Mystery Wrestling Theatre is one man’s somersault plancha into the thousands of hours of wrestling video available online. From full PPVs to individual matches, let’s celebrate the good, the bad, and the weird in pro wrestling.
Early 90s WCW is a treasure trove of some truly great matches, some completely daft gimmicks, and some very odd half-baked concepts. Nothing sums up the latter two like the Chamber of Horrors match from Halloween Havoc 1991. A complete clusterfuck that is an absolute must-see for anyone with a WWE Network subscription.
“It’s going to be a tremendous night” Jim Ross says as he enthusiastically welcomes us to the UTC Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He’s not wrong, what followed was tremendously entertaining. First of all, lets check out that entrance way in all its “travelling funfair haunted house” glory. Also, never get an intern to do your pyro.
We’re kicking straight off with the Chamber of Horrors match. We have two teams, a cage, some coffins, another smaller cage and an electric chair suspended from the ceiling. No really, an electric chair. Ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta has the job of highlighting to the audience the gravity of the situation. He explains how the aim of the game is to beat an opponent until they cannot get out of the chair before someone pulls down the fateful lever “which will render one of the teammates *awkward pause*… helpless”. An interesting way to describe electrocution.
The two teams make their way down to the ring. Vader may have been raised in a barn (shut the door dude!). And yes that tombstone really does read “Bear, he waz full of hot air”.
The match kicks off and it’s your usual punch, kick fest until something magical, no, truly wonderfully magical, occurs. The “REFER-EYE CAM” makes its debut.
THE REFER-EYE CAM!
Yep, that right there is exactly what referee Nick Patrick is seeing beamed onto our television sets. I don’t know if WCW (or anyone else) ever did anything with the format after this event, but I bloody love it. If anyone wants to make an Oculus Rift wrestling game, this is what it needs to be.
So the match continues, some strange gimp dude bursts out a coffin (really, and it’s never explained who they are) and gets predictably smashed.The Chair of Torture (lightning flash, ominous music) descends into the middle of the ring, and we now have eight wrestlers fighting with not much room in the ring itself to wrestle. It’s 95% punches and kicks though, so it’s all good.
What follows is a series of encounters with the Chair of Torture, as each team takes turns pushing someone into the little cell and watching them escape. It’s high drama stuff, except the lever on the side of the cage has fallen. As Rick Steiner is sat in the Chair of Torture and in peril, JR says “You can see that big lever on the side of your screen”. Yes Jim I certainly can, and it’s set to ON.
I still maintain the Refer-Eye cam is a missed opportunity and needs to come back.
It may sound like I’m shitting on this, but I’m genuinely loving how mental and hilarious it all is. Then Scott Steiner absolutely waffles Cactus Jack and the claret flows, there’s a few sore-looking weapon shots in this match.
Anyone who’s watched WCW around 1991 will know that some of Tony Schiavone’s commentary is completely inane. So often his little soundbites are met with stonewalled silence by JR. One particularly golden line is “And that’s what you’re calling getting the tempers away!” If you know what that means, answers on a postcard please.
The masked gimp dude got chained to the cage and punched. Sucks for him.
More Refer-Eye fun. Brb, starting a petition for its return.
Jim Ross again mentions the “switcher box over the head of referee Nick Patrick” – the lever is still set to on. Then, incredibly, they cut to a close up of the lever clearly in the ON position.
I can forgive the director for this, as we’re right back to MORE REFER-EYE!
Bit more brawling and then these guys show up. Who Schiavone explains are the “ghouls”. I guess they spunked their budget on the cage and the chair.
By this point we have a referee outside the cage who has been assigned the job of literally holding up the lever. It’s about here I nearly pee myself laughing.
Here is the only wrestling move I saw El Gigante perform in the whole match.
Things finish up with Cactus Jack holding up the switch and waiting an absolute eternity to drop it. In this time Rick Steiner does a belly-to-belly suplex and tosses Abdullah into the Chair of Torture, just in time for Jack to drop the lever and the sparks fly.
So Abdullah has been “rendered… helpless” and poor old Cactus Jack is feeling a bit upset that he’s fried his pal. The ring empties but for Jack and the unconscious Abdullah, who does the best Lazarus impression of his career.
The big man then decides to take out the ghouls, who seem to have very slippy backs…
Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone react to the spectacle we have just witnessed. “I’ll tell you something Tony, I have never seen a cage match exactly like that one.” Nor me Jim, nor me.
Well then, with that madness out the way lets get to some real, honest-to-goodness, WCW wrestling on the go. Or not…
That pyro intern needs to be fired.
You can watch WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 on the WWE Network (for only $9.99!). It has some absolute guff on it, but the Chamber of Horrors is on first so you don’t have to watch any more. Want to tell me of a show/match I should check out? Drop a comment or tweet me.