Thursday, 21 June 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW World War 3 1997

WCW World War 3 1997 Review - Event Poster
November 23, 1997
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan

WCW's annual 60-man battle royal known as World War 3 has been criticised countless times in the past as a confusing mess of a concept that was difficult to watch and even harder to enjoy.

Yet as bad an idea as many of us thought it was (and let's be honest, World War 3 1996, the first WW3 PPV reviewed on Retro Pro Wrestling, was horrible), it must have done some good for the company in some way.

After all, what other excuses could there be for WCW bringing it back out for the third year in a row?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it was 1997, and World War 3 was back.

Let's head down to the Palace of Auburn Hills and find out what went down this time around.

Wrestling is Like a Nuclear War

WCW World War 3 1997 Review - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Our show tonight began with a video which showed a soldier in a gas mask surveying what looked like the scene of a previous nuclear war before locking sights on 'the biggest battle royal' ever.

It was cheesy, sure, but not quite as bad as some of the opening videos we'd seen from the company in the past.

From there, we went to our announcers for the evening - Tony Schiavone, Iron Mike Tenay, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, who speculated on the winner of tonight's big 60 man battle royal.

But that was later, now we had a tag match to get the show underway.

Glacier & Ernest Miller vs. The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian w/ Jimmy Hart)

WCW World War 3 1997 Review - Meng puts the Tongan Death Grip on Ernest Miller
After playing the defacto babyfaces when facing Glacier & Ernest Miller's arch-rivals Wrath & Mortis at the previous month's Halloween Havoc 1997, Meng & Barbarian were back in their natural heel role with Jimmy Hart in their corner for this fun-yet-instantly-forgettable opening match.

Never likely to win any match of the night honours, the bout did at least see Glacier and Miller getting creative with their offence, whilst The Faces Of Fear just being brutal was always fun to watch.

After an explosive finale, Meng murdered Ernest Miller with the Tongan Death Grip for the win.
Your Winners: The Faces of Fear 

Out in the back, Diamond Dallas Page chatted to Mark Madden about his role on tonight's show. Sadly I didn't catch what he said but I'm not convinced it was that important.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World TV Champion Saturn (w/ Raven) vs. Disco Inferno

WCW World War 3 1997 Review - Perry Saturn defended the TV title against Disco Inferno
This was during the Raven's Flock days, so Raven and Saturn just climbed over the guardrail from the front row to begin their match.

'Let the stretching begin!' ordered Raven, and this one was on.

I'll be honest with you, I didn't have very high expectations for this match, but it actually turned out to be a decent see-saw battle with lots of good spots and a chance for Disco Inferno to look like a legitimate threat.

At least he did until he decided to randomly attack Kidman, Lodi, and Van Hammer, all members of Raven's flock.

This distraction was enough to let Saturn recover and pull Disco back into the ring.

There, the challenger once again got the upper-hand, but after flying off the top rope, he was wrapped up by Saturn and forced to submit to the Rings of Saturn.
Your Winner and Still WCW TV Champion: Saturn

WCW World War 3 1997 Review - The Giant promised to win World War 3 a second time
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund told us to call the hotline to find out who was in the 60 Man Battle Royal after which he interviewed the winner of World War 3 1996, The Giant.

Sporting a cast on his hand, The Giant promised to win again this year whilst getting revenge on Scott Hall for damaging his hand.

Yugi Nagata (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Ultimo Dragon
(If Dragon wins, he gets 5 minutes alone with Sonny Onoo)

If you recall, this whole feud started when Sony Onoo turned his back on Ultimo Dragon at Slamboree 1997, and sided with a bunch of different wrestlers to try and take out the former Cruiserweight champion.

After several failed attempts, Onoo got Yuji Nagata, who finally beat Dragon at Halloween Havoc 97.

After that match, both Nagata and Onoo had worked to injure Dragon's arm, giving us just cause for a return match tonight and the added stipulation that Dragon would get five minutes alone with his former manager should he win this one).

