What the World Was Watching: World War 3 (1995)

Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan are calling the matches and they are live from Norfolk, Virginia.

Gene Okerlund interviews Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Sting.  The crowd gives Hogan a mixed reaction as he talks about how he has not fully embraced the dark side and is going back to his babyface persona.  He sheds his black gear, which Sting tosses into a black container that explodes.  The problem is that the fire gets to be too much, so Sting has to keep going back to the container to pour water on it or keep down the smoke.  WCW technicians are eventually forced to put it out.  Savage tells Sting that he is cool with him again as Sting acts like a star-struck teenager.  Hogan says that Savage’s arm is not actually hurt and goes into a crazy rant about a “rag sheet” that said the Giant was going to win – the rag sheet in question being a copy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer – and how the Internet has the “real scoops.”  The Observer copy is burned as regular fans at home have no idea what Hogan is talking about.

Opening Contest for the Television Championship and the Diamond Doll:  Johnny B. Badd (Television Champion) (44-5-3) beats Diamond Dallas Page (w/the Diamond Doll) (25-3-2) after the Badd Mood at 12:34:

In a departure from his usual ring attire, Page only wears long tights.  Those make him seem more legit.  Page works the crowd wonderfully, hiding behind the Doll when Badd comes after him on the arena floor and calling women in the front row “bimbos.”  The Doll refuses to give Page his requested tens, giving Badd a ten-plus when he floors Page with a clothesline.  The crowd reaction to that is a testament to how well Page has made that part of his gimmick throughout the year.  A hot series of near-falls follow, with Badd nearly winning with a sit out powerbomb, crucifix, and a dangerous Tombstone piledriver.  After that Page ends up on the floor, succumbing to the Badd Mood and losing the Doll as a result.  The finish was flat but everything up to that was exactly what a promoter wants an opening match to do.  Rating:  ***½

The Diamond Doll embraces Badd after the match, although she is still in shock that she is no longer with Page.

Call 1-900-909-9900 to find out the latest about the WWF’s steroid scandal!

Okerlund interviews Badd and the Doll, with Badd saying that the Doll has a choice about whether to be his manager.  The Doll says she is overwhelmed by everything that has happened.

Taped Fist Match:  Big Bubba Rogers (29-11-2) beats Hacksaw Jim Duggan (36-9-2) via knockout after V.K. Wallstreet’s interference at 9:14:

Since this feud has revolved around cheap shots, Duggan keeps the theme going by attacking Rogers during his entrance.  Knockout rules govern the bout, as a wrestler can only win by keeping their opponent down for a ten count.  The expected slow brawl drags on as enough punches are thrown to program a Mortal Kombat game.  Rogers tapes Duggan to the top rope, weakly running into Duggan’s fist when he tries to mount an attack.  Duggan floors Rogers with the three-point stance clothesline and blasts an interfering Wallstreet with his 2×4, but Wallstreet manages to throw a chain to Rogers before taking the blow and Rogers blasts Duggan with it to earn his thirtieth singles win of the year.  This should have been cut in half because it killed a hot crowd.  Rating:  ½*

Okerlund interviews Ric Flair.  Flair calls out all the big names and vows to rule WCW one more time.

Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto (w/Sonny Onoo) defeat Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki when Nakano pins Ozaki after a guillotine leg drop at 9:14:

Mike Tenay, WCW’s resident professor of all foreign wrestling, joins the commentary team and discusses how this is an inter-promotional tag team match between All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, represented by Nakano and Hokuto, and JWP Joshi Puroresu, represented by Suzuki and Ozaki.  Casual American fans only knew of Nakano due to her run as WWF’s Women’s Champion earlier in the year.  Heenan cracks a lot of gender jokes to start and when he realizes Schiavone and Tenay are not putting up with that he just lets them take over.  Onoo’s presence telegraphs who the bigger deal is in this match and positions Nakano and Hokuto as heels.  Fans pop big for a double Boston Crab spot from Suzuki and Ozaki and are in awe when the babyfaces each give Nakano two flying double stomps.  Nakano does not sell that long, though, and gives way to Ozaki and Hokuto dropping each other on their heads with half nelson suplex and German suplex variations.  The match becomes a wild tornado tag from that point as Hokuto missile dropkicks the babyfaces and somersault topes them on the floor.  A Doomsday Device fails to put Ozaki away, so Nakano hits her guillotine leg drop to earn the pin.  American wrestling fans were just not used to seeing this kind of stuff from women’s wrestlers in 1995.  It was largely a spot fest, but a very entertaining one.  Rating:  ***

Okerlund interviews Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart.  Hart says that Luger has all of the tools to be the next WCW Champion.  Luger forgets what camera he needs to look at, appearing to read cue cards for his promo about how he is going to annihilate Savage later in the evening.

