Jim Ross Says he Never Liked the Halloween Havoc Concept
On the latest Grilling JR, Jim Ross discussed the origins of Halloween Havoc, where the show went wrong and what he disliked about the concept. The show was largely built around the main event, a “Thunderdome” cage match with Ric Flair and Sting taking on Great Muta and Terry Funk in a special cage that was supposedly electrified, with the win only coming when the team’s second (the “Terminator”) threw in the towel. Sting and Flair had Ole Anderson, while Muta and Funk had Gary Hart and Bruno Sammartino was in the ring as a guest referee.
Highlights from the discussion, and the full podcast, are below:
On not liking the concept: “My opinion is that, if you look at the lineup of talents that were booked, it’s like an all-star game. You know, Flair, Terry Funk, Muta, Sting in the main event. Gary Hart, Ole Anderson both at ringside. That’s not a bad grouping of people. Accomplished people, talented people. And then that’s not all. But we have some things we’re trying to get over. The rock and a hard spot there was what we tried to do to be more WWF-like when nobody on our team, on our booking committee wanted to do that. We wanted to create what we all believed, philosophically, was the right way to go. And we had the people on the booking committee to do that. Kevin Sullivan and Cornette … But we were forced by Jim Herd, because he didn’t know another way to go. And people have this innate desire to change things that aren’t broken. It’s ego. It’s actually the fear of the unknown. So we used to s**t the bed on many occasion on getting ready for this show, with all the stuff.”
On where the show went wrong: “I wish the show had been better. There are some elements to the show that I thought was kind of cool. But the getting there was a giant [mess] … Because none of us felt that show. None of us felt, ‘This is what we’re gonna do, this is gonna be cool.’ It wasn’t like the Bash, it wasn’t like the Starrcade. It was a gimmick show to emulate WWF and their cartoon approach at that time with some of their characters. And we failed it.”
On whether the name was a leftover from Dusty Rhodes’ tenure there: “No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so at all. I think it was a new idea after Dusty had left. New idea, had nothing to do with Dusty yay, nay, or indifferent. And when we were backed into a creative corner, that that this is what they [Jim Cornette & Kevin Sullivan] wanted. We had to have a hook, and the cage was the hook. And the guys in the cage were obviously significant as always. At least we had a finish. It might not have been a good one, but it wasn’t a DQ in that structure. But nonetheless, I digress.”
On the Thunderdome main event: “I think Cornette and Sullivan were the main cooks. And look, I’ve not worked around two guys smarter, more strategic, with a better feel for the wrestling business than Kevin Sullivan and Jim Cornette. 1989, they were — as they are now — two very bright guys as far as the wrestling business was concerned. It was a bad concept. And then they wanted — the cage thing was such a gimmick, and it’s not what we do and what we did. It was just not a good fit. But we were a corporate pawn, and we did what we were told to do, and that’s how it kind of worked out.”