PPV REVIEW: WCW World War 3 1998

WCW World War 3 1998 Review - Event poster
November 22, 1998
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan 

There can't be many who don't know the story of World Championship Wrestling's demise. 

A company that once had it all -the stars, the money, the ratings- eventually became a victim of its own success and imploded under the weight of huge egos and even more huge mistakes.

If there's one pivotal moment in WCW's history that serves not only as the perfect example of their lunacy but as the very catalyst for their downfall, it's the incident known as the Fingerpoke of Doom.

On that fateful night in Georgia, Kevin Nash strolled to the ring as the WCW Champion, having cashed in a title opportunity and ended Goldberg's undefeated streak, a streak that was the hottest thing in the company at the time.

Nash then took a poke to the chest from Hulk Hogan, hit the mat, and essentially handed over the title.

As the old saying goes, it all went downhill from there.

But what does all of this have to do with World War 3 1998?

In a word, everything.

You see, before Nash could get his Starrcade match with Goldberg, he first had the small matter of a 60-Man World War 3 Battle Royal to win.

This, ladies and gentleman, was the beginning of the end.

Welcome to the Fourth Annual World War 3

WCW World War 3 1998 - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' HeenanOur show tonight began with an opening video package which flashed through the names and pictures of all sixty men competing in tonight's big battle royal.

If you didn't already have epilepsy before, you certainly did after watching this video, that's how fast and in-your-face it was.

Less in-your-face, though not by much, was our usual host Tony Schiavone and his colleagues Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

Apparently, Hulk Hogan was not here tonight, and for some reason, this came as a shock to the announcers.

Clearly, they hadn't been paying attention to Hogan's behind-the-scenes career one bit.

Tony, Bobby, and Mike also reminded us of the bitter rivalry between Diamond Dallas Page and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart before sending us to Mean Gene Okerlund.

Kids, Get Your Parents' Permission

In between shilling the hotline (1-900-909-9900), Mean Gene took some time out to speculate on the winner of tonight's battle royal.

Refusing to name his pick, Okerlund merely hinted that, rather than one of the bigger guys like Kevin Nash, it might be a smaller competitor who would use their "high moves."

I didn't even realise Rob Van Damn was working for WCW at this time.

All jokes aside, it was onto our opening match.

Glacier vs. Wrath

WCW World War 3 1998 - Glacier gets set for a match against Wrath
If you let out a loud groan when you saw the two names above, don't worry:

You're not the only one.

Wrath had debuted back at Uncensored 1997, attacking Glacier during that ill-advised "Blood Runs Cold" feud that was meant to capitalise on the popularity of Mortal Kombat but which only succeeded in boring everyone to tears.

The two had then gone on to face off at The Great American Bash 1997 in a match which did little to generate excitement for that whole story.

Yet that was then and this was now...and things were very different.

Glacier was now a heel, and Wrath was in the middle of a short-lived Monster Goldberg Push that would eventually be derailed at the hands of Kevin Nash.

For now, however, the former Adam Bomb was hot stuff, with the crowd firmly behind him.

OK, so the match itself was never anything more than mediocre, but with the audience popping huge for everything Wrath did, it somehow worked.

It could have benefited from being a few minutes shorter, sure, but it was a serviceable way to keep Wrath's streak intact thanks to his Meltdown pump-handle slam finisher.
Your Winner: Wrath

WCW World War 3 1998 - Bret 'The Hitman' Hart cut a backstage promo on all his enemies in "The WCW"
Prior to the next match, we got a long video package in which Bret 'The Hitman' Hart lambasted everyone he'd feuded with so far in "The WCW," including Booker T, Chris Benoit, Lex Luger and his recent rival, Diamond Dallas Page.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who was bothered by Bret calling the company "The WCW," though I'll forgive him this once on account of this wonderfully hilarious line:


Pretty sure he definitely did have muscles, Bret.

Stevie Ray (w/ Vincent) vs. Konnan

You know, getting through these 1998 WCW PPVs has been hard going, and it's partly because of matches like this.

Stevie Ray vs. Konnan would have been a bathroom break match even on a below-average episode of Nitro, so what it's doing on prime PPV is anyone's guess.

