MoreGames: The Rant Beyond (the previous rant)

(aka The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Shorties: WarGames part II)

WarGames ’91: Ric Flair, Sid Vicious, Barry Windham & Larry Zbyszko v. Brian Pillman, Sting, Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner.

Pillman’s shoulder is all taped up, due (kayfabe-wise) to a Horsemen attack covered in the pre-match video. Pillman starts with Windham and gets a flying clothesline with the good arm, and uses the roof of the cage for leverage as he takes Windham down with a rana. He chops away in the corner, and headfakes Windham into taking a missile dropkick. He misses a splash, however, but comes back with a low blow. All’s fair in love and Wargames. Barry hits the cage and starts the blood flowing early, so Brian gives him some extra treatment on the cage. Jawbreaker and he bites the cut and hammers it in the corner. Hiptoss and he goes ground and pound, and back into the cage goes Windham. Pillman goes up with a flying clothesline and another jawbreaker, and he tosses Windham into the second ring and into the cage again. Windham is just selling like nuts for Pillman here. Spinkick puts Windham down and Pillman goes to work on the leg, but Windham comes back and slugs it out with him. Windham tries a piledriver, but Pillman reverses and comes off the top with another shot. The first period expires and the heels win the coin toss (duh), so Flair is in next.

They exchange chops, which Pillman WINS, but the Horsemen double-team him and send him into the cage shoulder-first. Windham spikes him into the cage and Flair holds the arm while Windham pounds it, and they dump him into the other cage. They work over the shoulder until Sting makes the save. He goes nuts on both of the heels, and gets a double-clothesline that sends the crowd into the atmosphere. Sting pairs off with Flair with a bulldog while Pillman keeps at Windham, but Brian gets crotched and the two-on-one commences on Sting. Pillman comes back to save while Sting no-sells Flair’s chops, but Larry Z is next in. Pillman puts Windham in a figure-four, and Sting dives from one to the other with a clothesline on Zbyszko. Flair & Larry go after Sting, and Flair breaks up Pillman’s figure-four. The Horsemen take over and pound on Sting, but Rick Steiner is in next to save. He clotheslines everyone and pounds Flair in the corner, into a belly-to-belly. Flair meets the cage and starts bleeding. Meanwhile, Pillman pounds Larry in the other ring until getting hung in the Tree of Woe and stomped. Sid Vicious is next in, and he goes right for Pillman’s injured shoulder. He then helps Flair out by holding Rick in place for a low blow, and clotheslines Sting. Pillman keeps pounding Flair into the cage, as does Rick. Poor guy. Larry sends Rick into the cage, but he no-sells it. The heels take over on Pillman & Steiner, but Scott Steiner is the last man in and clotheslines both Flair & Windham. Butterfly bomb on Larry, and he nails Sid with a flying clothesline (blatantly called on camera by Sid and Rick) as Sting puts Flair in the Scorpion deathlock.

Sid works on Pillman’s shoulder, ramming it into the corner and ripping the bandages off it. Pillman fights back, however, and goes low, and soon it’s four figure-fours on the Horsemen as the crowd goes insane. They all escape, but Sting presses Flair into the cage roof in a cool visual stolen from Steve Williams. Pillman chokes out Zbyszko while Sid stomps Rick Steiner and the Horsemen double-team him. The Horsemen go after Pillman, but he keeps fighting Flair with chops. Scott DDTs Windham, but Sid lays him out. And then the spot that makes this a famous match – Sid faceplants Pillman, and then powerbombs him, catching his feet on the roof on the way up and dropping him right on his neck, nearly killing him. Then, he does it AGAIN, legitimately injuring him and drawing El Gigante out for improvised finish whereby he surrenders the match on his behalf to give it to the Horsemen at 22:05. Most assumed Pillman’s career to be over at that point. That obviously was not supposed to be the finish. Typically great and bloody Wargames, although not quite as great as I gave it credit for first time around. Still one of the best WCW matches of the 90s, though. ****1/2

WarGames ’94: Dustin Rhodes, Dusty Rhodes & The Nasty Boys v. Terry Funk, Arn Anderson, Bunkhouse Buck & Col. Robert Parker

Dustin starts with betrayer Arn Anderson and beats on him with his arm cast, then sends him into the cage. Arn backs off and tries to lure Dustin into the cage, but Dustin slugs him down and follows with an atomic drop and a big boot that puts Arn over the top and back into the other ring. Arn gets his head stuck between the rings…again…and Dustin uses him as a jackhammer for a bit, but Arn goes to the eyes. Dustin comes back with a nice diving clothesline over the ropes and puts him down with the Flip Flop and Fly. Lariat and elbowdrop follows and Dustin stomps away on the arm. Arn comes back with a DDT and chokes Dustin out with the wrist tape, and they fight into the second ring, where Dustin reverses an enzuigiri into a half-crab as the coin toss puts Bunkhouse Buck into the match.

