Six of the Best – WCW World War 3/Mayhem

I decided to group Mayhem in with World War 3 when it came to looking at WCW November Pay Per Views, because otherwise there’d only be four events to pick from when it came to this particular list (Which is only three when you think about it considering that World War 3 98 is one of the very worst shows of all time)

As always, this is just my own personal picks and it isn’t supposed to be some sort of objective list or anything. If I leave out a match that you think warrants inclusion then please feel free to put it down in the comments section below. As with previous lists, I’ll be listing the matches in chronological order.

So without further to do, let’s get to it!

World War 3 1995
Ric Flair Vs Sting

This match all came about due to Flair betraying Sting (Ric Flair? Betray Sting? How unusual!!) at the previous months Halloween Havoc. Sting had warned Flair prior to that event that if The Nature Boy stuck a big old knife in his back then he’d unleash heck upon him in retribution, which is just what he does here. Sting’s general foul mood makes this feel a bit different from the standard Flair/Sting match, as he spends most of it destroying Flair in a cold and almost mechanical manner.

Sting eschewing his usual exuberant demeanour in his quest for vengeance only makes Flair that much more desperate to hold him at bay and avoid the beating he deserves. The only downside to the match is that Flair does a huge number on Sting’s leg when he finally manages to cut him off, but Sting doesn’t really sell it that much during the finishing sequence. You could argue that he has such hate in his heart for Flair that the adrenaline is blocking it out I suppose, but the leg work is so vicious that it’s shame to see Sting shake it off so easily. Despite that though, this is a really entertaining and different Flair Vs Sting battle, and I enjoyed it a lot for that reason.

World War 3 1996
Ultimo Dragon Vs Rey Mysterio Jr

This is a very good match but it’s also quite a strange one at the same time. The strangeness comes from the fact that Dragon takes pretty much all of it and spends the vast majority of the match pounding on Rey with little response. Whilst watching for the first time, I felt that the reason Dragon was taking so much of the match was because Rey was going to absorb it all and get the upset win. However, the match eventually ends with Dragon splatting Rey with a brutal looking slingshot powerbomb to pick up the three count, so Rey doesn’t even get to win either.

Despite the oddness of the match structure, the work contained within the match itself is absolutely top notch, as you’d expect from two such talented grapple merchants. Rey sells the beat down from Dragon very well and the crowd stay with him throughout the bout and cheer whenever he gets a spurt of offence. This really is too much Dragon though, and in reality the match is really only one step above a squash. When Rey does finally get cooking near the contests conclusion, it’s the usual great high flying you would expect with him, and this combined with the crispness of the work is enough to make this a really good match in spite of the one sided nature of it.

World War 3 1997
Eddie Guerrero Vs Rey Mysterio Jr

This is the big Pay Per View rematch of Halloween Havoc 97 and, though it falls short of the quality of the original, it’s still an enjoyable match. Eddie and Rey fall into the trap that they would fall into more than once in their battles with one another, as it really feels at times like they’re trying too hard to have as great a match as Havoc 97. As a result, sometimes spots and counters don’t quite go as the two men would want them to and they’re forced to cover for them as a result.

I should stress though that this is still a really fun match, especially when Eddie starts turning up his heel mannerisms to 11 to really rile up the crowd. It’s one of those matches that’s really good in a vacuum but only disappoints when put up against Havoc 97. In some ways, they were a victim of their own success here. I also question why they had to do a rematch so soon after Havoc anyway? It would have made much more sense to let things breathe for a few months before coming back to the rivalry again. Despite the comparative disappointment however, this is a great match, just not a greatest match of all time candidate like its elder sibling.

World War 3 1997
No Disqualifications
Curt Hennig Vs Ric Flair

Ironic how Flair had to do battle with a man he betrayed at this very event in 1995 when, in 1997, it was himself who was seeking revenge on a man who had betrayed him. The man in this case was Curt Hennig, who had turned on the Horsemen back at Fall Brawl in the War Games and aided the nWo to yet another tedious main event victory. Due to Hennig’s vile act of betrayal, Flair is gunning for blood here and the match is a brawl from start to finish as consequence.