WCW World War 3 1998 - Booker T confronts Stevie Ray about his association with the nWo
As you might have guessed, the match was 50 shades of meh.

In the end, Konnan avoided getting wallopped with the slapjack, but was so unhappy about Stevie even bringing the thing into the ring that he apparently snapped and just starting clobbering on him, even shoving the referee when he tried to intervene.

That brought about the DQ, and this one was over.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Stevie Ray

Afterwards, Booker T ran in to warn Konnan back off and tried to urge his brother to leave "those nWo pussies."

Alas, Stevie wasn't for leaving and told Booker to leave him alone.

"Special Martial Arts Challenge Match"
Sonny Onoo & Ernest Miller vs. Kaz Hayashi & Perry Saturn

Weirdly, I'm friends with Sonny Onoo on Facebook, so I won't be too harsh on this one.

WCW World War 3 1998 - Sonny Onoo & Ernest Miller faced Perry Saturn & Kaz Hayashi
Still, you can't help but believe that this "special martial arts challenge" was a step down for Perry Saturn, who was just coming off the back of a long, heated rivalry with Raven.

In case you're wondering "Special Martial Arts Challenge" basically meant a regular tag team match with Sonny wearing a karate suit and laying in some ineffective kicks against Kaz Hayashi, who was making his PPV debut here.

Like the earlier Glacier/Wrath outing, this one could have benefited from being about five minutes shorter.

Had they kept it brief, it could have perhaps worked as a quick little comedy outing. Instead,  it went over ten minutes and really began to drag.

When Ernest Miller kicked Saturn in the head and Onoo got the three count it came as a relief, though probably not to Saturn, who must have really pissed somebody off backstage.
Your Winners: Sonny Onoo and Ernest Miller

Out in the "Internet Location" Chris Jericho - who had been one of the hottest stars in the world- talked about his upcoming match with -sigh- Bobby Duncam Jr.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Juventud Guerrera vs. Billy Kidman

WCW World War 3 1998 - Eddie Guerrero and the LWO confront Rey Mysterio Jr.
Prior to the match, Mean Gene stopped Juventud Guerrera in the middle of his entrance to confront him about wearing a Latino World Order t-shirt.

This brought out LWO leader Eddie Guerrero, who confirmed that yes, Juvi was indeed LWO-4-LIFE.

In turn, this brought out fellow LWO member Rey Mysterio Jr, who was angry because Eddie bringing Juvi into the stable was the reason he (Mysterio) had been denied a cruiserweight title match...

...Yeah, I don't know either.

Irate about this whole confusing thing, Mysterio promised to do something about this injustice before letting Guerrera and Kidman get on with their match.

And man, what a match it was.

Probably the best cruiserweight match since Eddie and Rey's classic at Halloween Havoc 1997, this was dramatic, exciting, and made innovative use of the three-ring set-up.

The two tore it up with gusto, creating a match that was easily going to be the best thing on the card...

At least until the finish.

With Juvi ready to huricanrana Kidman off the top, Rey ran in and held onto Kidman's pants so that he stayed where he was.

A Shooting Star Press later, and we had a new champion.
Your Winner and New Cruiserweight Champion: Billy Kidman

Afterwards, Eddie told Rey he was either in or out.

Naturally, good guy Rey handed in his LWO membership and got chased off by his former teammates.

El Dandy was there.

Nobody doubted him.

Scott Steiner (w/ Buff Bagwell) vs. Rick Steiner

WCW World War 3 1998 - Scott Steiner & Buff Bagwell pose

If World Championship Wrestling proved anything over the years, it's that they were pretty good at flogging a dead horse.

At the previous month's Fall Brawl, we finally got the big pay off to the Steiner Brother feud, and if things had ended there, everyone would have been happy.

Instead, they kept it going to tonight, where Scott Steiner had to bring his own referee with him.

You see, Steiner had been mean to some of the referees on WCW programming, and so all of WCW's officials had banded together to say -in the exact words of Tony Schiavone- "that they would not referee a Scott Steiner match or a Big Poppa Pump match ever again."

