The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Wargames: Part One

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for War Games!

Well you knew I’d be all over this. The theme this is month is something or other to do with hardcore, but who gives a shit because the upshot is that they’re showing ALL of the Wargames matches from 87-2000 during this month. Hells yeah.  First up:  87, 89, 92, 93 and 95. 

Wargames ’87: Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, The Road Warriors & Paul Ellering v. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger & War Machine (Ray Traylor)

I never actually reviewed this one in the Bash 87 rant, so here we go. Dusty starts with AA and slugs him down before adding the Flip Flop and Fly, then sends him into the cage. Dusty beats him down and goes for the shitty figure-four, but Arn slugs his way up until Dusty hits him in the nuts. We get some cheese grater action into the cage and Dusty elbows him down again and suplexes him into the figure-four. And with the 5:00 period running out, the coin toss reveals that…the heels have won it! And so begins the great tradition. Bubba Machine enters for the heels and goes after Dusty, joining Arn for some double-teaming, and soon Dusty is bleeding like himself. They go after the leg and Big Boss Machine splashes the knee as Dusty just bleeds like crazy. He fights back, however, and Hawk makes the save and dropkicks War Machine. Powerslam for Arn and a regular slam for Machine, but he won’t go down, so Hawk adds a clothesline from the middle rope. Neckbreaker for Arn and Dusty drops elbows on everything he can reach with minimum effort. And with two minutes gone, that means it’s time for Ric Flair, but he quickly gets clotheslined by Hawk. However, where there’s Dusty Rhodes, there’s Ric Flair to beat on him, so he goes after Big Dusty and drops a knee on him. Hawk and War Machine continue their no-selling contest, meanwhile, until Nikita Koloff heads in to even it up. And he immediately walks into a piledriver from Arn, but promptly no-sells it. The resulting Sickle on Arn and the sell job is just awesome. He’s all over Flair and the champ eats a Sickle as well, and a trip to the cage draws blood. Koloff pounds on AA in the corner and Flair throws chops at Dusty, but Tully Blanchard enters the match to give the Horsemen the advantage. They go right after Dusty, teaming up on three-on-one while War Machine continues his quest to not sell a single move from anyone. But then Animal comes in for the spot that makes his one an automatic *****, as he holds Tully in a bearhug and then rocks back and forth, ramming Tully’s head into the cage several times in the process. That is BADASS. This is a magnificent car wreck of human wreckage, as Jim Ross might say. Things slow down a bit until Lex Luger enters last for the heels, but quickly gets overpowered by Animal. Another awesome spot as Animal just javelins Tully from one ring to the other and Tully sells it like a human lawn dart. Ellering comes in last to begin the proper match, and he brings a spiked gauntlet with him and jams it into various people’s eyes. And now War Machine finally sells, as The Road Warriors and Dusty take turns teeing off on him with clotheslines, allowing Animal to jam the spikes into his eye until he surrenders at 21:30 to give the faces the win. Still awesome, but Traylor’s constant no-selling was driving me nuts, sorry. ****1/2

Wargames ’89: Steve Williams, Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane & The Road Warriors v. Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, Samu, Fatu & Terry Gordy

This is from the legendary Bash 89 PPV, of course, although this is considered one of the lesser WarGames. We start with Bobby and Jimmy, and they exchange shots before Jimmy puts his head down and takes a neckbreaker. Bobby misses an elbow and Garvin slams him, but Bobby comes back with an atomic drop before walking into a boot in the corner. Bobby is the first one to taste the cold, unforgiving steel of the cage, and Garvin stomps away on him. Bobby comes back with a kick while hanging from the cage, but Garvin levels him with a forearm. He slugs away on the ropes while Michael Hayes puts the badmouth to Bobby from the outside (apparently, he’s SCUM. Good thing he’s not black or who knows what might have made it onto live TV…) until Bobby comes back and puts Garvin into a boston crab. The 5:00 period ends and Terry Gordy is the next heel in, so they do some Freebird beatings. I think, for trivia buffs, that this is the only time that Michael Hayes teamed with both his Freebird partner Terry Gordy as well as his lesser replacement, Jimmy Garvin, in the same match. Dr. Death interrupts the trivia and clotheslines the shit out of everyone, and it’s a Doc v. Gordy slugfest that results in Doc pressing Gordy into the ROOF eight times! Garvin, meanwhile, chokes Eaton down, but Gordy comes back with a corner clothesline on Williams. Poor Bobby just gets worked over by Garvin, and then Samu comes in to make it worse, but Eaton fights back along with Williams. Animal comes in to save and he’s all over the place, hitting a flying shoulderblock from one ring into the other to take down Samu, and the faces actually turn the tide and just clothesline everyone to death, drawing a big reaction. The faces continue their rare dominance until Fatu comes in to give the heels the advantage again. The SST double-team Animal with headbutts in the corner and hit him with a double-clothesline. Gordy chokes Williams down with the Asian spike and Garvin hammers on Eaton in the corner, but Bobby headbutts him away. Stan Lane saves for the faces and rams people into the cage, and Paul Heyman does a little skit with Michael Hayes for the cameraman, as Hayes finally realizes he has to WRESTLE tonight. The MX double-team Garvin, but the Samoans work Animal over until Michael Hayes joins us as the fifth heel. He throws DDTs like they’re going out of style and then stops to strut, which is generally the fatal error made by most heels and comic book villains in general. Things look bleak for the faces as there’s more choking than a year of John Cena main events, but Hawk makes the save and now it’s on. He just goes medieval on Terry Gordy and hits the SST with a double flying clothesline. And now Bobby hits some DDTs as Jim Ross is going crazy trying to work in all his metaphors. God bless him. More greatness as Paul tries to get the phone into the cage, but is foiled by Tommy Young and geometry. Everyone slugs it out and the Road Warriors try the Doomsday Device on Gordy, but Garvin breaks it up with a high knee. Alas, Hawk is so pissed off that he hits him with the clothesline instead, giving us a GREAT 180 sell, followed by a neckbreaker and the best submission finisher EVER, the Hangman’s Noose to finish at 22:20. I really, really enjoyed this one this time around, although the lack of blood and inexperience of the Samoans hurt it a bit. ****1/2

