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10 Best WarGames Matches Of All Time

From NWA, to WCW, to WWE NXT...

Many stipulations today have a history of violence, intensity, and sheer drama - from Hell in a Cell to Elimination Chamber to any number of variations on the independent scene. Every single one owes something to the WarGames match.

A Dusty Rhodes invention - having been inspired by the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - its classic double-ring steel cage format has become synonymous with team-based brutality over the decades.

There have been countless WarGames-style bouts over the years, and although we're only taking official NWA, WCW, and WWE versions into account here, many others are well worth checking out. ROH and CZW waged inter-promotional war in a similar set-up, while TNA's Lockdown 2007 event saw Team Angle and Team (Christian) Cage do its parent stipulation justice.

But now its time to focus on WarGames' official canon, from 1987 to the modern day, by way of WCW's WrestleWar and Fall Brawl events.

Strap yourself in, and prepare for a lot of blood, steel, and utter carnage.

10. nWo Vs. The Four Horsemen - WCW Fall Brawl 1997


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Although a decent match, this nWo vs. Horsemen bout was badly let down a predictable turn at the very end. Curt Hennig's switch from the Horsemen to the New World Order overshadowed an otherwise decent contest, preventing it from placing higher on this list.

Still, despite flaws with the booking, its execution was admittedly good. Earlier in the night, the nWo had 'jumped' Hennig and cast doubt on his appearance in the match. When he finally arrived as the last entrant on the Horsemen team, he removed his sling to reveal a pair of handcuffs.

These were used to the nWo's sordid advantage, and a heelish victory was secured when Hennig threatened to smash the cage door on Flair's head if his teammates refused to submit. Steve McMichael relented...only for Hennig to do it anyway!


9. Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, and The Nasty Boys Vs. The Stud Stable - WCW Fall Brawl 1994


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This is a difficult match to include in the top 10, because it's probably remembered more as a disappointing WarGames match than a great one - but it still has its merits.

The major problem here is that, by '94, the WarGames stipulation was being toned down to match WCW's more cartoonish direction. It was still a bruising and dramatic affair (and certainly better than the year prior, when The Shockmaster got involved) - but in hindsight, it could have used a little more oomph. There wasn't even any blood!

Still, it's nice to see Dusty team up with his eldest son - even if their opponents were a rather assorted team of Terry Funk, Arn Anderson, Bunkhouse Bunk, and leader Col. Robert Parker (with Meng watching on from ringside). Sure, they may have been banded together under the old Tennessee 'Stud Stable' gimmick, but it didn't inspire confidence.

Somewhat predictably, the babyfaces won after Dusty forced Parker to tap to the Figure-Four. It was a well-booked ending, with Rhodes' son bravely holding off the rest of the heels until his father had secured victory.

8. Team WCW Vs. nWo - WCW Fall Brawl 1996


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This was the first WarGames match to feature wrestlers entering the match from backstage, rather than being stationed at ringside until their turn came around. That was probably to maximise the drama of this bout's focal angle - the question of whether or not Sting had turned his back on WCW.

1996 was a molten hot time for WCW, and the major reason for that was, of course, Hulk Hogan's heel turn and the rise of the New World Order. This match was a key step in the story, even if it did feature the infamous 'Fake Sting'.

With commentary wondering which side Sting would take, nWo revealed a fake version as their mystery final member. The real Sting came out as Team WCW's last entrant, dominated briefly, and then left - tossing major shade in Lex Luger's direction in the process.

It was a dramatic moment for sure, but the end of the match was a little limp from that moment forward. It helped established Sting as a rebellious vigilante figure, which would become crucial later on, but the finish of this match was rendered predictable as a result. Hogan and Fake Sting clamped a tame double submission on Luger, ending the match, and preventing it from ranking any higher on this list. Important, but imperfect.

7. Team Dusty Rhodes Vs. The Four Horsemen - NWA The Great American Bash 1988


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This match took place at a house show, and only became available to a wider audience in 2007 when it was released on DVD as part of WWE's Four Horsemen anthology. Therefore, given its lack of impact at the time, this bout was always going to find itself in a limited position on this list. However, given the intense action, and the classic line-ups, it's easy to see why WWE decided to rescue it from the past.

The classic Horsemen (Flair, Anderson, Blanchard, and Dillon) were joined by Barry Windham to take on the formidable babyface team of Dusty, Nikita Koloff, Lex Luger, the crafty Paul Ellering, and Dr. Death himself - Steve Williams.

The Greensboro, North Carolina crowd were hot from start to finish - and understandably so, considering the fact that the WarGames stipulation had only been around for a year or so.

In the DVD anthology, Dusty credits Arn Anderson for the stipulation's success (despite it being his own creation), and in this bout it's easy to see why. The babyfaces ultimately win, but it's Arn who puts major doubt in the crowd's mind - at one stage carving Dusty open with a pair of pliers. Grizzly stuff.


6. Team Dusty Rhodes Vs. The Four Horsemen And The War Machine - NWA The Great American Bash 1987


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Another classic effort from the early days of WarGames - and even though these matches may not quite be as dynamic as some of the latter efforts, they benefit from crowds as a consistent fever pitch, as well as a sound psychological base provided by some of the all-time greats.