WCW World War 3 1997 Review - Ultimo Dragon wrestled Yuji NagataThe match turned out to be a step down from their previous meeting, but was still a solid encounter with much to enjoy,

Sadly, the finish wasn't one of those things that could be enjoyed.

After some shenanigans involving botched interference from Onoo, Nagata picked up his second straight PPV win over Dragon, rendering the entire stipulation meaningless.  #BecauseWCW
Your Winner: Yugi Nagata

Wasting no time, we got straight onto our next match.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. The Blue Bloods (Lord Steven Regal vs. Squire David Taylor)

WCW World War 3 1997 - The Steiner Brothers defended the tag team titles against The Blue Bloods
The Blue Bloods just weren't the same without Chives. Still, it was nice to see them in a title match, even if said title match was a little disappointing.

On several occasions, Mike Tenay referred to this as 'The Masters of the Suplex vs. The Masters of the Mat,' but a more accurate description would have been 'Who Can Work an Arm Bar For the Longest Amount of Time?'

Not the best match in history, but I suppose it was a nice, easy win for the hometown champions.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers

Out in the entrance way, Mean Gene Okerlund had words with WCW Random Authority Figure, James J. Dillon.

Dillon told us that despite giving him airtime and the freedom to pretty much do whatever he wanted, Raven still hadn't officially signed a contract with World Championship Wrestling.

This was unacceptable, so Dillon and the whole WCW Executive Committee were now giving the former Scotty Flamingo 24 hours to sign on the dotted line or else face being banned from all future WCW events.

Except for this one, because Raven was in action next.

Raven's Rules Match
Scotty Riggs vs. Raven

WCW World War 3 1997 - Raven and Saturn
The story here was that Scotty Riggs was being recruited to Raven's flock, but would neither join nor attack Raven.

We started things with Kidman reminding Riggs that this was no DQ. Riggs replied by diving over the ropes and levelling Raven, Kidman, and Saturn with a suicide dive.

That beginning and the end of this one were pretty good, but like some kind of limp, out-of-date Supermarket sandwich, the bit in the middle was boring and bland.

The end saw Raven flatten Riggs with an Evenflow DDT whilst yelling on the mic that he didn't want to do this and that it was hurting himself more than it was hurting Riggs.

Raven then took a seat in the corner whilst the referee counted to ten.

With Riggs completely out of it, he was unable to answer and thus this one was over.
Your Winner: Raven

Afterwards, the rest of The Flock hit the ring and carried Riggs off into the crowd.

Steve 'Mongo' McMichael vs. Bill Goldberg

WCW World War 3 1997 - Steve 'Mongo' McMichael attacked Bill Goldberg with a lead pipe
An often forgotten feud, superstar Bill Goldberg's first rivalry in WCW was against Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, but the two wouldn't get the chance to compete tonight because Mongo revealed that he'd attacked Goldberg from behind with a lead pipe and knocked him out.
No Contest

Mongo did brag that he was here to give the fans a show, and challenged any wrestler from the back to come out and face him.

That prompted his estranged wife, Debra McMichael to drag a reluctant Alex Wright to the ring for a rematch from Halloween Havoc.

Steve 'Mongo' McMichael vs. Alex Wright (w/ Debra McMichael)

I know that Mongo wasn't exactly Ric Flair between the ropes, but he had a charisma about him that I can't help but enjoy, and don't know why he was often the butt of jokes back in the day.

The match was fine but immediately forgettable and ended with a big win for the ex-football-player thanks to a tombstone piledriver.
Your Winner: Steve 'Mongo' McMichael

Out in the back, Saturn proved to be the very opposite of Mongo by having all the personality of a brick as he talked to Jeff Katz and Mark Madden for WCW.com, insisting that he would do whatever it took to keep his TV title.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr

Last month at Halloween Havoc, Rey Mysterio Jr. beat Eddie Guerrero to become Cruiserweight Champion in a Mask vs. Title match that remains one of -if not the- greatest Cruiserweight matches of all time.


Since then, Eddie had won the title back so that we could have yet another awesome rematch here tonight.

I'm tempted to say that this sequel wasn't quite as good as the original Mysterio/Guerrero classic, but honestly, it was still so good that you simply couldn't fault it.

