The recent announcement of NXT bringing back WarGames set the inter webs into a tizzy recently, and with good reason. The original bout was a legendary contest, a staple of the NWA and later WCW. Due to the fact that it was so closely tied to a promotion WWE had a blood feud with, it was reportedly flatly rejected as a booking idea when it was brought up several times over the years to Vince McMahon. I mean, sure he outlasted this competitor, helped to drive them out of business. And yes, he owned the intellectual property, so he had every right to cash in on it and make money. But in doing so, he would admit they actually had a good idea.
We can’t have that now, can we?
And rest assured, the original WarGames was a fantastic match. Taking place during the late 80’s heyday of Jim Crockett Promotions/National Wrestling Alliance, the bout first came to fruition as a means by which to settle a bitter feud between The Four Horsemen and Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, and the Road Warriors on July 4, 1987. Two rings set up side by side, with a cage not only around the ring, but on top of it as well, which was an entirely new concept. Also unique was that both teams would send in one man at a time. A man from each team would start the match, and after five minutes of battle, a coin toss would determine which team would send in their partner next. Basic storyline logic dictated that the heels would win; this would give them the advantage and allow them to beat up the plucky babyface in the ring two-on-one. After two minutes, the babyface team would send their man in to save the day, and we’d get alternating entries until both teams were fully in the battle.
And then…we got THE MATCH BEYOND.
The ALL CAPS doesn’t really do this justice. Because now the cage was locked, and the only way to win was to beat one of your opponents into a (generally bloody) submission, which is exactly what happened to JJ Dillon in the first WarGames. It was a tremendous match, and beyond that, one that could be repeated for blood feuds between factions for years to come. It was the end all be all to determine a victor following a prolonged war, and something that absolutely no one could even begin to mess up.
Thirteen years removed from the original WarGames, the company that became WCW was in a completely different universe than it had ever been. Crockett Promotions had sold the company to Turner, and under Uncle Ted’s watch, the company decided to truly battle for the crown as the undisputed rasslin’ champ. For nearly two years, they did just that, as Eric Bischoff launched Nitro and brought wrestling into a brave new era, with big time main event matches every single week on free television. Of course, Nitro began to slowly fall in the ratings, and WCW decided they need to make big changes to reverse the tide. And thus, we got the Vince Russo era of Nitro.
I’m not here today to discuss the pros and cons of my pal Vinny Ru. And I can legitimately say “my pal” Vinny Ru, as he and I get along very well. I may not agree with his views on professional wrestling, nor he with mine. But as a person? I can talk to Vince for hours and always walk away with a smile on my face. I mean, I’ll be shaking my head in disbelief at some of what he says (and he with me, no question), but I’ll be smiling.
Prior to tonight’s induction, WarGames was last seen two years prior as Team WCW (consisting of, and with the good Lord above as my witness I am not making this up, “Diamond” Dallas Page, Roddy Piper, and THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR(!!!)) defeated Team nWo Hollywood (Hogan, Bret Hart, and STEVIE RAY(???)) and Team Wolfpack (Kevin Nash, Sting, and Lex Luger).
Those are some random teams right there.
What most folks remember about that hideous version of WarGames is the ring filling up completely with smoke as Warrior did his magic tricks. It was a horrible match which seemingly killed off WarGames once and for all. I mean, no one could possibly do a worse version of it, right?
It was in the fall of the year 2000 that WCW thought it would be fun to bring back WarGames for the Nitro viewing audience. No, not to build it up for a pay-per-view in which folks would have to shell out money to watch it, but rather just on a random Nitro with essentially zero promotion. Dubbed “Russo’s Revenge”, this would not be your father’s WarGames. Never one to leave well enough alone, he decided to make a few changes to the structure of not only the match, but the cage itself. It wasn’t enough to have two rings surrounded by steel. It needed more. It needed another level. In fact, let’s make it TWO additional levels.
At some level, amazingly enough, this made sense – it was the cage from Ready to Rumble. Yes, THAT Ready to Rumble. So the cage was likely available to the company for a relatively nominal fee. That would explain the logic there.
What was a very radical departure were the rules to the match itself. You will recall that in our original version, two teams went into the cage to force their foes to submit. Here? Two “teams” would go into the ring, but the goal was to climb to the top of the cage, grab the WCW title, and climb back down and out of the contraption entirely. The man who did so would become the WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
So yes, what was once the ultimate way to end a feud between two factions was now a goofy way to win the company’s grand prize.
And goofy is the best way to describe the opening minutes of the match, where Sting and Jeff Jarrett battled, with Jarrett running and jumping at the side of the cage in a manner that a third grader would act in a bounce house. I know a lot of folks love Jarrett (I remember getting tons of hate mail seventeen years ago for having the temerity to induct the nonsensical Double J gimmick), but I’ve just never thought he was that great. Stuff like what you see above kinda strengthens my beliefs. I stand by the fact that the best thing he ever did was tapping out a kids karate class during his stint as an MMA fighter in TNA. Well, that or this.
Take your choice.
Scott Steiner is in next, and let me tell you, he was booking it down to the ring.
This is absolutely the fastest I’ve ever seen Steiner move, and that includes his run with brother Rick in the early part of the 90’s. I mean sure, the ramp to the ring was only about twelve feet, but I guarantee you he’s never moved that fast before or since.
He immediately goes after Sting, who is hanging from the top of the (first) cage for whatever reason. Steiner attempts to spread his legs. I feel wrong just writing that sentence, but that’s what happens. Sting fights falling, like for a legit 60 seconds. He was hanging up there so long that I legit thought, “Well, he’s not going to crotch himself.”