This was actually the second WarGames match to ever take place, although the line-up was altered slightly from the first. JJ Dillon was replaced by 'The War Machine', a young Big Boss Man - who hadn't quite hit his stride as a performer by this stage.

Still, the match was a good one, and featured another example of a classic babyface line-up: Dusty, Koloff, the Road Warriors, and their manager Paul Ellering.

It ended in fittingly visceral fashion, as Animal used a spiked armband to gouge at War Machine's eyes - proof that babyfaces were acting like utter sadists years before the Attitude Era.

5. The Road Warriors, Midnight Express, And Steve Williams Vs. The Freebirds And Samoan SWAT Team - NWA The Great American Bash 1989


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This match can be seen as a bridge between the early WarGames matches and the newer breed under WCW in the '90s. It more closely resembles the classic 'Dusty and friends' formula, but introduces a handful of wrestlers who hadn't yet competed in such a contest.

In many of the first WarGames bouts, The Road Warriors were often portrayed as the deciding factor and unstoppable pair of wrecking balls. That was rarely clearer than in this contest, where the pair were the face team's final two competitors and ran through everybody to an amazing reception.

The babyfaces secured victory in just over 22 minutes, but the heels managed to get their heat back, dragging Road Warrior Hawk back into the structure, locking the door, and beating him down.

Interestingly, this was a rare case of a WarGames match not main eventing a show - as Ric Flair and Terry Funk would do battle over the NWA World Heavyweight Championship afterwards.

4. Team Dusty Rhodes Vs. The Four Horsemen - NWA The Great American Bash 1987


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Here we are, then - the first ever WarGames match. Yes, through modern eyes, the action can seem a little slow-paced and frustrating, but the innovative nature of this bout cannot be overlooked.

Dusty, Koloff, The Road Warriors and Paul Ellering took on the Four Horsemen (including Lex Luger) in a brand new match type. The crowd immediately seemed to respond to the stipulation's inbuilt drama, which caused several situations in which the babyface team were outnumbered by the heels - only for the next member to enter and even the odds. It's like a hot tag, but with the intensity ramped up a notch.

The match ended when the Road Warriors simply decided to decimate JJ Dillon with several huge moves, before sticking the boots to him as he tried to cower beneath the bottom rope. It was a very effective finish, albeit an unorthodox one, more akin to a boxing stoppage than a usual wrestling climax.


3. The Four Horsemen Vs. Sting, The Steiners, and Flyin' Brian - WCW WrestleWar 1991


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Were it not for this match's dodgy finish, it could well have been number one on the list. This was a hard-hitting brawl with many strong characters, all kicked off by the intense babyface aggression of 'Flyin'' Brian Pillman.

Around this era, a couple of WarGames matches began to strike a nice balance between the old school spontaneity of the early bouts, and the heavier reliance of choreography in more modern times. This was certainly one of them, as it flowed like a 1987 classic, but featured several key set-piece moments too.

These include the crowd-popping quadruple Figure-Four spot, with every member of the babyface team slapping Flair's signature hold on the Nature Boy and his stablemates. Sid (a Horseman for the night) drilled Pillman with a terrifying Powerbomb, one badly hindered by the low cage roof - but somehow Brian emerged without major injury.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, if anything lets this match down, it's the ending. El Gigante runs out to prevent Sid further harming Pillman, and the match is awarded to the heels. It's a deflating ending, and while I'm not against heels winning a WarGames from time to time, this wasn't the best way of doing so. Still, a fantastic effort all round.

2. Undisputed Era Vs. SAnitY Vs. Authors Of Pain & Roderick Strong - NXT TakeOver: WarGames


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Last year's TakeOver: WarGames main event bucked the trend slightly, but in doing so, modernised the stipulation for a more fast-paced industry.

The first major change was the removal of the traditional roof, which allowed for a greater number of high spots and dangerous climbs throughout the bout. Secondly, the format was adjusted to three teams of three - as opposed to the old structure featuring two teams of five (or sometimes four).

The Undisputed Era, SAnitY, and the Authors of Pain (with occasional human missile Roderick Strong) all did battle to win this historic reboot. Ultimately, it was the outright heels that won the day, with Adam Cole in particular proving himself a cunning, dangerous, and sometimes lucky customer.

1. Stinger's Squadron Vs. The Dangerous Alliance - WCW WrestleWar 1992


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In the eyes of many (including Dave Meltzer, who awarded it the full five stars) this is the greatest WarGames match ever - and it's very hard to disagree.

Sting's assembled babyface team of himself, Windham, Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes, and old WarGames favourite Nikita Koloff took on 'The Dangerous Alliance' - managed by none other than a young Paul Heyman (or Paul E. Dangerously, to be exact).

The heel squad featured Arn Anderson, Rick Rude, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko, and another future great in the form of Steve Austin. Austin bled a lot in this match, and that wasn't the only source of great drama.

It was an utterly compelling contest from Austin and Windham's frantic opening brawl to Sting's climactic submission of Eaton. Unlike the previous year's match, which was slightly let down by a heel victory (or, more accurately, the circumstances in which it occurred) this was a pure babyface celebration. It remains the favourite of many fans, not just in terms of the greatest WarGames match ever, but perhaps as WCW's finest bout too. It's certainly a contender for that title, at the very least.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]