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PPV WCW

WCW WrestleWar 1992 Review (The Best WarGames Ever?)

May 17, 1992
Live from Jacksonville, FL
Announced attendance: 6.000 (capacity: ca 10.276)
PPV buyrate: 105.000 (-55.000 compared to WrestleWar 1991’s 160.000)

Hello everyone, as usual it’s Tomás here with a review of WCW’s WrestleWar 1992 – featuring a main event packed with some of the biggest storylines in WCW at the time, inside the violent WarGames. Elsewhere on the card, former partners Brian Pillman and Tom Zenk go at it for Brian’s Light Heavyweight Championship. The Steiners look to go through Fujinami & Iizuka on their way to the IWGP Tag Team straps. Also, the herculean debut of the mysterious Super Invader! All that and much more.

Here is the list of champions in WCW going into this PPV:

  • WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Sting [78th day of his reign] – previous champion: Lex Luger
  • WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Rick Rude [180th day of his reign] – previous champion: Sting
  • WCW World Television Champion: Barry Windham [20th day of his reign] – previous champion: Steve Austin
  • WCW Light Heavyweight Champion: Brian Pillman [78th day of his reign] – previous champion: Jushin Thunder Liger
  • WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Steiners (Rick & Scott) [14th day of their reign] – previous champions: Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton
  • WCW United States Tag Team Champions: Greg Valentine & Taylor Made Man [90th day of their reign] – previous champions: Ron Simmons & Big Josh

Enjoy the review!

IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

The hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura

WCW United States Tag Team Championship – Greg Valentine & Taylor Made Man(c) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin)
Wrestle War '92 - Classic Wrestling Review
IMG credit: WWE & classicwrestlingreview.com

This is the first US Tag Title match on PPV in a year. Expect a rough undercard here, as the WarGames is naturally eating up three or four of the top WCW feuds at the moment, all in the same match. Hayes’ usual taunting gets things started for the Birds. The champs collide with each other leading to a Hayes roll-up for two, but Valentine blocks a hiptoss attempt and clotheslines him down. Hayes fights back with a succession of clotheslines for two, and a chopfest follows. Jimmy Garvin comes in to post Valentine, as the Birds then exchange quick tags while starting to go to work on Valentine’s arm. Taylor gets the tag, only to get caught in the Birds’ corner and get the same treatment. Taylor finally escapes that predicament by dumping Hayes to the ramp outside, but then Taylor follows him there and gets backdropped back inside for two. The Birds go back to work on the arm while the fans chant ‘DDT’, and now it’s Garvin being rammed outside. Valentine cheapshots Hayes off the apron to prevent the hot tag and he hits a suplex followed by a missed splash, but the hot tag is prevented once more, now by Taylor. A double KO spot finally allows Hayes to come in off the hot tag, but Taylor saves Valentine from a DDT with a five-arm to Hayes, giving Valentine a two count. Which in the process kicks off a second heat spot in this match, this time on Michael Hayes. In THIS match… A gutwrench sitout powerbomb by Taylor gets two. Valentine’s figure four is broken up by Garvin, setting up another hot tag as now Garvin gets to run wild on the champs. The fans want the DDT again. Me too, so we can finally move on. Valentine trips Garvin from the outside and tries to block the DDT on Taylor, but Hayes comes in to give him a hand as Garvin completes the DDT to get the titles at 16:02(!).

  • Rating: The Freebirds are over and the heels are solid singles wrestlers. But, for the love of god, this DIDN’T need 16 minutes, 2 hot tags and 2 heat spots. While it wasn’t horrible, it was a needlessly long match between a popular team past their heyday and a random duo, with little build over a title that just was not being featured. *3/4
Johnny B. Badd vs. Tracy Smothers
THE AUDIT: WCW WRESTLEWAR 1992 “FEATURING WAR GAMES” | crazymax.org
IMG credit: WWE & crazymax.org

