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31 Days of Wrestling (12/5/17): WarGames


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2017 produced for us.

For almost two decades, wrestling fans have asked, nay, begged for it.

After almost two decades, Dusty Rhodes’ brainchild lives again.

After almost two decades, WarGames is back, bay-bay.


Let me preface this, though, by saying that this isn’t your granddaddy’s WarGames. Between the differences in the rules (No roof? Shark cages? Pinfalls?!?) and a creative team with a different mindset, this was a new type of war. But different doesn’t mean bad.

The Undisputed ERA, SAnitY, the Authors of the Pain, and Roderick Strong are all strong competitors who went to hell and back to deliver a great match. Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly are all talented wrestlers with solid indy pedigree. Eric Young is one the best veterans in the industry their side of the Pacific, and Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain are some of the most interesting and dynamic workers in the brand. Akam and Rezar are young, brutish hosses who have burst onto the scene with their dominance. Roderick Strong is arguably the best babyface and wrestler in NXT. Nine men, all great in their own right and all working to make history.


The match itself was a clusterfuck, to put it mildly. It was a massive spotfest plagued by various production miscues and a really bad injury to Wolfe. The camera work was poor and missed some of the spots. There was a weird lighting problem while freeing AoP. There were a lot of problems with the match, but don’t let that ruin your fun. The competitors did their damndest to sports entertain. Spots like the pair of Towers of Doom in the center of both rings, or the dueling Fallaway slams/Samoan drops by Dain and Rezar were great and stole the show. Let’s not forget Strong’s superplex to Cole from the top of the cage, which had to be one of the best spots of the year.

"Please don't die"

From a historical standpoint, this match was important to WWE, and more importantly, NXT. WarGames hadn’t been seen for 19 years and was a huge part of Dusty Rhodes’ legacy; and the same could be argued about WWE’s developmental territory. Dusty had one of the biggest impacts in NXT’s formative years. He had a hand in developing some of the biggest stars in the brand and in the company now. It was clear that Triple H and company came into WarGames with much respect for Dusty and aware of the history they’re making. Also, the match was one of the biggest legacies of the territorial era and WCW. By co-opting this match to WWE lore, the company is now able to tell its history from their perspective and therefore control the discourse. While the older generation might see WarGames and remember the NWA or WCW, the younger, newer audience will attach the match to WWE now.

Evil corporate agenda aside, WWE saw WarGames as a success, so much so that it was rumored to become a Survivor Series tradition. Rightfully so, NXT’s WarGames match might not have been the most polished of matches, but it was definitely one of the most memorable matches of the brand this year. The teams thrived in the hype and fanfare that surrounded the match and put on one of the best multi-man matches this year.



*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2017.

Read our previous entries:

#1: The Okada/Omega Trilogy

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