I suppose there was a subtle difference between Scott Steiner and Big Poppa Pump, though who knows what it was.

Not that this was much of a Scott Steiner match...or Bigg Poppa Pump match for that matter.

WCW World War 3 1998 - Bill Goldberg celebrates with Rick SteinerScotty had the nWo job squad beat up his brother backstage when wheel him out for a two-on-one mauling at the hands of the two Daddies - Big Bad Booty and Buff.

Rick Steiner battled back, even taking out Scott's bogus referee, but it all proved too much for him.

In the end, WCW World Champion Goldberg ran out to confront Scott, who flipped him the bird.

The champ then proceeded to destroy everybody in sight and whatever this had been, it was finally over.
No Contest.

I'll take this moment to remind you that Goldberg was the WCW World Heavyweight Champion here, and his only role on the show was to save Rick Steiner and put in a cameo during the battle royal...more of which later.

Scott Hall (w/ nWo Hollywood) vs. Kevin Nash

A lot had happened to Scott Hall since he and former Outsiders partner Kevin Nash first went at it back at Fall Brawl.

WCW World War 3 1998 - Big Sexy Kevin Nash
For one thing, he'd finally sobered up.

For another, he'd decked Eric Bischoff on Nitro for reasons I don't recall and don't care to look up.

What I do recall -because I just this second watched it- is that this match began with Bischoff coming to the ring and ordering nWo Hollywood to turn their backs on Hall.

They did so with gusto, prompting Nash to run out and make the save.

Yet rather than give the crowd the big Outsiders reunion they wanted, Nash merely refused to give Hall the Too Sweet sign and wandered off instead.
No Contest

That whole thing could have been done on Nitro.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World Television Champion Chris Jericho (w/ Ralphus) vs. Bobby Duncam Jr

Look, I don't mean to rag on Bobby Duncam Jr, but you can't help but feel as though this match was Chris Jericho's punishment for getting himself over during his "feud" with Goldberg.

WCW World War 3 1998 - Chris Jericho & Ralphus
Also of note. this was the first PPV appearance not only of Bobby Duncam Jr but also Ralphus, who looked completely awkward throughout the whole thing.

The match itself was OK, but the crowd really gave no damns about Duncam Jr, and completely switched off.

In fact, if you look, you'll see the fans looking anywhere except towards the ring throughout the entirety of the match.

The near silence that greeted this one really sucked the life out of this one and it was a chore to watch.

That's not to say that Jericho, and even, Duncam Jr, didn't put some effort in, but alas, such efforts really didn't pay off.

After a long bit of nothing exciting, Ralphus distracted the referee and Jericho waffled his opponent with the title to score the fall.
Your Winner and still WCW TV Champion: Chris Jericho

Next up, it was time for World War 3.

World War 3: Sixty Man Battle Royal

Featuring: Alex Wright, Bobby Blaze, Barry Darsow, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Chip Minton, Chris Adams, Chris Benoit, Ciclope, Saturn, Damien, The Disciple, Disco Inferno, Eddie Guerrero, El Dandy, The Giant, Hector Garza, Horace Hogan, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Wrath, Ernest Miller, Scott Steiner, Scott Norton, Scott Hall, Scotty Riggs (basically, all the Scotts), Rey Mysterio Jr., Barry Horowitz, Bobby Eaton, Stevie Ray, Billy Kidman, Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, Dean Malenko, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, Kaz Hayashi, Lex Luger, Konnan, Bobby Duncam Jr., Kanyon, Kevin Nash, Johnny Swinger, Renegade, Scott Putski, Silver King, Super Calo, Tokyo Magnum, Van Hammer, Vilanos V, Vincent, Kendal Whindam Jr., Kenny Kaos, La Parka, Lenny Lane, Lizmark Jr., Mike Enos, Lodi, Norman Smiley, Prince Iuekea, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, Glacier

WCW World War 3 1998 - The World War 3 Battle Royal
The show did a really good job of giving all sixty men a proper introduction - not with their own theme music- but at least in a way that you could clearly see -and were told- exactly who was competing.

