As the last PPV I covered (SuperBrawl) was going on the air WCW was running a show on TBS that was main evented by US Tag champions Ron Simmons and Big Josh losing to the makeshift combo of Greg Valentine and The Taylor Made Man. So the fans had to pick between ordering the PPV or seeing a title change featuring many participants that would be on the PPV. If there was a point to Josh and Simmons getting a two week reign, it’s lost on me.
Tom Zenk and Marcus Bagwell formed an official partnership and took aim at Taylor and Valentine’s titles.
Sting cut an interview after SuperBrawl mentioning both Ric Flair and Lex Luger, who were under the employ of Titan Sports. The Dangerous Alliance showed up to cause trouble and Nikita Koloff made his surprise return to save the man who he wanted to maim less than a year earlier.
Ricky Steamboat was attacked by Rick Rude but managed to fight him off and actually hang him with a leather strap. Soon after that incident Rude used Paul E Dangerously’s phone to break Steamboat’s nose. Obviously the tensions remain high between the two men.
Dr. Death Steve Williams and Terry Gordy returned and taped several squash matches. The matches were put in the can for two months until the “Miracle Violence Connection” was ready to come in and be pushed.
Abby the Butcher and Cactus Jack squared off at several house shows despite apparently reconciling at the SuperBrawl PPV.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts met with WCW backstage during a TV taping. Roberts was still under WWF contract and was only weeks away from facing The Undertaker in a heavily pushed match at Wrestlemania 8.
JT Southern debuted. He confronted Van Hammer over his guitar playing credentials. Smell the ratings!
Vader attacked Sting and “broke his ribs” to set up some house show main events. Ironically a few weeks after the angle was taped, Vader really did break several of Sting’s ribs and bruised his spleen during a match at the Omni. Sting would miss four weeks of action.
Scotty Flamingo (Raven) debuted to add depth to the light heavyweight division. He would feud with Johnny B. Badd, who was back as a face. Some rumors went around that “Luscious” Johnny Valiant would be brought in as Scotty’s manager.
Dustin Rhodes missed some shows after suffering a concussion in a car accident in mid-April.
WCW ran a “WCW Top Ten Nintendo Challenge” Tournament. Sadly this didn’t feature the boys playing on the NES (Actually the Super NES should have been out by now) in the locker room but was instead just a 10-man tournament. The tourney featured the winner of Ricky Steamboat and Cactus Jack receiving an automatic bye to the semi-finals. They booked a first round draw between Nikita Koloff and Vader to send Steve Austin straight to the semi-finals as well. Then in the semis, Austin and Steamboat wrestled to a draw, making Rick Rude the winner by default after beating Dustin Rhodes. What wacky booking!
The Dangerous Alliance lost a serious amount of momentum heading into War Games as the Steiners beat Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton for the World tag titles on May 3rd, and then only six days later Barry Windham beat Steve Austin for the TV title.
Hercules Hernandez showed up under a mask as “The Super Invader”.
Atlanta Falcon Offensive linemen Bill Fralic appeared on WCW TV and teased that he would sign with WCW if he couldn’t come to a new agreement with the Falcons.
The 123 Kid, Sean Waltman got a tryout match.
The Great Muta returned for a series of matches, including a 20-minute match on TV with Brad Armstrong that is considered a lost classic by some.
Jim Neidhart is expected to come in soon and form a team with JYD.
Jim Crockett was fired by WCW after disagreeing with Dusty Rhodes on some booking ideas.
El Gigante is finally done with WCW, as is Tommy Rich.
An excellent brief intro greets us, with the voice over asking if Sting has found enough athletic talent to stop the dastardly Dangerous Alliance.
Tony Schiavone and Eric Bischoff rundown the card.
JR and Jesse Ventura call the action. Ventura compares War Games to his time in Vietnam.