Both men wail on each other at will, with stiff chops getting doled out from both sides. Both men also target the others leg and are both limping by the bouts conclusion. Flair even goes to the extreme of diving off the top rope to the outside with an axe handle smash, which is something you rarely ever saw from him. Flair is great as the underdog fighting from underneath to earn some semblance of vengeance, resorting to all sorts of violent attacks to weaken his foe.

The pace is pretty deliberate, but that really didn’t bother me as I was into the story being told. This felt like two gladiators leaving it all in the ring in a good old fashioned quest for survival and revenge. It feels at times that both men are draining one another of their very life forces as they brutally fight on. When Flair targets Hennig’s leg with a chair, the fans lose their minds at the hated villain finally getting some comeuppance. Sadly, because this is WCW, Flair has to lose the feud ending match against the nWo member, but he’s at least protected somewhat in the finish as Hennig clocks him with the US Title belt whilst writhing in agony in the Figure Four to pick up a last gasp desperate victory.

It’s a suitable type of ending for such a draining fight, and if Flair had to lose, it was probably the best way of doing it. It still would have been nice to see Flair crank that hold in and force Hennig to cry uncle however, but WCW wasn’t really in the habit of giving its fan base what it wanted, which is probably why it isn’t around anymore.

Mayhem 1999
Jeff Jarrett Vs Chris Benoit

This was a semi-final match in possibly one of the worst tournaments of all time, a 32 person one to crown a new WCW Champion following Sting being stripped of the title for hitting a ref. The tournament featured short, mostly horrible matches, and most of the matches had unsatisfying cheap endings. Thankfully the semi-finals and final were at least given some time and were on the whole pretty decent, with this match between Jarrett and Benoit being the best of the bunch in my opinion.

This match features decent work from both men but also benefits greatly from a hot and responsive Canadian crowd, who are loudly and determinedly behind their fellow Canadian. The fact the match is the opener also means the crowd hasn’t been burnt out by 11 previous matches (Yes, this was a 12 match show) and are thus able to really get into things. I could have done without the interference from The Harris Boys and Dustin Rhodes during the finish, but sadly Vince Russo was booking at this stage and felt that a clean Benoit win would be a bad idea for…reasons.

Mayhem 2000
3 Count (Shane Helms and Shannon Moore) Vs Jung Dragons (Kaz Hayashi and Jimmy Yang) Vs Jamie Noble and Evan Karagias

Noble and Karagias had been members of the Dragons and 3 Count respectively before getting kicked out and forming a wacky mismatched tag team. This is a wild spot fest with very little resting, which always worked great as a way to fire up the crowd in the first half of the crowd. The problem is that they never actually followed through on pushing any of these guys, meaning that the fans started to see them only as lower card spot monkeys.

Karagias sticks out a bit here as the obvious weak link in the match, but the other five wrestlers all range from good to great and the match is very entertaining and exciting as a result. The mandatory Finisher Madness™ section of the match is followed by a string of dives to pop the crowd, with the last one being dealt out by Dragon’s manager Leia Meow to a great reaction. It’s just a shame that WCW never capitalised on these great matches and did anything with these teams other than have them fight each other in openers for perpetuity.

Honourable Mentions

Diamond Dallas Page Vs Johnny B Badd (World War 3 1995), Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki Vs Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto (World War 3 1995), Yuji Nagata Vs Ultimo Dragon (World War 3 1997), Raven Vs Scotty Riggs (World War 3 1997), Bret Hart Vs Chris Benoit (Mayhem 99) Shawn Stasiak and Chuck Palumbo Vs Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page (Mayhem 2000)

Well thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and please feel free to add your own opinions in the comments section below.

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You can see what Brian Bayless thought about Mid-South wrestling from the 23rd of February 1984 by clicking right HERE

And finally, Logan Scisco has been watching some more 1995 era WCW with an edition of Saturday Night from the 18th of March 1995. You can see what he thought about the beginning stages of the Blue Bloods tag team by clicking right HERE