Johnny nearly surprises Tracy early on with a quick roll up off a battle over a wristlock, as Tracy claims the tights were pulled. Tracy pops Johnny with an elbow to the jaw off another exchange of wristlocks, but Badd catches him with an armdrag and Tracy bails. Badd escapes a headlock with an armdrag, right into a crossbody for two, followed by a pair of dropkicks. Johnny slugs away on Tracy in the corner, but a blind charge is missed and Tracy takes him down with a great high kick for two. A nice flying elbow gets two. Tracy goes up once more to hit a high crossbody, but Johnny rolls through and nearly gets it. They exchange some nearfalls back and forth before Tracy works a chinlock, as Jesse wonders what the meaning of the kiss on the back of Johnny’s tights truly is. Badd elbows his way out of the chinlock and follows it up with a high knee as he makes the comeback. Johnny goes up for a flying sunset flip that gets two. Tracy misses another high kick, and the big left punch finishes Tracy at 7:03.

  • Rating: I liked some of the sequences in this one, and most of the stuff looked really good despite this being yet another heatless undercard match. **1/4

Backstage, the new US Tag Champs Fabulous Freebirds bring back Precious and want to add yet another World Tag Title reign and the NWA Tag tournament to their resume soon. If this was 1982, yes please. But in 1992? No, thanks.

Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Scotty Flamingo
IMG credit: WWE & crazymax.org

Speaking of a 10-year difference, I wonder if anyone thought in 1992 this would be a top tier match in WCW by the end of the decade – Raven vs Buff Bagwell. Here in 92, however, it really isn’t that big of a deal. We’re underway with a slapfest that quickly turns into a heated slugfest. Bagwell ultimately gets the better of that, and hits a backdrop suplex for two. Flamingo’s suplex attempt gets blocked and turned into Bagwell’s own suplex for two more. Bagwell rolls him up for two but a follow-up clothesline misses, and turned into a shitty backdrop suplex by Flamingo. That looked really bad. A flying fistdrop by Flamingo gets two, before he applies a chinlock. A criss cross sequence sees both guys tumble to the outside on a Scotty crossbody. Bagwell makes the comeback back inside with a hiptoss followed by a clothesline, and he goes up for a flying double axehandle. He finishes with the Imperfectplex, but Flamingo’s foot is on the ropes at two. Bagwell O’Connor rolls Scotty, who rolls through with a handful of tights to steal it at 7:11.

  • Rating: Not the greatest match here, as the barrage of pointless undercard matches continues. These two would go on to become big stars in the future, but here they were in their 20s and greener than grass (especially Bagwell). But outside of a bad looking spot or two, the match was otherwise alright and far from being terrible. *1/2

We recap Junkyard Dog returning at SuperBrawl, coming out through the crowd to save Ron Simmons from an attack at the hands of Cactus Jack and Abdullah the Butcher.

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

Actually never mind, as Cactus jumps JYD from behind during the entrances and takes him out with a flying elbowdrop on the concrete. I mean, it’s Junkyard Dog in 1992, so those surprised with WCW finding him ‘not fit’ to work, please stand up. Simmons wants to go anyway, which takes us to…

Ron Simmons vs. Mr. Hughes(w/ Cactus Jack)
IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

Somehow Hughes is in this spot, when the feud is between Ron/JYD/Foley/Abdullah. I’m assuming the company didn’t wanna go with Ron vs Cactus since it had already been done at the prior PPV, but then again booking JYD at this stage was asking to be booked into a corner. Ron explodes with a hiptoss to start, but Hughes bails and then takes over. Clothesline and an elbowdrop gets two. Hughes follows up with a kneedrop and then some choking on the ropes. Simmons fights back with a sunset flip for two, but Cactus makes his presence felt with a cheapshot as Hughes takes back control. Not for long, however, as Simmons hiptosses him. He makes the comeback with a clothesline and a backdrop setting up the big spinebuster. Ron goes for the pin but sees Cactus jumping inside the ring and takes a second to wipe him out, before finishing Hughes with a chop block at 5:22.

