[PPV Review] WrestleWar 1991: War Games – 2.24.91

Venue: Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Phoenix, AZ)
Commentators: Jim Ross & Dusty Rhodes

The first PPV for WCW in 1991 features one of the company’s notorious matches, as Sting teams with Brian Pillman and The Steiner Brothers to take on The Four Horsemen in War Games. Also on the show we get our FIFTH Z-Man/Terry Taylor match as the two meet in a No-DQ contest, the WCW Six Man Tag Team Championship gets defended for the first time, and Lex Luger defends the United States Championship against ‘Dangerous’ Dan Spivey. After a month of TV matches I am ready for some actual competitive contests so let’s dive right the hell in.

Champion Roll-Call

  • WCW World Champion: Ric Flair
  • WCW United States Champion: Lex Luger
  • WCW Television Champion: Arn Anderson
  • WCW World Tag Team Champions: Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed)
  • WCW United States Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)
  • WCW Six-Man Tag Team Champions: Ricky Morton, Tommy Rich, & The Junkyard Dog

The Lineup

  • Ricky Morton, Tommy Rich, & Junkyard Dog [c] vs. Big Cat & The State Patrol for the WCW SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Interview Stage: Terry Taylor & Alexandra York
  • Brad Armstrong vs. Bobby Eaton
  • Mami Kitamura & Itsuki Yamasaki vs. Miss A & Miki Handa
  • Interview Stage: Missy Hyatt
  • Dustin Rhodes vs. Buddy Landell
  • The Young Pistols vs. The Royal Family
  • Interview Stage: Diamond Dallas Page
  • No Disqualification Match: Tom Zenk vs. Terry Taylor
  • In-Ring Segment: The Danger Zone w/ Paul E. Dangerously
  • Interview Stage: The Great Muta & Hiro Matsuda
  • Big Van Vader vs. Stan Hansen
  • Lex Luger [c] vs. Dan Spivey for the WCW UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Interview Stage: U.S. Title Presentation
  • Doom [c] vs. The Fabulous Freebirds for the WCW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
  • War Games: The Match Beyond: Sting, Brian Pillman, & The Steiner Brothers vs. Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Sid Vicious, & Larry Zbyszko

*****

Pyro and ballyhoo erupt as Tony Schiavone welcomes the home and arena audiences. Schiavone hypes the various matches then sends it to Jim Ross and ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes at ringside. Rhodes is hyped up. We’re getting right into the action.

WCW Six-Man Tag Team Championship
Ricky Morton, ‘Wildfire’ Tommy Rich, & Junkyard Dog [c] vs. Big Cat & The State Patrol (Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker & Lt. James Earl Wright)

This is Big Cat’s first appearance since early-January and there’s no Motor City Madman to be found by his side. The Six Man Tag Team Champions have no belts or a trophy or anything but at least they’re finally announced as champions so that’s progress. WCW didn’t bother to create championship belts before making this division a thing? Fair enough. Congratulations to The State Patrol for making it on PPV, I would’ve never expected that to happen. I’m watching this on the WWE Network and I can’t lie, it feels great to watch something that isn’t so goddamn blurry for once.

JYD and Cat, the muscle of their respective teams, open the contest. Ross talks about the impressive crowd while I can see a whole lot of empty seats in the distance. Yikes. JYD quickly bats Cat away with headbutts and in tags Wright. Morton tags as well and hits a whole lot of armdrags before tagging in Rich, who applies an armbar. Rich counters a slam with one of his own and catches Wright with an armdrag into a wristlock. Wright connects with a slam and tags Parker, who misses an elbowdrop and Rich sends him to the mat with an armdrag. Armdrag party, USA. Morton tags in, Parker backs him into the corner and catches him with a series of rights. Morton reverses a corner Irish whip and gives both members of State Patrol atomic drops before settling into a wristlock on Parker. JYD tags in to the joy of the crowd. I wish anyone liked me as much as people like JYD. Cat tags back in for the heel side and we may get ourselves a hoss fight. Nevermind we get a test of strength instead. JYD wins it with a headbutt and he’s already sweating enough for ten men. Parker tags in as does Morton. Parker sends him into the ropes and Wright hits him from behind, turning the tide for the challengers. State Patrol connect with a backbreaker/flying headbutt combo and Wright covers but only gets two. Parker tags in but Morton kicks out of that pinfall attempt as well. Quick tag to Cat who connects with an elbowdrop to the back of the head but only gets two. Ross mentions that Arn Anderson is injured and will not be in the War Games match. Told you! Parker tags in and trades right hands with Morton then catches a charging Morton with a powerslam for the 1…2…nope. The State Patrol do some more double teaming but still can’t put Morton away. Cat tags in and connects with a backbreaker after catching Morton mid-air, covering for the 1…2…nope. The heels triple team Morton in the corner behind the ref’s back. Parker misses a corner splash and tags out to Wright but this gives Morton time enough to make the hot tag to JYD. Headbutts for The State Patrol and a Big Thump Powerslam to Wright for the 1…2…Cat breaks it up so Morton covers him for the 1…2…3! Champs retain. (9:54)

