PTBN’s Excellent WWE Network Adventure: WrestleWar 1992

As many of you are aware, WWE Network is pretty packed with all sorts of content. And as you may also know, we here at Place to Be Nation love long term, in depth projects. So, as part of this initiative, members of the PTBN Staff are choosing programs that coincide with this week in history and after watching each program, they will share their thoughts, notes and recommendations with our readers. So, settle in and enjoy this epic ride through wrestling history!

Show: WrestleWar 1992

Best Segment:

Dave Hall:  Cactus Jack’s attack on Junkyard Dog. This pre-match segment was awesome. From the moment Cactus walked back down the ramp while entering the ring and Jesse started to question where he was going, it had me intrigued. I personally thought he was going to get Abdullah the Butcher. Instead he attacks JYD from behind during his entrance, and drops the elbow off the walkway and onto the floor. Cactus was truly awesome in this little segment… Shame the match that followed was crap.

Calum McDougall: In a show with very little in the way of segments, I did quite like the quick hits with Tony Schiavone and Eric Bischoff. They weren’t anything major but it gave the show a more sports-like presentation with some analysis of the matches and a look forward to what’s still to come.

Jacob Williams: This show was made up mostly of in ring action, so there weren’t really a ton of true segments. If it counts , I’ll give this to the introduction of War Games. That includes the teams, as well as the cage itself. From the pyro spraying from the descending cage set to ominous music to the Dangerous Alliance walking single file to ring with a “no BS” look on their faces, it really set the stage for the epic main event.

Brian Bayless: Cactus Jack attacking the Junkyard Dog before the scheduled tag match came off well. The commentators really stressed Jack being out of control and Jack was superb in his role. And not having JYD in the match was for the best.

Steve Riddle: Say what you will about WCW and some of their kooky and crazy gimmick matches, but no one can deny that War Games will forever be their greatest creation ever. Case in point, the best segment of the night was when the cage was lowered around the ring with the pyro going off which makes it feel even more special.

Chad Campbell: Slim pickings but I will go with Cactus Jack’s attack on JYD. The elbow off of the WCW ramp always looks great and Jesse and Ross added gravity to the situation by talking about how dangerous and out of control Jack was in general. JYD in ring in 1992 is not a pretty sight so me getting spared that is also a plus.

Best Match:

Dave Hall: War Games:  The Dangerous Alliance vs Sting’s Squadron. This was probably the best War Games match that NWA/WCW ever put on. It is essentially non-stop action from the moment the match starts, with great psychology. They tell a good story of whether Sting’s team are up to the challenge, and if Sting has recovered, while also starting to tell the next story of the breakdown of the Dangerous Alliance. Who would have thought that this match would actually start a face turn for one of the most hated heels of the past 10 years in Larry Zbyszko. Jesse’s perspective on commentary also added a new flavor to the match, and helped the overall quality. One of the few matches I know I can watch again and again.

Calum McDougall: There is absolutely no doubt with this one, this War Games is an all time classic in my eyes. It has more memorable moments in one match than many shows have. It has Steve Austin bleeding a gusher for almost the entirety of the match, the visual of Sting and Madusa on the top of the cage and more intensity than you can shake a stick at. Before the bell there was a palpable big match feel when the guys came out to the ring, much like the teams coming out for the Super Bowl or the World Cup Final, and from there you felt that these ten guys actually wanted to kill each other. It was an absolute war, no pun intended, and the red hot crowd in the arena (and one guy in his living room) ate every single second of it up. I cannot speak highly enough of it.

Jacob Williams: When there are multiple ****+ matches on a show, and there’s still zero question of the best match, you know you are dealing with something special. Everything about it was nearly perfect. Every guy involved could and did bring intensity and fire throughout the match. There wasn’t a weak link or two to slow the progress, which historically can bring down this type of match. The heat built so perfectly from period to period as each new participant looked hungry to enter and swing the momentum. The crowd reaction for the faces (especially Sting and Steamboat) coming in to rescue their outnumbered teammates was incredible. From Steamboat hanging from the ceiling, to Sting throwing Rude into it, to Rude getting wishboned between the two rings, they worked in a ton of fun, brutal spots without them feeling too contrived. The submissions needed to work the “surrender” stipulation of the match were done without slowing down the frantic pace of the match. Everybody bumped and sold their asses off. Everything was covered in blood and sweat, and the ring was actually being torn apart. It was just a brutal, intense, amazing soccer riot of a match.