  • Rating: Confusing circumstances and story aside, this was short and effective. It accomplished what it had to – get Ron Simmons over on his way to becoming the first black World Champion of all time. *3/4
The Super Invader(w/ Harley Race) vs. Todd Champion
IMG credit: WWE & classicwrestlingreview.com

‘The Invader’ is Hercules Hernandez as a martial arts specialist from Thailand. Some puzzles are not meant to be solved. Invader takes it to Todd right from the word go, hitting a clothesline and a legdrop for two. They go to a test of strength but Invader cheapshots him and follows it up with the KARATE CHOP OF DEATH. Invader takes over with a side slam and then a backdrop suplex as he insists on not going for the cover, which is right in sync with the crowd who insist on not giving a shit. Instead Invader goes to a chinlock for about a minute, before dumping him to the outside. End this already. Invader hits a slam back inside and he goes up, only to eat boot on the classic Vertical Leap That Always Misses. Champion manages to fuck up a simple clothesline on his short cannon fodder comeback, before Invader catches him and finishes with the Powerbomb (Straight Outta Bangkok) at 5:26, mercifully.

  • Rating: A dumb idea and a dumb match. Not a good combination. DUD
Richard Morton vs. Big Josh
Wrestle War '92 - Classic Wrestling Review
IMG credit: WWE & classicwrestlingreview.com

This was originally supposed to be Big Josh vs Diamond Studd (Scott Hall), but Hall recently left the promotion for the WWF where he’d debut as Razor Ramon. This is finally the last pointless undercard match before we move on to the three more featured bouts. Josh pounds away to start and does the goofy abdominal stomp spot early on. Josh misses a running elbow in the corner, and Morton fights back with some pounding of his own after ripping Josh’s shirt. Morton slides between Josh’s legs but can’t follow up with an O’Connor roll, but neither can Josh as he misses an elbowdrop. Morton goes for the pin off that and gets two. Morton goes to work on the arm until Josh slams him down, and this time he does hit the elbowdrop for two. However, Morton goes back to the arm to wear him down. Josh again escapes that predicament as he explodes with a belly to belly, and then a butterfly suplex gets two. Morton cuts him off with a cheapshot and he goes up, but lands right on the waiting arms of Big Josh and the assdrop splash pins Morton at 7:33.

  • Rating: Perfectly watchable little match, yet skippable. *1/4

We see a recap of the Pillman/Zenk story. One week after a cheap attack from Scotty Flamingo, during an interview with Jim Ross, Tom Zenk got too excited for a second and claimed Scotty could never beat him for “his title”. This offended Pillman who felt Zenk was looking ahead of him, as things got pretty heated between the former U.S. Tag champs. This is where the show finally picks up!

WCW Light Heavyweight Championship – Flyin’ Brian Pillman(c) vs. ‘Z-Man’ Tom Zenk
IMG credit: WWE

We get a handshake before the bell. They start off with a nice little wrestling sequence that ends with both trying a dropkick at the same time. Brian takes control as he starts throwing vicious kneedrops to Zenk’s arm, before they again collide when they both try simultaneous clotheslines. Pillman with a snapmare takedown into a kneedrop, but it only gets one. A Pillman armdrag gets reversed into one by Zenk, who now goes to work on the arm, but Brian catches him with a flying headscissors and works an armbar. He switches to a headscissors on the mat, but Zenk makes it to the ropes and Brian gives him the clean break. This gives Zenk the opportunity to score a number of quick nearfalls, however, and Brian just CHOPS THE SHIT OUT OF HIS CHEST as a response. Good god. Brian starts twisting the ankle as he goes to work on the leg next. He misses a senton, though, landing right on his back as JR immediately explains Brian has had surgery on his lower back.

Zenk smartly goes to work on it immediately with some knees, and a vertical suplex gets two. He goes up only to miss a flying splash, and Brian goes back where he left off, working a single-leg crab. Zenk reverses it with an enziguiri that gets two, but a blind charge misses as Zenk hits the post legs-first. Brian follows it up with a figure four, which gets reversed back and forth and even results in a slugfest, before they eventually end up on the ropes to cause the break. Brian chops away and goes for Air Pillman, which Zenk turns into a powerslam in mid-air for a great nearfall. Sweet spot there. Pillman gets a crucifix for two. Jesse is desperate to see one of them cheat on commentary! Brian takes Zenk up for a superplex, but Zenk shoves him off and hits a high crossbody for a delayed two. A criss cross sequence sees them both collide again on a crossbody attempt for the double KO spot. Zenk faceplants him for two. The crowd are coming out of their seats for this one by this point. Pillman ducks an elbowdrop and Zenk plays some possum by claiming a leg injury, catching a flying Brian (no pun intended) with a dropkick in mid-air for the pin, with Brian making the ropes at two. Now Zenk goes up for a missile dropkick, but misses and Pillman cradles him for the quick pin to retain at 15:30.

