WrestleWar 1991: One of the Scariest Botches I Have Ever Seen
Date: February 24, 1991
Location: Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix, Arizona
Commentators: Jim Ross, Dusty Rhodes
I’m running out of WCW PPVs to do, but before I get done with them I still have one last WARGAMES to get through. Oh that makes me feel better. Tonight’s main event is in the double cage and we have Sting’s team vs. the Horsemen. Well three Horsemen and Larry Zbyszko who is subbing for an injured Arn Anderson. I would usually say what else is on the card, but screw that. This show has WarGames. Let’s get to it.
The arena looks much more modern, partially because it isn’t in half darkness as it had been for most of the 80s.
Tony runs down the card and throws it to our announcers.
Six Man Tag Titles: Junkyard Dog/Ricky Morton/Tommy Rich vs. Stage Patrol/Big Cat
Where do I even start? Ok so odds are you haven’t heard of these titles before, and there’s a good reason for that: they were only around for less than nine months. The titles were first won seven days before this show at a live event. Now one might ask why they didn’t have the first champions crowned here on PPV. It’s WCW in 1991. There’s your answer and it’ll answer most of your questions. The State Patrol is Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker and Lt. James Earl Wright, who is most famous for being one half of the State Patrol. Big Cat is Mr. Hughes and he’s one of the challengers here.
Cat and Dog start things off. I think you can see JYD’s gut expanding from here. He hits Cat with some headbutts and it’s off to Morton and Wright. Morton speeds things up with armdrags and it’s off to Rich. Rich slams him down and hooks an armdrag followed by an armbar. Off to Parker who gets the exact same treatment. Back to Morton for some atomic drops and then back to the same armbar again.
The Dog comes back in to crank up the fat levels of this match. Big Cat comes in again and wants a test of strength. That goes nowhere so it’s back to Morton to face the State Patrol on his own. The numbers catch up with him and it’s time for Morton to start selling. Parker drop toeholds him down and Cat hits an elbow for two. Dropkick gets two. Morton slugs back against Parker but gets powerslammed down for two.
The State Patrol keeps up the double teaming, hitting a bulldog for two. Back to Parker as I’m seeing why this team never went anywhere. Cat comes back in for a big old backbreaker for two. Parker misses a charge and there’s the hot tag to JYD. He hits the Thump (powerslam) but Cat makes the save. In a smart move, Morton immediately dives on Parker and gets the pin to retain.
Rating: D. Technically this was barely passable but what in the world was the point to this match? On second thought what was the point to these titles? The match wasn’t any good as it was in essence just a bad TV main event, which doesn’t exactly fire me up for the rest of the show. This was an odd choice all around.
Alexandra York and Terrance Taylor don’t have much to say.
Brad Armstrong vs. Bobby Eaton
We hear about Armstrong’s brother fighting Desert Storm, which would be Road Dogg. Eaton gets a good reaction and the fans chant for him on his way out. Bobby jumps him during the opening and takes over for a little bit. A flying headscissors and dropkick by Armstrong set up an armbar to slow things down. They get back up and a monkey flip sets up the same armbar by Brad.
Bobby gets back up and we head out to the floor. That goes nowhere so let’s hit that armbar again. Off to a test of strength with Bobby taking over. Brad climbs up Eaton and goes to the corner for a spinning crossbody….and back into the armbar. Eaton finally gets tired of it and pops Brad in the face, but his slingshot suplex is countered into a regular suplex by Armstrong for two.
We hit the fifth armbar in five minutes as we see Jason Hervey here again. A backbreaker puts Armstrong down and he drops an elbow to the face. We hit the chinlock and Great Muta is here watching as well. Eaton hits a slingshot backbreaker for two. Off to a modified camel clutch to keep the pressure on Armstrong’s back. Back up and Armstrong tries to hit the ropes but Eaton elbows him in the face and out to the floor.
After a beating on the floor we head back into the ring for an abdominal stretch. Eaton holds the ropes because that’s just the kind of a guy he is. Anderson dives through Armstrong’s legs to see the cheating in a nice touch. Eaton misses a charge in the corner and Brad hits that perfect dropkick to take over. Bobby grabs a ducked head and hits a neckbreaker followed by the Alabama Jam (top rope legdrop) for the pin.
