It’s interesting how different events and matches are glorified over time by wrestling fans, myself included. For instance, the Royal Rumble. Just typing those two words together causes my mind to spin back to 1992, and the legendary event where Ric Flair won not only the match but the WWF World Title in the process. It wasn’t just the “Nature Boy” – everything about that bout was fantastic. We had a never-ending stream of legendary WWF superstars, all beating Flair within an inch of his life, as well as the most awe-inspiring commentary ever from my hero, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
I always look forward to the Rumble – even though I honestly shouldn’t.
While that one night over twenty five years ago was magical, how many since then have been even, you know, good? Passable? More often than not in recent years, there’s no riveting storyline weaved throughout the match; it’s just a bunch of guys who make me yawn on Monday and Tuesday nights running in, doing essentially nothing of note, then getting tossed over the rope with no rhyme nor reason.
My point is this: we glorify matches we shouldn’t due to singular times when everything was just right. Which leads us to today’s induction: War Games. Much as happened a few minutes ago, my fingers clicked two words into place and I got a chill up my spine, thinking of mid 1980’s Crockett with the Four Horsemen going into battle against the NWA’s finest.
The match design, much like the Rumble, lent itself to myriad possibilities and intrigue. Two teams of five would be pitted against each other, with a man from each team going into a double ring, double cage set up. Five minutes later, a coin flip would determine which team would get to send their next man in for the advantage. Of course the heels would always win the coin toss, leading to the poor babyface team having the odds ever more stacked against them. The managers outside would strategize as to who should go in when, and once both teams were fully in the ring, we’d get The Match Beyond, during which victory could only be attained via submission. It was the ultimate end to a war between two factions.
Sound great? It was. In theory, at least. Much like the Rumble, for every good War Games, we got a bad one, and in some cases, an atrocious one. And the one I’m writing about today may be the worst one ever.
Time to head back to WCW’s Fall Brawl 1998, for a disaster of epic, nay, ultimate proportions!
Spoiler alert: the sign behind you tells a large part of the story. Only thing missing is the word “stink.”
“Smoke” would also apply now that I come to think of it.
And we don’t even get to the first entrant before things go horribly awry here: namely changes to the rules. All that cool stuff I wrote about above? Throw it all out the window here, as in this “special edition” of War Games, we have a lottery (???) that determined somehow that Bret Hart and DDP would start, then folks would randomly be inserted into the match after that. In this here fiasco, we don’t have two teams of five, we how have three teams of three. Also, there’s no Match Beyond – the match can end at anytime. By submission…or pinfall.
If someone put a gun to my head, I don’t know I could do a better job of butchering what made War Games special.
So the first two guys, Bret Hart and DDP to the exact same music (no individual themes here, which would be the case throughout the entire match), just saunter out to the rings and start wrestling. Teams aren’t out there cheering each other on – they are all just hanging out in the back waiting to hear who gets to come out next. Heenan is here doing commentary as well, and he explains how valuable it would be to have a manager out there strategizing. Exactly, Brain.
SO WHY DON’T WE HAVE THAT?????
But hey, maybe I’ve been complaining too much. What is actually happening inside the cage, with Bret and DDP, hasn’t been bad. Kinda boring, by the numbers, but by no means bad. It’s Bret and DDP; both are good workers, so we’ve got that at least. And after all, Mike Tenay has been telling me about how this is the most star studded War Games ever. And WCW had like 250 plus guys on the roster at the time, no question the deepest line up of talent the business had ever seen. So let’s get our next guy out here to liven things up!
Won’t lie – this isn’t what I was expecting.
Really, we interrupt Bret Hart vs. DDP to shoehorn Stevie Ray (or Steeeeeee Ray, as Buffer dubs him) into the cage. Yeeesh. So Team Hollywood gets a two on one advantage…which means the Wolfpac isn’t even represented yet. But don’t you fret! Because coming in next is…
…Sting! Or as I like to call him during this period, Sunburn Steve. This poor guy had some dumb looks in his day, but I would argue none were anywhere near as bad as this.
And yes, I do remember Sgt. Pepper Sting, thanks for asking.