This is the same finish I called dumb in my review of World Championship Wrestling from earlier in the weekend and it’s still dumb here. Do tags not matter in the six man tag team division? Are we rocking some weird version of lucha trios rules where anyone can come in at any time? I don’t get it. I’m also overthinking it. This was fine I guess but given the caliber of competition the champions faced it would have easily have passed for a featured match on Worldwide or something.

  • Final Rating: *

Schiavone is standing by at the interview stage with Terry Taylor and Alexandra York. Taylor is looking stylish in his new suit. York says the Foundation is looking to expand, continuing to hint that her faction will grow. She predicts that Z-Man will lose to Taylor in less than 15:28. Taylor predicts pain.

Brad Armstrong vs. ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton

Ross and Dusty talk about Armstrong’s brother fighting in Desert Storm during his entrance. The brother in question you probably know better as ‘The Road Dogg’ Jesse James, one half of The New Age Outlaws and a team that…we will never talk about again on this website, probably. Wait for Legacy of WWE or whatever for thoughts about that. The WWE Network edit of this show replaces Eaton’s good music with generic nonsense plus the added annoyance of very obviously faked ‘BOBBY’ chants. Yikes. Dusty predicts that Eaton will win a major singles title this year; he’s the booker so I’ll take his word as bond.

Armstrong takes Eaton to the ground with a headscissors and follows up with a dropkick and an armdrag into an armbar. Eaton backs Armstrong into the corner and escapes with a hard right. Armstrong reverses a corner Irish whip and brings him out with a monkey flip before going back to the armbar. Eaton tosses Armstrong to the floor but eats both guardrail and ring post for his troubles. Eaton and Armstrong engage in a test of strength, the former bringing the latter to his knees thanks to a kick to the gut. Armstrong climbs over Eaton (!!!) and connects with a crossbody from the middle buckle for a two-count. Back to the armbar we go as we hit the five minute mark. Eaton tries for a slingshot suplex but Armstrong adjusts in mid-air and counters with a suplex of his own. Nice. Brad Armstrong rules. Jason Hervey of The Wonder Years is shown hanging out in the audience. WCW loves Jason Hervey more than Jason Hervey loves WCW, it’s adorable. Eaton takes control and connects with a backbreaker off the Irish whip that pops the crowd, but only gets a two-count when he goes for the cover. Eaton slaps on a rear chinlock and jaws with a fan in the crowd. The Great Muta, paint and all, is also watching from the crowd. The Great Muta was my favorite wrestler as a kid so I’ll be biased when I finally get to review a match of his. Eaton continues the punishment, hitting a nice slingshot backbreaker for a two-count. Eaton slaps on a modified Camel Clutch to continue wearing his opponent down. Armstrong escapes and Eaton hits him with an elbow that sends him out to the floor for additional punishment. Back in the ring Eaton locks in an Abdominal Stretch, holding the ropes for leverage. Armstrong escapes and dodges a corner splash, Eaton sending himself crotch-first into the middle buckle. Armstrong continues the offense, hitting his finisher the Side Russian Legsweep for the 1…2…Eaton gets his foot on the rope. Armstrong tries for a backdrop, Eaton counters with a neckbreaker and finishes him off with the Alabama Jam for the 1…2…3! (12:51)

This was way better than the opening contest so I’m going to pretend the PPV started with this one. A good, competitive match and a nice showcase win for Eaton. The crowd desperately wants to cheer for the man and they’ve been teasing a face turn here and there on TV so I think a face turn is looming. That’s going to be weeeeird.

  • Final Rating: ***

WCW’s next live PPV will be SuperBrawl, coming at us in May. Yikes that’s a lot of TV to get through. Pray for me.

Mami Kitamura & Itsuki Yamasaki vs. Miss A & Miki Handa

A joshi tag team match in 1991? WCW is weird. If you’re a fan of 80s-era WWF you’d probably recognize Yamasaki as she was one-half of the Jumping Bomb Angels during that company’s attempt at having a Women’s Tag Team Title division. Miss A is also probably better known as Dynamite Kansai, taking on that ring name following her stateside excursion. Much appreciated, Wikipedia.

