World War 3 1998: WCW Needs A Nap

World War 3 1998
Date: November 22, 1998
Location: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, Michigan
Attendance: 17,670
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay

This is one of those shows that has only been hyped for the last week or so leading up to it. The main events here are Bret Hart vs. DDP for the US Title and the three ring battle royal, which I don’t remember any wrestler actually talking about so far. The winner gets a World Title shot at Starrcade against Goldberg, because Goldberg isn’t even in action tonight. Let’s get to it.

We open with a typical video focusing on the two main matches without saying anything. WCW never put a ton of effort into these things.

We see Goldberg arriving “earlier today”, despite it being pitch black outside.

The announcers tell us that Hollywood Hogan isn’t here. This is shocking as Hogan just started the big President angle on Monday.

Gene hypes up the Hotline, saying we can hear Heenan’s recorded message of who he thinks will win tonight.

Wrath vs. Glacier

Unannounced match. Tony does a good job of hyping up Wrath’s hot streak and make him sound like a killer. We even hear a bit about their history as Tony is actually thinking tonight. That gets messed up very quickly though as he names picks the middle ring as Ring #1. Glacier is thrown to the floor with ease and the stalling begins. Back in and Wrath no sells a dropkick before hitting a hard knee to send Glacier to the floor.

Another whip sends Glacier into the crowd and Wrath chops away at the chest. Heenan picks Wrath to win the battle royal tonight to start the running joke. Actually Wrath wouldn’t have been the worst option in the world to make a run in there. Tenay says Hollywood is catching on to Wrath and he’s up for roles in movies. They really are making him out to be a big deal.

Back in and some hard elbows to the chest have Glacier in trouble as Heenan lists off reasons why Wrath’s body is perfect for wrestling. A hard clothesline drops Glacier for two and even throws his feet on the ropes for some extra leverage. Outside again so Wrath can choke Glacier with a cable. Back in one more time and we hit the chinlock on Glacier. Wrath misses a charge into the corner and gets superkicked in the shoulder. Glacier’s Ice Pick hold (thumb into the neck) is easily blocked and the Meltdown ends things.

Rating: D. This would have been a good choice for an opening match if they hadn’t taken so long with it. There’s no reason to have Wrath take nearly ten minutes to beat Glacier. Cut this match down by about five minutes and things are so much better. I’ll give them credit for how much they hyped Wrath though. They were treating him like a huge deal and it sounded really good.

Video on Bret injuring a lot of people. It’s all their fault though. Why this is filmed in front of a hockey goal isn’t exactly clear.

Konnan vs. Stevie Ray

Unannounced match #2. It’s a posedown to start as the announcers rip on Stevie for calling himself the Enforcer. Ray pounds Konnan down in the corner twice in a row but Konnan comes back with a running clothesline. We hit a seated abdominal stretch less than two minutes into the match as Heenan jumps to Konnan for the battle royal. Stevie fights up and hits an awful looking clothesline for two before we head outside.

After some cheap shots from Vincent and a discussion of the slapjack sticking out of his pocket, we head back inside for a chinlock on Konnan. Stevie misses a running elbow and Konnan makes his comeback with the usual. A Vincent distraction works for a bit but he accidentally hits Stevie with the slapjack. Konnan hammers on Stevie until the DQ though in a stupid ending.

Rating: D. We’re half an hour into this show and I’m already longing for a Thunder rerun. I have no idea why we couldn’t get a pin before Konnan went off on Stevie. Also, why did Konnan do that in the first place? It was a normal match up until that point and then he just went nuts.

Booker T. immediately hits the ring for the save but Stevie wants nothing from him.

Sonny Onoo/The Cat vs. Kaz Hayashi/Saturn

Why Saturn was paired with Hayashi and why this match is getting ANY kind of focus was never explained. Heenan makes things a bit more interesting by saying people are talking about World War 3 in correctional facilities around the country. There’s actually a story here as Sonny used to manager Kaz but jumped to the Cat. That’s fine in theory, but Hayashi has never been anything more than a low level guy in WCW so it’s not the most interesting story in the world.

