It’s time once again RetroView fans for WCW’s attempt at cashing in on the prestige and popularity of the WWE’s Royal Rumble event. You guessed it, today I look back at WCW World War 3 1997, featuring their 60-man, three-ring battle royal. The big news heading into this show is that the official main event for Starrcade the following month is Sting versus Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
World War 3 is just a pit stop on the road to the biggest and possibly best-built championship match in WCW history. The show opens with Tony Schiavone, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Mike Tenay at the announcer’s desk. Obviously missing is Dusty Rhodes, and no offense to Tenay, but he is no Dusty Rhodes on commentary. Tenay builds up the importance of the 60-man battle royal and how the winner earns a future title shot. All three agree that the battle royal has a plethora of options when it comes to a winner.
Glacier & Ernest Miller vs. The Faces of Fear w/ Jimmy Hart
The martial artists versus the monsters in this contest. Meng and the Barbarian attack before the bell, but the martial artists fight off the early onslaught. Glacier and Miller control the match early with quick tags and a variety of kicks and chops. At one point, Glacier drop kicks Meng into the Barbarian before the match spills to the outside. A distraction from Jimmy Hart allows Barbarian to take control of the action.
The Faces of Fear garner cheers throughout the match, one of the loudest is when Barbarian power bombs Glacier. As the more experienced team, the Faces of Fear soon isolate Glacier. After being abused by the Faces of Fear, Glacier can finally make the tag to Miller.
Side note: The Faces of Fear’s back body drop into a powerbomb is a super underrate double team maneuver.
The Cat comes in on fire, sending both big men reeling with a variety of kicks. However, another Hart distraction allows Meng to lock in the Tongan Death grip to get the three count.
Winners – The Faces of Fear
After the match, we cut to Diamond Dallas Page being interviewed by the WCW internet crew.
WCW World Television Championship Match
Perry Saturn © vs. Disco Inferno
As Disco enters the arena, the announcers talk up the new focus and determination he has and how it’s benefited his career. Next out is Saturn, with Raven by his side. Raven sits in the corner and simply states…
“Let the stretching begin.”
Saturn quickly asserts himself with a takedown and slap to the face of Disco. Disco gets in a flurry of offense soon after, but it doesn’t last long as Saturn rebounds with a vicious clothesline. The two trade moves as the match becomes fairly competitive. However, it’s not until Disco decides to attack the rest of Raven’s Flock at ringside that leads to his downfall. A countered crossbody into the Rings of Saturn earns the victory for Raven’s right-hand man.
Winner – Perry Saturn
Mean Gene Okerlund gives us our first WCW Hotline tease of the night. He hints at some of the surprising faces he saw in the locker room, but you have to call to find who he’s talking about. Joining Okerlund is the Giant, the prior year’s battle royal winner, sporting a taped-up hand. He suffered a devastating hand injury at the hands of Scott Hall recently on Nitro. Nevertheless, giant proclaims he’s more dangerous than ever, and this is his battle royal to win.
WCW World War 3
Yuji Nagata w/ Sonny Onoo vs. Ultimate Dragon
This match has the added stipulation that if Dragon wins, he gets five minutes in the ring with Onoo after the match. Nagata’s focuses his early attack on Dragon’s taped-up left arm. Avoiding the early attack, Dragon’s own momentum is slowed by a distraction from Onoo. Heenan emphasizes how Dragon can’t let his thirst for revenge on Onoo distract him from getting the win.
Nagata continues his assault with a pair of stiff pile drivers before continuing to weaken Dragon’s injured arm. Every time Dragon gains some offense, Nagata finds a way to slow the momentum with an attack on the arm. It’s not until Dragon is able to use his feet of fury that he finally gets things rolling. Finally, Dragon’s beautiful sunset flip into a powerbomb gives us the first true-false finish of the contest.
The Dragon Sleeper leads to Nagata tapping out, but Onoo’s distraction grabs the referee’s attention. Onoo saves his client once again by putting his foot on the rope after a Frankensteiner from the top turnbuckle.
The finish is abrupt when Nagata and Dragon fall into the ropes, knocking Onoo off the ring. This causes Nagata to fall on Dragon, getting him the extremely odd three count.
Winner – Yuji Nagata
WCW World War 3 1997
WCW Tag Team Championship Match
The Steiner Brothers © vs. The Blue Bloods Steve Regal & Dave Taylor
A pair of wins over Harlem Heat have earned the Blue Bloods this title opportunity. With Ted DiBiase in their corner, the Steiner’s enter to a rousing ovation. Dave Taylor and Scott Steiner start this championship match.
Tenay perfectly sums up this contest calling it…
“The masters of the suplex versus the masters of the mat.”
