WCW WrestleWar ‘91
Live in North Carolina
Airs Live on Pay Per View Sunday Week 3, February 1991
The show opened to the broadcasting team of Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross, and Dusty Rhodes. The three men hyped up the Pay Per View and Dusty talked up the crowning of the first ever WCW World Champion.
From there, Jim Ross announced that Missy Hyatt had an exclusive interview with The Four Horsemen to kick things off at WrestleWar.
Arn Anderson and Ric Flair handled all of the talking, both men once again putting the audience in the palms of their hands. Arn is honestly one of our better workers, and we honestly hadn’t realized this until much later in our tapings, so we’re looking to rectify that going into our bookings after WrestleWar.
”The Dynamite Dream team is what they call themselves, huh? It’s a miracle they even get to share the same ring with us. They have everyone fooled by how great they were in Japan, but folks I’m going to tell you now, there’s no connection between their success in Japan and their success...or lack thereof...here in WCW. I can promise you one thing, though, tonight, there will be violence.” (sorry I had to make some kind of Miracle Violence Connection reference)
”And while Arn and Barry send those two pretenders on the first plane back to Japan, the big man here is gonna break Lex Luger in half. Lex, for all of those muscles you have, you’re clearly lacking a brain. No one in their right man would step in the ring with my man, Sid. But I’ll give you credit, you’re smarter than your pal Sting. Sting, there aren’t enough little Stingers in the world that can save you from what’s going to happen to you in that cage tonight. Steve and Gordy are going back to Japan, but I’m sending you to the hospital. And ladies, The Horsemen are going to paint the town when this show is over, and if you ask nicely, I might let you hold that WCW World Championship belt. Woooo!” (B+)
The Dynamite Dream Team vs. Arn Anderson & Barry Windham
When we first started planning this event out, we weren’t entirely sure how matches were going to be arranged. The original plan was for $50,000 Challenge to open the show, but the guys on the team with ring experience stressed that it was important we open the show with our more popular workers and then sandwich the story driven matches in the middle of the show.
It was also important that we really introduced The Dynamite Dream Team off the right way in their first Pay Per View appearance. People were familiar with both Terry and Williams due to their past tenures under the Jim Crockett Promotions National Wrestling Alliance banners. With that said, it was a safe bet that your run of the mill WCW fan weren’t very familiar with the two as a tag team unit and with everyone on the writing team having a vested interest in bolstering our tag team division, it was crucial that they had a good performance here.
Starting with this match was the right choice, the wrestling was great, and the fans were really into it. Gordy and Williams were two powerhouse brutes, but their psychology and in-ring basics were significantly overlooked. Arn and Barry were the right choice in running this program, as the two teams were able to put on a clinic for the people who enjoyed the more scientific wrestling. Anderson and Windham also did such a fantastic job at selling Gordy’s and ”Dr. Death’s” power offense, that it really caused the crowd to break into excitement
We didn’t want Arn and Barry to take a straight up loss tonight, so after taking a big bodyslam, Arn rolled out of the ring and threw his hands toward The Dynamite Dream Team as if to suggest he was done with them. Windham who was also gasping to catch his breath followed behind Arn and The Horsemen duo began walking away from The Dream Team.
Williams and Gordy looked frustrated, taunting for the two to get back in the ring but from the stage, you could see Arn and Windham both wincing in pain before Arn simply stated “We don’t need this!”. By that time, referee, Randy Anderson, reached the ten count.
The Dynamite Dream Team defeated Arn Anderson & Barry Windham by countout (B)
Alexandra York’s $50,000 Challenge
”The Future Legend” Steve Austin & Kevin Steel w/ Alexandra York vs. Brian Pillman & The Calgary Kid
We knew this would be Kevin Steel’s last night with the company, so over the last two weeks, we really shifted our attention to Steve Austin who was really leaving a good impression with a lot of people in the back.
This was one of our programs that we wanted to focus more on the storytelling aspect, so they worked a very conservative style with it more being structured to manipulate the ebb and flow of the crowd’s excitement.
At one moment during the match, we teased the upset: The Calgary Kid had just dropped Steve Austin with a crossbody splash from the second rope. Kevin Steel moved into the ring to break it up, by dropping an elbow, but Calgary saw the elbow coming and moved out of position. This caused Steel to land right on his own tag team partner and Pillman came charging right at Steel both spilling outside of the ring. Calgary immediately went for the pin again and everyone thought they were witnessing a victory, but Austin managed to kick out right before the final count.
