More than 30 years ago, on July 4, 1987, the barbaric but extremely entertaining tradition of war games was born at The Great American Bash hosted by the NWA.

It’s been nearly two decades since WCW (formerly NWA) released its latest “War Games” match-up that paired a certain set of rules with unbridled chaos. First, there were no pins, countouts, or disqualifications in the match. However, some time limits have been put in place to stop the instant brutality.

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One superstar from each team started the match in the first five minutes. After the first five minutes, a new team member from the same team entered the fray every two minutes. This continued until every superstar was in a cage with two rings.

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One important note: the match could not end until all the superstars had gathered. This stage is called “The Last Match”.

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NXT will put their own view of the rules as he performs a triple threat version of the match at TakeOver, with the aforementioned core rules underlying the match.

As Jim Ross said in commentary prior to the War Games match at WCW WrestleWar ’92 (more on that match later), “I had the privilege of seeing all of the War Games pay-per-view here and I can tell you after being in the sport 20 years on, there’s nothing more violent, more volatile and more dangerous, fans, than what you’re about to see.”

So, we’ll take a look at five of the greatest matches in War Games history:

Great American Bash ’87: Road Warriors/Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff/Paul Ellering vs Arn Anderson/Ric Flair/Tully Blanchard/Lex Luger/War Machine

There were three Great American Bash events in July 1987. Two of these events included the first two matches in War Games history, but it was the second edition, held on July 31 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, that really stood out. .

Blood—a common theme in War Games matches—was poured from the performers while effective two-team tactics were used. Brilliant sequences were developed in one of the most complete War Games matches of all time.

The creative conclusion came shortly after finalist Paul Ellering entered the match. Ellering, who will lead The Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong to the TakeOver ring for their War Games match, entered the ring with a bracelet full of spikes, a weapon he passed to his teammate, Animal. Horrifyingly, Animal began to thrust spikes into War Machine’s disguised face (who would later become Big Boss in WWE), forcing him into submission.

While this second War Games match set the bar high, it was only a glimpse of what was to come in the years to come.

Great American Bash ’89: Road Warriors/Midnight Express/Steve Williams vs Fabulous Freebirds/Samu/Fatu

Arguably the best war games match of the 80s took place at the 1989 Great American Bash. The Freebirds, Samu and Fatu were escorted to the ring by Paul E. Dangerous (Heyman), while the babyface team was led by Jim Cornette and Ellering.

In the early stages of the match, Jimmy Garvin and Terry Gordy of the Freebirds performed a number for Bobby Eaton of the Midnight Express. That was until Williams took over. He became one of the match’s early highlights when he lifted the larger Gordy over his head in a press slam formation and then lifted him up and down about eight times as his back pressed against the steel cage ceiling.

Match did a wonderful job of preparing for the arrival of the Road Warrior Hawk. Hawke, the anchor of his team, became the last superstar to take part in the match and became the savior of his team, saving the others from a difficult 5v4 situation. “We need Hawke,” chanted the arena as the tension continued to escalate.

As he entered, Hawk threw the double clothesline from the top rope onto Sam and Fatu. From that point on, Hawk completely took over and the babyfaces had the upper hand. At the finish line, Hawke first nailed Garvin with a stiff clothesline from the top rope, then broke his neck. Following this, Hawke recorded a crushing executioner serve that ended the match.

This was the highest manifestation of building up to a satisfactory return.

WCW WrestleWar ’91: Ric Flair/Sid Vicious/Barry Windham/Larry Zbyszko vs. Brian Pillman/Sting/Rick and Scott Steiner

WrestleWar’s third pay-per-view and the first under the WCW banner was one of the greatest main events in the company’s history. This four-on-four version of War Games was bloody, groundbreaking, and intense.

Pillman entered the competition with incredible athleticism, using the top of the cage to hop on Windham and perform a hurricane run. Pillman continued to use the cage to his advantage, and Wyndham’s head was soon bleeding. To illustrate the remorseless nature of the match, Pillman began biting into Windham’s open wound. “It’s like Pillman is obsessed,” Jim Ross said in a comment.

The match, which was already in a state of anarchy, was boosted further with the addition of the Steiner brothers and Sid when it reached the “Match Beyond” phase. More blood began to flow. It was perhaps the bloodiest match in the history of war games.

The conclusion was reached when Sid hit Pillman twice with a powerful bomb, rendering him unconscious. It was at this point that El Gigante (known as The Giant Gonzalez in WWE) entered the match to check on Pillman’s safety, begging the officials to ring the bell, which they did.

WCW WrestleWar ’92: Sting Squadron (Sting/Nikita Koloff/Dustin Rhodes/Ricky Steamboat/Barry Windham) vs. Dangerous Alliance (Arn Anderson/Bobby Eaton/Steve Austin/Rick Rude/Larry Zbyszko)

The second matchup of the War Games, which will take place at WrestleWar pay-per-view, was a tough one to follow as last year’s fight was a classic. This version did the job.

Austin, in his first War Games match, and Wyndham, a War Games veteran, started the game at a fast pace. A few minutes after the start of the match, Austin’s blood began to flow to the point where his face was barely recognizable.

Luckily for Austin, Rude, the US Champion at the time, was there to make the save, and the two of them took down Wyndham, who also began to bleed until the Steamboat entered. When Steamboat, the classic babyface, entered the ring, the arena crumbled.

At some point, Madusa, who, along with Dangerous Alliance, accompanied Dangerous Alliance to the ring, began to climb the cage with a giant mobile phone, which was the main element of the image of Dangerous Alliance. She threw him into the ring to be used as a weapon by his comrades. However, the world champion Sting, who was not yet in the match, met her at the top of the cage to chase after her.

“Now is the time for a bloody battle royale,” Jesse Ventura said in a comment after all the fighters entered.

At the finish line, Zbyszko used steel from a turnbuckle he had taken apart to try and hit Sting, but Sting ducked and Zbyszko caught teammate Eaton’s arm. This allowed Sting to apply an armlock, forcing a submission and awarding victory to Sting’s squadron.

Zbyszko’s mistake marked the end of his journey as part of the Dangerous Alliance, a stable that did not remain untouched for long after this event.

Fall Brawl ’94: Dustin & Dusty Rhodes/Nasty Boys vs. Arn Anderson/Bunkhouse Buck/Robert Parker/Terry Funk

Unfortunately, once the concept of “War Games” became a WCW Fall Brawl tradition in the mid to late 90s, the quality of the matches began to decline. Variants of the nWo began to take over and the programs became less attractive.

The only exception came a couple of years before the birth of the nWo at Fall Brawl ’94, when Dusty and Dustin Rhodes teamed up with the Nasty Boys to take on the foursome of Anderson, Buck, Colonel Parker and hardcore icon Funk herself.

The match was built on the unexpected inclusion of Parker (manager) in the fight after the executive board eliminated one of the original team members, Maine.

This wild card, combined with Anderson’s recent betrayal of Dustin Rhodes, created an exciting atmosphere and the match went well.

The clash included an entertaining kick-off in which Dustin and Anderson, two outstanding players, played for five minutes, as well as all the expected pandemonium that comes with War Games.

The match ended when Dusty Rhodes, the last member of the match, cleaned the house and applied a four-leg lock to Parker while the Nasty Boys constantly dropped their elbows on him. Officials called for a call, and Rhodes’ reunion was a success.