It’s your favorite I.R.S. man, Ian R. Singletary, back again for out final AUDIT of February. And as we close out WCW month, I selected a show that brings me fond memories. From memory, it offered not only a couple of classic wrestling matches, but likely the greatest War Games match in the history of professional wrestling. In case you haven’t figured it out by now the PPV I’m AUDITING this week is WCW’s WrestleWar 1992. To set the stage, we go back to mid-1992 and the Bill Watts era was just about to begin. Watts had already taken over full duties of the company, including booking duties with the demotion of Dusty Rhodes. With only 6 days in the office before the PPV, “the Cowboy” was forced to roll with the card without making any substantial alterations.
WCW’s WRESTLE WAR ’92
FEATURING “WAR GAMES”
It was May 17, 1992 from the Memorial Coliseum in Jacksonville, FL.
* THE WAR GAMES: Sting’s Squadron vs. The Dangerous Alliance
* The Steiner Brothers vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Takayuki Iizuka
* Jr. Champion Flyin’ Brian vs. The Z-Man
* U.S. Tag Champions Greg Valentine & Terry Taylor vs. The Freebirds
* Ron Simmons & The Junkyard Dog vs. Cactus Jack & Mr. Hughes
* Scotty Flamingo vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell
* Big Josh vs. Richard Morton
* Super Invader vs. Todd Champion
* Johnny B. Badd vs. Tracy Smothers
We’ve got 9 matches on the PPV card, but before we get rolling aren’t you sad that you missed this…. Diamond Dallas Page & Thomas Rich defeating Firebreaker Chip & Bob Cook (8:05) in the dark match. I wonder if Cook was working a new Patriots character. That’s scary to even think about. What’s even scarier is that I have little doubt Cook did the best of the four in the match. What’s odd is Todd Champion makes it to the PPV card, so both Patriots were here and could have teamed.
And now we get rolling. WCW features that dual announce team gimmick, where you have your match announcers, as well as analysts sitting on a stage discussing things that take place or are yet to come. With Jesse Ventura now the sidekick of Jim Ross on the main commentary team, Tony Schiavone is stuck with Eric Bischoff as they sit in producer chairs to discuss tonight’s event. How quaint.
Now let’s get things rolling with U.S. Tag Team Title Action!
(Notes going in: The two teams had recently had a 2 out of 3 fall match on TV with Taylor & Valentine scoring two falls to one, though the third fall ended with controversy. That led to this rematch being booked for the PPV. You’ve got two masters of the mat against the Birds, so I believe there’s a chance this match should be okay. Taylor was still good in the ring, Valentine was getting his final real run in the big time and he knew it as he actually tried during this stint, and the Freebirds, are the Birds. This was the “New & Improved Freebirds” with that terrible “I’m a Freebird, and what is your excuse” theme music. I’m not sure what made them new, or improved, but let’s just see how the match goes.)
United States Tag Team Championship Match
Terry Taylor & Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (c) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin)
First off, for the sticklers out there, Terry Taylor is going through his “Taylor Made Man” phase, but I just think that’s such a ridiculous name and I refuse to call him that throughout the match. For as shitty as the Red Rooster gimmick was, at least the guy crowed, pecked, and wore a red comb in his hair. In this character, Terry wore a thing to the ring that was meant to look like a suit, but couldn’t even touch Ted DiBiase’s “ring suits”. All Terry had was a glorified ring jacket to the ring, complete with a Velcro bowtie, I ask you how was any of that “Taylor” Made? Anyway, to the match. The referee is Bill Alfonso. Garvin looks in the best shape he’s been in for a while. Hayes & Taylor get things going, and after a feeling out process the Hammer is brought in. The Birds take over on Valentine, and Greg is taking some of the best bumps I’ve seen him take in over 5 years. Either that time off the WWF schedule helped him recover physically, or he knew with Watts in charge he better leave his feet. LOUD “DDT” chants break out. Taylor tags in, but the Birds with several super fats tags as they work over Terry’s arm. Taylor tries to take control by throwing Hayes to the entrance ramp, but Hayes backdrops Terry back into the ring. Terry dumps Garvin to the floor, and Valentine takes advantage, working over Jimmy Jam on the floor. The champs take control, but Valentine charges into a foot in the corner and takes the slow motion face bump as the crowd pops. Garvin tries for the tag but Valentine cuts him off. Valentine goes for a SPLASH? WTF? Well that’s something new. But Garvin gets his knees up. The champs keep Garvin grounded, Taylor applies a rear chinlock. Garvin finally escapes and gets the hot tag to Hayes as Taylor tags in the Hammer. Hayes with a backdrop on Valentine and all four men are in the ring. Hayes sets Valentine up for the DDT, but Taylor nails him with the FIVE ARM! Or as Ventura calls it, “The Five Iron”. Greg covers but Hayes escapes at 2! Nice false finish. The Hammer works over Hayes on the mat. The Hammer tries to come down on Hayes but takes Michael’s knees to his crotch. Taylor tags in, and lands a Nice Looking DOCTOR BOMB for 2. The Hammer back in and hooks in the Figure Four on Hayes, but Garvin makes the save! Taylor back in, Hayes blocks a turnbuckle smash and lands three on Taylor, before hitting him with the LEFT JAB! Hayes drops Taylor with the jab! HOT TAG TO GARVIN! Garvin comes in with a nice array of spots against both of the champions. Valentine winds up tripping Jimmy Jam from the outside and Taylor drops a knee into the back of Garvin’s head for 2. Taylor goes to slam Garvin but Jimmy slides over behind Terry and hooks him for the DDT! Valentine rushes in for the save, but Garvin ducks and backdrops The Hammer while he holds Taylor for the DDT. Valentine gets up to stop Garvin again but walks into a LEFT JAB from Michael Hayes, and Garvin lands the DDT on Taylor for the win and the titles, while Hayes holds Greg on the mat. Time was 16:00 even.
