WCW PPV Flashbacks: WrestleWar 1992: War Games - May 17, 1992

WrestleWar 1992: War Games
May 17, 1992
Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum
Jacksonville, Florida

Welcome to the 1992 edition of WrestleWar! We last left off with Sting winning his second WCW Championship by defeating Lex Luger. With Luger gone, it was only logical that Sting continue his feud with the Dangerous Alliance. To that end, the main event of this show is a classic WarGames match between "Sting's Squadron" and the Dangerous Alliance. Joining Sting on his team will be Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Nikita Koloff. The Dangerous Alliance consists of Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, Steve Austin, and Bobby Eaton. That should be a good one.

Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura are our hosts tonight.

WCW United States Tag Team Championship: Terry Taylor and Greg Valentine (c) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds

These belts had really fallen in prestige after the tag team mass exodus of the last few years. This would be the last time they were defended on pay-per-view before being deactivated. Valentine had a short run in WCW here, only about six months. This is debut of the Freebird's new entrance theme, "I'm a Freebird, What's Your Excuse?" Not as good as "Badstreet, USA" in my opinion. The Birds spend the early part of the match working the arm of both Taylor and Valentine. They also do a decent amount of cheating, despite being faces. Taylor fights out of an Armbar and throws Hayes onto the ramp. He tries a Piledriver but ends up getting Backdropped back into the ring. Garvin gets thrown to the floor and Valentine beats on him. Heat segment on Garvin ensues. Eventually, Garvin fights out of a Chinlock and they do a Double KO.

That leads to a hot tag to Hayes, who comes in and cleans house. Hayes goes for the DDT on Valentine, but Taylor breaks it up. Valentine tries a Splash, but Hayes gets his knees up. Taylor tags in and hits a Gutwrench Powerbomb for a two count. Nice looking move there. Valentine tags in and does some leg work. He goes for the Figure Four, but Garvin breaks it up. Hayes manages to hit a big left hand on Taylor and tag in Garvin. Garvin cleans house and hits the DDT on Taylor for the pin at 16:01.

Result: Freebirds by pinfall (New WCW United States Tag Team Champions)

Analysis: **3/4. A formulaic tag match, but an especially hot and well-executed one at that.

Johnny B. Badd vs. Tracy Smothers

Badd has now turned face. He controls the early portion of the match with takedowns. He does some arm work. Smothers blocks a corner charge and hits a Dropkick to take over. Smothers follows that with some generic heel tactics (back rake, grinding face into the ropes). Smothers goes to the top rope and hits a Diving Elbow. Smothers goes up top again and hits a Body Press. Badd rolls through into a cradle for a two count. Smothers applies a Chinlock. Badd fights his way out and connects with a high knee. Badd hits a Powerslam. He goes to the top and connects with a Sunset Flip for two. Badd hits a left-handed knockout punch for the pin at 7:03.

Result: Johnny B. Badd by pinfall

Analysis: *1/2. Standard match. Not a ton of heat or action.

Missy Hyatt interviews the Freebirds

Scotty Flamingo vs. Marcus Bagwell

Scotty Flamingo is a very young, very clean looking Raven. These guys are both in the Light Heavyweight division. Give it a few years and that would definitely not be the case. They exchange face slaps until Flamingo tackles Bagwell and pummels him. Bagwell hits a Belly to Back Suplex. Bagwell counters a Flamingo Suplex attempt with a Vertical Suplex of his own. Flamingo throws Bagwell to the floor. Back in the ring, Flamingo hits a sloppy Back Suplex. Flamingo goes to the second rope and hits a fist drop. Long series of Chinlocks by Flamingo follows. Flamingo hits a Crossbody and they both go over the top. Back in the ring, Bagwell hits a Hip Toss and a Clothesline. Bagwell goes to the second rope and connects with a Double Ax Handle. Bagwell hits a Fisherman Suplex, but Flamingo grabs the rope. Flamingo reverses a Bagwell cradle into a pinning combination of his own and grabs the tights for the win at 7:11.

Result: Scotty Flamingo by pinfall

Analysis: *1/2. Basic match. Both guys were pretty green and stuck to the basics.