We lessened how much influence Kevin Steel would have on the match outcome, so we wanted to make sure Jody Hamilton who helped put the match together stressed to the four men that Austin would be the one to pick up the win while not putting much focus on Kevin Steel with Bischoff even telling Hamilton that Steel should get in Austin’s way occasionally, thus why Steel dropped the elbow on Austin.
Austin introduced his finishing move in tonight’s match, Legends Never Die, when he lifted Brian Pillman up in the air and dropped him across the top rope. Pillman bounced off the ropes and landed on the ring canvas, clutching his throat. From there, Austin picked up the pinfall for his team.
I really hated seeing Kevin Steel go as I felt he was made for television. I don’t work on the money end of things, but I heard it wasn’t a creative thing and more of a money dispute.
Steve Austin & Kevin Steel defeated Brian Pillman & The Calgary Kid by pinfall (C)
WCW Television Championship
Bobby Eaton w/ Paul E. Dangerously vs. Tom Zenk
This was the program that I think we all fell in love with in the writer’s room. Since pairing Bobby Eaton with Paul E. Dangerously, the two were generating heat like wildfire and it also helped turn Tom Zenk into a big time babyface . There was even the secondary stuff that we focused on between Paul E. Dangerously and Dusty Rhodes by having Dusty refer to Paul as slimy and scum from the broadcast position.
It was also important to note that Zenk and Eaton worked well together and while we had originally decided that we wanted a more storytelling structured match, we were convinced that if we just let the two work a more traditional style that the fans would normally expect from a championship match, it would do us a better service
With Harley Race’s help putting this one together, they ended up with work that both men could be proud of. We were still able to implement some storytelling with Paul E. Dangerously’s work from ringside and Dusty Rhodes occasionally talking him down from commentary.
We went for a repeat ending of their first encounter, with slight modifications. Bobby Eaton was able to jump from the top rope and land on Tom Zenk with the Alabama Jam. When he went for the cover, Tom Zenk had mustered enough energy to get his foot on the rope. Instead of having Nick Patrick not see it, we had Paul E. Dangerously push Zenk’s foot away from the rope before Patrick was even aware of what was happening. Dangerously grabbed the belt and he and Eaton immediately hightailed it out of the ring while Zenk, who was still trying to regain his wits, was trying to explain to Nick Patrick what just happened.
Bobby Eaton defeated Tom Zenk by pinfall to win the WCW Television Championship (B-)
The interactions between Paul E. Dangerously and Dusty Rhodes was a happy accident that only came together as a way to put more heat on a Bobby Eaton and Tom Zenk program, but when we saw how well the two men worked together on the mic, we always wondered if we could get more mileage out of it. It was time to find out. Tonight would be the night that we’d build tension between Dusty Rhodes and Paul E. by having Paul and Bobby approach Dusty Rhodes at the broadcast table.
Dusty made very scathing remarks about what transpired in the ring and told Tony and Ross that Dangerously wasn’t getting away with any of that. [b]Dangerously got Dusty’s face and told him Eaton was Champion and not a thing could be done about it. Rhodes immediately removed his headset and stood up, causing Dangerously to back down and the fans to pipe up in excitement. Dangerously seemingly had nothing to worry about as his charge, Bobby Eaton, moved in between the two and got in Dusty’s face. Dusty paused,knowing that as the head of management, he had to have a cooler head. He shook his head, put his headset back on, and took his seat. Eaton smirked, held the WCW Television Championship in Dusty’s face before he and Dangerously walked away. (B+)
Big Van Vader vs. Junkyard Dog
Due to Junkyard Dog’s declining abilities in the ring, we wanted to keep this one pretty short and to the point. We had spent weeks playing up how tough the two were, with both men going to a double countout in their only other encounter, so we wanted the no countout stipulation to play some kind of factor in the match.
The two spent most of their time outside of the ring and it was a short, wild brawl that clocked in at maybe nine minutes at most. It was short and to the point and it was enough to keep the fans invested. We weren’t expecting a whole lot from this match because their last go around had some issues, such as Dog getting winded pretty early and neither man selling each other’s offense, and those flaws were still present in this outing, but nowhere near as noticeable.