  • Rating: NOW we’re talking! What a fantastic and energetic match this was. Both guys clearly knew each other very well, and they told that story very well throughout the bout, with both wrestlers having an answer and a reversal for almost everything thrown at each other. Best match on the card thus far by a mile. ****
No. 1 Contendership for the IWGP Tag Team Championship – The Steiners (Rick & Scott) vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Takayuki Iizuka
IMG credit: WWE

The Steiners’ newly-won WCW World Tag Team titles are not on the line here. Scott and Fujinami feel each other out to start, until Scott explodes with a shoulderblock and gives both the backflip slam (botched the one to Fujinami). Fujinami eats such a rugged Steinerline from Scott that he immediately tags out. Iizuka gets the better of Scott when he comes in, hitting a flying elbowdrop and going back up again to hit a beautiful somersault senton for two. It looked as if Scott got shot like a cannon, great spot. Iizuka locks him in a Boston crab, but Scott’s too powerful so Iizuka rolls through into a cradle instead, which Scott bridges out of and into his butterfly powerbomb. He brings in Rick for the big elbowdrop off of Scott’s shoulders for two, and Fujinami comes back in to eat a NASTY german suplex. It’s off to Scott to work a single-leg crab, while we learn Iizuka is all busted up on the apron from the giant elbowdrop. The Japanese set up Rick for a Doomsday Device, but Rick actually catches Iizuka with a belly to belly off of Fujinami’s shoulders (DAFUCK!!!!) for a nearfall. Fujinami takes control by grounding Rick and going to work on his legs. Iizuka comes in to do the same, but Rick rolls through into a hammerlock and just whacks him with a knee right to the ribs. Don’t mess with the Steiners.

Scott adds a tilt-a-whirl slam for two. He wrestles him down to the mat with a double chickenwing for two. An explosive suplex sets up the tag to Rick, who punishes the kid some more with submission holds, before Scott comes back in for a pumphandle slam that gets two. Scott tries an abdominal stretch next but Fujinami makes the tag and comes in off the top onto Scott. He provokes Rick with a little cheapshot on the apron, before going to work on Scott with an abdominal stretch. Scott powers his way out of that predicament into a tag to Rick. Iizuka comes in too with a barrage of quick kicks in the corner, until Rick pretty much goes “yeah, not today” and nearly kills him with a DOUBLE LEG TAKEDOWN WITH EXTRA MUSTARD. Belly to belly gets two, with Fujinami breaking up the count. Scott willingly allows the poor guy to tag out, but he comes back in for a double-team and both end up eating a flying Steinerline from Rick instead. Good god! Fujinami illegally suplexes Scott off the top rope, setting up a german from Iizuka for two. I wouldn’t suplex a Steiner… just saying! A double spike piledriver and a missile dropkick from Iizuka set up Fujinami’s sleeper, but Scott escapes the Steiner way (by simply kicking him right in the jaw) and hits a Steinerline for a brief double KO spot. We get tags from both sides and Rick hits a stiff Steinerline with extra mustard on Iizuka for two. Belly to belly follows but Fujinami breaks up the pin, drawing Scott in as well as IT’S BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. Took much longer than I expected! Rick then casually takes Iizuka up to the top rope and belly to belly suplexes him off the top for the win at 18:17.

