5 Must-See Nostalgic Wrestling PPVs That Defined Autumn!

Pro Wrestling in Autumn / Fall

Mean Gene Okerlund interviews the Gobbledy Gooker after its debut at WWF Survivor Series 1990.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Why do wrestling fans love Autumn?

As your cheeks flush from the cooler weather, there was always wrestling to keep the heart pumping and bring down the chill from outdoors on Monday nights.

The end of the year is also wrapped up with extraordinarily historic and cheesy wrestling moments, too. During the territory days, Thanksgiving was a popular day to hold major shows.

Whatever the root cause, autumn evokes so much wrestling nostalgia.

Here are five must-see ’90s wrestling pay-per-views that bring you back to the days of autumn, no matter the time of year!

1 – WWF Badd Blood: In Your House 1997

Undertaker and Shawn Michaels lay beaten after a barn-burner of a Hell in a Cell match at WWF Badd Blood: In Your House on October 5th, 1997.
Photo Credit: WWE.

WWF Badd Blood: In Your House, which took place on October 5th, 1997, stands out most for its main event, which featured the Undertaker against Shawn Michaels in the first-ever Hell in a Cell match.

Though the HIAC spots were soon eclipsed by Undertaker and Mankind’s outing in June of 1998 — that fateful night when Mick Foley was thrown from the top of the cage — what transpired on this night is now the stuff of legend.

The WWE Debut of Kane

Undertaker stands across the ring from his kayfabe brother Kane for the first time at WWF Badd Blood: In Your House on October 5th, 1997.
Photo Credit: WWE.

During his Hell in a Cell match against Shawn Michaels, Undertaker’s kayfabe brother Kane debuted, interfering and ultimately handing the victory to HBK.

This led to what many think of as the birth of the Attitude Era, as Shawn became the number one contender for Bret Hart’s title. They would have their match at Survivor Series ’97 the following month, with an outcome that remains one of the most talked about moments in professional wrestling history.

Further Highlights from WWF Badd Blood 1997

Rocky Maivia (The Rock) early on in his heel run alongside Nation of Domination faction members Farooq, D'Lo Brown, and Kama Mustafa, and interviewer Dok Hendrix (AKA Fabulous Freebird Michael 'PS' Hayes) during an interview segment at the WWF Badd Blood pay-per-view in 1997.
Photo Credit: WWE.

The undercard of WWF Badd Blood 1997 represented a roster in transition — including an unrefined Rocky Maivia early on in his heel turn, as well as Bret Hart and the British Bulldog representing their Hart Foundation faction that made Raw is War in 1997 so worth watching.

You can also see the prevalence of factions, an obsession of Vince McMahon’s booking pre-Attitude Era, with the Nation of Domination, Disciples of Apocalypse, and Los Boricuas featured alongside the previously mentioned Hart Foundation.

It isn’t that Badd Blood is an unforgettable show for in-ring action. Instead, it shines for those moments that define WWF/E at its best: pure sports entertainment led by outlandish characters that make us feel like we’re eight years old again.

2 – WCW Halloween Havoc 1997

Macho Man Randy Savage on promotional poster for WCW Halloween Havoc 1997. Macho Man Randy Savage on promotional poster for WCW Halloween Havoc 1997.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Few wrestling shows have boasted a stage that has permanently burned itself into the minds of wrestling fans than Halloween Havoc.

By 1997, the sarcophagus-and-tombstone motif was expanded to include an enormous, ghoulish face set between two significantly less spooky Slim Jim logos (but to be fair, no brand has quite the Pavlovian connection to late ’90s WCW action than Slim Jim).

You can learn Randy Savage’s brother Lanny Poffo’s thoughts on Randy’s legendary Slim Jim deal here.

Classic Moments at WCW Halloween Havoc 1997

Highlight moments at WCW Halloween Havoc 1997.
Photo Credit: WWE.

That iconic look is matched by a show that stands out for its interesting undercard. Here, you can see a young Chris Jericho face Gedo, the current-day New Japan Pro Wrestling booker. There’s also a memorable WCW World Cruiserweight Title bout between an all-purple Rey Misterio Jr. versus Eddie Guerrero.

The back half of the card provides a lot of big names from the main event scene: Curt Hennig versus Ric Flair, Lex Luger battling Scott Hall, Diamond Dallas Page taking on Randy Savage, and Hollywood Hogan facing long-time arch-rival Roddy Piper.

A Poignant Counterpoint to WWF Badd Blood 1997

The set of WCW Halloween Havoc 1997.
Photo Credit: WWE.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 works as a poignant counterpoint to WWF’s Badd Blood ’97. The two PPVs ran in the same month, only 21 days apart. And watching both makes it easy to see why WCW was so dominant at the time.

We didn’t know it in October 1997, but this show marked one of the last high points in the company’s history. Combined with its literal Halloween theme, this show is a nostalgia bomb.

3 – NWA (JCP) Starrcade ’83: A Flare for the Gold

Harley Race and Ric Flair faced off at Starrcade 1983: A Flair For The Gold.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Before there was WrestleMania, there was Starrcade — a supercard so large that it was offered on closed-circuit television in 17 locations, including one in Puerto Rico.

It’s easy to see why this helped launch the Golden Era of the sport/art. Each match resonated with fans, given time and promotion, tapping into archetypal characters, featuring tales of tragic heights, revealing the pathos of ambition and the hunger for recognition.

The card ends with a momentous event defining ’80s wrestling: Ric Flair defeating the in-and-out-of-the-ring tough Harley Race in a steel cage to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion for the fifth time.

Vince McMahon Does His Best to Sabbotage Starrcade ’83

In 1983, Vince McMahon did his best to sabotage Starrcade '83.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Starrcade ’83 came at a time when Vince McMahon’s near-total control of the industry was not a foregone conclusion (though he was already working tirelessly toward that end; you can learn more about that act of wrestling vandalism here).