That was a nice touch, and, weirdly, I quite like that they started off by introducing everybody in more-or-less alphabetical order.

I think that's the OCD side of me kicking in.

The rules this year were slightly different, in that as well as being thrown to the floor, you could also be eliminated by being pinned or submitted.

The weirdest part is this hardly came into play at all.

The only time that it did was a two-second spot in which Scott Steiner slapped Mongo McMichael in a submission move, but the referee stayed over on the other side of the ring, paying no attention to it.

Still, as battle royals go, this was one of the better ones.

Kevin Nash cleaned house in his ring early and then got plenty of time to just hang out and chill for a while. Seriously, you can put your own jokes in there.

When it got down to 20 men, the remaining wrestlers met in one ring to give us some genuinely enjoyable action.

At one point, the recently debuted Bam Bam Bigelow made his first WCW PPV appearance when he ran through the crowd and tried to attack everybody but ended up getting beaten up.

Goldberg ran in for a fantastic pull-apart brawl with the former WWF and ECW star as the remaining battle royal participants just watched.

Finally, the match culminated in Nash eliminating both his Wolfpac teammate Lex Luger and World War 3 1997 winner, Scott Hall.
Your Winner: Kevin Nash

Nash would now go on to face Goldberg at Starrcade 1998.

The Finger Poke of Doom was getting ever closer.

World Championship Wrestling United States Heavyweight Championship
WCW US Champion Diamond Dallas Page vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

WCW World War 3 1998 - Diamond Dallas Page defended the US title against Bret Hart
With challenger Bret Hart playing the uber-heel and challenger Diamond Dallas Page riding a wave of momentum as one of WCW's hottest homegrown stars, both men worked together to create a compelling main event match that worked on every level.

Bret was vicious and yet conniving.

Page was valiant and courageous.

Each man played their roles to perfection to deliver a very solid bout.

Just like Jericho/Duncam Jr., this one suffered in the early going thanks to a lack of crowd reaction, but like the consummate professionals they were, Hart and Page won them over.

At least they did until the finish, which totally put a dampener on the entire thing.

Charles Robinson took a tumble, which allowed Bret Hart to retrieve a pair of brass knuckles from Robinson's pocket, the referee having put them there after they were knocked out of Bret's hand earlier in the match.

Scott Steiner's weird nWo referee then ran in, Page was clocked with the brass knuckles, and the Sharpshooter was applied.

The fake ref then called for the bell, and apparently, that was all she wrote.

Except it wasn't.

Mickie Jay, who was ringside tending to Lil' Naitch, disputed the finish, giving Page enough time to recover, hit the Diamond Cutter, and retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Diamond Dallas Page

As Tony Schiavone reminded us what went down throughout the course of the show, DDP celebrated his big win to bring the fourth and final World War 3 to an end.

After tonight, the World War 3 concept would be shelved for good. The following year, it was replaced by WCW Mayhem, a show designed to promote the video game of the same name.

As I said earlier, reviewing WCW's 1998 PPVs has been a chore over these last few months. With the notable exception of the aforementioned Fall Brawl 1998 (which was mostly very good), every show has been frustrating, disappointing, confusing, or just plain bad.

Tonight's show risked doing just the same, with two scheduled matches not taking place, a bunch of filler on the undercard, and an infuriatingly poor finish to the main event.

That said, the Juvi/Kidman cruiserweight bout was an absolute joy to watch, whilst the actual World War 3 battle royal was by far and away the best one the company had ever produced.

Definitely check out the cruiserweight match, and if you're a battle royal fan give the  60-man a look, otherwise there's nothing much to see here.

1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
  3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
  8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
  9. WCW Slamboree 1998
  10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
  11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
  12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
  13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
  14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
  15. WCW - Road Wild 1998
  16. WWF - Summerslam 1998
  17. WCW - Fall Brawl 1998
  18. WWF - In Your House 24: Breakdown
  19. WWF - In Your House 25: Judgement Day 
  20. WCW - Halloween Havoc 1998
  21. WWF - Survivor Series 1998
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    1. It should have been Bret vs Goldberg as the main event.