Thursday, 10 August 2017

PPV Review - WCW - World War 3 1996

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - PPV Review - Event poster
November 24, 1996
Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, Virginia

By November 1996, World Championship Wrestling could seemingly do no wrong. 

Shows would open with world class cruiserweights and some of the finest Lucha Libre stars in the world, and close with globally recognised megastars like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Rowdy Roddy Piper. 

In between, a white-hot angle in the form of the Hogan-led New World Order would ensure that every card helped WCW cement its status as the number one wrestling company on the planet.

With such invincibility behind them, the company repeated one of their most questionable gimmick matches, the three-ring, over-the-top-rope World War 3 battle royal.

Would WCW's unwavering popularity help make this year's 60-man melee a hit? Or was this one destined to spend its history being muttered in the same regrettable tone as The Chamber of Horrors match?

Let's head down to the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, to find out.

 It's All Going Down at World War 3 

Our show tonight began with the standard Cheesy 90s WCW video package looking at the main matches on tonight's card, after which we got the obligatory introduction from our commentators Tony Schiavone, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan were commentators for the event
The trio discussed Rowdy Roddy Piper, who had arrived in WCW at the previous month's Halloween Havoc looking for a fight with reigning World Heavyweight Champion, Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

After questioning why WCW President Eric Bischoff had been stalling when it came to signing a contract for the match, Dusty warned Hogan that he'd better be prepared for The Hot Rod.

With that, it was on to our opening match.

J-Crown Championship
J-Crown Champion  Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 

In a return match from their earlier meeting at WCW Hog Wild 1996 that summer, Ultimo Dragon (who was called Ultimate Dragon here for some reason) put his J-Crown collection of belts on the line against Cruiserweight sensation Rey Mysterio Jr.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) bt. Rey Mysterio Jr.
The short-lived J-Crown was a Championship comprised of several different Light Heavyweight titles from around the world, including the long-forgotten World Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Championship. So, technically, a WWF title was defended here on a WCW PPV.

I'd say that I'm surprised they didn't make a big deal of this fact, but hey, this was WCW, so I'd be more surprised if they even noticed in the first place.

Anyway, the match itself was typical of WCW PPV openers from around this time.

In other words, it was awesome.

With the reigning champion in control for much of the bout, what we had here was fast paced, exciting, and exhilarating; indeed, everything you could possibly expect from a match featuring Rey Mysterio and Ultimo Dragon.

In the end, it was the latter who picked up the win, bouncing his opponent off the top rope for a wicked slingshot sit-down power bomb and getting the cover, the count, and the match.
Your Winner and Still J-Crown Champion: Ultimo Dragon. 

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Mean Gene interviewed Diamond Dallas Page
Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund shilled the new WCW.com website before welcoming his first guest of the evening, Diamond Dallas Page.

Page refused to get drawn into the controversy surrounding the nWo's attempts to recruit him, nor did he feel like talking about his relationship with his neighbour, Eric Bischoff.

What he did want to talk about, was tonight's 60 Man Battle Royal, and how he was going to win the whole thing.

After all, Page reminded us, nobody had expected him to win BattleBowl back at Slamboree 1996 in May, and yet he'd done just that. So, tonight, it was inevitable in DDP's mind that he would surprise everyone and win the battle royal too.

This was a solid promo from Page, who has looked -and sounded- consistently better on every subsequent 1996  WCW PPV I've reviewed so far here on Retro Pro Wrestling.

One Hand Tied Behind My Back Match
Nick Patrick vs. Chris Jericho (w/ Teddy Long)

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Referee Nick Patrick faced Chris Jericho in a 1-hand-behind-my-back match
If the whole point of professional wrestling is that it's supposed to be entertaining, then this referee vs. wrestler match between Chris Jericho and Nick Patrick was the very epitome of good pro wrestling.

The back story here was that Patrick had been slowly and not-so-subtly aligning himself with the New World Order, showing bias towards the renegade outfit in their battles against WCW stars.

This had raised the ire of several good guys, none more so than Chris Jericho and Teddy Long.

Thus, we had tonight's match, which began with Patrick yelling to the camera about how Long should have brought a towel with him because Chris Jericho was really going to need one.

Who can blame him? After all, everyone knows that if you're gonna survive out there, you've really gotta know where your towel is.


Ahem. Anyway, as I was saying, this was a terrific piece of entertainment with both men playing their roles to perfection and Patrick bumping about the place like an absolute pro.