The bell hasn’t even run and Ross and Rhodes are already having trouble pronouncing their names. Christ. A & Handa try to get the upper hand but get taken down with double dropkicks. Yamasaki tags in and connects with a flying armdrag followed by a sunset flip after a tightrope walk but Miss A kicks out easily. Kitamura tries her luck with Miss A, Miss A belts her right in the mush with a forearm. Handa tags in and catches Kitamura with a backdrop followed by a scoop slam for a one-count. Miss A tags back in, Dusty excited he can pronounce her name, and hits a suplex on Kitamura for a two-count. Kitamura bounces back, hitting a flying back elbow that hits Miss A flush in the nose. Ouch. Yamasaki gets the hot tag and pulls off a double underhook suplex on her much bigger opponent. Kitamura tags back in and covers, Handa breaks up the count. Handa gets the proper tag and clubs Kitamura with a forearm off an Irish whip and a vertical suplex for a two-count. Kitamura whips Handa into the corner and connects with a dropkick, no doubt giving a young Daniel Bryan some bright ideas. Someone uses a Bulldog, Dusty seems offended because that’s his son’s finishing move. Yamasaki and Miss A tag in, the latter belting her hard with corner kicks. Northern Lights Suplex from Miss A but Kitamura breaks the count. Miss A is unfazed though, hitting Yamasaki with a hard belly-to-back suplex. No punches are being pulled here folks. Handa and Miss A hit Kitamura with a double suplex, Yamasaki tags in and hits both with a flying double dropkick. Miss A catches a charging Yamasaki with a kick and takes her head off with a clothesline for the 1…2…Yamasaki gets her foot on the rope. Miss A whips Yamasaki into the ropes, Yamasaki rolls her up for the 1…2…3! (6:48)

WCW isn’t known for women’s wrestling so this felt like a real novelty, but in a good way not in a midget wrestling way. These ladies came to fight and fight they did. A quick, fun encounter that won over the Phoenix crowd by the end, who I’m sure didn’t know what to make of it at the start. I’d love to say we’re going to see more of this as Legacy of WCW continues on but I doubt it. You’ll pretty much have to wait until later in the decade for any meaningful women’s wrestling to take place again in WCW.

  • Final Rating: **1/2

Interview Stage: Missy Hyatt

Schiavone is standing by with Missy Hyatt, who vows to go into the men’s locker room to conduct an interview and show that she can do her job as well as a man. When asked who she’s looking to interview, Hyatt responds that she’s looking for a babe. Yes, I see the contradiction there too.

‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes vs. ‘Nature Boy’ Buddy Landell

Landell slaps Rhodes, Rhodes fires back with right hands and a back bodydrop. Landell bails to the corner after a pinfall attempt, physically hiding behind the referee. Rhodes with corner mount bionic elbows as the crowd counts along and Dusty beams on commentary. Landell kicks out of another pinfall attempt and Rhodes reacts with an armdrag into an armbar. These guys are sweating already, someone turn down the lights or turn up the air conditioning. Landell connects with a scoop slam and heads to the top but he’s a Nature Boy so he gets slammed off. Landell is the best copycat of all-time. Rhodes reverses a corner Irish whip but Landell dodges a corner splash and Rhodes sends himself shoulder-first into the ring post. Landell grabs a wristlock and brings Rhodes to the mat by the hair, transitioning into an armbar while also raking at the eyes. Rhodes tries to reverse an Irish whip but Landell is having none of it and applies a sleeperhold. Rhodes escapes and applies one of his own but Landell sends him head-first into the buckle. Rhodes catches Landell with a clothesline, sending him over the top and onto the floor. No DQ? Fine. Rhodes brings Landell right back into the ring and hits a press slam followed by the Bulldog for the victory. (6:33)

Good showcase for Dustin, and his first big win over actual WCW talent after his victories over enhancement talent on TV. Nothing too spectacular but it got the job done and Landell did a solid job making Dustin look good.

  • Final Rating: **

Schiavone takes to Missy Hyatt, who is standing outside of the men’s locker room to conduct an interview, the first woman to do so. Hyatt walks in and Stan Hansen chases her off, spanking her with his cowboy hat. An embarrassed Hyatt takes it back to Schiavone on the interview stage, who is cracking up. Hey she got assaulted, let’s all laugh! Okay I’m being a grumpy gus but for real that wasn’t all that funny. Maybe it was hilarious in 1991.

The Young Pistols (Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong) vs. The Royal Family (Rip Morgan & Jack Victory)

The Pistols were known as The Southern Boys earlier in the year when they appeared on WCW TV, this is their big brand reboot I guess. Well not really, the gimmick is the same. The Royal Family have appeared once as a tag team on television and a little bit here and there as singles competitors. They haven’t made much of an impression on me, honestly.