Scott’s power wins the early interaction leading to a tag-in by Regal. Ready to meet him is the dog-faced gremlin Rick. A “USA” chant annoys Regal, who responds, flexing and pushing his bicep up for added emphasis.
Both teams do a fantastic job of utilizing quick tags and double team maneuvers to gain the advantage. Additionally, Regal and Taylor’s European uppercuts are the perfect counters to the Steiner’s bevy of suplexes.
In most Steiner matches, it’s Scott who gets the hot tag, but this time around, it’s Rick. With momentum on their side, Rick and Scott connect on their patented Steiner Bulldog to remain champions.
Winners – The Steiner Brothers
Mean Gene is joined at the entrance ramp with WCW Executive Chairman JJ Dillon. The two discuss Raven and his shenanigans since joining WCW without an official “contract.” Dillon gives him 24 hours to sign his contract, or he will not be allowed on WCW programming going forward.
WCW World War 3 1997
Raven’s Rules Match
Raven vs. Scotty Riggs
Scotty Riggs enters with an eye patch, something caused by a drop toe hold onto a steel chair by Raven. Entering from the crowd, Raven takes his time getting into the ring. Raven’s Flock member Kidman gets on the microphone, stating the match is no DQ, or there is no fight. Riggs responds, jumping on Raven, Kidman, and Saturn at ringside. Willing and ready to wrestle Raven’s rules, choking the flock leader with a cable at ringside.
Raven is on the defensive for the early portion of the match until he uses a jawbreaker to reverse the momentum. Next, Riggs counters Raven’s attempt at doing another drop toe hold onto a steel chair. This leads to a dramatic ten count by the referee that is stopped when Riggs covers Raven for a two count. Next, Riggs hits a bulldog onto a chair to Raven that gets an even closer two count.
After Raven counters a suplex with his even flow DDT, he gets on the mic and proclaims he didn’t want to do this to Riggs. Raven hits a second even flow DDT, all the while asking Riggs why he didn’t listen to him. A third even flow DDT leads to Riggs being unable to answer a ten count giving the victory to Raven. After the match, Raven and his flock carry Riggs off into the crowd.
Winner – Raven
Steve Mongo McMichael vs. Alex Wright
With a led pipe in tow, Mongo enters first. This match was originally scheduled to be Mongo versus Goldberg, but after Goldberg’s entrance music starts up, he never enters the arena. Mongo gets on the mic and tells the audience they won’t be getting that match. The camera then cuts to the back showing an unconscious Goldberg explaining why Mongo had the pipe.
Debra McMichael proceeds to drag the reluctant Alex Wright out to the ring. After a sneak attack by Alex Wright, this turns into a squash match with Mongo winning in less than four minutes.
Winner – Mongo McMichael
WCW World War 3
WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match
Eddie Guerrero © vs Rey Mysterio Jr.
This is the rematch from their instant classic at Halloween Havoc the month prior. Mysterio comes out first, and Schiavone talks up the amount of heart he has. Eddie, as always, comes out full of piss and vinegar with a heavy dose of swagger.
An early chant in favor of Mysterio obviously annoys Guerrero. This isn’t the classic they had the month before, but the chemistry between the two is always apparent. Guerrero always has an extra sense of physicality when he’s in the ring with Mysterio, and it adds so much to their contests together.
A superplex from the top turnbuckle gives Eddie his first attempt at the frog splash. Mysterio dodges the move before getting a false finish with a Frankensteiner. Guerrero continues to let the crowd distract him; he answers their “Eddie Sucks” chants with numerous taunts.
The pace of this match isn’t nearly as fast as their previous meeting. This lets each move and hold gain added intensity. Mysterio thinks he has the match won when he hits his springboard Frankensteiner, but at the last second, Guerrero grabs the rope. This brief shift in emotion allows Guerrero to finish off his rival with his patented frog splash.
Winner – Eddie Guerrero
Before the U.S. Title match, we get a promo video hyping up the Sting-Hollywood Hogan World Heavyweight Championship match at Starrcade.
WCW World War 3 1997
No Disqualification United States Championship Match
Curt Hennig © vs. Ric Flair
Hennig makes his entrance first, chair in hand.
Side note: Hennig in the nWo just never worked for me; I just felt the former Mr. Perfect was best on his own.
The commentators talk up how Flair is hell-bent on revenge for the heinous actions of Hennig at Fall Brawl. Hennig begins the match stalling, going from ring to ring in avoidance of Flair. Flair finally chases him outside, hitting his former friend with multiple chops before the fight spills into the crowd.
By the time they get back to ringside, Hennig is in control. Hennig holds nothing back, using a cable cord to choke Flair. Flair fights back, even hitting a double ax handle from the top turnbuckle to the ringside area. It’s an impressive feat for Flair, who usually gets tossed off the top turnbuckle in these situations.
