HOLLYWOOD HOGAN vs WARRIOR:

A HALLOWEEN NIGHTMARE

PHANTASM review
Published 29 October 2021

WCW Halloween Havoc
October 25, 1998
MGM Grand, Las Vegas Nevada

Where to begin, where to begin. Ok, The match was actually doomed before it even began. The fundamental flaw exists in it’s comparison to the original, a match that took place on a much more innocent and grander stage. In 1991, both men were real life superheroes, catering to an audience, largely made up of families and children, who did not know the inner workings of the business. This audience was legitimately torn between their heroes and universally came together to appreciate both men’s courage and sportsmanship. The stare down, the test of strength, the handshake afterwards. It is wrestling lore. In October of 1998, wrestling had lost its innocence, the secret was out and the business instead catered to the smart mark. Cheesy gimmicks were replaced with realism and cutting edge content, the demographic, 18-34. They people demanded zeitgeist over nostalgia, fresh storylines and characters over re-runs and worn-out tropes. Ironically, Hogan contributed to this by turning on all the little Hulkamaniacs, spitting on red and yellow in favour of black and white. Warrior is still stuck in the past: Hogan has one foot still deeply intrenched. No longer was this a clash of two invincible titans, now, merely an outdated, nostalgia act between two ageing men with astronomical egos, looking to recapture their glory days of a long, forgotten past. 

Above: The original clash at Wrestlemania 6

Before the bell rings at Halloween Havoc, this feud gets an early award for ‘worst big match build’ in WCW history. It involved DC Comics intellectual property theft, cheesy teleportation goofs, life-threatening and shortening trap door injuries, the cluster of War Games, Brutus Beefcake being kidnapped and turned into the Warrior’s pony, Warrior appearing to Hogan (and the viewer or but not Bischoff) in a magical mirror, and 4 clotheslines worth of wrestling. The entire feud was then billed as the “biggest return match in wrestling history” despite the original match not happening in this company. Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior were never all-star workers, even in their hay-day, but now you’re adding eight years of age and, in Warrior’s case, a shit-ton of ring rust and plenty of time to feed two bottomless egos. A recipe for disaster has been concocted.

Above: The horrendous build up

“The match the whole world has been waiting for”– Tony Schiavone.

They may as well just play the nWo theme all night on a loop. No video package for Hulk v Warrior 2, why bother right? I guess Schiavone proclaiming the match as “the most anticipated match of the decade” is enough. Anticipated by who I wonder? Here he comes: in many ways the most overrated man in the annals of professional wrestling. Overrated purely because of the mans limited in-ring skills. ‘HollywoodHULK HOOOOGAN! A camera man seemingly falls asleep during entrance #1 of the greatest match of the decade, the shot literally zooms in on an irrelevant fan sign for quite some time. Warrior enters and the fans go mild! No, not the Ultimate Warrior due to legal issues. Not even Jim Hellwig, as the man in question legally changed his name to Warrior. Crazy. It instantly becomes glaringly obvious that so much of Warrior’s appeal was with the inclusion of the adrenaline thumping ‘Unstable’ in the presentation, as without it, the Warrior act is just not working. That, an an era has passed him by. After his entrance, Hellwig actually thinks the fans are chanting for him and nods his head along with the chants. The people are in fact chanting “Warrior sucks.” Get ready for what is possibly the worst high profile wrestling match of all time. 

Above left and right: The two men make their entrances

The match starts in the most anti- climactic way possible, with an ageing Hogan cowering on the outside, arguing with fans and warbling “I’m gonna kill him” to no one in particular. Draped in his feathered boa scarf, bandana and sunglasses, he is not unlike an escaped dementia patient for whom has a fetishised flare for thrift shop bargains. This is what a mid-life crisis looks like. The man could not try cover his insecurities more if he tried. Both he and Warrior are about to be exposed in the most public of in-ring embarrassments. Tony lies to us again, this time making the fundamental error in describing the men as “the two best wrestlers of all time.” This is grossly wrong. Two of the biggest names, sure. At a time, two of the most popular sports- entertainers, absolutely. Best at wrestling? OH HeLL NO! The two biggest stars of yesteryear finally face off. Ring the bell, please let this shit fight begin. A weak-lock up and back and forth arm ringers are how we start off. Hogan once again steps out to give some fans the lip. Either that, or he is gassed. Should have spent more time at the power-plant and less in the tanning bed, brother! So much finger pointing. Why is the official not counting out the man with yellow hair and moustache? And in shocking news- they go for a test of strength. Hogan tries to recreate one of his most iconic images in the most cynical way, it’s just a passive-aggressive, wank-fest. Why not just play the WM6 match on the big screens and just be done with it? If you listen close… you can faintly hear no one caring. “Boring” chants affirm this.

