WrestleWar 1991: WarGames
Welcome to WrestleWar 1991! We last left things with Ric Flair being revealed as the Black Scorpion after Sting defeated him to retain the NWA Championship. With that turd of a storyline behind them, WCW went back to its comfort zone by having Flair defeat Sting to win the title at a house show in early January. This show features a continuation of the long-running Sting/Horsemen feud, as Sting leads a team of Brian Pillman and the Steiner Brothers against the Horsemen (Flair, Barry Windham, and Sid Vicious) and Larry Zbyszko.
The other big news for this show occurred behind the scenes as WCW prepared to leave the National Wrestling Alliance. Basically, WCW had outgrown the NWA, which was a shell of its former self as wrestling territories were gradually put out of business by the WWF and WCW. There was no need for the NWA name to legitimize WCW, as it had clearly established itself as the #2 wrestling promotion in America. Thus, the titles were all rebranded as WCW championships. Ric Flair was still recognized as the NWA Champion, for what that was worth. Behind the scenes, tensions were beginning to come to a head between Flair and Jim Herd, the president of WCW. That tension would come to fruition in the summer, but to this point Herd had already driven off the Road Warriors, Jim Cornette, and Stan Lane. They wouldn't be the last ones to leave due to differences with Herd. But let's get to the action:
WCW World Six Man Tag Team Championship: Junkyard Dog, Tommy Rich, and Ricky Morton (c) vs. James Earl Wright, Buddy Lee Parker, and The Big Cat
So the Six Man Tag Titles had recently been revived, as JYD, Rich, and Morton beat Buddy Landel, Dutch Mantel, and Dr. X at a house show to win them. They'd been abandoned in 1989, and wouldn't last long here either. Wright and Parker are the "State Patrol," two southern police officers. The Big Cat is Curtis Hughes, bodyguard to many wrestlers in the WWF as Mr. Hughes. An African-American man being in a tag team with two southern sheriffs is greatly amusing to me. At least they're not bringing him out in chains like Harlem Heat a few years after this. Faces dominate to start, with all three guys getting in and hitting their basic stuff. All three heels tag in and none of them manages to get anything going. Eventually Morton tags in and gets hit with a nightstick while the referee is distracted. This allows Morton to do what he does best: get beat up. James Earl and Parker hit a Demolition Decapitation on Morton for a nearfall. The heels tag in and out working on Morton, hitting some pretty cool double team moves in the process: A Drop-Toe Hold and Elbow Drop, a Backbreaker/Slam combination, and a double battering ram. Eventually, Rich misses a charge in the corner and Morton tags in JYD, who headbutts everyone. JYD hits a Powerslam on Parker and Morton, who is not the legal man, covers him for the pin at 9:54.
Result: Junkyard Dog, Tommy Rich, and Ricky Morton by pinfall
Analysis: **1/4. Surprisingly good opener. The heels did some nice, innovative work. Six man tag titles are actually kind of an interesting idea, but they wouldn't last long here.
Alexandra York and Terrance Taylor (taking Mike Rotunda's place in the York Foundation) cut a promo on Tom Zenk.
Brad Armstrong vs. Bobby Eaton
They trade Arm Drags, Dropkicks, and Headscissors to start. Armstrong works on Eaton's arm. They break, but Armstrong goes right back to the arm. They head outside and Armstrong slams Eaton into the guardrail and ring post. Amstrong applies another Wristlock once they get back in the ring. This arm work is really starting to drag. Eaton tries a Slingshot Suplex, but Amstrong lands on his feet and hits his own Suplex. Eaton drops Armstrong with a Clothesline after another Wristlock. Eaton hits a nice Lifting Side Backbreaker, very similar to Sheamus' Irish Curse. Eaton applies a Chinlock. Eaton follows that with a Slingshot Backbreaker. Eaton applies another Chinlock. This match might set a new record for restholds. Armstrong elbows out and gets thrown to the floor. Eaton drops Armstrong on the guardrail. Back in the ring, Eaton applies an Abdominal Stretch. The referee catches Eaton holding the rope, so he has to break the hold. Eaton misses a charge to the corner and eats a Dropkick. Armstrong gets a Russian Legsweep. Armstrong shoots Eaton into the ropes, but he counters with a Swinging Neckbreaker. Eaton hits the Alabama Jam Legdrop for the pin at 12:51.