Cat and Hayashi get things going with Miller (Cat) doing the five seconds deal. Hayashi uses the time to tag in Saturn who quickly sends Miller running to the floor. Back in and Cat slams Kaz down a few times before it’s off to Sonny for the first time. The kicks have no effect so Sonny offers money, only to have it knocked out of his hands. Heenan: “BE RIGHT BACK!”

Off to Saturn vs. Miller with the Cat taking him into the corner for some hard stomping. Sonny comes in, kicks Saturn once, and is right back out. Saturn takes Miller down with an STF attempt but it’s quickly back to Kaz who is kicked in the corner by both villains. Cat saves Sonny from an atomic drop with a kick to the back of the head. Kaz rolls away from some Onoo chops and makes the tag off to Saturn for almost no reaction. Saturn chops and suplexes Miller a few times as everything breaks down. Cat nails a big kick to Saturn’s head, allowing Sonny to fall on top for the pin.

Rating: D-. This is a good example of why WCW never made any big stars. Saturn was hot after the Raven feud and should have gone after a title, but instead he’s thrown into a low level feud that had no interest at all and gets to job to a manager. Why? What good comes out of this? A worthless manager gets to brag in the two minutes of TV time he gets every two weeks? But hey, at least the NWO guys get to look good.

Chris Jericho isn’t worried about Bobby Duncum and getting hogtied again tonight. Why is Duncum getting this feud instead of Saturn?

Cruiserweight Title: Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera Jr.

Champion Juvy comes out in an LWO shirt, which ticks Rey off. Apparently this is why he got the title shot last Monday instead of Rey, who won the title shot in the first about ten days ago on Thunder. Eddie tells Rey that they need to go in the back so Eddie can explain the idea of sacrificing the needs of one for the needs of the group. At least the match almost has to be better.

Juvy grabs a headlock to start before they slug it out with forearms and chops. Guerrera comes right back with something resembling a Fameasser but stops to pose on the ropes. Kidman comes back with a suplex and a slingshot legdrop for two of his own but Juvy nails him with an Alabama Slam for two. We hit the chinlock for all of eight seconds on Kidman before he explodes out of the corner with a clothesline.

Guerrera hits a Stunner across the top rope but gets dropkicked out of the air for two. A nice plancha to the floor takes Juvy out again and they both get up slowly. Juvy is up first though and tries a springboard hurricanrana, only to land on the apron instead of the floor in a bad looking botch. Back in and Guerrera nails a brainbuster for two before knocking him to the floor with a springboard missile dropkick. The champion hits a springboard plancha of his own and both guys are down again.

Back in again and a guillotine legdrop gets two on Kidman before they head over into another ring. Juvy lands a double springboard into the other ring into a dropkick (which landed low) for two, which really shouldn’t count when you think about it. Kidman misses a charge into the corner but is able to crotch Juvy to break up a 450 attempt. A bad looking headscissors (the legs wound up under Juvy’s arms) brings them back into the original ring and a springboard cross body gets two for Kidman.

Juvy backdrops him into the only ring they haven’t been in yet and nails a hurricanrana for two. The Juvy Driver connects but Juvy can’t cover. The 450 doesn’t work but Juvy counters the lifting powerbomb into a hurricanrana for two. A wheelbarrow suplex looks to set up the Shooting Star but Juvy crotches Kidman down. Juvy loads up a top rope hurricanrana but Mysterio holds Kidman’s belt to keep him on the top. The Shooting Star is enough to get the title back on Kidman.

Rating: C. The match was watchable but it’s the definition of a spot fest. There’s almost no transition between the moves and the spots took a good amount of time to set up. Still though, it’s FAR better than anything else we’ve seen tonight and the spots woke up the bored crowd a little bit.

Eddie and the LWO come out and yell at Rey. Guerrero says make a decision if you’re in or out and Mysterio rips the shirt off. The chase is on and Rey runs away from about ten guys at once. So let’s recap here for a minute. Ten days ago, Rey won a Cruiserweight Title shot against Kidman which he still hasn’t received and was hated by Eddie for not joining the LWO. Now it’s ten days later and Rey has a Cruiserweight Title shot against Kidman and Eddie hates him for leaving the LWO. I’d so glad WCW used the last ten days so wisely.

