In 1987, following a viewing of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Dusty Rhodes came up with the basic idea for the War Games match. Two teams, two rings, one cage. The idea turned into a match that has endured for decades. Now, for the first time since WCW shut its doors, the War Games match returns to the big stage at NXT Takeover. In the years since WCW closed, several wrestling companies have stepped in to keep the legacy alive. Over the next several days, Voices of Wrestling will take a look back at War Games and the many matches it inspired.
Part Eight:Miscellaneous Independents
As I’ve mentioned in some of my other offerings as part of War Games Week here on Voices of Wrestling, many promotions over the last three decades have tried their own version of this legendary match, in an attempt to recreate the magic from those early WarGames of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Most of the more notable promotions (such as a TNA, CZW, ROH, ECW, SMW, and so on) have already been talked about, but I decided to take a look at some WarGames matches from smaller independent companies who, to my knowledge, have only done their version of match once. Fortunately, the two examples I found (from Beyond Wrestling out of New England and PWX out of North Carolina) are of recent vintage (2015 and 2016 respectively), so you might recognize some of the names involved. Without further ado, let’s get into them!
Beyond Wrestling The Real Thing
5-on-5 WarGames Match
The Garden State Gods (Eric Corvis & Myke Quest), The Symbiote (Davey Vega & Rickey Shane Page), & Anthony Stone
The Crusade For Change (Darius Carter, TJ Marconi, Dany Only, Devin Blaze, & Tommy Trainwreck)
Penn State University graduate. History junkie. Music lover. A jack-of-all-trades writer at Voices of Wrestling.
This took place on May 31st, 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island. It was part of a card that also featured such matches as Samoa Joe vs. Chris Dickinson, Eddie Edwards vs. Donovan Dijak, & Jaka vs. Nick Gage. While this was billed as “WarGames”, it was more like ROH’s Steel Cage Warfare, since they only used one ring. At the same time, the rules are closer to a typical WarGames. The match can only end via submission or surrender, and every single period (including the initial one-on-one battle at the start) is just two minutes long. The story that brought us to this point goes back almost a full year, when Darius Carter tried to recruit Eric Corvis for his stable, The Crusade For Change. They’ve been feuding ever since, and over time, more bodies became involved. Carter expanded his stable to include Dany Only and a tag team called The M1nute Men (yes, they use the “1” instead of the “i” in “minute”). Meanwhile, in addition to his Garden State Gods tag team partner Myke Quest, Corvis assembled a team of Beyond Wrestling Originals to defend the company, which included Davey Vega, Rickey Shane Page, & Dave Cole. Unfortunately, Cole had been injured (I believe) on the show prior, so Team Beyond was reduced to four members.
Devin Blaze and Myke Quest started the match off for their respective sides. They had decent two minute exchange when Tommy Trainwreck (Blaze’s partner in The M1nute Men) came out with a plastic baseball bat with thumbtacks wrapped around it to tip the odds in the Crusade’s favor. The M1nute Men were in control until Eric Corvis entered, and took them out with some clotheslines. He then used Trainwreck’s thumbtack bat against him, smashing it into his bald head. The camera zoomed in on the tacks stuck in Trainwreck’s head, in a really gross visual. Both members of The M1nute Men had been busted open at this point, but they got some relief in the form of TJ Marconi, who was the third entrant for the Crusade. He immediately took out Corvis & Quest with a double chokeslam, and the heels were once again in control. Davey Vega was the third entrant, and he got his chance to clean house on the Crusade. At one point, he just grabbed Blaze and went all the way around the ring, rubbing his face into the fencing. Marconi helps turn the tide in the Crusade favor as Dany Only made his entrance. Only had a heated exchange with Eric Corvis (those two apparently have a long history). The Crusade, once again, gains control until the sides are evened up with the arrival of Rickey Shane Page, who goes to town on all of the heels with a chair. RSP then brings out wooden bbq skewers, but they’re used against him, as either Dany Only or TJ Marconi just jam them right into his head (that looked disgusting).