Dustin eats some cage but miraculously doesn’t bleed, because that wouldn’t be family friendly. So remember, it’s OK to show graphic violence between angry white men, as long as there’s no CONSEQUENCES for their actions. Buck and Arn put Dustin into a double crab, but Jerry Sags in next in for the faces and he makes the save. The heels eat cage and Sags piledrives Buck, then Dustin gets a sleeper on Arn. Funk is in next for the heels, and he’s so desperate for a weapon he just takes his own boot off and uses that. And it works quite well, thank you. Sadly, he goes up and gets crotched, and Sags piledrives him on the crack between the rings…and Funk falls into it. Now that’s a Funk spot. Knobbs is in for the next save, ramming everyone into the cage and dropping the leg on Arn before gaining custody of Funk’s boot. The faces make use of the boot and Dustin holds off both Funk & Buck at the same time, and that leaves Parker to go in. He waits for someone to jump Dustin and then heads in to join into the attack. And now belts get found and Dustin just whips the shit out of everything, and Daddy joins in to complete the WarGames portion. The Nasties double-team Parker as Meng goes nuts outside, and Dusty uses the shitty figure-four and elbows from the Nasty Boys to finish Parker at 19:11. I actually kind of like the story told there, with the chickenshit Parker avoiding getting involved until the end and then getting his ass kicked. Much better than the disappointing 93 version. **** Lack of blood kept it from truly epic territory, though.

WarGames 96: Sting, Lex Luger, Ric Flair & Arn Anderson v. Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash & The Mysterious Fourth Man

Arn starts with Hall and slugs away in the corner, then goes for the leg, but Hall comes back with the corner clothesline and smashes his head into the cage a few times to get his point across. Arn fires back with knees and goes for the leg again, but Hall escapes to the other ring. For some reason Nick Patrick is inside the ring here, a fact that the announcers pick up on pretty quickly as well. Hall pounds away, but walks into the spinebuster, and Arn goes to a half-crab until Kevin Nash saves for the nWo. Doing the Royal Rumble mystery entrance thing for the WarGames is a nice format change that works well with this feud. So, um, Outsiders v. AA is not a particularly fair fight, let’s say. More specifically, they beat the hell out of him and Luger comes in early to save, ramming both Outsiders into the cage and using the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH to great advantage. However, the Outsiders whip them into the cage, and now Hulk Hogan is out…and immediately gets jumped by Team WCW to a huge pop. Hall and Nash go after Luger, however, and Hogan isolates Arn and drops elbows on him. Hall gets some REALLY nice-looking punches on Luger in the corner and the WCW guys are in trouble, but here’s Flair to save. He stops to dance and invites the nWo over to his ring, so Hogan accepts. Flair procures a set of brass knuckles and knocks him out, then hits Hall in the bar-nuts and Luger follows with a million atomic drops on Hall as well. Ha! Flair puts Hogan in the figure-four and “Sting” joins the match, apparently having joined the nWo and changed his name to Jeff Farmer. The crowd is immediately hip to the room and doesn’t buy the “turn”, but the announcers don’t even bring up the possibility that it’s not him. The actual Sting is the last guy in for WCW and he cleans house alone, but the other WCW guys don’t trust him and won’t help. So Sting tells them to stick it and walks out on them, kicking off the biggest and most successful storyline WCW ever ran. This leaves it open season for the nWo, and the fake Scorpion Deathlock finishes Luger at 18:14. That was a pretty shocking ending at the time, in the days before the crowd-killing heel finish became the rule in WCW. I really liked the sense of tension that the match had back in the anarchic, Wild West period for the New World Order angle, before it became the Wild Wild West with Vince Russo riding a giant spider. Technically speaking, as with most WarGames matches from the early 90s on, the lack of blood and true violence undercuts the point of the match, so we fall somewhere in the middle here. ***1/4

WarGames ’98: DDP, Ultimate Warrior & Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Lex Luger, Sting & Kevin Nash v. Hulk Hogan, Stevie Ray & Bret Hart