Immediately after determining this to be the case, the Stinger falls and smacks his himself right in the yam bag. Despite everyone at home seeing exactly this, Tony Schiavone explained that Sting had some how injured his ribs.
Where’s Gorilla Monsoon when we need him to teach Tony about basic anatomy?
As Jarrett and Steiner beat on the Stinger, the crack WCW announce crew wonders who will be the next man to enter the ring. Will it be Vince Russo? Will it be Goldberg? Kevin Nash? Nope, the next man would be…
Yes both of them. Why both of them? This is where others would write “because WCW” but I won’t be that lame. No, I am a better writer than that. You’d don’t come here to read the same tired jokes you get everywhere else. You deserve better.
Again, why both of them?
Because WCW…and Vince Russo.
Aren’t you glad you showed up here tonight?
So Kronik comes in, and they stink up the joint pretty much exactly as you’d expect. I mean, not as bad is in THAT match, but you get the drift. In the meantime, Scott Steiner has ascended to the second ring, and grabs a pair of bolt cutters.
Maybe I’m just old fashioned, stuck in my ways, but when you start using tools whose primary purpose is to shear a padlock in a wrestling match, it may be just a tad overbooked.
Tony: “What could be more frightening than Scott Steiner with bolt cutters?”
Mark Madden: “A microphone.”
Ok, even I have to admit that was a tremendous line.
Eventually Kronik gets up to the second story as well, and the weight of all those dudes has this “floor” absolutely sagging. Had I not known this match was seventeen years old as I watched it, I would have been certain that tragedy was about to occur. More than what I am being forced to watch, I mean.
I add this photo to our post simply because…well…look at it. Have you ever seen anything that looks more like an action figure play set in your life? I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
I’m guessing since it’s on WrestleCrap, it’s bad.
Speaking of, here comes Vinny Ru, but he’s not alone – he’s got the Harris Twins with him! They enter the match too. So apparently, not only can you bring anything you want in the ring with you, you can bring ANYONE you want as well. I’d like to think that the last guy who enters the match brings in the rest of the WCW locker room, the fans in the front row, and the folks on break at the local Wal-Mart to help him gain an advantage.
The Harris boys don’t last long in the actual match, as they wind up fighting in the crowd with Kronik. Yes, the same Kronik that last we saw were on the second story battling Scott Steiner. I’d go back and try to figure out how they went from point a to point b, but even I have better things to do with my time.
Nash is in next, looking for all the world like he’d rather be anyplace else. After all, he’s the world champion here, and he could lose his title in this silly mess that his on-screen buddy Russo had booked. So he and Russo were definitely at odds going into this bout. Given how earlier in the show he explained that he was lazy and didn’t want to defend the strap (“I’m not a fighting champion!” he explained), for once this all makes sense.
I’m guessing that won’t last.
Booker T is in next as this match drags into seemingly its fifth hour…
…before 2017 WWE main eventer Bill Goldberg charges to the ring as the final competitor. As Nash stands idly outside the ring, Goldberg lays waste to everyone else, before falling to his knees courtesy of a baseball bat shot to the back by Vince Russo.
Let me repeat that. The man who took down Brock Lesnar was felled by Vince Russo.
Did anyone watching this seriously not seeing this company going under in the next twelve months?
Eventually everyone handcuffs Goldberg to the ropes as Booker T scurries up to the second floor. The others eventually follow suit, with one exception:
Nash, who simply watches on from the ground. In fact, I am pretty sure he’s not even broken a sweat so far tonight. “There is the smartest man in the history of sports entertainment!” notes Madden.
Man, that guy’s two for two tonight. He’s actually so good here that I will forgive Madden for being an idiot to me all those years ago.
So Booker starts on his way down, as Sting appears to be just leaning up against the cage completely bored. “Sting just let Booker walk by,” Tony notes, until Tenay finally notices that the Stinger is handcuffed to the cage. No idea who did this to him, as the crack camera crew missed whenever that transpired. Maybe Sting just cuffed himself up to stay out of harm’s way.
The belt falls down to the first floor, where Russo grabs it and holds it aloft. I know Russo won the title at some point, but I don’t believe it was here. And in fact it’s not, as he is attacked in the ring by Ernest Miller.
Yes, at some point, THE CAT was a babyface. I have absolutely zero memory of this whatsoever. I am guessing I should be very thankful for that.
Anyway, he gets his head kicked off by Nash, who then celebrates with the title. The fun is short-lived however, as Goldberg breaks the handcuffs and absolutely waffles him with…
…the Hitman Killer Kick. Holy crap that looked BRUTAL. It’s a miracle Goldberg didn’t end more careers as insanely out of control as he appeared to be. Holy smokes.
Big Bill grabs the belt and heads for the door, only to have it come smashing right into his face courtesy of…
…Bret himself. This would set up the amazing feud in which Bret came back and settled the score with Goldberg once and for all.
Oh who am I kidding? Bret showed up the next night on Thunder, cut a promo, then was never seen in WCW again, being fired shortly thereafter.
And as far the end of this match?
Well, Russo hands Nash the belt, and the big guy walks out the door as champion. You see, they were on the same side ALL ALONG! Surely no one ever saw that coming!
And thus, just like that, WarGames was killed dead, with WCW following it to the grave just a few months later.
As noted in the intro, I never really understood why Vince McMahon always said no to the idea of bringing WarGames to WWE. In hindsight, perhaps he saw this WarGames. That being the case, you can’t really blame him.
But you know who we CAN blame?