INDUCTION: War Games 98 – A Great Match Goes Up in Smoke

27 Submitted by on Thu, 08 November 2018, 20:00

WCW, 1998

It’s interesting how different events and matches are glorified over time by wrestling fans, myself included.  For instance, the Royal Rumble.  Just typing those two words together causes my mind to spin back to 1992, and the legendary event where Ric Flair won not only the match but the WWF World Title in the process.  It wasn’t just the “Nature Boy” – everything about that bout was fantastic.  We had a never-ending stream of legendary WWF superstars, all beating Flair within an inch of his life, as well as the most awe-inspiring commentary ever from my hero, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

I always look forward to the Rumble – even though I honestly shouldn’t.

While that one night over twenty five years ago was magical, how many since then have been even, you know, good?  Passable?  More often than not in recent years, there’s no riveting storyline weaved throughout the match; it’s just a bunch of guys who make me yawn on Monday and Tuesday nights running in, doing essentially nothing of note, then getting tossed over the rope with no rhyme nor reason.

My point is this: we glorify matches we shouldn’t due to singular times when everything was just right.  Which leads us to today’s induction: War Games.  Much as happened a few minutes ago, my fingers clicked two words into place and I got a chill up my spine, thinking of mid 1980’s Crockett with the Four Horsemen going into battle against the NWA’s finest.

The match design, much like the Rumble, lent itself to myriad possibilities and intrigue.  Two teams of five would be pitted against each other, with a man from each team going into a double ring, double cage set up.  Five minutes later, a coin flip would determine which team would get to send their next man in for the advantage.  Of course the heels would always win the coin toss, leading to the poor babyface team having the odds ever more stacked against them.  The managers outside would strategize as to who should go in when, and once both teams were fully in the ring, we’d get The Match Beyond, during which victory could only be attained via submission.  It was the ultimate end to a war between two factions.

Sound great?  It was.  In theory, at least.  Much like the Rumble, for every good War Games, we got a bad one, and in some cases, an atrocious one.  And the one I’m writing about today may be the worst one ever.

Time to head back to WCW’s Fall Brawl 1998, for a disaster of epic, nay, ultimate proportions!

Spoiler alert: the sign behind you tells a large part of the story.  Only thing missing is the word “stink.”

“Smoke” would also apply now that I come to think of it.

And we don’t even get to the first entrant before things go horribly awry here: namely changes to the rules.  All that cool stuff I wrote about above?  Throw it all out the window here, as in this “special edition” of War Games, we have a lottery (???) that determined somehow that Bret Hart and DDP would start, then folks would randomly be inserted into the match after that.  In this here fiasco, we don’t have two teams of five, we how have three teams of three.  Also, there’s no Match Beyond – the match can end at anytime.  By submission…or pinfall.

If someone put a gun to my head, I don’t know I could do a better job of butchering what made War Games special.

So the first two guys, Bret Hart and DDP to the exact same music (no individual themes here, which would be the case throughout the entire match), just saunter out to the rings and start wrestling.  Teams aren’t out there cheering each other on – they are all just hanging out in the back waiting to hear who gets to come out next.  Heenan is here doing commentary as well, and he explains how valuable it would be to have a manager out there strategizing.  Exactly, Brain.

SO WHY DON’T WE HAVE THAT?????

But hey, maybe I’ve been complaining too much.  What is actually happening inside the cage, with Bret and DDP, hasn’t been bad.  Kinda boring, by the numbers, but by no means bad.  It’s Bret and DDP; both are good workers, so we’ve got that at least.  And after all, Mike Tenay has been telling me about how this is the most star studded War Games ever.  And WCW had like 250 plus guys on the roster at the time, no question the deepest line up of talent the business had ever seen.  So let’s get our next guy out here to liven things up!

Won’t lie – this isn’t what I was expecting.

Really, we interrupt Bret Hart vs. DDP to shoehorn Stevie Ray (or Steeeeeee Ray, as Buffer dubs him) into the cage.  Yeeesh.  So Team Hollywood gets a two on one advantage…which means the Wolfpac isn’t even represented yet.  But don’t you fret!  Because coming in next is…

…Sting!  Or as I like to call him during this period, Sunburn Steve.  This poor guy had some dumb looks in his day, but I would argue none were anywhere near as bad as this.

And yes, I do remember Sgt. Pepper Sting, thanks for asking.

So we get Stevie Ray vs. Sting and it’s every bit as thrilling as it sounds, with Sting attempting to leap from one ring to the other.  I say “attempting”, as the poor guy jumps into the air, flails his arms, and then…

…pretty much lands right on his head.  Hopefully we see no more botchery such as this tonight!