The move, however, caused Flair to tweak his knee, something Hennig takes advantage of. Back in the ring, Hennig begins working over the hurt knee of Flair’s. This focused attack on Flair’s leg slows the pace of the match until the two trade knife edge chops in one of the match’s most entertaining sequences. They make their way from ring one to ring two, and once again, they trade chops.
After spilling out to the ringside area again, Flair brings the same chair Hennig brought out into the ring. Twice Flair uses the chair on Hennig’s leg before grabbing another chair and the United States Championship.
With Hennig where he wants him, Flair applies the Figure Four. Defeat closing in, Hennig grabs the championship belt and hits Flair’s injured leg with it before striking Flair in the face with the championship. This blow proves too much as Hennig pins Flair and remains United States Champion.
Winner – Curt Hennig
WCW World War 3 – 1997
60-Man, 3 Ring Battle Royal
Michael Buffer gives a breakdown of the match rules before ringing in the main event with his patented.
“Let’s get ready to rumble.”
Generic rock music plays as Diamond Dallas Page is the first wrestler to enter. Seeing the wrestlers heading to the ring is pretty cool; it really shows how stacked the WCW locker room was.
With WCW represented in the three rings, the nWo music hits, eliciting a solid reaction from the crowd. Buff Bagwell leads the nWo contingent; joining him are Scott Hall, Curt Hennig, Vincent, and Macho Man Randy Savage. Conspicuous by his absence is Kevin Nash, something Mike Tenay points out.
A loud “DDP” chant starts up before the bell rings, then the chaos begins. The Giant dumps out four wrestlers right at the start of the match, something Tony Schiavone marvels at.
Once again, it’s hard to follow the action as we get the occasional three-screen view. The nWo dominates in ring number one. Ring number two has many wrestlers in it, and ring number three thins out pretty quickly. Adding more chaos to this variation of the battle royal compared to prior years is that the wrestlers can move from ring to ring. Ring three gets to its final five first, and they are the Giant, Meng, Alex Wright, Mortis, and Mongo McMichael.
This quickly dwindles down to Meng and the Giant after Meng eliminates Mongo, and the Giant sends Wright and Mortis out together. Ring two follows suit with Booker T, Stevie Ray, DDP, Lex Luger, and Rick Steiner. In the final ring, it’s all nWo, and they begin strategizing.
WCW World War 3 – 1997
The Giant gets the best of Meng, sending him over the top rope with an impressive dropkick. Finally, the ring announcer directs everyone to move into ring two, the nWo challenges WCW to come to their ring.
The final ten are Booker T, Lex Luger, DDP, Rick Steiner, and the Giant for WCW. The nWo has Savage, Hall, Vincent, Bagwell and Hennig. The WCW contingent obliges and joins the nWo in their ring, and the brawl begins. Vincent is the first nWo member eliminated (Shocking, I know!!) after receiving a Diamond Cutter. Booker T and Rick Steiner are soon sent out for WCW.
The nWo as a group tries to get Luger out, but it’s halted by the Giant, who eliminates Bagwell. Amidst the chaos, Luger and Hennig are both eliminated. Our final four are the Giant and DDP against Savage and Hall. Savage and DDP pair off, renewing their intense rivalry while Hall and Giant trade blows.
WCW World War 3 – 1997
A great moment comes when Savage climbs the top rope for his elbow drop, but Giant cuts him off. Being the crazed man that he was, Savage leaps off the top turnbuckle right into the Giant’s clutches. Page hits a Diamond Cutter before the Giant chokeslams him; they then send him out of the ring. Hall finds himself outnumbered and sells it perfectly before running to the next ring where he does his vintage pose.
The nWo music begins, and after a slight delay, Hollywood Hogan makes his way out, shocking Schiavone and Tenay. It’s now two against two again. Hogan’s appearance elicits a raucous “We want Sting” chant. A body slam on the Giant by Hogan gets a solid reaction from the crowd.
The Giant gets a double bear hug on Hogan and Nash when “Sting” repels down from the rafters. This sends Hogan running out of the ring, eliminating himself; amidst the chaos, DDP is eliminated. “Sting” then hits the Giant with his baseball bat, sending the big man to the floor, winning Scott Hall.
Winner – Scott Hall
After a brief staredown between Hall and “Sting,” it’s revealed to be Kevin Nash in a Sting disguise. The entire nWo makes their way to the ring, including Eric Bischoff, to celebrate. Hogan hits DDP with a Diamond Cutter to end the show as Schiavone and Tenay claim Hogan will get his comeuppance next month at Starrcade.
Our latest WCW RetroView is complete; next time, we look back at Starrcade 1997. Unfortunately, the night one of the greatest main event builds ends with a whimper rather than a bang.