We recap Kevin Nash not attacking Scott Hall on Nitro.

Scott Steiner vs. Rick Steiner

I’ll put the over/under for this one at 90 seconds. Buff and the NWO referee are out with Scott. And there’s no Rick. We cut to the back to see the NWO attacking Rick until Giant carries him to the ring. Scott beats on him for a bit until Goldberg runs out for the save and throws the referee from one ring to another.

I’d LOVE the explanation for why these two weren’t allowed to fight, even in their home state of Michigan. There was no bell so the match never even started. This would be three months of teasing this and the longest we’ve gotten so far is about five minutes ending with the fake Bagwell injury. It’s as basic of a story as you can ask for but for some reason they just never did it. That’s something that drove me crazy in WCW and it wasn’t just this match. Page vs. Hogan never had a big singles match, even though it easily could have headlined a PPV.

Scott Hall vs. Kevin Nash

The same NWO guys that attacked Rick are here with Hall. Bischoff comes out and does the survey, saying that Hall is out of the NWO. The beatdown is on and here’s Nash for the save. Heenan: “This reminds me of the Outsiders!” In one of the only emotional moments you’ll ever see in WCW, the fans LOUDLY chant for the Outsiders. Hall holds up the Wolfpack sign but Nash shakes his head and walks away.

To recap, we had time for a Kaz Hayashi match and a Stevie Ray match, but the Steiners and Outsiders exploding couldn’t have real matches. Good to see those priorities being straight WCW.

The announcers talk about what we’ve just seen. So we can have the segments and the recaps, but not the actual matches? Again, I would love an explanation for this.

TV Title: Bobby Duncum Jr. vs. Chris Jericho

This is Duncum’s second match in WCW and I have no idea why he’s getting this spot instead of a ton of the talented guys they have on the roster. Duncum isn’t even that bad but he just doesn’t need to be in this spot yet. As I said, have Hayashi ask him to be the partner (since we NEEDED that Kaz Hayashi match) and give Saturn this spot. Duncum does have an awesome look. He’d get a job in a heartbeat in today’s WWE if he were still around.

Jericho is quickly shoved to the mat and out to the floor for a hug from Ralphus. Back in and Jericho takes him down as the announcers talk about Hogan and something being up with the NWO. Heenan asks if Hall is still a member of the NWO. Tony: “Of course not!” Heenan: “Why not? They put thirteen stitches in Horace’s head and gave him a t-shirt.” Tony: “Uh……”.

Duncum takes Jericho down and puts on a chinlock with a knee in Jericho’s back. Back up and they awkwardly collide before heading outside. Jericho hits a clothesline off the barricade followed by a springboard missile dropkick for two. We hit the chinlock from the champion now but Bobby comes back with a shoulder breaker for two of his own. A hot shot sends Duncum across the top rope and a springboard dropkick knocks him into the barricade.

Jericho whips him into the steps and puts on a front facelock back inside. A running clothesline gets two on the champion and he launches Jericho into the air for a big crash. They trade clotheslines and the Lionsault gets two for the champion but Duncum comes back with a belly to back superplex for another near fall. The Liontamer is countered and Bobby hits a Vader Bomb elbow drop for two more. Ralphus offers a distraction, allowing Jericho to hit Bobby (and clearly the referee as well) with the belt for the pin.

Rating: C. This was getting good until the lame ending. The match wasn’t bad for the most part but like I said, there was just no reason for Duncum to be in there. I’m not entirely sure why Duncum never did anything in WCW, but I’d assume it had something to do with him having a good look, size and skill in the ring.

World War 3

Chris Adams, Chris Benoit, Bobby Blaze, Ciclope, Damien, El Dandy, Barry Darsow, The Disciple, Disco Inferno, Bobby Duncum, Jr., Bobby Eaton, Mike Enos, Scott Hall, Héctor Garza, The Giant, Glacier, Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero, Jr., Eddy Guerrero, Hammer, Kenny Kaos, Kaz Hayashi, Horace Hogan, Barry Horowitz, Prince Iaukea, Chris Jericho, Kanyon