Royal Family attack early but The Young Pistols are too quick for them and they fall victim to dropkicks and crossbodies that force them out to to regroup. The lights go out for some reason and the matches continues with the use of a couple of spotlights until they fix the issue. Morgan escapes a wristlock and applies a side headlock on Smothers. Smothers escapes and hits a monkey flip out of the corner. Armstrong tags in and The Pistols hit double dropkicks to both members of the Royal Family, forcing them out to the floor once again. Morgan hits Armstrong with a slam and tags in Victory who falls victim to the dreaded armdrag/armbar combo then complains of a hair pull. Victory escapes and takes Armstrong down with a shoulderblock. Victory with a side headlock, Armstrong whips him off and gets taken down with a shoulderblock once again. This time Armstrong applies a side headlock and Smothers tags in, the Pistols hitting Victory with a double shoulderblock but they can’t keep him down for the three-count. Pistols with a double chop to Victory. Armstrong misses a crossbody and The Royal Family go on the offensive. Morgan tries for a cover after a back elbow but only gets two. Victory tags back in and rubs Armstrong’s face into the mat. Victory charges at Armstrong in the corner but Armstrong gets his foot up and both men are down. Morgan gets the tag but so does Smothers and it’s the latter who’s all offense, including a superkick party. Morgan hits Smothers from behind, Victory clotheslines him out to the floor so Morgan can ram him into the post behind the ref’s back.

Royal Family connects with more cheap shots then Morgan applies a goddamn bearhug in the center of the ring. Bearhugs and nerveholds are my two least favorite restholds so I let out an audible groan. Smothers escapes but runs right into a spinebuster and Morgan covers for the 1…2…kickout. Victory tags in and the Royal Family connect with a double belly-to-back suplex, then Victory applies another goddamn bearhug. Ughhhhhhh. Morgan whips Smothers into a clothesline from Victory and Victory covers for the 1…2…Armstrong interrupts. Royal Family try their finish on Smothers but Armstrong dropkicks Victory to take them off balance, Smothers landing on top of Morgan for the 1…2…3! (12:03)

Well this went way longer than it should have and had a bit of a dumb ending to boot. Not incompetent but it was dull and that’s the bigger issue. Bearhugs man, I hate them.

  • Final Rating: *

Interview Stage: Diamond Dallas Page

Schiavone is standing by with The Fabulous Freebirds’ new manager. DDP repeatedly calls Teddy Long a ‘peanuthead’, Long angrily interrupts, saying that DDP is responsible for the rumor that Doom is splitting up. Long says they’re going to remain champions because ‘homie don’t play that’. DDP is unconcerned, GOOD GAWD.

No-Disqualification Match
‘The Z-Man’ Tom Zenk vs. ‘The Computerized Man of the 1990s’ Terry Taylor [w/ Alexandra York]

Taylor isn’t referred to by his nickname at all but it’s so damn good that I’m keeping it as part of the reviews until I’m forced not to. Zenk gets a very high-pitched reaction from the crowd; ladies love this (Z) man. These two have battled four times already this month and this is the big blowoff to their feud. I’m so happy for this to be concluded.

Zenk connects with a hip toss and follows it up with a dropkick, forcing Taylor to beg off in the corner. Taylor shoves Zenk, Zenk slaps him back and the referee tries to separate them even though it’s a No-DQ match and it shouldn’t matter. Taylor backs Zenk into the corner and connects with a right, Zenk strikes him right back and he bails from the ring to regroup. Side headlock takeover from Zenk, these two wrestling like they…don’t really have much of a beef after all. Taylor backs Zenk into the corner, the ref forcing separation (WHY IT’S NO DISQUALIFICATION COME ON) and giving Taylor a chance to consult York’s COM-PEW-TOR. Zenk peppers Taylors with rights and connects with a back bodydrop for a two-count, then back to the side headlock we go. Taylor uses a headbutt to escape and hits a belly-to-back suplex, finally stringing together some offense. Also in the crowd watching is Nikita Koloff, Dusty saying he’s here for a special reason tonight. We’ll find out later. Taylor chokes Zenk with a television chord and the ref yells at him to stop, despite the fact he has no power to do. He could straight up murder Zenk if he wanted to. Zenk gets in a few jabs, Taylor stops it with a poke to the eye and follows up with a backbreaker for the 1…2…Zenk gets his foot on the rope. Zenk tries a sunset flip, Taylor grabs for the ropes but can’t and he finally falls over for the 1…2…Taylor kicks out and drops him with a clothesline immediately after. Back to the crowd we go and Hiro Matsuda is also chilling out sort-of watching the show. Zenk clotheslines Taylor out to the floor, Taylor pulls him out and they slug it out until Taylor rams him into the railing. Zenk whips Taylor into the corner, Taylor comes running out with a clothesline and covers for the 1…2…kickout. Zenk counters a backdrop attempt and connects with a neckbreaker. Zenk knocks Taylor’s head off with a superkick and covers for the 1…2…Taylor gets his foot on the rope. Taylor catches a kick, Zenk counters with an enzuigiri and heads to the top. York climbs the apron to distract the ref as Zenk hits Taylor with a flying crossbody for the visual pin. Zenk argues with the ref and York, Taylor pulls him down and rolls him up with a handful of tights for the 1…2…3. (10:59)