Winners: The Freebirds win the belt
(Post Match Thoughts: What you had here was four guys, all past their primes, except maybe Taylor who could still go but ever since that whole Rooster & York Foundation thing, he couldn’t be taken seriously. Even still, you’ve got four guys who’ve been around the block for well over a decade and they know how to put a match together. So where most of them may have lacked in action, they made up for it in psychology and a nice spot where needed. The heels did fine in the heat, I enjoyed the false finish, and the real finish was even better. These guys worked as hard as they could by their 1992 standards. **1/2)
(Badd vs. Smothers Notes going in: According to the preshow, this was originally scheduled to be Badd taking on Firebreaker Chip, which is kind of odd since Johnny was working face here and Chip really hadn’t done much on TV most of the year. Smothers makes as good a replacement as any. No story behind this thing, Steve Armstrong has split town on his partner Tracy and now Smothers is lost in limbo, but somehow managed to make it to the PPV. This is one of those “Light Heavyweight” division matches between two guys that are likely out of the weight range.)
Johnny B. Badd vs. Tracy Smothers
I’ve got a problem with this. Tracy working heel, but somehow “Young Pistol Tracy” doesn’t sound quite badass enough. Before the match the announcers acknowledge that Smothers is not a singles competitor, so why keep the “Young Pistol” moniker? And get a load of that name on the screen, the name “Tracy” is in parenthesis and not Young Pistol. LOL, whatever. Badd is something else tonight, sparkles shoot out of his cape arms, he lets fans stuff money down his kneepad, and then the Badd Blaster. He was over here, I’ll give him that. The referee is Fred Atkins. Badd starts off with some token face offense on Smothers, Tracy has a momentary sign of life with some cheap shots in the corner, but Badd goes back on the offense. Johnny runs into a back fist from Smothers in the corner and Tracy hits his signature jumping karate side kick to drop Badd. Smothers pulls every heel trick in the book out before he lands a Spinning Back Elbow off the top for 2. Smothers goes back to the top rope for a flying reverse body block, but Badd rolls over on top. They kind of blew the reversal on the body block but they managed to cover it up. Jesse wants to know what the lips on Johnny B’s tights mean, what message are they sending. Implying “Kiss My Ass”. Smothers with another karate kick and a chinlock, but Badd escapes and lands a high knee. Badd with a nice looking powerslam and a Sunset Flip from the top gets 2. Smothers retaliates with a stiff back fist and shoots bad off. This time Tracy misses a side kick, Badd ducks under and Smothers turns into the KISS THAT DON’T MISS, KO punch from Badd and that will do it at 7:04.
Winner: Johnny B.
(Post Match Thoughts: This really felt like a Power Hour main event or something. Smothers got in a few decent moves but his offense really wasn’t there. Badd got in all his usual spots of the time. This was basically a match for Badd to shine. *)
– Missy Hyatt is standing by with the new U.S. Tag Team Champions the Freebirds, and a brunette “Precious”. Precious has served as the manager of Jimmy Garvin for most of his World Class run, and also his run in JCP/NWA in the mid-to-late 80’s before Garvin joined the Freebirds. I usually go for blondes, but Precious looks a lot better here in the brown hair. Nobody ever names Precious by name though she does talk, Garvin refers to her as “Squeezey”. Hayes says the Birds dedicated this match to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and now they’re coming for the NWA & WCW Tag Team Titles. (Only after the interview does Tony Schiavone make reference to it being Precious who was with the Birds)
(Flamingo vs. Bagwell Notes going in: Flamingo would go on to become Johnny Polo, and eventually Raven. Kind of funny to see where he started off. These two actually first feuded in the Global Wrestling Federation down in Dallas, Texas when Flamingo was known as “The Palm Beach Heartthrob” Scott Anthony, and Bagwell wore a Zorro mask and was dubbed “The Handsome Stranger”. Both guys have made it to the big time now, though I don’t expect very much out of this match. Very few had better promo work than Flamingo, and he certainly had a look, but he was never much on dazzling offense. Bagwell had the body WCW wanted, and over time he was carry-able, but who’s going to carry who here? Bagwell is past the “Rookie” gimmick, so his expectations are higher, unfortunately for him. Like I said, I don’t expect much. No storyline or feud here, just two guys likely pushing towards a Light Heavyweight Title shot.)
Scotty Flamingo vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell
Some fun banter between Jim Ross & Ventura regarding their ages makes the opening portion of this match enjoyable. Rather than the usual feeling out process, these two guys open things up by slapping the shit out of each other! NICE! Bgwell with a back suplex, and reverses a vertical suplex with a float over for 2. Flamingo dumps Bagwell to the floor to take over. Flamingo takes over with a back suplex and a fist drop off the second rope which he no doubt learned while in Memphis. 😉 Flamingo goes to the reverse chinlock. Where would we be without the chinlock? Bagwell breaks free, but Flamingo comes at him with a cross body and both men go over the top rope to the floor! Back in the ring, it’s Bagwell on the offense. Marcus is slow between moves, and his punches are the slowest I’ve seen. Some confusion goes on and Bagwell drives an elbow into the face of Flamingo to cover it up. Bagwell hooks Flamingo in the Fisherman’s Suplex, but Scotty gets his foot on the bottom rope. Another sloppy transition and Bagwell hooks Scotty in a reverse cradle, but Flamingo reverses it and rolls on top, hooking Bagwell’s tights for the win in 7:09.