Result: Bobby Eaton by pinfall
Analysis: **1/4. Some good action, but too many restholds in-between spots.
Tony Schiavone interviews Missy Hyatt, who says she's going to go into the men's locker room and get an interview. I believe that's a reference to the Lisa Olson/New England Patriots scandal.
My tape seems to not include the women's match. For those curious, Itsuki Yamazaki and Mami Kitamura defeated Miki Handa and Miss A in 6:47. They are all New Japan wrestlers, so this match was done to promote the upcoming WCW/New Japan Supershow.
Dustin Rhodes vs. Buddy Landel
This is Dustin's PPV debut. Dustin is only 22 here, and billed as "The Natural." Dusty gushes about his son on commentary. Dustin gets a Backdrop to start and follows with a Dropkick. Dustin gets chopped, but counters with a series of ten elbows in the corner. Hip Toss by Dustin. Clothesline. Dustin gets an Arm Drag and applies an Armbar. He's green, but you can see the talent. Landel fights out and goes up top, but ends up getting thrown off. Landel gets the advantage and does some Knee Drops. He follows that with some arm work. Landel gets a Sleeper, but Dustin reverses into his own Sleeper. Landel quickly escapes. Dustin Clotheslines Landel over the top to the floor. Isn't that a disqualification in WCW? Back in the ring Dustin hits a Press Slam and a Bulldog for the pin at 6:33.
Result: Dustin Rhodes by pinfall
Analysis: *. Snoozer. Dustin wasn't ready for primetime and Landel didn't have much to offer either.
Missy Hyatt goes into the locker room and is immediately thrown out by Stan Hansen. Considering Lisa Olson was sexually harassed by members of the Patriots, this was in fairly poor taste.
The Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong) vs. The Royal Family (Jack Victory and Rip Morgan)
Total formula match. The Southern Boys start out fast until Amstrong gets hit with a cheap shot. Victory and Morgan proceed to work him over in the most generic and boring way possible as the crowd goes to sleep. Eventually, Armstrong manages to tag Smothers, who comes in hot and cleans house. The heels attempt a Double Suplex, but Armstrong hits a Dropkick and Smothers falls on top for the pin at 12:05.
Result: Southern Boys by pinfall
Analysis: 1/2*. Pure formula, and not a very inspired attempt at that.
My version does not include the Terrence Taylor vs. Z-Man match. Taylor won at 10:59 with a roll-up. It was a No Disqualification match.
Big Van Vader vs. Stan Hansen
These two had some legendary battles in Japan, including a match that featured Hansen knocking Vader's eye out with an especially stiff punch. They immediately brawl out onto the ramp. Hansen hits a Lariat and sends Vader back into the ring. Vader drops Hansen with a big forearm. Vader applies a chinlock. They fight outside and Vader comes off the apron with an Ax Handle. Back in the ring, Vader hits more punches. He misses a corner charge and Hansen hits a Back Suplex. They end up brawling outside and hitting each other with chairs. Vader drops Hansen rib-first onto the guardrail. They brawl back into the ring and the referee tries to break it up. He gets thrown to the floor and calls for a disqualification at 6:21.
Result: Double disqualification
Analysis: *1/2. Some decent brawling, but too short to get going. Definitely a disappointment.
Post-match Vader hits a big diving Clothesline and they end up brawling up the stage to the back. It may have been planned for this feud to continue, but Hansen would leave the company shortly after this due to creative differences with Jim Herd.