Is it over? Can I finally stop watching Z-Man/Terry Taylor matches? Have I finally reached the other side of that bridge? The relief I’m feeling makes me want to give it ***** just for that but honestly the match wasn’t very good and didn’t make any real use of the No-DQ stipulation. Hell Taylor winning with a handful of tights isn’t even underhanded because there were no rules in the match so in the grand scheme of things he won cleanly.

  • Final Rating: *1/2

Zenk thwarts a post-match attack with an atomic drop to stand tall after losing.

In-Ring Segment: The Danger Zone

Generic mariachi music plays as Paul E. Dangerously makes his way out in a matador costume, complete with a big sombrero. Yikes. Dangerously welcomes everyone to the Danger Zone and says he works under cover for immigration, telling the crowd he’s deporting them and their velvet painting collection. Dangerously introduces his guest: El Gigante. Gigante is in wrestling gear even though I don’t think he’s actually wrestling tonight. Dangerously does the whole matador thing with his red cape, Gigante circling him incredulously and in disbelief. Dangerously says Gigante has signed on to be a special guest referee for a cage match between Ric Flair and Sting. That should be a good match we’ll never see because it’s probably a house show. Dangerously thinks Gigante is going to just up and steal the World Title because he’s never known a Latin American person who can be trusted. Dangerously tries to ask him question, Gigante responds with ‘no habla Ingles’. This annoys the loudmouth who throws his sombrero in Gigante’s face. Gigante responds with a huge scoop slam then leaves with the sombrero on his head. Well that was necessary to do in the middle of a show people paid money to watch. Hm.

Interview Stage: The Great Muta & Hiro Matsuda

Schiavone hypes next month’s co-promotional event with NJPW at the Tokyo Egg Dome. Muta will be facing Sting at the event. That match we’ll actually get to see and one with a lot of history as they had quite a heated feud over the Television Title back in 1989. Muta blows mist in excitement and we get a graphic of the Japan Supershow logo. That’s going to be a fun show to review, too bad they clipped a lot of matches and kept a lot of other matches off the PPV broadcast.

Big Van Vader vs. Stan ‘The Lariat’ Hansen

Vader is still wearing his full mask with the lightning bolts on it. This is the big rematch from last year’s Japan brawl that saw Vader having to hold his eye in place after his orbital bone was smashed. We didn’t get to see that stuff in the WCW footage though.

Vader and Hansen start brawling immediately, Vader hitting a hard lariat that pops Dusty. Vader follows up with a running splash in the corner and covers for two. There’s chewing tobacco all over the ring, a sight you’ll never see nowadays. BACK IN MY DAY and all that. Vader wins the shootout on the floor with a headbutt then we go back into the ring. Vader misses a corner splash and Hansen follows up with a belly-to-back suplex for a two-count. Back to the floor we go, Hansen and Vader hitting each other with plastic chairs behind Ross and Dusty. Ross sounds legit scared. Vader picks Hansen up and slams him gut-first across the guardrail. Hansen has a very noticeable welt on his back. I love these guys. Hansen tries to get back in the ring but Vader kicks at him so he pulls him out instead. Into the wooden stairs Vader goes. They get back into the ring, trading rights and forearms on their knees. The ref tries to break them up but gets tossed out to the floor. The ref, Randy Anderson, calls for the bell and disqualifies both of them. Aw man, come on. (6:20)

All that hype and these guys only got six and a half minutes with a dumb finish? That’s disappointing, especially since it was super fun watching these two just potato the shit out of each other non-stop. Hell of a hoss fight marred by WCW doing WCW things.

  • Final Rating: ***1/4

Crowd boos the finish as the two keep brawling, Vader hitting a flying clothesline off the top rope. Vader misses a splash, Hansen bowls him over with a football tackle and grabs his cowbell-free bullrope, choking Vader with it. They fight to the ramp, Vader putting the rope around Hansen’s neck and dragging him to the back as the crowd pops. Vader is the best. They continue to brawl as we go to a hype video for May’s SuperBrawl PPV. Fight forever, though.

