The boom of WWE and pro wrestling in the 1980s has led to a string of video games and releases that has not slowed down since the original NES titles. Back then, wrestling games were more of a novelty where players could not do much more than punch and kick opponents in different colored pixels.
As video games advanced, companies and players became more serious about the wrestling genre and the quality was heightened. The release of THQ’s “WWF Smackdown” in 2000 started a trend of realistic, innovative wrestling games and helped create the culture and fan base that remains today.
The main players of wrestling games are obviously wrestling fans. These fans want to take control of their favorite wrestlers and extended rosters are a huge part of the game. Yearly releases of new “WWE Smackdown vs. Raw” games feature updated rosters that include new wrestlers, legends, and wrestlers who have made recent returns to wrestling.
When wrestling video games do not feature certain performers, players have the opportunity to make their own with the extensive “Create-A-Wrestler” feature. This aspect of the “WWE Smackdown vs. Raw” series has become bigger than the games themselves.
Online, players share and create hundreds of different wrestlers for the games. On CAWs, players can access custom created wrestlers, see pictures of the creations, and download them for use in their own games on Xbox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Wii consoles.
Wrestler creations include legends like Sting and Hulk Hogan, superheroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil, and fictional characters like “Family Guy’s” Peter Griffin and Ronald McDonald.
Online wrestling leagues used to consist of text-based results, simple pictures, and descriptions of matches, but they have slowly transformed into interactive leagues based off the video games. Players create their own wrestler in a video game, upload to a league like Wrestle Games and then watch simulated matches on the league’s official YouTube channel.
Players also use the game to simulate real matches in the WWE. For example, players have simulated John Cena vs. The Miz for their encounter at Wrestlemania XXVII. The newer games offer more realistic matches and extra content if the original WWE programming is not enough.
The evolution of the wrestling game community will continue to grow. Extended online play will lead to more tournaments, leagues, and wrestling story lines that will never be seen on TV. The ultimate goal for these players is to live out their dreams of being a pro wrestler, but doing it in the comfort of their own home.