Winner: Scotty Flamingo
(Post Match Thoughts: This was pretty bad. I liked the opening and a few moves, but overall this was pretty bad. Several sloppy transitions/blown spots, though to their credit they just kept going. 1/2*)
– Beach Blast Promo. Just when you thought it was safe, it’s WCW Beach Blast. I suspect there’s a joke in there somewhere, but after that last match my creative juices have been drained for a bit.
– We go back to Superbrawl ’92 when Ron Simmons was attacked by Abdullah the Butcher & Cactus Jack, when out from the crowd came a spectator. Hey, that’s no ordinary fan!
THAT’S THE JUNKYARD DOG!
The Dog mauls over security on his way to the ring, where he clears Cactus & Abby and makes the save for Simmons. You would think this would lead to a Simmons & JYD vs. Cactus & Abby match, and I’m sure that was the initial plan. But by the time WrestleWar rolled around, the Butch was gone and Mr. Hughes was monkey wrenched into his spot. You may ask, what does Mr. Hughes have to do with Cactus Jack? The answer is quite simple. NOTHING! In fact, the preshow event advertised two SINGLES matches with, with Simmons vs. Hughes, and Cactus vs. JYD. Did I ever mention how half of WCW PPV matches would be changed between the preshow and the actual PPV. It’s like they really had no clue what would be on the undercard, sort of like WWE today.
(Cactus/Hughes vs. JYD/Simmons Notes going in: I already broke down the angle that led to this match above, so I’ll just go on by saying I hope Cactus can save this match. Simmons wasn’t bad either at this point, just a couple months off from his surprise World Title win, but we’re going to need Jack’s antics if we want anything to be salvaged of a match involving Mr. Hughes and a 1992 JYD. You’d almost need to take the Dog out of the equation….Aaaand, there it is!)
Ron Simmons & The Junkyard Dog vs. Mr. Hughes & Cactus Jack
The heels are out first, but Cactus climbs down the ramp and hides to the side of the entrance stage. Once Ron Simmons passes by, Jack attacks the JYD on the stage and tosses him down to the floor! The Dog initially fights back but Cactus rams him chest first into the side of the ramp, then proceeds to drop the flying elbow off the ramp and onto the arena floor!!!!!!!!!
Simmons backdrops Cactus on the runway and tends to his would be partner. The Dog is down! The Dog is hurt. Jim Ross sells it like it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to the Dog. I guess he forgot about the Freebirds hair cream angle, and that God awful Stagger Lee costume. It’s announced that JYD is unable to compete. Simmons makes his way to the ring where both Cactus & Hughes await a potential handicap match. Officials decide this will be a ONE-ON-ONE match! Could we be lucky enough that both JYD AND Hughes are eliminated from this match? No, we’re not that lucky. It seems that Simmons will take on Mr. Hughes, which was actually announced in the preshow. So technically we’re out the Cactus vs. JYD match, and that’s a train wreck I would have loved to have seen. But I guess we just did. I don’t know if this was planned from the beginning, I can’t imagine it was. Maybe it was Bill Watt’s payback for Dog walking out on him back in 1984, or maybe Watts knew how shitty the match would be. Who knows. I do know that we’ve got a 1 on 1 match coming up.
(NEW NOTES GOING IN: I didn’t expect a barn burner to start with, but with Simmons now having to carry the dead weight Mr. Hughes, I can only hope this thing is kept short after that drawn out pre-match angle.)
Ron Simmons vs. Mr. Hughes (with Cactus Jack)
After Simmons tends to the JYD, he comes rushing back to ringside and wipes both Hughes & Jack out of the ring. Mr. Hughes climbs back inside, the bell finally sounds and it appears somebody has decided this is a one-on-one. Referee is Bill Alfonso here. Ventura drops a Bill Watts reference, ribbing that Watts played for Oklahoma when they were terrible. Simmons starts off with impact but Hughes takes over. Jesse Ventura wants to know if this is a handicap match or one-on-one, Ross isn’t even sure. This eats at Jesse for the duration of the match as he repeatedly questions WHO made this decision, and WHY did they choose Hughes over Jack. Ventura thinks both Cactus & Hughes should be allowed in. Three minutes in and we finally learn that yes it is a singles match. Hughes distracts the referee to allow Cactus to take some cheap shots on Simmons. Jesse just won’t let the entire situation drop about the decision to continue this match as a singles match. Ross sounds frustrated in trying to have to answer these questions. Hughes drapes Ron over the second rope and tries to drop a leg on the back of Simonn’s head but Ron moves and Hughes crotches himself on the ropes. Simmons comes back on the offense and nails a Spinebuster on Hughes for the pin but Cactus jumps into the ring. Simmons pops up and nails Jack with a shoulder block to send Cactus outside. Ron then sets himself up and nails Hughes with a shoulder tackle to the knee of Hughes and gets the win after 5:27.
Winner: Ron Simmons
(Post Match Thoughts: I’m thinking this would have been MUCH better with Cactus in the actual match, and even JYD getting in his token stuff. Simmons looked fine on offense, but that was few and in between. Jack’s antics on the outside and Simmons made this match, Hughes was nothing here. 1/4* for what little was good about this.
(Champion vs. Invader Notes going in: This was one of those “We have extra time so why not” unannounced matches. Todd Champion is/was one-half of the WCW Patriots. His partner did the job in the dark match, let’s see how Todd fairs here against the Super Invader, who has Harley Race as his manager. Invader is actually Hercules Hernandez with a red stocking on his face. After 6 plus years there, Herc had left the WWF only a couple of months earlier, and now he shows up in WCW hailing from Bangkok, Thailand. That had to hurt his ego. Todd spent most of the late 80’s working as a WCW jobber under the same name, he got bigger and improved slightly and ended up with a semi-push in late 1991, but he hadn’t done shit in months by this point. I don’t see Hercules improving since leaving the WWF so this match scares me. Hopefully Herc just mauls him and it’s over quick.)