The four just kinda randomly do moves (with Bret busting out his old school pile driver, which I seem to remember was his first ever singles finisher in the WWF!) with no psychology before we get the countdown, unveiling our next combatant, straight outta Alcatraz…

…”Rowdy” Roddy Piper.  To show just show how screwed up this match is, Piper runs in and starts beating on everyone, including his own partner, DDP.  For you see, unlike in the past where you’d have two teams who wanted to best each other, now it’s every man for himself.

WHICH DEFEATS THE WHOLE POINT OF WARGAMES!!!!

Man, I am getting my money’s worth out of that “Heading 1” formatting tonight.

As if things weren’t falling apart fast enough, Stevie somehow wedges himself between the rings.  I’d like to believe he simply no longer wanted to be a part of this mess and was trying to find a way out.

Much like myself.

Wolfpac Lex is next.  This was almost as bad a fit as Sting.  Next time I see Lex, I’m going to ask him what he was thinking when he agreed to wear the red & black.  This would be in contrast to what I asked him last time I saw him (Starrcast), which was who his favorite football team was.

For the record, it’s the Bills.  Man that poor guy has no luck at all these days.

“Bring out the next bull!” Heenan hollers, which leads us to…

…Kevin Nash “running” to the ring.

For the record, I did not slow that footage down.  That’s the poor guy sprinting as best he can.  Did you know he was once a basketball player? Hard to believe with a sprint like that he wasn’t slamming with Pippen and Jordan in the 90’s.

Hollywood Hogan channels his inner Repo Man and starts sneaking down to the ring next, completely ignoring the countdown clock.  If he steals Kevin Nash’s bicycle, I’ll never complain about WCW again.

So Hogan comes in and starts knocking everyone down with the dreaded SLAP JACK, and to this day I have zero idea what that is.  With Nash down following a leg drop, Hogan goes for the cover but smoke (yes SMOKE) fills the ring.  Once it clears, we get contestant number nine, making his WCW debut…

…the Warrior!!!!!!!!!!!

And he immediately gets beaten down by Hogan like a total chump.

Smoke then fills the ring again (with folks inside the ring audibly coughing and gasping for breath), and when it clears Warrior…

…has vanished!

There’s only one logical conclusion for that: the Warrior was in fact The Black Scorpion.

Or The Black Scopion was Warrior.

Either way, Mrs. Deal, get Blade Braxton on the line!

So Warrior magically teleports (!!!!) to the back, then jumps into the ring and starts beating up Hogan and Stevie.  It doesn’t take long for Hogan to say, quite literally, “I’m leaving” and then for him to, quite literally, leave the cage.  Which begs the question…

WHAT WAS THE POINT OF BEING IN A CAGE IN THE FIRST PLACE????!!!!

Thanks again, “Heading 1”!

So Hogan runs for the hills, which leaves us with Warrior vs. Stevie Ray.

Let me repeat that: we get WARRIOR VS. STEVIE RAY.

Really.  Someone thought this would be a good idea.  They wrote it down beforehand and planned for us to see this.  And the best thing I can say about it is we can’t see exactly how horrible it is due to all the smoke still floating around in the arena.

Remember kids – smoke not only makes ribs better, it makes horrible matches like this better too.

As Hogan flees, Warrior starts kicking at the top of the cage to let himself out.  Just one problem with this tactic: Warrior is about 10′ off the ground.  So as he falls anything but gracefully to the floor, legit injuring himself in the process.

Just looking at this image, I have to ask: did anyone – ANYONE – believe such a stunt would lead to anything but disaster?  Couldn’t Jim have said, “You know, me falling from the top of the cage to the floor kinda sounds like a bad idea…can’t we gimmick the door so I can rip it off the hinges instead?”

So Hogan heads for the back as Warrior hobbles along on a broken ankle.  Meanwhile in the ring, Stevie whiffs on a slap jack shot, which somehow leads to DDP hitting the Diamond Cutter on him in a scene so poorly filmed it’s not even worth an animated GIF.

Watching this, only one real question remains: was the infamous Halloween Havoc Warrior vs. Hogan match actually worse than this?

And am I man enough to live through that again to tell the tale?

We’ll find out in two weeks in my next induction!


Seriously.  I am going to go back and watch that horrendous Hogan-Warrior match again – for YOUR amusement.  Isn’t that enough to send a couple bucks to our Patreon to support the site?  Get to clicking’, Crappers!

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Yeah, you know...the WrestleCrap guy. Been here since before day 1, I have. You can hang out with me on Facebook. (I'm on there quite a bit) or follow my exploits on Twitter (I'm on there not quite so often). Thanks, and Keep on Crappin'!
27 Responses to "INDUCTION: War Games 98 – A Great Match Goes Up in Smoke"
  1. Sean Bateman says:

    War Games 98! I knew you’re crap!