US Tag Champions Taylor Made Man and Greg Valentine vs. Michael Hayes and Jimmy “Jam” Garvin
The Freeturds remain inexplicably over. I loved them before I started this review series, but now I dread each coma inducing match they present. Hayes at least looks like a big hair band member, meanwhile Garvin looks like a mechanic who has the classic rock station on in his garage while trying to fix his leaking blinker fluid. Hayes has his tights pulled up over his belly in an effort to avoid actually having to do a sit-up. Hayes stalls to start of course but ultimately out smarts the heels and sends the flustered pair knocking together. Valentine calls a spot on camera as he tells Hayes to atomic drop him. Hayes makes faces at Valentine so the Hammer punches him in his paunch. Garvin tags in and the Freebirds cheat to take control. The Birds start using rest holds but at least work in a spot where both men keep tagging in and out to attack Taylor within the five-second rule. The armbars finally back fire on Garvin and he is flung to the floor. The heels garner a brief heat segment but Valentine gets caught with a boot that causes him to do the “Flair flop”.
The hot tag is denied by the wiry Valentine cutting Garvin off just in time. Taylor gets some nice moments of causally mocking the wounded Garvin by dismissively shoving him or shooting a look at Hayes to deride him over how far Garvin is from salvation. Hayes finally does tag in after a heel miscommunication but he plays to the fans during a DDT and gets laid out by Taylor. Valentine drops a knee to Hayes ribs and head butts his belly for good measure. Valentine tries to hold Hayes down like he’s an intern in Bill Cosby’s dressing room but Hayes knees him in the balls to escape. Taylor quickly comes in to assure Hayes won’t make the tag out. Taylor delivers a powerbomb and tags Valentine in to work on Hayes’ leg. We are approaching the fifteen minute mark, so according to Gorilla Monsoon’s logic, Valentine has finally warmed up. The figure-four is broken up by Garvin. Hayes is beaten down further but manages a big left hand to Taylor’s jaw and that allows him to tag off. Jimmy Jam wipes out both heels, then the champions try and double team him but he takes them both down. Taylor is set up for the DDT and Valentine charges him, only to be back dropped. The DDT hits and Hayes hangs on to Valentine as Garvin makes the pin. The crowd explodes in joy. As much as it pains me to say it, this was a good match. The US tag belts continue to be a hot potato.
Johnny B. Badd vs. Tracy Smothers
This is a match to help determine a contender for Brian Pillman’s Light heavyweight title. Ventura makes gay jokes towards Badd. JR reminds Jesse that he wore a boa just like Badd. Badd declares “I’m so outrageous, it’s contagious!” JR and Ventura then debate Badd’s use of his boxing background within the context of the rules of professional wrestling, or “HASHTAG Boxing Maggle Cole!” if you want to update the commentary to the current state. Smothers guides him through a counter-wrestling sequence. Ventura suggests that the loser of this match won’t see a title shot for at least a year. Considering the division has maybe ten men in it, I think it may be a bit shorter than that. Badd controls with his closed fist punching skills until Smothers kicks him in the face.
Smothers establishes that he’s a cheatin’ sumbitch by raking Badd’s back and dragging his eyes across the top rope, just because he can. He caps that off with a flying elbow from the top rope and since he’s proven to be a prick, the crowd doesn’t turn him babyface by cheering the spectacular highspot. That’s wrestling folks! Smothers delivers a flipping dive onto Badd, who can’t quite properly roll him over with the momentum as intended. Another flying kick to Badd’s head downs the flamboyant babyface. Badd fights out of two attempts to grind him into the mat and delivers a flying knee. Badd catches Smothers with a top rope sunset flip, and when that fails to earn the pin, Badd resorts to his closed fist KO punch and scores the win. Ventura is livid. Smothers is one of the more underated talents of the 90’s and it’s a shame that he couldn’t find a bigger role in either WCW or WWF than being a jobber to the stars. Solid action here.
