Date: November 22, 1998
Show: World War 3
Rules: 60 men compete in three rings. Once it’s down to 20, they all converge into one ring.
Stipulation: #1 contender for WCW Championship at Starrcade
Roster (60): Chris Adams, Chris Benoit, Bobby Blaze, Ciclope, Damien, El Dandy, Barry Darsow, the Disciple, Disco Inferno, Bobby Duncum Jr., Bobby Eaton, Mike Enos, Scott Hall, Héctor Garza, the Giant, Glacier, Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Eddy Guerrero, Hammer, Kenny Kaos, Kaz Hayashi, Horace Hogan, Barry Horowitz, Prince Iaukea, Chris Jericho, Kanyon, Billy Kidman, Konnan, Lenny Lane, Lex Luger, Lizmark Jr., Lodi, Dean Malenko, Steve McMichael, Ernest Miller, Chip Minton, Rey Misterio Jr., Kevin Nash, Scott Norton, La Parka, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, Psychosis, Scott Putski, Stevie Ray, The Renegade, Scotty Riggs, Perry Saturn, Silver King, Norman Smiley, Scott Steiner, Super Caló, Johnny Swinger, Booker T, Tokyo Magnum, Villano V, Vincent, Kendall Windham, Wrath and Alex Wright
I didn’t get into WCW until sometime in 1998, shortly before this event. I actually didn’t start watching WCW simply because I’m a wrestling fan, but because I was a huge fan of the Nintendo 64 game WCW/nWo Revenge. Me and my best friend rented that game so many times that it gave us enough familiarity with the product to want to start checking it out. While I didn’t watch this match on PPV, I did watch it scrambled, back when that was a thing.
World War 3 was a rather short-lived match gimmick in WCW that sounded outright epic to someone who hadn’t seen one before. Royal Rumble has 30 men? World War 3 has 60. Royal Rumble has one ring? World War 3 has three rings! Having watched them all a few years ago, I discovered that sometimes bigger isn’t exactly better. The ones for 95, 96 and 97 were complete clusterfucks. Like with that Battle Bowl match, there’d be picture-in-picture, only for that we’d see the different rings while so much battle royal brawling is going on that you can’t even keep track of what’s what and who’s who. There’s no drama and nothing worth paying attention to.
Then when you get to the end of it, there’s always some kind of dumb swerve that kills it. Real life situations makes this edition of the World War 3 match infamous, but yet it’s still easily the best one. It’s too bad that it’s the last one because they really started to get a good handle on things. No picture-in-picture. Just constant focus changes with it explicitly saying which ring it is on the screen and a tendency to not have anything too important going on in two rings at the same time. There’s a counter of how many guys are still in the rings at any given time, making things easier to follow.
Not only that, but there’s actual story going on throughout the match instead of only getting interesting once there are 20 left.
Prior to the match, we get over five minutes of introductions as nearly the entire WCW roster empties out the back and into the ring. There’s one Turnertron video playing throughout that zips through all 60 names in different fonts. The commentators keep bringing up that Hollywood Hogan isn’t there. Cute thing in there is that some of the guys had matches earlier in the night and this includes Jericho, who’s selling his match against Bobby Duncum Jr. from minutes earlier.
Finally, the rings fill up and we’re off. Ring 2 is a ring where nothing is really going on, despite being where most of the big names are. They’re just killing time so most of them can stick around for the final round. Ring 1 is made up of a lot of smaller wrestlers with name value, such as Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Alex Wright and Disco Inferno as they share the ring with the Giant. Giant remains in the corner for most of the match, choosing to stay to himself. Then you have Ring 3, where it’s Kevin Nash and 19 jobbers. Nash decides to just go to town and clears the ring in less than three minutes.
Before he gets around to that, there is a funny moment where El Dandy and La Parka eliminate Tokyo Magnum. Then La Parka leaves El Dandy hanging.
Who are you to not high-five El Dandy?
