127. The Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff and Paul Ellering vs The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger and Tully Blanchard) and J.J. Dillon (Inaugural War Games Match, NWA The Great American Bash 1987)

After two awful War Games matches, it was time for a War Games match that did the gimmick justice! The WWE Network has a ‘Best of War Games’ feature, and the first match on that compilation is the first ever War Games match: NWA’s The Great American Bash 1987! If you can forgive the odd presentation, the WWE Network’s odd editing of the match (the first few minutes are missing), and a damp squib if an ending, this inaugural gimmick match encapsulates everything that was great about War Games…

‘The Match Beyond’, as this match was called, came about after the late, great Dusty Rhodes watch ‘Mad Max: Beyond The Thunderdome.’ Of course, he couldn’t have wrestlers bungee jumping around a domes cage with deadly weapons…but he could have two rings put together with a large cage surrounding the two rings. Just like the original cage gimmick, it was meant to keep the wrestlers in and interferers out: so a top was put on the cage.

Unlike the NXT version of WarGames, this wasn’t focused on high spots and individual wrestlers; instead, it was all about cramped, chaotic brawling. There’s no way out here, and as more wrestlers enter the ring, the more cramped and chaotic the action becomes. Your mileage my vary for this type of wrestling; admittedly, it’s hard to focus on everything going on, as there as is so much happening at once. There’s little to no choreography here, as you would see in the NXT War Games bouts.

Instead, this is a super-heated, violent brawl. There’s no time for fancy moves ; just a lot of punching and using the cage to grate someone’s forehead. It sounds simple…and it is simple, but that is the point. It feels like legitimate fight, something you’d see in a pub on a Saturday night. It is sometimes hard to keep up with action, and the cameramen aren’t sure pf what to focus on sometimes. They might miss a key sequence, or the odd double team move, or cut away before someone geta pummeled. But it is the first gimmick of its kind, so it’s forgiveable.

And the match doesn’t start until everybody enters, and it soon ends in a dull manner. It’s not quite clear that the match is over, and I expected something more after so much chaos.

But those are minor gripes. I doubt the match is for everyone, especially modern wrestling fans: there’s so much going on at the same time, and sometimes it is hard to keep up with what is happening (and who’s on whose team, for fans unfamiliar with wreatling faces of the 1980a). But for those who love unbridled brawls, this will he right up their alley. I loved it, disregarding the odd camera angle here and there and the mediocre finish. Of course, this isn’t the kind of War Games WWE will present at Survivor Series, but this inaugurl War Games match exemplifies eveything that was great about the gimmick.

Hammy’s Rating: **** (out of 5)

(Click here for more of ‘A Wrestling Match A Day‘)


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