WCW World War III Preview
WCW World War III '98
Hey, let's do it again.
These pay-per-view previews look like they're becoming a habit. Well,
maybe not a habit. I prefer to think of them as a public service.
Last month, I posted a Halloween Havoc preview. It was fairly well
This month, I told Bill I'd do a preview for World War III. It doesn't
have much of a history, but I'll take the "war" theme a step further,
and also write about a bygone NWA/WCW event: Wrestle War.
Anyway. WCW World War III debuted back in November 1995. It was a silly
time in WCW history, full of Yetis and Zodiacs, Sharks and Taskmasters.
WCW served up a pay-per-view for folks to watch between Halloween Havoc and
Starrcade. Sort of a snack in between meals.
World War III (also known as WW3) offered fans an interesting concept: three
rings full of wrestlers. Twenty wrestlers per ring, in fact. That added
up to 60 men competing for a victory in a huge battle royal.
It sounded good, but the concept was better than the execution. It was
over the top rope and to the floor elimination. That might not have been
so bad if the bookers let all three rings empty until there was one man
left in each.
But once each ring got down to about six men a piece, those men were all
moved into one ring where the elimination madness continued. It just
felt bizarre -- a break in the middle of the action. Three men at the end
competing in a triangle match would have been better, but what do I know?
Anyway, that first year, the WCW World title was vacant. The winner of the
big WW3 battle royal was promised the WCW World title.
Because of the Yetis, Zodiacs, Sharks and Taskmasters, I wasn't watching that
year. But my bud FredWo of
The Stinger Splash
was watching, and sent me
his account of the main event of that card. Take it away,
Randy Savage won the first "World War 3" match. How it ended: the
stipulation was, you had to go OVER the top
rope to be eliminated. This is important, because, as I remember,
Hulk Hogan had just eliminated the Giant, and Savage had his back to Hogan.
The Giant, from outside the ring,
grabbed Hogan by the ankles and YANKED him out of the ring, under the
bottom rope, and onto the floor. The referee and Savage looked behind
them, saw Hogan on the floor, and Savage was declared the winner. Hogan
argued, and Savage (who, at this point, was Hogan's pal) says, on the mic,
"I didn't see it, but I believe you, and since we're such pals, I'll
give you the first title shot at Starrcade." Or some such. Turned MY
stomach, let me tell you.
Hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves here, Fred. I'll get to Starrcade next
Also, I remember in between the match, there was some "bootleg footage"
of Heenan and Sonny Ono making some sort of "shady deal", which, as we
all know, ended up with the horrible "World Cup of Wrestling" crapola
that tainted Starrcade 95.
WW3 '95 also featured Sting beating Ric Flair by submission, Lex Luger
beating Randy Savage by submission, and Kensuke Sasake pinning Chris
When WW3 '96 rolled around, WCW was riding high. The nWo was just a few
months old, and it seemed that Eric Bischoff could do nothing wrong. The
nWo played a large role in the 60 man battle royal.
Despite the huge amount of talent in the ring, there was something
ultimately unsatisfying about the main event. Again, it was top rope
elimination. Again, a bunch of guys were moved to one ring when the
numbers thinned out.
The winner was a man who figured into the outcome of the previous year's
battle royal: The Giant. As a member of the nWo, he was one of the last
five guys in the match.
Four of the last five were nWo: The Giant, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx.
The other wrestler was Lex Luger. Luger eliminated Hall and Syxx, and was
about to toss Nash when The Giant bumped them both out (pictured).
Because he won, The Giant was promised a WCW World title shot at the
champ, nWo leader Hollywood Hogan. This didn't sit well with Hogan, and
just a few days after Starrcade, The Giant was tossed out of the nWo.
The Giant's failure to prevent Roddy Piper from beating Hogan at Starrcade
was also worked into the angle.
Anyway, the rest of the WW3 '96 card was passable. Nash and Hall defended
the WCW tag belts in a triangle match against The Nasty Boys and The
Faces of Fear. At one point, Hall and Nash were tagged in simultaneously.