Ron Simmons and Junkyard Dog vs. Cactus Jack and Mr. Hughes

Cactus jumps JYD during his entrance. They brawl down on the floor and Cactus drops the signature Cactus Jack Elbow Drop from the ramp to the floor. After officials carry JYD to the back Simmons hits the ring and Clotheslines both Cactus and Hughes. Cactus stays on the floor and it's apparently going to be Simmons vs. Hughes one-on-one. Simmons hits Hughes with a Hip Toss and he stalls down on the floor. Hughes hits some punches and clubs. That goes on for several minutes. Simmons breaks up the heat segment with a Sunset Flip, but then Hughes goes back to work. Simmons gets a Hip Toss. More clubs from Hughes. Hughes misses a straddle and gets Clotheslined. Simmons hits the Spinebuster for the pin at 5:27.

Result: Ron Simmons by pinfall

Analysis: 1/2*. Pretty dull. Just lots of Mr. Hughes' boring offense.

The Super Invader vs. Todd Champion

Super Invader is Ray Fernandez, best known as Hercules from the WWF. Harley Race needed someone new to manage after Luger left, so they stuck him with Invader. Invader pounds on Champion to start. Invader utilizes various martial arts strikes. He hits a few slams. No offense from Champion so far. Chinlock from Invader. Invader hits a Body Slam and comes off the top rope, but Champion gets his foot up. Champion gets dropped on the top rope, then Powerbombed at pinned at 5:26.

Result: Super Invader by pinfall

Analysis: 1/4*. Long squash. The quarter star is for Invader's Powerbomb.

Big Josh vs. Richard Morton

Josh overpowers Morton to start. Morton gets a cheap shot and a knee lift. Josh keeps pounding on Morton. Morton gets an Inverted Atomic Drop. Morton working a heat segment seems very strange. It turns out he's not very good at it. Josh manages a Scoop Slam. Morton continues to work on Josh's arm. Josh hits a Belly to Belly Suplex. Double Underhook Suplex by Josh. Morton comes off the second rope, but Josh catches him with an Inverted Atomic Drop. Josh hits a running Butt Splash and gets the pin at 7:33.

Result: Big Josh by pinfall

Analysis: 1/2*. Boring. Morton makes a terrible heel.

WCW Light Heavyweight Championship: Brian Pillman (c) vs. The Z Man

These guys are former tag partners. Both are babyfaces, but Zenk seems to be jealous of Pillman's singles career success. Ventura keeps asking Ross who will resort to cheating first. They exchange fast-paced offense to start. Pillman gets Zenk on the mat and works on his arm. They're doing a good job of playing up how well they know each other: simultaneous Dropkicks, stereo Arm Drags, lots of counters. Zenk works on Pillman's arm.

Pillman gets a nice Head Scissor Takeover and goes to work on Zenk's arm. Zenk gets a series of two counts from pinning combinations, then Pillman smacks him across the face. Pillman works a Toe Hold. Pillman misses a Senton Splash, which re-aggravates a back injury. Zenk goes to work on the back with a Vertical Suplex. He puts his knees into Pillman's back. Zenk gets a Backbreaker and tries a Vader Bomb, but Pillman gets his knees up. Pillman goes after Zenk's leg with another Toe Hold. Very clear story developing here. Half Crab from Pillman. Zenk gets the ropes, then misses a knee into the corner. Pillman applies the Figure Four! He and Zenk slap each other while the hold is on. Zenk manages to turn the hold over, reversing the pressure. Pillman gets the ropes.

Zenk should have the advantage now, as Pillman has both a bad back and a bad knee. Pillman tries a Body Press but get Powerslammed. Pillman gets a Crucifix for a near fall. Ventura begs for someone to cheat. Pillman gets Zenk on the top rope, but Zenk counters the Superplex and throws Pillman off. Cross Body from the top rope by Zenk gets a two count. They both try simultaneous leap frogs and knock heads. Zenk takes over with a Back Drop. Pillman tries to send Zenk to the ropes, but Zenk's knee gives out. Pillman instead goes to the top rope, but it turns out Zenk was playing possum and he hits a big kick while Pillman is on the way down. Zenk goes to the top and tries a Missile Dropkick, but Pillman dodges and then rolls Zenk up with a Jackknife Cover for the pin at 15:27.