Van Hammer is the last challenge to Nash and puts up enough of a fight, but he too is thrown out of there. That allows Nash to sit back for the next fifteen minutes or so, hanging alone in Ring 3 to catch his breath. Amusingly, his nWo Wolfpac comrade Konnan gestures to him from the second ring that they’ll catch up on things later.
Neat moment in Ring 2 is when former long-time tag partners Stevie Ray and Booker T cross paths. They decide that it isn’t even worth the effort in fighting.
Wow, Alex. Way to show some effort. You’re like me when I’m helping someone lift a couch.
Meanwhile, back in Ring 1, Giant starts going to town on everyone. This leads to everyone in the ring going after him all at once. It doesn’t work out so well.
Disco Inferno tries to rally the troops, but Chris Benoit figures he’d be safer in attacking Disco and hoping that they survive long enough to be in the final 20. Ring 2 whittles down enough that they get that. Everyone converges onto Ring 2, although Saturn and the Cat get themselves disqualified by leaving the ring and fighting to the back. A lot of the smaller guys are removed in one fell swoop and soon we’re down to various factions sticking together. nWo Hollywood has Scott Steiner, Scott Norton and the Giant. nWo Wolfpac has Kevin Nash, Lex Luger and Konnan. The Four Horsemen has Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Mongo McMichael. Scott Hall is out on his own. Then you have other independent wildcards like Booker T and Wrath.
One of the stories going on in the match is the status of Scott Hall. He’s been kicked out of nWo Hollywood and they’ve been doing some awesome teasing of he and Nash getting back together. One of the better instances is when they team up to beat on the Giant together and would have him out if not for the interference by the other Hollywood members.
When they’re down to ten, WCW newcomer Bam Bam Bigelow runs out and tries to enter the ring. The survivors fight him off until security pulls him out. Soon Goldberg rushes out and they start going at it until a dozen or so security guards pull them apart. During all this, the competitors in the ring take a break a watch on.
With only a handful of guys left, Nash steps forward and points at the Giant, who has since lost his Hollywood allies. Giant is ready to fight them all off on his own, but he’s overwhelmed and gets thrown over the top by his remaining enemies. Scott Hall makes sure to wave him off as he leaves the ringside area.
Our final three are Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Lex Luger. Nash and Luger make a friendly, “What happens happens,” gesture and it becomes a three-way brawl. Luger is the first person to knock Nash over the whole match and it allows him to take apart Hall. For this final World War 3 match, they added a stipulation that pins and submissions are allowed. On one hand, it’s a moot point as nobody is shown getting pinned or submitting, but I guess it’s just there for the sake of having Luger pick up Hall in the Torture Rack. That opens him up for Nash to get back up and take both of them out with a running boot. Nash is the last man standing and wins a shot against Goldberg at Starrcade.
Did I mention that Kevin Nash was booking this? Because he was. Nash wrote that he should dominate this 60-man match so that he could go on to main event the biggest show of the year and end Goldberg’s streak. It’s something that in hindsight it’s easy to gnash at the teeth about (no pun intended, seriously), but at the time, I was all for it. People talk about how nuts WCW was to ever end Goldberg’s streak, but here’s the thing: Goldberg’s streak was boring as hell.
They refused to ever book him properly in the first place and only put him in midcard matches against guys who had zero chance. His streak and ho-hum title reign started to make him a borderline heel because they were running low on interesting challengers and whenever he fought another face (ie. Sting and DDP), it was too easy to root for them. Personally, I thought that when it was Nash’s time to step to the plate, the whole streak concept had run its course.
Unfortunately, they went about it all in the most convoluted (AKA “WCW”) way. The match ended in a clusterfuck and led to the amazingly stupid Fingerpoke of Doom where the nWo came back together under Hogan’s leadership. And that was the beginning of the end for WCW.
Tomorrow, we return to the WWF for Vince McMahon’s foolproof plot to escape Steve Austin’s wrath.