WWE fans salivate over the thought of War Games like no other match from the past.
Despite how unlikely it is that this gimmick match makes a comeback, speculation, hope and anticipation surround it. War Games' collection of classics and unique format are hugely responsible for those feelings. Blame wrestling fans' softness for the past as well.
On Monday's Raw, with Daniel Bryan writhing on the mat, The Shield stood opposite Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista in the ring. As Triple H shouted at the black-clad trio to stand down, he tossed in the word "war" several times.
Suddenly, thoughts of War Games entered many minds at once.
Extreme Rules, the pay-per-view that relies on gimmick matches, is coming. Evolution appears to be reforming. WWE put out a DVD celebrating War Games last year.
The WWE resurrecting WCW's double-caged match is unlikely, though. WWE already has its own steel-cage variations, and the man with the final say is reportedly not a fan of the idea.
As F4WOnline, via PWMania, reports, "The idea of bringing back War Games has been brought up many times over the years but Vince McMahon always shoots it down."
Bryan Alvarez added the following on the issue on his F4W Daily Update:
Even though HHH used the word "WAR" to describe what was coming, and even though it's a four-on-four battle, we are told not to hold your breath, largely because there are no arena set-ups between now and SummerSlam that can accommodate two rings. Doesn't mean they can't do a one-ring War Games like Lockdown, or just a big cage match of some sort, but a two-ring War Games is very unlikely.
Still, there is a strong desire to see this match return. When asked about it, the answer is often emphatic.
Why do fans want to see War Games again so badly? Part of the appeal of the match is its massiveness.
A one-on-one contest can be thrilling, but there is a special energy about a match that more resembles a war. Peter Jackson knows the value of a battle with a multitude of moving parts, as seen in the stirring war scenes in his Lord of the Rings movies.
Fans just saw Triple H vs. Bryan twice. Bryan vs. Orton and Batista vs. Roman Reigns have been done in some form already while cramming all of those men and more into a single match is enticing in its newness.
The Shield's issues with Triple H and Kane and Bryan's bad blood with The Authority would make for an enthralling match.
War Games' star power was always one of its strengths. WCW's very best climbed into the cage together, creating an all-star-game feel.
Take the first edition of the bout, for example.
The Road Warriors teamed with Nikita Koloff, Dusty Rhodes and Paul Ellering against The Four Horsemen (Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson) and J.J. Dillon. That's a combination of four wrestlers currently in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, the tag team many consider the best ever and a Hall of Fame stable in the Horsemen.
The War Games format allowed all those marquee names to compete in a single match.
It also creates an intense dynamic. That many angry men forced inside a steel structure is like sticking lit dynamite into a mound of gunpowder—fireworks are assured.
History of Greatness
The War Games format has produced a large number of classics.
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter handed out high star ratings for four of these matches, including the rare 5-star honor. The Internet Wrestling Database lists the following as War Games matches, which earned 4-stars or higher from Meltzer.
|Highest-Rated War Games Matches|
|Great American Bash 1987||The Four Horseman and War Machine vs. The Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Paul Ellering and Nikita Koloff||5 stars|
|Great American Bash 1989||The Road Warriors, The Midnight Express and Steve Williams vs. The Samoan Swat Team and The Fabulous Freebirds||4 stars|
|WrestleWar 1991||The Four Horsemen vs. Sting, Brian Pillman and the Steiner Brothers||5 stars|
|WrestleWar 1992||Steve Austin, Rick Rude, Larry Zbysko and Bobby Eaton vs. Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff||5 stars|
Star power collided with violent action and great rivalries. When fans think of War Games, it's likely these great matches that first come to mind.
The audience watched men bash each other's faces in the cage and pound on each other, all inside a unique structure. It was especially violent thanks to the steel surroundings and number of bodies flying around.
The staggered-entry element created mismatches and intriguing combinations of foes, much the way the Royal Rumble does. The two rings led to novel spots, and the entire thing looked like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Should Reigns, Bryan, Orton, Seth Rollins and Triple H all collide in this match, fans will hope for today's wrestlers to match what Rhodes, Flair and The Road Warriors did all those years ago. The possibility of another 5-star classic is an exciting one.
War Games flopped after it flourished, though.
Note the dates on those highly rated matches above. The latest one is 1992. WCW put on some variation of the War Games bouts until 2000.
Many of the bouts after WrestleWar 1992 were disappointing.
Memory often zeroes in on the positive. Nostalgia has the audience forgetting duds to better focus on the best War Games had to offer.
Hunger for Change, Thirst For Nostalgia
New things are inherently exciting. Things culled from "the good old days" are equally appealing. War Games would be a combination of both.
WWE never adopted War Games. It hasn't been around since WCW folded.
For the company to bring it back now would be refreshing. Fans have seen traditional cage matches, Elimination Chamber bouts and Hell in a Cell battles every year. War Games would come bearing novelty as well as history.
Extreme Rules would be vastly different with a War Games match as part of the event. It would be a strange convergence of past and present, a chance for today's stars to match what we remember Flair and Sting doing years ago.
Some fans first saw War Games with the release of the DVD celebrating it. Some fans pine for the wrestling of today to look more like the wrestling of their youth.
Bringing back War Games gives those younger fans a new thrill to enjoy while giving the older ones a trip backward in time.
That unique combination makes War Games a hard concept to not think about, especially when WWE has set itself up with an ideal situation to bring it back.
Bryan, The Shield, The Authority, Batista and Orton would provide plenty of star power. Their collision promises to be excellent. It's likely to remain a pipe dream, though.
As Jim Ross wrote in his blog about the match, "The old days lent itself more to the aggression and violence elements that the War Games concept needed to be successful." WWE has largely been softening its most brutal matches since becoming a PG-rated product, and War Games wouldn't escape that.
It would struggle to be what we remembered, but that hasn't tempered fans' passion to see it come back.