Result: Brian Pillman by pinfall

Analysis: ****. Great work. Good combination of fast-paced offense, psychology, mat work, and storytelling. Ventura and Ross did a good job teasing a heel turn by one of them, though it didn't happen.

The Steiner Brothers vs. Tatsumi Fujinami and Takayuki Iizuka

The Steiners are WCW Tag Team Champions, but their titles aren't on the line here. Instead, it's for a shot at the IWGP Tag Team Titles. Scott and Fujinami start off. Ventura makes some comments about Japanese automakers displacing American autoworkers. Nice foreshadow of his future political career there. Scott manages a pair of takedowns early. Scott botches a Fallaway Slam... but then Iizuka gets in the ring and he hits him with a Standing Moonsault Slam. That needs to be seen to be believed. He decks Fujinami with a Steinerline. Iizuka tags in. He gets a Spear into the corner and slams Scott. Second rope Elbow Drop, followed by a Somersault Plancha from the top! Iizuka locks in a Boston Crab. He follows that with a Jackknife Cover. Scott answers with his signature Double Underhook Powerbomb. He then puts Iizuka on his shoulder like he's going for the Dominator, but instead tags Rick, who drops an Elbow from the top rope! Wow, never seen that before.

Fujinami tags in and gets hit with a brutal German Suplex by Rick. Landed right on his shoulders as he turned over. Scott tags in and locks on a Single Crab. Fujinami makes it to the ropes. Rick tags in. Fujinami gets him up in the Electric Chair and Iizuka comes from the top rope with a Body Press. Nice variation of the Doomsday Device there. Except then it turns out Rick caught him and it ends up being a slam. Holy crap. Fujinami tags in and works on Rick's legs. Iizuka tags in and continues the leg work. Rick powers out and tags in Scott. Scott whips Iizuka to the ropes and hits a Tilt-a-Whirl Slam. He follows that with a big Belly to Belly Suplex. Rick tags in and wrenches Iizuka's leg. Scott tags in and goes with a Pump Handle Slam. Scott gets a very cool pinning combination, but Iizuka manages to tag out. Fujinami gets Scott from behind, then nails Rick to trigger a pier six brawl. The referee clears the ring and Fujinami locks in an Abdominal Stretch. Scott gets out and Rick tags in. Fujinami drives Rick into the corner and tags Iizuka. Rick hits a Belly to Belly Suplex. He tags in Scott.

Fujinami tags in. Scott manages to hit a Double Japanese Arm Drag on both men and then Rick comes off the top rope with a Double Flying Clothesline. Scott goes for a Superplex on Iizuka but gets thrown off the top. German Suplex by Iizuka. He tags in Fujinami. Spike Piledriver on Scott! Missile Dropkick by Iizuka. Fujinami applies a Dragon Sleeper, a move he invented. Scott gets the ropes. They do a Double KO and both make tags. Belly to Belly Suplex by Rick, but the count is broken up by Fujinami. Rick hits Iizuka with a Super Belly to Belly Suplex that shakes the ring! That's enough for the pin at 20:01.

Result: Steiner Brothers by pinfall

Analysis: ****. Wow. Awesome tag match. Physical and intense. Those guys just pounded on each other. All kinds of slams and stiff shots throughout the match. I love that they kept trading the advantage instead of doing a typical formula.

WarGames: The Dangerous Alliance (Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, Steve Austin, and Bobby Eaton) vs. Sting's Squadron (Sting, Barry Windham, Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes, and Nikita Koloff)

Oh boy. I've heard awesome things about this match. We'll see if it lives up to those expectations. I'm not going to go over the rules of the match again. Google it if you don't know how it works. Paul E. Dangerously and Madusa accompany the Dangerous Alliance. Austin and Windham kick things off for their respective teams. Windham had recently defeated Austin to win the Television Title. Windham tries a Pildriver but gets Backdropped. Windham puts Austin into the cage and then DDTs him. Austin Clotheslines Windham from one ring into the other. Austin tries to do a swinging kick while holding the top of the cage, but ends up getting slammed. Windham puts Austin into the cage and grinds his face. Austin is busted open. That didn't take long. The ring announcer announces one minute left in the first period. Windham drags Austin to the camera, tells him to "smile for momma" and bites his forehead. Wow. The Alliance win the coin toss and Rick Rude enters the match. He catches Windham from behind and pounds on him. The intensity and physicality of this match is as impressive as any I've seen before. Austin hits Windham with a Clothesline from the second rope. Austin and Rude put Windham into the cage. Rude applies a Chinlock as Steamboat enters the match.