Todd Champion vs. The Super Invader (w/Harley Race)
The Invader jumps Champion to get things going. Side slam by the Invader. You know, he’s sporting this weird looking glove on his right hand, you would think it would imply he would use the Claw as a finisher. Even when he came out he made a claw gesture with his hand, as seen in the image above. Never once does Super Invader even hint as using a claw. Belly to back suplex by the Mighty Invader. The Thailand chinlock is applied. In America we call that a reverse chinlock. Great Oriental Martial Arts hold there. “BORING” chants. I agree. Todd escapes but is sent to the floor and into the railing. Todd tries to fight back but Super Hercules no sells anything Todd does and slams him on the floor. Back in the ring, Invader goes to the top rope but comes down into the foot of Champion. Somebody screws something up in a spot. Champion hits his finisher, the spinning elbow, but the crowd could care less. Hercules gets RIGHT UP. Todd comes off the ropes and Invader hits him with a terribly shitty Hot Shot on the top rope. Champion basically gave it to himself. Shitty. Invader with a nasty looking Powerbomb and it’s finally all over in 5:26.
Winner: Super Invader
(Post Match Thoughts: This was a squash, plain and simple. The Super Invader gimmick was still very new so I don’t even have an issue with putting him over in a competitive squash, but get a guy that’s easier to throw around. Champion was a pretty tall guy and well built, having Invader no sell him seemed fairly fake. Also, Hercules was just bad at this point, and that’s coming from a fan of his. Invader didn’t last long and it’s obvious why. DUD)
(Big Josh vs. Morton Notes going in: This was the second unannounced PPV match of the night. No heat, no angle, no feud, Morton was barely relevant in the York Foundation, and that was MONTHS ago. Big Josh/Matt Borne was a good sized worker with a shitty gimmick that limited his push. I see this being yet another 5 – 7 minute match to fill time. Surely they won’t try to drag it out any longer than that. No matter who wins, it’s irrelevant, it does nothing for anyone. It would have had a little more meaning had Scott Hall not quit earlier that day. The original plan here was to do Big Josh vs. Diamond Studd, I assume with Hall going over as he was being groomed for the Dangerous Alliance. But Hall quit WCW earlier that day because Watts wouldn’t offer a guaranteed contract and Scott had already gotten the green light from Vince that he could start working for the WWF doing a “Fonzy-like” character. Cuban / Italian, Tony Montana / Arthur Fonzerelli, Same Difference? This match is the definition of filler, as has been most of the entire card up until now. Let’s fill some more time fellas)
Big Josh vs. Richard Morton
Bill Alfonso the referee. If there was ever time for intermission, this was probably it. The crowd is actually more active here than the last match. Josh shows off his power over the much smaller Morton, even landing the Log Roll. Now there’s a move that isn’t utilized enough these days. Morton rips the shirt off of Josh, and Josh works him over in the corner. Josh misses a rush into the corner and Morton takes him down with a belly to back suplex. Ricky tries a little bit of this and that to keep Josh down, but Borne kicks out with authority. Ricky hits a variation of a single arm DDT takedown and works the arm of Josh. Big Josh battles back with the Corkscrew Elbow for 2. Josh telegraphs a backdrop and Morton goes back to the arm. The fans clap for Josh, at least they’re into this thing, God bless them. Now Morton telegraphs the backdrop and Josh lands an awesome looking belly to belly, and then a double underhook suplex for 2. Morton goes tot he eyes of Josh and comes off the second rope, but Josh catches him with an inverted Atomic Drop. Josh hits Ricky with a running double axe handle, and finishes things off with the “Northern Exposure” butt drop for the win at 7:27.
Winner: Big Josh
(Post Match Thoughts: It was a match. Another filler. Nothing bad about the match, but just another TV match in my opinion. Like many of the other filler matches, a couple of good moves, but there’s really nothing to the matches. * because it was fine for what it was.)
– We get a short clip of an interview with Tom Zenk conducted by Jim Ross on the “WCW” Saturday night program. The Z-Man had recently been turning his luck around, building up a winning streak and looking for title shots. This brings out Brian Pillman, who was the Z-Man’s old partner. They were former U.S. Tag Champions together, but now Pillman is the Light Heavyweight Champion. They bicker like two high school girls about time gone by. They both come off kind of cocky and heelish in the interview, even though they’re both supposed to be baby faces. I guess in both instances it’s their real personality shining through. Pillman jumps in the ring and calls Zenk to come in and challenge him. This has set up a Light Heavyweight Title match between the two (former?) friends.
(Pillman vs. Zenk Notes going in: For the second time tonight, WCW used a highlight or clip from a previous broadcast to explain the reasoning behind the match. That’s something new that WCW really hadn’t used in the past, but it always worked wonders in the WWF. I’m glad WCW went this route as it really adds a little fire behind the meaning of some of the matches for people who may not have been watching in this period. As explained above, these two were once the best of friends. Perhaps they still are? But the title means more than friendship, and that’s what this match is all about! As for the match? Pillman was tremendous, Zenk was very capable and could have good matches with pretty much anyone that could keep him going. I suspect this will be a really good match between two guys who were fairly good friends outside the ring at one point.)
For the first time in his career, Tom Zenk gets PYRO!!!! And apparently nobody informed him about it prior to his entrance.
It appears Zenk nearly shits himself during his entrance. Seriously, I need a GIF of this, the picture doesn’t do it justice. He tries to play it off after the fact, but you can tell by the look on his face, he had no idea that was coming. It’s pretty hilarious.