They didn't come to blows. But we should get to see that fight at this
The 1997 WW3 battle royal was more of the same. This time, the match was
marred with the late entries of Hollywood Hogan and Kevin Nash, who came
to ringside well after the contest got underway.
They helped Scott Hall win the battle royal, and a shot at the WCW title.
Strangely, Hogan was the champ at the time. It made no sense for him to
help his nWo buddy. Whatever. By the time Hall finally got his shot
(at Uncensored '98), Sting was the champ. And Hall lost the match.
The undercard of WW3 '97 was pretty lacklustre. The one highlight was the
Ric Flair-Curt Hennig revenge match. Flair was out to pay back Hennig for
turning on the Horsemen. Hennig won.
It's not much of a history, but that pretty much covers the WW3 pay-per-views.
This year's card promises more of what we've seen in the last three years.
Despite some initial confusion on the Internet about the battle royal being
scaled back, WCW's website reports that 60 men will climb into three rings
It's more of a chance to see a spectacle than a good match. It's an
opportunity for WCW to show off its roster. Let's face it, about two-thirds
of the guys in the battle royal don't have a hope in hell of being booked
as the winner.
Do any of us expect that El Dandy or Norman Smiley will win? Does Fit
Finley have a chance? Meng? Chris Adams? Prince Iaukea? No.
I don't think so.
Maybe WCW should stop wasting our time, and just put its top 20 guys in
the ring for the match.
Whatever. The rest of the card shakes down as a promising event.
We'll get to see Kevin Nash take on Scott Hall. The Steiner brothers are
once again scheduled to battle. Juventud Guerrera and Rey Mysterio Jr.
could steal the show with a cruiserweight contest. Bret Hart and Diamond
Dallas Page are set to battle in another potential show stealer.
The one question (as of this writing) is who will face Goldberg for the
WCW World title.
In recent weeks, it has looked like Chris Jericho would be the man. His
push from the cruiserweight ranks to a TV title reign has been a successful
one. His natural charisma and in-ring ability make him a great opponent
But we may not see that match.
There are rumblings on the Internet that some of WCW's more powerful
wrestlers don't want to see Jericho rise to such a high-profile position.
If true, this isn't a surprise, given the egos at the top of the promotion. I don't
care what anyone says. Jericho is ready for a run at the world title.
Putting him in the ring with Goldberg would be a fantastic move. And it
would certainly provide us with a better match than Hollywood Hogan and
The Warrior gave us at the last pay-per-view.
Jericho should be given his chance to shine. Just look at this picture
of the man. Even Cameron Diaz would be forced to admit: there's
something about Chris.
But after this week's Nitro, it looks possible that Bam Bam Bigelow will
be given a shot at Goldberg. If that happens, I hope he's not forced to
do an embarrassing 90 second job. Talk about killing a guy's momentum
before he's had a chance to do anything. Bigelow just spent 2½ years in
ECW rebuilding his reputation after losing to Lawrence Taylor at Wrestle Mania
XI, back in 1995. I hope Uncle Eric gives him a chance to shine.
Anyway, as I promised earlier, I'd like to recap the history of another
WCW pay-per-view with a "war" theme. Wrestle War ran for four consecutive
years, starting in 1989.
The first and last Wrestle Wars were the best of the bunch.
It got off to a stellar start in '89 with Wrestle War: Music City Showdown.
Most of the card was nothing special. But the main event was historic.
Ric Flair challenged Rick Steamboat for the NWA World title. If you're a
wrestling purist who prefers moves over hype, this is your type of contest.
Certainly, many of you younger fans out there have probably heard how good
Flair was in his prime. Well, you won't find a match that will give you
a better example of Flair at his best than the one he wrestled with
Steamboat at Wrestle War '89. He's wrestled some great ones since this card,
but this may have been Flair's last classic.
He beat Steamboat for the title in a contest that went nearly 32 minutes.
After the match, Terry Funk attacked Flair. For me, this was
By the way, let me state this clearly: Steamboat was also at his best at
Wrestle War '89. It was wrestling heaven.
Wrestle War '90 just couldn't compare to the '89 card. Well, maybe it could have,
but one thing held it back: a major injury to Sting.
