A few Raws ago (that is a measurement of time in this world) Triple H used the word “war” a few too many times, thereby causing the internet to make the assumption that we’d be seeing a WarGames match soon.
This seems to be a dream for a lot of WWE fans, as the match was a NWA/WCW exclusive. Not being too familiar with the match, and noting that we haven’t done a WCW PPV yet, I figured I’d seek out a show that had a combination of being a good PPV and a good WarGames match. This…well, really isn’t either of those, which is a bummer cause the internet sure hyped it that way.
We haven’t done a WCW PPV yet because…they suck. Let the internet backlash begin!
Should’ve opened this can of worms with NWO Presents: No Way Out and the anarchy that surrounded that thing, but oh well.
First off, don’t be afraid when you see Tony Schiavone and Eric Bischoff with microphones. They, for some reason, provide between match commentary. I guess just in case JR or Jesse Ventura have to use the bathroom. Prepare yourself for a poor first half, a better second, and a somewhat decent WarGames match.
Bischoff is great on the mic. I’m so used to seeing heel Bischoff that I forgot he’s a normal person that can promote a show and talk.
United States Tag Team Title Match: The Freebirds (c) v. Terry Taylor and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. These were the non-Fabulous Freebirds, with Michael P.S. Hayes and not an original Freebird, Jimmy Garvin. Having a southern crowd that grew up on the NWA cheering face-Freebirds is fairly strange. This was mostly a not-that-special match, but it did pick up at the end; a little chaos with a well-sold DDT as a finish and The Freebirds easily retained.
Johnny B. Badd v. Tracey Smothers – All I can think of when I see Johnny B. Badd is him in an office being told what his gimmick is going to be. We’ll say it’s probably Dusty Rhodes letting him know. The future Johnny B. Badd sighing, sucking it up and saying, “Alright, if that’s what you want, you got it.” But sometimes, no matter how much heart you put in a gimmick, it just doesn’t matter. The highlight of this match was Jim Ross trying to legitimize Johnny B. Badd by talking about his boxing background. Alas, JR was also struggling with ways to describe a hip toss after about half a dozen of them. Also notable in this match, there were like, half a dozen well dressed people in the front row. Johnny B. Badd wins because of course he does.
Badd looked like the forgotten step-child of Ric Flair…that had never seen a Flair match.
Scotty Flamingo v. Marcus Bagwell – Yes, of course that’s Buff Bagwell, and this is him in his early days, still learning the business. Well, being taught, but not learning necessarily. Here’s a match that also disappoints, and won’t matter much to you until you realize that Scotty Flamingo is Raven, and is also the winner of the match. At this point I’m starting to realize that the phrase “martial arts kick” is JR’s version of Vince McMahon’s “what a maneuver.”
We’ve now reached the intermission of the shitty first half.
Not a great match, but Flamingo still looked good. It was great seeing Raven pre-Raven. Supposedly Scott Levy is actually a very funny, charismatic person in real life, and the Raven character is almost the exact opposite of himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt more comfortable being Flamingo. Also, no one will agree with me, but I think Bagwell would’ve had more success if he never became “Buff”.
MORE success? The dude became NWO-material and a tag-team champion as Buff. Marcus was one bad bump away from working at UPS.
Ron Simmons and The Junkyard Dog v. Mr. Hughes and Cactus Jack – Think about this. In this match, three out of the four involved are in the WWE Hall of Fame. Crazy. It’s fairly solid, although Cactus Jack takes out JYD early in the match before even getting into the ring. Of course, Ron Simmons decides to have the match himself, but instead of turning into a handicap match, it’s just one-on-one with Mr. Hughes. Cactus Jack screaming Ron Simmons’ name over and over is pretty creepy, and it’s creepier when he starts screaming like a pig. Watching Mr. Hughes just made me feel bad for anyone like IRS who had to wrestle in a tie. Ron Simmons is your winner. Now back to your regularly scheduled bad first half.