Brian Bayless: The War Games match was a brutal contest that saw everyone involved on top of their game. From the moment it started with Barry Windham and Steve Austin trading punches the intensity stayed at a high level throughout the match. Heck, even ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta’s run down of the rules before the introductions added importance. For my money it is the best match of the War Games series. And it had great moments such as Nikita Koloff & Sting settle their prior issues with a hug after beating the crap out of Rick Rude & Arn Anderson. The finish was tremendous and this was truly one of the best matches of the entire decade, let alone this PPV.

Steve Riddle: If this was any other night, we might have had a tighter race for this category given how good Pillman/Zenk was as well as the Steiners vs. Fujinami & Itzuka, but on this night this was a cake choice and that of course is the War Games match. This was arguably one of the most star powered matches in WCW history with both sides stacked up with great talent, and the heat on the Dangerous Alliance was so hot that everyone was hoping to see Sting’s Squadron take them out. This was probably the most brutal and bloody WarGames in history and that even includes some of the offerings from the 80s as this easily ranks up there with those and may be arguably the greatest War Games in history. The ending was great too as a miscue from Zbyszko leads to Eaton being forced to submit and Sting’s Squadron get the huge win, but the only strange thing is that this feud continued on even though this was viewed at as the ultimate end.

Chad Campbell: This was never in doubt on this show even though there are other great matches as well. Not only is this War Games one of the most infamous incarnations of one of WCW’s most memorable gimmick matches, it is for my money the best match in WCW history. All of the entrances and action just build on top of each other. The blade jobs were spread out and used to get over the danger of the match and there is a multitude of great spots utilizing the cage. Even on the outside, there is great insight from Paul E. and Madusa scaling the cage to drop the phone in. Overall, this is twenty five minutes of intense action that never lets up and is the perfect blow off to a six month plus storyline.

Most Cringeworthy Moment:

Dave Hall:  The Steiners’ very stiff offense with their Japanese opposition.  Both Rick and Scott were brutal in this match. Their punches, stomps, clotheslines and high-impact moves looked to hurt like hell. They busted up Iizuka’s face and eye with a botched hit, and Rick nearly killed him when he tried to turn the cross body into a powerslam. I know the Steiners are known for working stiff, but I felt that Iizuka must have pissed them off before the match because they seemed excessively rough during this match.

Calum McDougall: In something that can probably be filed under the “it was a different time” category, Jesse’s comment about Johnny B. Badd enjoying being a bridesmaid is something you’re unlikely to get away with saying today.

Jacob Williams: The conversation centered around Jesse’s assertion that Johnny B. Badd is a “bridesmaid” was a bit awkward. Surprised that was allowed in “the politically correct 90s” that Bischoff mentioned later in the show.

Brian Bayless: The Steiners were completely unprofessional with how they brutalized Iizuka during their match. Iizuka’s face was swelling and he was fortunate to escape without major injury. M

Steve Riddle: After Ross and Ventura talk about how Johnny B. Badd is always the bridesmaid and never a bride to try and show he was needing to make an impact, Ventura then says that Badd probably likes being a bridesmaid, which was pretty cringy.

Chad Campbell: Johnny B. Badd was always an easy target for Jesse to provide some not so PC Comments and he did that here. In general, I am always lower on Ventura than most other contemporaries. He had a relatively clean night here and helped enhance the action but there was a couple of times were he needled Ross on commentary when it wasn’t necessary and didn’t add to the overall narrative of what was going on in the ring. An example of this is the Oklahoma potshots during Hughes vs Simmons.

Funniest Line/Moment: 

Dave Hall: During Tom Zenk’s entrance, the pyro goes off behind him and Zenk clearly jumps in shock and fear, like he had never experienced the pyro during a match. I don’t believe it was his intended reaction, but it was sure funny to watch.

Calum McDougall: Not long after the “bridesmaid” comment, JR asks Jesse if he too liked being a bridesmaid because he used to wear feather boas just like Badd, a comment which Jesse unsurprisingly didn’t take too kindly too.

Jacob Williams:  JR trademark straight-laced sportscaster style mixed with goofy gimmicks like Big Josh always leads to some funny moments. He assured us that Josh’s “non traditional wrestling footgear,” meaning his lumberjack boots, has been vetted and approved by WCW’s competition committee, just in case anyone was concerned.

Brian Bayless: Jesse Ventura saying Todd Champion looked like the captain of the “Love Boat” was the most amusing line on the show. M

Steve Riddle: During the Simmons/Hughes match, Ventura gets plenty of digs in on Ross and Oklahoma football as well as taking a shot at Bill Watts, not knowing that Watts would be his boss in just about a month or so. An extra point for Ventura saying Todd Champion looked like the captain of the Love Boat.

