WarGames is a very formulaic match type, but when done right, it can create wonderful pro wrestling magic.
After Dusty Rhodes saw “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” he was inspired to create a match similar to the movie’s title gimmick: A group of men enter, and none shall leave until someone surrenders.
Thus, “War Games: The Match Beyond” was created at Jim Crockett Promotions and became an instant hit for fans for its blend of southern tag team wrestling, violence and massive star power. The match continued throughout WCW and versions of the match were created in other promotions. Then, WWE brought it back in 2017 as an NXT premium live event, and this Saturday, Survivor Series will have two WarGames matches for the second year in a row.
But let’s look back at the best WarGames matches in history. For this exercise, we’re excluding the WarGames-inspired matches — Team CZW versus Team ROH from Death Before Dishonor IV in 2006 is a must-watch — and primarily only looking at matches that can be found on the WWE Network on Peacock. So the matches on the Great American Bash tour aren’t included.
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Let’s look at the four best WarGames matches in WWE history.
NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2017 — The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly) versus Sanity (Alexander Wolfe, Eric Young, and Killian Dain) versus The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and Roderick Strong
Spoiler alert: This is the only modern-era match on this list. WWE’s WarGames matches have been hit-or-miss due to the company’s reliance on creating big moments rather than meaningful stories, which is the point of the match. The novelty of being the first WarGames match in WWE in 17 years helps this match as well as the ascension of the company’s best factions in recent years: The Undisputed Era. There were two key changes with an open roof and the match being allowed to end in pinfall — previously a team would win either through submission or surrender. And there were three teams of three instead of two teams of four or five. But this match still hits all the right notes with great action and the crowd atmosphere keeps you in it throughout. Authors of Pain looked menacing, and Sanity brought the chaos. It’s arguably the best these two teams looked, and this match served to boost Adam Cole’s star power in NXT.
WCW WrestleWar 1992 — Sting’s Squadron (Sting, Nikita Koloff, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Barry Windham) versus The Dangerous Alliance (Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Steve Austin, Larry Zbyszko, and Rick Rude)
This match had an amazing pool of talent. There was Dustin Rhodes and Steve Austin in their early years. You had Rick Rude, who was nearing his ascension to the world title scene. There are WarGames veterans like Nikita Koloff, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton. There were other veterans in Larry Zbyszko and Ricky Steamboat, and of course, the world champion at the time Sting. If you want a match filled with violence and brutality, this is it. Austin covered in blood throughout the match. Koloff throwing in hard blows. And the crowd was electric throughout. Everyone in this match was over, and everything they did was over. This was exemplified when Koloff, who was feuding with Sting, saved the then-world champion and the two embraced. The finish might be weak by today’s standards, but it worked for the story and followed the basic formula of bad guys bad, good guys good and the good guys win. Sometimes wrestling is just simple.
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WCW Fall Brawl 1994 — Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, and The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags) versus Terry Funk, Arn Anderson, Bunkhouse Buck, and Robert Parker
This is a pure story match. Dustin Rhodes navigated the United States title scene against Colonel Rob Parker and Bunkhouse Buck. Arn Anderson allied with Rhodes until he turned heel on him, and Terry Funk also joined in as part of The Stud Stable. Dusty Rhodes returned to help his son after an awesome promo. The Nasty Boys were recruited, and an incredible battle ensued. The crowd ate everything up, and the violence in this match was exactly needed given the build to the feud.
The Great American Bash 1987 — The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk and Road Warrior Animal), Nikita Koloff, Dusty Rhodes, and Paul Ellering versus The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, Tully Blanchard, and J.J. Dillon)
We’re making an exception to our qualifier in the beginning because you got to have the first WarGames match on this list. This is a match worth seeking out not only because of its history and association with JCP and Rhodes but because this arguably is the WarGames match others always are compared to. The match was created because the Horsemen ran roughshod in JCP. There needed to be an environment for the Horsemen to finally get what was coming to them. Enter WarGames. This is the match style in its purest form. The crowd was awesome in this match and provided catharsis for those who wanted to see the Horsemen brutalized. It’s a match that still holds up well and should continue to be upheld in pro wrestling history.
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