I’ve always enjoyed the War Games match, and I think it’s because it has a little bit of everything in its stipulations. It’s got faction wars like in the Survivor Series, staggered entrances like in the Royal Rumble, a steel cage, and all the chaos of the final battle of a feud. And the double ring gimmick is cool when you can get it (though a lot of indies can’t).
I’m excited to see what NXT does when they bring back War Games this month. Hearing about it reminded me that I once had the chance to see a War Games match live, but for reasons I can’t remember, I passed. It was a single-ring, single-cage version put on by the now-defunct Central States Wrestling promotion. CSW was my “hometown” indy fed for a sew years, and I constantly looked forward to going to their shows, so it’s kind of a bummer that I missed this one. I’ve since been able to see it via the video above, which is from the official DVD release, and now seems like an opportune time to write about it.
The match commentary and pre-match promos will fill you in on some of the details, but local favorite Michael Strider had been feuding with Steven J. Girthy and his Girthy Management Group for a while. I forget the inciting incident, but the GMG and Strider’s group, Project Aggression, were pretty bitter rivals, so a big team-based cage match seemed like a proper way to resolve things. Girthy had “The Rebel” Jeremy Wyatt (before he was “The Belt Collector” or “The Monarch”), the oddly-popular-despite-being-a-heel Hype Gotti, and Harley Race trainee Wade Chism in his charge, while Strider was partnered with “Superstar” Steve Fender (another race trainee) and Ace Steel (CM Punk’s friend and trainer). But someone took Ace out before the show, leaving Project Aggression one man down. Strider approached former rival Derek Stone to fill the spot, but due to their previous issues, Stone refused on principle.
On to the match (which starts at the 7:17 mark, by the way)!
It’s set up as three-on-two, which may upset some purists who remember the old matches with teams of four or more, but with only one ring and cage available, things would probably be too crowded with more than five or six guys in the ring.
Strider starts with Jeremy Wyatt, and Steve Girthy is on the outside. They spend the whole three-minute period trying to ram each other into the cage. Strider finally hip tosses Wyatt into it as the countdown for the next entrant is going on.
Hype Gotti is out next since the villains won the coin toss earlier. Strider takes advantage of his headstrong entrance and gets some shot in before Wyatt catches him from behind. The heels work over Strider, making a point to push and slam him into the cage.
Steve Fender comes in like he just got the hot tag, running wild on both opponents. He pairs off with Wyatt while Strider battles Gotti, and even though the heels get a few moves in (including Wyatt’s lightning spiral, a future finisher for him), the faces are on the advantage when the countdown ends.
Wade Chism is the last entrant on the Girthy side, and he goes right for Steve, clubbing him with clotheslines. Steve fights back but can’t maintain any momentum due to being outnumbered. Chism pounds on him and dares him to fight back. Strider, meanwhile, is bloodied up from being raked against the cage, and now he’s being double-teamed by Wyatt and Gotti.
The countdown for the final man comes and goes without anyone entering at first. The fans chant “We want Stone.” Finally, Derek Stone does come out, dressed in bunkhouse attire and brandishing a chair. He squares off with all three members of the GMG, perhaps teasing a “swerve,” but then he blasts them all in the heads with chair shots. Then he pulls out a trio of forks and hands one each to Strider and Steve.
As someone who was used to seeing Superstar Steve and Wade Chism at family-friendly World League Wrestling shows, seeing them in a match involving forks on foreheads is a bit surreal. It gets even weirder once a barbed wire bat and board are introduced, and Chism takes a couple unprotected chair shot to the head.
From the introduction of the forks, the match gets increasingly violent. Girthy beats up a referee* at ringside so he can get the barbed wire bat in through the door. Every wrestler except Steve bleeds. Five of them brawl outside so Strider can jump off the cage onto them. Wyatt gets locked out of the cage, so he tries to climb in, but he gets put through the barbed wire board with a tower of doom spot. Finally, Gotti is pinned after a piledriver from Stone and a big elbow from Steve while he’s trapped under the barbed wire board.
The crowd loved this match. It gave them all the violence they could’ve wanted, plus the joy of seeing their heroes win and the novelty of being the first War Games match in Kansas. I enjoyed it, too. I thought they made good use of their means to put on a memorable War Games match despite having small teams and only one ring. I also thought it was a good end to the feud, until…
After the match, Strider puts over the toughness of Wyatt, Gotti, and Chism, and tells them to stand up and leave the cage like men. He then says that the war is over. In a backstage promo, Girthy says that the war is over when he says it’s over. Also, Strider thanked Stone, and Stone said he did the right thing for the right reason.
Where Are They Now?
Michael Strider feuded with Jeremy Wyatt in CSW and Metro Pro, even coming out of retirement to battle him one last time. He’s currently a member of The Foundation in the National Wrasslin’ League and holds the tag team championships with Ace Steel.
Steve Fender continues to wrestle for World League Wrestling and currently holds their tag team titles with Brandon Espinosa.
Derek Stone has been a trainer at the NWL Training and Performance Center and makes occasional appearances on NWL shows to break up fights. He’s also going to be wrestling in a handicapped match this weekend for Gateway Elite Wrestling.
Jeremy Wyatt collected a lot of belts and briefly retired in the latter days of Metro Pro, but now he’s also a member of The Foundation with Strider and Steel.
Hype Gotti wrestles a lot for Pro Wrestling Phoenix in Iowa and Nebraska. He was retired for a bit, but he seems to be back now.
Wade Chism doesn’t seem to have wrestled since 2008, so I’m guessing he’s retired.
*The ringside referee, Adam, was actually a fan with whom I hung out at several CSW shows and pay-per-view watch parties. Fun times.