Chad Campbell: The Freebirds acting like hip cool dads in 1992 that are rocking musicians never fails to make me laugh. Shockingly, they were over as hell on this night so kudos to them.

Highlights:

Dave Hall: The last three matches on this card were outstanding. The Light Heayweight match was an amazing contest of two “good guys”, who landed moves and counters in a great even contest. The added bonus was Jesse on commentary wanting to see one of them start to cheat to win the match. The Steiners vs. Fujinami & Iizuka was a stiff and hard fought contest, but it was also a great match. And the War Games match was the best one ever. The commentary of Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura was great, with both men seeming to have settled into a good rhythm considering the previous PPV was not such a positive experience. The three match stint was one of the best back-ends of a wrestling PPV I have ever watched

Calum McDougall: I was very surprised at how many guys were really over. My impression of post-Flair WCW was that it was in the doldrums but the Freebirds came out and the crowd was going insane when they won. God bless Cactus Jack for saving us all from a 1992 Junkyard Dog match by taking JYD out in an enjoyable pre-match attack. On any other show the Light Heavyweight Title or Steiners/NJPW matches could’ve been match of the night which shows how high the match quality of the final run of matches were. I loved the sports coach take that Paul E. took in going through tactics prematch and the coaching through the War Games match.

Jacob Williams: Besides the main event that I already gushed about, the two matches right below it on the card were great. Pillman and the Z-Man’s match told a nice story, with both guys being evenly matched and working a body part before attempting some riskier moves later on. The Steiners vs. Fujinami & Iizuka was an awesome physical war with big move after big move. Also, I’m not sure what their reputation is as a duo, but I really enjoyed Jesse and JR on commentary. There was some fun tension with Jesse constantly trying to prod at Ross’s dry demeanor for a reaction. Jesse had some classic Jesse lines (“Bobby’s trying to repair the ring!”), showing that he could do his character stuff and still hang with JR examining the action in the ring.

Brian Bayless: I did like Tony Schiavone & Eric Bischoff in their roles as hosts. Kicking back to them between matches to provide some analysis added to the overall show presentation. The opening match between the Fabulous Freebirds and Taylor Made Man & Greg Valentine was far from a technical masterpiece and most involved seemed to run out of gas by the end but it was still fun with great crowd participation. The Freebirds were over and the crowd went nuts for their win. I also thought Tracy Smothers did a fine job carrying a green Johnny B. Badd in their match. Smothers is one of the more underappreciated workers from this era. Tom Zenk vs. Brian Pillman started off slow but built up well with an exciting final five minutes. Great stuff by both men and the best Zenk match I’ve ever seen. Despite my mentions of the Steiners’ recklessness, their tag match here was nuts and in some ways more brutal than War Games with how Fujinami & Iizuka were treated. And of course everything involved in War Games ruled.

Steve Riddle: It’s amazing how over the Freebirds were in in 1992; Still funny seeing Bill Alfonso as a referee and not as a manager with his trademark whistle; I thought Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura had good chemistry though no one will ever match the chemistry Jesse had with Gorilla Monsoon; Freebirds got a huge pop when they won the titles; I like how they alternated between the rings for the other matches; Jesse mentions the loser of the Badd/Smothers match would not see a title shot in a year, mirroring what he said at SummerSlam 1989 in the Hart Foundation/Brainbusters match; It’s weird seeing Bagwell and Flamingo here knowing where their careers would go after; On the flip side of JYD, Simmons was looking ripped; Always cool seeing Cactus hit the elbow off the ramp/apron; It was always funny seeing Hughes wrestle and his shades never seem to fall off; They definitely made Simmons look strong by overcoming two men; Ventura was in prime form during the Pillman/Zenk match by continuously saying one of them would cheat at some point; While it’s not up to the level of Pillman/Liger at SuperBrawl, Pillman/Zenk was still a really good match and one of the last ones for the Light Heavyweight Division before Bill Watts killed it; It’s amazing watching the Steiners hereand I don’t know how Fujinami nor Itzuka didn’t die on some of those suplexes; I love how Tony and Eric hype up the War Games match and what the ultimate factor would be; While the Four Horsemen will forever be the greatest faction in history, the Dangerous Alliance rank up there as a very underrated and sometimes forgotten group; I love how Paul E. had a full strategy on a piece of paper to help lead his team to victory; Cool moment seeing Madusa climb the cage to drop the phone into the ring only for Sting to climb up as well and force her back down.