The pig screaming was creepy as hell. Loved it. It made me want to watch more early Mankind stuff. Also, Ron Simmons won with a chop block to the knee. Again, for those in the cheap seats: A chop block to the KNEE. I honestly don’t think they planned some of their finishes in WCW.
Probably safe to assume they didn’t plan anything in WCW.
The Super Invader v. Todd Champion – What the fuck is the WCW Special Forces and why is Todd Champion in them? The Super Invader is a gimmick that has Dusty Rhodes’ name all over it. This match was not great. The Super Invader wins, although you don’t care.
This is the weird slightly racist side of WCW that I’m sure WWE would like to ignore.
Right. The WWE was never racist.
Big Josh v. Richard Morton – The highlight of this match was hearing JR say “Big Josh” over and over. Oh, and Big Josh eventually became the original Doink the Clown. So there’s that. He also won the match, but again, you don’t care. Good news, though, the good half is about to begin.
Allow me to be the first to say, man, what an epically-awful PPV to this point. This review is two-weeks tardy because I legitimately couldn’t convince myself to turn WrestleWar back on. Just horrendous.
WCW Light Heavyweight Championship Match: Brian Pillman v. Tom Zenk. Controversial statement: Brian Pillman could’ve been Shawn Michaels if he didn’t get addicted to pain killers and gaining as much heel heat as possible. That’s probably not that controversial. But let’s be honest, we know Brian Pillman from two things: first, firing a gun at Steve Austin. Second, falsely dying young to drugs, when most people assume the reason was drugs. But Pillman was a great athlete and it shows in this match. It was a good balance of technical wrestling with explosive moments in between. While Flyin’ Brian wasn’t flying as much as usual, the fast-paced spots made up for them. I really enjoyed the brief figure-four slap-match. Lots of tense false-finishes at the end, but ultimately Pillman retained.
Couldn’t agree more. Best match of the night. I haven’t watched much Pillman, but this match made me disappointed his career didn’t turn into something great, because it sure could of.
Couldn’t agree more.
Sorry, still attempting to muster anything more after that HORRENDOUS FIRST-HALF.
The Steiner Brothers v. Tatsumi Fujinami and Takayuki Iizuka – This is a classic strength versus flexibility match, peppered with comments from Jesse Ventura, who’s turning this political by comparing it to the 1980s auto-industry wars. He accomplishes this by mentioning three Japanese car companies, all who manufacture their cars in the United States. But back to the wrestling. Seeing pre-insane Scott Steiner is weird. Each side plays to their strengths, in terms of the heavyweights versus the lightweights. The match drags out a little too long, but eventually the Steiners win. Sorry, Kevin.
Fuck the Steiners.
Bash post-insane Steiner all you want, but he made for some of the best moments at his peak.
Finally, we reach the WarGames match. As three pages of graphics with nine steps explaining the rules of the match slowly appear on-screen, you start to get an idea why this match may not work so well in today’s world. If you can’t explain it almost instantly, you’ve lost your audience. So here’s a breakdown of what happened in the match, starting with the first pair in the ring…
Hit the nail on the head. If they could simplify some of the rules, it might work. But honestly, I just don’t get it. Two rings, one cage? Why is that any better than Hell in a Cell? The only thing unique is that you can body-press your opponent into the ceiling of the cage, which looks like crap anyway. I don’t see them ever doing this now. If anything, the Elimination-Chamber has already replaced this, for the better. It’s pretty much the exact same match.
Quite honestly, the only thing the WarGames cage had going for it was that you could confidently walk along the top without falling to your death. We’re still working on that part with Hell in a Cell.
Stunning Steve Austin (Dangerous Alliance) v. Barry Windham (Sting’s Squadron): Windham starts by beating the shit out of Austin; throwing Austin into the cage, both above and on the sides, grinding his face into the cage, biting his forehead. You know.
Steve Austin has hair?? WTF???
Stick with Stone Cold gimmick.
Ravishing Rick Rude enters for the Dangerous Alliance: The heels win the coin toss, because it’s WarGames and that’s how this works. This allows Austin to recover, followed by both Rude and Austin beating on Windham until the next entry.
