Now sharp eyed readers may notice this is not a review of Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko’s matches. There is a good reason for that. Basically I was kinda relying on dailymotion to watch all the old WCW matches I have reviewed lately. Dailymotion was sparse when it came to that series of matches. So instead you get a replacement review. So get ready to read a burial of a beloved gimmick match instead.
Wargames and the match beyond. Beyond what? Fuck if I know. Maybe Thunderdome. Then again WCW did Thunderdome too. Well the copywrite friendly Thundercage anyway. So to review the rules of War Games. There are two rings surrounded by a cage. There are two teams. A member of each team starts out for a 5 minute period. At the end of this period there is a coin toss won by the heels unless Vince Russo is booking. The teams alternate sending a new man in every two minutes after that. Once everyone has entered the match it goes to the aforementioned match beyond where the match ends when someone surrenders. Got all that? Good for you you’re already a step ahead of Michael Buffer. On to the review.
Great American Bash 7/4/87(The Omni)
The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, JJ Dillon) vs Hawk/Animal/Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff/Paul Ellering
Great American Bash 7/31/87(Orange Bowl)
The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard)/War Machine vs Hawk/Animal/Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff/Paul Ellering
NWA 7/16/88(Greensboro Coliseum)
The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, JJ Dillon) vs Dusty Rhodes/Lex Luger/Nikita Koloff/Steve Williams/Paul Ellering
Wrestlewar 1991(Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum)
The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair/Arn Anderson/Sid Vicious)/Larry Zbyszko vs Sting/Brian Pillman/Rick Steiner/Scott Steiner
Wrestlewar 1992 (Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum)
Sting’s Squadron (Sting/Ricky Steamboat/Barry Windham/Nikita Koloff/Dustin Rhodes) vs The Dangerous Alliance (Rick Rude/Steve Austin/Arn Anderson/Bobby Eaton/Larry Zbyszko)
Fall Brawl 1993 (Astro Arena)
Vader/Sid Vicious/Booker T/Stevie Ray vs Sting/British Bulldog/Dustin Rhodes/Shockmaster
Fall Brawl 1996 (Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum)
WCW (Sting/Ric Flair/Lex Luger/Arn Anderson) vs nWo (Hollywood Hogan/Kevin Nash/Scott Hall/nWo Sting)
What a shitty gimmick this turned out to be. Wargames has a reputation for being this amazing gimmick with tons of great matches leaving people bemoaning the fact that Vince wants nothing to do with it. This is simply not true. There are only two great Wargames matches. The rest are ok to downright putrid and all for different reasons. It should also be noted that this review avoided such Wargames matches as the one with Bunkhouse Buck and Col Parker and the oh so epic Hulkamaniacs vs Dungeon of Doom match. Imagine how much worse this review would have ended up being with those atrocities included.
The beginning is the best place to start as any. The issue with this match actually gets pretty comical. The second a member of a team would enter the ring all of his teammates would immediately stand up and stop selling. The only one who even paid the slightest bit of lip service to selling once their teammate hit the ring was Nikita Koloff getting up slower than the rest instead of popping right up when Hawk comes in. 30 seconds after Koloff took two Spike Piledrivers. This match also begins the running theme of the heels making no effort whatsoever to save their teammates from giving up even when it is well within their power to do so. I guess the Four Horsemen really like losing this match. Also of note is the horror that is Dusty Rhodes and Animal trying a double dropkick spot. Compare that to the nonsense going on in the 1988 Wargames. Arn somehow gets a hold of a wrench. The wrench randomly disappears. No need to use a weapon in this match anymore. Tully comes in with a chair. After using like twice he calmly slides it under the cage to the floor. Why not? Not like that would be at all useful. Then there is once again the finish where you have everyone wandering around aimlessly including Steve Williams just hanging out by himself in the corner. Have to give the finish credit though at least Barry Windham tried to save JJ. He was over powered though. By Paul Ellering. Manager of the Road Warriors. Not one of the Road Warriors. Not Hawk not Animal not Kensuke Sasaki not Heidenreich hell not even Droz. Paul Ellering. Over powered Barry Windham. That was the finish. Yeah.