We know how the story ends today, but while watching Starrcade ’83, we glimpse a much different moment in time, one where the grittier style of the NWA reigns supreme.

The show has undeniable historical importance and a quintessential place in the annals of autumn wrestling shows.

4 – WWF Survivor Series 1987

The nostalgic sight of Bam Bam Bigelow, Rick Rude, Butch Reed, Andre the Giant, and King Kong Bundy at the first-ever WWF Survivor Series in 1987.
Photo Credit: WWE.

In 1987, the then WWF added Survivor Series to its pay-per-view calendar.

It played second fiddle to WrestleMania, but the show remained a favorite among fans thanks to its unique concept: five-man elimination tag team matches.

The WWF presented a show that stuck closely to its concept in the first outing, giving us 50 competitors in a single night. And you can see the wrestlers developing what would become a beloved match concept through the first half of the ’90s.

A Shocking End at the First-Ever WWE Survivor Series

Survivor Series 1987 was the WWE's first pay-per-view event outside of WrestleMania, and it set the tone for decades of tradition to follow.
Photo Credit: WWE.

WWF Survivor Series 1987 gives us a shocking end. At the height of Hulk Hogan’s popularity and sheer pop cultural force, his team lost to Andre the Giant’s group in the main event. It was an extremely rare example then of a heel going over in WWF.

Survivor Series ’87 serves us a giant helping of WWF during an extremely hot time in its history.

Like Badd Blood ten years later, it shines because of the characters and how they capture our imagination.

5 – WCW Fall Brawl ’96: War Games

Memorable action takes place in the ring during WCW Fall Brawl '96: War Games.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Looking back, no company has made more of autumn than the NWA/WCW. Fall Brawl is a major reason for that.

Beginning in 1993, the annual event hosted War Games, a love-it-or-hate-it type match that could only come from the mind of Dusty Rhodes.

Classic Moments at WCW Fall Brawl ’96: War Games

Imposter Sting (Jeff Farmer) stands face-to-face with the real Sting at WCW Fall Brawl 1996.
Photo Credit: WWE.

The undercard of WCW Fall Brawl ’96: War Games features WCW’s commitment to quality wrestling, with DDP versus Chavo Guerrero Jr., Chris Benoit facing Chris Jericho, and Super Caló challenging Rey Misterio Jr. standing out among other less interesting fare.

In the main event, the still-fresh nWo storyline raged. Still sporting his happy-go-lucky gear that defined an earlier era for the legend, Sting walked out on Team WCW because Lex Luger, Ric Flair, and Arn Anderson doubted his allegiance. This proved a major turning point for the character.

After this event, “The Crow” Sting debuted, leading to his feud with the nWo that would define the height of ’90s wrestling television for many fans.

War Games and Survivor Series Link to Autumn

The set of WCW Fall Brawl 1996: War Games.
Photo Credit: WWE.

War Games’ multi-man approach links it to the other major fall mainstay, Survivor Series. And the differences between the two stipulations tell us so much about the booking philosophies of NWA/WCW and the WWF/E.

Watching Fall Brawl ’96, we are reminded of what worked so well in WCW. But we also witness the cracks beginning to form — the failed resolution of the Sting/nWo feud at Starrcade ’97, more than a year later, that charted a course for disaster in the company.

But at Fall Brawl ’96, Eric Bischoff’s WCW appears crisp, alive, and vital.

Watching Wrestling in the Fall / Autumn

Themed wrestling pay-per-views, like Halloween Havoc, were a hallmark of autumn and never failed to get fans excited for wrestling.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Autumn is a time of year that brought wrestling moments that made us fans in the first place.

A central theme for autumn and fall is the harvest—when we cherish what’s good and share it with others. What better way to do that than to gather with friends and family to watch these classic autumn wrestling pay-per-views?

2 Times The WWE Failed To Recognize Talent: Notable Hall Of Fame Omissions

These twelve legends are more than worthy of a WWE Hall of Fame induction but have been done wrong despite being on Vince's radar for years.
Photo Credit: WWE.

We pay tribute to the legends who were done wrong by Vince McMahon, despite being clearly on his radar. Sadly, many of them will never receive this honor.

Read: 12 All-Time Legends the WWE Hall of Fame Did Wrong

The Real Bret Hart

Bret Hart.
Photo Credit: WWE.

Bret Hart has had a lot to say about his peers, but what do they have to say about him?

These twelve surprising stories paint a clear picture of who the real Hitman is!

Wrestling Injuries That Ended Careers Too Soon

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro with some tandem offense on Kofi Kingston.
Photo Credit: WWE.

“When I hit the mat, I knew my neck was broken and that I was paralyzed.”

These individuals’ lives were irrevocably altered while doing what they loved.

Mr Perfect Curt Hennig – A Great Life with an Unfortunate End

On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story. Here is the story of an extraordinary life with an unfortunate end.

On camera, Curt Hennig was arrogant, and he backed up his Mr. Perfect persona brilliantly. However, outside of the ring, it was a different story.

Learn the story of an extraordinary life with an unfortunate end.

Rick Rude: A Ravishing Man with a Tragic End

Rick Rude was more than "Ravishing."
Photo Credit: WWE.

“He refused to budge.”

Rick Rude was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of wrestler. He went by the nickname “Ravishing” — and rightfully so. He had a solid moveset, great looks, and unbridled arrogance with the in-ring skill to back it up. He played hard in the ring but even harder out of it.

Learn His Tragic Story.

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Jonathan Clark is an artist and writer living and performing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. To read more of his work, check out his website at jonathanclark.net.