WCW United States Championship: Lex Luger (c) vs. Dan Spivey
Luger gets a Backdrop to start off. He follows with a series of Shoulderblocks. Luger counters an Atomic Drop into a Back Suplex. Luger gets a Hip Toss, then misses a Clothesline and tumbles over the ropes into the other ring (two ring set-up for the WarGames match). Spivey Suplexes Luger back into the original ring. Spivey hits a Tombstone, but Luger kicks out. Not a fan of that being used as a mid-match move. Spivey gets a Neckbreaker and applies a Chinlock. Spivey's neck work continues with a DDT. Once again, not a fan of that being used in the middle of the match. Spivey misses a charge to the corner and Luger rolls him up for two. Spivey immediately goes back to work, but Luger blocks a Suplex attempt and hits a Suplex of his own. Spivey hits a Body Slam and follows with an Elbow Drop from the top rope. Wow, Spivey's really bringing it tonight. Neckbreaker by Spivey for two. Piledriver by Spivey, and Luger kicks out again. Luger gets a few punches, but Spivey counters with a Belly-to-Belly Suplex. Chinlock by Spivey.
Luger fights his way out and charges, but gets hit with a Japanese Armdrag by Spivey. Spivey charges Luger and gets dumped on the top rope. Luger goes to the second rope and hits a Flying Clothesline. Powerslam by Luger. Spivey blocks a Sunset Flip and they double a double KO spot. Luger goes up top and gets slammed, but Luger rolls through into a pin for the victory at 12:52.
Result: Lex Luger by pinfall
Analysis: ***3/4. Really good match. It might be irritating for moves like the Tombstone and DDT to not get the win, but it still makes for an entertaining match. Spivey threw everything he had at Luger, but it just wasn't enough. Both guys come out of that one looking good.
Post-match Luger is presented with a new U.S. Title belt by Nikita Koloff, a former U.S. Champion. Nikita compliments Luger on his victory, but then turns on him and blasts him with the belt. Koloff says he wants to be a world champion, and he's going to beat Luger in order to do it. Good angle there.
WCW Tag Team Championship: Doom (c) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds
Diamond Dallas Page accompanies the Freebirds. I doubt anyone thought he was a future WCW Champion at this point. DDP gets on the mic before the match and introduces Oliver Humperdink as "Big Daddy Dink." So the Freebirds are stacked up with two managers plus girls accompanying them. As with any Freebirds match, there's lots of stalling to start. Hayes blocks a Simmons charge with a jab and Bulldog. Simmons gets back with a Powerslam, then he catches Garvin coming off the top rope with a Powerslam. Garvin tags in and demands Reed get in the ring with him. Garvin quickly gets leveled with a Clothesline. Hayes tags in and gets Press Slammed, though he tagged Garvin first. Garvin gets hit with a Backbreaker. Reed gets a Double Arm Suplex. Simmons tags in and he and Reed hit a double back elbow. Basically no offense so far for the Freebirds. Reed tags in, telegraphs a Backdrop, and gets hit with a DDT. Reed manages to tag in Simmons, and he hits a Spinebuster and a Powerslam. Humperdink gets up on the apron to distract the referee. Simmons holds Garvin, and Reed loads up his fist with a foreign object. Garvin ducks and Reed hits Simmons! Hayes rolls Garvin on top of Simmons for the pin at 6:56.
Result: Fabulous Freebirds by pinfall (New WCW Tag Team Champions)
Analysis: *3/4. Decent power moves from Doom, but not much else.
After the match Reed beats down Simmons with the brass knuckles as Teddy Long eggs him on. And that would be the end of Doom.