Rating: C. This wasn’t as bad as the opener but it wasn’t that great either. Eaton would get a decent run as an upper midcard heel before turning into a jobber to the stars for most of the 90s. He was still popular after being part of the Midnight Express so it was good to see WCW capitalizing on that here. Also as usual, get Brad Armstrong if you need someone to look good, which is what Eaton would become later on.
Itsuki Yamazaki/Mami Kitamura vs. Miss A/Miki Handa
Itsuki was one of the Jumping Bomb Angels and Miss A is one of those chicks that Meltzer has given a bunch of 5 star matches too and that no one else has ever actually seen for the most part. This is something WCW did at times: bring in a bunch of female Japanese girls that were indeed different and good, but that no one really cared about. I think that’s Kitamura and Handa starting things off but JR isn’t exactly helpful here. You can imagine what Dusty sounds like.
Miss A’s team jumps the others which is a good idea as she’s pretty much a monster, standing nearly 6’0 and weighing about 200lbs. In other words, imagine Daniel Bryan against three AJ’s. Itsuki tries to speed things up but all of her work is lost when it’s off to Mami who takes some HARD kicks from A. Mami stays in for a bit, only to have her legs beaten half to death.
Back to Itsuki who is having FAR more luck out there over her partner. The match keeps going as Dusty wants to hook JR up with Miss A. Ok then. Handa, the much smaller member of her team, gets a few rollups for two until it’s back to Itsuki. A comes back in and it’s time to kick. A throws Itsuki around for awhile and then double teams with Handa. Itsuki comes back with a missile dropkick to both (barely) evil ones and Mami hits a top rope clothesline on Miss A. A comes back with a clothesline of her own but gets rolled up out of nowhere for the pin by Itsuki.
Rating: C+. This wasn’t bad or anything and was even good at times, but as usual with PPVs from this era: the match doesn’t really mean anything. It exists because the NJPW/WCW Super Show is coming up, but other than that there’s no real reason for it. It ate up about eight minutes though so I guess it has that going for it. I don’t know any of these women though so I can’t really care that much about the match, which was fine.
Missy Hyatt runs her mouth and says she’s going to go find someone to interview. Seriously why did she have a job for so long?
Buddy Landel vs. Dustin Rhodes
This might be Dustin’s WCW debut. Dustin pounds on Buddy, who is way shorter than the future golden one. Landel tries to chop away but Dustin spins him into the corner and fires away punches and elbows (think of who his daddy is) on the middle rope. Off to the armbar and then Landel gets knocked down into the corner. Dusty talks about dogs for some reason and Dustin charges shoulder first into the post.
Landel takes over off the miss and pounds away with his wide array of stomps. A forearm to the head gets two. He puts on an armbar and pounds away at the head. They seem to mess up an Irish whip and Buddy hooks a sleeper. Dustin counters into one of his own which is quickly broken. Buddy charges into a boot and gets caught in a baboon (not high enough for a gorilla) press slam. Bulldog gets the pin.
Rating: D. This was nothing to see as Dustin was still really young and not very good at all yet. He would get a lot better, but sweet goodness his early stuff was hard to sit through. The problem he had was that he wasn’t anything but Dusty’s son for about a year before he started to come into his own. This was a pretty bad match but Dustin was only twenty one at this point so he probably wasn’t ready for this kind of spot yet.
Missy tries to go into the men’s dressing room and finds Stan Hansen. I seem to remember her doing this at a bunch of PPVs. Hansen throws her out.
Young Pistols vs. Royal Family
The Family is Rip Morgan and Jack Victory and are allegedly both from New Zealand. They jump the Pistols to start but the Pistols counter a double Irish whip. The Family easily takes their heads off with clotheslines in a nice counter. With Smothers getting double teamed, Armstrong gets to the top for a double cross body to give the Pistols a breather. The Pistols hit a pair of dropkicks….and the lights go out. It’s WCW after all.
Thankfully they put the spotlights on, but unfortunately it means we have to see more of the match. Morgan and Smothers officially start things off and it’s time for the armbars. You see this a lot in matches from the late 80s and early 90s and I’ve never quite gotten why. Were there NO other options for rest holds to pick from? They’re also annoying because there’s nothing to talk about during the holds. It’s one guy holding another guy’s arm, then the other guy grabs the first guy’s in the same hold.