  2. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    AT LAST! I’ve been requesting this induction for years, and now it’s finally here! Nice work, Deal! Looking forward to your next induction (even if you aren’t)!

  3. Erich says:

    Uff da. Even tho I was a loyal (masochist?) viewer back then, I have zero memory of this match. I don’t think I’ll fire up the 9.99 to refresh my memory.

  4. C Boz says:

    That image of Stevie Ray (was he Cain or Cole back in the early 90s?) being stuck between the rings cracked me up so much I was in tears and dropped my iPad. Cracked… just like the space Stevie Ray fell into.

    As for Hogan vs Warrior… the ultimate crap was how Hogan was so haunted by Warrior at this time he would see him in mirrors when no one else could. All the wrestlers and announcers thought Hogan was going crazy from nerves or the like. Except we the viewers at home could also see Warrior in the mirror… which makes us crazy? Or everyone else in WCW crazy? It made no sense and actually was illogical from the viewers, well, point of view. Who the heck wrote that flaw so large you could drive a Mack truck through it.

    I hope I didn’t screw up part of your coming induction there. I just couldn’t help myself, just like Piper couldn’t help but smack everyone in the ring, and Jim (RIP) couldn’t help be the Anabolic Warrior at the time.

  5. Andrew Elder says:

    Wasn’t this for the Title if I recall. It was so bizarre with all the changes, then later on we get triple cage deal from Ready 2 Rumble as War Games and with bizzare rules. I always feel like Kevin Sullivan and Dusty said hey we have this cage from the Tower of Terror match that has 3 levels setting in the back collecting dust, do you guys want to use it.

    • RD Reynolds says:

      It was for a shot at the title. DDP won then faced Goldberg at Havoc. WCW, being WCW, didn’t alert the PPV companies the show was going to go long, so a lot of folks didn’t see the match that night and they had to re-air it on Nitro the following evening, which infuriated the PPV companies who were looking to get additional buys for the replays, which was still a big thing at the time.

      • Chris V says:

        There is conjecture that WCW made that decision on purpose, so that they could get an increase in ratings for Nitro the next night.

  6. Larry says:

    It’s sad when you have a good concept for a match & then feel the need to try and “top” it every year with different gimmicks and stipulations instead of just building compelling storylines between the combatants so that they don’t need it.

  7. Jimbolian says:

    Team WCW (DDP, Roddy Piper, & Ultimate Warrior) vs. nWo Wolfpack (Nash, Luger, & Sting) vs. nWo Hollywood (Hogan, Bret Hart, & STEVIE RAY)

    Somebody cue “One Of These Things are Not Like the Other”!

  8. Christopher Haydu says:

    When you induct Hogan vs. Warrior 2, you should include. mp3’s of all the in-ring promos Warrior did where he’s just walk around for a whole minute deep in thought saying nothing until he remembered his next line.

    Anyway, this Royal Rumble was over twenty years ago now, but the 1998 Royal Rumble was one of the best in My opinion. And Vince Russo was booking by then, so he does deserve some credit for it. Goldust vs. Vader was fine. Ken Shamrock vs. Rock was great. The way they ended that match with Ken getting screwed out of the title really threw fuel to the fire, especially for Ken Shamrock fans like myself. The tag title match between the Legion of Doom and the New Age Outlaws was decent. I like it that the Outlaws actually kept the titles. The Legion of Doom never held the tag Championship again, and it was nice to see younger guys going over. And this was a few months before the New Age Outlaws join D-Generation X, which was their best period, so I don’t think anybody resented them keeping the titles. The Royal Rumble Match itself was one of the best ever, if not the best ever. The beginning was very entertaining with Cactus Jack crawling with Terry Funk. Having the rock enter at number four and last until the end was very good. It really got him even more over. One great thing was that the entire nation of domination, which was up to five members because Mark Henry and recently joined, they were all in the ring at once before they started being eliminated. They really came off as a real threat, and when Farooq was one of the last four in the match, he really came off like he was a contender to win. Having Mick Foley enter as all three personas was fun. The crowd popped huge for so many entrances: Austin, obviously. Owen Hart got a big pop when he entered and when he three Jeff Jarrett out of the match. And perhaps best of all, we got Honky TonkMan as a surprie entrant! In retrospect, the fact that Rock was the last guy in with Austin adds that much more to the legacy their rivalry has achieved. Finally, ending it with Shawn vs. Undertaker in the casket match was really creative by itself, even if it didn’t end with the casket being lit on fire with Undertaker inside. It really put over the title as being important because the match for it was the finish of the Pay-Per-view. The match was good. The smart fans even got rewarded when Jim Ross made mention of the fact that the only casket match Undertaker ever lost was one where a six hundred pound man and ten other men teamed up to defeat him. And of course the ending of the match, and the lighting of the casket on fire, it was all perfect. It made you really want to see Undertaker finally wrestle Kane. Now that it’s been 20 years and pallbearer has left us, seeing him smiling and laughing maniacally as the flames emit from the coffin, it makes you miss him even more. What a performance!