  • Rating: This was a complete and utter car wreck and it was freaking AWESOME! I feel bad for poor Iizuka who just got stiffed like there was no tomorrow here, but to his credit the tough bastard kept getting up and got all the Steiners had to give. That’s not an easy task! Fujinami played the veteran role really well and wrestled a smart match too. And the Steiners were their usual physical, intense and explosive selves. It all made up for one heck of a brutal hoss fight. ****1/4

While they lower the cage for the main event, here’s a recap of the various stories:

In theory the Dangerous Alliance have the advantage because they’re a unit as opposed to Sting’s group of individuals. Five individuals who all want to be the WCW World Champion, which Sting currently holds. That’s a very valid point, however, on the other hand, the Alliance lost both the World Tag Team Titles (Arn & Eaton to the Steiners) and the TV Title (Austin to Windham) in the past couple of weeks. Heyman was also visually annoyed after Zbyszko lost a 2/3 falls match 2-0 to Nikita, so there’s certainly signs of dissension within the group. Barry Windham suffered a broken hand at the previous year’s Halloween Havoc courtesy of Arn and Zbyszko, so there’s bad blood there too. Ricky Steamboat and Rick Rude are in the midst of an intense personal feud over Rude’s US Title, with Rude breaking Steamboat’s nose shortly before this match. Meanwhile, Nikita Koloff resurfaced in WCW at SuperBrawl as a face, saving Sting from an attack by the Alliance, despite having been in a brutal feud with the Stinger shortly before departing the company the previous year. Can he be trusted!? On top of all that, Sting is coming in with a broken rib suffered at the hands of his number one contender, Big Van Vader. I hope I didn’t miss anything! Oh and Dustin… hmmm well… he’s the son of the booker former partner of Windham and Steamboat, so that justifies his involvement, I guess.

Main Event – WarGames – Sting’s Squadron (Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, Nikita Koloff & Dustin Rhodes) vs. The Dangerous Alliance (Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton & Larry Zbyszko)(w/ Paul E. Dangerously & Madusa)
IMG credit: WWE

Paul E literally brings a giant paper with all the strategy in a great little touch. Steve Austin and Barry Windham begin for their respective sides and slug it out to start. Windham hits a shoulderblock and Austin sends him into the cage, but Windham blocks the impact with his hands. Windham slugs away with the cast, as Jesse questions the veracity of the injury. Windham attempts a piledriver but Austin backdrops him, only to get sent into the other ring. Austin blocks a whip into the cage, much like Windham did earlier, but Barry rakes the eyes and DDTs him. Austin fights back with a clothesline that sends Windham back to the original ring, followed by a diving clothesline from Austin. He goes up but gets hung on top of the cell, and Windham slams him back down before finally sending Austin face-first into the cage. Some cheese grating action gives Austin the proverbial crimson mask, right before the time for the second round of wrestlers to enter.

The heels MAGICALLY win the coin toss to go first and Rick Rude comes in for them. Rude immediately jumps Barry to give the Alliance the advantage. Austin goes up and hits a flying clothesline. Windham then gets his face rammed into the cage a couple of times by both heels to leave him bloody too, but Ricky Steamboat enters and goes right after Rude. He beats Rude from pillar to post and plants both Rude and Austin with a DDT while the crowd goes absolutely bananas. Steamboat proceeds to ram Rude’s face into the buckle, but Austin breaks it up. Steamboat then hangs onto the top of the cage and goes full on Tarzan mode, using it to beat up the heels, including a hurricanrana to Rude before beating him up some more.

Arn Anderson breaks up the party with a DDT to Windham and the spinebuster to Steamboat. Rude then joins Arn as they work a double crab on Dragon, until Windham comes in for the save and they all get into a slugfest. Rude hits a piledriver on Steamboat before just sending him flying into the other ring, where they collide for a double KO spot. Dustin Rhodes evens the odds and he comes in running wild with several bionic elbows, atomic drops and clotheslines. The babyfaces completely turn things around as Steamboat works a Boston crab on Rude, Dustin hits AA with an electric chair and Windham sticks Arn’s head in between both rings!

Larry Zbyszko enters while Madusa climbs onto the roof of the cage so she can slide Paul E’s telephone into the ring. Sting follows her and eventually draws her back to ringside, but her goal is accomplished as the heels use the phone to their advantage inside the ring. Rude snaps Steamboat’s broken nose just as the countdown adds Sting to the mix. Sting makes the comeback with a bulldog to AA and a jawbreaker to Rude, before gorilla pressing Rude onto the top of the cage. Arn eats some cage. So does Austin with an insane backdrop. Arn eats some more cage, including cheese grating action, as now he too is all covered in blood. Time runs down as we get the final round of wrestlers.

