Editors’ Choice: Eight must-see WarGames Matches

Editors’ Choice: Eight must-see WarGames Matches

One of the most storied stages in the annals of sports-entertainment, WarGames has given fans plenty to remember over its more than three decades of history. WWE.com editors selected their eight most must-see WarGames matches of all time. 

Road Warriors, Midnight Express & Steve Williams vs. Fabulous Freebirds & Samoan Swat Team (Great American Bash 1989)

Road Warriors, Midnight Express & Dr. Death vs. Fabulous Freebirds & Samoan Swat Team: Great American Bash - July 23, 1989

Road Warrior Animal enters War Games and clears house.

In the pantheon of WarGames Matches, this one is tragically overlooked. Maybe it’s because it was the first time since WarGames’ inception that neither stalwarts like Dusty Rhodes nor The Four Horsemen were involved. Or maybe it was overshadowed by the Match of the Year contenders that bookended it that night in Baltimore, Lex Luger vs. Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk.

Whatever the reason, this edition simply doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It featured four all-time-great tag teams, the godfather of hosses (Steve Williams), and a who’s who of managers (Jim Cornette, Paul Heyman and Paul Ellering). As the ring filled with barbarians, from the savage Samoan Swat Team to the warpainted Animal & Hawk, the scene could easily be mistaken for a post-apocalyptic battlefield. This match isn’t recommended for those with weak stomachs, but for everyone else — especially those wondering what set WCW apart from the kid-friendly WWE in 1989 — it’s required viewing. — JOHN CLAPP

Sting’s Squadron vs. The Dangerous Alliance (WrestleWar 1992)

Sting's Squadron vs. The Dangerous Alliance: WrestleWar, May 17, 1992

"Stunning" Steve Austin takes a beating from Barry Windham.

In 2019, it may seem like an exercise in total fantasy booking to suggest that Sting and Paul Heyman would have a rivalry that would result in a WarGames Match, but that was just how WCW rocked back in 1992. 

Of course, Heyman would not compete in the match, instead sending in his Dangerous Alliance, comprised of Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Eaton and Rick Rude. They took on Sting’s Squadron, captained by Sting with Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes and Nikita Koloff by his side. 

The match itself is utter insanity — an all-out battle that legitimately winds up with Sting and Madusa on the top of the cage before the Squadron prevails. 

Fantasy was reality in 1992, and it resulted in the best WarGames Match of all time. Don’t @ me. — RYAN PAPPOLLA

Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes & The Nasty Boys vs. The Stud Stable (Fall Brawl 1994)

Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes & The Nasty Boys vs. The Stud Stable - War Games: Fall Brawl 1994

The Stud Stable clashes with The Rhodes Family & The Nasty Boys.

In his rivalry with Col. Robert Parker’s Stud Stable, Dustin Rhodes found himself desperately alone. So much so that he trusted the nefarious Arn Anderson to have his back, only for The Enforcer to betray him. As the 1994 edition of WarGames approached, Dustin realized that family was his only option for backup. A heartfelt reunion with his father, Dusty Rhodes, helped fill his team, and a trip to Nastyville by The American Dream rounded out the squad with The Nasty Boys, Knobbs and Sags for WarGames.

Though The Stud Stable, which featured merciless competitors like Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Buck, dominated the majority of WarGames, the tides turned once all eight men were in the ring. The Rhodes and The Nasty Boys turned their attention on Parker, a manager forced to enter the squared circles. With The American Dream locking him in a Figure-Four Leglock as The Nasty Boys pummeled him, Parker had no choice but to submit, putting an end to this bitter rivalry. – BOBBY MELOK

The Hulkamaniacs vs. The Dungeon of Doom (Fall Brawl 1995)

Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting & Lex Luger vs. The Dungeon of Doom - War Games: Fall Brawl 1995

Hulk Hogan leads a team of WCW mega stars against the evil Dungeon of Doom.

The Dungeon of Doom wanted a war against Hulkamania, and they got it. Decked out in matching camo and face paint, the foursome of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting and Lex Luger used a combination of power and athleticism to tear apart the colorful, hodgepodge group of Kamala, The Zodiac, The Shark and Meng at Fall Brawl 1995. 

The Dungeon of Doom members were more than willing to use the structure to dish out pain, but the turning point came when Hogan entered last. The Hulkster proved that he was willing to go to great lengths to prevail in war, throwing sand into Meng and Kamala’s faces before breaking out the Camel Clutch for a rare submission win. — JEFF LABOON

Team WCW vs. nWo (Fall Brawl 1996)

Team WCW vs. Team nWo - War Games: Fall Brawl 1996

The nWo. takeover leads to an epic War Games Match against WCW.