We got to our ending when Vader charged and hit a body splash on a standing Junkyard Dog that ended up sandwiching Dog in between the superheavyweight, Vader, and the security railing.. While that was enough to finish anyone off, Vader tossed Junkyard back into the ring and hit another big body splash before finally going for the pin.
Vader defeated Junkyard Dog by pinfall (B-)
We wanted to put an exclamation point on the Junkyard Dog Vader blow-off, so we had Vader run his usual routine by beating up Dog even after the match was over. With his victim not being the usual local talent we’d normally use in this spot and one of our higher profile workers, the crowd really ate this moment up, hoping for Junkyard Dog to rally and fight back, but booing when it was very clear that Vader wasn’t going to get his comeuppance. Vader flexed in the center of the ring while a few WCW officials came from the locker room to check on Junkyard Dog.
Our decision here is to give Junkyard Dog some time off because it was pretty evident that he just couldn’t keep up with the talent that we were putting our time in developing, but we also really wanted to sell the beating Vader gave JYD and we felt it wouldn’t have the same effect if [b]Dog[/b showed up on TV a week or two down the road.
Overall, both men did great in this segment with Junkyard Dog doing a pretty damn good job of making Vader’s beating seem like a legitimate, career threatening moment. (B+)
Lex Luger vs. Sid Vicious
The fact that we all viewed this as a time filler really shows how stacked our first event of the year truly was. That’s not a knock on Lex or Sid as both have a lot of upside with both having great physiques and connecting pretty well with our crowd, this was just one of those matches that we put together for the sake of having something for them to do.
We weren’t really sure what the focus should have been. In retrospect, we probably should have put them on before the main event to work as a solid buffer to cool the crowd, but Dusty, who produced this match, decided that we should give them twelve to thirteen minutes just to see what they could do out there.
The result was pretty pleasing. Lex who’s not a scientific wrestler by any means, showed a lack of psychology at times, but it wasn’t to a degree where any of us in the back felt it hurt the match to a significant degree. Sid, as well, showed that he could be a reliable marquee feature and again, while lacking some of the finer aspects of wrestling that an Arn, Flair, or even a Sting possessed, he more than made up for those shortcomings with his intensity and physique.
So this really ended up being a thirteen minute litmus test to see if they could hang in our main event picture and I think everyone felt that they’d be a solid hand when needed. Lex eventually picked up the win after flying into Vicious with a forearm smash.
Lex Luger defeated Sid Vicious by pinfall (B-)
We wanted to give Sting some segment time so we ran an interview between him and Missy Hyatt so Sting could get the last word in on Flair before the World Championship Warfare. For anyone else, it would have been fine work, but for Sting it wasn’t up to par with previous offerings.
We’re not really sure what it was about this segment that didn’t work. Missy kind of rambled at the beginning. It’s also possible that Sting’s attention was more focused on World Championship Warfare since it was still a new concept to everyone and no one was really sure how things were going to work out.
Dick the Bruiser produced the segment requested that Sting be a bit more serious to sell the audience on the grave nature of World Championship Warfare and honestly, Sting works better when he’s all energy, the crowd feeds off of that. Maybe that was the issue.
”When that cage comes down and that bell rings, it’ll be just me and you, Flair. Your Horsemen won’t be there to save you. I’m going to cherish every single second that I’m alone with you in there. When that buzzer goes off, then it’s game time.” (B-)
WCW World Tag Team Championships
The Steiner Brothers vs. Doom
Though we knew both of these teams could go, we wanted to cool the crowd so they wouldn’t be burned out by the time the World Championship Warfare started. Much like the earlier tag team match, the two teams worked a conservative style but still incorporated some of the usual tag team fundamentals, such as a hot tag from Rick to Scott so that the crowd did have moments to be excited for.
We had a back and forth in our meetings on where we wanted to go concerning the World Tag Team titles. Four days before WrestleWar Doom would be penciled in to win. A day later, The Steiners would be in the books. This went back and forth but ultimately we had a goal in mind. I’m not going to reveal that goal at this point in time, but we definitely had a tag team program that we wanted to build to so the best route to get there would be to put Doom over.
Some felt Doom really needed the rub, anyway, as a lot of people are high on Ron Simmons and Butch Reed and also believe that Teddy Long is really under the radar as far as mic work went. The feeling was that a lot of people had already went into this program thinking The Steiners were going to win, and felt it would really legitimize and help the long term trajectory of Simmons and Reed if they earned the honors of being the first World Tag Team Champions. With that, we had Doom dispatch Scott Steiner with Butch Reed posturing Scott so Ron Simmons could hit him with a diving shoulder block from the middle rope to pick up the pinfall.