WCW Light Heavyweight Championship Match
Flyin’ Brian Pillman (c) vs. “Z-Man” Tom Zenk
Right out of the gate, Jesse does his usual “who do you think is going to cheat first?” gimmick. As we get started, some quick reversals leads to both guys throwing a dropkick at the same time. Stalemate. Another round of reversals and they hooks arms and spin each other in mid-air. Stalemate. We have more counters, and counters for those counters. Jesse sounds appalled that someone the size of Pillman was once a nose tackle in college football. Zenk with a series of near falls on the champ and Pillman responds with some wicked ass chops. Brian works the leg of Zenk and talks trash in the process. Pillman misses a somersault senton onto the leg of Zenk and the Z-Man takes over. Zenk with a suplex, and backbreaker, and the Z-Man works the back of Flyin’ Brian. Zenk tries for a springboard splash in the corner but lands on the knees of Pillman. Brian goes back to working the leg of Zenk. Pillam works a Half Crab, but Zenk gets free and nails an Enzuigiri kick for a 2 count! Zenk goes for a high knee in the corner and misses! Zenk goes down and Pillman locks on the Figure Four! The two men start SLAPPING each other while the Figure Four is applied! Zenk reverses the Figure Four! Pillman rolls the hold back to his advantage, but both men are in the ropes and the hold is broke. Pillman with some nasty chops, but Zenk backdrops him to the apron. Pillman slingshots back into the ring with a body block but Zenk turns it into a POWERSLAM that gets 2! Chop fight ensues, Pillman with a Crucifix for 2! Pillman tries a superplex but Zenk shoves him off the ropes and Brian takes a nasty bump. Zenk goes to the top for a high cross body, but he goes high and ends up falling off of Pillman before he can cover. It seemed as if Brian was supposed to roll on top in the cross body spot. Both men try a leapfrog and crack heads. Zenk tosses Pillman up into the lights and Brian comes down on his stomach, damn near on his head. Wow. Z-Man gets 2. Pillman takes over, tries to whip the Z-Man off the ropes but Zenk collapses from the leg injury. Pillman decides to take to the air. As Brian goes to the top rope, Zenk gets up, he was PLAYING POSSUM! Pillman comes flying off the top rope and face first right into a SUPERKICK from the Z-Man! 1, 2, Pillman’s in the ropes! Zenk starts punting the spine of Pillman, really heelish stuff. Both guys have really played up the heel mannerisms in this match. The Z-Man goes to the top rope for a flying dropkick, but Pillman steps aside and Zenk misses! Pillman capitalizes immnediately with a deep jackknife pin, and 1, 2, 3, and that’s all she wrote. Pillman gets the win and retains at 15:29.
Winner: Flyin’ Brian
After the match, Pillman takes the title, gives a dirty stare to Zenk and just walks out of the ring. No reconciliation, not mutual respect, no handshake, these two guys have severed a friendship!
(Post Match Thoughts: This was a good match, and when it picked up it got REALLY GOOD. They started things off with the old “these two guys were a team and know each other so well” spots, and then it broke down into slaps, chops, and a variety of aggressive action. Some nice spots by both and great bumps by Pillman. One thing that was good about both guys playing the aggressor was that it felt like a true title fight. You knew that something was on the line and this wasn’t just another match, like most of the card up until now. They pulled out all the stops, and we wind up with a good solid match. I think my expectations were set a little higher, my memories had this thing built up as being better than what it was. But you have to remember in 1992 my standards weren’t as high as they are now. After 2 decades of Lucha Libre, Puroresu, Cruiserweight Divisions, ECW technical clinics, etc., it’s hard to compare this match to all of that. For 1992 standards in the U.S., these guys tore the house down in a juniors style match. It wasn’t Pillman vs. Liger good, but it was still good. ***1/2)
(Steiners vs. Fujinami/iizuka Notes going in: It’s the Steiners. Who am I to doubt the Steiners? Then you have Fujinami, a true legend of Japan, and Iizuke, who at the time was a really good mid-card worker for NJPW. Fujinami may have been past his prime by this point, but he was still capable and knew what he could do. Iizuka may have been a mid-carder in New Japan, but that’s a semi-main eventer in American standards. The guy could go. This should be pretty damn good, as long as everyone cooperates. Oh yeah, this match is to determine the #1 contenders to the IWGP Tag Titles in Japan. I believe the champs at the time were Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow.)
#1 Contender Match for the IWGP Tag Team Titles
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Takayuki Iizuka
Referee is Randy Anderson. The Steiners are the current WCW World Tag Team Champions, but the titles are not on the line. We’ve got Scott & Fujinami starting. Ventura compares this match to car companies, and uses it as a way to trash people who buy Japanese cars for putting American workers out of business. Twenty-two years later, and can you argue with him? Scott gets the better of Fujinami, and Iizuka tags in. Takayuki looks good with some nice athleticism, even landing a top rope somersault senton block for 2. Iizuka locks Scott in a Boston Crab, but Scott eventually powers out. The two men go into the Steamboat/Flair bridge spot where Scott’s laying on the mat, Iizuka is laying on Scott and they bridge up to their feet and go into a backslide. Only Scott doesn’t go for a backslide, no, he’s a Steiner! Instead, Scott bridges up and hits a Double Underhook Powerbomb!!! Scott picks Iizuka up and hangs him over his shoulder in a powerbomb position then tags to brother Rick for the first time! Rick comes off the top with a flying elbow, knocking Iizuka off of Scott’s shoulder! Looks like Rick busted Iizuka’s nose on that one.
Fujinami tags in to tangle with Rick. Some amateur grappling and Rick just THROWS Fujinami upside down in a German Suplex. Something tells me Fujinami didn’t want to take that, but he had no choice. Rick grabs a side headlock, and Fujinami tries a counter with a Saito Suplex, but Rick sits in on it to block it. What an asshole. Scott tags in and works a half crab on Fujinami before tagging back to Rick. Rick Steiner steps in and Tatsumi finally takes over, picking Rick up on his shoulders LOD style and tagging to Iizuka. It looks like Fujinami & Iizuka are going for the Dooms Day Device, but RICK CATCHES IIZUKA AND TURNS IT INTO A BELLY TO BELLY OFF THE SHOULDERS OF FUJINAMI! HOLY SHIT! Rick only gets 2.