United States Championship Match:  Kensuke Sasaki (Champion w/Sonny Onoo) (1-1) beats Chris Benoit (8-1-1) after a fisherman’s buster at 9:59:

Benoit earned this title match by beating Sasaki two weeks ago on Monday Nitro.  He is changing his look to be less jobberific, eliminating the star that sat on the rear end portion of his trunks.  Onoo reveals during the match that after getting kicked off WCW Pro that new arrangements have been made for New Japan at Starrcade.  This is Benoit’s worst match in WCW up to this point as he and Sasaki have little chemistry and the match never clicks.  After a long feeling out process, Benoit scores near-falls with a flying headbutt and super hurricanrana and gets to the ropes to escape Strangle Hold Beta.  Trying to match Sasaki’s power striking is a fool’s errand, though, and Sasaki bowls over Benoit with a lariat and finishes with a fisherman’s buster.  Rating:  **

Okerlund interviews the Kevin Sullivan, the Giant, and Jimmy Hart.  Sullivan says that the Dungeon of Doom will take no prisoners in the World War 3 battle royal.  The Giant vows to kick Hulk Hogan’s butt to Kalamazoo.

Okerlund interviews Randy Savage, who vows to prove that he is the total package in a few minutes.  When asked about his arm, he says that he is a million percent healthy and he always thinks positive.

Lex Luger (w/Jimmy Hart) (7-3) defeats Randy Savage (22-3) via submission to an armbar at 5:25:

This the rubber match of the Luger-Savage feud as each man holds a victory over the other.  Hulk Hogan’s claim earlier in the show that Savage’s arm is healthy looks foolish when Savage has a massive bandage on his left arm.  Heenan points that out and all Schiavone can say is that Savage is going to rely on heart to overcome it.  Just like the doctrine of élan vital did not help the French military in the early stages of World War I, it does not help Savage’s cause either when Luger is able to focus his attack on the injured body part, helped in part by Hart distracting the referee and stopping a pin after Savage hits the flying elbow drop.  Luger racks Savage on the floor, rolls him in, and clamps on an armbar.  Savage is out cold, so the referee calls for the bell, ending Savage’s seven-match winning streak.  This was interesting booking as there was no back and forth.  Savage dominated Luger until the big elbow and then Luger dominated the rest of the match.  Rating:  *

After the bell, Sting runs into the ring and talks to Luger, who breaks the armbar despite Hart urging him to break Savage’s arm.

Sting (35-2-1) defeats Ric Flair (18-5) via submission to the Scorpion Deathlock at 14:29:

After Halloween Havoc this had the potential to be the hottest match on the show.  However, WCW threw a gallon of cold water on it by running this match three weeks ago on Monday Nitro, where Sting defeated Flair cleanly with the Scorpion Deathlock.  So, after Sting got his revenge, why do we need this match?  To see if Sting can beat Flair with the Scorpion a second time in the same month?  In a show of how little WCW values the match, Colonel Robert Parker and Sister Sherri come out and flirt during it.  Build up issues aside, Flair and Sting still give it the old college try, with Flair engaging in a great bit where Sting outclasses him in one ring so he flees to another, thinking that having the match in that ring will suddenly turn the tide for him.  It does not work but a well-timed low blow does, leading to Flair’s patented leg work and figure-four.  Sting turns that, egged on by Flair slapping him, he does not sell Flair’s chops, and when the action spills to the center ring he tosses Flair off the top rope, hits a superduperplex, and locks in the Scorpion for a submission victory.  Although he promised never to let go of the Scorpion in pre-match promos, Sting quickly releases the hold after the bell.  Once again, the Four Horsemen refuse to come to Flair’s aid, making one wonder if this new Horsemen faction is anything special.  This was just a long squash of Flair by Sting, pleasing the fans in attendance, but the little attention to detail and crowd investment makes it a fun match to watch.  Rating:  ***

Okerlund interviews Hulk Hogan.  He puts over the World War 3 battle royal as a dangerous match, says he will happily throw out Randy Savage if it comes down to the two of them, and that the Dungeon of Doom is no match for him.  The crowd showers Hogan with boos as Okerlund says that the people love him.