Billy Kidman, Konnan, Lenny Lane, Lex Luger, Scott Hall, Lizmark, Jr., Lodi, Dean Malenko, Steve McMichael, Ernest Miller, Chip Minton, Rey Mysterio, Jr., Kevin Nash, Scott Norton, La Parka, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, Psychosis, Scott Putski, Stevie Ray, The Renegade, Scotty Riggs, Perry Saturn, Silver King, Norman Smiley, Scott Steiner, Super Caló, Johnny Swinger, Booker T, Tokyo Magnum, Villano V, Vincent, Kendall Windham, Wrath and Alex Wright

Those names are in alphabetical order and the wrestlers are randomly assorted into the rings. Three rings, twenty men per ring, you can be eliminated by being thrown out of the ring through any ropes, pin or submission. You know, because a BATTLE ROYAL needed to have its rules altered. Once they get down to twenty men they’ll all be moved into one ring for the final showdown. The entrances take a LONG time as you would expect and Heenan changes his pick to Benoit.

There’s a very good chance I’m going to miss some of the eliminations as they’re only showing one ring at a time. There is however a counter on screen to keep things a bit more organized. We almost immediately get confused as WCW calls the far right ring #3 after Tony has called the middle ring #1 all night. Kevin Nash starts firing out people very early, eliminating Norman Smiley, Super Calo, Lizmark Jr., Scott Putski, and some others that the camera miss. Lenny Lane, Tokyo Magnum and Johnny Swinger are all out. Nash dumps El Dandy and we’re already down to 44.

Van Hammer baseball slides Mike Enos out but gets caught by some knees in the ribs from Big Sexy. They’re the only two men left in ring #3 and Hammer is tossed very soon, leaving us with Nash alone in ring #3 and 39 people left. That’s one less ring to have to jump to at least. We miss three more eliminations until we see Hall hit the fall away slam to eliminate Psychosis. Things are already calming down as Kanyon crotches himself on the top, allowing Kidman to throw him out.

Kaz Hayashi is out as well as Harlem Heat shrugs at each other. Giant shoves out Horace and Disciple to get us down to 30. A big group of guys go after Giant but all six of them can’t get him down. He says bring it on and it’s Disco Inferno wanting to run things. Benoit will have none of that and goes after Inferno instead. 27 left now with ring #2 having far more people in there. We miss yet another elimination and we’re somehow at 24. Scott Steiner dumps Juvy before putting Konnan in a leg lock. 21 to go until Rey misses a baseball slide to eliminate himself and get us down to the final twenty.

The final grouping is Nash, Benoit, Saturn, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Giant, Disco Inferno, Norton, Konnan, Luger, Hall, Booker T., Scott Steiner, Wrath, Malenko, Wright, Kidman, Miller, Ray and McMichael. Miller and Saturn get in a fight before everyone is in the ring and go outside to eliminate both guys and get us down to 18. The NWOs are in different corners while everyone else fight. Chavo hits a running cross body to Wright and both guys are out to drop the number to 16.

Kidman dropkicks Eddie out and Giant throws both Kidman and Disco out to get us to 13. Nash and Giant go at it to a BIG reaction but Scott Steiner picks Nash off to give Giant a break. Giant accidentally chops Norton and Steiner actually puts Mongo in a chinlock. Tony sums up WCW in a nutshell by saying Booker T. and Wrath are the only unaffiliated men in the ring. Apparently WCW doesn’t exist and the Horsemen are a separate entity anymore.

We go to a nice camera shot looking down at the ring (at an angle, not directly overhead) which I hope they stick with for the rest of the match. Naturally it’s gone before I can finish typing that sentence. Nash and Giant go at it again to another big pop and this time Hall helps Nash out to really get the crowd into it. Norton saves Giant from an elimination attempt as Luger dumps Stevie Ray. Mongo backdrops Norton out but Nash dumps him as well to get us down to 10.

The final ten are Giant, Nash, Wrath, Booker T., Benoit, Konnan, Hall, Malenko, Steiner and Luger. The count goes down to 9 without an elimination as Bam Bam Bigelow comes in through the crowd. Everyone goes after him to knock him back to the floor and the fans chant for Goldberg. They get what they want as Goldberg runs out for the fight. The match has completely stopped to watch the fight.