WCW United States Championship
‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger [c] vs. ‘Dangerous’ Dan Spivey

Whoever ends the match as United States Champion will be presented a brand new 20,000 dollar U.S. Title belt by Nikita Koloff. Spivey attacked Luger at Dixie Dynamite last month to set this match up but these two haven’t been in contact or I think even on the same show since. Luger is looking crazy in shape, those traps are out of this world huge.

Spivey connects with a couple of lefts, Luger reverses an Irish whip and hits a back bodydrop followed by a series of football tackles and a clothesline out of the corner. Luger blocks an atomic drop and connects with a belly-to-back suplex for the first two-count of the contest. Spivey charges at Luger in the corner, Luger gets a boot up and sends him to the mat after four right hands. Luger tries a crossbody, Spivey ducks and Luger ends up flying into the ropes and into the second ring. Spivey connects with a Tombstone and covers for two. Take that, Undertaker. Hangman Neckbreaker from Spivey only gets a two-count so he transitions into a chinlock. Spivey tries a DDT and covers again for the 1…2…nope. Take that, Jake Roberts and The Freebirds. Luger fights back with right hands, Spivey stops it with a headbutt. Luger dodges a corner splash and rolls Spivey up for the 1…2…Spivey kicks out and regains control quickly with a left hand. Spivey goes for a suplex, Luger counters with one of his own and the crowd goes wild. Luger is too hurt to capitalize though and Spivey is back up for a scoop slam. Spivey heads to the top and hits a flying elbowdrop for the 1…2…kickout! Spivey tries to end it with a spinning neckbreaker but Luger kicks out just in time again so he transitions to a headscissors to wear the champion down. Spivey hits a regular piledriver and covers for the 1…2…Luger kicks out and he’s back to his feet quickly. Luger no-sells the lefts from Spivey and launches into a series of right hands. Spivey desperately grabs Luger and connects with a belly-to-belly suplex for the 1…2…Luger kicks out, Spivey goes back to the chinlock.

Luger escapes the chinlock, Spivey catches the charging champ with a Japanese armdrag. Spivey charges at Luger, Luger drops him on the top rope but probably not the way he wanted to. Luger connects with a series of right hands and belts Spivey with a flying clothesline from the middle turnbuckle. Luger whips Spivey into the ropes and connects with a powerslam. Spivey sends Luger to the floor. Luger climbs back up and tries a sunset flip but it’s countered with a left hand. An Irish whip and both men take one another down with a clothesline, then they take down one another again with a football tackle. Luger climbs to the top, Spivey tries to slam him down but Luger counters with an inside package for the 1…2…3! Luger retains the U.S. Championship and gets a fancy new belt to go with it. (12:55)

There’s a lot of hate in the modern wrestling fan for Lex Luger as a worker and while the tail-end of his career makes that somewhat justified, you can’t take away from how good he really was during the late-80s/early-90s. I didn’t know what to expect from this match but I loved every minute of it, just two big dudes giving it their all for the second biggest prize in the company. Luger having to sneak one out was a little surprising as Spivey isn’t really a big WCW singles competitor, size notwithstanding, but I won’t hold that against this match too much. I enjoyed this one a lot. Hell this might end up being one of the best Luger matches I see during this Legacy of WCW gimmick.

  • Final Rating: ***

Interview Stage: U.S. Title Presentation

After a replay of the finish we go to the stage where Luger joins Schiavone, WCW rep Grizzly Smith, and Nikita Koloff. Smith has the new title in a briefcase for dramatic effect. Koloff congratulates Luger on the victory, grabs the new belt, then hits him in the face with it sending The Total Package flying off the stage. Schiavone asks Koloff why, Koloff is mad he has to prove himself in order to get a World Title shot so he attacked the man who ‘stole’ the U.S. Title from him four years ago (nice callback). Koloff vows to win the title back. Fine by me, I’ve got a soft spot for Nikita Koloff. Well a soft spot for pre-religious Nikita Koloff.

WCW World Tag Team Championship
Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed) [w/ Teddy Long] [c] vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael ‘P.S. Hayes & Jimmy ‘Jim Garvin’ [w/ Diamond Dallas Page, Big Daddy Dink, & The Diamond Dolls]

Before the match DDP takes the mic to hype The Freebirds, GOOD GAWD. He then introduces another member of The Freebirds entourage: Big Daddy Dink, otherwise known as Sir Oliver Humperdink. Out he comes dressed like an old man trying to approximate what a cool biker would look like. GOOD GAWD indeed. What a random guy to bring out of storage, WCW. Ross and Dusty bring up the problems between Doom over the past few months. Supposedly they’re a united front for this one but the foreshadowing is strong. DDP and the Dolls leave, Big Daddy Dink being the only man to remain at ringside. Uh alright.