Darius Carter then makes his way out as his Crusade For Change is in total control. They dominated Team Beyond for a couple of minutes. The buzzer went off to signify the final entrant from the babyface side, but of course, Dave Cole was out of with an injury. It seemed like all hope was lost, but then Anthony Stone came out through the crowd, climbed to the top of the cage, and dived into the ring onto the Crusade For Change. He was then announced as the fifth entrant from Team Beyond as started to clean house. As the two sides battled back and forth, Nicholas Kaye & Johnny Cockstrong (yes, that’s the actual name of an actual wrestler) just randomly entered the cage. Kaye had previously been involved in a blood feud with Anthony Stone, and it seemed like he was going to take him out with a steel chair (while Cockstrong tried to reason with him), but he instead smashed Darius Carter in the face with the chair a couple of times. From here, the match turned into a 7-on-5 beating on the Crusade For Change. Corvis & Quest tossed Blaze over the cage to the floor (the cage walls were pretty low), Kaye handcuffed Marconi to the cage after brawling with him on the outside, and RSP hit a big superplex on Trainwreck over the cage, to the floor, and through a table. Unfortunately, the table didn’t fully break, and both guys looked hurt. Corvis told Only to surrender, but Only just spit in his face. In response, Corvis just stabbed him with a corkscrew. Then, only Darius Carter was left, and Corvis threatened to stab him, Carter immediately surrendered, giving the win to Team Beyond.
While the match was over, things didn’t end there. The beating continued on Carter afterwards, as the babyfaces prevented him from escaping the cage. Johnny Cockstrong then gave Carter a horrible Air Raid Crash off the top rope. They fell very close to the turnbuckle, and it honestly looked like Cockstrong just killed Carter with that one. Erik Corvis wanted to stab Carter with the corkscrew, and he eventually did, after Myke Quest (who tried to calm him down initially) told him to go ahead. During this whole bit, the fans were just begging for Carter to get stabbed, even chanting “You Deserve It” after Corvis went to town on Carter.
As a whole, this was far from a bad match, but in my view, it’s probably one of the weakest WarGames style matches I’ve seen. There was good wrestling scattered throughout, including some cool double teams early on and a variety of fun exchanges, but it was far from perfect. I understand the idea was for the Beyond Originals to get revenge on the Crusade For Change, but did we really need to have two guys who weren’t even involved just….enter the cage at will, and insert themselves into the brawl? At least Anthony Stone’s involvement made sense, since he was replacing Dave Cole. They could’ve saved that bit with Kaye & Cockstrong until after the match, which would’ve worked just as well. The commentary on this match (done by two Beyond regulars who spent a lot of time in that New York/New England scene) was pretty awful. While they did bring up a decent amount of storyline information (which is useful for those people who don’t know much about Beyond Wrestling), but for the most part, they actively detracted from the match. As far as the hardcore stuff is concerned, I didn’t mind the table or the chairs, but did we really need that ridiculous pink thumbtack bat and the skewers? Save that level of hardcore for Cage Of Death. The cage itself looked incredibly cheap, but that’s not something I’ll necessarily hold against the company. Perhaps it was just an issue involving money (I’m sure, for a smaller independent group, building a good cage is probably expensive), but it could’ve just been the fact that they were running a smaller venue. Despite all of those issues, I still enjoyed most of the match. Having the two minute intervals throughout (including that first period) seemed to really help the match go by a lot faster. For a smaller independent that is looking to try WarGames, those time intervals worked well. As I mentioned earlier, there was definitely some solid wrestling at different points, but ultimately, this isn’t a WarGames that’s really worth seeking out.
Star Rating: ***1/4
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PWX Rise Of A Champion XI: War Games
5-on-5 WarGames Match
Team REVOLT! (The Bravado Brothers, Caleb Konley, “Man Scout” Jake Manning & Zane Riley)
Team XPERIENCE (Adam Page, Corey Hollis, CW Anderson, Gunner, & John Skyler with Steve Corino)
Penn State University graduate. History junkie. Music lover. A jack-of-all-trades writer at Voices of Wrestling.
This took place on March 13th, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. I haven’t seen anything from PWX in some time, but from what I remember, Rise Of A Champion is usually one of their biggest shows (if not their biggest show) of the year. They’re using the traditional “two rings in one cage” setup here, which makes a ton of sense, since PWX mainly operates in the heart of old JCP territory. The only difference here is that there’s no roof. With regards to the time intervals, they’re also the same as a classic WarGames, with an initial five minute period, with a new entrant coming out every two minutes. Finally, the only way to win (once everyone entered the match) was via submission or surrender.
