With Survivor Series being announced as the first ever appearance of War Games on the WWE main roster, we look at and explain just exactly what the War Games match is and look at the rules, stipulations and history behind The Match Beyond.
What Is A War Games Match?
War Games is a match currently used in WWE. It is a unique match-type in WWE, given that it involves the use of not one, but two wrestling rings. They are put side to side and surrounded by a solid steel cage, encompassing the wrestlers.
The match is a tag-team match and features two teams of wrestlers battling it out. The number of competitors varies, but it is usually fought between teams of either four or five competitors. The match was traditionally done by male wrestlers, but since it’s inclusion in WWE has featured both male and female wrestlers.
The match begins with two wrestlers in the ring – a member from each team. The pair wrestle each other for five minutes before another competitor enters the match. This creates a 2-on-1 situation, similar to a handicap match. After another three minutes, the second competitor from the other team enters the match to even the odds (it is usually the heel team who gain the advantage of the extra man).
Every additional three minutes, another member enters the ring until all 8 or 10 wrestlers are all in the match. This is when the second part of the match begins – also known as The Match Beyond.
The bout then becomes an all-out war. The match officially “begins”. In the history of the War Games, there have been three ways to win the match. These are;
- Pin Fall
(Note – Pin fall was only added as an option in the late years of WCW. In both WWE and AEW, you cannot win the match by pinning your opponent – only submission or surrender).
The match is one fall to the finish, meaning that the first man to be submitted, pinned or surrender loses the match for his team, and the opposing team are declared the winners of the War Games match.
War Games Was Invented By Dusty Rhodes
Despite now being known as a match in WWE, the War Games match was invented by WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes for use outside of the company. The first edition of the took place on July 4, 1987 at The Great American Bash. It was made specifically to be a specialty match of the Four Horseman, who were the top heels in Jim Crockett Promotions and the National Wrestling Alliance at the time.
Rhodes was allegedly inspired to create War Games after seeing the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. it became an immediate hit and would be a staple of the NWA and WCW for years to come.
Despite being the signature match of the Four Horsemen, they would lose four of the first five editions of the match. They would, however, win the first ever War Games match in WCW at WrestleWar 1991, defeating the team of Sting, Brian Pillman and the Steiners in one of the best WCW matches of all time.
It Made It’s WWE Debut At NXT
Triple H wanted to bring War Games to WWE in 2002, after WWE completed the purchase of WCW. Being a huge fan of old-school wrestling and more specifically Ric Flair, he was a great admirer of the match type and reportedly wanted to be a part of the match himself.
In his book Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps Chris Jericho revealed that Triple H wanted to bring The Match Beyond to the company and tried to convince Vince McMahon. However, the Chairman did not want to use the match, due to it being a creation of WCW (even though it preceded the company by many years) and instead created the Elimination Chamber instead.
“For Survivor Series 2002, Vince wanted something big to sell the show. HHH had been petitioning to do WarGames, a match involving two rings and ten wrestlers inside a giant cage. Vince wasn’t keen on using the WarGames name or concept, because it was a WCW invention. That’s when the Elimination Chamber was born.
Not deterred by his rejection, Triple H bided his time. He became the head of WWE’s developmental brand NXT in 2012 and once he had gained enough good faith with McMahon, brought the War Games match to NXT in 2017.
The first ever War Games match in WWE was in 2017 at the aptly named NXT Takeover: War Games. Changing from the usual formula, this match featured three teams of three, instead of two teams of four. The three teams involved in WWE’s first War Games were;
- The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly)
- Sanity (Alexander Wolfe, Eric Young, and Killian Dain)
- The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and Roderick Strong (with Paul Ellering)
The match became The Undisputed Era’s trademark match, taking part in all-but-one of NXT’s male versions of the match. WWE also introduced the first ever female War Games match in 2019, with two teams of four bringing the match back to it’s roots in JCP.
- Team Candice – Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Raquel González, and Toni Storm
- Team Shotzi – Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai
That match was won by Team Candice and made history as the first ever all-female War Games match throughout the stipulations long and storied history.
Blood and Guts
Despite being limited by WWE owning the trademark, AEW do have their own version of the War Games match. Because they are unable to use the name, Tony Khan instead opted to use the name Blood and Guts.
The first Blood and Guts match was due to take place in March 2020 and would have been contested between The Elite (with Matt Hardy) and The Inner Circle, led by Chris Jericho. However, due to the Covid pandemic, the match was called off and instead replaced by the first ever Stadium Stampede.
AEW would bring it back a year later, pitting The Inner Circle against The Pinnacle inside the first ever Blood and Guts match. The two teams in the match consisted of the following wrestlers;
- The Inner Circle – Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, Santana and Ortiz
- The Pinnacle – MJF, Wardlow, Shawn Spears, Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler (FTR)
MJF would win the match after forcing Sammy Guevara to surrender the match. He did so by threatening to throw Jericho off the top of the cage. However, once he surrendered, MJF threw Jericho off the top of the cages roof anyway and celebrated winning the first ever Blood & Guts match.
What do you think about War Games in WWE? Let us know in the comments and tell us your favourite War Games match of all time
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.