Sting blew out his knee at Clash of the Champions X, just 19 days before
the 1990 pay-per-view. He ripped up his patella climbing a cage to get at
Flair. This was a real momentum killer for Sting, who was just starting
to emerge as a superstar.
There was another unfortunate aspect to the injury. It cost the NWA and
the fans a high-profile Flair-Sting match. Back in 1990, you didn't get
pay-per-views every month, so it was important to try to put on a great
show every time.
Anyway, Lex Luger took Sting's place in the Wrestle War '90 main event
against Flair. It was a big letdown. After all, Flair and Luger headlined
NWA shows through most of 1988. So we knew what to expect from this
Anyway, as Luger wrestled Flair, Sting stood at ringside, his leg in a cast
from his knee operation. Ole & Arn Anderson came out to attack Sting. Luger
came to Sting's rescue, and was counted out. Like I said, the match was a
letdown. The rest of the card wasn't that great, either. The only thing
of note that I remember from the undercard is that a young Cactus Jack lost
to Norman the Lunatic. Some of you know Norman as Bastion Booger.
In 1991, Wrestle War was headlined by a good War Games contest. It put Sting,
the Steiner brothers and Brian Pillman in the ring against The Horsemen;
Ric Flair, Sid Vicious, Barry Windham and Larry Zbyszko (who was a substitute
for an injured Arn Anderson).
The end of the match came after Vicious powerbombed Pillman twice.
The pic is a little grainy, but you can see how Pillman got dropped on
his head. The powerbombs knocked him out. I've been told this was
legitimate -- not scripted.
It makes me wonder what the ending of the match was supposed to be.
As an aside, this brings to mind something I once read that apparently
happened between Vicious and Pillman about a year later in an Atlanta bar.
This was featured in a pro wrestling magazine.
Sid had left for the WWF, and was getting a monster push. He was being
groomed to replace Hulk Hogan (though he would blow the opportunity because
of his terrible attitude), and happened to run into Pillman and veteran
grappler Mike Graham in the bar.
Vicious apparently told Pillman and Graham that he was now part of the
big show: the WWF. And he also told Pillman and Graham that they were too
puny to ever make it there.
Well, Vicious and Pillman got into a heated argument, and Pillman wanted to
beat the hell out of Sid. Pillman was a lot smaller, but he had a reputation
for being a legitimate tough guy who could beat anyone's ass in a fight.
Sid, who towered over Pillman by eight inches, and outweighed him by nearly
100 lbs., felt the need to go get a weapon to defend himself.
So, he went to his car, fetched a squeegee and returned to the bar to
threaten Pillman with it.
The fight never happened, but Vicious was then dubbed "Squeegee Sid" by the
boys in the business.
Sorry. I had to share that story. It still makes me laugh after all these
Back to Wrestle War. In 1992, we got another War Games contest. The Horsemen
were no more thanks to Ric Flair's absence. He had been pushed out of WCW
in a bad management move.
The Horsemen were replaced by another great stable of wrestlers: Paul E.
Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance. The members were Rick Rude,
Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko, and former Horseman Arn Anderson.
They were put in the War Games cage to face Sting, Nikita Koloff, Rick Steamboat,
Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham.
The Dangerous Alliance was tearing up WCW at the time. It was a great
War Games contest that saw the fan favourites win.
The end came when the ever-resourceful Zbyszko loosened the top rope in
one of the rings. He tried to hit Sting with the metal piece that attaches
the turnbuckle to the ringpost. But Zbyszko missed, and hit Eaton on the
Sting knocked down Zbyszko, slapped an armbar on Eaton, and won the match.
Zbyszko was kicked out of The Dangerous Alliance.
So, there you have it. A brief recap of the history of World War 3 and
Wrestle War to go with a look ahead to this year's WW3 pay-per-view.
I'd like to wish luck to this year's WW3 writer for DDT Digest, Big Mike.
He's trying to call a match with 60 guys in it.
Better you than me, bud.
Anyway, it's time for me to wrap this up. Thanks for reading, and don't
forget to drop by and visit
my page sometime.
Oh. And enjoy WCW World War III '98.