The 1996 edition of WarGames is important for what it precipitated — one of the most memorable story arcs in the history of WCW with the transformation of Sting.

Lex Luger recruited unlikely allies in Ric Flair and Arn Anderson of The Four Horsemen to take on the hostile nWo, but the intrigue focused on where Sting’s allegiances lied after WCW’s Icon appeared to attack Luger six days earlier on Nitro. Fans saw double with The nWo’s Sting imposter later joined by the real Stinger, who decimated The nWo before making an abrupt exit, frustrated that anyone ever questioned his loyalty.

The nWo prevailed, but this catalyzed Sting’s metamorphosis into black and white, leading to the most anticipated — albeit disappointing — match in company history when he challenged Hollywood Hogan 15 months later.

Adding to the enjoyment is the commentary of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Dusty Rhodes, which is as captivating as the in-ring action, as it often was in this era of WCW. — JORDAN GARRETSON

Team WCW vs. nWo Hollywood vs. nWo Wolfpac (Fall Brawl 1998)

Team WCW vs. Team Wolfpac vs. Team nWo - War Games: Fall Brawl 1998

Three teams enter War Games with only one man leavng as the No. 1 Contender for the WCW Title.

This selection is for those who like to watch the world burn. The three-team, every man for himself format puzzled fans but led to some brilliant anarchy.

This WarGames Match featured a parade of legendary competitors, including Diamond Dallas Page, Bret Hart, Stevie Ray, Sting, Roddy Piper, Lex Luger, Kevin Nash, Hollywood Hogan and The Warrior. These mega-Superstars all traded blows in chaotic fashion until the ultimate pinnacle was reached when smoke filled the cage and The Warrior appeared just in time for Hogan to attack him from behind. When the smoke cleared, Hogan was left holding only his jacket, but an explosion on the ramp seconds later preempted Warrior’s sprint toward the cage. What other WarGames Match has ever featured teleportation?! After Hogan was locked out, The Warrior kicked down the cage, and the two eventual WWE Hall of Famers were separated by security.

Oh yeah, DDP pinned Stevie Ray to win the match, but do you remember the part about the teleportation?! — BRAD ZAK

Roderick Strong & AOP vs. SAnitY vs. The Undisputed ERA (NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2017)

Authors of Pain unleash carnage on everyone in sight: NXT TakeOver: WarGames (WWE Network Exclusive)

Akam & Rezar charge into battle and launch their opponents from one ring to the other: Courtesy of the award-winning WWE Network.

New to NXT? Wanna check out some of the wildest matches in the black-and-gold brand’s history? This is a heck of a place to start.

We had to wait nearly two decades for the return of WarGames, but these three trios delivered the same type of brutality, death-defying moments and pedal-to-the-metal action that made the stipulation such a crowd-favorite.

SAnitY truly got the party started when they merrily tossed a plethora of weapons into the rings before entering. Killian Dain was a runaway locomotive, Adam Cole was the wily escape artist, AOP delivered a truly unique Super Collider and Alexander Wolfe somehow survived a nasty cut and defiantly continued to throw fists until the very end.

You should probably check your pulse if your heartrate doesn’t jump while witnessing Cole and Roderick Strong trading haymakers while perched perilously on the steel bars at the top of the structure. What happened next? Watch and find out.

Words simply can’t do this match justice since it’s nearly impossible to describe a demolition derby of such magnitude. — JON CHIK

Pete Dunne, Ricochet & The Viking Raiders vs. The Undisputed ERA (NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2018)

Ricochet connects with an insane double Moonsault from the top of the WarGames Cage: NXT Takeover: WarGames II (WWE Network Exclusive)

With the WWE Universe on the edge of their seats, Ricochet comes crashing down on every competitor in an epic WarGames Match: Courtesy of WWE Network.

If WWE NXT resurrected Dusty Rhodes’ WarGames concept in 2017, the black-and-gold brand rebooted the match entirely the following year when NXT North American Champion Ricochet, WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne and The Viking Raiders united — in matching war paint, no less — to score a decisive victory against The Undisputed ERA.

An incredible example of why NXT has captured the imagination of Full Sail faithful and the wider WWE Universe alike, this match escalated to all-out chaos once all eight competitors entered the steel-enclosed dual rings, introducing all manner of implements, including tables, chairs, Kendo sticks, garbage cans and even chains into the fray.

The match will make you want to turn away in its most extreme moments, but you won’t be able to take your eyes off it. To top it all off, Ricochet executes one of the most stunning moonsaults of any era when he soars off the cage onto seven other competitors, cementing himself as NXT’s — and later WWE’s — resident superhero. — JAMES WORTMAN

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