The Wargames 1991 match is a good match except for one glaring issue. Sid Vicious is in this match, and dear God is he awful. There are two instances of awfulness that stand out. One of which is not 100% his fault. In this match their is a close up right in his face shot of Sid telling Rick Steiner he is going to whip him into the opposite corner. Now obviously the director deserved to be fired for that, but the fact that it did not occur to Sid to avoid a rather detailed description of what he was about to do when a camera was right in his face is mind boggling. Then there is the far more egregious issue. The match ends when Sid botches a powerbomb so horribly he injures Brian Pillman. Then in a moment of brilliance Sid decided to pick up the injured Pillman and powerbomb him again. Which was botched again. It is impossible to not hold this against the match.
Remember what was said about the Four Horsemen not caring if they win or lose? Stevie Ray is the worst offender. By a lot. He just stands there staring at Shockmaster as he puts Booker T into a bear hug from which Booker T eventually submits. Nothing was stopping him from attacking Shockmaster. Do you also remember the shitty direction that was previously mentioned? This match starts out with a panning shot of the crowd or lack thereof. What you see is many empty seats in an already pretty small building. ECW ran bigger buildings than this for their PPVs back in the day. Just needed to be mentioned. Since we are going down memory lane remember Erik Watts? In this match Dustin Rhodes gets the full Erik Watts treatment. For those that don’t remember when Bill Watts was booker his son Erik received an unwarranted push. To put it nicely. So this match starts out with Dustin Rhodes bravely overcoming his injured ribs and rushing into battle with Vader and friends. 10 guesses who was booker at the time. 10 guesses who was also tight with that booker. Here’s a hint: Tugboat. So between the shit booking at the beginning and end you’d at least hope for something in the middle. Nothing. Not something good. Not something bad. Just a black hole. Better off watching grass grow honestly.
All that needs to be said about the nWo vs WCW Wargames is that the two guys trying the hardest are Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger.
In all of this there are two standout matches. The second ever Wargames on the last show of the 1987 Great American Bash, before becoming a PPV the GAB was a July long series of shows, and the match at Wrestlewar 1992. The second Wargames instilled a lot of hope for the future of the match. The issue of the cycle of no selling which plagued the first one was fixed. The match was suitably back and forth with the babyfaces in control when it was 4 on 5 which makes sense since how much help was Ellering going to be without Barry Windham to push around anyway? Horsemen were still shit at making the save, but at least it was some jabroni named War Machine and not their manager taking the abuse this time. Then you have the best of the bunch from Wrestlewar 1992. The work is great and plays to all the existing storylines going in. There is some interesting stuff involving the set up with the cage and the two rings, driving Anderson’s head between the ring and Austin and Steamboat hanging from the ceiling are two examples. There is no needless no selling. The finish does not involve one team to act like complete morons. It is great. Every complaint about the others matches are fixed and there is innovation on top of that. Perfect.
Results and Ratings
Great American Bash 7/4/87
Hawk/Animal/Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff/Paul Ellering defeated the Four Horsemen at 22:10 when JJ Dillon surrendered after the Doomsday Device (Star Rating: **3/4)
Great American Bash 7/31/87
Hawk/Animal/Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff/Paul Ellering defeated the Four Horsemen & War Machine at 19:38 when War Machine surrendered after Animal drove a spike into his eye (Star Rating: ****1/4)
Dusty Rhodes/Lex Luger/Nikita Koloff/Steve Williams/Paul Ellering defeated the Four Horsemen at 21:10 when JJ Dillon surrendered to a Dusty Rhodes Figure Four Leglock (Star Rating: *3/4)
The Four Horsemen defeated Sting/Brian Pillman/Rick Steiner/Scott Steiner at 21:50 via ref stoppage when Shooter Sid Vicious attempted to murder Brian Pillman (Star Rating: ***3/4)
Sting’s Squadron defeated The Dangerous Alliance at 23:27 when Bobby Eaton surrendered to Sting’s arm bar (Star Rating: *****)
Fall Brawl 1993
Sting/British Bulldog/Dustin Rhodes/Shockmaster defeated Vader/Sid Vicious/Booker T/Stevie Ray at 16:39 when Booker T surrendered to a Shockmaster bear hug (Star Rating: -*)
Fall Brawl 1996
nWo defeated WCW at 18:15 when Lex Luger surrendered to nWo Sting’s Scorpion Death Lock (Star Rating: ***)
Average Rating: **3/4
Well in the end the only way to win is to not play at all. Oh wait wrong Wargames.Due to what happened this week I am not promising anything. Come back next week to find out what the review is.