So we get Stevie Ray vs. Sting and it’s every bit as thrilling as it sounds, with Sting attempting to leap from one ring to the other. I say “attempting”, as the poor guy jumps into the air, flails his arms, and then…
…pretty much lands right on his head. Hopefully we see no more botchery such as this tonight!
The four just kinda randomly do moves (with Bret busting out his old school pile driver, which I seem to remember was his first ever singles finisher in the WWF!) with no psychology before we get the countdown, unveiling our next combatant, straight outta Alcatraz…
…”Rowdy” Roddy Piper. To show just show how screwed up this match is, Piper runs in and starts beating on everyone, including his own partner, DDP. For you see, unlike in the past where you’d have two teams who wanted to best each other, now it’s every man for himself.
WHICH DEFEATS THE WHOLE POINT OF WAR GAMES!!!!
Man, I am getting my money’s worth out of that “Heading 1” formatting tonight.
As if things weren’t falling apart fast enough, Stevie somehow wedges himself between the rings. I’d like to believe he simply no longer wanted to be a part of this mess and was trying to find a way out.
Much like myself.
Wolfpac Lex is next. This was almost as bad a fit as Sting. Next time I see Lex, I’m going to ask him what he was thinking when he agreed to wear the red & black. This would be in contrast to what I asked him last time I saw him (Starrcast), which was who his favorite football team was.
For the record, it’s the Bills. Man that poor guy has no luck at all these days.
“Bring out the next bull!” Heenan hollers, which leads us to…
…Kevin Nash “running” to the ring.
For the record, I did not slow that footage down. That’s the poor guy sprinting as best he can. Did you know he was once a basketball player? Hard to believe with a sprint like that he wasn’t slamming with Pippen and Jordan in the 90’s.
Hollywood Hogan channels his inner Repo Man and starts sneaking down to the ring next, completely ignoring the countdown clock. If he steals Kevin Nash’s bicycle, I’ll never complain about WCW again.
So Hogan comes in and starts knocking everyone down with the dreaded SLAP JACK, and to this day I have zero idea what that is. With Nash down following a leg drop, Hogan goes for the cover but smoke (yes SMOKE) fills the ring. Once it clears, we get contestant number nine, making his WCW debut…
And he immediately gets beaten down by Hogan like a total chump.
Smoke then fills the ring again (with folks inside the ring audibly coughing and gasping for breath), and when it clears Warrior…
There’s only one logical conclusion for that: the Warrior was in fact The Black Scorpion.
Or The Black Scorpion was Warrior.
Either way, Mrs. Deal, get Blade Braxton on the line!
So Warrior magically teleports (!!!!) to the back, then jumps into the ring and starts beating up Hogan and Stevie. It doesn’t take long for Hogan to say, quite literally, “I’m leaving” and then for him to, quite literally, leave the cage. Which begs the question…
WHAT WAS THE POINT OF BEING IN A CAGE IN THE FIRST PLACE????!!!!
Thanks again, “Heading 1”!
So Hogan runs for the hills, which leaves us with Warrior vs. Stevie Ray.
Let me repeat that: we get WARRIOR VS. STEVIE RAY.
Really. Someone thought this would be a good idea. They wrote it down beforehand and planned for us to see this. And the best thing I can say about it is we can’t see exactly how horrible it is due to all the smoke still floating around in the arena.
Remember kids – smoke not only makes ribs better, it makes horrible matches like this better too.
As Hogan flees, Warrior starts kicking at the top of the cage to let himself out. Just one problem with this tactic: Warrior is about 10′ off the ground. So as he falls anything but gracefully to the floor, legit injuring himself in the process.
Just looking at this image, I have to ask: did anyone – ANYONE – believe such a stunt would lead to anything but disaster? Couldn’t Jim have said, “You know, me falling from the top of the cage to the floor kinda sounds like a bad idea…can’t we gimmick the door so I can rip it off the hinges instead?”
So Hogan heads for the back as Warrior hobbles along on a broken ankle. Meanwhile in the ring, Stevie whiffs on a slap jack shot, which somehow leads to DDP hitting the Diamond Cutter on him in a scene so poorly filmed it’s not even worth an animated GIF.
Watching this, only one real question remains: was the infamous Halloween Havoc Warrior vs. Hogan match actually worse than this?
And am I man enough to live through that again to tell the tale?
We’ll find out in two weeks in my next induction!