After a dramatic contest, Eddie landed a big-time frog splash to pick up the win.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Eddie Guerrero

As we went into an elaborate, cinematic advertisement for Sting vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan at Starrrcade, one thing became apparent at this point - this was one of those shows where Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan had enjoyed a beverage or two.

It's a shame to hear the late, great legend fumbling through his lines.

No Disqualification Match for the World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Curt Hennig vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair

WCW War Games 1997 - Curt Hennig defended the US title against Ric Flair
Ric Flair and Curt Hennig had been at war since the latter had turned on the former -and the entire Four Horsemen- at Fall Brawl 1997 and joined the New World Order.

Tonight, the two looked to settle the score once and for all in a no holds barred brawl which, though it dragged in places, was still a mostly enjoyable affair.

After a lengthy battle, Hennig countered a figure four by blasting Nature Boy with the US title belt, and this one was over.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Curt Hennig

When that, it was onto our main event.

World War 3
60 Man Battle Royal featuring Diamond Dallas Page, The Giant, Scott Hall, Buff Bagwell, Randy Savage, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine, Barry Darsow, Psicosis, Super Calo, Lex Luger, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and more

WCW World War 3 1997 - Randy Savage, Buff Bagwell, The Giant in th 60 man battle royal
The nWo contingent came out for this one showing some love to the recently injured Syxx by wearing his t-shirt.

Meanwhile, half the fun was watching which completely random wrestlers were involved for WCW.

As well as the names listed above, we also had the undoubtable El Dandy, Kendal Windham, Bobby Blaze, Finlay, and dozens more.

That was more fun than the snoozefest that was the first part of the match. Even the new rules -that leaving the ring in any way, not just over the top rope, would count as an elimination- did anything to liven this one up.

When things went down to one ring for the inevitable battle between the New World Order and WCW's top level stars, things did get genuinely exciting, with a solid brawl that ended with The Giant and DDP cleaning house until only Scott Hall remained for the nWo.

It was at that point that WCW did come up with a genuinely creative surprise.

Hall pointed towards the entrance as the nWo's music hit. Both the fans and the announcers believed it would be Kevin Nash -who had failed to appear at the start of the match- finally putting in an appearance, but instead it was Hollywood Hogan, who helped Hall even the score and take the fight to Giant and Page.

Dallas got dumped, but before The Giant could win his Second World War 3 in a row, Sting descended from the rafters.

The announcers couldn't believe that Sting was here, nor could they believe that Sting eliminated The Giant. I can't believe that not once did any of the announcers -all intelligent men apparently- realise that Sting was now seven feet tall or that he'd both grown and dyed his hair, or that he looked in every possible way to be Kevin Nash in a Sting costume.

Of course, he was Kevin Nash in a Sting costume, and that meant Scott Hall was your World War 3 1997 winner.
Your Winner: Scott Hall

Afterwards, the nWo, including former D-Generation-X man Rick Rude, all held a celebration in the ring using DDP as their piƱata.




World Championship Wrestling's recent run of excellent pay per view offerings had finally come to an end with World War 3.

Yes, there were some good parts (Flair/Hennig and another incredible Mysterio/Guerrero outing spring immediately to mind), but any highlights were sandwiched between action which, whilst not necessarily bad, wasn't particularly memorable or exciting either.

Watch the two matches above, and maybe check it the ending of the battle royal for the ridiculousness of the announcers believing seven foot Kevin Nash was legitimately Sting, but otherwise not a show you need to see.





1997 events reviewed so far:
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
  11. WWF - King of the Ring 1997
  12. WCW - Great American Bash 1997 
  13. WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede 
  14. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1997 
  15. WWF - Summerslam 1997
  16. WCW - Road Wild 1997
  17. WWF - In Your House 17: Ground Zero
  18. WCW - Fall Brawl 1997
  19. WWF - One Night Only 1997
  20. WWF - In Your House 18: Badd Blood
  21. WCW - Halloween Havoc 1997
  22. WWF - Survivor Series 1997
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