Thursday, October 26, 2006

WCW Halloween Havoc Tour '93

It is thirteen years ago today since I first saw an American wrestling house show. The event was part of the WCW Halloween Havoc Tour which started at the Cardiff Arena and made their way around other venues within the UK.

The autumn of 1993 was a special time for people in Cardiff as the city was put on the map with the title fight between Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno taking place at Cardiff Arms Park. It seemed that everyone wanted to come here, especially with the opening of a new arena bringing concerts and events that we would have to travel up to Birmingham or London to go and see.

The Sunday before I went back to school after the summer holidays I was leafing through the newspaper and saw the advert for the WCW tour and couldn't believe they were coming here. The very next day - when tickets went on sale - my friend and I spent the inset day queueing up for tickets outside the Welsh National Ice Rink as they were the ticket agents for the Arena.

A few weeks before the event I heard that the 'Brisish Bulldog' Davey Boy Smith was going to be live on air at our local radio station so my father and I went outside in the hope of meeting him. My dream was shattered when the radio station began playing his voice despite us knowing full well he wasn't inside the studio.

My father rang the radio station to complain about their subterfuge and they promised to get his autograph for me.

But they ended up going one step further.

The day before the event my father had a call from one of the station's producers who told us that we were going to be given backstage passes to the arena during the interval so we could meet the British Bulldog. I was ecstatic.

I always remember something my mother said to me that night. Her advice for me was to make sure I went to bed early so I would enjoy the following day more.

I made sure the day passed by quickly. We were on half-term holidays at the time and I spent the afternoon around a friend's house playing with his Super Nintendo.

The bell time was at 7:30 and the first match was the Hollywood Blondes versus 2 Cold Scorpio and Marcus Alexander Bagwell.

The action continued during the first few matches and then a man with a walkie-talkie pulled us aside during the last match of the first half telling us that we had to go and shout over to him at the end of the bout so we could go with him to the back.

The match ended and we ran towards the curtain. As Johnny B. Badd and Arn Anderson had just left the ring I figured if we were in the way we could strategically meet an extra two wrestlers.

My plan worked as we were standing on the other side of the rail when they walked back to their dressing room. I said hello to both and tapped them on the shoulder. Looking back I must have seemed a right mark..

Okay, I was a mark!

We went backstage with another four boys with a film crew in tow as they had won the passes on the Welsh television show, Heno. The gentleman who had told us to meet him asked us to wait there whilst he got Sting.


I was shocked. Not only were we going to meet the British Bulldog but we were also meeting the most popular wrestler of the company. He was, at that time, groomed as the Hulk Hogan of WCW.

We were waiting for the appearance of The Stinger when I realised that the table behind us had all the ring jackets and title belts that had been worn by the performers in the first half. So I got to feel the tag-team championship belts, the Nasty Boys leather coats with graffiti on them, Stunning Steve Austin and Brian Pillman's silver waist-coats, Ricky Steamboat's dragon costume and Johnny B Badd's feather boa.

We waited a few minutes and then Sting arrived. He shook our hands and signed our programmes. The man with the walkie-talkie had introduced us as winners of a competition on Red Dragon Radio and Sting joked with us asking if it was really 'Ricky Steamboat Radio'.

And then, after filming a promo for Heno, he went and left us to wait for the most successful wrestler to come out of Great Britain.

When Davey Boy came out he was smaller than me and his hands - when we shook - seemed tiny. He was massive though. The most built person I had ever met at that time. He was drinking coffee and we chatted for about ten minutes. He signed our programmes and, like with Sting, he did the message for Heno.

One of the guys had asked him if he had ever wrestled Vader before and he said that he hadn't in singles competition. The smart-ass in me voiced up, though. I reminded him that he had wrestled the champion at the most recent Clash of the Champions and had lost.

Davey Boy looked at the man who had brought us into the backstage area and he replied with 'yeah, he's right.' Davey then asked me how I had seen it as it wasn't on television over here and I informed him that I could pick up events on my satellite by tuning in the German sports channel called DSF. He seemed quite interested asking if it was a part of Sky but I told him it wasn't.

We went back out to our seats and if the night had ended there then it would have been worth it. We did, however, have a few more matches to go.

The last memory I have of the event was when one of my favourite bad guys came out. Everybody was booing Sid Vicious but my friend and I were standing on our seats yelling his name. I had the programme opened to his page and we were just chanting 'Sid, Sid, Sid' and upsetting a few of the girls in the row before us. He looked over to where we were standing on our chairs and his gaze met ours. He nodded at us in acknowledgement. A heel accepting the cheers of the fans who would have thought it?

After the match I whispered to David 'I've got to tap his hand' so I rang all the way back to where we had been during the intermission in the hope that Sid would shake our hand. He walked passed us and I reached out and missed but I manouvered myself further and started slipping over the railing and reached a little further and managed to tap him on the back. My mission was accomplished - I touched Sid Vicious!

The evening ended with the Bulldog winning the match against the WCW World Champion, Vader using the Dusty Finish. I will write another update one day describing this kind of finish in a wrestling match as it is an interesting story to tell. Let's just say he won the match but not didn't become champion.

At that point in time there was no other day that could beat this one. I had been to fewUK promoted shows run by the British companies but this was the real deal.

A lot has changed in the business since that event.

In the early hours of the 27th October Sid Vicious and Arn Anderson got into their hotel scissor fight in the Blackburn Moathouse which resulted in Sid being fired from the company. Which means I saw his final match in WCW until his return in 1999.

Sting lost his position as the top star when Hulk Hogan joined the ranks of WCW in 1994.

The British Bulldog, Brian Pillman and Rick Rude who were all a part of the evening have all since passed away due to painkiller or steroid issues.

Stunning Steve Austin joined the WWF two years later with a shaved head became 'Stone Cold' and became the most popular performer in the business.

WCW as a company was sold to the WWF in the spring of 2001 after record losses of over 80 million dollars. Time Warner sold the company to the McMahons in order to merge with AOL with a better profit and loss ratio.

As for me, my passion towards wrestlung was amplified after that night. I went to as many shows as I could during my teenage years but no event has been able to top this one.


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