Chad Campbell: Overall this is a real ring intensive show that builds up to a climax very well. All of the first half was table dressing and not unlike modern New Japan shows with showcasing underneath talent and having matches without a ton of meat to their build. The final three matches all offer something different and really compliment each other. Zenk vs. Pillman is the best Zenk match of all time and the Steiner Brothers bomb fest was a cult favorite before this show was easily available on the WWE Network. Overall, the sum of the show works better than some of the undercard parts based on how the card was constructed.

Lowlights:

Dave Hall: When you load up your main event with basically all your top talent (excluding your tag team champs) it means the rest of the card will suffer… and suffer it did. The undercard was very poor. The matches were plodding, and generally lacked any interest or story. Granted the Freebirds were exuding charisma during this show, but the match was not very good. Too many lower card guys that had no business being on PPV meant the first hour and a half was a real chore to get through. Then throw on top of the constant crossing back to Schiavonie and Bischoff to “talk about the next match”, which after the second time was boring as crap. There was one back stage interview, and it was with the Freebirds. Why couldn’t we get some hype from the Dangerous Alliance, which contained some of the best talkers ever, or hear from Sting?

Calum McDougall: For a PPV, there was too many filler matches on the show. They weren’t bad to be fair but they seemed like COTC or even Saturday Night matches, but on a show where you have ten of your top guys in one match it should’ve been expected so I won’t rag on them too much. And as good as the Steiner/NJPW tag match was, there was a fine line of stiffness and taking liberties which was tread a bit too finely.

Jacob Williams: I know it’s the cost of packing so much talent in the main event, but the 30-45 minutes after Smothers vs Badd until the Light Heavyweight title match were really rough, despite them trying to move the matches through quickly. And it’s not like it needed to be amazing considering the greatness of the second half of the show. It would have been nice to have either at least decent wrestling or some kind of heat (like the Freebirds match), but this stretch had neither. What looked at the start like it could be a wild Cactus Jack match turned into a slog between Mr. Hughes and Ron Simmons. It was the only letdown on an otherwise great show.

Brian Bayless: The announce team of Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura were not particularly good and both have admitted they were not a good fit together, with Ross saying he should have given Jesse more to work with and Jesse agreeing. The Super Invader vs. Todd Champion match was atrocious and Big Josh vs. Richard Morton as a “bonus match” was lousy and that time could have been devoted to something else, like interview time for those involved in the main event. Plus, who decided to have Hercules (Super Invader) in the role of a masked martial arts guy? Or place Todd Champion in a role to put someone over? Talk about terrible casting. The good definitely outweighed the bad on this show luckily enough.

Steve Riddle: The bald head with one ponytail look was never a good look for Jesse; Terry Taylor still sucks no matter what gimmick he has and it’s sad to see Valentine have to carry him in their team; Weird they still had US Tag Titles when the tag division wasn’t exactly stacked; Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t think Tracy Smothers would be considered a Light Heavyweight; I never saw what the point was behind the over-the-top DQ rule especially by this point; Junkyard Dog had no business in wrestling by this point sadly; Why did they give that weird Halloween-esque music to Cactus Jack; Super Invader was so jacked that he was a heart attack waiting to happen, and it made no sense bringing him in when Harley Race had a much better monster in Vader at this point; Knowing that the man under the mask was the former Hercules, it was so bad watching him trying to act like a martial arts expert from Bangkok; As great as he was as a tag wrestler, Ricky Morton was never a great singles star; Who in their right minds thought a wrestling lumberjack would ever get over despite how good Matt Borne is in the ring; The Light Heavyweight Division could’ve been something special long before the Cruiserweight Division had it not been for Bill Watts and his old school style of thinking; Even though it was to build the drama, I always thought the coin toss wasn’t necessary especially since the face team never won the coin toss in any WarGames match.

Chad Campbell: I found merit in most of the undercard matches even if none of them reached my “good” rating threshold. The exception to that was Champion vs Super Invader. I know Hercules’ reputation is getting propped up by the PTB Podcast lately, but he was done in 1992 and being saddled with this dopey gimmick where it is a roided up pasty white guy being named Super Invader didn’t help. The heat for the match vs. Champion was nonexistent and it was the one true bad match of the night.

Wild Card Baby!