WarGames ’92: Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Nikita Koloff, Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham v. Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko.

I have to change a previous Mailbag answer, because someone once asked what my favorite match ever would be in a world with Flair v. Steamboat. It would in fact be this match. Windham slugs it out with Austin to start and Steve sends him into the cage, but Barry blocks it. Windham with a slam, but he misses an elbow and Austin pounds him with shoulders in the corner. Windham tries a piledriver and Austin reverses out of it, so they fight into the other ring, where Barry hits the DDT. Austin comes back with a running clothesline that puts them both into the first ring, and he goes up with a kick from the roof, but Barry yanks him down onto his face. Barry throws Austin around the ring and into the cage, and here’s the blood, baby. Jesse accuses Steamboat of spitting on the wounded Austin, which is pretty funny. Windham gives us a nice closeup of biting the wound and puts Austin down with a kneelift, and the coin toss goes to the heels. So that brings Rude into the match and he just kills Barry with knees, but Barry fights back. Rude fires away with shoulders in the corner and Barry holds his own, so Austin attacks from behind and adds a flying clothesline to put the Dangerous Alliance back on top. Barry eats cage and the heels beat him down, and Steamboat wants in! Huge fire from the Dragon here, as he DDTs Rude and Austin and goes crazier than you generally see him. He rams Rude into the turnbuckles, but Austin attacks from behind , so Steamboat uses the roof to kick Austin down and then takes Rude down with a rana. AA comes in for the heels and it’s SPINEBUSTERS for everyone. Rude and Arn do a unique double-crab on Steamboat, which would normally be illegal but this is WAR. Everyone slugs it out and Rude piledrives Steamboat and JR is making vehicular metaphors again. Rude and Steamboat clothesline each other and Dustin is in for the faces, throwing elbows and taking names. Atomic drop and lariat for Austin while Steamboat returns the crab on Rude. Austin tries to run up the ropes to escape Dustin, so Rhodes puts him down with an electric chair. Meanwhile, Arn manages to get his head stuck between the rings, so Barry takes advantage of that. Rude and Steamboat continue their private war with a figure-four, and Larry is next in for the heels. Dustin is all over him, but Paul finally figures out how to get that phone into the match: Send Madusa onto the roof and put it through an open joint. So the heels make use of it to take over again, and now Rude goes after Steamboat’s broken nose in a wonderfully brutal bit. Windham goes into the cage and starts bleeding, his tights already stained with Austin’s blood. Hygenic, no, awesome, fuck yeah. Sting comes in next for the faces and cleans house, pressing Rude into the roof and then tossing Arn into the cage. Arn starts bleeding as it’s apparently a matter of pride as to who can do the sickest blade job tonight. The faces work Rude over, but now Eaton is in to fill out the Alliance, and he sends Steamboat into the cage. Larry and Rude undo the top rope in one of the rings while Windham and Arn fight for a figure-four. The heels get the advantage one last time, and Nikita Koloff is the last man in. He and Sting finally set aside their hatred and make up, and celebrate by clotheslining Austin and Anderson and then beat the hell out of them to a huge pop. Rhodes and Windham team up on Larry and Sting gets the Scorpion deathlock on Arn, but Eaton breaks it up. The top rope actually breaks off and Dustin puts Austin into the figure-four, blatantly holding the ropes in a nice touch. He goes up and misses an elbow on Austin, but Eaton accidentally gets hit with the steel hook holding the turnbuckle, and Sting wrenches in an armbar for the surrender at 23:20. Truly one of the greatest matches of all time, as the Dangerous Alliance era nearly revitalized the promotion until it inevitably fell apart because WCW didn’t know what to do with it. *****

