We all remember World Championship Wrestling for being the epicentre of traditional Southern wrestling. WCW was presented as a much more athletic counterpart to the WWE’s cartoonish gimmicks and colourful characters, and some of the promotion’s greatest athletes were not afraid to get a little too violent and shed a bit of blood in the squared circle.
By today’s standards, it can make for some uncomfortable viewing, but that didn’t stop WCW trying to push the envelope every chance they got in their infamous 20-year war with the industry leader. In this article, we’ll be looking at ten matches where WCW really got a little too over-the-top in their quest for dominance.
10 Chicago Street Fight: Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne vs. The Nasty Boys – Spring Stampede 1994
Merely one month after having his ear ripped off during a match in Germany, Cactus Jack saw fit to pick up where he left off, to put his body through absolute hell to entertain the audience.
This match features chairs, trash cans, tables – your usual Street Fight repertoire – offering a glimpse of what would be notorious in ECW. The match’s most violent moments see Cactus taking a gnarly bump from the ring runway to the surrounding concrete floor and a disgusting-looking unprotected shovel shot to the head which mercifully ends the match. There may not have been blood, but you’d have to be made of stone to not wince at the last few moments.
9 Broad Street Bully Match: Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan vs. The Nasty Boys – Slamboree 1994
With the Cactus Jack/Nasty Boys feud brewing even hotter throughout May of 1994, WCW gave fans another violent affair, this time with Kevin Sullivan replacing Maxx Payne. It’s more of the same anarchic aggression featuring a plethora of unprotected chair shots and piledrivers on the rampway. If you’re into watching men hit each other in the head as hard as they can with inanimate objects, then this is one for you.
The image of Mick Foley’s enormous gash on the right side of his head further served to cement him as a true hardcore icon, and this is one match which often gets overlooked when realising just how tough he was.
8 Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match: Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair – Uncensored 1999
It’s no secret that, by this point, the WCW main event scene was stale. It’s well-documented that room was needed to make way for new stars instead of going back to the tried and tested Hogan-Flair feud that had already been bubbling away for years by 1999.
It’s not exactly a great match (you know, it’s Hogan), but if you thought Flair’s WWE blade jobs were out of this world, revisit this match and compare. Flair sees crimson about halfway through the bout, courtesy of some loose barbed wire, and Hogan targets Flair’s blood-soaked face thereafter. It’s not exactly comfortable viewing. However, some nefariousness ensues, and Flair walks away the victor. Swings and roundabouts.
7 Steven Regal vs. The Belfast Bruiser – Uncensored 1996
If the prospect of two European mat technicians locking up in the centre of the ring was enough to whet your appetite, what followed was a brutal match that exceeded all expectations.
This was The Belfast Bruiser’s (aka Fit Finlay’s) second match in WCW, and when he and Regal dished out a surplus of legitimate-looking punches, strikes, kicks and holds that bordered on an MMA-style fight, you can sense the discomfort in the crowd. The two men went out and wrestled a very British/European style match, emphasising every move, and making the match look as real as possible. It is no secret why the two men wowed the audience that night with their brutality, and why they are so well-respected in the industry today.
6 Goldberg vs. Sid Vicious – Halloween Havoc 1999
Say what you will about late 1990s WCW, but there was no denying Goldberg was a genuine megastar. Whether his post-streak matches were any good or not in terms of quality, they were never short on drama. It just so happens that in October of 1999, when things were firmly in WWE’s favour during the Monday Night Wars, Goldberg and WCW mainstay Sid Vicious put on what turned out to be surprisingly decent affair.
Sid gets busted open very early on, and the match is predominantly a brawl, but Sid’s bleeding doesn’t ease up and Goldberg striking Sid’s head repeatedly doesn’t help his case. By the end, Sid was so soaked in blood you wouldn’t recognise him. An almost disturbing ending.
5 War Games Match: Sting’s Squadron vs. The Dangerous Alliance – WrestleWar 1992
War Games was synonymous with WCW, standing as one of its most famous creations that is still used to this day. By 1992, WCW had several of the matches in the record books, and this year’s saw arguably some of their best in-ring workers all involved in a bloody brawl.
Steve Austin is busted open from the offset, and it just regresses into more chaos and violence as the match goes on. Luckily, due to the talent involved, viewers are treated to a wildly entertaining affair that sees some intense wrestling action which helps break the severity of the match down. Every man put in a phenomenal effort here and it shows by the end.
4 War Games Match: The Super Powers vs. The Four Horsemen – Great American Bash 1987
The inaugural War Games match not only set the tone for the famous gimmick for generations to come, but it also featured some ruthless moments and a bucketload of blood for good measure.
Dusty Rhodes and The Four Horsemen’s feud is highly spoken of, and this match had a ton of heat going in. It’s arguably the best War Games match there ever has been, but it didn’t come without casualties. Koloff, Rhodes and Dillon were seriously injured during the bout, with Dillon’s looking especially severe. All in all, the match was just violence from start to finish and it really must be watched to be believed just how brutal it was.
3 Texas Death Match: Cactus Jack vs. Big Van Vader – Halloween Havoc 1993
Similarly to the Regal-Finlay match, this match is known for just how stiff each punch can look, and how it exemplifies the story being told in the ring. Vader was known for being a notoriously stiff worker, and he was on a mission to beat just about every breath out of Mick Foley’s body that night.
Cactus Jack, bloodied and bruised, fights back throughout with the crowd firmly behind him, and Vader dons the crimson mask later in the match, which only adds to the carnage. If we ignore the preposterous ending of the bout, this stands firm as one of the more violent and brutal affairs WCW has ever put out.
2 I Quit Match: Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A. – Starrcade 1985
In this match, you could tell that if Magnum T.A. hadn’t suffered a horrible career-ending injury due to a car crash, he’d be a household name to this very day. Tully Blanchard, an eponymous Four Horsemen member, played his part in this to absolute perfection. From the get-go, there is blood, violence and drama – just about everything that makes a quality main event.
This match doesn’t feature an excess of elegant wrestling and holds, but it does have that big match feel, and the brutality to go along with the duo’s gruelling contest cements this as one of WCW’s most violent matches.
1 Dog Collar Match: Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper – Starrcade 1983
Before both men went up North to work for Vince McMahon, Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine were embroiled in a four-year blood feud. Little did they know that something as unappealing as a Dog Collar match would become a bout so brutal that it’s gone down in wrestling history. Both men have previously stated that they were asked to have a match so violent people would keep coming back to see it, and that’s exactly what they did.
The chain itself was incredibly heavy, which made the fact that both men tried to legitimately end the other’s career at Starrcade even more gruesome. Piper’s previously-injured left ear (courtesy of Valentine) was the latter’s target throughout, and it caused Piper to ultimately lose half his hearing. After the match, in a truly ghastly sight, Valentine hung Piper over the top rope by the chain, and blood started gushing from Piper’s ear.