So after a few minutes of that, we get the lights back. Thanks for that guys. Off to Armstrong for some dropkicks before Victory gets the tag. Hey look: ARMBARS! Now it’s a headlock just for a change of pace. Smothers comes in off a blind tag and hits a slingshot shoulder block for two. Time for another armbar, but this time there’s a twist. Literally, as in Smothers twists the arm during the hold.
It’s back to Armstrong and the Royal Family finally gets some offense in. They take over with what limited power they have and wear down Armstrong on the mat. A double shoulder block gets two for Morgan. I never quite got the appeal of Victory. He won rookie of the year in I think 1985 and then never did anything but wear masks to fight on Clashes of the Champions.
There’s another basic double team move, this time a double clothesline for two. I can pretty easily see why the Royal Family never quite reached the Steiners’ level of tag team capabilities. We FINALLY get the tag to Smothers who cleans a few rooms of the house, but the fans flat out do not care. The Family tries another double suplex on Smothers but Armstrong dropkicks Morgan, allowing Smothers to fall on top of him for the pin to FINALLY end this.
Rating: D-. Sweet merciful goodness this was dull. This is the problem you’ll often see on these PPVs: these matches are here to just fill in time because most of the wrestlers don’t have a ton of stories backing them up. It also doesn’t help that the eight people with the top stories are in the same match at the end of the show. Either way though, this match was really boring and likely would have been with or without a good story backing it up.
DDP, the Freebirds’ new manager, says the Birds have a title match tonight because he tricked Teddy Long. Long comes out and is surprised by this, and swears that Doom is still a unit.
Z-Man vs. Terrance Taylor
Taylor is part of the York Foundation which is kind of a business organization type of heel stable. It was just starting at this point and would eventually get going in a few more months. This is No DQ after three previous matches didn’t have a clean ending. The idea here is that Alexandra York (Terri) has a computer that gives Terry a perfect plan for the match. They start with some basic stuff and Terry bails to York for instructions. They try it again and Terry gets punched in the face again.
After more talking with York it’s time for another punch from Z-Man and it’s down to the mat. Zenk drills him again and it’s time to talk to the computer. They slug it out and Zenk sends him into the ropes for a backdrop for two. Time for the headlock again as this match keeps starting and stopping which is what gets annoying about a lot of matches.
The headlock stays on even after Z-Man runs up the corner for a headlock takeover. A belly to back finally breaks the hold and Nikita Koloff is in the audience. Out to the floor and Taylor rams him into the barricade and chokes away a bit with a camera cord. Back in and a backbreaker gets two. Off to a camel clutch and let’s look at Hiro Matsuda in the crowd. Ok then.
Zenk comes back with a clothesline over the top which is fine because it’s a No DQ match, even though a clothesline over the top has been perfectly legal in every other match ever in WCW. They head to the floor again and Z-Man gets sent into the barricade. Z-Man comes back with a neckbreaker and superkick for two. This is before Shawn popularized the move so it looked a bit more exciting back then. An enziguri puts Taylor down for two but as Z-Man comes off the top with the cross body, York distracts the referee. Zenk yells at him long enough to get rolled up with tights for the pin.
Rating: C. This wasn’t bad but it didn’t get better until after they got done with the stupid computer nonsense. These feuds went on for a long time and eventually the Foundation grew into a cool and complex four way feud which almost got over huge but various things screwed it up. Decent stuff here though.
It’s time for the Danger Zone and Dangerously comes out dressed in stereotypical Mexican attire, including the huge sombrero. He says that he’s actually an undercover agent for the immigration offices and everyone here is under arrest. He brings out El Gigante and taunts him like a bull. Dangerously tries to get the giant to teach him English insults. Gigante says he doesn’t speak English so Dangerously throws the sombrero into his face, getting beaten up as a result. This was stupid but funny in an evil kind of way.
Matsuda and Muta talk about the NJPW show. This show is basically just a commercial for that show.
Stan Hansen vs. Big Van Vader
This is a rematch of a match from Tokyo that was thrown out. They immediately start on the ramp and it’s a big brawl. Vader takes him down but Hansen hits a short range lariat. Back into the ring and Vader hits one of his own to take over. Vader hits a corner splash and it’s off to a quick chinlock. Out to the floor and Vader takes him down again with more punches.