Fujinami tags back in and works on the leg of Rick. I don’t know if Iizuka is just selling, or if he took a bad shot earlier in the match, but he looks groggy on the apron. Iizuka takes over for Fujinami, and the Steiners decide to stop selling. Rick punks out Iizuka on the mat, and then tags to Scott who immediately hits Takayuki with a tilt a whirl slam. Scott then with a double chicken wing before landing a T-Bone Suplex. Here comes Rick back in now. What are they going to do to poor Iizuka now? Rick puts Iizuka up over his shoulder and drives him upside down in the corner. Scott follows up with a Pump handle slam. Scott misses a blind tag to Fujinami, and the Japanese FINALLY take over, for now anyway.
Fujinami works an abdominal stretch and rolls it back into a pinning combo for 2. Scott decides he’s done selling and cuts Fujinami off, forces him down, and tags Rick back in. Fujinami drives Rick back into the Japanese corner and tags in Iizuka. Takayuki starts going off with nice looking rapid fire kicks to Rick, and Steiner doesn’t want any of it, so he shoots on Iizuka and flings him up in the air and down on on his neck, that was nasty and Iizuka didn’t have time to protect himself. Rick with a belly to belly and a cover for 2. Both Scott & Fujinami tag back in. In a nice spot, the Japanese duo apply a double top wristlock and Scott does a standing backflip to escape and follows through with a double Japanese armdrag on his opponents. Nice spot, it looks like the Steiners will cooperate when it makes them look good. The Japanese team duck a Double Steinerline from Scott, but turn into a Double Steinerline Off The Top from Rick! The fans are just loving this match.
Scott sets Iizuka up for a superplex, but Fujinami comes up from behind and back suplex Scott off the second rope. Iizuka hits a German on Scott and folds him in half for 2. Then the Japanese nail Scott with a Spike Piledriver. Fujinami holds Scott while Iizuka lands a dropkick off the top. Fujinami locks Scott in the Dragon Sleeper! That’s Fujinami’s finisher in Japan, but the fans in America don’t know that so they hardly make a noise for it. Scott gets to the ropes for the break. Scott blocks a second Dragon Sleeper and hits Fujinami with a Steinerline, then both men run into each other before making the tag to Iizuka and Rick! Rick hits a Steinerline and a nice belly to belly suplex for a cover but Fujinami drags Rick off. That brings Scott back in to hold off Tatsumi. Rick hits Iizuka with a belly to belly off the top rope and that does it in 18:17.
Winners: The Steiners
(Post Match Thoughts: Again, another match that I set the standards high for based on memories. At first, I was wondering if this would live up to the hype. The Steiners certainly wanted to let their opponents know they were going to control the match. This sort of reminded me of a Japanese wrestler vs. gaijin in Japan, where the Japanese worker would try and take advantage of the foreigner until they fought back. The Steiners weren’t going to take any crap, and they were going to do what they wanted. I felt bad for Iizuka, he got to shine just a little early on, and then he must have done something to upset the Steiners because they were stiffing him left and right, not selling his stuff, and basically shooting on him with dangerous takedowns. Even with the busted nose and swollen eye, Iizuka continued to work hard. Even though the Steiners controlled the majority of the first 2/3 of the match, the Japanese getting heat at the end saved the match. It was nice to see the Steiners showcase their talents, but not when it takes away from the match. Somehow, they managed to give the Japanese contingent just enough to keep this match going. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, maybe they planned the match to go this way, but I just don’t see Fujinami going for it. Ross did good work getting the Japanese team over on commentary while Jesse continuously babbled about Iizuka’s eye. I mean how can you crap on Steiners throwing guys around the ring? And as I said, when the Japanese were given opportunity to shine, they did a good job. There were two small stretches where Iizuka & Fujinami were in control, and giving them that heat at the end was the savior of the match. Otherwise, it would have been nothing more than an extended squash, and that’s not an exaggeration. Good win for the Steiners in what turned out to be an okay match. This could have been much better had the Steiners just let the Japanese team compete. But the Steiners were notorious for no selling certain people/teams and as a result it made some of their matches come up short when they could have been classics. Even still, ***3/4)
(WAR GAMES Notes going in: Where the hell do you start with something like this? There was shit going on all over the place.
– We go back to the night the Dangerous Alliance first began to assemble (Halloween Havoc 1991). Larry Zbyszko & Arn Anderson crushed the hand of Barry Windham in a car door.
– Shortly after Rick Rude would injure the leg of Sting and defeat him for the U.S. Heavyweight Title at a Clash of the Champions.
– After moving past Sting, Rick Rude would continue on by defending his U.S. Title in a feud with Ricky Steamboat.
– The Dangerous Alliance (namely Rude) broke the nose of Ricky Steamboat after slamming & rubbing his face into the concrete floor.
– Barry Windham had recently defeated Steve Austin for the TV Title at this point.
– Dustin Rhodes being friends and partners of both Windham & Steamboat had his share of issues with the Alliance as well.
– Arn Anderson had morphed from his team with Larry Zbyszko, to teaming with Bobby Eaton, making the Alliance interchangeable and fluid in any formation.
– During a backstage brawl with the Alliance attacking Sting, Nikita Koloff made his surprise return to WCW to save the Stinger. What was more odd was that the last we saw Koloff he was a heel feuding with Sting. So the major question going into this one is could Nikita Koloff be trusted?
