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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Let's Go To War
Looking At Some Of The Greatest Gimmick Matches Of WCW
July 13 2004 - by Emer Prevost


Well, it's been a few years since WCW closed their doors, but they left a lot of great memories. But, I'm not here to talk about all the great memories, just two. These were the two match types WCW rolled out only once a year, and they were great.

Let's start with the biggest battle royal in the industry: "World War 3"


Now, I know some people never got to see this spectacle, so let me set the scene for you: three rings are situated in a 'V-shape' formation. Sixty WCW stars would come out and fill those three rings (20 in each ring, for those of you counting). Then, the bell would sound and all hell would break loose. Normal battle royal rules applied normally (over the top and to the floor to be eliminated), but a few years that rule was changed (just hitting the floor was grounds for elimination). This match was so big, that WCW sometimes used SIX commentators (two for each ring) to call the action.

In fact, I think the thing that made WW3 so special was that the very first one was a WCW World Title match. Doing that with a match always equals almost instant credibility. In fact, looking back, the winner of that first World War 3 was Randy Savage, and he made a decent World Champion. The other winners weren't as good, but still passable. Now, you can either look up the results on this site, or you can do the right thing and find the tapes.

The overall shows were good, and if you are into battle royals, you'll love the World War 3 match itself. Trust me on this one. You'll thank me later.

OK, so maybe World War 3 isn't everyone's cup of tea, but this next one will blow away any fan. It was the greatest thing a promoter has ever done with a steel cage. It was a match called War Games.

Yes, War Games. Two teams, two rings, one cage. Originally created as a match for the Four Horsemen, War Games grew into something even bigger than the Horsemen (if such a thing was even possible). It was a type of match that would end bitter feuds, and spill a lot of blood in the process. Again, for those not in the know, I'll give you the rules to this classic.

First off, you need two teams of either four or five wrestlers (depending on the match). Next, each team puts one member into the cage for a five minute brawl. After that a coin is tossed and the team winning the toss sends in a second man, making it a 1-on-2 handicap fight for two minutes. Then, the other team sends in a second man, evening the odds at 2-to-2. This alternating period continues until all the participants are in the cage. Then, the only way to win is to make one of your opponents submit or surrender. It's that simple.

Now, War Games was always something special. Even when it was the Hulkamaniacs (Hogan, Sting, Luger, and Savage) taking on the Dungeon Of Doom (Meng, Kamala, Zodiac, and Shark), it was a great match. There really was no way of messing up War Games, until WCW tried something new in 1998 and 2000.

In '98, rather than go with the two team concept, they made it a three team free-for-all. In this one, the teams were three men, and the times were unchanged, but now the way to win was just to pin any of your opponents in the cage at ANY time. Now, I guess I was just spoiled by the magic of the real War Games and felt that this was a just wrong. There was no intrigue. There was no intensity. It just felt a little iffy. Sadly, this was the final War Games match to be held in the double ring cage.

In 2000, Vince Russo wanted to make sure WCW got their moneys worth out of that triple cage they had from "Ready to Rumble", so on an edition of Nitro, "War Games 2000" was held, and it was a title match. Ten WCW superstars, among them Nash, the Harris Brothers, Booker T., and Jeff Jarrett, would enter the massive cage in a Royal Rumble style (every 2 minutes) and try to get to the top and grab the WCW World Title. But, getting it off the top was just half the fun. The real winner was the one to walk out the door at the bottom of the cage with the belt.

To be honest, this really wasn't a mess up. This was one of the most entertaining match in the later years of WCW. I've said that Vince Russo really screwed up WCW, but this and the massive battle royal on an episode of Thunder (another Millionaire's Club/New Blood match) were really damn good.

Now, War Games isn't dead yet. God no. It is still in use by companies the world over. Granted, they aren't as good as the NWA/WCW originals. But still good. TNA's try at War Games (dubbed "Wednesday Bloody Wednesday") was good, but was really off because of the lack of a second ring. Hell, even XPW, the worst company in the US, had a War Games match. And, even though I have vowed never to touch another digital turd from Rob Black's little side project, I'm tempted to find the DVD of it just because I'm a sucker for War Games.

There is one other match I have to talk about, and this one is an all night event... the Lethal Lottery.

Now, I only saw one Lethal Lottery, at Starrcade 91, here's how it went. Before each match, names were drawn from a tumbler to determine the teams. The faces and heels were in separate locker rooms. According to the storyline, no one had a clue who they'd be teamed up with. It made for a great show. But that's only half of it. The winners of the eleven tag team matches would then go into the BattleBowl double-ring battle royal to determine the overall winner of the evening.

Now, I've seen how some companies do double-ring battle royals, and only a few get the overall need for two rings right. Here's how BattleBowl works. All the wrestlers start in one ring (from here on out known as ring A). The object is to throw your opponents into the adjacent ring (from here on out known as ring B). The only way to go to ring B is to be thrown into ring B or climb into ring B from ring A. Being tossed over any of the other sides doesn't mean anything. As wrestlers are thrown into ring B, a second battle royal begins with normal rules (over the top and to the floor).

When there is only one man in each ring, the bell rings and the real finals of this little tournament happen. A match is instantly started with the winner either scoring a fall or eliminating his opponent in regular battle royal fashion. In case you haven't noticed, I have a thing for battle royals. I guess that's because their something different when compared to most other matches.

Some companies have used Lethal Lotteries as well, but I haven't gotten a chance to see those myself. The closest I've ever come is seeing the Wildcard match at Survivor Series 95, where two teams of four were haphazardly put together a month before the show.

Well, that's my two cents for today. Hopefully this has gotten some people interested in these matches. Trust me, World War 3, WarGames, and Lethal Lottery are three awesome concepts. Check them out if you can find any of the tapes. I'm trying to find a copy of Starrcade 91 now, since my memory was jogged about the Lethal Lottery.

by Emer Prevost


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