Bell rings and the crowd hate on the Freebirds immediately. Same but probably not for the same reasons. Simmons throws Hayes to the mat, Hayes complains of a hair pull. Simmons catches Hayes in a bear hug then converts it into a spinebuster for a two. Simmons charges into the corner, Hayes catches him with a left hook. Simmons reverses an Irish whip and connects with a powerslam then catches a flying Garvin with a powerslam and both Freebirds bail from the ring to regroup with Big Daddy Dink. Dusty says Simmons handled the Freebirds ‘singly-handly’. That’s a phrase.

Garvin begs for Reed to tag in and Hacksaw is oh so happy to oblige. Garvin clubs Reed with forearms but his hip toss is blocked and Reed takes him to the mat with a clothesline. Garvin gets Reed over with a sunset flip but only gets two. Gorilla press slam for Hayes, Reed tries it on Garvin but eats a left hook from P.S. Reed shrugs it off though and hits a backbreaker on Garvin followed by a double underhook suplex but only gets two. Simmons tags in and Doom connect with a double back elbow. Simmons dumps Garvin to the floor and helps distract the ref so Reed can slam him on the floor. The flow of this match is really chunky to say the least. Reed tags back in and his backdrop is countered with a DDT but Garvin is too out of it to pin him. Simmons tags back in quickly and almost puts Garvin through the canvas for the 1…2…Hayes breaks it up. Simmons follows up with a powerslam and tries to cover again but Hayes again breaks it up. Dink distracts the ref and Long throws a pair of brass knuckles to Reed. Garvin moves and Reed accidentally decks his own partner and Dink pushes the near-lifeless body onto Jimmy Jam for the 1…2…3! Freebirds win the title! The darkest timeline. (6:56)

Doom has been on top of WCW’s tag team division for pretty much the past year so seeing them lose the titles in a match as short and blah as this is disappointing to say the least. At least Simmons looked good I guess? Luckily we’re not in for a long Freebirds title reign but we’ll talk about that once we get back into the TV stuff.

  • Final Rating: *

Freebirds celebrate their win on the ramp with DDP and the Diamond Dolls. Back in the ring Simmons shoves Long, Reed decks Simmons and attacks him some more with the brass knuckles. Long gets in some shots as well and raises Reed’s arm to the boos of the crowd. Long blames Simmons for Doom’s loss of the Tag Team Titles and they leave the ring. Does that mean I never get to hear Doom’s theme song again? Aw man.

After another SuperBrawl ad we cut to Ross and Dusty who are with an 11 year old contest winner. Ross asks who his favorite War Games team is, the kid responds with Doom and Ross has to break the news that they aren’t going to be a team for much longer given what’s happened. Dammit kid, give these guys something to work with! We then cut to footage of The Four Horsemen’s attack on Brian Pillman last night on World Championship Wrestling. Pillman will still be in the match though. Same can’t be said for Arn Anderson who is injured and will be replaced by Larry Zbyszko, making his first PPV appearance as a wrestler for WCW. A War Games match isn’t going to start with Anderson in the ring? Crazy. The War Games cage is then lowered onto the ring, complete with its own theme song, light show, and pyro. Love it. I’m hoping for a good War Games, I’d like to end this mixed-bag PPV on a positive note.

War Games: The Match Beyond
Sting, ‘Flyin’ Brian Pillman, & The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. Larry Zbyszko & The Horsemen (‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, Barry Windham, & Sid Vicious) [w/ Arn Anderson]

Pillman, his left shoulder taped up after the attack last night, decides to pull a LEEEROY JENKINS and start the match off for his team against Windham. Pillman is a house of fire, hitting a missile dropkick from the middle buckle (the cage is too low to go from the top). Pillman hits a low-blow on Windham and throws him right into the cage, ramming his head repeatedly into the steel in front of Flair and company. Windham is busted open and we’re not even two minutes in. Killer. Pillman focuses on Windham’s cut, biting his forehead and connecting with a series of rights. Pillman manages to get to the top rope and manages a flying clothesline, brushing against the top of the cage while doing so. Yeesh. Pillman tosses Windham into the second ring and Windham begs off to the corner. Windham has a full crimson mask at this point, Pillman working his knee over. Windham tries a piledriver, Pillman counters with a backdrop that Windham barely makes it over on.