Missy Hyatt (looking fineeeee) interviews the Freebirds. Precious makes her first appearance since September of 1988 and is apparently now the business manager of the Freebirds. I didn’t recognize her at first as she didn’t have her hair dyed blond. Hayes dedicates the title win to Lynard Skynard. Ventura takes Hayes to task for mixing in a “Stairway to Heaven” reference while talking about Skynard.
Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Scotty Flamingo
They have been hiding Bagwell in tag matches to help hide his shortcomings, but it’s time to sink or swim. They tangle to a stalemate, so Flamingo slaps the taste out of Bagwell’s mouth. Flamingo dumps him to the floor but Bagwell jumps back in and tackles his foe. They trade more slaps before Bagwell takes control. They counter one another’s offensive attempts before Flamingo slows things down with a lengthy headlock. Bagwell fights out and they both topple over the top rope. Bagwell takes over but his inexperience shows as he plays to the crowd several times instead of going in for the kill on Flamingo. He delivers a fisherman’s suplex too close to the ropes and fails to get the win off that error as well when Scotty drapes his foot over the rope. Bagwell next tries a roll-up but Flamingo reverses it and a handful of tights assures him the tainted win. This wasn’t very good as the men were too green to flow together a match yet.
JYD and Ron Simmons vs. Cactus Jack and Mr. Hughes
Jack wanders off during the heels entrance. Jack reappears when the babyfaces come down and attacks JYD. JYD is knocked off the ramp and Jack delivers a flying elbow unto him on the concrete. JYD sells a rib injury and a litany of stooges come to take him to the medical area. Simmons roars down the ramp after taking the Dog to the vet and attacks both heels. The ref decides that it has to be one on one now so….
Ron Simmons vs. Mr. Hughes
Simmons tosses around the Big Cat as JR ejaculates over their NCAA days. Hughes gets some of his token “methodical” offense. Hughes tries to tag in Jack but the ref denies that move. Hughes looks blown up only a few minutes in. Jack tries to run in but Simmons knocks him down. Hughes has his knee clipped and is pinned. Not good. Jack is receiving a match with World champ Sting in four weeks at the next PPV and this certainly didn’t do much to prep him for that role.
Todd Champion vs. The Super Invader
Invader is a strange mix of gimmicks as he’s “from Bangkok” (but is a pasty white guy), has a Karate Kid headband, a generic red mask, and a neon multi-colored glove on. Granted you couldn’t really push Hercules after all the WWF jobbing and the mask covers up his bald spot. Since Bill Watts was about to take command, perhaps they could have gone with a meta gimmick and given Hercules a Lyle Alonzo gimmick where Hernandez’ steroid use (which was openly talked about on Mid-South TV in 1984 when Herc worked there) was leading to him breaking down. That would have been more effective than juiced up guys like Tom Zenk and Brian Pillman doing PSA’s on WCW TV about roids. I’m only partly kidding.
The gimmick appears to be Hercules doing his best “Kung Fu” Billy Graham impression, as he’s a roided up martial artist who can’t actually do any martial arts other than a chop thrust. Hercules’ mannerisms are obvious yet, even though he’s trying to work the gimmick. The match is a stinker, as you’d imagine. If there was any action, I’d tell you about it. Spoiler alert: There’s not. Hercules actually tries a top rope move and then bumps awkwardly off a clothesline. A half ass stun gun sets up a power bomb for the win. The shits. Laxative laced prune juice shits.
Somehow only an hour has passed in this show. I wasn’t expecting this to be a war of attrition for me.
Big Josh vs. Richard Morton
Josh exploits his size advantage and tosses Morton around. Morton gets pissed after Josh stomps him and tears Josh’s shirt half off. Morton tries to cheap shot his way into surviving against his bigger opponent and then uses a hammerlock to keep Josh flat on the mat. Ventura amuses me by suggesting that Josh’s finisher should be a side headlock where his armpit’s noxious fumes drive his enemy unconscious. Josh fights out and delivers a nice belly-to-belly suplex and double underhook suplex. Josh then butt splashes him for the win. Technically fine but nothing special.