In the ring Vader misses a splash in the corner, allowing Hansen to hit a belly to back suplex for two. They go back to the floor and let the weapons loose! Each guy takes a chair shot to the head and Hansen takes over back inside. That lasts about 4 seconds so we head back outside with Vader draping him over the barricade. Hansen drives a knee into Vader and they head back inside for more brawling. Randy Anderson tries to separate them and gets launched to the floor for the double DQ, getting booed out of the building in the process.
Rating: C+. This was nothing like a wrestling match but with stuff like this, having it be a total war with both guys beating the tar out of each other is the right move. The match was fun because Hansen was big enough and psycho enough to hang with Vader in a fight, which is what this was. Good stuff.
They fight to the back of course.
US Title: Dan Spivey vs. Lex Luger
The winner will be presented with a new US Title. Luger is defending of course. Lex is all fired up here, running Spivey over with a bunch of clotheslines and shoulder blocks. Lex blocks an atomic drop and hits a belly to back suplex for two. He misses a charge though and crashes into the other ring. Spivey suplexes him back into the ring and hits a tombstone for two.
After a neckbreaker it’s off to a chinlock followed by a DDT for two. After a clothesline, Spivey misses a charge in the corner and gets rolled up for two. Of all things Spivey goes up top and drops a spinning elbow for two. Spivey chokes away with his legs and Luger is in trouble. This is a surprisingly good match. Big boot gets two. Spivey tries another piledriver but Lex escapes and gets all fired up. Lex punches him out of the corner but walks into a belly to belly suplex for two.
Back to the chinlock for a bit but once they’re back up, Spivey charges at Lex and is slammed onto the top rope and out to the floor, which isn’t a DQ because of whatever reason they have this time. A middle rope clothesline puts Spivey down but Luger’s sunset flip is countered by a left hand. They clothesline each other and slug it out before colliding to put both guys down again. Luger gets up first and goes up top but Spivey slams him down, only to have Luger hold on and small package him off the top for the pin. You could argue that’s because he had so much experience slamming Flair off the top actually.
Rating: B+. This was a huge surprise here as both guys were hitting on all cylinders. The ending was great and a move that I’ve never seen before. Luger would turn heel very soon and win the title in the summer at a show I’m sure we’ll get to later. Spivey would have a total of zero other great matches. This was really good though.
Luger goes to get the new title but Koloff hits him with the belt. He says he wants the world title but had to prove his worth first.
World Tag Titles: Doom vs. Fabulous Freebirds
There’s a somewhat famous story to this that I’ll get to after the match is over. Before the match, DDP, the Freebirds’ manager, brings out Big Daddy Dink to be their road manager, whatever that means. Simmons and Hayes get us going and Simmons hits a quick spinebuster for two. Hayes hits a left hand for the same. Both Birds take powerslams for two. Garvin and Reed come in with Reed clotheslining his head off.
Garvin hooks a sunset flip for two and it’s back to Hayes. Reed looks a bit uninterested in the match for some reason. Garvin makes a blind tag but doesn’t jump Reed while he’s busy for some reason. A double elbow takes Garvin down and it’s back to Simmons. Boring match so far. Jimmy gets sent to the floor and hammered out there before it’s back to Reed in the ring. This is heel vs. heel for the most part so the dynamic is a bit off. Powerslam gets two on Garvin but Dink gets on the apron. Reed loads up his fist but hits Simmons by mistake, giving Garvin the pin and the titles.
Rating: F+. This was a horribly boring match. The whole idea here was that Doom is still having issues and would be broken up very soon. The Birds would be the subject of the story that I mentioned earlier which I’ll get to in a minute. The match sucked though as it was basically a squash with a screwy ending.
Post match Reed destroys Simmons with the object. Teddy leaves with Reed.
So as for the story, the Birds had actually lost the titles before they won them. At a TV taping six days prior to this, they were taped losing the titles to the Steiners, as in nearly a week before they won the belts. That was a very different time, as whole PPVs would be spoiled at TV tapings. Can you imagine that happening today?
There’s a fan here who won some sweepstakes who says his favorite team is Doom. JR: “Well I don’t think they’re going to be a team much longer.” That was hilarious for some reason.
We see a clip from last night with Pillman’s neck being injured. Remember that, because it becomes important later.