WarGames Match: The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Barry Windham, and Sid Vicious) and Larry Zbyszko vs. Sting, Brian Pillman, and the Steiner Brothers
Zbyszko is a replacement for Arn Anderson, who was unable to compete due to an injury. Barry Windham starts for the Horsemen, Brian Pillman for the faces. Pillman has a kayfabe injured shoulder due to an attack from the Horsemen the night before this. His shoulder is heavily taped. Pillman hits a Dropkick while grabbing the top of the cage and follows it with a Headscissor. Pillman gets a Missile Dropkick off the second rope. Pillman misses a Body Press but hits a low blow. He runs Windham into the cage. He runs him into the cage another ten times and then grates his face. Pillman's not messing around tonight. Windham blades. Pillman is just wasting Windham here. He goes up top and hits a Flying Clothesline. Pillman throws Windham into the other ring and then sends him into the cage. Pillman is tiny, but his intensity is so impressive that it doesn't seem out of place that he beats down Windham like this. Windham gets Backdropped out of a Piledriver as the first five minute period comes to a close.
Naturally, the heels win the coin toss. Flair is the second man in. Flair and Pillman trade chops until Windham jumps him from behind. They slam his bad shoulder into the ring post and then run him shoulder-first into the cage. Flair and Windham work on Pillman's shoulder. Sting enters the match. He takes out both Flair and Windham. All four guys trade the advantage over the course of two minutes. Zbyszko enters the match. I'll refer to him as "Larry" for simplicity. Sting dives from one ring to the other and knocks Larry down with a Flying Shoulderblock. Meanwhile, Pillman has Windham in the Figure Four. Flair stomps Pillman's shoulder to break the hold.
Rick Steiner enters the match. He takes out Flair and Windham with Steinerlines. He follows that with a Belly-to-Belly Suplex on Flair. He puts Flair into the cage and Flair blades. Sid enters the match, the final member of the heel team. Sid holds Rick and Flair kicks him in the groin. Sid and Sting pair off with Sid getting the advantage. Meanwhile, Flair is still getting destroyed by Rick Steiner. Scott Steiner enters, and the match beyond begins. Now the match can be won by submission. Scott comes in hot. He Clotheslines Flair and Windham, then hits Larry with a Tiger Bomb. He drops Sid with a Steinerline from the second rope. Meanwhile, Sting hits Flair with a Stinger Splash and applies the Scorpion Deathlock. Larry breaks it up. Sid rips the tape off Pillman's shoulder and chokes him. All four babyfaces end up applying Figure Fours to the heels: Sting on Flair, Scott on Zbyszko, Rick on Windham, and Pillman on Sid. The faces all break their holds at the same time.
Sting Military Presses Flair into the cage roof. The match starts breaking down as everyone seems exhausted. Flair and Pillman exchange stiff chops. Scott hits a sloppy DDT on Windham. Everyone but Sid and Pillman clear out of one ring, leaving those two alone. You've probably seen the clip of what happens next: Sid goes for a Powerbomb on Pillman, but can't get him all the way up because the cage roof is too low. Rather than do the sensible thing and put him down and try it again from a different angle, Sid drops Pillman right on his head. Pillman appears to have been genuinely knocked silly by that. Sid doesn't know what to do, so he picks Pillman back up and Powerbombs him again. The second one is executed much better. At this point El Gigante emerges from the locker room, rips open the cage, and surrenders on behalf of the face team. Not sure what was actually supposed to happen there, but Pillman definitely appeared to be legitimately knocked out.
Result: Four Horsemen by surrender
Analysis: ****3/4. Awesome match. Classic Wargames action. The ending was legitimately terrifying, but that just adds to the spectacle and brutality of the match. How big of an idiot is Sid for Powerbombing Pillman a second time after almost killing him with the first one? A pretty big idiot. The fact that he was able to deadlift a knocked out Pillman was very impressive.
Nothing really happens after the match, as everyone just kinds of mills around the rings. Probably confused about what happened and concerned about Pillman.
Overall: Pretty good show. The main event was a classic, Luger and Spivey was really good, and there were some other decent matches on the undercard. The company was in something of a holding pattern at this point as they continued to run with what had worked in the past: Four Horsemen vs. babyfaces. Unfortunately, that pattern was about to be upset in the near future. But we'll get to that when the time comes...