Five minutes pass and it’s time for the coin toss: The Horsemen win it and in comes Ric Flair to make it 2-on-1. He trades chops with Flair, whose right leg is also taped up. Windham attacks Pillman from behind and they throw Pillman shoulder-first into the steel. Why is that cage so damn short? There’s barely room to do stuff. Flair and Windham throw Pillman into the opposite ring and try to separate his shoulder. The two-minute period ends and in comes Sting who lays into everybody as the crowd roars. Flair bails into the ring with Pillman while Sting works over Windham in the other. Windham crotches Pillman on the top rope and heads into the other ring to help Flair. Pillman joins them soon enough, Sting no-sells Flair’s strikes and chops. Stinger Splash for the World Champion. Larry Zbyszko joins the match to give his team the advantage. Sting catches him with a right then clears the ropes of both rings to hit Zbyszko with a flying clothesline. AWESOME. The attack is short-lived though as Zbyszko and Flair beat Sting down in the corner. Flair breaks Pillman’s Figure Four on Windham and throws him into the cage. Sting chokes Zbyszko in a separate corner, Windham limps over and attacks Sting from behind.

Flair and Windham climb into the next ring as Rick Steiner enters the match trying to cut him off but they get Steinerlined for their troubles. Flair tries an inverted atomic drop, Rick Steiner blocks it and hits a belly-to-belly suplex. He then rubs Flair’s head into the steel and the champ, to the surprise of absolutely no one, is busted open as well. OH MY GOD I MISS SEEING BLOOD IN WRESTLING MATCHES, I’M WAY TOO HYPED RIGHT NOW. Sid Vicious, the final member of his team, enters the ring and goes right after Rick Steiner, almost putting him through the cage, then holds him as Flair kicks him way below the belt. Sting and Vicious end up in a ring by themselves, the latter taking the former down with a hard clothesline. Rick Steiner throws Zbyszko into the cage.

Scott Steiner is the last entrant and the ‘Match Beyond’ begins. Submit or surrender, y’all! Scott Steiner clotheslines Flair and Windham, then hits a sitout double-underhook powerbomb on Zbyszko. Rick whips Vicious into a Steinerline from Scott, Stinger Splash from Sting to Flair followed by the Scorpion Death Lock. Zbyszko hits Scott Steiner with a low-blow and kicks Sting to break the hold. Vicious and Pillman battle, the former throwing the latter into the turnbuckles injured shoulder-first.  Pillman gets the upper hand on Vicious and yells ‘FIGURE FOUR’ at him in a helpful manner. How nice of him. Sting, Flair, and the Steiners put the heels in Figure Four Leglocks, Anderson fighting to get into the match but is held back. Sting picks Flair up in a military press, and presses him repeatedly into the cage ceiling before dropping him to the mat. Vicious and Windham hit Rick Steiner with a double clothesline, then Windham takes Scott Steiner out. Pillman fights out of a Flair/Windham double team. Scott Steiner tries to DDT Windham but Windham isn’t about that so Ross covers it up by saying Windham blocked it. Vicious grabs Pillman and goes for the Power Bomb but there isn’t enough room and PILLMAN LANDS ON HIS GODDAMN HEAD AND NECK ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Vicious hits a second Power Bomb and this time Pillman lands on his back. Thank fucking god. El Gigante shows up, rips the door of the cage open, and checks on Pillman alongside Nick Patrick. Gigante calls it for his friend and Patrick calls for the bell, giving the Horsemen (and Zbyszko) the win. Way to be a caring jerk, you jerk. (22:02)

A great, visceral brawl with a disappointing and cheap finish. Pillman (and Vicious, honestly) is lucky that the first Power Bomb he took didn’t straight up kill him because SERIOUSLY JESUS CHRIST. I was hoping for a good War Games and I definitely got it. Too bad Gigante had to come and ruin things, and too bad WCW needed such a lame way to end the match. Pillman was looked at as the weak link of his team due to his size as well as the attack the night before and this sorta…proved the Horsemen right, actually.

  • Final Rating: ***3/4

Schiavone announces the victors as Gigante carries Pillman to the back.

After the replay we go to ringside where Patrick justifies his decision to Ross and Dusty. They then try to cut to Koloff’s attack on Lex Luger earlier in the show but the footage isn’t ready so they talk about it instead. Ross and Dusty sign off, but not before hyping May’s SuperBrawl PPV one more time.

*****

Final Thoughts: WrestleWar brought back the War Games to WCW and the first outing of this legendary gimmick match in two years was a success. Probably my favorite match of the year so far. The PPV also had a decent undercard, with Luger/Spivey being way better than expected, Eaton/Armstrong killing it, and Vader/Hansen having a fun brawl. Unfortunately that was mixed in with a lot of dull too which took a lot of wind out of its sails. However taken as a whole I think WrestleWar is most certainly worth a watch and starts the WCW PPV calendar of 1991 off on solid footing. Onto March we go!

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