For being so late on the card and being instructed to calm the audience, the match turned out pretty okay. I don’t think Eric had much interest in going any further with this particular program due to having other plans in mind for both teams, but I think everyone felt that both teams could really put together something special if given the time so maybe we’ll revisit it down the road.
Doom defeated The Steiner Brothers to become the first ever WCW World Tag Team Champions (C+)
World Championship Warfare
WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Ric Flair vs. Sting vs. Larry Zbyszko vs. Rick Rude vs. TBA vs. TBA
With the cell structure surrounding the ring, fans began to realize they were in store for something special and the excitement broke out. In the production area, we were nervous as hell. We weren’t entirely sure if this would be the success we wanted it to be or not, but hearing the fans reaction was a great start.
When Ric Flair’s music hit, the crowd really broke out, because now it was game time. The commentary team of Ross, Schiavone, and Rhodes did a good job of focusing on the Sting and Flair rivalry without downplaying the importance of crowning the first ever WCW World Champion.
Ric Flair was instructed to put over the gravity of being in something as intimidating as the World Championship Warfare structure and he did so by grabbing on the chain linked cage and shaking on it. He then looked up at the height of the cell before slowly walking in.
Once Sting’s music hit, the audience broke out, knowing that in just mere seconds not only was WCW’s top babyface coming out, but that he was finally going to get his hands on the elusive Ric Flair. Sting came out focused. Looking straight at Flair. He did break his gaze to look at the cell, pretty much doing motions similar to Flair by grabbing on the cage and estimating the height of the structure. Sting then moved inside and once the introductions were over, the cage door was shut, and the bell rang, Sting immediately laid into Flair.
The two men did some fantastic work in the cage and the crowd ate it up. Sting started with a series of right hands and Flair found himself on his knees, asking for forgiveness. Sting flexed, picked him back up and began punching him again. This caused Flair to roll outside of the ring, and the chase was on.
After a couple of laps around the ring, Sting was finally able to get his hands on Flair again and began using the cage as an ally. ”The Nature Boy” was tossed right into the cage and when he came bouncing back toward Sting, Stinger would run him to the opposite end, tossing him into the fencing on that side as well.
#3 - Larry Zbyszko
Ric Flair found an help once Larry Zbyszko joined the fray. The tide was turned on Sting and the audience cheered for a rally. Sting would fight back in spurts, but the two would always cut him off before he could mount a full comeback.
With the three outside of the ring, Zbyszko and Flair took turns tossing Sting into the cage and the wear and tear of being in the gruesome World Championship Warfare cell began to show as Sting’s familiar face paint had come close to completely sweating off. On the fourth attempt at sending Sting into the cage, he was able to stop himself before dropping Zbyszko with a clothesline. Flair immediately backed away with Sting chasing him back into the ring.
Flair once again dropped to his knees and Sting smirked, shaking his head no, but before he could get some more offense in, Zbyszko attacked from behind and the two men continued their alliance to take out Sting
#4 - “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff
”Mr. Wonderful” made for a surprising return to WCW after leaving in the fall of 1990 and he made his allegiance very clear by dropping both Zbyszko and Flair and helping Sting back to his feet, alluding to his partnership with Sting as The Dudes With Attitude. World Championship Warfare turned into a tag team war with Orndorff and Zbyszko fighting outside of the ring and Sting beating on Flair inside the ring. The crowd was eating all of this up and all four guys were doing a great job of putting on one hell of a performance. Any anxiety we had leading up to tonight was certainly gone after seeing this.
Even though the bigger picture was crowning a new WCW World Champion, Sting and Flair really brought their A-game and really focused on fighting each other for pretty much the entire length of the match up until this point and it really helped add to their feud, which had been a longstanding fixture in WCW to begin with. Anytime Sting got his hands on Flair the crowd went wild and the two men definitely made sure to incorporate the World Championship Warfare fencing, constantly bouncing each other off of it.