This is embarrassing, but it also happens to be the first Rick Rude match I’ve seen. He honestly looked small compared to some of the others in this match. Not an amazing wrestler, but a very good heel.
I honestly feel as if Rude could’ve became something larger in WCW, let alone wrestling. He was a tremendous heel, as well as a superior athlete. Maybe it was the the 70’s porn-look that held him back.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat enters for Sting’s Squadron and immediately DDTs Rude and Austin while Windham recovers. Austin, at one point, attempts to do a tumble into a short-distance spear. It doesn’t work and also looks terrible. The heels get beat down until…
Arn Anderson enters for Dangerous Alliance. This causes Anderson/Rude v. Steamboat and Windham v. Austin. At one point, Anderson and Rude perform a dual Boston Crab on Steamboat, each holding one leg. It starts turning chaotic at this point.
Starts? This was a mess before the bell rung.
The Natural Dustin Rhodes enters for Sting’s Squadron: Goldust is a way better gimmick as opposed to “let me just do the shit my dad did.” Also, why does Dustin look better 22-years after this match took place? At this point, Austin’s face looks like a truck backed over it.
He really does look better now! Probably has something to do with being off drugs and seeing a therapist about his daddy issues and…
Larry Zybsko enters for Dangerous Alliance: After he enters, Medusa climbs the cage and hands Paul E.’s phone to Arn Anderson, who starts knocking people out with it. Sting climbs the cage to confront her. Ventura: “He’s making a long distance phone call…in the ring.” JR: “He is reaching out and touching everyone he sees with that phone.” JR 1, Ventura 0. Austin’s face looks like a truck parked on it.
Sting enters for…you know. And why is Sting just now entering? Yeah, I’m sure in reality he had an injury or something, but in kayfabe his team is named after him. And he’s just getting in? C’mon. Of course, he gets in and is just about invincible. Arn Anderson gets thrown into the cage and appears to blade himself with a machete.
This just gave me more reason to not look forward to the impending Sting return. In related news, I don’t like Sting.
Beautiful Bobby Eaton enters for Dangerous Alliance: at this point, despite the fact there’s still one person missing for the actual WarGames to begin, it’s turned into pure chaos. In the background, you’re seeing people get thrown into cages, and then in the foreground you see the same. Rick Rude loosens one of the turnbuckles.
When the turnbuckle came loose, I honestly thought they had f’d up and done this on accident or something, turning to improvisation. Too much crazy made it almost unwatchable at this point.
Nikita Koloff enters for Sting’s Squadron… and the WarGames begin. Soon after, he and Sting have some sort of reconciliation moment where he saves Sting from an attack. Then they high five. Sting.
Rick Rude has now completely undone the turnbuckle. At this point, most everyone is drenched in blood, and the mat shows that as well. Also by this point, most everyone is winded and the match has slowed down considerably.
Zybsko uses the metal from the turnbuckle to hit Sting but instead hits Beautiful Bobby in the shoulder. Sting submits Eaton with an armbar and it’s over.
An armbar… I’ll say it again… an ARMBAR. This PPV was fun to watch to compare the contrasting style to modern wrestling. The biggest difference is the pace. In this era, people sell moves for longer. There aren’t as many planned “spots” as there is just people beating each other up. I have to say I like the modern style better. Of course, I was only 15-years-old at the time.
Whew. This was the last five-star WarGames match. These kept going for years, but apparantally never lived up to what they were back in the day. Despite the chaos and brutality of this match, and despite Meltzer giving it five stars, it really didn’t live up to what I have seen in some of the earlier bouts. So, what have we learned: People hated sideburns in the early 90s, cummerbunds look terrible, and we could do without a WarGames in WWE. And man, Eric Bischoff just looked like the 90s. Like, 90s Vegas magician.
Michael Edwards’ Grade: D
Kevin Bowden’s Grade: D-
John Daigle’s Grade: D-
Average Grade: D-
Next: WrestleMania 19