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What is a War Games match and how do you win?

This year’s Survivor Series will feature two War Games matches. Here’s an explainer of how it works.

Wrestling: WWE Survivor Series Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The WWE will host its annual Survivor Series pay-per-view this Saturday and this year’s show from Boston will be different from shows from year’s past. The show will be headlined by a pair of WarGames matches featuring one for the men and one for the women.

After being resurrected in NXT for the last few years, the classic match concept will make its debut on WWE’s main roster for the very first time. Triple H himself broke the news about the new direction for Survivor Series in an interview with David Shoemaker of The Ringer in September.

Some of you may be wondering what exactly is WarGames. Don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered.


Created by the late Dusty Rhodes, WarGames debuted in 1987 and became a staple gimmick of Jim Crockett Promotions and later on, WCW. The match itself featured two connected rings surrounded by a steel cage with a roof on top of it and would go on to house some of the most iconic moments in WCW history.

31 WarGames matches would take place until WCW went out of business in 2001. Laying dormant for over a decade, WarGames was resurrected by NXT in 2017 with a few tweaks, including no roof on top of the steel cage.


Since incorporating it as an NXT gimmick, WarGames usually features two teams of four men/women duking it out inside of the two rings. The match starts off with one member of each team facing each other for five minutes before a member of the team with the numbers advantage enters to momentarily make it a 2-on-1 handicap match. In recent years, the team who has the advantage has been determined by a ladder match in the shows leading up to the ppv.

After a three-minute period, a member of the other team enters the match to even the odds. From there, alternating members of each team will continue to enter every three minutes until all eight combatants have officially entered the ring. At that point, the match officially “begins” and a team can win by pinfall, submission, or surrender.


WarGames matches in NXT have been used as a way to blow off several escalating feuds on the show at once while also serving as a showcase piece for up-and-coming stars.

The men’s match for this year’s Survivor Series will feature the Bloodline taking on the team of the Brawling Brutes, Drew McIntyre, and Kevin Owens. For the women, Damage CTRL, Nikki Cross, and Rhea Ripley will battle Bianca Belair, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, Mia Yim, and Becky Lynch.