CW Anderson and Jake Manning start the match off for their respective teams. The action in the first five minutes is pretty basic, with nothing really of note. PWX World Champion John Skyler then makes his way out, meaning that Team XPERIENCE will have the advantage throughout the match. He’s dressed in street fight gear, complete with cowboy boots (that kind of attire will be a theme in this one), and immediately takes Manning out with a slingshot spear from one ring to the other. They dominate Manning (who gets busted open) until Caleb Konley (wearing black cargo pants) comes out as the second entrant for his team. Konley immediately makes an impact by back-dropping Skyler into the cage. The PWX World Champion got busted open shortly thereafter as the babyface side took control. Adam Page, one half of the PWX Tag Team Champions as part of Country Jacked with Corey Hollis, then comes out as the third entrant for Team XPERIENCE, and he brings a rope with him to the ring (this was about two months before he joined The Bullet Club and became “The Hangman”). Page nails Konley with his slingshot clothesline before he used the rope to choke Manning. Team XPERIENCE is once again in control until Lancelot Bravado evens the odds. He’s clearly dressed for war (as he looks like a soldier with his face paint and attire) and he cleans house immediately, throwing every member of the opposing side into the cage. After another two minute period, Corey Hollis (also dressed in street fight gear) comes out, making in a four-on-three advantage for his side. It was during this portion of the match that we got some brutal spots between John Skyler and Jake Manning. At one point, Skyler went to hit a piledriver in that small area between the two rings, but it gets countered by Manning into a back body drop on the ring aprons. Skyler then starts whipping Manning with his belt as Zane Riley evens up the sides once again. He has a turn at cleaning house on the heels, while Konley manages to take out Skyler with a top rope hurricanrana. While all of that is going on in one ring, others members of Team XPERIENCE (mainly Anderson and Hollis) are attempting to take down the top rope.
PWX Innovative Television Champion Gunner (who is currently signed with NXT after spending several years in TNA) is the fifth and final entrant for Team XPERIENCE. He participates in a Tower of Doom spot where he powerbombs Caleb Konley and Lancelot Bravado, who superplex John Skyler. Gunner then starts brawling with Riley. After the final two minute period, the buzzer goes off, and Harlem Bravado comes out (in similar attire to his brother) to round out Team REVOLT!, but Steve Corino holds his leg, preventing him from entering the ring. Harlem gets knocked out of the ring, and Corino slams the cage door into his face. Corino then decks one of the referees before tossing some chairs, a kendo stick, and a chain to his team. He then locked the cage door, meaning that Team XPERIENCE has a five-on-four advantage as “The Match Beyond” begins. It seemed like Corino was going to prevent Harlem from climbing back in the cage, but then Ethan Case came out and attacked Corino. They brawled to the back, as Harlem climbed to the top of the cage. He hit a big crossbody on all of the heels, and the tide really turned at this point. The Bravado Brothers start going crazy with the chairs that Corino introduced earlier, and those same chairs were later used in a series of brutal spot exchanges between the teams. We also saw a five way submission spot on Adam Page, which included a double crossface by Konley & Manning, a double Boston Crab by The Bravado Brothers, and a…..thumb in the bum by Riley. Team XPERIENCE breaks this up, and Skyler tries to stab Manning in the face with a screwdriver. Konley then takes Skyler into the other ring, ties him up with the top rope that was taken down earlier, and stabs him repeatedly in the face with the screwdriver until he’s forced to call it quits, giving Team REVOLT! the win. The babyface side celebrated their victory following the match.
First of all, I have to say that PWX deserves a ton of credit here. They did a great job making their version of WarGames come as close as possible to the WarGames from the late 80s and early 90s, and considering where PWX is based, that makes a ton of sense. The presentation as a whole was excellent, from having two rings in one cage, to the rules and the time intervals, to the attires of everyone involved, to even having the top rope in one of the rings taken down. Even as someone who isn’t really a fan of the “two rings” concept with the traditional WarGames, I can’t deny that they did a phenomenal job evoking the nostalgia of those early WarGames matches. If you’re someone who loved the WarGames from late Jim Crockett Promotions/early WCW era, then you won’t have any trouble getting into this one from PWX.
As far as the match itself goes, I thought it was great! Things did get off to a slow start with that first five minute period, but the action definitely picked up once more people entered the cage. There were a number of memorable moments, and everyone involved got a chance to shine. I think not having that ridiculously low roof that WarGames usually has did allow for some more freedom here, in terms of what the guys involved could do. After seeing this match, I’m not against the idea of the NXT version of WarGames not having a roof on top. In addition to competitors in the match itself (all of them worked hard), I also thought that Steve Corino did a really good job in his role on the outside as the heel manager. I wouldn’t say that he was as good as Paul Heyman was in the 1992 WarGames, but Corino played his role perfectly on the outside. With regards to the commentary, it wasn’t perfect (it did seem very “indie” at times, if that makes sense), but I thought they did a good job as a whole. In particular, I liked how they broke down different strategy points, such as asking why neither side started the match by having the established tag teams on their respective squads be their first two entrants, or why Team REVOLT! didn’t have the monster on their side (Zane Riley) as the 5th entrant. Those were small things, but they definitely added to the bout, in my view. While this wasn’t a perfect WarGames, the presentation was great, and the match itself had a lot of entertaining action with some cool moments. When it comes to seeing WarGames on smaller independents, this might’ve been one of the best attempts to date. I had a blast watching it.
Star Rating: ****