This one pretty much stretches the concept of WarGames as thin as you can go, since we’re down to teams of three and it’s a one-on-one format with a pin deciding things at any point. So it’s more of a Royal Rumble now. Bret starts with DDP and gets suplexed for two and I stop and nearly choke at Bobby Heenan declaring a match with Stevie Ray in it as “The nine best wrestlers in the world”. Bret works him over and goes for the legs, but Page takes him down with an armbar and gets two. He works Bret with knees in the corner, but Bret gets a legsweep for two. Bret with a small package for two. Next in is Stevie Ray, representing nWo Guys Who Were Left After The Wolfpac Picked Everyone Good. Stevie and Bret double-team Page with nothing special, but Sting The Red Lobster is next into the match and stomps Stevie down. He hits hits cross-ring dive and splashes Ray into the cage a couple of times, and Roddy Piper is the next guy in. He randomly goes after guys because they’re on the other “team” but also hits his own “partner,” DDP, “because it’s every man for himself” according to the announcers. Writing copy for the WCW announcers and having it make sense should be part of the SATs or something, just to see if it can be done by the brightest minds of America. Lex Luger is the next guy in and we get some more random punching and standing around as the announcers are trying to find some kind of story or psychology to cling to here and just can’t find ANYTHING to make sense of. It’s just turned into a battle royale, essentially. Big Kev is out to wake up the crowd and he goes after Piper, but then Hogan just decides to come out regardless of time left as this loses all semblance of reality and Hulk hits everyone with the dreaded slap jack. Tenay declares that it’s all beginning to make sense. Of COURSE it is. So now we get a couple of minutes of Hogan posing as he has everyone beat single-handedly, but the ring fills up with smoke and the “Warrior” appears, smelling like Curt Hennig’s shit, only to disappear in another puff of smoke so that the real one can run down and go after Hulk. Luckily for Hulk, Ed Leslie is there to get him away from the ring (and probably supply the white powder that had everyone seeing clouds), so Warrior smashes out of the cage with only the power of DESTRUCITY, and the will to rip off the paying customer, to support him, and both he and Hulk fight back to the dressing room and leave DDP to pin Stevie Ray and win the title shot at 19:18 in the biggest piece of fucking crap WarGames I had ever seen up until that point. Yeah, this one has a funny story about a bucket of shit attached to it, but it also had Magic Smoke and the SLAP JACK OF DEATH and DDP winning a major PPV main event without a trace of irony, so I’d say the negatives outweigh the one positive by about three negative stars in this case. -***

WarGames 2000: Sting, Booker T, Goldberg & Kronik v. Kevin Nash, Jeff Jarrett, Scott Steiner & Vince Russo.

This is LOOOOONG past the point where I was paying any serious attention to WCW on a weekly basis, kind of like TNA right now, so I have no clue what the backstory was supposed to be here or why they’re in the cage from the movie with WCW World Champion David Arquette. This is for the WCW World title, apparently. One ring, three cages, in one of those twists on the genre that no one asked for, like endless US remakes of low budget Asian horror movies. Sting starts with Jarrett and gets the Stinger splash, but Scott Steiner is next in and he teams up with Jarrett to batter Sting with a ladder before he can climb up and fulfill whatever needlessly complicated stipulations that Russo has attached to a match that didn’t need any. Kronik, apparently acting as a single unit, are next in while Steiner climbs up to the second level and finds some bolt cutters while Tony explains the predictably labyrinthine rules (LITERALLY this time — you have to navigate a damn maze to win) as though it was the simplest thing in the world to go up three cages, grab a belt, then climb back down through them and out the door to win. Kronik double-teams Steiner and Vince Russo is next in, and he brings the Harris brothers with him, because fuck it at this point, that’s why. And suddenly a hardcore match breaks out in the second cage while Sting puts Russo into the deathlock. How this helps him win the match, I do not know. Next out, the guy who actually has the belt at this point, Kevin Nash, and he chokeslams Sting and wants to do it to Russo as well, but gets talked out of it. And now the Harrises and Kronik have just abandoned all pretext of competing in the match and left the cage, and Booker T is next out with an axe kick for Jarrett and Steiner. Russo takes one as well, but that allows Nash to lay Booker out with a big boot. Last guy out is Goldberg and he hits everyone , but gets laid out with a baseball bat, by Russo. “Not even Goldberg can stand up to that!” Tony declares, as though cowardly heel Russo and his whiffle bat were a deadly weapon. Everyone arbitrarily moves to the second cage, because it’s time to, and poor Goldberg gets handcuffed to the ropes while Nash just stands by the door to prevent anyone from getting out with the title. It’s true, the man is a genius on many levels here. Booker is the guy who actually gets to climb up and get the title, but now it has to come back down, which is just so needless complicated for a company that marketed to southern hick mouth-breathers and NASCAR fans. Sorry, no offense to southern hick mouth-breathers there. All the remaining faces gets handcuffed to the second cage and Russo ends up with the belt, but now Ernest Miller runs into the match and tries to steal the belt for no adequately explored reason. Luckily for all of our sanity, Goldberg snaps his handcuffs and prevents THAT abomination, seemingly leaving Goldberg to walk out the door and win, but Terry Gord…or, no, Bret Hart, rams the door into his head, despite being retired. But then, Russo swerves us all, because Kevin Nash is really with him and walks out to retain or regain or win or lose or whatever the fuck happened at 18:27, but the match is OVER. Yeah! Was anyone SERIOUSLY watching this show in 2000 and enjoying it? Honestly? -** This made the main event of Uncensored 96 look reasoned and well thought out at times. Yeah, I WENT THERE.

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