#5 - Rick Rude
Rude came in and made his allegiance clear - he had none. He started by tossing Paul Orndorff into the cage and then immediately broke out into a brawl with Zbyszko before sending him into the cage as well. With the Warfare door still opened due to Rude coming in, Flair saw this as his opportunity to get away from Sting and he made his escape by stepping outside of the cage. After fighting through Rude, Sting, too, made his way outside and once again, the chase was on.
Sting and Flair disappeared into the locker room, but it wasn’t for very long. Thirty, maybe forty seconds later Ric Flair came running back down the ramp, opening the cage door, and joining the World Championship Warfare action by chopping Orndorff. Sting wasn’t too far behind, moving back into the structure and exchanging punches with Rude and Zbyszko before getting his hands on Flair.
The melee stopped when the sixth man came out.
#6 - Vader
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WARFARE HAS BEGUN
The five men stopped what they were doing and watched as the massive Vader made his way into the cage. With the final participant being in the cage, referee Nick Patrick locked the cage door and World Championship Warfare began.
Zbyszko was the first to charge at Vader and Vader just jumped into him with all of his weight, taking him out. Orndorff then tried and ate a flurry of punches before being tossed out of the ring. Rude managed to get a kick and a couple of punches in, but ate a massive belly to belly suplex.
Then a moment that no one expected developed. Flair and Sting looked at each other, put their differences aside, and immediately started attacking Vader in tandem. Punches from Sting, chops from Flair, the crowd was going bananas. They finally backed Vader into the ropes, both men combining forces to Irish whip him to the opposite set of ropes, but when he came back, he dropped both men with a double clothesline.
Sting and Flair weren’t done though as both men fought back to their feet and got right back in Vader’s face hitting him with everything they had. The crowd exploded when both men joined hands and sent Vader outside of the ring with a double clothesline. Both men taunted, but Flair immediately ended the truce by rolling Sting up with a school-boy. Sting, however, was able to kick out and just like that, the rivalry between the two men was back on.
Bodies were everywhere and flesh had been torn by the unforgiving chain links. Flair, Zbyszko, and Orndorff were bloody. Sting’s face paint was completely gone and was instead replaced with traces of blood. The WCW crowd got to see Vader bleed for the first time after he missed a body splash on Rude and went face first into the fencing.
There was no second-guessing, World Championship Warfare was a success. We could hear the crowd from our production area. There was never a second of silence. All six men played a role in making this thing happen and they all deserved praise.
We were moving into the half hour territory and it was time to get the finale going. Flair and Sting formed their makeshift alliance again to take on the imposing Vader but it was a trap set up by Flair. Flair dug into his tights and pulled out a pair of handcuffs, which Ross hypothesized he was able to obtain when he ran to the locker room, and surprised Sting by handcuffing him to the fencing. With Sting attached to the cage, it was quite obvious that only five men had a chance at winning the WCW World Championship. The fighting continued in and around the ring while Sting struggled to get back in the hunt by trying to forcibly pulling at the handcuffs, hoping he could get them to break away from the chain linked fencing.
Flair would be next to be taken out of the picture as he tried for his usual top rope spot but was slammed to the canvas by Orndorff. ”Mr. Wonderful” taunted while Flair rolled to the outside and Rick Rude used that opportunity to throw Orndorff over the top rope. Zbyszko and Rude began fighting in one corner of the ring, but both were sandwiched into the turnbuckle by Vader. Vader then saw his moment, bounced off the ropes, and came crashing on Zbyszko with a body splash to pick up the victory and become the first ever WCW World Champion.
The crowd was absolutely stunned. Vader proved that he was as tough as he claimed by not only beating Junkyard Dog but joining the World Championship Warfare melee and winning. Again, it was such a tough decision in choosing who we wanted to win this thing, but the idea was to put it on a new face to establish that the new WCW regime weren’t afraid to take risks and not always rely on the safe bets.
We’re sure many saw similarities between what Vince and company did with Ted DiBiase at Royal Rumble and what we did with Vader here, but this wasn’t a case of the bad guy barely squeaking away a victory and then buying his way into an advantageous position. Vader had a bar room brawl, kicked that guy’s ass and then decided to go to the bar next door and kick everyone’s ass there too just because he could. Ted DiBiase was smart and nefarious whereas Vader was just a badass. Similar approaches, but two different stories being told.
There was absolutely no doubt that World Championship Warfare was everything we needed it to be. World Championship Warfare would undoubtedly be a permanent fixture in WCW’s budding future.
Vader won the World Championship Warfare to become the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion (B)