As was only fitting, Jericho won the match, but not before ensuring both he and Patrick looked awesome.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

As great as that was, the announcers simply didn't care, instead of talking to us for several minutes about the Roddy Piper / Hulk Hogan drama before showing us Marcus Alexander Bagwell talking to some Internet nerd for WCW online.

From there, it was back to Mean Gene, who was standing by ready to interview the recently injured Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Stylin' and Profilin' With The Nature Boy

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - An Injured Ric Flair was super over with the Norfolk crowd
Flair, who by this point was a fully fledged babyface, cut a captivating and wholly entertaining promo in which he promised that he, The Four Horsemen, Sting, Lex Luger, The Steiner Brothers and others were 100% WCW, and that before long, WCW would own the New World Order.

Watching such brilliant promos like this, it seems even more of a shame that Flair was relegated almost to mid-card status with the arrival of the nWo. He was still insanely over, and deservedly so.

Speaking of Flair, the man he had recently endorsed, Jeff Jarrett, was in action next.

Return Grudge Match
The Giant vs. Jeff Jarrett

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Jeff Jarrett faced The Giant
This was a relatively average match in which the sole highlight was the arrival of Sting.

Now in full Crow mode, Sting made his way from the rafters to the ring and planted Jeff Jarrett with a Scorpion Death Drop behind the referee's back, much as he had done on a recent episode of Nitro.

This gave The Giant an easy opportunity to land a choke slam and pick up a win.
Your Winner: The Giant

The announcers were adamant that this meant Sting was now aligned with the nWo. A fair assumption, if it wasn't for the fact that Jarrett had been bad-mouthing Sting on Nitro and doubting his loyalty to WCW.

The fact that the announcers over looked this and claimed to have no idea why Sting had targeted Jarrett was remarkably dumb.

Piper and Hogan Sign The Contract for Starrcade.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Hulk Hogan signed a contract to face Roddy Piper at Starrcade 1996For a long time around this period, people would complain that for all WCW did right, where the company really let themselves down was in putting older stars like Piper and Hogan at the top of the card.

At the time, I was one of them, but looking back now I realise that there was a good reason why the two veterans remained in the main event spot:

They could get a crowd riled up like nobody else.

At least, that was certainly the case here, where Piper did a phenomenal job of eliciting exactly the kind of emotion that would make his Starrcade match with Hogan a sure fire sell out.

The Amazing French Canadians (Jacques Rougeau & Carl Ouellet w/ Col. Parker) vs. Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray, w/ Sister Sherri) 

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - The Amazing French Canadians faced Harlem Heat
So, apparently, when I first wrote this review, I skipped over writing about this match altogether.

Now that I'm getting ready to publish and going over the show again, I've remembered why:

This thing was tedious to the point of sending me to sleep.

The story here is that Sister Sherri and Col. Parker had endured something of an on-again, off-again relationship, even going so far as almost getting married at Clash of the Champions back in January (weirdly, I thought I'd reviewed that already, but can't seem to find it).

Now though, the relationship was definitely off, with Parker being kicked out of Harlem Heat and join forces with The Amazing French Canadians.


Tonight, the two teams would go at it in this dire contest which, if Harlem Heat won, would result in Sherri getting five minutes alone with Parker.

If that doesn't tell you the outcome, nothing will.

Yep, it was on like neckbones as the straight OGs got the win for Sherri, sucka.
Your Winners: Harlem Heat 

Afterwards, Sherri gave  Parker a good pasting, much to the delight of the commentators. Dusty, God bless him, absolutely laughed his ass off at the site of Parker getting his ass handed to him by Sherri, right up to the point that The Amazing French Canadians saved their manager and hauled him to safety.

Lex Luger is Ready 

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger
After a quick commercial for December's Starrcade 1996, Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger about Sting's strange behaviour, and about Luger's role in tonight's battle royal. 

Luger was as perplexed about The Stinger as the rest of us, and genuinely didn't know what was going on there. What he did know, however, was that he was ready for the fight of his life tonight, and was all in it to help World Championship Wrestling turn the tide against The New World Order. 

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Psicosis

I was so looking forward to this match. I was looking forward to telling you that Dean Malenko and Psicosis had an exciting back-and-forth that served as a perfect example of why the WCW Cruiserweight Division was the best in-ring stuff we had back in the 90s by a quarter mile.

Then the match actually happened, and it turned out I wasn't going to be able to tell you any of that because it was so disappointingly dull.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - Psicosis challenged Dean Malenko for the WCW Cruiserweight TitlePsicosis' whole deal was that he was a high-flying luchador, so this match eliminated any reason why anybody would want to see Psicosis by having Malenko spend most of the match putting him in long, tedious submission holds.

