‘On This Day’ is a commemorative article series dedicated to specific events, matches, and occurrences in wrestling history. We revisit those key moments and look back at how they went down and what they meant to the wrestling industry. #OnThisDay War Games The Match Beyond for 5/17/92 is today’s focus.
When pro wrestling fans nowadays hear the term War Games, the team cage match that has become a staple of NXT probably comes to mind. Fans think of the Undisputed Era competing in each NXT Takeover: War Games match that has taken place since 2017. They think of the first-ever women’s War Games match won by captain Rhea Ripley and her allies. The NXT variation of War Games has proven to be a showcase of incredible athleticism and dangerously death-defying spots.
It is, however, missing the sheer brutality and intensity of its sealed cage predecessors. The War Game matches made famous in the days of the NWA then WCW had a raw edge to them, something nearly impossible to duplicate today.
It just so happens, one of those famous War Games matches took place on this day 28 years ago during WCW Wrestle War 1992. Considered one of the best War Games matches of all time, this is one of only three War Games contests to receive a five-star rating from Wrestling Observer-Reporter, Dave Meltzer.
The level of talent in this match is mind-boggling.
Ten guys that can just go in the ring coming together to create a match that never lets up from the opening minute.
The teams in this War Games were Sting’s Squadron and the Dangerous Alliance. Sting, the WCW World Heavyweight Champion at the time, leads into battle Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, WCW Television Champion Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, and Nikita Koloff. Koloff, being a former rival of Sting’s, enters as a wild card. Something announcers Eric Bischoff and Tony Schivone discuss before the match begins as they wonder if he can be a trusted member on Sting’s team.
Bischoff also brings up the fact that Sting’s team is a group of individuals going up against a united team.
“Will their will to win as a team be overcome by the desire to survive as an individual?”
Also discussed during their prematch discussion is Sting’s ribs that were injured at the hands of Vader a few weeks before the show.
With their manager Paul E. Dangerously calling the shots, the Dangerous Alliance featured WCW United States Heavyweight Champion Rick Rude, “Stunning” Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko and Bobby Eaton.
The battles between the individuals in Sting’s Squadron and the Dangerous Alliance had been waging for months. Windham won the T.V. Championship from Austin. Zybysko and Eaton had tag team wars with Rhodes and various partners. Rick Rude was a long-standing thorn in the side of both Sting and Steamboat, so it’s safe to say the intensity heading into this War Games was at an all-time high.
Before the match begins the cage lowers to cover the side-by-side rings. The atmosphere is palpable as the fans await the “Match Beyond.”
The rules for War Games The Match Beyond are as follows:
7 periods in War Games. The first period is five minutes. All other periods are two minutes.
One man from each team during the first period.
After the first period ends, the head referee flips a coin. The team winning the toss sends in their second man.
After the second period ends, the other team sends in their second man making War Games two on two.
The teams will alternate during remaining periods until all ten men are in the ring.
When all ten men are in the ring, the Match Beyond begins.
No pinfalls, count outs, or disqualification.
Surrender or submission is the only way to win.
On This Day
War Games The Match Beyond
The Dangerous Alliance makes its way to the ring first. Led by Paul E. Dangerously and Madusa, the team oozes in confidence. Dangerously leading a strategy meeting at ringside, complete with a paper diagram of the ring, is hilariously compared to Vince Lombardi by Jesse “The Body” Ventura on commentary.
Sting and his squadron enter the arena next and are met by a raucous ovation from the Jacksonville, Florida audience.
Barry Windham and “Stunning” Steve Austin enter first for their respective teams, rekindling their T.V. Championship rivalry. After avoiding the steel cage early, Austin is busted open when Windham finally slams his head into the fenced cage.
Side Note: Austin is the MVP of this match, competing for the majority of the almost thirty-minute contest with a crimson mask, a brief glimpse into the greatness his career would bring.
War Games The Match Beyond
The Dangerous Alliance wins the coin toss after the first five minutes conclude and they send in Rick Rude. Jim Ross on commentary calls Rude the “Heavy Hitter” of the Dangerous Alliance. Austin and Rude use the numbers advantage to wear down Windham slamming him into the steel structure multiple times.
Steamboat enters next for Sting’s Squadron to a boisterous ovation.
The former NWA Heavyweight Champion is a ball of fire as he plants both Rude and Austin with picture-perfect DDT’s before utilizing the roof of the cage to pull off a hurricanrana on Rude. The four men pair off in separate rings as the final seconds of the third period wind down.
Arn Anderson is the next man in for the Dangerous Alliance, and the man who was the first man to enter the original War Games match in 1987, shows how dangerous he is.
First, he nails Windham with a DDT. Following that is his patented spine buster on Steamboat. Eventually Rude and Anderson locks Steamboat in a double Boston Crab in an attempt to weaken one of Sting’s strongest teammates.
War Games The Match Beyond
Dustin Rhodes evens the odds for Sting’s Squadron and the youngest competitor in the match shows why he was one of the hottest young prospects in WCW at that time. A hilarious moment happens when Rhodes gives Austin an inverted atomic drop, causing the stunning one’s head to crash into the roof of the cage.
As Larry Zbyszko enters the ring, Madua ascends the cage, she eventually reaches the roof and lowers Paul E Dangerously’s massive cell phone to their team. During this period Barry Windham is the next wrestler to wear a crimson mask. Along with Austin, he took on the most damage during the match.
Sting, broken ribs and all, enters next. The World Champion quickly takes out Anderson before full body pressing Rick Rude three times into the roof of the cage. It truly is an amazing site and makes you appreciate just how strong an in his prime Sting was.
Arn gets busted open after Sting rakes his face across the cage before Rhodes is the next wrestler to be busted open.
War Games The Match Beyond
Bobby Eaton gives the Dangerous Alliance a 5-4 advantage and this point Jim Ross, as he’s is prone to do, eloquently sums up the competitors in this brutal war.
“I don’t care who you love or who you hate, but you gotta admire the guts of these guys in World Championship Wrestling.”
It’s during this period that Rude and Zbyszko begin to loosen the turnbuckle, something that comes into play during the conclusion of this match.
Nikita Koloff is the final man to enter the ring and the “Match Beyond” officially begins. Immediately Sting and Koloff come face to face after Koloff helps Sting up from the mat. After a tense staredown, Koloff shows where his allegiance lies. He shoves Sting out of the way during an attack by Austin and Anderson. The two fight off nefarious duo before high fiving, eliciting one of the crowd’s loudest reactions of the night. Eventually, Zbyszko removes the steel turnbuckle connector and looks to use it on Sting.
With Eaton holding Sting in place, Zbyszko swings the metal rod, but Sting avoids the strike causing Eaton to take the blow. One standing armbar by Sting later and Eaton is forced to submit.
Sting and his Squadron triumphantly exit to a heroes’ ovation while the Dangerous Alliance is left bickering in the ring. Jesse Ventura sums up the night perfectly calling the match. He called it, “the most brutal pay-per-view event” he had ever had the opportunity to cover. Emphatically proving once again just how brutally intense the original incarnation of War Games truly was.