World War 3 Battle Royal:  Randy Savage wins by eliminating the One Man Gang to become the new WCW Champion at 29:42:

Other Participants:  Scott Armstrong, Steve Armstrong, Arn Anderson, Johnny B. Badd, the American Males, Chris Benoit, Big Train Bart, Bunkhouse Buck, Cobra, the Disco Inferno, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, the Blue Bloods, Ric Flair, the Giant, Eddie Guerrero, Hulk Hogan, Mr. J.L., Chris Kanyon, the Nasty Boys, Kurasawa, Lex Luger, Joey Maggs, Meng, Hugh Morrus, Maxx Muscle, Scott Norton, Paul Orndorff, Diamond Dallas Page, the State Patrol, Brian Pillman, Sergeant Craig Pittman, Road Warrior Hawk, Big Bubba Rogers, the Barrio Brothers, Kensuke Sasaki, the Shark, Dick Slater, Mark Starr, Harlem Heat, Sting, Dave Sullivan, Kevin Sullivan, the Super Assassins, David Taylor, Bobby Walker, V.K. Wallstreet, Pez Whatley, Mike Winner, Alex Wright, the Yeti, and the Zodiac.

WCW was always willing to experiment with new ideas and the World War 3 battle royal was another example of that.  The rules state that each ring has twenty men to start and when rings two and three get down to ten men then they will join the center ring, where the match will terminate.  On paper, doing a sixty-man battle royal across three rings sounds exciting but executing it on television is another matter.  WCW tries to compensate by giving each ring its own announce crew as Schiavone and Heenan man the main ring, Eric Bischoff and Dusty Rhodes call action in the second ring, and Chris Cruise and Larry Zbyszko are in charge of the third ring, but when the match starts fans get a picture-and-picture view of all three rings and can barely follow along.  And before the battle royal starts fans are puzzled by the Yeti as he is dressed as a ninja instead of a mummy.  He does not last long either, as wrestlers gang up on him and throw him out in less than twenty seconds.  So, WCW spends a month hyping the Yeti as a giant for this battle royal and he is taped in the Dungeon in his old look for promos but then shows up with a new look and gets treated like a jobber?  That is a pretty significant fall from grace.  Scott Armstrong does a stretcher job, not moving after he was tossed out of his ring early in the match.  It takes thirteen minutes for ring two to get to ten men, with the Giant standing tall.  WCW should go to two screens at that point, but they do not.  Ring three empties out a few minutes later, finally giving fans one ring to focus on.  The biggest surprise to make the last ring is Joey Maggs, but he is quickly dispatched after Sergeant Craig Pittman puts him in the Code Red.  Lex Luger has camped out on the floor for much of the match and only gets in when Randy Savage fights him on the floor, into another ring, and back to the center.  Other rivalries from earlier in the evening produce double eliminations as Diamond Dallas Page and Johnny B. Badd eliminate each other, as do Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Big Bubba Rogers.  Eddie Guerrero’s push continues into the last ten until he makes an ill-fated decision to brawl with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson and gets tossed.  The best elimination sequence happens after that as Sting slingshots Anderson into Flair, who is on the top rope, causing Flair to fall to the floor and then Hogan knocks Anderson out with a clothesline.  The final six are Sting, Hogan, the Giant, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, and the One Man Gang, with Hogan scoring a triple elimination when Sting and Luger try to get the Giant out.  That causes the Giant to pull Hogan out under the bottom rope and somehow WCW’s team of referees misses this and when Savage tosses the Gang, he is declared the winner.  So fans sit through this mess of a match and get a screwjob finish because Hogan will not job in a battle royal?  Rating:  ½*

After the bell, Hogan throws a fit like it is the 1992 Royal Rumble and he has to get in the middle of another Randy Savage title win.  Gene Okerlund comes into the ring, confirming Hogan’s story.  The crowd is having none of this, booing Hogan more than they have at any other point in the evening.  Hogan says that there is a cloud of controversy over Savage’s victory and when Savage wants to see the film of Hogan going under the bottom rope Okerlund tells him that he can see it tomorrow night on Monday Nitro.  Hogan tells Savage that when they look at the tape then Savage better give him a title shot.

The Last Word:  The finish for this show was a total disaster, with fans upset that there was not a clear winner of the sixty-man battle royal.  Randy Savage winning came out of nowhere, especially because he jobbed earlier in the evening to Lex Luger.  Since WCW had to fill the match with tons of guys who stood no chance anyway it would have been better served having a twenty-man battle royal main event the show with wrestlers qualifying for it on Monday Nitro and WCW Saturday Night.  That would have left a strong field.  But it would have required Hogan to do a job, which he was not even willing to do for a friend of his.  The sad thing is that outside of the main event this show had some good matches but that is largely forgotten by the awful ending.

Attendance:  12,000 (8,038 paid)

Buyrate:  0.43

Up Next:  WCW Monday Nitro for November 27!