I’m likely forgetting some of the small angles ran on TV in between, but let’s just put it this way. There was A LOT of shit to tie these 10 guys together and make this match feel like more than just a match, it really did feel like a War was coming. I saw this live when it happened, I watched it another dozen times over the next several years that followed. I haven’t watched this match in a good decade and a half, but I still already know this thing is going to kick ass, so just sit back and enjoy the ride! This is one match that I KNOW will hold up to my memories.)
STING’S SQUADRON – STING, RICKY STEAMBOAT, BARRY WINDHAM, DUSTIN RHODES, NIKITA KOLOFF
THE DANGEROUS ALLIANCE – “RAVISHING” RICK RUDE, STEVE AUSTIN, ARN ANDERSON, BOBBY EATON, LARRY ZBYSZKO
(with PAUL E. DANGEROUSLY & MADUSA)
PERIOD #1: After Dangerously goes over the plans with his team, it’s time to kick this thing off! And it’s Steve Austin & Barry Windham to start this thing! Windham had recently defeated Austin for the TV Title (which wouldn’t last long). Austin immediately tries to throw Barry into the cage, but Windham stops short. This first period is 5 minutes, with all periods that follow lasting 2 minutes. At the end of this period we get the coint toss to see who gets the advantage. We see Paul E. discussing what will happen if his team doesn’t get the advantage at the end of the period. Windham tosses Austin into the cage, and plants him with a DDT. Austin hits a jumping clothesline that takes both men out of one ring and into another. Steve tries to use the top of the cage to his advantage, pulling himself up in the air, but Windham moves out of the way and Austin falls on his face. Barry introduces Austin’s face to the cage over and over again, grinding it into the steel and Austin is already bleeding in the first period! Windham sticks the bloody face of Austin right into the camera as we count down to the coin toss.
PERIOD #2: And what do you know? The heels win the coin toss. Well I’ll be damned. And surprisingly Rick Rude is next in. The Dangerous Alliance now have the advantage. While Austin lays bleeding, the fresh Rick Rude works over Windham. Just when it appears Barry is coming back, Austin joins in for the advantage and Steve hits Barry with a clothesline off the second rope. Rude & Austin then repeatedly send Barry head first into the cage! And it’s that time again!
PERIOD #3: Ricky Steamboat hits the ring on fire. The crowd just explodes as Steamboat beats the hell out of both Austin & Rude. Steamboat with DDT’s for both members of the Alliance and man is Austin bleeding buckets. Ricky grabs the roof of the cage and dropkicks Austin. Ricky hangs on to the top of the cage and hooks Rude for a hurican rana! Hot damn this shit is good!
PERIOD #4: Here comes Arn Anderson for the advantage. Anderson with a DDT on Windham! SPINEBUSTER on Steamboat! Just like that, Arn grabs the advantage! Rude & Anderson both hook one of Steamboat’s legs in a Boston Crab. Windham comes to the rescue, but the Alliance’s numbers are too much for the baby faces. Rude with a Piledriver on Steamboat! Rude flings the Dragon from one ring to the next. Double clothesline by Rude & The Dragon as we count down.
PERIOD #5: Dusting Rhodes explodes into the ring with a series of punche and elbows on Arn, then tosses Austin’s skull up into the cage roof, followed by a Lariat for Austin, Lariat for Anderson! Sting’s Squadron making a comeback! Dustin picks Austin up onto his shoulders and DRAGS HIS SKULL BACKWARDS across the top of the cage! Great innovative spot there! Rude gets a Figure Four on Steamboat but the Dragon rolls it over. Windham has Arn upside down, with his head stuck between the rings! I Love it!
PERIOD #6: Larry Zbyszko is in, but runs right into Dustin Rhodes. Madusa climbs the cage and slides Paul E’s cellular phone into the cage to Arn Anderson. Arn starts blasting all the faces with the phone to give the Alliance the advantage once again. Windham And Windham both rammed into the steel and they’re busted open.
PERIOD #7: Here comes the STINGER! Bulldog on Anderson. Sting military presses Rude up into the cages’ roof repeatedly! Anderson takes an insane bump into the cage for Sting, and then Austin takes an even more crazy backdrop bump into the cage for the Stinger. Sting rakes Arn’s face across the steel and now Anderson is also bleeding. Larry Z and Windham knock each other down with simultaneous punches. Austin nails Dustin with a lariat. Sting & Dragon make a wish with Rick Rude’s legs. Outside the cage, Madusa wraps Bobby Eaton’s fist with tape.
PERIOD #8: Bobby Eaton becomes the last member of the Alliance to enter. Dustin is just gushing blood. Looks so awesome. Zbyszko starts screwing with the corner buckle, Rick Rude joins him in untwisting the the turnbuckle from the post. Dustin pops Austin with a big boot. Did I mention Dustin is a bloody mess? There’s so much going on. Just brutal!
PERIOD #9: Nikita Koloff enters. And it’s THE MATCH BEYOND! Submit or Suurender. Can Sting trust him???? Koloff blasts Arn Anderson, then helps up Sting! Arn & Austin try to ambush Sting, but Koloff shoves Sting out of the way and takes the blow instead. Nikita & Sting rebound and take Arn & Austin down with clothesline, then they high five and hug and the crowd goes nuts! STINGER SPLASH TO ARN! Scorpion Deathlock on Anderson, but Eaton makes the save. Rude gets the corner buckle off of the post, finally. That takes some real work without using a tool. Dustin with a Figure Four on Zbyszko, Koloff drives Austin’s bloody face in the corner. Just shit going on everywhere. Rhodes goes to the top rope and misses an elbow drop on Austin. Eaton grabs Sting as Larry Zbyszko grabs the steel buckle of the top rope. Zbyszko swings the steel like a baseball bat, but Sting moves and Larry hits Eaton in the shoulder! Sting then drops Zbyszko and places a standing armbreaker on Eaton for the submission win in 23:24!