Light Heavyweight Champion Brian Pillman vs. Tom Zenk
They show a promo from the night before the PPV where these two friends chirp off on one another because titles mean more than friendship. Putting titles over as important, what a concept. Zenk is wearing black, which might be a nod that he is going to be the scallywag here. They go move for move to show they are of equal skill and their years of training and teaming together have them knowing what the other can and will do to garner a victory. They hit dual drop kicks, then flip through the air together as both attempt flying armdrags. They trade off grappling on the mat before Pillman uses a flying head scissors to take control. After more back and forth they start tossing chops into one another’s chests and Pillman begins to realize he needs to up his attack or the title may not be his for long. Pillman starts to work over Zenk’s knee ligaments. This clearly upsets Zenk, who offers a sly smile towards the camera before he starts to lay the boots to his friend’s flesh. Zenk downs him with a suplex, drives knees into Pillman’s spine and drops Pillman’s back across his knee. Zenk then gets too cute and tries a flashy splash and finds Pillman’s knees in his gut. Pillman talks smack and cranks at Zenk’s leg again. They blow an enziguiri that Pillman sells anyway.
Zenk misses a charge and hurts his knee again. Pillman locks on a figure-four and they trade slaps while battling within the hold. Zenk powers out and both men are hurting. Pillman tries a flying attack, but Zenk’s scouting has him prepped and he turns it into a powerslam for a near fall the crowd buys as the finish. Pillman crucifixes Zenk to the mat as a counter to a fallaway slam. Zenk makes his way to the top rope and connects with a flying crossbody that hits Pillman so high that he flips all the way over to his belly and Zenk crashes to the mat in some pain as well! They collide again and both men are down on the canvas. Zenk delivers a brutal looking flapjack – great bump from Pillman there. Zenk’s injured knee collapses but it was just Zenk playing opossum as he delivers a superkick when Pillman lowers his guard. The fans buy totally into that as the finish as well. Zenk goes for it all with a top rope dropkick but misses and winds up rolled up for the win. Excellent stuff from both guys!
So Pillman steals the show on back-to-back PPVs and his reward is Bill Watts asking him to take a paycut. When Pillman balked, Watts promised to make him a jobber. Kind of hard to defend that logic.
Tatsumi Fujinami and Takayuki Iizuka vs. WCW World Tag Champions Rick and Scott Steiner
“The Dragon” sends his young charge to the corner as he wants to set the tone for this international megamatch. Scott grapples Fujinami to the mat but botches an overhead powerslam and tries to break his neck. Iizuka uses his speed to control Scott and the fans quickly turn to “USA” chants to inspire their hero. Scott fires up and violently sends Iizuka to the mat with a powerbomb and a suplex. Fujinami realizes the titles are slipping away and calls for his partner to tag him in. Regret must set in quick for the Japanese legend though because Rick almost instantly sends him crashing onto his neck with a belly-to-back suplex. Fujinami tries to deliver his own but Rick won’t go up for the move. Fujinami gains control briefly and tags in Iizuka to attempt a Doomsday Device, but Rick catches him in mid-air and delivers a belly-to-belly suplex. Iizuka is bleeding from the eye and nose thanks to an earlier stiff shot from the Steiners. Rick bulls him over with a tackle, so Iizuka tags out. Fujinami quickly downs Rick and ties his legs up in a grapevine. Iizuka appears to be concussed or something as he’s in rough shape on the apron. Iizuka comes in and locks on his own leg hold to keep Rick planted. Scott tags in and flips Iizuka to the mat with a tilt-a-whirl suplex. Scott hooks in a half nelson and grinds Azuka into the mat, then tosses him roughly over his head with a back suplex. Rick tags in and powerslams Iizuka into the turnbuckles. Scott drills him to the mat with a pump handle slam, locks in a neck crank and grapple fucks him across the mat.