Above: Test of strength

Both men legit look like they are fighting for air. Hogan sluggishly kicks the hell (wig) out of Jim after the homoerotic flex. Wonder when the first run-in will be? The plodding dinosaurs try something new for the first time in years, by running criss-cross past one another off the ropes, into a Hogan slam- actually eliciting a crowd pop. Warrior sells similar to a Triple H, WM12 pedigree. It looks like Jim has taken his superman pills, as he pops up like a pimple on prom night and body slams the then, 46 year old Hogan. Is this the real Warrior, or the rumoured doppelgänger stand-in from Wrestlemania 8? The leader of the nWo rolls outside- AGAIN. My gosh this is awful. Halloween Havoc ’98 is awful. The horror! After forgetting to count out a wrestler on the outside, the referee goes down for the 80th time this event. A wee bit early for a ref bump/ go home spot just yet… all hope of this match potentially being half decent with a clean finish go down with the referee. A screw job is just slowly unfolding. Looks like it’s nWo run- in time, in the form of big Paul Wight. Show unintentionally kicks his bald mentor, allowing Jim Hellwig to take out an incoming Virgil AKA Vincent. Terry musters up all his might to conjure up a basic belly-to- back suplex, that takes 19 days to execute, then fumbles about looking for another offensive manoeuvre in his Hulka-repertoire. He comes up short, instead, whips Warrior with his black belt. Say your prayers brother, Hulky’s back in town! Hopefully he whips him good, as anyone that actually thinks that reversing the letters NWO into OWN is clever, deserves a good whippin. Jimbo sells this the way Michael Myers sells a bullet. 

Above: Warrior getting choked

As Warrior once famously asserted, “you must show no mercy” My God are these legends showing no mercy- if you are an audience member having to sit through this torturous turd. After 2 hours 50 minutes of PPV time, every person sitting every 18 inches must be begging for mercy. Any quote from Hellwig should be immediately forgotten anyways, considering the hurtful propaganda the man spewed throughout his lifetime. The guy sure looked great in a n 8 x 10 though. In the least athletic spot possibly ever delivered to a live crowd within a squared circle, the not-so-Ultimate Warrior rolls around in circles. You heard right. With Jim-bob flat on the ground, the Hulkster attempts some sort of elbow-drop, for which Warrior super-humanly evades. So quick, the naked eye barely picks it up. Which way did he go? If you have not already, go watch this match immediately and laugh your self silly watching Hulkster go for the 3rd phantom elbow, as Warrior rolls from the corner with cat-like agility and actually rolls right into the Hulk, who kind of crumbles to his knees and gives up trying to do anything more. What makes things worse is that Schiavone actually sells this like he’s getting a glimpse of Batman evading the Joker. “A rolling block” they say. I actually want to roll myself right off my two story unit block right now. I now know why they call it Halloween Havoc, because the wrestling here is frightening. 

Above: Shambles

And this is it- The Ultimate Warrior’s big heroic comeback. With all the enthusiasm and energy of a deflated wrestling buddy, Warrior does his once, for some reason, famous, running splash, as Ho Kogan, seemingly in slow-motion, moves out of the way from the devastation. We went from “rolling block” to going home with a finisher. There is just zero logic. This match is sucking the happy out of my very being. You either laugh or get sucked into the evil black hole. for me, the latter. Warrior takes off Hulky’s belt (why did Terry put it back on?) and nails the bleach haired bigot with some of the worst offence seen in a while. Now let the magic begin. While Warrior is not at all distracted, but actually should be (as should referee Nick Patrick) the Immortal one sloths down to corner ring and starts fumbling around with a glad bag, for which looks suspiciously like drug paraphernalia. Yes ladies and gentleman- even Hulk himself is bored with this absolute cunt of a match and is looking for something better to do.