Steamboat goes into a frenzy and hits DDTs on Austin and Rude. Steamboat hits a Hurricanrana on Rude and pummels him. Arn Anderson is the next man in. He DDTs Windham. He hits Steamboat with a HUGE Spinebuster. Anderson and Rude lock a Double Boston Crab on Steamboat. Windham breaks it up but ends up getting worked on by Rude and Anderson. Rude Piledrives Steamboat. JR: "This looks like a car wreck on the interstate." He's right about that. Dustin Rhodes enters the match. He lights up Austin and Anderson. Meanwhile, Steamboat has the Boston Crab on Rude in the other ring. Rhodes gets Austin with an Electric Chair Drop. Windham traps Anderson's head between the two rings. Never seen that before. Steamboat now has Rude in a Figure Four. Everybody is working here, even when the camera isn't on them. Larry Zbyszko is the next entrant. Rhodes meets him at the door and beats him down. Madusa climbs up onto the roof of the cage and drops Dangerously's cellphone into the ring. Anderson nails all of the faces with it. Meanwhile, Sting climbs to the top of the cage and sends Madusa scurrying back to the floor.

Heels firmly in control now. Sting enters the match. He explodes with offense on the entire heel team. He Military Presses Rude into the roof, then Backdrops Austin into the cage wall. Sting grinds Anderson's face into the cage. It's just a mess in there, bodies are flying everywhere. Eaton enters the match. That's the entire Dangerous Alliance. There is blood everywhere. Eaton picks over the exhausted face team. Zbyszko and Rude loosen one of the turnbuckles. Koloff enters the match and the Match Beyond begins.

Nikita puts Anderson into the cage and the sound reverberates through the arena. Sting and Nikita level Anderson and Austin with Clotheslines. Crowd is going absolutely wild now. Rude is still working on the turnbuckle. Sting has Anderson in the Scorpion Deathlock, but Eaton breaks it up. The turnbuckle has now been removed completely from the post. Windham gets Zbyzszko in the Figure Four. Rude breaks it up. Austin gets his face slammed into the turnbuckle by Nikita and blood flies everywhere. Dustin misses a top rope Elbow Drop. Zbyzsko gets the steal hook from the turnbuckle and prepares to use it on Sting. Eaton holds Sting in place. Zbyzsko swings, but Sting ducks and he hits Eaton in the shoulder. Sting locks Eaton in an Armbar on his injured arm and he gives up at 23:27.

Result: Sting's Squadron by submission

Analysis: *****. Amazing match. Just absolute pure brutality. Everyone worked with tremendous intensity. It felt like a riot going on in the ring. There was blood, submissions, stiff work. The crowd was hot, there was a great storyline, and all ten of those guys went after it. It seemed like you were constantly catching something interesting going on in the background of the shot, whereas these matches usually feature two guys working at a time and everyone else stalling. That's probably the greatest WarGames match ever and one of the best wrestling matches I've ever seen. If you've never seen this, you should absolutely look it up.

Dangerously berates Zbyzsko for screwing up. They tease that Larry's about to get beat-up, but nothing comes of it.

Overall: Great show. There's a lot of useless filler on the undercard, but the last three matches were all excellent. As I've said before, a show really rises and falls with its main event, and in this case the main event is absolutely amazing. The Steiners tag match and Pillman/Zenk were also excellent. Nothing else is all that notable, although the Freebirds match was fun. The bad stuff was kept short so that most of the show was taken up by great matches. I highly recommend this show to anyone out there who likes wrestling. That's back-to-back excellent shows for WCW, a nice recovery from their post-Flair funk in 1991. Things are going to keep rolling at Beach Blast next month, as Sting battles Cactus Jack and Ricky Steamboat collides with Rick Rude in a 30 minute Iron Man Match for the United States Championship. Stick around, things are heating up down south.

Grade: A