Well, Hell in a Cell is right around the corner and the WWE is doing all it can not mention that Brock Lesner already beat Undertaker at Hell in a Cell…at the No Mercy PPV in 2002. We at Missed Spots on the other hand are thinking all about matches of wrestling past, watching them with rose colored glasses and congratulating ourselves on our knowledge of drop toe holds and the art of selling with one’s head up. Yes, we’re idiots, but idiots who are passionate about the past of this bizarre and wonderful business. We talked about reviewing the aforementioned No Mercy PPV, or possibly another Hell in a Cell classic. Our minds drifted however, like they often do, further back in time to the father of Hell in a Cell, War Games. In picking a particular War Games match we had options, we settled on Wrestle War 1992. Why? Rick Rude, Double A, Stunning Steve, Steamboat, Windham, Sting and a young Paul Heyman are my answer. So let us get into the PPV and the match what the WWE simply won’t let us have no matter how desperately we want it.
Tony Schiavone and Eric Bischoff open the show after a short intro listing the War Games participants and then throw it down to Jim Ross and Jesse “The Body” Ventura…I knew that I picked the right PPV. The Body and Good Ol’ JR are just that good and they were great all night. Jesse did what he always did, concentrating on the story in the ring, keeping heat on the Faces and interjecting the kind of comedy that was quick witted and appropriate. JR told us not only what we were seeing but why we were seeing it while covering over botched moves and doing all he could to put over everyone on the screen. This kind of commentary is the breath of fresh air I wish all us fans could enjoy on our current WWE screens.
United States Tag Team Championship Match
The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “PS” Hayes and Jimmy “Jam” Garvin)
Champions Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and The Taylor Made Man (Terry Taylor)
The Freebirds come out to a truly awful theme song which leads to a lot of posing early and playing to a hot crowd. The Birds control the match at the beginning with both guys working on Hammer and Taylor’s shoulders respectively. Taylor and Hammer are not in sync at all and do a good job of progressively selling their arms. Freebirds play the tweener before it was cool breaking the rules just enough not to get caught with sly hair pulling and illegal tags.
The heels take advantage after throwing Garvin out of the ring and getting a double team. We then get Garvin and then Hayes playing face in peril and the heels cutting off a couple nice comebacks. Garvin wins with a DDT on Taylor after back body dropping Hammer while he had Taylor in the front face lock.
Very good match, they worked the crowd well and had them right where they wanted at the end. The Birds worked limbs early on and didn’t use much high impact stuff aside from clothlines, shoulder blocks and strikes. By the time we get into a gut wrench power bomb and a nice back body drop the crowd is into it, selling the impacts and building towards the finish. These guys only did what was necessary and they did it well.
Johnny B. Badd
Young Pistol Tracy (Tracy Smothers)
Quick start for the Little Richard impersonator, Pistol responds with A LOT of martial arts moves for a guy with a picture of two six shooters on his trunks. Pistol gets a reverse chin lock and The Body explains how the hold SHOULD be applied, later Pistol gets a pin attempt and Jesse chastises him for not hooking a leg. I sooooo miss Jesse. Badd Sunset Flips off the top rope which is pretty damn impressive and just as scary looking. Badd wins with a left handed punch to the face and Ventura is up in arms about the illegal closed fist.
Freebirds cut a promo on coming after the WCW and NWA Tag Team Titles
Marcus Alexander Bagwell
Marcus is full on white meat baby. Scotty is early Heart Break Kid in his look and swagger. Good intensity early on with a long, strong lock up leading to both guys trading hard slaps and takedowns. Commentary is selling the importance of this match, as they did the previous, in order to get into Light Heavyweight Title contention. Buff looks a little sloppy late and Raven wins with a roll up and a hand full of tights. The match began real well, with a lot of promise and then just kind of petered out.
Junk Yard Dog and Ron Simmons
Mr. Hughes and Cactus Jack
Cactus jumps JYD from behind during he and Simmons entrance. Mick takes control, slams him into the entrance ramp and drops the Cactus elbow to take The Dog out. We end up with a singles match between Hughes and Simmons with Cactus screeching on the outside. Big hoss pounding stuff between Hughes and Simmons, a few power moves from Simmons and a shoulder block to Hughes knee gives Faarooq the W.