Bobby Eaton comes in for the Alliance first to pound away on all the babyfaces. Dustin Rhodes is now bleeding as well. We get some ‘Nikita’ chants as his time approaches, while the commentators question Nikita’s loyalty. Finally Nikita Koloff comes in to begin the ‘match beyond’. Nikita immediately goes into the corner to save Sting from Arn Anderson’s attack, before picking Sting up from the mat leading to a big staredown. Nikita shoves Sting away from an Arn/Austin double clothesline, taking it himself. Sting then joins him to hit stereo clotheslines and they embrace to a huge pop! Meanwhile, Steamboat and Rude are still going at it alone in a separate ring. Dustin big boots Zbyszko. Stinger Splash on Arn sets up the Scorpion Deathlock, but Eaton is there for the save as now the top rope is broken. Dustin slams Austin to set up a flying elbow that misses. Zbyszko grabs the broken turnbuckle’s steel hook and takes a swing at Sting, but hits Eaton in the shoulder instead. Sting immediately capitalizes with an armbar on Eaton who gives it up to finish at 23:27. Paul and the Alliance all argue with Zbyszko on the way out.

  • Rating: This is exactly what WarGames should be. Drama, brutality, blood and excitement as the top stars’ feuds all intertwine leading up to it. It was simply done perfectly. The anticipation for Sting/Nikita was palpable, and it led to the staredown and the giant reaction after they united. Steamboat and Rude kept going after one another which made perfect sense. Austin was the bumping machine in this match and took the worse beating from start to finish, being one of the highlights as well. I also liked the finish of Zbyszko errantly hitting Eaton in the shoulder with the steel hook leading up to the armbar finish, as it made Sting look intelligent while also keeping Eaton fairly strong despite quitting. This is brilliant and definitely up there in talks of the best WarGames of all time. *****

We close with JR and Jesse hyping up the next PPV, Beach Blast.

Final thoughts: Long story short – if you watch only the final three matches, it’s pretty close to a 10/10 show; if you watch everything except the final three matches, it’s basically a 1/10 show. The undercard is brutal mostly because all the top feuds were in the main event, but thankfully by the end it was worth it. After the really exciting Pillman/Zenk match the show is flawless and that’s how it should be remembered, but that doesn’t erase the rest of the card from history. Overall, I give it a really high 6/10. Bring on Sting vs Vader!

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POINT SYSTEM

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WrestlerStar ratingResultMain eventingExtrasTotal
Sting511+0.5 for winning the fall7.5
Ricky Steamboat
Barry Windham
Nikita Koloff
Dustin Rhodes
5117
Brian Pillman41+1 for retaining a title6
Rick Steiner4.251+0.5 for winning the fall5.75
Scott Steiner4.2515.25
Jimmy Garvin1.751+2 for winning a title
+0.5 for winning the fall
5.25
Rick Rude
Steve Austin
Arn Anderson
Larry Zbyszko
5-115
Michael Hayes1.751+2 for winning a title4.75
Bobby Eaton5-11-0.5 for losing the fall4.5
Johnny B. Badd2.2513.25
Tatsumi Fujinami4.25-13.25
Tom Zenk4-13
Ron Simmons1.7512.75
Takayuki Iizuka4.25-1-0.5 for losing the fall2.75
Scotty Flamingo1.512.5
Big Josh1.2512.25
Tracy Smothers2.25-11.25
Super Invader011
Mr. Hughes1.75-10.75
M. A. Bagwell1.5-10.5
Richard Morton1.25-10.25
Todd Champion0-1-1
Greg Valentine1.75-1-2 for losing a title-1.25
Taylor Made Man1.75-1-2 for losing a title
-0.5 for losing the fall
-1.75

That’s all, thank you for checking out my review. Make sure you don’t miss my next reviews of the upcoming shows such as WCW’s Beach Blast and The Great American Bash, as well as WWF’s SummerSlam later. Happy new year!