Winners: Sting’s Squadron
After the match, Sting;s team leave the ring victorious while the Dangerous Alliance hint dissention as they all argue with Larry Zbyszko for hitting Eaton and essentially costing them the match.
(Post Match Thoughts: Well, that was everything I remembered and then some. Knowing even more now than I did in 1992, I can appreciate this match EVEN MORE, and I didn’t really think that was possible. This thing felt like a War from the initial bell. There was no slow build, these guys just went right at it. You could feel the intensity, and not in the way Gorilla Monsoon said it. I mean you could REALLY feel the intensity going into this. You could literally feel the hatred and emotions, every single aspect of this match was done right. I can’t think of one thing bad to say. The blood was great, the intensity in the fight felt REAL like these people actually wanted to maim each other. Some fun, unique, spots using the cage only added to the match, like icing on the cake. I liked Madusa getting worked into the match by climbing the cage and slipping Paul E’s phone down in to Arn. I was a little surprised to see the bump machine Eaton go in last, but I guess he was working with a legit shoulder injury at the time, which explains not only why he came in last, but also the finish. Even the little things made this feel so realistic, Dangerously in the huddle with his blueprints, Madusa taping up Bobby’s fists right before he was about to go into the cage, little things like that add soooo much. Of course this was the beginning of the end for the Dangerous Alliance. Initially, Zbyszko was to be canned from the unit and be replaced by The Diamond Studd (Scott Hall) but Hall actually quit WCW earlier in the day. Bill Watts had other plans though, and disbanded the Alliance for no good reason. Out of all the dumb shit Watts did when he trampled into the company, that was probably the worst. That or the top rope rule, I don’t know. If you lived through it, I don’t need to explain it, for those who didn’t it’s hard to explain just how big a deal it was when Nikita entered the match. It was 50/50 if Koloff could be trusted, and until he hit that ring and nailed Arn, you truly didn’t know if he was going to turn on Sting. When that crowd exploded for Nikita’s bonding with Sting, it was real emotion, another great story being told inside the story itself. This match had EVERYTHING. It gets my very first ***** and I don’t believe WCW ever had another match that ever topped this for the rest of their existence. Amazing.)
THE FINAL AUDIT: We were beyond halfway into this show before things picked up. Usually, that’s a scary thing, but not so much when you have one of the greatest matches of all time on your card. Let’s break this show down real quick. You had 4 matches that really had no business on PPV, but because so much of the main talent was all competing in the main event, WCW was forced to fill the time with what they had leftover. And at this time in 1992, that wasn’t so good. I’ll say this. Of the crap they threw at the wall early in the show, while none of it turned out to be a sleeper match, it was all kept short which prevented it from dragging on, so in that sense, they made a good call. Then you had the two mid-card matches for the U.S. Tag Titles and Simmons/Hughes. Both matches had a back story, so there was heat there, the Simmons match was kept mercifully short, and the pre-match stuff with Cactus vs. JYD was pretty cool. The Freebirds win the U.S. belts and that match actually ended up being pretty decent and a solid opener to get things going. And while the Steiners & Light Heavyweight matches weren’t the ****+ matches that I remembered, they were still both pretty good and then of course there was the War Games, which deserves all 5 stars it was given. The first 90 minutes of the show was hit or misses, mainly miss, but the last hour and 20 were certainly good PPV stuff. Throw in the show opener and you’ve got at least 2 hours of good stuff.
I’ve got to hand it to these fans, they sat through some generic matches but didn’t let it suck the interest out of them. There was plenty of crowd response in the action, which actually seemed to pick back up during the Morton vs. Big Josh match, oddly enough. We were then given a junior style match, a stiff style Steiners/Japanese bout, and then the ultimate cage match with pretty much everything you could ask for. While there isn’t much to brag about in the first half of the show, the second half of the show could go up against pretty much any other PPV out there. There’s really not a single match on this show that I would say was absolutely atrocious, though Mr. Hughes did suck here, and the Super Invader match was kept short as well. If I had to watch again, I’d check out the opener, fast forward to the Cactus/JYD stuff then move on to Pillman vs. Zenk and put the remote control down, because it gets good from there. For all the good and great stuff this show offered, it did have a lot of extra time to fill. With basically your top 10 main eventers IN the main event, guys like Tracy Smothers, Marcus Bagwell, and Richard Morton were thrown onto the undercard. Let’s face it, a few of these matches had NO business on PPV. That’s not a knock on some of that talent, they just weren’t at the peaks of their careers here. Seriously, if this show had a stronger undercard it could easily have been the greatest show of all time, PERIOD. Even still, this show is stronger than most PPV’s in the history of.. well.. PPV’s, all thanks to the final stretch of matches. WrestleWar ’92 gets a strong 8.5 out of 10 rating from me, that’s a borderline B+/A- rating. As far as recommendations go? In case you couldn’t tell, no wrestling fan on Earth should go without seeing at least the War Games match. I’d imagine the T.H.E. version of this show would cut most of the fat out of the show, but either way, this show is strongly recommended for viewing. This Audit has been approved. Congratulations WrestleWar ’92 you have passed the IRS Audit!
As WCW month ends, I hope you’ve enjoyed this slew of WCW PPV Audits and Reviews. I’ll be back next weekend as we begin the Road to WrestleMania, when yours truly, Ian R. Singletary, will begin to Audit many of the memorable WrestleMania events from the past 29 years. Buckle up boys and girls, it’s going to be a long ride of WrestleMania memories. Til’ next week, this has been the REAL I.R.S., Ian R. Singletary, catchya later, tax cheats!