Thursday, February 9, 2017

WCW World War 3 (1995)

The following WCW event took place in November of 1995.

So Halloween Havoc 1995 happened. The Giant (a.k.a. Big Show) made a big splash by defeating Hulk Hogan in his very first match and winning the WCW World title in the process thanks to interference. However, the win came under scrutiny and the title was soon held up. How else to settle the matter than to have SIXTY GUYS compete in a three-ring battle royal for the right to lay claim to the greatest prize of them all?

Even some 21 years after the fact, this idea seems way too far-fetched. Even that one Royal Rumble where they had forty guys in it seemed a bit stretchy for my tastes and then I remember that this was thing for a couple years.

We open with Hulk Hogan in black... no, this isn't Hollywood or nWo. This is just Hogan in black with no 'stache. (It was shaved off by Kevin Sullivan and his Dungeon of Doom a month or so ago during an episode of Nitro... this was a thing that happened.) He rips off the black outfit to reveal his usual colors and then burns the outfit in a can. He then takes some sheets of paper which he claims is a dirt sheet (a Wrestling Observer type of thing for those wondering) and tosses that in the fire as well. There's some mention about this being part of a plan or something and I'm not paying attention. Savage's arm was apparently hurt around this time, but Hogan says that was part of "the plan" and Macho's arm is just fine. This fact seems important.

TV champ Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) defeated Diamond Dallas Page to retain the title and also get the Diamond Doll, a.k.a. Page's ex-wife Kimberly. Much like their last encounter in Halloween Havoc, this was a match that happened. Though going back to that previous PPV, I think I enjoyed their Havoc encounter just a touch more... but not by much. Truth be told, "this was a match that happened" was probably the strongest compliment I could give either match and neither really stuck afterwards, so... DDP would move on to bigger and better things eventually and as for Mero, well...

Big Bubba Rogers (better known as Big Bossman in WWF) defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan with a timely chain assist from Michael Wallstreet (a.k.a. Mike Rotunda, IRS, Bray Wyatt's Dad, etc.) in a taped-fist knockout match thing. This was a fight. It wasn't clean. It wasn't slick. It was rather messy. And in that context, it was okay. Sometimes, matches don't have to be slick technical precision. They can be somewhat sloppy and it works given the wrestlers involved. At the very least, I stayed awake during this match and that's all I could ever ask for.

Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto defeated Mayumi Ozaki & Cutie Suzuki with a nasty looking Doomsday device (Road Warriors' finish - by the way, nasty is implied in a good way) to win a tag match that was strangely engrossing despite my lack of familiarity with three of the four participants in the match; I only know Bull Nakano from one of her appearances in a WWF PPV. Lots of impact and lots of action... this was good stuff, actually.

United States champion Kensuke Sasaki defeated a mullet-wearing Chris Benoit to retain the title... I want to say Benoit tried here, but the match was a total blank after the fact, so I guess I can't.

Lex Luger defeated Randy Savage via armbar submission on Savage's bad arm which Hogan claimed was JUST FINE but it really wasn't fine and so... FUCK YOU, HOGAN. Sting shows up, whispers in Luger's ear, and Lex lets go... fine, whatever. Big waste of time, this match was.

We get a recap of Ric Flair asking Sting for help and Sting agrees... only to be betrayed by Flair. Because Sting was a fucking idiot.

Sting defeated Ric Flair via submission. Another instance of Sting and Ric Flair put in a match together and they create something good and worthwhile. Admittedly, not one of their strongest matches compared to their previous stuff, but it's one of those rare combinations where you put two guys together and what they put out match-wise is always going to be top-notch, quality wrestling and even on the off-days, you're bound to get a good bit of wrestling in there.

Macho Man Randy Savage wins the World War 3 3-ring, 60-man battle royal to win the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Title... at one point, Hulk Hogan is dragged out of the ring and freaks out when someone else wins the title. Because Hulk Hogan. Fuck you.

No, seriously... people like to bitch about Bret Hart being a whiner during his latter days, but Hogan's whining during Macho Man's post-match promo puts Bret to shame. Even post-92 Rumble Hogan would be embarrassed by his future self's whininess. If people didn't care for Hogan at the time, this didn't help matters in the slightest and only helped to further sabotage Hogan's supposed popularity in WCW.

Alright... I get trying to add a mix to the tried-and-true battle royal concept in order to freshen it up or create a unique spin on the idea. In some cases, like the WWF Royal Rumble or WCW's own WarGames match, it works and becomes something of an anticipated event. In other cases, it doesn't work. The World War 3 match doesn't work.

The sight of sixty men cramming three squared circles is an almost ungodly visual and I don't mean that in the most flattering way. Never mind the fact that a good chunk of those sixty men are basically deadweight with less than a rat's ass chance of winning the damn thing, much less last longer than a cup of joe. But trying to keep track of what's going is almost virtually impossible and as this mess was going on, I was doing other stuff. I wasn't paying attention. I think the only time I bothered to pay attention was when there was only 20 or less guys left and they just crowded ONE ring because that's when I knew something interesting was happening.

The way I see it, this was designed to pad out for time. There's nothing special about a battle royal with an exorbitant number of participants even when it's done well (and they rarely are) and cramming more rings and even more guys in there isn't making the match special; it's making it dull and drawn out. Battle Royals are usually done to give guys something to do and it's usually up to them to create moments that makes battle royals worthwhile. No such moments (save for the final moments of the match) could be found here in World War 3.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this match is WCW would make this an annual event for the next three years. By 1999, WCW wisely decided against another World War 3 event. Of course, the event that replaced it, WCW Mayhem, was anything but a step above... but I digress.

This inaugural WCW World War 3 PPV, as a whole, wasn't terrible. At best, you'll find a decent women's match in there and even the Badd/DDP match had its moments, but there's nothing here that merits a revisit or anything of the sort. The gimmick match was a giant clusterfuck and the side stories were just as bad. I could ask how WCW survived 1995 with tripe such as this, but then I could also ask the same of the WWF with their equally shit shows from the same year.

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