WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 Retrospective: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Randy Savage
WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 had the instant classic between Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio (we already reflected back on that doozy), but this PPV (sponsored by Slim Jim as you’ll soon come to know) also had the rubber match between Diamond Dallas Page and “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
The DDP & Savage rivalry had to be one of the most noted wrestling grudges of 1997 as it’s one that ran through most of year. The two’s first match happened at WCW Spring Stampede in April and DDP came out the victor even despite having an “in the NWO’s pocket” referee reluctantly administer the three count. Macho Man however received his retribution at July’s Great American Bash when Scott Hall gave “the edge” to Savage by interfering on his behalf, evening the score at 1-1, which leads us to Halloween Havoc.
“People ask me all time, ‘What was your favorite rivalry?’ and ‘Who was your favorite opponent?’ and the answer is always Randy,” DDP explained. “Sometimes you have great chemistry with an opponent and that’s what we had. Randy always treated his opponents as if they were on the same level — you were always at a main event level when you stepped into the ring with ‘Macho Man.’”
This event is a refreshing reminder as to how great Savage was both in and out of the ring. It all starts with his pre-match promo. The Macho Man could multi-task as he here cuts perhaps the greatest product-placement promo while still threatening to kick DDP’s ass (Disclaimer: there is no way in hell that any bolding, italicization or capitalization can do Randy’s inflection and cadence justice, but enjoy the transcription nonetheless):
SAVAGE: “I’m here because I wanna be here because I wanna be here because Diamond Dallas Page is a marked man, yeah. And I’m gonna getcha and I’m gonna getcha tonight, snap into it! Yeah! And I’m gonna be celebrating with a six-pack of Slim Jims later on, uhhhh huh. This year, right here, Slim Jim’s Halloween Havoc, Diamond Dallas Page, ya gotta understand, that is the New World Order and it means something, yes it does.”
“After tonight, you will be able to tell your great grandchildren that you want had a glimpse of greatness, but then you couldn’t handle it! Because you were nothing compared to the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, you were nothing compared to the ‘Madness’ and just to prove it, Elizabeth, what do you think of Diamond Dallas Page and his chances tonight?”
ELIZABETH: “Well, Diamond Dallas Page on his best day shouldn’t be anywhere near you in an arena and I think his best bet would be probably right now, to leave the arena.”
SAVAGE: “I am the greatest wrestler right now, on the planet, yes I am, and tonight, the danger factor and the risk factor is gonna be sky high cause I really don’t care about hurting myself as I’m hurting you so you don’t even know what you got yourself into because there’s no way out and I’m the man, I’m the Macho Man Randy Savage and you my friend, I made the monster and I destroy the monster. Slim Jim’s Halloween Havoc! Snap into it! Now geeeet out! Party time, Las Vegas, it’s a gamble but we like gambling don’t we? Yes we do!”
A “Las Vegas Sudden Death Match” was the theme title for the two’s battle being under “Last Man Standing” stipulations and although the bout has been used one too many times in today’s recent landscape, Page and Savage show you how it’s done here.
Savage was the first to come out and he doubled down on that Slim Jim support by having the brand’s colors accent his trunks and gloves (“Ohhh Yeah”). DDP came out next, just as the way the 13-year-old me remembered him, taped ribs and blue jeans. It was simple touches that added to the grudge and the characters starting off as DDP slid into the ring causing Savage and Elizabeth to bail on the outside. In a feat before his DDPY days, Page vaulted himself onto the outside to land on his feet and go on the attack. The Las Vegas Sudden Deathmatch began.
Despite the NWO shirts scattered throughout Sin City, Savage was major over to the crowd as a heel which was a testament to Page’s babyface pull. The ribs of DDP were a big focus as Savage showed some risk-taking of his own with an off-the-top double axe handle onto the outside before the two took to the mass of humanoids. In what had to be a foreshadowing of feuds to come, we see Raven and his Flock of ne’er do-wells perched ringside as DDP feels the effects of The Madness.
The foes brawl their way to the stage and DDP blasts Savage through the main tombstone set up before body-slamming him onto a mini-coffin. Page picked up a flat black object and smashed Savage across the skull with it, sparking what had to be the commentary exchange of the evening between Dusty Rhodes, an on the verge of laughter Tony Schiavone and the ever dry-witted Bobby Heenan:
RHODES: “He wobble-legged him! He picked up the waitress tray and busted him with it! Oh man!”
SCHIAVONE: “The waitress tray!? I don’t see a waitress anywhere!”
HEENAN: “You’re talking from experience, huh?”
DDP slugs Savage back down the entryway to ringside. Macho Man starts sending Page into the ring stairs that cajoles a count from referee Mickey Jay. DDP rolls into the ring and Savage sets his sight on camera man Jackie Crockett, whom he swipes the heavy equipment from to blast his prone adversary with, but DDP gets his legs up just in time and sends the camera into Macho’s mush. Jay starts his count, but Dusty played Nostradamus in knowing that there would be some table service as Elizabeth took a glass tray and smashed it over Mickey’s noggin (“I told ya about the waitress with the tray and y’all didn’t wanna believe me!”) She then gouges the eyes of DDP and chokes him with the extension chord. Kimberly, who was also roped into this feud by Savage comes down for the save and pulls Elizabeth to the back.
Referee Nick Patrick comes in to take the reigns and begins the ten count which both men answer as “DDP” chants charge up. With babyface fire in his belly, Page punches away at Savage and slams him down with his flapjack piledriver. DDP goes for the Diamond Cutter, but in a savvy move, Savage holds onto the ropes and they both crash to the canvas. Savage has to deliver not one, but two diving elbows in an effort to keep Page down and that second one hit it’s target perfectly right in the ribs. “The People’s Champion” feels the power of them and just manages to answer the call as Patrick had his hands in the air for 10.
Randy rams Page in the back with his knee sending Dallas crashing into the corner before lifting him up for a body slam. Nick Patrick gets knocked down by Page’s legs as DDP slips through to smack on the Diamond Cutter. Patrick gets to his feet and begins the count for the two. Both men miraculously make it to their feet, but low blows Page with his leg. Page rolls to the outside and out comes “Bogus Sting,” who smacks Pages across the ribs with his bat.
Both men are down and Patrick begins his count once more.Savage answers the count, but Page cannot.
A trainer comes out to administer aid to Dallas, but Savage strikes Patrick and shoves the trainer aside to get a few more shots in. In the meantime, Schiavone confirms that “Sting” was indeed Hollywood Hogan due to the boots that were being worn. Page gets carted off but Randy rolls his way back to brawl with Page further.
Page cites this “Las Vegas Sudden Death Match” as his least memorable of the three bouts he had with Savage, but with how great this match is, it speaks to the level of how memorable of a feud this was for the fine year of 1997. This bout was right at the height of WCW and tuning in to the thrills and chills of such a stacked PPV card with such a memorable theme like Halloween Havoc will get you charged up for the good wrestling going on in today’s world.
Happy Halloween, everyone. Feel the bang, snap into, dig it all.