The WWE dig through their vaults once again to bring fans another slice of wrestling history, this time featuring a mainstay of the NWA and WCW, War Games… Before Hell in a Cell, before the Elimination Chamber, there was War Games – a two ring, two cage, ten man melee that took everythin fans (at the time) knew about wrestling and threw it out of the window, re-writing the book on the mayhem that could be seen inside the squared circle.
Created by WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes as a way to rejuvenate his feud with the Four Horsemen, War Games exploded onto the wrestling scene as part of the NWA promotion in the late 80s, eventually becoming a mainstay of the original Great American Bash throughout the end of the decade. There’s no-one better to talk about the War Games than Rhodes, besides being the creator of the event, he has a history himself – his status is legendary to both wrestlers and wrestling fans and he brings a kudos to this Blu-ray set that is unparalleled among the recent WWE releases (especially considering the ridiculous “chemistry teacher” from the Top 25 Rivalries set).
War Games: WCW’s Most Notorious Matches sees War Games creator Dusty Rhodes talk about the origination of the match and its growth, and presents the some of the greatest War Games matches, giving a history of the event and of the feuds presented within. However it’s not all golden for this release – many of the early War Games are, frankly, very dull. As a wrestling fan I appreciate old-school matches and the classic grappling style but War Games is a weird abomination that sits somewhere between old-school and new-school – the setting is very much of the modern era but the wrestling is not. Although saying that, any matches featuring the Road Warriors (aka Legion of Doom) get a thumbs up from me.
Taking its pick from almost two decades of matches (which span from 1987 to the “final” War Games match in 2000), War Games: WCW’s Most Notorious Matches features two generations of wrestlers, from the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and the Four Horseman, The Road Warriors, and Nikita Koloff, to more modern-day names such as Sting, Davey Boy Smith, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T, Goldberg and many more.
Yet whilst the early War Games matches are, in least in this reviewers opinion, somewhat dull, there are some flourishes of genius that are lost in the latter WCW-era matches. There’s nothing quite like seeing the very first “Tower of Doom” as part of War Games in 1988 – three cages stacked one on top of each other is a sight to behold. Especially when there’s a poor shit-scared referee sitting atop one of the cages waiting to open the trap door between cages!
Spaning two Blu-rays (or three DVDs if you’re that way inclined) War Games: WCW’s Most Notorious Matches contains a massive fourteen matches, some lasting 30 minutes or more, with a further three matches – Rage in the Cage from Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1996, Ultimate Jeopardy Steel Cage Match from ECW’s December to Dismember ’95, and Ultimate Jeopardy Steel Cage Match from ECW Cyberslam in 1999 – exclusive to the Blu-ray release.
War Games: WCW’s Most Notorious Matches is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from WWE Home Video/FremantleMedia.