsemen get what was coming to them. Flair came in all jacked up and ready to go, he hit the ropes, strutted… and clocked Sting right in the jaw with a straight right hand. A Horsemen beatdown followed as Flair had once again turned his back on Sting and re-joined his pals in the Horsemen. A great moment and everyone played their parts excellently here.
Talking of back-stabbing, the WWE had their fair share last week too.
WWE’s Hell in a Cell pay per view had two screwy referee finishes in two straight years in 2012 and 2013. First, in ’12 it was Brad Maddox who screwed the unstoppable (at the time) Ryback with a low blow, which leads to CM Punk retaining his WWE title and leaving the Cell with his gold in his hands and Ryback’s first loss on his resume. This is often looked back on as a “what if” moment because the WWE had booked themselves into a corner by putting the undefeated Ryback (who was substituting for an injured John Cena) up against Punk who was in the midst of his year-long title run. And as it was Hell in a Cell someone was winning one way or another, there were no referee stoppages in HIAC before the Rollins / Fiend fiasco last year. In the end, Punk won after referee Maddox (who was unknown at that point) screwed Ryback and just like that his momentum was halted and he never reached those main event heights again.
The following year it was a very similar scenario played out by Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan and Shawn Michaels. HBK was refereeing and ended up superkicking fellow babyface Bryan which led to Orton winning and walking away with the vacant title. This was all leading up to the big Daniel Bryan title win at WrestleMania 30 the following year, but the similarities between the two screw jobs in consecutive years was interesting.
I would like to leave this week’s “Last week in wrestling” piece with two positives. These were both historical moments and just missed the cut for recommended matches of the week.
At WWE’s 2016 Hell in a Cell pay per view, Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks competed in the first-ever Women’s Hell in a Cell Match for the Raw Women’s title. The finish to the match didn’t turn out exactly how they would have liked, but overall it was a great outing and was another step in the right direction of showing what this great crop of athletes can do when given the chance in the spotlight. Charlotte walked away with the gold in what was the second of Sasha’s unsuccessful title defences of her newly won crown.
In 2019 this week’s edition of AEW Dynamite saw the crowning of the first-ever AEW tag team champions when Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian defeated Pentagon Jr and Rey Fenix in the finals of the tag team title tournament. A great match and a nice modern-day positive to end on.
- WCW Cruiserweight Champion Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Misterio Jr. WCW Halloween Havoc 1997
- WCW Cruiserweight Champion Rey Misterio Jr vs Dean Malenko. WCW Halloween Havoc 1996
- Ric Flair & Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman. WCW Halloween Havoc 1995