Super Invader (Hercules Hernandez)
Invader, billed from Bangkok, is accompanied by the great Harley Race. Invader has a complete mask, no mouth or eye holes. Oriental Hercules dominates with strikes and power moves then works into a reverse chin lock. The crowd seems to have lost some steam. Super Invader gets the pin with a power bomb.
Richard Morton (Ricky)
Big Josh (Doink the Clown the First)
Big Josh is of course from the North Woods and we know this because of the ax handle he carries and flannel he wears. Both combatants came out to face reactions but Ricky’s selling and Josh’s brutality makes their roles clear to me if not to the live crowd. Josh is the favorite with Ricky working on top for the larger portion of the match. BJ’s offense is physical and he picks up the win with a Seated Senton (little known fact: Mojo Rawley’s favorite wrestler is Matt Osborne and he has never heard of John Tenta). Good short match that shows Matt Osborne’s natural evil streak.
Light Heavyweight Championship Match
Z Man (Tom Zenk)
Champion Flyin’ Brian Pillman
Z comes out and is almost immediately surprised by his pyro…it was charming. They trade some crisp, fast paced chain wrestling and then transition into rest holds and then repeat. I like it already. Pillman is first to go with intense strikes, Tom cuts off the Loose Cannon and begins to wear him down exploiting a previously injured back. Pillman works the leg to neutralize Z Man’s speed. Z seems to be the crowd favorite by a tick as he continues to sell the leg and the intensity builds with both guys trading the advantage. Pillman is selling like hell and the match has got me hooked. Zenk misses a Missile Drop Kick off the top rope and Pillman capitalizes with a roll up victory. This was a very good match, they played with the speed, picking up the pace to build excitement and slowing down to sell and make us invest in the outcome.
The Steiner Brothers
Tatsumi Fujinami and Takayuki Iizuka
Wow was this match brutal.
While the Steiners are WCW World Tag Champs this match is for the #1 Contender for the IWGP Tag Titles. Scott starts out with Fujinami strong and stiff as always. Nasty looking botch early with Scott doing what appears to be a flipping fall away slam and landing on his head. (Editor’s Note: Fucking Ouch!) Rick seems to care very little about his opponent’s spine while dead lift German Suplexing Fujinami onto the back of his head. I believe if you were to ask Scott “what’s the best way to make a back elbow to the face of Takayuki Iizuka look real?” he would respond “simple, you just smash your elbow into the face of Takayuki Iizuka”. Rough looking spot with Rick set up for an electric chair, Iizuka comes off the top with a cross body but Rick reverses mid air and they all land very awkwardly. Fujinami and Iizuka begin to work Rick’s leg which will be known as the wrestling portion of the match. The Steiners regain control and resume the “pummeling” portion of the match. If I didn’t know any better I would bet that Scott legitimately hates Fujinami and Iizuka. Perhaps at some point they disrespected his freaks and or his peeks. Props to Scott taking a good amount of time to sell, although he was most likely just out of ideas of how to punish his opponents and needed time to think. Rick gets the pin on Iizuka with a belly to belly off the top. This match was exciting in all the ways our first match was not, while those guys (The Birds, Hammer and Taylor) went with the “less is more philosophy”, this match went with more of a “I will destroy you and all that you hold dear” way of thinking. To each his own I guess.
For those who don’t know, War Games matches are fought between two teams consisting of 4 or 5 people. One member of each team starts the match and a coin toss decided who will have the advantage as new team members join the match at timed intervals. The only way to win is to have one member of the other team submit; there are no pin falls or DQ’s. The match is fought in two rings that are placed side by side and surrounded completely by a steel cage.
