Chamber of Horrors: Inside The Disastrous Halloween Havoc 1991 Pay-Per-View

Chris Morgan

Halloween and pro wrestling go hand-in-hand. After all, pro wrestling involves larger-than-life characters parading around in costumes. It’s all about flash and spectacle. As such, it isn’t surprising that wrestling has often paid tribute to everybody’s favorite spooky holiday.

During the WWE’s Attitude Era, which was awash in sexism, it was usually just an excuse to have the women wear revealing outfits. This was awful in its own way. In a different way, though, there can never be as anything as awful as Halloween Havoc 1991. It is one of the most infamously bad pay-per-views in wrestling history, owing largely to the Chamber of Horrors match. After all, how often do you get to see a wrestling match end with somebody being electrocuted?

Halloween Havoc was an annual WCW pay-per-view from 1989 through 2000. This particular iteration, the 1991 edition, was the third time WCW had done a Halloween-themed event. This was years before WCW would launch Monday Night Nitro and try to compete with WWE.

It was still a good old fashion ‘rasslin organization with a large footing in its native South, but not much of a nationwide audience just yet. That’s in part why they held a major event at an arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and why Halloween Havoc only had 8,900 people in attendance. Those people would be witness to something magical though. Magical in a terrible way, that is.

Some matches on the card were perfectly fine. The main event was a two-out-of-three-falls match between champion Lex Luger and Ron Simmons, known to most as Farooq. Steve Austin, years before he was Stone Cold, and Dustin Rhodes, years before he would be Goldust, fought to a 15-minute time limit draw. The late Brian Pillman even became the first WCW Light Heavyweight champion. These are the normal matches of the night. They weren’t very Halloween-ish, though. WCW figured they should get in the spirit of the season. This was a mistake.

Big Josh and P.N. News squashed a tag team called “The Creatures.” The Creatures were not a normal tag team. In fact, one of the members of the team was Joey Maggs, who was already an established wrestler on the WCW roster.

WCW just figured that The Creatures were going to get people in the Halloween mood. Then they lost in five minutes. To think, Big Josh would go on to be Doink the Clown. Now there’s a gimmick that could send a shiver down your spine. Later, The Halloween Phantom, who was justĀ  a dude in black wearing a boring black-and-white mask, squashed Tom Zenk in 1:27.

Oh, also the Phantom was Rick Rude. Yes, WCW had a future Hall of Famer on their roster, and they had him wrestle as The Halloween Phantom. By the way, this wasn’t the shortest match on the card. That would be Van Hammer obliterating Doug Somers in 1:13. Why even have that match. Kevin Nash also wrestled as Oz, a gimmick ripped off from The Wizard of Oz. This wasn’t for Halloween. It was just genuinely his gimmick at this time. He lost in three minutes.

Let’s get to the crowning glory of this night, though. The event opened with the first, and last, Chamber of Horrors match. How to try and explain this thing? It involved two teams squaring off in a steel cage. There are coffins and chains and obviously this is a no disqualification match.

Cactus Jack brought a chainsaw with him, but he didn’t use it. He probably could have gotten away with it, though, because the goal of this match is to put a wrestler from the other team into an electric chair (which they called a “chair of torture” for some reason) and to flip the switch.

Yes, you won the Chamber of Horrors match by electrocuting your opponent. You know, like the way they used to execute people?

The match pitted Sting, The Steiner Brothers, and El Gigante (one of the biggest, and worst, wrestlers ever) against Cactus Jack, Big Van Bader, Abdullah the Butcher, and The Diamond Studd. It was a disaster, including the use of a first-person camera worn by the referee.

Finally, the climax came, when Cactus Jack meant to electrocute Rick Steiner, but due to a switcheroo Jack pulled the switch when Abdullah the Butcher was in the chair. The hardcore legend flailed about like he was being shocked. It looked fake, which made for bad viewing. On the other hand, do you really want to see a guy get realistically electrocuted in a wrestling match?

Abdullah the Butcher would go on to wrestle for many years, as apparently electrocution couldn’t kill him for good. The Chamber of Horrors match is so bad, it’s almost as terrible as Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton’s House of Horrors match. Most Halloween Havocs were forgettable, but the 1991 version will always be remembered. Sure, it will be remembered for how bad it was, and for having a truly horrendous (but one of a kind) match, but that’s something.

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