    That’s just my opinion, but the wrestling, commentary, promos and storylines of the 1998 Royal Rumble were very good to great up and down the entire card. In my opinion it was the best one. What do you think?

    • John says:

      Not trying to nitpick on J R because I overall think he’s a great commentator who makes you give a damn on what’s going on in the ring which is something that’s sorely missing today IMO but Undertaker did lose a second Casket Match against Goldust due to interference from Mankind In Your House Beware of Dog.

      I do have fond memories of this Royal Rumble and after reading your reply I think I’ll rewatch it on the network to see if it’s as good as I remember or if nostalgia has tainted my memory.

      Also great induction RD as always. It kind of sucks in hindsight that this was the first WarGames I ever watched especially when my parents were at the first one and my dad would keep bragging about how great the WarGames were even after he completely stopped watching wrestling. Fortunately I did eventually get to see the earlier ones and I could see why you and so many people have such fond memories of the Wargames.

      • Chris V says:

        I thought that the Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels match was very historic and a very good match.

        I wasn’t a fan of the rest of the card though. I found it to be one of the more boring, and obvious, Royal Rumble matches.
        I never had one shred of doubt that Austin was winning. There was no other choice.
        The Royal Rumble match, itself, I found to be really dull, as it seemed like the only thing that mattered in the entire match was Steve Austin.
        Everyone was waiting for Steve Austin to arrive.
        A bunch of nobodies brawled with each other, to no point, because there were supposed to be a lot of entrants left by the time Austin arrived.
        Once Austin arrived, the whole focus switched to all the wrestlers trying to eliminate Austin.
        Austin was the only guy who really looked like a star.
        I just found the majority of the match to be nothing of importance.

  9. Brandon says:

    This match would have been a lot better if it were Hollywood vs. Wolfpac to determine the true nWo. Hogan, Bret, Giant, and Hall against Nash, Sting, Luger, and Konnan.

  10. Woooooolhouse says:

    I got into WCW later than most, so sadly this – THIS – was the first War Games I ever saw. It’s like if the first pair of boobs you see is Kathy Bates’ in “About Schmidt.” You might like other boobs you see, but they’ll always remind you of that first nightmarish pair…

    (She’s a great actress though, from Misery to Primary Colors to Water Boy.)

    • Autrach Sejanoz says:

      Yeah, this was the first War Games I ever saw, too. Hell, Fall Brawl/War Games ’98 was the first WCW event I ever saw!

  11. #OPC says:

    Reminds me of the “most star studded Royal Rumble ever” in 2007, with such luminaries as Kenny Dykstra, Kevin Thorn, Chris Masters, The Great Khali (!!), and The Miz when he was new and awful. It had a good ending with Undertaker and Michaels going back and forth though (which Michaels lost yet was in the actual main event at Mania). And we thought they were old back then!

  12. Chris Oakley says:

    Now we know why WWE was so resistant to reviving the War Games concept until last year. This match was just one Vince Russo swerve away from triggering a riot.

    • Tempest Fennac says:

      To be fair, this was barely Wargames; if there was an actual reason for the teams to function as teams, a strong 3-way feud (rather than the nWo vs. nWo feud) with teams which make sense (Piper was over-the-hill, Stevie Ray was a bad worker and Warrior had only just joined the company) and standard Match Beyond rules this could have worked decently. I know it had 4 separate teams but the “What if the InVasion hadn’t failed” Re-writing the Book story had this sort of match and that sounded like it should have been really good if it really happened.

  13. Jerm says:

    Not for nothing, next week’s War Games should be amazing.

  14. Hulk6785 says:

    A slap jack is either a regular police baton or a sock filled something heavy like rocks or quarters.

  15. Caveman says:

    I’m still debating which Wargames was worse. This one or the one in the Triple Deck Cage.

    • Jimbolian says:

      That’s a tough one. The 2000 version felt more like a Championship Scramble/Ladder match inside a Triple Decker Cage (just typing that is making my head spin) . But if they called it a War Games match, then that’s my pick.

  16. Cuthbert says:

    “While that one night over twenty five years ago was magical, how many since then have been even, you know, good?”

    That’s just not true, and I’m sure you know it. There has never been a rumble worse than ‘good,” and mot approach or achieve “excellent.”

  17. Rusty Brookes says:

    Hey, is that Phantasio holding up that Ultimate Warrior sign?

  18. Deepthroat Ghoul says:

    The “Warrior” who Hogan beat up and nicked his coat amongst the smoke was the Renegade.

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