Sting (WCW Heavyweight Champion), Barry Windham (TV Champ), Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Nikita Koloff
The Dangerous Alliance
Stunning Steve Austin, Rick Rude (US Champ), Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko
The announcers do a good job on selling the history and brutality of this match before it begins. Austin and Windham are chosen to start and they do so with haymakers and good old fashion brawling. They tease a cage bump on several occasions but wait until the 4 min mark (1 min before the entrance of the next participant) for Austin to hit it and get color.
Windham in control as Rude enters and takes over with quick, hard strikes. Austin recovers in time to get some double team action before the sides even up.
Steamboat is on fire when he enters with stiff strikes and DDT’s for all that oppose him. Sting’s boys in control again and Austin is bleeding like a stuck pig.
The Enforcer is next in with a DDT for Windham and a picture perfect Spinebuster for Steamboat. Rude and Arn double team Steamboat with both of them performing a single leg Boston Crab on each leg, I liked this spot a lot. Windham is busted wide open and the DA are on top.
Dustin evens it up. Double A and Stunning Steve are taken out and Steamboat is working submission on Rude. Windham has Anderson’s head stuck between the two rings.
Larry to the rescue but is met by Dustin before he can do much damage. Medusa, who was at ring side with Paul E., climbs the cage and slips Paul’s gigantic 80’s cell phone to Arn who goes on to beat down everyone with it.
Sting is in and right at Arn who he dispatches, Rude is military pressed by Stinger into the top of the cage repeatedly. This spot I also enjoyed. AA and Stunning go into the cage face first, and now Anderson has got some juice. At this point there is blood all over the mat.
Beautiful Bobby is last for DA. Dustin is full crimson mask, he went deep. Rude and Bobby are loosening a turnbuckle. The action is all back and forth.
Koloff evens it up for good, takes out AA and faces off with Sting. These two had tension going into the match and the crowd is on the edge of their seats in anticipation. After a beat or two and a high five it is obvious that they will remain allies and the crowd pops. Rude is one of the most crisp guys in the business, with all of the bodies in the ring and more importantly all the talent in that ring he stands out.
We are all in and it is hard to follow all the action. The top ring rope is off and Eaton is still trying to get the metal turnbuckle free from the pad. “The Body” makes a great comment about Eaton trying to fix the ring in the middle of the match obviously ignoring his true intentions to use it as a weapon. Once again, Jesse is the man. The metal turnbuckle ends up in Zbyszko’s hands and Eaton holds Sting at Larry’s mercy. But what is this, as the Living Legend swings at The Stinger, he moves at the last second causing Larry to hit Eaton in the shoulder with the steel. Sting dispatches Zbyszko and locks in an arm bar which makes Bobby submit. Our hero’s get out of dodge and the heels are left pointing fingers at one another.
I loved everything about this match. The talent worked with what was given to them and didn’t go spot heavy. The cage was used believably and the blood was appropriate. No one was asked to do too much and most everyone had their moment to shine. The action was fast enough to never get bogged down and even when the rings were full it was easy to follow where the important parts were being played out. The finish may have been a bit rushed for my taste but that is a minor grip. I even enjoyed the fact that we did not see a beat down of LZ after he caused his team the match. They teased it but allowed us to go off the air wondering what would happen, which is something that our current product doesn’t do enough in my opinion. The longer we go with tension before we see the physicality the better the payoff is.
The undercard was solid with two great tag matches, albeit for different reasons and the Pillman/Zenk match was top notch. But the War Games match itself and the great commentary is what made this a great PPV.
Jesse Ventura on cheating “do unto others before they do unto you”. Brilliant.
More love for “The Body”. After taking a shoulder block from Michael Hayes Jesse says, “Taylor rolls over to his corner so that Hayes can’t cut him off from his partner”. This kind of logical dissection of tactics are, save Corey Graves, sorely missed in the commentary of today
At one point during the Pillman match I wondered what the hell Dolph Ziggler was doing out there fighting Tom Zenk.
Tom Zenk is the is one of the greatest wrestlers ever named after an element on the periodic table. (Editor’s Note: Believe Kevin is confused with Zinc.)
Mullet of the Night goes to Mr. Richard Morton…it wasn’t even close.