Dave Hall: Rooster in Million Dollar Clothing: Terry Taylor just cannot get a break in this business. Not only  does he have to carry the legacy of The Red Rooster, but tonight it looked like he stole one of Ted DiBiase’s outfits when he left WWF to come to WCW. He looked like he was going to a Halloween Party… and when he takes off this green and black outfit he still looks like the freaking Red Rooster. And to top it all off, if you watch him closely during the match you can still see him doing the “Rooster Head movement” when he is in control of his opponent. No wonder he never made a real impact again.

Calum McDougall: The “Just Give Up” Award – Terry Taylor might be been over in Mid-South but that was back in the 80s. Since then he’s been a rooster, the computerised man of the 90s and now he’s the Hundred Dollar Man, sorry, Taylor Made Man. As the award says, all involved should just give up, Taylor is a lost cause at this point.

Jacob Williams: The “Yankem” Award for Bad Names – This one goes to “Big Josh.” He’s not even that big!

Brian Bayless: Best Tidbits: Got a few for this show. According to Dave Meltzer of the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter,” he worked with Pillman the night before to help lay out the match. Also, per Meltzer, the Diamond Studd (Scott Hall) was originally supposed to face Big Josh but quit the promotion the day of the show after being denied in his quest to get a guaranteed contract from the company. And despite a terrific performance in the match, Larry Zbyszko stated in his shoot interview with RF Video that he did not like the War Games match, feeling it was too much of a “cluster” and also said he would rather wrestle in a match that had more of a story.

Steve Riddle: Most Interesting Career Path: Scott Levy goes from surfer Scotty Flamingo to spoiled rich kid Johnny Polo to social outcast Raven.

Chad Campbell: Underrated Worker: Larry Z seems to be more remembered for his commentary these days or his feud with Bruno Sammartino but I do think he was underrated as a worker from his latter day AWA run up until 1994 and the feud with Steven Regal. He was able to mix in the shtick of stalling and running his mouth with the changing physicality of the wrestling business. Him turning face here was a nice moment to culminate the Dangerous Alliance arc and give them a starting point for the next feuds within the company.

Final Thoughts:

Dave Hall: The last three matches totally made up for the early part of the show. I would be happy to go back and watch them right away. The War Games was fantastic, and the Light Heavyweight match and the Steiner Brother tag match were great. The quality of those three matches completely outshone the undercard and made me forget how bad they were. Better than average, but a few interviews and a couple of stronger matches would have made the event truly unforgettable. 7/10

Calum McDougall: I was glad that we reviewed this show because it was the first time I’d ever seen the whole thing, and even then it was only snippets of the main event. The War Games match came with a massive reputation and it absolutely lived up to the hype. I thought the show got off to a decent start helped by the crowd and the final three matches were excellent which makes up for the lull in the middle with the filler matches. Overall I thought this a really enjoyable show, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. 8/10

Jacob Williams: There must have been something in the air in 1992 that led to these amazing double-digit participant matches. That mid-show dip is the only thing keeping this show from the being an all timer. Still, it has some some great matches undercard matches, a stacked commentary team, and a classic main event that had me buzzing long after I finished watching. 8.5/10

Brian Bayless: Any show with a main event of this caliber is an easy thumbs up to me. Pillman vs. Zenk and the Steiners vs. Fujinami & Iizuka were also very good matches. The undercard was not the most inspiring but besides Super Invader vs. Champion nothing was truly awful. The last three matches make this a show worth seeing. 7.5/10

Steve Riddle: This was always a show that had a really good reputation and when I watched it the first time to do a full review, I found myself really enjoying it and upon rewatch here I really enjoyed it again. 1992 was a pretty underrated year for WCW as they were at their peak of talent that we wouldn’t really see again until between 1996 and 1998 during the Wars, and that talent was on pretty good display here though it did seem like most of the talent was at the top end of the card. The show did start pretty well with the US Tag Title match though it did drag a bit in the middle, but it was pretty clear it was going to be very top heavy with Pillman/Zenk, the Steiners tag match and, obviously, War Games, which was stacked with talent. In the end, this might go down as one of WCW’s best shows ever and easily one of the best of 1992. 8.5/10

Chad Campbell: This is an easy watch for me where you just have to stick in with the undercard and be eating your dinner, talking with friends, etc. and then buckle up for the final three matches which all deliver big time. Any show with a ***** is going to be a good rating and this has matches underneath it that are excellent too. 8/10


Author: Place to Be Nation Staff

Place to Be Nation Staff pieces feature any number of our contributors who are multifaceted when it comes to Pop Culture expertise.