Preparing For Extreme Warfare
The Concept Of The War Games Match
July 18, 2006 by Robert Zarp
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It was the summer of 1987, the National Wrestling Alliance had not yet been totally defeated by the wrestling monopoly and conglomerate of Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation. At the time, the legendary stable of the Four Horsemen were still running strong, consisting of the team of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, "The Enforcer" Arn Anderson, and they were joined by the newcomer to the group, Lex Luger. Managed by J.J. Dillon, this faction had dominated the wrestling scene since their emergence in 1985, when a man came along and was bound and determined to bring down this elitist group of wrestlers. Nicknamed "The American Dream," Dusty Rhodes was the prototypical blue collar man, as he had a charisma about himself that helped him connect with the fans on a personal level, they saw him not as a rich, glitzy, over-the-top sophisticate, but as an extension of their own selves. In order to settle the score with the Horsemen, Rhodes needed allies, he needed more artillery to go to war, because in the summer of 1987, the War Games would commence.
At one time Nikita Koloff and the Road Warriors would not seem to be compatible allies in any given match-up, as the Russians, Nikita & Ivan Koloff, had quite a sordid rivalry with The Road Warriors. However, when Ivan and Nikita separated so that Krusher Khrushchev, a.k.a. Barry Darsow, could become more frequent tag team partners, Nikita was seemingly lost in the shuffle. When Dusty Rhodes needed a tag team partner for a match against the Horsemen, Magnum T.A. was the original choice for Rhodes' partner; however, due to his career ending accident, that never happened. So, with Nikita not involved in any major storylines, he made a surprisingly well-received face turn as the ally to Rhodes. For the next few months, they would battle with the Four Horsemen, naming their partnership the "Super Powers." The duo even managed to win the annual Crockett Cup Tag Team tournament, an honor also shared by former rivals, The Road Warriors.
After such a feud had ensued between the Super Powers and The Horsemen, this heated rivalry needed to be settled once and for all. So, in June of 1987, Dusty Rhodes laid out the proverbial gauntlet and challenged the Horsemen to a brand new match concept, one that had never been previously done before. So in that moment, he made his historical announcement that this would be no ordinary match, no; this would be WAR GAMES! The Road Warriors, having a vendetta to settle with the Horsemen as well, aligned themselves with The Super Powers, and the match was signed for July 4, 1987, at the Great American Bash, fans of the NWA (under the banner of WCW, another story for another time) would bear witness to one of the most innovative and successful matches in wrestling history, one that has been often imitated but never duplicated.
Rules of the match were simple; one entrant from each team would enter the match to start, and based on a coin toss, that would decide which team would gain an advantage. After the first 5 minutes, a member of the winning team of the coin toss would enter the match, and in two minute intervals, another member of the opposing team would enter, until all 5 men had made their way into the match. Only after the final man entered the bout could it be decided via pinfall or submission. This match concept was very innovative, using the steel cage match in a refreshing, new way, that had not been done time and time before.
As in any steel cage match, blood is almost guaranteed to be shed, and with Ric Flair in the ring, it was a sure thing that somebody was going to be wearing that proverbial crimson mask before it was all said and done. Due to the success of the War Games match, WCW decided to bring it back for several PPVs after the 1987 Great American Bash. In 1993, the WCW PPV dubbed Fall Brawl would be the main stay of the War Games match until 1999, when it inconspicuously vanished from the card for no apparent reasoning.
Since WCW closed its doors in 2001, when it was purchased finally by the wrestling mogul Vince McMahon, the War Games match has been absent from mainstream professional wrestling for 8 years. Many Independent promotions have used this match to garner higher attendances to their shows, and even the NWA counterparts such as NWA Wildside have used this match to promote their shows. Major League Wrestling also used the match in the company's very brief existence, and just recently the Ring Of Honor used an adaptation of the match when they had another chapter in their rivalry with Combat Zone Wrestling end with a Cage of Death match. The question that is begged here is simply, "Why"" Why can't Vince McMahon realize that this match up is still unique, still innovative, and still fresh" We've seen several Hell in a Cell matches, and not all of them were stellar classics, WrestleMania XV being a perfect example. Why won't Vince bring back the War Games match, even just one more time" Well until either TNA or WWE decides to bring back this match, we as wrestling fans will have to settle to just wait and watch the old tapes of these classic matches.
by Robert Zarp ..
Tony Francioni wrote:
I really liked this article because just the other day I wondered why the WWE does not use the Fall Brawl PPV with War Games.
It was a great event it is like the Survivor Series matches in a cage with a twist.
I would love to see Mick Foley, Ric Flair, and DX get involved in a match like this today
Stephen Y wrote:
I liked this article, and would like to see this match happen. It sounds like a tag-team elimination chamber (was this ever used in wcw). Does anybody remember the three-teared cage Double J vs DDP, and Kanyon was thrown off I thought he was dead. They should have this match again, and also the three ring battle royal. I never saw this one either, but would like to see this, especially now ECW is back and there is a really big roster. Maybe it could replace the royal rumble" DX AND JOHN CENA SUCKS!
Aaron Tolles wrote:
The problem with War Games is that it's not Vince McMahon's idea thus the use of it is doubtful.Would I like to see it used"Yes!!!! War Games for it's time was one of the most innovative concepts ever invented in pro wrestling.Not all installments of this match were great,but we have that with any type of match.For those of you who haven't seen a War Games match check out 87,91,and 92 for starters.The others were fair but I advise that 98 be avoided.
I think that it would a perfect idea for Survivor Series.Also now that Dusty Rhodes,the man who's idea it was,is with the company and we now have ECW that War Games is now more than ever an idea that could work.With that being said,here are the teams I'd like to see
WWE:John Cena,Randy Orton,Finlay,Ric Flair,Rey Mysterio
ECW:Tommy Dreamer,Rob Van Dam,Sandman,Kurt Angle,Test
Shelly Byrd wrote:
The War Games matches were always exciting no matter who was involved. Vince won't use it because he didn't come up with it.
Jens Gehrke (Germany) wrote:
I also liked this article, cause I always loved to watch a great War Games match! I can remember the first ever war games I saw : War Games at Wrestle War 1991 when Sid Vicious injered Brain Pillamn with a nasty and (so think I) uncontrolled Power Bomb. Just later I saw tapes with the legendray War Games bouts of 1987 and 1989 and during the 90īs some more great bounts of this kind of match should followed.
I also think it's a good idear to involved the ECW rooster in a War Games Match against a WWE rooster (maybe a mix of RAW and SmackDown! Rooster...)
Maybe Vince is not using it , because it would spread too much NWA/WCW attiude. I think someone as Vince is so professional that he can deal with it that he dindīt came up with it ( just like the Eliminaton Chamber was not his idear, as it was created by Eric Bischoff to draw more attention to the RAW rooster).
At the monent I hope that TNA will create a new War Games match for on of their upcomming PPVīs cause I think that could be a good option to them to promote their company and in a matter of fact that they try to act in the spirit of good old NWA/WCW!
Jonathan Preston wrote:
Its because Vince McMahon is too busy with Bra and Panties matches and yearly DIVA search winners to think about innovative wrestling matches.
To be honest, I think that War Games is outdated. Its just 2 steel cage rings put together. Now, the Elimination Chamber, that's innovative. I would like to see more of those matches. All of those matches we're great.
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