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Regal Relives WCW World War 3
In 1995, WCW tried to capture the same excitement and unpredictability that made the Royal Rumble famous. However, the Atlanta-based organization decided to add their own chaotic twist to the tried-and-true formula. WCW President Eric Bischoff believed “bigger was better” and created World War 3, a 60-man battle royal that took place in three separate rings. The first year’s battle royal was for the vacant WCW Title, the years that followed were for the No. 1 contendership to the WCW Championship.
“Absolute mayhem,” is what came to WWE Superstar William Regal’s mind when he thought about World War 3. Regal, a former WCW competitor, took part in all but one of the massive battle royals that were held from 1995 to 1998.
“There were so many people, and …” said the former King of the Ring, pausing for a moment before continuing, “… I’m trying to find a redeeming quality of it, but there is none.”
A major difference between World War 3 and the Royal Rumble - aside from the amount of participants and trio of rings - was the entry of the competitors. Rather than intervals between entrants like the Royal Rumble, the 60 ring warriors battling in World War 3 would all enter the rings before the opening bell. With so many people in the rings at once, Regal believed the risks certainly outweighed the reward.
“It had to be spread out over three rings; there was no way to do it otherwise. It was a very dangerous thing to be in, so many bodies everywhere, but well worth watching from a fan’s perspective.” Regal explained.
“The best in the world could be fighting off a number of people,” he added, “but all it takes it to get pushed awkwardly or into someone else and you get injured.”
According to Regal, there was certainly a strategy at play if a competitor truly wanted to make a difference, like when the inaugural three-ring clash crowned “Macho Man” Randy Savage as the WCW Champion.
The former WCW Television Champion executed that strategy and was one of the final ring warriors in the 1996 World War 3 match, finding himself at odds with The New World Order. Along with Lex Luger, Regal represented WCW and was being cheered on by the anti-nWo audience. A resilient warrior who knew what was at stake, it would take the combined efforts of Scott Hall, The Giant and Kevin Nash to finally eliminate him.
Lasting until the end of the match certainly proved the toughness of the Blackpool native, but he recalled the toll the match took on his body.
“I could barely lift my chin the next morning. When you’ve battled that long against that many people, there’s only so much anyone can take. And you have to move from ring to ring, it was a very odd battle royal.” Regal recalled.
Regal’s stand against the nWo proved that competitors who may not normally meet inside the squared circle would find themselves at odds. One unlikely encounter Regal remembered was when his longtime friend and former tag team partner, Dave Taylor, traded blows with Hulk Hogan inside one of the three squared circles.
“In the 1995 World War 3, it was Dave Taylor’s first WCW match. I remember looking across the ring and seeing Dave give Hogan an uppercut. Hogan wasn’t used to being hit with such ferocity, and seeing the look on his face was an absolute picture. It’s difficult to put into words but Hogan got away from Dave as quickly as possible; it was rather amusing.” Regal said.
The stakes of the battle royal were undoubtedly high, and for some competitors it was their second match of the event. World War 3 hosted many memorable battles, serving as the precursor to WCW’s biggest event of the year, Starrcade. Amongst these matches was a legendary confrontation between Sting and Ric Flair in 1995; Dean Malenko’s WCW Cruiserweight Title defense against Psicosis in 1996, and William Regal and Dave Taylor challenging The Steiner Brothers for the WCW Tag Team Championships in 1997. Each competitor, even if they had a match earlier in the evening, would enter the 60-man bedlam.
Although Regal does not have many fond memories of competing in the 60-man battle royal, he wouldn’t hesitate to enter such a joust in the present day.
“Of course I would compete. I wouldn’t think about it for a second. I’m a competitor; anyone worth their weight would do the same. If there’s an opportunity open that leads to an even bigger opportunity, you’re going to take it.”
World War 3 is an event and a match remembered by WCW fans and former WCW competitors if not for the massive and unique battle royal itself, then certainly for the sheer chaos that ensued inside the three rings. There was nothing like it that came before, and it has never been repeated, making it one of WCW’s most defining and original concepts.