WarGames ’93: Sting, Davey Boy Smith, Dustin Rhodes & THE SHOCKMASTER~! v. Harlem Heat, Big Van Vader & Sid Vicious

This of course was the match that gave the world the infamous debut of the Shockmaster at Clash of the Champions. Vader starts with Dustin and they slug it out, with Dustin winning that battle, and he takes his boot off and beats on Vader with that, too. Vader just kills him with a clothesline, however. Dustin and Vader had some crazy weird chemistry together in WCW, but just couldn’t recapture it in the WWF outside of a pretty good match at Royal Rumble 98. Vader fires away in the corner, but Dustin throws forearms to put him down. Vader recovers and hits the pump splash in the corner, then pounds away on the broken ribs of Dustin. Dustin comes back with a DDT and then gives Vader a couple of good whacks with the boot, but Vader beats him down again and goes up. Dustin catches him with a powerslam and Stevie Ray is in for the heels. Vader & Stevie team up and put Dustin down with his own boot, and wouldn’t you know that a Rhodes would be the first one to bleed. Sting comes in to save and the heels double-team him right away, but he fights back and sends Ray into the cage, then hits Vader with the Stinger splash. Sting pounds Vader down in the corner while Dustin bleeds on everyone. Sting sends Vader into the cage a couple of times, and that brings Sid into the match. Sting fights them off for a bit, but gets chokeslammed by Sid and the heels go on him 3-on-1 with Dustin’s boot. They team up and press Sting into the ceiling, which doesn’t really work as a heel spot, and Sid stomps on the bloody Dustin in the corner in fairly unconvincing fashion. Bulldog comes in to save and powerslams Vader, and now Sting & Bulldog return the press slam on Sid. The crowd is pretty dead for this whole thing, which isn’t surprising because it’s all a bunch of weak battle-royale style brawling. Booker T is the last guy in for the heels, and everyone is just kind of standing around and slugging it out. Shockmaster comes in last, managing not to trip at least, and he goes after Vader and throws Booker T around. Bearhug gets the surrender from Booker T at 16:38. A bearhug? Really? Incredibly weak, but this wasn’t even the WORST one they’d do. Think about THAT. **1/2 And after making fun of him for much of the match, Tony and Jesse suddenly have to put Shockmaster over as some unstoppable monster babyface.

WarGames ’95: Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting & Lex Luger v. Kamala, The Zodiac, The Shark & Meng

The Hulkamaniac side is all decked out in camo paint and army uniforms, although I’d say that Hogan’s bright yellow boots would negate any stealth benefits. Sting starts out with Shark (John "Earthquake" Tenta in yet another of his failed gimmicks) and gets thrown around, but comes back with a dive over the ropes into the other ring. Sting slams Shark, but hurts his back, and Shark goes to the bearhug. Or sharkhug, if you will. Sting fights out and Shark tries his own dive, but gets hung up between the ropes in one of the dumber spots I’ve seen in a serious match. Shark poses while straddling the ropes for some reason, and Sting crotches him, then starts kicking at the leg. Sting gets the Scorpion Deathlock and Zodiac (Ed "Brutus Beefcake" Leslie, on only the second stupid gimmick of his WCW run) comes in for the heels and quickly gets beat up. The Dungeon of Doom finally realizes that there’s two of them and starts double-teaming Sting, dropping elbows and ramming Sting into the cage. Randy Savage is the next one in, but Meng hangs onto Sting from outside and allows Zodiac & Shark to double-team Savage. Choking results, but Sting fights back and clothesline Zodiac. Kamala is the next one in for the Dungeon, and we get more choking out of that. Punch punch kick kick punch punch kick kick. Lex Luger comes in to save and gets choked down by Zodiac. Luger and Savage have a scuffle because they don’t trust each other, but now it’s time for Meng to come in and beat on everyone. Kamala is just kind of standing around and watching. More aimless choking and punching from heels until Hulk Hogan finishes up for the faces. And sportsman that he is, he throws powder into everyone’s faces. Sadly, Zodiac tries to collect it up and sell it on the subway. And now the faces all come back, using their babyface choking instead of the heel choking. And Hogan finishes Zodiac with a rear chinlock at 18:59. Now THIS is the worst one they did, which is sad because it’s not a terrible lineup on paper. ** And lucky us, the Hogan win gives us 5:00 of Hogan v. Kevin Sullivan, as Hogan beats on Sullivan and gets the big boot, but Giant heads down and attacks Hogan and gives him the Zeus neck twist to put him down.

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