Fujinami makes a blind tag and manages to take control with an Octopus lock. Scott just casually chucks the Dragon to the mat and tags in his brother. Rick allows Fujinami to tag out and he kills poor Iizuka with another pair of spine pulverizing suplexes. Scott gets back in, and Fujinami tags in as well, with fire in his eyes and desperation causing his adrenaline to block any pain that his body may be crying out with. They face off but before we can get anywhere all four men are in and Rick decapitates the Japanese stars with a double Steinerline. Fujinami sneaks behind Scott and delivers a suplex and Iizuka hits a German suplex of his own. Fujinami sets Scott up for a spike piledriver and the late rally nearly nets them the titles. Fujinami locks in the Dragon sleeper but Scott fights out before he goes to sleep. Both men tag out and Iizuka is again suplexed to the mat by Rick. Rick finally ends his legalized assault and battery by tossing Iizuka from the top rope with a belly-to-belly suplex for the win. One HELL of a match!! This set up a Steiners vs. Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow double title match for NJPW.
WAR GAMES: Sting, Nikita Koloff, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham vs. Rick Rude, Larry Zybysko, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton and Steve Austin
In an awesome subtle detail, Gary Michael Cappetta refers to this as a “confrontation” and not a “match”. The heels all come out with swagger and the faces are pumped to kick the teeth in of these assholes. Heyman has a battle plan printed out and is explaining it one final time to the troops. Austin and Windham start and the fists are fast and furious by both men. Windham greets him with a face full of steel mesh and compresses his spine with a DDT. Austin tries to use the cage as a monkey bars and Windham turns that to his advantage and dumps Austin face first on the mat. Austin’s face is ground into the cage like a cheese grater and the crimson mask has started. Windham chews on the wound for good measure. The heels win the coin toss and Rick Rude rushes the cage to make the save. Rude hammers away at Windham to allow Austin a chance to recover. The heels double up on Windham and drive him into the steel. Steamboat is in next and he explodes all over Austin and Rude. Both men are downed with DDTs and chops. Windham helps Steamboat out, and reveals his own bloody face. Arn Anderson is next in and he takes Windham down with a DDT, then sneak attacks Steamboat and drives his spine into the canvas. Rick Rude aids in the spinal assault by piledriving The Dragon.
Dustin is in next and Anderson wisely meets him at the door to prevent any sneak attacks. Dustin’s exuberance wins out and he lays out Austin and Anderson. Steamboat meanwhile is torturing Rude in various submission holds in the other ring. Larry Zybysko is the next in and he is swarmed by Rhodes immediately. Sensing his plan failing, Paul E sends Madusa to the top of the cage to pass his phone to the heels through a crack in the top. Sting scales the other side and confronts her on the top. The phone is used to turn the advantage back to the Alliance. Rude relishes in cranking on Steamboat’s broken nose. Sting comes in next and goes BONZO GONZO on all the heels. Rhodes and Anderson are now bleeding as well. Zybysko and Windham collapse from pain and exhaustion. Eaton is in last for the heels and takes a sniper’s approach to the attack by striking and moving from behind the faces’ backs. Rude loosens the turnbuckle pad. Koloff is in last for the babyfaces and saves Sting right away to establish that he really is on the side of the white knights. Rude is still trying to loosen the turnbuckle’s metal hook off it’s base. He finally gets it off the pole which allows Eaton to work at getting the metal connector off to use as a weapon. Larry tries to hit Sting with the metal part but whacks Eaton by accident and Sting locks an armbar on to garner the submission win. The heels bitch at Zybysko after for his screw up. The exhausted faces help each other to the back arm in arm. What a WAR!! The best War Games ever!
Final thoughts: The last hour and a half was all spectacular stuff, which made me forget all about the under whelming undercard. WCW will have two more supercards over the next four weeks as the Bill Watts era kicks off officially.