Ragin' Cagin' at War Games

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April 21, 2009

Though more than a decade has passed since this radical means last settled differences between bitter rivals, War Games justly ranks as WWE.com's No. 7 Most Extreme Match. Two rings side-by-side, completely surrounded by the cold, unyielding steel of a cage, made this contest -- a precursory inspiration for WWE's Elimination Chamber -- as dangerous as it was revolutionary.

Two teams would literally lock up in War Games, with each group traditionally having four -- five, in rare circumstances -- members. The battle would start with two opponents, with another competitor entering in alternate order every two minutes. Provided the temporary handicap advantage didn't cost either side dearly, once until both sides had their full complement inside the caged rings, the War Games would begin in earnest. There were only two options for any possible ceasefire: Making an opponent submit, or beating them so badly that the team could no longer continue.

Beyond its methodical nature, what made War Games so vastly unique and successful from its July 1987 inception at The Great American Bash was the fact that all combatants -- victorious or otherwise -- paid a heavy price for their involvement. During one historically vicious encounter at Wrestle War in February 1991, Four Horsemen member Sid Vicious delivered a horrific Powerbomb that nearly broke Brian Pillman in half, winning the match for the Ric Flair-led Horsemen and leaving fans with a lasting image of Pillman knocked unconscious in defeat. At September 1997's Fall Brawl, Curt Hennig played a strength-in-numbers type of War Games, abandoning Ric Flair and the Horsemen, and joining the nWo in a 5-on-3 beatdown of the Nature Boy until teammate Steve McMichael surrendered.

In the history of the squared circle, War Games made its mark by combining brutality, calculated risks and viciousness. The match was unforgiving to any person brave enough to enter the steel enclosure. Often times a War Games competitor earned a badge of honor simply for being part of the match, and for showing that he had the intestinal fortitude just to withstand the encounter, win or lose. At what cost, though? Even those who survived the confines of the caged, double-ring set-up would admit that they were never the same after the contest.

The extreme nature of War Games didn't just change the people who were involved in the match; it revolutionized an industry with its sadistic originality. Though it has more than a decade since the last War Games, the match will never be forgotten by our fans -- or by those locked in mortal combat.

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