War Games is one of the most popular gimmick matches in wrestling history, with many iterations that produced great matches. was the annual main for WCW Over time, and between Impact Wrestling’s Lethal Lockdown, AEW’s Blood and Guts, and other variations on stages including MLW, CZW, and various indies, it’s no wonder other promotions have tried to make the match their own.

RELATED: The Real Life of WCW’s Best Gimmick Match EverWWE made headlines when they launched their own version of the War Games in NXT, and now they’re doing it all over again on the main roster, with Triple H bringing the gimmick to Survivor Series. Despite how well-received war games were in general, they weren’t above a few dull iterations. The worst came in 2000 when a complete corruption of rules and presentation almost destroyed the gimmick.

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The appeal of war games

nWo Hollywood vs. Team WCW vs. nWo Wolfpack Fall Brawl 1998 Cropped

War Games is one of the few gimmick games–especially for its original gameplay in the late 1980s and early 1990s–that had its own distinct look before any artists entered it. The dueling ring setup provided a constant reminder that the match was proceeding as a special attraction, and the cage was usually hanging overhead, offering a nice combination of the literal and metaphorical meaning of the spectacle hanging over the main event for wrestlers and fans alike. .

The structure of the War Games featured a taped entrance in the same vein as the Royal Rumble, and for the sake of excitement as the match progressed. The cage itself promised brutality, and the way the gimmick often lends itself to bouquets and taking advantage of a number organically added drama to the mix, even the babyfaces entering the odds felt like hot tags. All of these dynamics, featured in a match that usually only happens once a year, set up one of WCW’s more eagerly anticipated annual highlights.

Rule changes for WCW War Games 2000

WCW War Games 2000 Cage

Vince Russo infamously had his share of bad ideas during his time in WCW. War Games 2000 featured the sub-title Russo’s Revenge, which unfortunately represented what fans got due to rule changes, overbooking, and haphazard execution that aired live on Nitro. First, things were unnecessarily complicated by the announced opponents of the face team and the heel team arbitrarily adding members to the match stream to win qualifying matches earlier in the night. Special Rules also stated that, as a tag team, Chronic and The Harris Brothers entered the match as a unit, thus ending the count and flow of the match.

More problematic than any of the factors listed above, instead of the submission or surrender rules traditionally associated with the match, or even the pin falls that the gimmick was introduced to in 1998, the match was essentially fought under ladder match rules. Rewarding from great heights. Instead of a double ring, double cage set up, the bout took place in a three-tiered cage popular in WCW during that era, with someone aiming to climb to the top cage. To actually win the winner had to go down and out of the bottom cage with the belt.

All of these differences led to the name of the match being War Games, but not quite as much as fans had come to expect from this signature gimmick match.

Implementation of WCW War Games 2000

War Games Nitro September 4, 2000

Apart from changes to the structure and rules of the War Games in 2000, the execution itself was all over the place. Ernest Miller lost his place in the match on the night, however, only to be promptly dispatched by Kevin Nash to enter. Nash also starred in a nonsensical spot in which he appeared to turn on his heel teammates, before revealing he was just having fun and carrying on normally.

RELATED: The 10 Worst Wargames in WCW and WWE History, RankedIt was Booker T who regained the title from the top cage and Goldberg would almost end up as the new champion. However, in the end, Bret Hart—who did not officially participate in the match—slammed the cage door on Goldberg’s head, setting up Nash to win, and retain the title. Nash had his share of sorry moments in WCW; It became a forgotten questionable option around his character.

Aside from all the overbooking that made this match nearly impossible to follow on any logical level, it also had the fundamental flaw that it made no sense for two teams to battle with one man out of the world championship as a prize. . At least in theory, the heels were collaborating to help Nash, but the face team in particular was set on a complicated path of battling a cast of villains while also pursuing their own title ambitions.

Many fans lamented that it took WWE so long to book a War Games match. After all, once the company owned WCW’s intellectual property, it seemed only natural to capitalize on a beloved gimmick. In retrospect, WWE may have wisely decided to take time to recognize that gimmick and succumb to nostalgia before making a comeback. NXT was an ideal platform to relaunch the concept to the then black and gold brand’s relatively hardcore fan base, with a highly skilled talent pool at the time. Most of these matches were well received, and with Triple H now largely in charge of WWE creative, it makes sense to bring him to the main roster now, a full twenty-two years after Russo’s Revenge version of this match threatened to ruin the war. Game once and for all.