We come back to the ring to see 8 left. Tony thinks Steiner was thrown out but needs to wait for a confirmation. The idea of looking around the ring and not seeing Scott Steiner is too complicated for a guy like Schiavone I guess. We go to the shot looking down on the ring again and see Benoit, Malenko, Booker T., Nash, Giant, Luger, Konnan and Hall remaining. Goldberg and Bigelow are finally pulled apart and Bigelow is handcuffed.

Booker is quickly tossed out as everyone circles Giant. He says bring it on as Tony says Konnan, Nash and Luger are the only two members of the Wolfpack remaining. I get that he says some stupid stuff but he can’t even count? Giant shrugs everyone off as Konnan misses a charge and eliminates himself. Nash tells Luger, Hall, Malenko and Benoit to go after Giant and they’re able to get him out to get us down to five.

The Horsemen go after Hall but he knocks them back, allowing the Wolfpack to dump Malenko and Benoit and get us down to three. Luger and Nash bump fists but go to different corners. Everyone hits everyone and it’s Hall going down in the corner. He comes back with chops to Nash and the forearm puts Kevin down. Luger Racks Hall but Nash dumps both of them to win in the same ending from 1996.

Rating: D. It’s a battle royal so it’s not exactly the easiest thing in the world to rate. That being said, this really wasn’t all that interesting. Nash winning isn’t a huge shock and he’s certainly not the worst choice in the world for the title shot. I’m sure we’ll get more into that at Starrcade and a certain Nitro though. The biggest problem here was the camera work. They kept going for closeups instead of either the usual shot you get watching a wrestling match or that awesome overhead shot where you could see the entire ring easily.

US Title: Bret Hart vs. Diamond Dallas Page

Bret is challenging. The brawl starts on the floor with Bret being whipped into the barricade and steps. Hart is whipped out of the ring again and goes face first into the barricade a second time. He finally comes back by snapping Page’s throat over the top rope and takes over in the ring. A DDT gets two for the Canadian and the match is already going slowly. We hit the chinlock to make things even worse.

Back up and Page grabs a swinging neckbreaker for two before they head back outside. Page is sent into the barricade to put Hart back in control. A Russian legsweep gets two back in the ring but DDP reverses a tombstone into one of his own for the same. Bret escapes a German suplex but walks into a belly to belly for two. The discus lariat drops Bret again and the Pancake is good for another near fall.

A Cactus Clothesline from Hart sends both guys outside and Bret pulls out a foreign object. Not that it matters as Page comes back in with a springboard clothesline to knock it out of his hands. Bret drops the object and the referee puts it in his pocket as Page puts on an AWFUL looking hold. The announcers call it the Sharpshooter but that’s not a Sharpshooter no matter how you look at it.

Hart comes back with a low blow and it’s time to go after the leg. Bret wraps the leg around the post and puts on the Hart Breaker as well. He cannonballs down onto the leg and puts on the regular Figure Four (wrong leg of course) until Page makes the rope. Another cannonball is countered by Page kicking Bret over the top and out to the floor. Now it’s Bret going into the steps and Page puts on a Hart Breaker around the post as well.

Page brings a chair into the ring but the referee takes it away, allowing Bret to knock Page into the referee to put both guys down. Bret takes the foreign object back as the NWO Referee comes in. Page gets decked and is out cold, setting up the Sharpshooter. The NWO Referee calls for the submission and the announcers shout that this isn’t going to stand. Another WCW referee comes in and says not so fast, allowing Page to hit the Diamond Cutter on Bret with the original referee counting the pin.

Rating: D+. This was just long. The overbooked ending works here but it felt tacked on. It easily could have been five minutes shorter and been a much better match as a result. Also that’s not really a good use for Bret (shocking I know) after the weeks of hurting so many people. Then again, it’s not like Bret was ever used properly in WCW at all.

Overall Rating: F+. The TV and Cruiserweight Title matches were acceptable but that’s about it for the night. This was a good example of a show where they clearly weren’t trying and put almost no effort into things. WCW is at a very bad point here as there’s no energy at all in the promotion and there’s nothing to get excited about. Nash vs. Goldberg doesn’t do anything for me at all but it’s Nash’s company to run at this point so what different does my opinion make?

 

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