At one point, things got so boring that even the announcers stopped caring, choosing instead to talk about the upcoming 60-man battle total that was to be our main event.

Eventually, Malenko pinned Psicosis to retain his title. Somewhere nearby, a cricket chirped.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko

Moving swiftly on...

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs & Jerry Sags) vs. The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian w/ Jimmy Hart)

You know those matches that are neither good nor bad, but just kind of there?

This was exactly one of those matches.

The Nasty Boys and The Faces of Fear did the bulk of the work in the early going, with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash hanging out on the apron, having a good time.

WCW WORLD WAR 3 1996 - The Outsiders defended the WCW tag titles against Nasty Boys and Faces of Fear
Eventually, Jerry Sags, Brian Knobs, Meng, and Ballbearing got wise to this and forced the reigning champions into battle.

From there, we got your standard triangle tag match, complete with a spot where The Outsiders were tagged in against each other and their opponents dropped to the floor that looked oddly similar to the one employed in the Smoking Gunns vs. Body Donnas vs. Godwins vs. New Rockers match from WWF Summerslam 1996.

Hall tried to pin Nash, but that was broken up, leading to a mass, six man brawl.

With almost everyone else spilling to the outside, Hall hit Knobs with Jimmy Hart's microphone, Nash hit the powerbomb, and that was enough to land the win for his team.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders

Prior to our main event, the announcers once again reminded us that Piper and Hogan would fight next month at Starrcade. Heenan also gave us his pick for the winner of the battle royal - Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko.

Because the battle royal apparently needed three commentary teams, we next went to Lee Marshall and The Living Legend, Larry Zybysko.

Marshall only wanted to tell us about a match he saw between Chris Benoit and The Taskmaster at a WCW house show the previous evening, whilst Zybysko reminded us that was at stake in the battle royal was a shot at the world title.

Switching to Dusty Rhodes and Iron Mike Tenay, both wanted to get back to talking about The Four Horsemen and The Dungeon of Doom, completely giving away the fact that something big would happen between the two factions.

Something Big Happened Between The Two Factions 

Told ya. 

Before the main event could properly get underway, Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan came a-brawlin' round ringside, effectively taking each other out of the battle royal. 

World War 3 (Winner Gets a Shot at WCW World Heavyweight Title)
Sixy Man Battle Royal featuring Lex Luger, The Giant, Steven Regal, Diamond Dallas Page, Road Block, Big Ron Studd, Ice Train, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Syxx, Eddie Guerrero, Jeff Jarrett, And Half The Population of Planet Earth

Honestly, until I sat down to write this review, I'd never actually seen one of these sixty-man battle royals before, but I'd certainly heard about them. 

Mostly, I'd heard that they sucked. 

Indeed, every review, or even mention, of the World War 3 PPV seemed to have the match down as a failure. 

For the longest time, that's something I just couldn't understand. 

I mean, an enormous battle royal featuring basically the entire roster? What's not to like?

Apparently, everything. 

The action, I'm sure, was fine, but most of it was shown to us via WCW's favourite split-screen view, this time splitting said screen into three. 

That meant it was nigh on impossible to actually follow what was going on, especially when the six announcers started calling eliminations that were not even on camera. 

The end result was a cluttered, disjointed mess in which the only highlight was the crowd going wild when it looked like Lex Luger might win the whole thing. 


Unfortunately for Luger, and WCW as a whole, tonight wasn't to be his night. Instead, The Giant picked up the win, planting the first small seed towards his eventually split from the New World Order, but more of that some other time.
Your Winner: The Giant 

Afterwards, the New World Order posed in the ring as World War 3 1996 went off the air.

At the start of this review, I asked whether WCW's huge popularity could stop the sixty man battle royal from sucking. 

The answer is no, it couldn't. 

The main event was -from a visual standpoint at least- an absolute disaster. Coupled with matches which were either disappointingly bad or just painfully mediocre, the battle royal only confirmed the one idea I was starting to get as the show went on: 

This is not a PPV to recommend. 


For more WCW 1996 ppv reviews, see the following links:
Next time, we'll go back and finish off the year 1996 with reviews of WWF In Your House: I's Time and WCW Starrcade 1996. 

o be among the first to read that review when it is published, join me on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page, or follow me on twitter at @Retropwrestling. twitter.com/retropwrestling

Until then, thanks for reading.


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