Quick recap of the rules of WarGames: each team has four people. One person from each team will start and they fight for five minutes. After those five minutes, there’s a coin toss which the heels will win. The heels then get to send in a man for a two minute advantage. After those two minutes, the good team gets to send in its second man to even things up for two minutes. The teams alternate every two minutes until all eight are in and it’s first submission only to win.
Sting, Brian Pillman, Steiner Brothers
Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Sid Vicious, Larry Zbyszko
A very taped up Pillman goes into the ring first, sneaking behind his huddling partners. He starts with Windham and fires away with clotheslines and dropkicks. Pillman goes to the middle rope and head fakes him out to hit a dropkick. Remember that the match cannot end until all eight are in, making the match a minimum of seventeen minutes. A low blow slows Windham down as Pillman is all fired up.
Barry is busted open after being raked into the cage. Another big clothesline has Windham in trouble. They go into the other ring (it’s two rings side by side with a huge cage over them both) and Barry is reeling. A spinwheel kick puts Windham down and Pillman works on the leg with less than a minute to go. A middle rope punch puts Barry down and the Horsemen win the toss, sending in Flair.
Pillman and Flair chop it out in the corner. I’m 90% sure they had a title match once and dang I’d love to see it. Flair is world champion here I believe. Pillman fights off the Horsemen as long as he can but gets his shoulder rammed into the cage. That’s the worst part of his injuries so Pillman is in big trouble. They go back to the original ring and Sting goes in next.
Both Horsemen are there to meet him but Sting kills them both with clotheslines. The fans are WAY into this too. A bulldog puts Windham down and the pairings switch off. Another bulldog puts Naitch down as they’re all in the same ring again. Flair’s chops still don’t work on Sting. Stinger Splash hits Flair and Larry Z is in to make it 3-2 for two minutes. Sting dives over both sets of ropes to take Larry down.
Pillman has a figure four on Barry and Flair is apparently cool with letting him be in the hold. Finally they kick Pillman in the shoulder to break it up. Rick Steiner comes in to even things up and it’s Steiner Lines all around. He rakes Flair’s face across the cage to bust him open too as this is breaking down, in a good way. Pillman is in the Tree of Woe and Sting is busted too.
Sid comes in as the final member of the team and the pain begins. He holds Steiner for a low blow from Flair but Pillman makes the save. Larry Z of all people cleans house but Rick pounds him down. Scott comes in to even things up and now it’s first submission to win. We get the WORST camera shot ever as the camera looks at Sid and Rick as they’re openly calling spots. That was like a blooper or something.
Scorpion on Flair as Scott beats on Larry’s shoulder. Sid rams the shoulder of Pillman into the corner a bunch of times and the tape comes off. In an awesome looking visual, all of the Horsemen and Larry are put in Figure Fours at the same time. Every evil guy is in trouble except Sid who even Sting can’t get off his feet. The Steiners FINALLY put him down but Barry and Sid double team both of them.
Flair and Pillman lay some of the hardest chops you’ll ever hear into each other. Now we get to the famous part of the match as Sid grabs Pillman and tries to powerbomb him. Remembering that Sid is 6’9 and the cage roof is barely over 7’0 tall, Sid can’t get him up all the way so Pillman’s feet hit the top of the cage. This makes Sid DROP PILLMAN ON THE BACK OF HIS HEAD, legitimately knocking him unconscious. Sid, the nice guy that he is, powerbombs Pillman AGAIN. El Gigante is brought out to submit for Pillman who isn’t moving at all. The first powerbomb legitimately made me cringe.
Rating: A. The match is great and you absolutely can’t fault them for ending the match when they did. That was one of the scariest looking botches I’ve ever seen and Pillman is lucky to not have a broken neck. The match isn’t quite as good as the bloodbath that would happen the next year, but this is certainly awesome and is totally worth checking out. This is the mother of all gimmick matches for a reason and this is a forgotten entry in the series.
We look at the US Title attack earlier on, presumably to fill in time due to the match being stopped early.
Overall Rating: B-. As usual with shows from this era, if you cut out the stuff that was cut out on the home video version, the show is much better. Still though, with two great on here, it’s certainly an awesome show. Sting was on fire at this point and it was hard to not like whatever he was doing. Things would go into a BAD funk a few months after this though, with Sting feuding with Nikita Koloff and Flair going to the WWF in about three months, but we’ll get to that later. Good show here.
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