Wrestling Dangerously: Looking Back At WarGames 1992

Joel Harvey

If someone asks you: “Why do you like pro wrestling? It’s fake. What’s the appeal?”, then you only need one response. A single answer which will cover everything off in one fell swoop: “WarGames 1992”. Then drop the mic (if you have one), and walk off into the horizon.

But what exactly is WarGames? Hint: It’s not the 1983 Matthew Broderick sci-fi film about nuclear annihilation (always worth a watch, though). But in wrestling, WarGames is a match type – a brutal and ridiculous match type – that was conceived by “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, supposedly after he’d watched Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. WarGames first appeared in 1987 and was mainly used by the NWA, before becoming a staple of WCW pay-per-view events throughout the nineties.

The concept of WarGames is simple – actually, it isn’t that simple. But let’s explain the basics of it:

  • Two teams of four or more wrestlers enter one-by-one every two minutes.
  • The infamous coin-toss decides which team enters first and gains the extra man advantage. And yes, the heel team normally always wins the coin toss.
  • Two rings. Yes, two¬†rings. WarGames isn’t f**king about here.
  • One enclosed steel cage with a roof (WarGames is the grandaddy of Hell in a Cell).
  • No pinfalls, no disqualification, and no count-outs. A team can only win if one member of the other team submits or surrenders or dies (presumably).
  • There will be blood.

WarGames was a killer main event. Much like Hell in a Cell is today, it was the go-to match type to violently draw any long-running feud to a close. Originally, it was used as a vehicle for The Four Horsemen stable in the NWA, but it grew beyond Flair’s crew in its later use in WCW. And in 1992, it was the headline match at WCW’s WrestleWar ’92.

The feud that led to this match was between many of WCW’s top baby-faces and the heel stable of The Dangerous Alliance, fronted by Paul E. Dangerously (aka Paul Heyman). Sting – in his blonde surfer-dude days – would lead the good guys, made up of Nikita Koloff, Dustin Rhodes (minus the gold paint), Ricky Steamboat, and Barry Windham. They called themselves the Sting Squadron – which frankly is a terrible name, but we’ll let it slide because The Dangerous Alliance was just as bad a moniker. These baddies comprised of Steve Austin (with hair!), Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko, and Rick Rude.

With a line-up of such talented wrestlers, you knew this would be a good match. But no-one could imagine what would follow. First of all, the pace of the match was insane. Right from the very start – with Austin and Windham kicking things off – it was a breathless affair.

Guys were entering the ring every two minutes at full pelt, not leaving anything in the gas tank. And then, there was the violence. Oh god, was there violence.

A Bloody War

The very style of a WarGames match lends itself to becoming a very violent spectacle anyway, but the boys of 1992 really took the brutality up a notch. Within the first five minutes, Austin was bleeding profusely from his non-bald head. By the end of the match, at least half of the 10 men must’ve had colour on them – it was gore games.

Now, we don’t condone the use of blading to get blood, it’s an out-dated, controversial practice that no longer has a place in the industry. But there’s no doubt that this match felt all the more hellacious because of the copious amounts of blood involved. Seriously, you could’ve mopped up the ring afterwards and opened up a blood bank.

It wasn’t just the savageness of this match that made it work though, every element of the bout was played to perfection; the cage was effectively used as a weapon, but not-over used (take note, modern wrestlers), the timing was always on point, and the finish was precisely executed.

In total, this match was 23 minutes long, but it never feels that long; more like five minutes, as it flies by in exhilarating fashion. WarGames ’92 was sheer wrestling perfection, a joy to behold and a match you can watch over and over again – smiling every time you do at the sheer lunacy of it all.

WarGames: The Return

WWE is now reviving WarGames, 17 years after the fabled match came to an embarrassing end on WCW Nitro – where Vince Russo inexplicably booked himself as one of the competitors.

It’ll be intriguing how they play it out at NXT TakeOver next month, but they needn’t look any further than WarGames in 1992 for some inspiration. If they can achieve just half of what these 10 men achieved, then this revival will be totally worth it.

“Let the WarGames begin.” Again.

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