Is Hulk Hogan searching for his vitamins? Perhaps he is searching for his second offensive wrestling hold. After an eternity and after Warrior stops distracting himself with Patrick, Hulky tries to light some sort of fire and raise it in the direction of Warrior’s eyes… but nothing happens. This doesn’t stop the man who made up a word from selling for the first time tonight, for the first time in years in fact, like he was being blinded. Hulkster bumbles some more and tries his hand at magic once again, this time to set mostly his hands on fire! Laugh out loud, this actually happened. On first attempt, Mr. Bollea could not light the flash paper and allow a fireball to explode in his nemesis face, as intended. Instead, Mr. Hellwig half sells being blind then just stands next to Hulk waiting for something to happen. That something would be the fire prop just flashing in Hulks hands- at least 3 feet from Warriors face and target. 😂

Above: Hulk tries his hand at magic

Not even a fast talker like Schiavone can cover for this one. Just think, this is the man who once revolutionised the wrestling business, helping make the transition from sport, to sports-entertainment. A man who has headlines a record EIGHT Wrestlemania main events. And here he is, botching basic magic in the worst match of the ‘90’s. Go home now, please! I think captain Terry’s spray on tan is dripping off. He might be missing half a moustache, I’m not quite sure as Meltzer didn’t report that. The arena groans are deafening, as is the genuine disappointment echoing throughout the building. Can one bad match forever tarnish a legends name? No, but this one is doing its best to test that theory. I hate to say it but this match now desperately needs a run-in, or some form of help or interference from a talented worker. Instead they send out Horace f’n Hogan, with Bish in tow. *face palm* More funny business ahead. Warrior uses his foes leather pants holder while the referee watches on, unfazed. Earth to Nick. Hogan is bleeding inexplicably. Having sliced his over-sized brow in improvised panic. Hellwig hulks up– it’s 1989 inside his crazy-ass head, (or perhaps he is imagining watching himself in third person starring in of his comic books) and he is Warrior-ing up for one last triumphant fightback, pitting good against evil. Every mans soul has the beating heart of a warrior- every man should fight with every last breathe until he vanquishes his evil. It’s as if ultimo has had an injection from the gods above; his spirit meter has been fully restored!! His veins pop. His back arches. There is a primal scream from deep within; the ultimate one is about to unload an ungodly batch of destrucity all over his recently burned nemesis.

The loser nephew of the Hulkster puts an end to this before Hellwig can botch anything more, by hitting Warrior in the back with a whimpy chair shot so weak, it wouldn’t knock down old grandmother Hogan. The impromptu chair enough to put Warrior on his back and hand Hulk Hogan the petty victory. A weak and fitting finish for such a pathetic shamozzle. Mercifully, it is over. 

Professional wrestling’s biggest dud comes to an end, not before the Bollea’s hug and pose, pretending that the Horace turn is shocking. Swerve bro! Before exiting, the unsuccessful member of the Hogan family douses a defeated Warrior with lighter fluid that he never attempts to light, while Bischoff (out there for no reason) yells at no one in particular. After a tortuous 14:20, every minute of which felt like a lifetime, it is in the books, never to be forgotten as the night two legendary egos fapped their way through a grim, uncooperative shambles. Schiavone screams like the win actually means something and wasn’t just a self-fulfilling wank, orchestrated by narcissist Terry Bollea, so he could get his big win back. Or perhaps Hellwig is to blame, unwilling to cooperate with creative and so far gone in his deluded mind, he was buying into his own mystique. Bischoff needs to take some accountability also, for booking this abortion. Is this either mans worst match? Maybe, maybe not, as both put on plenty of stinkers in their time. None stick out more than the events for which transpired on October 25, 1998.

As Bobby the brain Heenan ponders “do you realise the tragedy that was averted here” in reference to the botched fireball to the eyes, the irony really kicks in. As anyone who has watched this shit-fight, be it live in attendance, or on direct PPV broadcast, (poor sods) to anyone that has relived this event over the past 23 years as of writing, all of these people- have truly witnessed a wrestling tragedy, for which most certainly should have been averted. A Halloween nightmare that is Warrior vs Hollywood Hogan II.

Winner: Hollywood Hogan

0/10 ~ Ultimate thumbs down

FOR A COMPLETE REVIEW OF HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1998, PLEASE VISIT HERE

PHANTASM review

Alternate fantasy booking idea